Review: Gravity Crash Ultra (PSV)

gravity-crash-ultra-review-banner

Title: Gravity Crash Ultra
Format: PlayStation Network Download (93 MB)
Release Date: August 12, 2014 (US) / August 13, 2014 (EU)
Publisher: Just Add Water
Developer: Just Add Water
Original MSRP: $8.99 (US), €6.99 (EU), £5.49 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
Gravity Crash Ultra is exclusive to the PlayStation Vita.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
A few years ago, I happened to see a teaser image of an upcoming game that we knew nothing about (it’s not even there any more). It featured a very small area of a screenshot showing something I hadn’t seen in years, Vector Graphics. They were something used in the 80’s in Arcade Games like Asteroids, Battlezone, and my favorite, Red Baron, among other things (especially the Vectrex home console!) It was a small image, but I was immediately excited at the prospect of some true retro gaming, so I started conversing with the person tweeting, and that person became our now good friend Stewart Gilray from Just Add Water.

2014-08-05-155604

When we finally started getting information on the new game, I was quite excited. This is a style of game that we’d not seen for a long time, and it brought back so many memories from my earlier days. The original Gravity Crash hit the PS3 back in November 2009, with a port to the PSP in August 2010. So what do we get with the “Ultra” version of Gravity Crash on the Vita?

Check this out:
· More particles
· The Zoooomy Effect™
· Color-coordinated debris
· Improved “painting” system in editor
· 60 FPS, native resolution gameplay
· New improved graphics renderer
· Particles “turned up to 11”, meaning bigger guns, bigger explosions
· Improved weapons VFX
· Improved landscape and lighting effects
· Better visual effects
· Improved radar
· New GUI graphics
· New “anti-grav” space ship (Note from Glenn, “Booooooo”)
· Three ships used to give difficulty levels
· Mission notification system improved
· Better audio throughout the game
· Remixed soundtrack by CoLDSToRAGE
· New pickup voice-over

Overall, it’s the same game as it was on the PS3, but as you can see, a lot of work has been done to make it even better, and it is. This is truly the definitive version of Gravity Crash, and having it naively on the Vita is pretty great. Controls have moved to the smaller Analog Sticks perfectly, and that’s a good thing since you’ll need precision to traverse through some of the tighter areas of the maps. For those that haven’t seen this game before, check out the trailer, and then we’ll talk about what it’s all about.

Gravity Crash Ultra is an old-school skills-based exploration shooter. You pilot one of 3 ships, all of which control differently. The toughest way is to actually control your thrust, no matter which way your ship is facing, by pressing up on the D-Pad or Analog Stick, and fire your weapon with a button/trigger in the direction your ship is facing. Another option though, is to fly your ship by pointing to when you want to go, then fire your weapon with the right stick like a typical twin-stick shooter. The last way takes all of the gravity out of the game, which defeats the entire purpose of playing the game, or even calling it Gravity Crash at all. The whole point, at least to me, is similar to how the old Arcade Game Gravitar played, where you have to use your skills to get to your goal despite gravity pulling you down constantly, and this game handles the mechanic brilliantly.

2014-08-11-094902

Use your guns to destroy obstacles, enemies of all shapes and sizes, activate switches, and even to destroy specific walls to reveal secret areas. It’s an exploration of the levels within each planet, and it requires concentration and skill to get through without killing yourself or running out of fuel. Don’t fret though, if you’re the type of person that enjoys a good speed-run, Just Add Water has you covered with Online Leaderboards for every level, and if this is anything like the PS3 version, the competition is going to be tough.

Visuals:
The visual style is what brought me to this game originally, and it looks even better now. As you see above, particle effects have been turned-up quite a bit, and the additional lighting and how it interacts with the foreground visuals is pretty epic when you think about how great this game looked on the PS3. The framerate is silky-smooth, and the colors are insanely vibrant on the Vita’s wonderful screen. To me, it’s a game that’s always looked fantastic, and the upgrades have made it just that much better.

2014-08-11-094951

Audio:
Oh, that CoLDSToRAGE soundtrack…..

I’ve always been a huge fan of the soundtrack, and from the first note that played through my headphones, a smile was on my face. It’s decidedly retro with a hint of modern beats, and I love it. Sound effects too, fit the game perfectly, and sound as great as they did on the PS3 and PSP versions. Also yes, I do suggest using headphones with this one. That makes it so much easier to get pulled-in to the experience.

Online/Multiplayer:
There’s no multiplayer in Gravity Crash Ultra but as I mentioned previously, Online Leaderboards are available for every level of the game. Also, there’s a full Level Editor, and you can share any created Levels with everyone else. The tools are quite easy to use, so if you’re the creative type, get to work on your own Level!

2014-08-11-095426

Conclusion:
I’ve been a fan of this game since it came out back in 2009, and having it on the Vita is just gravy on the butter. It doesn’t make you struggle with the controls on the shorter Analog Sticks, and it really does fit perfectly on the handheld. I hope this will sell well enough to possibly evoke some kind of sequel or a new game with a similar visual style. Give it a try if you like a challenge with a ton of replayability. There’s something here for everybody, and it’s such a great taste of nostalgia at the same time.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook