Gravity Rush Review

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 Title: Gravity Rush
Developer: SCE Japan Studios
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 1.4 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: No

It’s pretty crazy to know that I’ve been writing reviews for almost 2 years now and I still have launch titles to make reviews for.  You’d think that after writing almost 290 reviews, I’d be through the majority of the Vita library, at least big titles.  How wrong that is.  Even among retail games, I’ve still got a good dozen Vita games to review, and even more in digital games.

One launch title that is especially important to the Vita community is Gravity Rush.  Uncharted is up there, too, but Gravity Rush was a new first-party IP created on the PS Vita.  The game was centered around the Vita hardware, even though it was originally planned to be a PS3 game.  Not only did it launch on the Vita, but its main character has made cameos in at least half a dozen other games, including being a playable character in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.

The Vita community is a little salty regarding Gravity Rush these days, though.  Not only did Sony announce that they were porting Gravity Rush to the PS4, but they announced a sequel with no word of a PS Vita version at all.  However, I’m not here to discuss drama and politics in the fanbase.  I’m here to give you a review!  So, here it is.  My official review of Gravity Rush!

Story

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Gravity Rush revolves around a young girl named Kat, whom awakens in a large city with no recollection of her past.  Not soon after her search for memories begins does she come across a cat that gives her the ability to control gravity, many towns folks calling her a “Shifter”.  After seeing another Shifter, of sorts, she goes in pursuit of her as well as others in a search for answers.

If that weren’t enough, a strange villain known as Alias appears in town and with them are shadow-like monsters known as Nevi.  With the unique ability to fight these monsters, Kat journeys across the city in search of answers, but also protecting its citizens as a sort of superheroine of sorts.

The story of Gravity Rush is different than most, as you are given almost no information on where you are, just like Kat isn’t.  You journey and learn about the world you’re in as you go, and it’s just as much a journey of discovery for you as it is for her.  I won’t say it’s an award-winning tale, but it’s definitely something that will strike your fancy if you’re sick of the more cliché stories in games nowadays.

Gameplay

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Gravity Rush is an sandbox action-adventure game with RPG and platforming elements thrown into the mix.  Throughout the game, you will be able to explore a huge sandbox area as well as taking on missions, side-missions, etc in order to progress the story.  For all intents and purposes, though, it’s mostly an action-adventure game.

In the game, you will be able to explore a huge sandbox environment freely, much like you can in the Grand Theft Auto games.  This world has missions on the map you can go and activate to do various things.  Some of these are story missions, while others are side missions or mini-games.  There are also Green, Red, and Silver Orbs you can collect freely which will add to your Health, Gem, or Gravity count.

Red orbs are important, because they are used to upgrade your skills.  You have a skill tree that helps enhance your abilities or give you new combat skills, entirely.  You have to collect gems to upgrade these.  So, if you want to get good quickly, you’ll be doing a lot of exploring from the get-go.  I wouldn’t advise that you waste so much time on it, but it’s your call.

Silver Orbs replenish your Gravity Gauge while it is in use, which brings aboard the most unique and important aspect of the game.  You can run, fight, and jump to move.  However, the easiest way is by Shifting.  In other words you can modify what type of gravity affects you, essentially allowing you to fly through the air for a limited amount of time.

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Gravity works in a few ways.  First, you can float and then direct yourself and fire yourself off.  While doing this, you can also do attacks that require gravity shifting.  You can also create stasis fields around you, letting you pick up anything around you, from boxes and barrels to people.  You can take them with you and must if you’re on an escort mission.  However, boxes can also be used to hurl at enemies to damage them without getting close, yourself.

Gravity Shifting is really neat and fun to use, but it feels a little on the clunky side.  When you’re flying and want to change direction, you have to tap a button to stop in mid-air.  Then, you have to move around and aim, and then launch yourself again.  This gets quite inconvenient in high stress situations, like boss fights.  It just feels like it could have been much more fluid if you had a little more control instead of moving, stop, turning, and then moving again.  It’s almost like a sort of tank control.

As I said before, combat can be done on the ground or in the air.  Every enemy, be it a boss or a normal enemy, has a shining red orb to show its weak point.  That’s the only place you can attack that will damage it.  While some enemies can be taken down with the normal flurry of kicks while grounded, many enemies cannot be defeated without you using gravity abilities.  Bosses are especially well-known for this.

As far as time is concerned, I would expect a single run through Gravity Rush to take around 10 hours, give or take.  There’s not an immense amount of side content to do, but there’s enough to keep you busy for a good while.

Controls

Controls are pretty simple, since they are explained to you.  One thing to note is that this game made use of the Vita’s hardware and showed it off.  So, as such, the menus can only be navigated with the touch screen.  There are also gyro/tilt controls for aiming yourself while in the air.  Granted, you can also aim yourself with the Analog Sticks, but the menus are touch only.  The touch screen is also the only way to do a roll to dodge incoming attacks.

Moving is done with the Left Analog Stick and moving the camera is done with the Right Analog Stick.  The D-Pad can be used to switch from first person and third person camera modes.  The L and R buttons can help you control gravity.  R can initiate zero gravity floating and launching, and L can activate normal gravity.  Now, for the face buttons.  X is used to jump and Square to attack.  Circle can create a stasis field.  This can sound a little complex, but the game does a wonderful job of explaining this to you as the need arises.

Presentation

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Visually, Gravity Rush looks good, but not as good as other games.  It’s certainly not as flawless as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, but it does look nice on the handheld.  You’ll be dealing with a few jagged edges here and there, but nothing major.

Performance-wise, it has its highs and lows.  Frame rate stays pretty stable throughout the game.  There were a few times where it had a minor drop, but nothing critical or major.  The biggest hindrance on the performance are the load times.  When you first boot the game or load a save, you can expect to be waiting quite a long time.  I’m talking a good 20 seconds or more.  When loading a new room while in a game can take as little as 3-4 seconds, this just doesn’t make sense.

Summary

Gravity Rush is one of those games that people showed as a reason to get a PS Vita.  While the gravity mechanics feel a little clunky and there are some meaty load times, this is a very large game with some pretty impressive physics and a type of story not often seen in the gaming world. 

8/10

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