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Avatar ImageReview: Gravity Rush
By: | June 20th, 2012 | Vita
PS Vita |Review

If you have been following the Playstation Vita in some way, shape, or form, odds are you have seen something regarding Gravity Rush.

Nearly every Vita ad or coverage spot has mentioned something about the super-hyped game, mostly due to the fact that the concept art is nothing short of astounding.

A year and some change later, and it’s finally here. So is it truly a system seller?

Gravity Rush is the tale of a newly made super hero (heroine) named Kat. Kat is not accustomed to saving the day, nor is she ready to accept the power that she’s given at the beginning of the game: the power to control gravity.

Although it has the contrived over-arching theme of a “lost memory”, Kat is one of the only truly likeable main characters out of all the super hero games I’ve ever played. Kat isn’t painfully generic like Cole from inFamous, nor is she uncomfortably ruthless like Alex Mercer from Prototype.

The “super” theme is driven home by a number of anime comic book style story sequences, which help add to the game’s charm. If your thing is pure exploration, Gravity Rush is one of the best venues for it on the entire market. There’s nothing quite like floating around at high speeds around the beautiful town of Hekseville, whether it’s creating meta-games like chasing trains, or finding hidden gems that allow you to level up your various abilities.

I’m not one who usually wanders around aimlessly for long periods of time, but I just couldn’t help myself here. Kat’s abilities are really easy to control. In the top left hand corner of the screen, there’s a meter that displays how long you can fly around/manipulate gravity — it also serves as your all-in-one ability meter.

By pressing “R” on the Vita, Kat will start floating — if you press “R” again, you’ll float towards wherever the reticle on the center of the screen is — if you press L, you’ll drop to the ground. Sound simple enough? Well, it is, and thankfully Kat’s scarf will always drop in the direction of “the floor”, so you won’t ever get too disoriented.

If your thing is pure action however, you’re most likely going to come away completely disappointed. Outside of a few sparingly used super attacks, Kat’s combat abilities are extremely boring (which pair up with some pretty uninspired enemies and boss fights).

In fact, there’s no other way to say it: combat is terrible. Most of the enemies in the game can  be beaten in the same way — by floating in the air, and using the gravity kick. You can quickly repeat this ability over and over, and if your meter is down, all you have to do is land, recharge, and repeat.

Because you can easily change your position through your gravity ability, and gravity kick at lightning speed, pretty much nothing in the game can compete with your prowess (in fact, I only died once due to combat in the entire game).

The shallowness would be fine if the enemies all didn’t look like the same variation of glowing black blob — but most do. Nearly all of them have a giant red glowing ball that denotes their weak spot, which can induce some fairly yawn inducing moments. Like Mirror’s Edge, the game truly shines in exploration and adventure: not through combat.

In terms of content, Gravity Rush delivers in spades. Not only are there a decent amount of story missions, but there’s a number of challenge rooms, races, secret items, hidden gems, and abilities (in addition to three DLC packs).

All of the challenge areas are accessible from the world map, and can be repeated to your heart’s content. Speaking of the map, it looks incredibly smooth on the Vita’s OLED screen, and does absolutely everything you need it to do.

Musically, Gravity Rush is leaps and bounds ahead of most adventure games — the soundtrack is just phenomenal. Very rarely do I find myself getting caught up in a game’s score, or show any interest in picking it up externally, but I couldn’t help myself here. The game’s sound effects are also equally impressive: make sure you play with a nice pair of headphones.

When it’s distilled to it’s core, Gravity Rush is basically a more charming, neutered version of Prototype. The world and it’s inhabitants are more wholly original than most open-world games, but action wise, the game just doesn’t hold up over time. Normally this wouldn’t be as much of an issue if Gravity Rush didn’t shove the action bits down your throat.

If there was less of a focus on required action and forced confrontation (like Fez did so wonderfully), it would have been a much better game. As it stands, Gravity Rush is an enjoyable romp through a world without gravitational limitations.

This review was based on a retail copy of Gravity Rush for the Playstation Vita.

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