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access_time July 25, 2012 at 9:40 AM in Reviews by Louie Hidalgo

Review | Gravity Rush

Not a lot of games interest me these days so when I caught a look at Gravity Rush for the first time it immediately captured my attention. The look of it was just fascinating. I’ve never seen a game like it before. To be honest thought it was going to be one of those games that would be announced, get no recognition, and fall into limbo and eventually cancelled. I’m glad I was wrong. After playing the demo countless times at the store I was excited when the game finally released.

The story takes you to a strange city in the sky called Hekseville. You play as Kat, a spunky young girl who’s lost her memory. She finds herself waking up in what looks like the slums of Old Town Auldnoir, a section of the city where she meets with a strange cat-like creature. Without a moment to figure out where she is and why she’s there she runs into a man desperate for help. The man’s son and home is being vacuumed by a black hole of sorts. Kat, unsure of what she could possibly do to help in such a situation, discovers she has abilities to manipulate gravity.

Kat saves the child but the house gets destroyed. Though having saved his child the man accuses poor Kat of being a troublemaking “Shifter”. Kat in her confusion runs off and discovers that the city is as much of a mystery as is her past. Still unsure of anything, Kat encounters someone just like her. Someone that has the same abilities. The Crow Girl, as she is known, by citizens. The citizens aren’t too keen on their kind. Wonder why?

Kat now a bit more familiar with her powers starts to use them to help the city. At first they’re simple things like fixing a broken fountain or helping a young boy find his father. But things start to get interesting. You run into a man, claiming to be the Creator of this world. You find out that sections of the City have been lost. And Kat must reconnect them, by defeating the monsters called “Nevi”. But Crow Girl isn’t too happy with that. And your next meeting won’t be very friendly.

The story in Gravity Rush is quite interesting. There’s politics, space and time bable, a bit of drama between 2 socially awkward people with a bit of a twist..

…an encounter with a master thief, and questions about the reality you’re in and more all told through either ingame graphics or comic book style slides. But it seems kind of all over the place. It wants to include a number of different things but doesn’t create enough build up to transition very smoothly, I felt. However, what’s there, is nicely done. You encounter a strange but interesting cast of characters…

…and you find yourself in the most strange but hauntingly beautiful locations i’ve ever seen. The main story took me around 18 hours to complete. And that’s without doing much of the side missions and challenges. Side missions range from getting the trains running to a race around the neighborhood using a power called “Gravity Slide”. A fun challenge if I could get used to that part of the gameplay.

Here’s a quick rundown of the controls.

If thats good enough you can move right along. The controls are quite smooth and responsive. There are a number of different abilities. You have your basic kicking, jump kicking, and gravity kick that all of you who’ve played the demo to death are familiar with. Right trigger casts your gravity shifting and left trigger returns you to normal gravity. But you also get powers, such as creating a black hole.

Gravity slide I couldn’t get used to. You put your thumbs on the screen and steer using the PSVita. It was weird for me but for you motion junkies it might work out.
Stasis field I found very useful. With that you can pick up objects using O and throwing them by pressing O again. Very useful for when you’re wanting to weaken your enemy from a distance. Very amusing for when you just want to mess with citizens and take them for a cruise around the city. No you can’t throw them. Its wrong and inhumane. Plus its not an available option, anyway, I tried. Attacking, dodging, and countering, react very quickly.

Useful for when the fights get really crazy. And the combat can be quite wild at times especially when you’re gravity shifting. It can be a bit disorienting. It takes getting used to.  You have a Gravity Gauge that tells you how long you can use the power. Its the blue circle on the top left. Once depleted you’re back to normal gravity until it regenerates. You can use blue gems to recover it instantly while you’re in the air. You’ll need those for moments when there is no ground to land on. The red orb in the middle of the gravity guage is for special attacks, like the black hole. It regenerates over time. Green gems, as you can imagine, regenerate the green health bar. Be careful though even if your health is full you’ll still pick those up. You’ll need those in boss fights.

Boss fights can be difficult. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the “game over” screen. They range from your basic “beat it till its dead” to “lead it to a trap!”. Theres a good number of boss fights, all of which will test you. As you know it’ll be easier when you power up your abilities. Purple gems are all over the city. They’re used to level up. But you don’t need to be very strong to bring a guy down by kicking him in the peaches. Your powers can be acquired through progress in the story but you can miss them. Luckily before you decide to go into the final episodes of the game you can revisit some of these places when the Creator decides to move next door. And who wouldn’t want to revisit them? The designs in this game are very beautiful.

Going from different areas of the city you can either take transportation there or warp once you’ve set foot there and found a manhole that leads home.  Who wants to stay home when you got a big city to explore? Especially one that looks this good. The art direction in this game is incredible. The cell shaded style is always a nice and playful design choice and the city is very expansive. I flew up to one of the highest points in the city and flew on top of a flying machine just to see if I could. The particle effects are neat. While not advanced in that everything can break the things that can break do so nicely. Dust kicks up nicely and glowing effect on Kat just looks cool.

The only complaints I had that quickly disappeared were the textures and character models. At times I felt the textures looked too simple and the characters a bit blocky but because the world is so huge I can see what design choices they had to make. I did encounter some slowdown but it was quite rare. The graphics style is unique. The background colors seem to just absorb the midground leaving it with just contour lines of buildings as if there’s a thick fog or mist or if that section is dematerializing. Its a great look.  The city uses a kind of a industrial victorian feel and it looks lovely. The architectrural design is fantastic. Other locations can be quite bizzare and astounding. The Nevi can be quite strange, too.

The sound quality in this game is also very well done. Granted I did use high quality headphones. The sound effects and music are clean and rich. Very pointy and sparkly sounds mix in with the whooshing of magic give it a very nice texture. Very bassy when things want to sound strong and very crunchy when things break. The VO is very good as well. Or at least they sounded convincing. The VO is in French i think. The music is quite varied. You get up-tempo jazz, classical orchestra, electronic music, rock. At times they’ll mix genre’s together creating a sound that eases me as I enter another game over screen from boss battlelnhirler;hdv. Anyway, the sound team did a good job.

It’s an awesome game and was the title that brought me on board with the PS Vita. The gravity shifting took some getting used to but once I got most of them down I had loads of fun. While it isn’t perfect the story is good. The controls are smooth and the gameplay mechanics are quite fun. Not to mention there’s lots of challenges to do. I easily got my money’s worth with this game and will no doubt revisit the story again in the near future. For all you ready to sink a lot of time in this game try not to forget the basic necessities.


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