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Game Review: Gravity Rush 2

Alan Stock Alan Stock
Expert Contributor
April 30th, 2017

I'm a lover of travel, photography and video games, from the UK. I have worked in the games industry and very passionate about games and their design. Never get bored of them!

Review of: Gravity Rush 2
Price:
Excellent

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On April 30, 2017
Last modified:April 30, 2017

Summary:

Gorgeous, exhilarating and with a lot of charm, some niggles can’t stop you from embracing Gravity Rush 2’s positive vibe and the rush of flight.

Review of: Gravity Rush 2
Price:
Excellent

Reviewed by:
Rating:

5
On April 30, 2017
Last modified:April 30, 2017

Summary:

Gorgeous, exhilarating and with a lot of charm, some niggles can’t stop you from embracing Gravity Rush 2’s positive vibe and the rush of flight.

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Gravity Rush 2 is a gravity-defying adventure game out now for PlayStation 4. Alan Stock slips into his sexy nurse outfit and takes a break from the skies to bring you this review for ComiConverse.

Game Review: Gravity Rush 2

It’s been a while since I played a game with so many contrasts. In Gravity Rush 2, one minute you feel like a complete bad-ass in some wild anime movie, soaring through the sky, unleashing devastating attacks on your enemies and it all looks so damned good. And the next minute you’re flailing around in the air, smacking off things like a clumsy oaf, disorientated and confused, battling the camera and controls. It’s a game where one mission could see you fighting Gravity Shifters around floating islands in a swirling sky full of explosions, but in the next mission you could be waiting in a pancake stall line chatting to the customers, or taking a photo of an old lady and her son outside his new shop. These are the strange range of experiences that the world of Gravity Rush offers.

I didn’t play the first Gravity Rush, or really know anything about it, so I came into the sequel with no preconceptions. The first thing that struck me was the incredible graphics. Normally this is low on my list of priorities – but this game is simply gorgeous. In fact I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of the most beautiful games of all time – and that’s saying something. It’s not just the high fidelity visuals, with its subtly cel-shaded characters against detailed, lavish environments. It’s the overall quality of graphical design that seeps through every part of Gravity Rush 2.

Incredible environment design, lovely palettes from vibrant colours to muted pastels, amazing lighting, visual filters and impressive special effects combine to create a truly mind-blowing visual feast. Artistic polish extends to the most minor details, from the in-game menus to the attractive animated comic dialogue scenes. It looks great in screenshots but you have to see this game in motion to really appreciate it – the world comes alive with shifting clouds, twinkling motes of dust, swirling gravity storms, changing hues, the bustle of flying life and amazing character animation as you leap, bound and fly through the environment, arms flailing, hair billowing in the wind. It really looks at times as though you are watching an insanely expensive Japanese movie – and is set to some sweet jazz and orchestral tunes.

Story continues below

But enough gushing over the graphics. What do you do in Gravity Rush 2?  You play as Kat, a feisty girl with the power to control gravity itself – called Gravity Shifting. This lets you fly around the sky at will – simply point in a direction and hit a button and you will ‘fall’ in that direction. You can stop your movement and hover in midair by pressing the same button. Although initially, this control method seems restrictive compared to standard flight games, you soon get used to it, constantly readjusting your direction as you surge through the air – with an excellent sense of speed. You can adjust your aim once flying by tilting the joypad, but this never feels that intuitive and there’s so much going on it’s easy to forget- instead it’s easier to simply move the camera with the joystick. You explore and get around environments by taking to the skies, unless a mission restricts your use of Gravity Shifting. You have aerial charge attacks, a crappy dodge, and you can use a stasis bubble to pick up nearby objects – they’ll float around you until you fling them at a target. A gravity meter limits the amount of time that you can Gravity Shift for, but it drains slowly and refills after just a few seconds of falling or landing, meaning staying airborne is easy. Checkpoints are also numerous and generous throughout the game, death isn’t too punishing.

Back on ground, Kat’s abilities are your standard adventure game affair – run, jump, kick, dodge. But, if she lands on a wall or ceiling whilst Gravity Shifting she can also run along them – although you don’t need to use this much (thankfully – it’s really confusing). She can also use a Gravity Slide to surf along surfaces at speed. Although at the start of the game you are a land-lubber, you soon get access to Gravity Shifting and the freedom and speed of movement it provides is exhilarating. As you progress through the game you eventually unlock two other types of Gravity Style which provide variations on the gravity gameplay and combat, and they are fun too, although they don’t change flying much – which is what you spend most of your time doing. Switching Gravity Style is done instantly through a flick of the touchpad allowing you a bit of strategy in how to approach encounters.

