Gravity Rush review
Gravity Rush was my reason for picking up a Vita at launch, because it was set to be a launch title for the longest time (it was already out in Japan too) and it looked really cool. When launch came, I had a Vita and no games (so I got Army Corps of Hell to compensate for the lack of Gravity Rush). It took 4 months and buying Hot Shots Golf in desperation to finally see the release of Gravity Rush, but it finally came out.
Was the wait worth it? Read on and see!
Date of Release: June 12th 2012
Platforms: Vita (whoa!)
Rated T for Teen
The game is pretty… Which is a weird thing for me to say since the game is predominantly brown, which is my common criticism of most modern games when it comes to graphics, that being that most of them are just brown. But it uses the color properly. There are still a lot of contrasting colors, it has a cel-shaded style with anime-ish character designs, and it has a pretty nice variety of areas to visit. The character designs are fun and each character is easily recognizable, and there’s a lot going on overall, it’s pretty impressive to look at I’d say, with very nice animations to just make everything look really smooth stylistically. I also really like the game’s alternative to fog, where, instead of rendering everything, you’ll see outlines of far-away buildings on a colored background, it looks really cool.
The one graphical problem this game has, however, is a massive lack of anti-aliasing. I… frankly thought the Vita could easily handle Gravity Rush’s high level of graphics without problem, but it seems like every character model and even building is pretty highly pixelated from the lack of anti-aliasing. I know to expect the 3DS to have such problems, but not the comparatively much stronger Vita with a much more awesome screen. I don’t know if this is a result of the game being rushed, or if the graphics are just too much for the Vita, but it’s surprisingly glaring, especially considering this isn’t something I ever really pay attention to at all.
As for sound, the game… sounds fine. There’s some cool special effects for hitting/destroying enemy weak points, the music is always fitting and has a pretty dramatic tone overall and…. well I won’t comment on the voice acting since it’s in a language that doesn’t exist.
The game’s biggest problem
I didn’t talk about the story in the presentation part because this is this game’s biggest problem. This is a problem a lot of games have this generation actually… It doesn’t have an ending. Seriously, there’s no closure to the story whatsoever, the game doesn’t end. As the game’s credits are rolling, nothing is resolved. You still know nothing about Kat or Raven or Yunica or the Creators or the villain (who gets sort of introduced in the ending scene… seriously), there are still unresolved story arcs, and the whole ending scene is basically “buy the next game!”…. Which won’t ever get released! Why do I know that? Well, because it didn’t sell well (not even 200k worldwide as of this writing), so the average modern game company will decide to not release a sequel for a game that didn’t sell millions. It doesn’t really matter to me how enjoyable the rest of the story was (note: it was pretty fun even though some parts made little sense), when you get to the end and there’s nothing there.
This is something a lot of games did this generation. Splatterhouse was great but barely sold, so the cliffhanger will never get resolved. Bulletstorm did the same thing. Vanquish did the same thing. It seems every game that comes out recently is used as a vehicle to promote a sequel which may or may not happen… And I think that sucks.This isn’t something that happened often before. Games didn’t really need to get set up for sequels, we just got sequels and that’s it. Either we got new stories with the same characters, or, say, different characters at a different moment in said game world’s history (with Zelda being the prime example… or Breath of Fire).
I guess this is a plea to game devs: Make complete stories! Stop teasing us with sequels that might not even happen! I’m not saying every game does that of course, but it’s crazy how often this crappy situation arises. You can make sequels without setting up for them in the first game, and in the end that makes the first game a more complete and memorable experience.
This game is pretty fun to play, to a point.
The main gameplay mechanics is shifting gravity. Rather than actually flying (like it looks like Kat and Raven do in the cutscenes), you actually float (using the R button) and decide a direction to “fall” towards (aiming either with the motion sensor or the right analog stick and pressing R or X to start moving). You can also cancel your gravity shift completely (with the L button) to get back to normal gravity.. This actually controls really well and becomes the funnest part of the game, as you’ll probably end up spending most of your time just exploring the world. While there’s not a lot to specifically do in it, there’s still a lot to see, and gems to find. Being able to literally go everywhere at your whim means that you get a great view of how the game’s world looks and feels and not a lot of games really do that. The game is really at its best when you’re not really doing anything. Oh, and the best part is that there’s no fall damage, so you have no real limitations movement-wise.
Combat is where this game kinda loses me. It’s not terrible per say, it’s just not varied, and way too easy. You have 2 basic attacks here: normal kicks, and gravity kicks. Normal kicks are obviously only useful on the ground (or low-altitude enemies if you kick in the air), and if you kick RIGHT after jumping you get a slightly stronger axe kick, but it’s not terribly useful as most enemies are airborne. So most of the combat revolves around Gravity Kicking (I.E.: float, aim as usual to gravity shift, press Square to kick)… and it’s not as functional as it should be. There is somewhat a lock-on system that barely works when you gravity kick, and sometimes it goes haywire and just makes you spin around weirdly if you miss the enemy. It’s just not really that fun to gravity kick stuff all the time. Oh, and I’ll take this time to mention that having to swipe the touch screen to avoid attacks suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.
Oh, but there is another attack option, there is a spiraling special attack you unlock early on. It has a minute or so of cooldown, but it homes in on enemies and does crazy damage. Most of the tougher battles can be won with just that attack. It makes the whole thing a bit mindless. Since you can just “spam” that attack to win. There are other special attacks, but I never found a use for them compared to the spiraling one…. Oh you can also slide… I never found a use for that beyond one segment in the late-game, it’s just another badly-implemented touch screen feature.
What else is there here? Not much, really. Gems you find around the town can be used to power up various attributes (kick power, time you can stay in gravity shift, recovery time for gravity shifting, fall speed, sliding, health, special attacks), and there are side-missions to unlock which are basically races and battles, where better performance gives a better reward… not much overall. Between every mission you can find NPCs to talk to, and there are also hidden NPCs all over the place that the map doesn’t mark, so there’s some stuff to find… just not a whole lot.
I know this sounds like a negative review, but it really isn’t. Gravity Rush is definitely a good game and I loved playing through it, I think it just needed more polish on its gameplay. The combat could very easily be more fun, more challenging and less repetitive, and I’m sure the base mechanics of gravity shifting could lead to more gameplay variety than “flying around and finding gems” (which, I re-iterate, was really fun to me). It feels like I really had more fun outside of missions since I could do whatever I wanted, while the missions are really boring… seriously nothing more than “go to this marker, go to that marker, maybe beat a bunch of easy-to-kill enemies, go to another marker”… They didn’t have any better ideas than that?
The game does look great though, and the story is fun until the end which is just really stupid “buy the sequel if we make it!”. And, despite the ending being bad, I still had a good experience.
It’s definitely the best thing on Vita right now (well, except for Disgaea 3, but I don’t count that since I already have it on PS3), but it’s still quite lacking. Like many other games this generation, it’s wasted potential. Lots of great ideas, just not used as well as they could be.
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