Developer: SIE Japan Studio
Introducing Gravity Rush to the PS4 with a remaster from the Vita certainly benefited its eminence. The Vita’s small screen and analogue sticks made a game about unlimited freedom feel very limited and disorientating, but converting to a larger screen and Dualshock 4 alleviated these issues, but didn’t eradicate them. Gravity Rush 2 naturally went straight to the PS4, escaping from the dying husk that is the Vita with a game that is bigger, more diverse but not necessarily better. With this new instalment, many features have been added and some existing ones tweaked, but its core issues that were present in the previous game remains.
Gravity Rush 2 follows protagonist, Kat, directly after the conclusive events of the first game and finds herself stranded in an unknown land without any of her gravity shifting abilities. Kat’s lonely and lost existence radiates throughout the game as she never truly finds herself at home, even after her abilities have been obtained and some familiar faces start appearing, but this doesn’t prevent her from being the optimistic and slightly naïve Kat that was introduced in the first game. Not a lot of explanation is made in the application of the original games ending, so players unfamiliar with the first game may be quite lost from the offset as GR2 is full of throwbacks and returning characters.It’s not long before Kat re-acquires her abilities and her gravitational powers are at her disposal. Kat’s abilities allows her to shift the nature of gravity at her own will, meaning she can ‘fall’ in any direction. In addition to this, Kat can deploy a stasis field which collects objects in her vicinity and project them at enemies, she can gravity slide across vertical and horizontal surfaces and with the gravity kick she hurls herself at enemies. Two instalments in and Kat still doesn’t really have full control over her abilities; she tumbles when she lands and precariously rolls around in mid-air, but it adds to her charm. Two new types of gravity powers are introduced later in this game too; the Lunar ability reduces Kat’s weight significantly so she can, rather comically, bounce around and being light and nimble makes it a good form to choose against airborne enemies. Then there’s the Jupiter ability which is the opposite of Lunar, Jupiter renders Kat heavy, allowing her to smash her way through debris and slam down onto the ground with a shock wave that damages enemies within its vicinity. Shifting in-between the different forms is seamless as with just a flick of the touchpad, Kat’s form is set. Getting used to these different forms requires some experimentation, but ultimately the vanilla style is the one that will be most used and the other forms only really used in very specific scenarios and when the game forces you to. With two new move sets, it was going to be difficult to get them balanced and fluent, but with the default gravity form being so unwieldy and clumsy, it just adds to its displeasure. The camera is the main issue, it corkscrews around and loses Kat completely on occasions. Clicking L3 does auto balance the camera, but it’s required all too often. When the camera is not in motion and Kat is stationary, her hair and scarf are good indicators to where the natural pull of gravity is which is a nice touch.Gravity Rush 2 is just as stylistic as it was previously, and floating cities and bustling streets are remarkable sights when you’re shifting around the place. The cities are floating wonders that are elevated by gravitational energy. There is even a class divide, with the wealthy upper class occupying an island each to themselves located miles above everyone else and the over-crowded slums, all the way to the bottom, out of sight underneath rainclouds, and the middleclass in-between torn between aiding the wealthy or the poor which Kat inevitably gets caught up in. It’s a theme that gets touched on in other games, but Gravity Rush 2 doesn’t make the theme transparent. If it wasn’t for the main story progression leading to the discovery of the higher and lower cities, you wouldn’t even know they existed, discovering them for the first time is breath taking and it’s a tribute to how brilliant Gravity Rush’s level design is and the detail of the cities is impeccable. The streets are crowded with people and the increase of clutter which is useful for the stasis field attacks. The jump to a more powerful console has done very little to improve its rigid and artificial nature of the cities and its residents, however. Citizens seem oblivious to Kat’s presence, even when the gravitational power from Kat is knocking over food stalls and people of the edges ultimately falling into oblivion.
There is plenty to do within the game away from the main story, as well as side quests Gravity Rush 2 introduces a subtle online element too, other players can set time trial challenges and post them online for other adventures to partake in. There is a ‘photo mode’ which, with the press of the d-pad, brings up a camera. If you find treasure, you can post the picture online for other players to hunt for the treasure with the aid of you photo. Completing these tasks unlocks Dusty Coins which can be exchanged for other valuables and time trials, offline and online alike, are great challenges and test your skill. The problems lay with the side missions and main story missions. The tedious and often infuriating side missions do very little to take advantage of Kat’s abilities, with quests in the form of eaves dropping, delivery, escort, and worst of all – instant fail stealth missions that have no place in a game that defies the laws of gravity. In a game that promotes freedom of movement and a world without limitations, it finds ways of keeping Kat’s feet on the ground. It is in these missions where the real issues with the camera angle are too, as you’ll get caught by a guard that was obscured and get hit by enemies that were off screen infuriatingly. Thankfully the original Gravity Rush composer has returned for this reiteration, and the incredible soundtrack does make the mundane tasks that Kat must endure that little bit better.Gravity Rush 2’s strength lays with its level design and the rare ability in video games to travel almost anywhere one may desire. Unfortunately, the developers have been exhausted of ideas from the previous game and struggled to present anything new and didn’t improve much on the formulae as the camera and combat still being its major downfall in this reiteration. It’s a shame, as Kat and the world she occupies is full of charm and style that is certainly unique that deserves more.
Final Verdict – 6.6