There’s also lots of combat, usually against the boring amorphous black blobs baddies called the Navi, thugs, or military factions. Combat runs into problems and goes hand in hand with problems with flying. Although when they both work fine, it’s a joy to play, at other times you will be shouting abuse at your screen. The main culprits are the camera and the imprecise control you feel when moving around at speed. Most attacks rely on a loose targeting system, without any lock-on option. As you’re usually flying around at speed, overshooting or missing your target is very easy to do and you find yourself wheeling around for missed attacks. Judging distances and stopping at the correct spots is difficult too. Add to this a disorientation of moving fast around a 3D space where attacks and enemies move and attack from all directions and things can turn sour. It often feels like you’re not in control enough of what you’re doing, and it gets frustrating. The game also occasionally forces you into tight indoor spaces, where the camera and your speed of movement just can’t cope, making for some miserable sections that are annoying and disorienting.

But when it works, it works well – combo attacks are satisfying, as are landing mid-air charge kicks and various special attacks. Some boss battles feel and look like Manga duels that you’re taking part in. Chasing speeding opponents through the air as the world rushes past is brilliant when everything just clicks. The pure freedom. Like I said at the start, it’s a game of contrasts – where you can go from feeling empowered to frustrated in a heartbeat.

The price of power in Gravity Rush 2 is that at times it feels a bit too much. The game relies heavily on nav-points to get you from A to B, and the fact you can fly at will means you don’t often need to do much more than aim in the right direction and hold a button. Some missions and sidequests encourage exploration, and others limit your powers somewhat making you use the other movement abilities at Kat’s disposal, but these are the exceptions. The playgrounds it gives you in the amazing environments are wonderful, but ther’s little incentive to play around with the tools available because flying is so strong. But on the flipside, you won’t get much closer to a game where you feel like Superman all the time.

Story continues below

The world of Gravity Rush 2 is one of fantastical floating islands, providing a lovely landscape and a perfect playground for you to use your gravity-defying abilities. The environments are vast and mostly seamless with a great sense of scale – you can fly for many minutes before you’ll hit any kind of barrier. Free-fall can induce vertigo in the faint-hearted, as you plummet through clouds. Fortunately, Kat can soak up a ground smashing fall impact without a scratch, although of course, the pros like me will try to Gravity Switch at the last instant for a cool save.

Much of the game takes place in huge cities made up of separate floating districts or houseboats, often layered vertically, making full use of the sky. Flying cars and craft putter the airways although strangely, there’s a lack of birds in the sky, a bit of a shame given the subject matter. A colourful populace of all ages and races fill the streets and markets. Exploring and navigating these spaces is a joy – they’re very detailed and look fantastic, each area with its own distinct theme and look. There’s also other worlds and fantastical dimensions to experience which are gorgeous in their own right, natural or mystical – a welcome break from the tenements, towers and domes of the cities.

But although flying around these busy skies is a large part of the experience, Gravity Rush 2 has a big focus on people. Kat begins her adventure in a floating mining village made up of conjoined houseboats, and her interactions with her friends and its crew play a big part in the story. Quests are usually to help other characters with tasks both big and small, Kat being rather prone to be taken advantage of by some pretty unscrupulous characters. Major story events are told through lovely animated comics, as the village reaches the big city and events of more magnitude start to take course. The city teems with people all going about their daily life. This is no RPG though, chat is limited to key characters, or when a mission dictates you can interrogate the public for information (an often-annoying rigmarole). The populace of this world are a very forgiving bunch, and long-suffering – as you happily play around with gravity in their vicinity, destroying stalls, ruining houses, knocking people over, accidentally levitating them, usually followed by a fall into the great void below.

This isn’t really a serious game though – the lack of consequence for tomfoolery like this, and the general fun and charming attitude of the game overall is refreshing. Kat is a cheery and playful girl, and there’s plenty of wit and humour sprinkled throughout the story and missions. Gravity Rush 2 excels in the silly, especially through amusing side missions and has a likeable, colourful cast of characters. When the stakes are raised, it’s never for too long, and there’s always some pleasant distraction to break things up. Case in point: in one mission you infiltrate a military base to help a deadly revolution, but along the way you get mistaken for a performing troup’s singer and then end up warbling over a smooth jazz band for the base’s crew, changing of course into a little sexy red number!

