PS4-Exclusive Gravity Rush 2 Features Stylish and Chaotic Movement
For Kat, gravity isn't an issue.
Gravity Rush shouldn't work as well as it does. The camera is hard to use effectively; flinging yourself around the world while flipping gravity makes it difficult to get your bearings and launch attacks in a coordinated manner. But there's enough tying it all together to make movement in Gravity Rush satisfying and exciting, and Gravity Rush 2 builds upon the best parts of flying and flipping around that the original game introduced.
I was able to go hands-on with Gravity Rush 2 at E3 2016, and I was struck by just how much the game needed the PS4. The original Gravity Rush was built as a PS Vita exclusive, and as such was limited in both performance and presentation. Its stylized look worked on the Vita, but its edges were rough and it had frequent frame rate hitches--not a good thing for a game all about moving around quickly. Playing such a game on a small screen, too, meant that it was even harder than it should've been to orient yourself when manipulating gravity.
Gravity Rush 2, though, looks beautiful. The game still features stylish, cel-shaded art, but colors are more vibrant and environments more diverse. The town I explored teemed with life; vendors hawked wares on the streets while citizens wandered through. Buildings and parks abound with detail. Gravity Rush 2 feels alive, lived in, and interesting. I left wanting to explore more of the city and see what secrets it held.
And the visual improvements don't end there. My battles destroyed much of the city, because parts of the world are now destructible. Lightposts exploded while Kat, the protagonist, flung herself around; massive crates splintered and cracked as her attacks sent out shockwaves. During my battles, debris would steadily accumulate around me, and many of the pieces could be weaponized if I used Kat's stasis field ability.
In addition, cinematics are conveyed through beautiful illustrations that unfold like a storybook. There are also finishing moves on bosses that cut into cool-looking action montages that end in the death of your opponent.
I found combat engaging, as well, especially when I tried out Kat's new attack capabilities. She now has at least three different types of flying kick. There's the normal one that'll home in on an enemy and send Kat in a beeline toward them. Now there's also a "Lunar" warp kick that will teleport Kat at an enemy and allow her to attack three times in quick succession; it's great for faster, flying enemies. Finally, she's also got a "Jupiter" kick that releases a huge shockwave upon hitting the ground or an enemy. I relied heavily on this one, taking out crowds of foes in single, charged uses of the Jupiter kick.
Even though I think that the movement in Gravity Rush 2 has a certain elegance and is entertaining, it is nonetheless my biggest concern about the game. A person who watched me play the game nearby felt motion-sick watching me attempt to keep the camera in the proper location.
Especially for newer players unaccustomed to the controls (or, as it was with me, those who haven't played Gravity Rush for several years), the act of manipulating gravity can prove difficult and finicky enough to cause some frustrating errors. I ended up stuck underneath the city at one point, unable to figure out which way was up. Of course, skills with the gravity manipulation will improve with practice, but it might turn off some people who don't enjoy the rapid spinning of the camera.
And yet, the rhythmic quality of movement is still there, especially outside of battle. It's exhilarating to fly through the city, riding the wind and soaring over buildings. I enjoyed attaching myself to different surfaces to explore various parts of the world. In battle, once you become used to the combat system, landing a kick on an enemy is immensely satisfying and combat becomes somewhat dance-like as you attack and then float back through the air.
During my short time with Gravity Rush 2, I felt hopeful that the potential of the first game is finally growing into something great. With the increased power of the PS4 hardware, Gravity Rush 2 is a beautiful game and seems to have the problems of the first one ironed out. I'm excited to play more of it when it is released sometime this year.
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