Review: Gravity Rush (PSV)

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Title: Gravity Rush
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.5 GB) / Game Card
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: SCE Japan Studio (Project Siren)
Original MSRP: $35.99 (PSN) / $39.99 (Game Card)
ESRB Rating: T
Gravity Rush is exclusive to the PlayStation Vita.
The PlayStation Network Download version was used for this review.

Gravity Rush was the game I bought a Vita for. I’d get pumped every time I saw a trailer or screenshot. I would even go to my friend’s house to play his imported version early, just to get my fix. And then June 12th came around, I drove to the store, and picked up my copy. Now that I can understand the dialogue and story in English, I’m ready to explain the ins and outs of Gravity Rush.

Gameplay:
Gravity Rush is a game about Kat, a mysterious girl who falls from the sky with no memory. She quickly discovers her ability to control gravity with the help of her cat, Dusty. This is an origin story about an unexpected hero. The opening moments could be directly taken from Spider-Man, as Kat tests her abilities, failing, succeeding, and eventually learning how to properly manage her skills.

Kat can change the way gravity affects things around her. This is done rather seamlessly and took very little to get used to. First, you hit the right shoulder button, which lifts Kat into the air and adds an aiming sight. You look towards a wall, hit the shoulder button again, and you “fall” to the wall, which acts like a new floor for Kat. You can now run up and down the wall until your gravity meter runs out.

That is where Gravity Rush is so fun. I loved “falling” through town, collecting gems, and exploring the open world. It is really a shame that the world you explore is rather limited. But the vertical element of the city is brilliant, especially for a game like this. There were moments when I would be floating above nothing, fighting nevi, the bad guys, all while managing my gravity gauge. Those moments are heart-pounding to say the least.

Combat can be a little frustrating at times, especially later in the game. When you start out, you fight small nevi, but later on you will face giant flying monsters. There is an aim-assist, but even that can be fooled by the fast moving, flying creatures. I’d have a shot perfectly lined up, just to have the nevi move a little bit, and throw off my shot. This wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t have to then re-position myself at the correct angle again. It eventually got to the point where I would only use my lock-on special abilities to take down the big enemies. Although it made things easier, I felt as though I was cheating the game by doing that.

The story being told is nothing jaw-dropping, but it is enough to keep you interested. The only problem I had with the story is a lot of the characters come and go, with very little explanation or closure. But as an origin story, the game does a great job telling us about Kat and helping us flesh her out by our actions. You can go around town, fixing things up, helping out citizens, all in an effort to go from villain to savior.

The thing about Gravity Rush is its ability to get you stuck in its world. You feel totally immersed in this strange land. The story is nice enough to keep you interested, but it was just the open world that got me. I would lose hours upon hours just looking for gems or secrets. I would look up at the clock and be amazed by how much time had passed. If you go by story alone, I’d say it’s an 8 hour game. But with the gems, secrets, and optional challenges, I’d say you could put a good 20 hours into this title.

Visuals:
The visuals in Gravity Rush are the best on the Vita. There I said it. The world you explore is a mix between watercolor and cell-shading; it’s beautiful. I spent much of my time just falling through town, looking at the rooftops and people. The characters are memorable from their appearances alone. And your movements are properly reflected by the physics engine, when Kat falls, her hair blows in the wind. It all adds to the immersion.

The cutscenes are some of the best I’ve ever seen. The story transitions into a comic book, where you flip through frame after frame, reading the speech bubbles and staring at the art on screen. These cutscenes are drawn and look absolutely gorgeous. The complete aesthetic of Gravity Rush is perfect and beautiful, a feast for the eyes.

Audio:
The audio is nice. The overall background music is simple but catchy. Some tracks tend to get over-used, especially during the challenge missions. The environment sounds are realistic; you can hear the air rushing by Kat as she falls, footsteps sound like footsteps, etc.

There is very little voice work done in Gravity Rush. The little bit there is, is done in a French-like language. I say “French-like” language because, while I do not know French, numerous people online have said that it is not French. Either way, you won’t play this game for the voice work and subtitles are always on.

Online/Multiplayer: 
There are leaderboards for side challenges, a way to increase the game’s longevity. There is no direct mulitplayer but you can compare times and scores on the challenges. The challenges include gem races, time trials, and pitching challenges, to name a few. These are nice for those die hard fans, but I never really found myself competing against my friends in a score chase battle.

Conclusion: 
Gravity Rush was going to be a system seller. Now that I’ve played it extensively, both in Japanese and English, I might tone that idea back a little. While it might not sell a system, if you already own a Vita, there is no reason you shouldn’t have this game. It is a unique experience exclusive to the Vita. The gravity controlling mechanic is refreshing and the look of the game is just perfect. Despite its quirks and flaws, if you are looking for something to play, I highly suggest you play Gravity Rush. You won’t regret it.

Score:
8.5

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m4s0n501
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  • http://twitter.com/imperiumSG Andy M.

    great review,