When you aren’t flying around during missions, you’ll be doing all manner of random tasks, whether that’s in the main story or the many side-quests. There” a lot of filler here, fly from A to B, fetch quests, follow the slow-moving dude, escort missions, collect all the things, and so on. A number of ill-conceived stealth missions are present – which become infuriating thanks to poor visual communication and instant fails when spotted. Other tasks are better and provide interesting uses for your powers. Kat has a nasty habit of doing random errands for citizens and friends, ranging from the mundane and tedious to the brilliant.

Polaroid photo of woman in town

One funny mission has you taking photos of pretty young ladies for a pervy old man who claims ill health – Kat falls for it hook line and sinker, so you have to go around asking girls in the street for photos. As you can imagine, the chap is pretty pleased when he gets them…. Credit: Sony

Kat gets given a camera when she arrives in the city, and some missions have her taking photos of places and people, or doing treasure hunts based on finding a location in a photo she’s been given. It’s a lot of fun. Although some missions are simply boring like the aforementioned filler, others have a lot of imagination and make you use a range of your abilities. Memorable encounters include a police training excercise, doing stunts for a movie shoot, and taking a boy on a treasure hunt around his hometown following photographic clues from his deceased grandfather. So, there’s plenty of diversion from simply flying around. Sadly, despite the imagination in some of the scenarios, the gameplay reality doesn’t always match – some tasks can be laborious, tedious, frustrating or unfair. Some story missions feature unimaginative linear environments featuring stone tablets which force your through uninspiring challenges which strip your powers or make you fight waves of spawning enemies. Although sometimes it’s fun to have your all-powerful abilities restricted just so you have to try some other skills like the fun Lunar jumps, it gets a bit old – one of gaming’s oldest and most annoying tricks of taking all your toys away.

Gravity Rush 2’s story is a mixed bag, there’s plenty of heart to it and side-missions flesh out Kat’s relationships with the many side-characters in the game. However especially as the main story goes on, it throws more and more big plot events and characters seemingly randomly at you – keeping the action going strong. But many of these events feel like they’ve come from nowhere, having little to no set-up, and consequential moments for the characters and the game world as a whole are skimmed over and not really explored in any depth. It’s not a huge deal as story isn’t the main driving factor behind the game – overall it makes a better effort than many games in this kind of genre, and the setting is great. Playing the first Gravity Rush game isn’ required to understand or enjoy what’s going on, but a lot of the cast re-appears eventually, and the story continues where the first left off. Be sure to play beyond the final credits, as there are a number of extra story chapters to play through to reach the true ending, which has lots of story tie-in to the first game and the world’s events.

I have to give special mention to the extra challenges and photo tools available. Time trials and combat challenges allow you to aim for high scores and challenge other players. The game has a really nice integration online – a news feed trickles in challenges available from other players and you encounter them on your explorations within the game world. The treasure hunt feature is the best though – similar to the single player versions, you get a photo from another player showing you a photo giving you a clue to a nearby treasure location. If you find the treasure, they also get a reward when they next log in. If you’re successful you then take a new photo clue for that treasure, continuing the chain for a future player. It’s a wonderful idea and there’s plenty of these to find. Continuing the photo fun, you can also share your in-game photos online, in the game world you’ll find spots where other players have taken photos – which you can view and rate to give them rewards. Your photos might also be found and rated by others. As you complete side missions and other content, you unlock more filters, costumes, poses and props which you can use in your photos.

Despite some rough edges in gameplay, tedium and inconsistency throughout Gravity Rush 2, you can always forgive it. Its so full of charm, a sense of joy and character – and nothing beats the pure fun of flying or falling around these amazing environments with such tear-inducingly gorgeous visuals. Its a real spectacle that I encourage everyone to experience, it might not be perfect; but in environment design, art style and freedom of movement it soars above many of its peers.

 

Gravity Rush 2

  • 5

Excellent

Gorgeous, exhilarating and with a lot of charm, some niggles can’t stop you from embracing Gravity Rush 2’s positive vibe and the rush of flight.

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