Any direction is up in Gravity Rush.

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by TRACY-MARK GORGAS / Special contributor to NWCN.com

KING5.com

Posted on June 22, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 6:21 PM

Gravity usually works in one direction, but what if you could change that?  Gravity Rush provides an interesting answer to that question. Psych yourself up for that first step, it’s a long drop.

Story

In the floating city of Hekseville life is gloomy.  Random dimensional storms have ripped parts of the city away and creatures called “Nevi” attack from within these storms.  Literally dropped into the city is Kat, a young woman that has no memory of who she is or where she came from.  Kat is soon befriended by an equally mysterious black cat she names Dusty.  Dusty grants her the power to manipulate gravity.  At first Kat is seen as one of the problems the people of Hekseville have to face, but as she saves people and recovers sections of the city she endears herself into becoming more of a hero.

The story plays out in small bits with each mission.  Kat’s story is never quite fleshed out and many of the mission stories feel unfinished, yet on the whole they all kept my interest and curiosity up.

Controls and Gameplay

Gravity Rush breaks down into an open world third-person action adventure game.    You can wander around the city and do what you want, but you are limited to story missions and challenge missions.  The challenge missions consist of races or enemy brawls that are unlocked by using gems that Kat finds scattered around the city.  Players can also use these same gems to improve Kat’s powers.
 
Kat’s main power is gravity manipulation.  With the press of the “R” button on the Vita she will start floating.  Then players can either use the right analog stick or tilting the Vita itself to aim Kat and pressing “R” again.  She will then “fall” in the direction you aimed.  You can’t change direction as she falls, but a quick press of “R” again will cause her to start floating again then you can reorient her direction if need be.
 
Most of your attacks will center on that initial “float” of the “R” button.  As you progress through the game you will unlock other attacks, each a bit more powerful than the last.  The gravity kick will be your default attack as the rest will depend on a special power meter that has a cool down period.

Graphics and Sound

Gravity Rush is a graphical treat.  Its style is a mash-up of anime, graphic novels and the watercolor art work of Moebius.  The latter is no coincidence, game director, Keiichiro Toyama, has stated that Moebius’ comics were the inspiration for the world of Gravity Rush.   The draw distance is limited, so there is a little bit of graphical “pop in” as you move across large areas.

The soundtrack is cheery with each part of the city getting its own musical style.  I especially enjoyed the jazzy sounds in the “entertainment district” of Pleajeune.

Overall

The PlayStation Vita when it launched had a fair amount of games, but none of them were games that really sold the system.  Gravity Rush might be the first.
 
Gravity Rush’s gravity manipulation powers make for a fun and unique twist on the superhero game.  Kat is not graceful in the least; all of her landings tend to be crash landings.  You half expect her to lay there in pain, but she just gets up and continues on in her own merry way.  The combat does get a bit cumbersome later in the game, as the aiming mechanic is not the most precise in the world.  I tended towards using the analog stick for aiming, but because the tilt aim is always on I would sometimes find myself fighting against it.  Later game bosses almost require you to use the more powerful attacks, which then slows the battle down because you have to run and hide while you wait for the cool down period to pass.

Kat’s story never really wraps up and in some ways it makes sense.  As you play she will have concerns about who she is, but moments later her concerns turn to more real world events like chasing a handsome young man, getting furniture for her home or just plain helping the people of the city.  Whether that help is returning whole lost sections from another dimension or finding enough gems to power up the street lights, it’s related in a quirky anime fashion, but interesting enough to keep your attention.

I really like Gravity Rush.  It’s a fun world to explore and a unique way of playing.  I hope they make a sequel, but I don’t feel it’s quite a “must have” game because of its “niche-ness”.  I do think that if you own a Vita you owe it to yourself to at least play the demo; you might find yourself wanting to play more.

I give Gravity Rush a 4.5 out of 5

Gravity Rush is rated “T” for Teen for Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol by theEntertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).  Gravity Rush is available now exclusively for the Sony PlayStation Vita.

For more information see the official Gravity Rush web site.
 
 

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