When the PlayStation Vita launched in 2012, it had a couple of solid games in its launch window. The most notable of the bunch was Gravity Rush, a unique title that saw you playing as a superhero in an open world who could control gravity. After a PlayStation 4 rerelease of the original game last year, Gravity Rush 2 has arrived to continue the series. Does the leap to a more powerful console help the game, or does it lose its charm without its portability?
Gravity Rush 2 picks up some time after the original game. Between games, Kat, Raven, and Syd were caught in a gravity storm and whisked away to an unknown world. Once they arrive, they were taken in by a mining group, employed, and eventually reach a new city called Jirga Para Lhao with its own problems. Now, the three need to help out Jirga Para Lhao, find their way back to Hekseville, and deal with a bunch of other happenings in-between.
The first half of Gravity Rush 2, which takes place in Jirga Para Lhao, is easily the more interesting bit. It tells a self-contained and fun story that has characters I cared about and some interesting plot points that I really enjoyed. It doesn't require any knowledge of the first game, and is great for newcomers to easily get involved, while those who played the original can still enjoyed getting to see the main trio continue to be themselves. It's the second half of the game, when the plot moves back to Hekseville, that really drops the ball. For some reason Gravity Rush 2 seems to have expected you to memorize every character from the first game and tosses them at you in a strange parade of "remember them‽". You're probably already losing the plot by that point if you haven't played the original, but even Gravity Rush fans will likely lose it in the almost nonsensical second half of the Hekseville storyline. At this point, the plot takes a steep nosedive into making no sense and having characters who's motivations seems to change with the wind and who vanish and reappear with little rhyme or reason. It manages to wrap up with a few interesting scenes, but by then it's a bit too little too late.
While the second half of the plot stumbles, it's still carried by the strong characteristics of the main trio. Kat, Raven, and Syd are easily some of the more relatable gaming characters around. Each one has unique traits that I couldn't help but smile at. Kat's wealth of cheerfulness and desire to help everyone with every problem, even if she really can't, is a breath of fresh air compared to much more down and dreary protagonists. Playing her is honestly joyful, and she helps carry the plot when it really needs it. Raven and Syd are equally fun, Raven's love of food and Syd's constant attempts to slack off both provide some good comedy and if nothing else I was at least smiling during even the most absurd scenes.
Kat's main ability is her control over gravity. At the press of a button, you can change which way gravity around Kat is oriented, allowing you to fall in various directions to get around the world. It's an entertaining system, one that couldn't stop bringing a smile to my face as Kat "fell" her way over buildings, through streets, and from one floating island to another. The whole thing is accompanied by some great animations that help convey that she's falling rather than flying, even if Kat appears to be soaring through the air.
It's not just falling around and exploring the world. There are plenty of enemies that Kat will have to deal with. You have basic kicks that let you knock enemies down, but using your gravity abilities is much more fun. You can dive kick your enemies from high above them or use your powers to pick up objects around the environment to throw. You eventually get some special attacks, allowing you to dig into a bar for even more deadly dive kicks and throws.
The basic combat is taken straight from the first game, and it's still a ton of fun. Repositioning around enemies to reach their weak spot so you can smack them and defeat them is still exciting. Gravity Rush 2 seeks to enhance this with a new armor system. By swiping up or down on the touchpad, you can switch to Lunar or Jupiter armor. Lunar makes Kat lighter, giving her faster homing/teleportation attacks but a slower fall speed. Jupiter, on the other hand, makes her heavier so she hits harder and has a faster fall speed. While I did prefer the original style after a while, I found enough reasons to make slipping into Lunar or Jupiter styles to be worth it and they're a welcomed edition to the game.
You'll be using these fighting styles against a variety of enemies, both of a shadowy monster race called Nevi (or Scarabs, depending on which city you're in) or of robots made by regular people. Both Nevi and robots have weak spots you can specifically target to defeat them quicker. A lot of the combat is really based on positioning: you want to be in the right spot at the right time so you can deliver a strong gravity kick to an enemy's weak spot. It's a quite fun and hectic affair, assuming you're in a big open area. Thankfully, most of the game does take place outside, but the few times you're confined indoors is less of a treat. These moments see you spending less time fighting enemies and more times fighting the camera as it gets lodged in walls or swings about wildly. It's never enough that it ruined the combat, but I did groan every time I reached an indoor section.
