Review – Gravity Rush 2

Riding off the niche but dedicated fan base of its original, Gravy Rush 2 is back with all the gravity flipping action we could hope for. Kat’s been cast out from her homeland, and has to battle her way through social injustices and an exposition of her own mysterious past in this exploration-heavy cel shaded beauty. In case you didn’t know, and if you don’t you’re going to struggle getting to grips with this title, Kat can manipulate gravity so as to free fall through urban environments at her every whim – pretty exciting right? It is.

We were promised a new level of vibrancy to our city space in Gravity Rush 2, and Toyama has delivered. The PS4 widescreen breathes life into a city bustling with a dynamic population. You’ll be getting a lot more intimate with the inhabitants of your location this time around, as indicated by their initial terror as you drop from the sky before them on the street.The quirky charm of the original is retained even down to these NPCs who provide many of the side-missions that will greet you through your exploration. It’s clear that devs weren’t joking when they revealed that the game would feature a lighter, more energetic backdrop. Colours scream from the screen and render your surroundings an electrifying sight to behold, especially from the great heights of your gravity-defying perspective.

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While the initial appeal of an open world is retained from the original title, it’s clear that devs have been a lot more ambitious in their scope this time around. While there is certainly an abundance of external city structure, this abundance doesn’t necessarily run deep. If the PS Vita limited the gameworld size in 2012, the PS4 stretches it out. The result feels like a handheld-console hybrid where everything looks fantastically huge but in fact yields very little behind closed doors, much like an old Western set full of external building fronts hiding crude wooden panels behind them.

In the nitty gritty however, the cel-shaded graphics are an eye watering spectacle to behold. Clean and crisp, each character and design holds a level of detail that breaths life and colour into every movement.

These characters carry the soul of Gravity Rush 2, but unfortunately it’s easy to let the storyline escape you. While the charm of the NPCs, not to mention Kat herself, carries side-missions well, your main narrative focus can often get lost underneath a heavy stream of battles if you play the campaign through straight. An episodic structure of three sections sees missions and side quests split into these three varied narratives.

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The first chapter is a bizarre introduction to the sequel that may send some running. A gravity storm has blown Kat far away from her hometown and she finds herself in the midst of a mining community. Separated from Dusty the cat, she is unable to use her powers and must slum it from the ground. This initial exposition is underwhelming. For a title so renowned for its core mechanics, it’s surprising that the sequel wouldn’t jump straight into the action. Instead we are forced to sit through a series of repetitive missions that feel like an upside down version of the Gravity Rush we used to know and love. The game feels a little more like home when we are introduced to the city of Jirga Para Lhao. This is where those graphics we were raving about truly shine, though the game’s dealing of the class injustice themes it grapples with is fairly uninspired.

Flying through this urban jungle feels even better than it did on the small screen. As you explore the city you’ll quickly gain an insight into its inner workings, helped in no small part by the ingenious ties forged between the side missions and main campaign. With the completion of each side quest, the NPC who assigned the job rewards you partly by allowing you an insight into where they fit into the wider schema of the world. The city grows ever more in life and dynamism with every nugget of information learned, which achieves that higher level of immersion Toyama was going for.

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Combat parameters have been expanded thanks to the new gravity modes at your disposal. Jupiter gravity weighs you down, your movements become heavier but your attacks are also heftier.  Lunar mode, on the other hand, lightens your load and allows you to jump further and zip through the air with a certain feathery quality. The clincher is in the fact that the game never actually prioritises one mode over the other, so you’re free to develop your own play style based on a mix of the two.

You’ll either love or hate the boss battles. While they are certainly formidable they are at times far too exaggerated, and sport crude glowing weak spots that put a halt on any creativity required in your approach. This, alongside unrelenting camera problems and certain resulting issues with the otherwise handy auto-target feature, can often cause an enraged departure from the game which is a shame considering the potential of the rest of the title. Little can go as expected in Gravity Rush 2. While this works spectacularly for conventional flight exploration and storylines, in combat you’ll be wishing for something slightly more attuned to your movements.

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It’s important to take Gravity Rush 2 for what it is. Which is an excellent exploration title with a depth of story that can be daunting for some, but is ultimately charming and endearing. However, there are certain aspects of gameplay which sour the mood. Bizarre stealth missions are thankfully few and far apart, and relatively sparse in length, however their existence at all in a game based on brash and loud mechanics feels like a last ditch attempt at mechanic variation. It’s fallen flat, and sits incredibly awkwardly between fast action, high impact sequences.

As you can expect, Gravity Rush 2 is a game based on a bird’s eye view of the world. It’s a macro adventure that sees you doing everything from flying solo above the rooftops to taking part in mass scale online treasure hunts over the streets. Somewhat strangely, then, developers decided to use collectable gems hidden on street level as currency in a skill progression system. It feels far too small scale, finicky even, to work in a game as broad and sweeping as this. Plus, skill progression feels arbitrary and pointless when it can be attained outside any campaign.

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There are certainly a few issues that raise eyebrows in Gravity Rush 2. However, on the whole it provides a charismatic return to the mechanics that made the series a cult hit. Ambitious and creative, Gravity Rush 2 sometimes misses the mark in design decisions, however it makes up for it in its thriving game environment and intuitive new combat systems.

System: PS4

Price: £45 / $59.99

@MusingsTwit

 

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