|Developer||SIE Japan, Project Siren|
|Publisher||Sony Interactive Entertainment|
|Release Date||January 20, 2017|
Gravity Rush 2 is an open-world action game and sequel to the underappreciated Gravity Rush, first released on Playstation Vita almost five years ago. The second game follows on from the events of the first (and the Anime), seeing Kat torn away from her home in Hekseville, where she was basically a superhero, and stuck in a strange new land. She’s taken in by a group of miners who plunder gravity storms in search of precious ore.
The story of Gravity Rush 2 takes Kat on quite a journey. She goes from blue collar miner to social activist before the narrative eventually takes on world-saving ambitions. While the game’s first act (of three) slowly introduces a new cast of characters, it constantly gains momentum as events continue to build on top of each other. While the story isn’t particularly memorable it does fuel Gravity Rush 2’s ever expanding set pieces, with some truly epic encounters as the game progresses.
That’s not to say it’s a bad story. Gravity Rush 2 hits on some surprisingly relevant social commentary, particularly in its second act. It’s very unsubtle with its themes, like the criminal underworld being populated entirely by starving families abused and downtrodden by the upper class, but it helps ground the narrative. The game goes to great lengths to immerse you in its world and while the story can be a bit lacking, the wonderful cast of characters makes up the difference.
Gravity Rush 2 features a strong cast of well drawn characters. None more so than Kat herself. The Gravity Queen is an effortlessly likeable protagonist – relentlessly optimistic, constantly cheerful and one of the most lovable protagonists in recent memory. Her nonstop happiness is infectious and I caught myself smiling through a lot of her superheroics. Sony Japan has also built a largely excellent supporting cast around Kat and it was these characters, rather than the fairly average main plot, that kept me hooked.
From a gameplay perspective, Gravity Rush 2 is largely unchanged from its predecessor. It controls much better thanks to its move from Vita to Playstation 4 (which may or may not be a surprise to anyone who played the recent PS4 remaster). Kat’s gravity shifting is much better suited to a proper controller that gives players much finer control over the chaotic nature of the protagonists powers.
Exploring the world of Gravity Rush 2 sees the game hitting its stride. While the town of Banga, your home for the first act of the game, is quite small the game truly comes alive once you reach Jirga Para Lhao – a vast city filled with people, places and collectibles. Thanks to Kat’s ability to “fly” by changing gravity you can really go anywhere you like. Exploring the various nooks and crannies of the city by flying and walking across any surface is a lot of fun.
When you first arrive in Jirga Para Lhao the city you’re presented with is vast. Most of your exploration will yield gems, collectibles that you spend to upgrade Kat’s various abilities. There are also hidden treasures to find, usually talismans that bestow various improvements on Kat’s stats. In a neat twist, you can find these treasures thanks to photos taken by other players. When you’re near a treasure you’ll be given an option to view a photo that will provide you a clue to its location.
Combat is also largely unchanged in this sequel. Kat has her basic attacks, a series of high kicks used to destroy marauding Nevi or disable military forces. She can also use her gravity powers to float and fly around battlefields, as well as power moves such as the gravity slide and gravity kick, the latter seeing her launch herself at enemies like a gravity assisted torpedo. Gravity throw is the overpowered star here as Kat can pick up nearby objects and hurl them at enemies from afar.
New to Gravity Rush 2 are gravity styles. Unlocked partway through the game, Kat will have quick access to two new fighting styles. Lunar style makes Kat lighter, giving her quicker attacks and allowing her to leap and teleport at the expense of damage. Conversely, Jupiter style increases Kat’s weight, sacrificing maneuverability for bigger damage and area of effect style smash attacks. Both offer new tactical options in combat, though neither ever feels wholly essential.
Fighting is the most enjoyable part of Gravity Rush 2. When the game puts you in an arena against a variety of enemies is when you’ll be having a good time. Nevi come in various types, forcing you to adapt your tactics to deal with the differing avenues of attack. Even when you’re fighting military forces you’ll need to be wary of the different mechs and vehicles that will be thrown at you. You’ll also be joined in combat by Kat’s friend Raven, a fellow gravity shifter who joins the small list of actually competent AI partners.
Gravity Rush 2’s major problem is that you’re rarely thrown into a straight-up fight. The game is at its best during these moments, but these moments are depressingly quite rare. Gravity Rush 2 has a serious problem with its mission design. Rather than focus on the well designed combat, you’ll instead be forced to run gauntlets of poorly implemented stealth sections, ill thought out racing sequences and generally fairly mundane and ultimately boring mission objectives.
The further into Gravity Rush 2 I went, the more frustrated I became with its missions. There’s an excellent game hidden beneath a ton of wasted potential. Outside of combat, the game never really takes full advantage of Kat’s suite of powers, opting to force players through a raft of annoying mission objectives, rather than letting them kick ass. Side missions fare the worst – they’re the best way to interact with and learn more about the excellent supporting cast, but nine times out of ten they’re simply dull.
Even combat isn’t without its aggravations. There’s no lock-on function in Gravity Rush 2, which makes hitting your intended target with a gravity kick feel maddeningly inconsistent. Thanks to the way your gravity shifting powers work, losing control of the camera is a frequent occurrence. While this isn’t a massive problem in wide open areas, the game often throws you into combat in tight areas, which make it extremely difficult to have a clue what’s even going on during the chaos of a fight.
It’s also worth mentioning that the game looks fantastic. It feels like an Anime and looks like a Saturday morning cartoon. The bright colours and hand-drawn art style complement the tone and feel of the game perfectly. The comic book style cutscenes that Gravity Rush 2 opts for are also a delight, proving an excellent way to convey the game’s story and fitting in brilliantly with its superhero-inspired main character.
Gravity Rush 2 is a frustrating game. I want to love it more than I actually do. I love the setting, the characters and the premise of playing a happy-go-lucky superhero with gravity shifting abilities. Kat is the cutest, most likeable protagonist you’re likely to come across all year. When the game is in full flow, either during its awesome comic book style cutscenes or during its large scale combat, it’s superb. Unfortunately the game is far too comfortable simply forcing players through lazy content. A sizeable chunk of the gameplay isn’t actually all that fun to play. It’s a shame, because Gravity Rush 2 has the potential to be exceptional, but is instead held back by baffling design choices. It’s still a good game, but I can’t help but feel like it could be so much more.
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