If you enjoy using these powers, then you'll have plenty of time to use them. The game's story spans over 25 missions, each of which takes about 30-60 minutes to finish. There is some really good variety here, with several unique objectives giving me new ways to use my various powers. Whether you're climbing towers with only low-gravity spring jumps, smashing your way through enemies while sliding down a tunnel, tossing bombs at a bridge to detach a pair of islands, or working through power-limiting challenges set by mysterious tablets, there's always something new to do. A few sections drag on longer than they need to, with one strange block-puzzle segment that has you changing your weight to move blocks up and down feeling like it'll never end. Overall, it's a well-made variety of missions.
Upon finishing most missions you'll open up anywhere between 2-4 side quests. Each of these last around a half hour, and there are at least 60 of those. While that may seem like a ton of content, I can't say it's worth going through all of it. Some side quests are perfectly decent, telling little stories and giving you some basic objectives to clear. These often serve to help flesh out the side characters in the game further, giving more on each of their personality traits and feelings. They're nice little distractions from the main game that you can get some decent rewards from, like a talisman that give you passive buffs.
Unfortunately, the problem is that most side quests aren't well made. A lot of them are either boring time wasters or far outstay their welcome. One mission had me stand on a roof and toss boxes on thugs attacking a store before they could get too close to it, which seemed fun in theory and just had me wondering how many more waves of thugs there would be in practice. There's a lot of side quests that involve wandering around crowds and hitting the talk button on as many people as possible until one of them points you in the direction you're supposed to go, so you can get there and repeat that a few more times until the side quest is over. There's also quite a few stealth missions, which don't really work with Gravity Rush 2 as the game isn't designed for stealth. The side quests being mostly bad is a real shame, and before long I just started skipping them in favor of the main story.
As you play, you'll need gems to upgrade your skills. Mining is one way to get gems, and to do this you'll have to go off to mining sites to gather them. It's by far the least interesting way to do it, but it is at least consistent and if you mine a site enough you hold a chance of creating a gravitational disturbance to summon a powerful optional boss that you can kill for special rewards. You can also take challenge missions, earning gems as a reward for performing well in races or timed fights. The most interesting way to collect gems, however, is to simply explore the environment. Reminding me of Crackdown's agility orbs, there are gems scattered everywhere and you can easily gather a ton by falling from one location to the next. Exploring the cities to collect gems is a real treat and by far the best way to just mess around and have fun with the gravity powers.
There's not much in the way of online in Gravity Rush 2, but what's here is simple enough. You'll have a camera in-game that you can take pictures with, allowing you to set up props for these pictures. Once you take a picture you can place it in the world for other players to see, and you'll earn Dusty Tokens if they like it. You can use this currency to unlock more props for your pictures. You can also find and take pictures of treasure chests to start treasure hunts, helping lead you to various rewards hidden around the two cities. It's all fun, but you don't need to really touch the online at all for the game.
Graphically, Gravity Rush 2 is a nice looking game. It keeps the watercolored art style of the first game, but the more powerful PS4 allows better textures and draw distances. It also means the city of Jirga Para Lhao can be bigger and more varied than Hekseville, something that shines when traveling through the new city's four areas. As nice as the game looks, it has the unfortunate problem of chugging at times. Fights with too many enemies or physic-based objects tend to make the framerate plummet momentarily, sometimes to what feels like single digits. The game is backed up by a fantastic soundtrack, one that always fits the moment and has some wonderfully heroic and upbeat tracks that I came to adore. The voice acting is fine, but the game uses the same made-up language from the first game and characters only really use their voices during cutscenes, so I eventually stopped paying much attention to it. I wish I could just turn on English voice acting so I didn't have to split my attention between playing the game and trying to read the subtitles, but the fake language does add some charm to the world.
Overall, Gravity Rush 2 is an early success for Sony in 2017. Its creative combat and travel system, lovely world and characters, and fun main missions help carry the game, even when I had to fight the camera, framerate, or puzzling story. The good outweighs the bad, and you don't even need to change how gravity works to see that.
Gravity Rush 2 was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the developers.
Gravity Rush 2 takes the charming original game and builds on it in important ways. The addition of armors makes the combat better, the characters are still fun, the new city is a blast to explore, and its all wrapped in a soundtrack I really enjoyed. Overall, it's a game well worth playing both for newcomers and fans of the original.
- Fun Characters
- Unique Gravity Mechanics
- Polished Main Missions
- Lovely Soundtrack
- Exploring the City
- Plot Becomes Nonsensical
- Repetitive Side Quests
- Framerate Issues
- Camera Gets Lost