Friday, 22 June 2012

Review: Gravity Rush

Gravity Rush was one of the games I had seen when the Vita was making its final run to release, but sadly it was held back from launch until June, near three months after the handhelds launch in the UK.  Reviews had been largely positive of import copies and the game looked like an original IP that could go somewhere.

Graphically this shows off what can be done with the Vita

The game reminded me of Infamous with the open world city setting and super powered protagonist Kat.  Kat is the usual japanese anime heroine, being cute, a little naive and somewhat gullible as she struggles to remember who she really is.  Kat has the power to shift her centre of gravity allowing her to effectively fly to any location she can see, provided she has enough energy to do.  In game this is called 'shifting' and those who have these abilities are known as 'shifters'.  The general populace seem to hold people with these powers as something to be wary of, as they are seen to be trouble makers.

Other shifters make an apperance
The common enemy of the title is the 'Nevi' a strange gooish species who have developed glowing weakspots on their bodies as a means of fairplay.  There are numerous types you will encounter, each needing a different approach to defeat.  Some enemies will need you to hover above them and strike using a gravity kick, while more specialised enemies will require you to hit them enviromental objects to expose their weakspot.

Getting around is great fun in game and the controls are really simple.  A simple tap of the R shoulder button activates Kats hover and then its a case aiming with the right stick and pressing R again.  Kat will fly to the spot and then stick to it as if she is on the ground normally.  You can course correct several times during flight by pressing R again to stop and realign if need be.  Longer distances can be shortened by holding X to increase speed.  The scale of the city enviroments and the more unusual areas really allow you to explore and find plenty of hidden gems and NPC's to talk to.

The aforementioned gems act as a kind of exp system.  Collect enough and you power up Kats abilities.  Her maximum level rises the more kind acts you perform for the people, such as activating machinery to help them get around easier or bringing factories back online for people to earn a living.  Gems are scattered all around the enviroment for you to find, but they can also be awarded for completing side missions.  Side missions take the form of time trials, gauntlets, rescue missions and more and earning bronze, silver or gold award more gems.

Bosses and the nevi in general look weird
Combat is fun if not a little repetitive.  As I said earlier the Nevi have large glowing weakspots, that if hit hard enough or regular enough will kill them.  Small enemies can be kicked by Kat, while larger versions will require you to float above and aim a gravity kick for maximum damage.  You will likely use the gravity kick more than just normal attacks because it does more damage for a start and increases in power the further away you start the kick.  The Nevi are a varied lot though, so you will never be bored fighting them and the enviroments are interesting enough to add to the combat.

The main story can be charming or slow depending on how you like your stories.  Kat is suffering from the old amnesia plot thread and thus has no idea who she is and why she is in the city, so the early story levels will involve her getting to grips with her powers and the people of the world.  It picks up soon after though and is a pretty good story, taking at least ten hours to run through.

Many enviromental objects can be used as weapons
Extras to obtain include new costumes to ogle Kat in, such as a school uniform, catsuit and more.  DLC add ons increase the games lifespan with more costumes, missions and story so at least the DLC isn't just cosmetic.

Graphically Gravity Rush looks nice with brilliant use of cel-shading.  The world looks lived in and very fantastical, while the character detail is very good.  One of the more unusual aspects of the games graphics are the main story cutscenes which look like comic panels, except you can use the Vita's gyroscope to move the panels and see different angles of the images, which is nice.

Sound wise there is little voicework, and what there is mainly a mixed up language of japanese, french and russian.  The music though is great and sets the mood and atmosphere throughout the game.  Combat and game sound effects are good, although a little hampered by the Vita's small speakers, but its still very good.

costumes can be acquired in game and via DLC
Overall i would say Gravity Rush is a must buy for the Vita.  Its one of a few original IP's for the fledgling handheld that could expand into sequels quite easily, and it really shows off what the Vita can do when given enough time and attention.  It has a great story, fun combat and an interesting setting.

SCORE: 8.9/10


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