Friday, July 13, 2012

Review: Gravity Rush (PS Vita) - Gravity Hasn't Been This Cool Since Newton

I'll be blunt on this one. Gravity Rush is perhaps one of the most fun games that I've played in a long time. That's not to say the game is perfect, because it's not. However, playing Gravity Rush was so enjoyable because it delivers innovative gameplay coupled an intriguing "zero-to-superhero" story.

The game throws you into the heels and one-piece of the mysterious girl, Kat. Unfortunately for her, she wakes up with amnesia in an alley in the floating city of Hekkesville. On the bright side, she's not alone thanks to her strange cosmic-cat that gives her the power to shift gravity around her (hence why she is referred to as a "Shifter" by the city's denizens). As any good amnesiac would do, she decides to use these powers to help the people around her  and become a monster fighting wonder-girl.

Now that the spoiler-free synopsis is out of the way, let's take a deep dive into the Pros and Cons of Gravity Rush.


There were two things that really made me fall in love with this game: 1.) fun, innovative controls, 2.) the rich yet simple story.

The controls and handling in Gravity Rush truly are superb and polished. You have your traditional buttons and thumb sticks that provide you with your basic functionality. You run, jump, kick, interact, and do all the other things that you'd expect to be able to do in the year 2012. In addition to the norm, Gravity Rush also utilizes the functionality of the PS Vita's Sixaxis to motion control the camera angle while Kat manipulates gravity.Additionally, the touchscreen is heavily utilized to initiate the "gravity slide" ability, which lets you slide across your surface (ground, walls, ceiling, you name it) at high speeds. You'll also find yourself tapping the touchscreen during boss battles to initiate your flashy superhero finisher moves. As I mentioned earlier, each of the control features are quite polished, and I seldom found myself experiencing any difficulty driving Kat as she adventured through the city of Hekkesville. There's a bit of a learning curve when it comes to successfully managing the gravity slide ability, but its not terribly steep. This fluid and accessible control scheme made it even easier for me to engage with the story.

Gravity Rush spins a tale that always keeps you curious to find out more. The secret sauce, in my opinion, is that the actual story is very simple. That said, the world that the story takes place in is robust, rich, imaginative, and sometimes confusing. Take the original Star Wars trilogy as a comparison: a cookie-cutter "good vs. evil" story combined with a cast of interesting characters and a robust setting. That's the type of dynamic present in Gravity Rush, it's a basic superhero origin tale that is successful due to its cast and setting.

Kat (left) and Raven (right)
There's a solid variety of characters who each bring their own flair to the story. On one hand, you have simple and quirky characters, like detective Syd and a few other denizens of Hekkesville. On the other, you have intriguing and complex ones like Raven, your rival, and the sinister Alias. Additionally, you have the Nevi, which serve as your primary enemies in Gravity Rush. These are strange monsters that are terrorizing the city of Hekkesville. They're enigmatic, to say the least, and you find yourself constantly wondering what they are and where they came from. This combination of intrigue and mystery lends itself well to Kat's superhero tale.

It's hard to build a superhero story without the setting: Batman is just as much about Gotham as it is about Bruce Wayne. Gravity Rush is no different. The vividly imagined city of Hekkesville is divided into four floating districts that each have their own atmosphere and personality. In addition to this, you travel to other places in (and out of) the world, but telling you any more would leak some considerable spoilers. Overall, it is pretty entertaining exploring each of these places just to see how the world is imagined.


Like I said, Gravity Rush is not perfect. In my opinion, the reason for this is that aside from the main story missions, there's really very little to do. There just are not many side-quests for you to pursue. On one hand, you have several challenge missions that you can do (race modes and time-attack battles), as well as a side quest that has you looking for a dimension-displaced couple (say that ten times fast). Beyond that, though, there's nothing to do after beating the game unless you download the DLC mission packs.You're pretty much left to explore the city (which is actually quite fun). Additionally, there are no enemy encounters outside of the story missions, challenges, and level replays. It's actually a little strange since the game puts so much emphasis on Hekkesville being besieged by Nevi. The lack of open-world enemies takes away from the "world in peril" vibe that the story gives off.

OVERALL RATING: 9 out of 10

Despite having a few flaws, Gravity Rush is a very positive experience and is perhaps the best PS Vita title on the market to date (for what that is worth). Sadly, being on the Vita could be this game's major downfall. I could easily see this becoming a niche title because of its sole distribution on the PS Vita platform. 

I hope this is not the case, as I would love to see future installments in the story. The game's ending definitely hints at a Gravity Rush 2 - an idea that I hope comes true. Right now, there's so much parity in the gaming industry that a unique title like Gravity Rush is a breath of fresh air that reminds you what gaming is truly about: having fun.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm...I've heard good things about this game before, but since I don't have a Vita I haven't followed Gravity Rush too closely. But since my bro's looking to get a Vita eventually, I'll be sure to point him towards this game first.

    Anyway, great review. Given what you said about the good story (something that I'm always looking for in my games), maybe it was foolish of me to not pay attention to Gravity Rush.

    Off to YouTube I go!