Review: Gravity Rush 2 (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Gravity Rush 2
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (17.14 GB)
Release Date: January 20, 2017
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: JAPAN Studio
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gravity Rush is easily one of my favorite Vita titles. It’s a fantastic game that really pushes the boundaries of the system. While the sequel makes the jump straight to the PS4, the game is no less enjoyable and the extra power gets put to good use.

Gravity Rush 2 again features Kat, starting shortly after the events of the original. In the time since the first game, Kat was caught in a gravity storm that transported to her to a far off land which was depicted in the Gravity Rush Overture animated short. There she becomes involved in another series of crazy events with the locals.

The story in Gravity Rush 2 is good, if a little by-the-books. Many of the twists are either telegraphed in advance or pretty easy to put together but I still enjoyed going through it. I like how even the side missions in the game help explore and expand the game’s story.

The overall tale can come off as a little episodic, with two mostly separate sections, neither of which is meaningfully connected to the first game either. After the credits roll though, it seems like there might be a third episode of sorts which might answer some questions from both games, however I have not had a chance to explore that yet.

Gameplay:
Kat is once again the protagonist and with that comes her signature gravity shifting. Shocking for a game called Gravity Rush, I know. Basically her powerset gives her, and the player, the ability to nullify and create gravity.

The biggest use of this ability is in being able to transverse the game’s open world areas. Simply setting the gravity to an upward direction will send Kat “falling” into the sky. Likewise, she can fall sideways or any which way to get around. Great for zipping up, over, or around the various floating cityscapes in the game.

Though the mechanic seem simple on paper, controlling gravity takes some getting used to. Even having played the first game, it took me a little while to remember just how to control it well. But after a couple of hours I was zipping around with ease.

… the gravity kick is still nuts …
Just like on the Vita, the gravity shifting is slightly enhanced by the ability to use motion controls to aim. It doesn’t seem as necessary as with the Vita’s comparatively subpar analog sticks but it’s nice to have. I didn’t use motion much, but it wasn’t distracting enough that I turned it off though the option exists.

Kat’s gravity powers aren’t restricted to just moving though, she can also use them in other ways. Kat’s other abilities include using gravity to slide along surfaces, float/throw objects, and to enhance her combat skills.

Combat was a touchy subject in the first Gravity Rush and the situation hasn’t changed much here. It’s still more than passable, but does have its flaws, mainly just in the power level of Kat’s different moves. In the first game, her gravity kick was wildly more powerful than the rest of her arsenal and though it’s slightly better here the gravity kick is still nuts.

On the ground, Kat can string together a few normal kicks but they aren’t particularly damaging. While in the air, she can use the aforementioned gravity kick to great effect. The kick still has the occasional problem of tracking on fast enemies, leaving Kat sailing straight past them.

… one of the best new additions to the series …
Throwing things is actually a strong part of the combat though. Kat can pick up errant small items, and some small enemies, and toss them. This is one of the more damaging attacks she has, but does rely on being able to find and grab stuff and throw it before she takes damage and drops the items. Sadly, I felt like I often would run out of stuff to pick up when trying this.

However, there is a nice mechanic that adds some more depth to the combat: the ability to switch gravity styles. Eventually in the story, Kat gains the ability to adopt either the Lunar or Jupiter gravity style which decreases or increases gravity respectively. These styles subtly change each of her abilities but generally make her faster but weaker for Lunar or slower but stronger for Jupiter.

It does seem odd that the Lunar style lets Kat jump higher when she can already float anywhere, but it’s a surprisingly fun way to get around. Likewise, the Jupiter enhanced gravity kick does a fantastic area of effect thing that is superbly satisfying. There are reasons to use both new styles and the regular style and I found this to be one of the best new additions to the series.

While the world in the game is open, don’t go in expecting an Ubisoft type open world. Rather than inundate the player with hundreds of meaningless activities, Gravity Rush 2 tries to offer just a few meaty side-missions and challenges. There are also some collectables floating around, and a few online-enabled doodads.

Missions employ a decent variety of goals to help highlight a variety of Kat’s powers. And it helps keep the game from getting dull. There are some stinkers though, notably some semi-stealth missions and a more-annoying-than-fun boss. Challenge missions add in some nice high score chasing tasks that I enjoyed.

One standout mechanic is the game’s photo mode. Rather than some passive photo mode, this one is like Kat is actually the one taking the photo. It’s a fun mode to mess around with, as Kat can place items or even put the camera on a tripod for a selfie. Plus some missions and online features use the camera mode.

… one of those “See that? You can go there!” kind of moments …
Visuals:
The world in Gravity Rush 2 is amazing and the visual direction is a big part of that. The floating islands that make up the world are not only fantastic for Kat’s powers, they’re also a joy to explore, from the patchwork and cobbled together shanty towns to the immaculate gardens of the high class.

The new area for the game is particularly impressive. It wasn’t apparent to me at first, but each of this area’s four sections is actually above one another. It’s possible to see the one above or below Kat’s position in one of those “See that? You can go there!” kind of moments. Hekseville is also fun to explore again, this time with a bit better quality.

There are some occasional small stutters to the game’s otherwise stunning graphics. Changing areas too quickly can occasionally get players too good a look at the lower-res distance textures. And the camera can be unwieldy, both in the, fortunately few, small enclosed areas and when rapidly whipping about in every direction.

Though some of the more action heavy story scenes are done using normal cutscenes, a lot are told through comic book like scenes. These look pretty cool, even with minimal animation. And moving around the DualShock shifts the panels slightly for a nice effect.

Audio:
Voice work comes in only one language, but it is not a real language. It sounds like a strange blend of Japanese and French. Not all scenes are voiced too, with some of the side-missions and conversations using just a few quick lines to help establish tone rather than sounding like everything the person is saying.

The soundtrack is pretty good overall. Each section of each area has its own music, plus a few more tracks for certain times or moods. Flying around one area for too long can lead to the loop of music slowly getting a little annoying, depending on the tune. Still, I liked the songs in the game. They’re a good match for the feeling I get from the world, or vice versa, I can’t tell.

… a few limited time missions …
Online/Multiplayer:
Strictly speaking, Gravity Rush 2 is all single player, but there are a few online components to help spice things up. As mentioned before, pictures taken in the game’s photo mode are part of that. These pictures can be shared online, earning the player Dusty Coins that unlock additional stuff for Kat. Anyone who finds a treasure chest in the world will also be prompted to take and share a picture of that, which becomes a mission for other players.

It would seem that there are also some kinds of online missions that Japan Studio can push out to players. On the pre-release servers, there were a few limited time missions which popped up. Additionally, there were some online alerts about special enemies or items being available in certain areas. These are all relatively minor things overall, but could be a fun way to add enjoyment to the game while working through the already present content.

Conclusion:
I absolutely adored the first Gravity Rush on Vita. Partly because of how much the game seemed to push the limits of the handheld but also because of the cool ability to shift gravity. Gravity Rush 2 doesn’t quite feel like it’s pushing the limits of the PS4, but flying around is no less fun now than it was before.

Despite some minor misgivings with the combat and the occasional annoyance of a mission, I really enjoyed it. It’s not often that I suddenly realize that it’s 2AM after a longer than expected gaming session, but that happened multiple times with this game. Once I was sucked into its gravity vortex, I often had trouble breaking myself free.

I’d recommend the game, especially to fans of the first one. It’s not required to enjoy Gravity Rush 2, but it’s a good game in its own right. I will say though, watching the animated short is advised, as it does help out a bit. Sadly, it’s not included with the game, but it is available for free on YouTube.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

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