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Developer: SIE Japan Studio, Project Siren
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Released: Janurary 18, 2017
While I’m never going regret my decision to never purchase a PSVita, I have to admit it had a few exclusive games I always wanted to play. As you can tell by the title of this review, the first Gravity Rush was one of them. So, you can imagine my excitement when PS4 owners were finally able to play the remastered version of it last year. While it wasn’t anywhere close to being a perfect game, especially as it ended just as its story finally got interesting, it was still one of my favourite games of the year. And now that Gravity Rush 2 has arrived, I’m happy to report that fans of the original game are going to be starting 2017 off with an impressive sequel.
It’s worth mentioning right off the bat that if you haven’t played the first Gravity Rush, this is not the game to start with. The story continues on from the last game, finding our main character, Kat, stranded in the new, colour-filled city of Jirga Para Laoh after a gravity storm sweeps her away from her home town. Determined to reunite with her gravity-shifting BFF, Raven, and get back home, Kat will need to face new threats, as well as her long-forgotten past.
Probably one of the biggest improvements that Gravity Rush 2 has over its predecessor is just how much better its story is, primarily due to its surprisingly poignant tale of the city’s class struggle. It’s not long into the game before you start seeing the injustices that the city’s people deal with. The poor live in depressing squalor, having to rely on thieves to steal from others to survive, while the rich hog resources that everyone else desperately needs. After witnessing both sides first-hand, Kat pushes herself to become a hero for the lower-class as she attempts to fix the city’s broken and unfair system. And even though this part of the story is fairly short-lived and doesn’t make any ground-breaking revelations on the topic, it’s still pretty interesting to see a such a light-hearted game like this attempt to talk about a relatable social issue, where other games could have easily shied away from it.
If you’re a fan of the original game, you’ll remember how its story left a lot of questions about Kat’s amnesiac past unanswered. By the end of the game you still had no idea who she really was, where she came from, or why she has gravity shifting powers. Well you’ll be pleased to know that Gravity Rush 2 has you covered this time around, giving you satisfying answers to the burning questions left from the last game before wonderfully wrapping up the series story.
The world of Gravity Rush 2 itself has a plethora of breathtaking sights to explore. Every inch of the world is bursting with colour, ensuring that your main task of flying around the city is never a boring one. Even more remarkable is how Gravity Rush 2’s improved sense of scale from the previous game relates back to the story, seeing the poorer citizens in the fog-filled slums sectioned off at the lowest level of the city, while the rich live it up in the always-sunny mansions found at the highest reaches of the city. While it’s only a small touch, it’s definitely a cool moment when you discover it for yourself, helping to not only make the world feel more alive, but make you sympathise with the people that Kat has vowed to help.
But Gravity Rush 2 isn’t just a treat for the eyes, it’s also a treat for the ears. Almost every piece of music in the game is a joy to listen to, each capturing the feeling of the vibrant world. From the sweeping and heroic orchestral tracks, to the swinging jazz and rock mixes, I guarantee that at least one of these songs will put a smile on your face as it accompanies whatever task you’re carrying out.
When it comes to gameplay, Gravity Rush 2 hasn’t changed up its formula since the last outing, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. Being a “Gravity Shifter”, Kat has the ability to control how gravity affects her and the things around her, allowing her to hover, run along walls, and fall through the air like a less-coordinated Superman. You’ll fly around from place to place, completing story missions and side quests that either involve fighting or utilizing Kat’s abilities in various ways like running along the underside of buildings to sneak past guards. Since Kat has kept all of her powers since the last game, fans of the original will feel right at home as they fly around and drop-kick enemies at breakneck speeds.
Speaking of which, fans will also be happy to know that the core combat mechanics haven’t changed from the previous game either. While Kat has a basic punch and kick combo to take out enemies, her go-to moves are still her aerial “Gravity Kick” and the ability to pick up surrounding objects and hurl them at targeted foes. While you’ll be using these attacks for a majority of the story, combat very rarely gets dull thanks to the wide variety of enemy types the game throws at you, each with different levels of mobility and ways to attack, forcing you to mix up your moves as you bounce from target to target.
Where the gameplay does change however, is the introduction of “Gravity Styles”, which affect Kat’s mobility and attack power. These come in two forms: Jupiter and Lunar, with Lunar making attacks weaker but much faster, while Jupiter makes Kat significantly slower, but lands heavier blows. While you can swap between these new styles at any time with the flick of the controller’s touchpad, the moments where you’ll feel they’re necessary to winning fights are rare at best. As much as the game tried to push me into using them, I always felt as though my standard attacks were much easier to control and could get the job done just as well, if not better. As a result, the only times I ended up using either new style were the moments when the game took away my ability to switch.
Unfortunately, as much as Gravity Rush 2 improves on its predecessor in a number of ways, it still doesn’t escape some of its similar shortcomings. Despite being the main method of attacking enemies, the targeting for Kat’s gravity kick is still pretty iffy, leading to a lot of fights in which you’ll end up flying right past your intended target simply because they moved a hair’s length out of the way. And that’s only if the camera doesn’t flip out on you because it’s collided with something in the environment.
But the most prevalent of these remaining issues is primarily seen when it comes to how Gravity Rush 2 handles its story pacing. While I think the story on offer is still significantly more engaging and satisfying than that of the original, it does feel as though the game is rushing towards the end so that you can learn about Kat’s mysterious past. Conflicts end almost immediately after they’re introduced, making their resolutions feel less impactful than they should be. It was definitely a little disheartening to find that one of the biggest conflicts of the game was resolved following a fairly standard battle and a cutscene that suddenly stated “and then everything got better”
One new addition I did find myself enjoying immensely was the new online-based “Treasure Hunt” missions. Every now and then, you’ll receive notifications from other players that contain pictures of them standing next to a treasure box hidden somewhere in the city. Should you choose to look for it, you’ll be dropped off somewhere near the box’s location, with your only hint as to its whereabouts being the picture the player took with the box. So if you want to grab the goodies inside, you’ll need to keep an eye out for any landmarks that can help you track down your prize. What’s neat about these missions is that, if you manage to locate the box you’ll be asked to take your own picture with the treasure box, which is then sent off for another player to find. While not important to completing the game, these little side-missions give Gravity Rush 2 an odd, but welcome sense of comradery as other players you’ll never meet help you obtain useful loot to level up Kat’s abilities, then ask you to pay the favour forward to help out other players.
Overall, I would happily recommend Gravity Rush 2 to those who enjoyed the first game for its stunning presentation, entertaining gravity manipulation mechanics, and satisfying wrap up the tale of Kat the Gravity Queen. While very little has been added to change up the original game’s core gameplay, fans definitely won’t be disappointed by how much there is to see and do this time around. Ultimately, it’s the sequel that you want with a lot more than you expect.
Final Score: 4/5
Final Recommendation: If you’re a fan on the first game, grab it now!
Writer: Tristan Venables