Giant Bomb Review

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Gravity Rush Review

3
  • VITA

Though Gravity Rush's gravity shifting mechanic is genuinely awesome, the game itself doesn't offer enough interesting ways to use it.

Gravity Rush is an easy game to want to love. Technologically, it's easily one of the most impressive looking titles to hit the PlayStation Vita so far. Mechanically, it invents something truly original in its gravity-shifting gameplay. It's a wonderful idea executed with only a few dampening caveats, one that makes the game's world utterly thrilling to explore. However, as we've seen time and time again over the years, technology and mechanics aren't all you need to make an engaging game. You have to find interesting, or at the very least exciting things for the player to do with those mechanics and tech. I waited very patiently for Gravity Rush to finally kick into gear and start offering me some truly unique puzzles and challenges. And I waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Kat is a fascinating character, and her gravity-shifting ability is genuinely amazing.

It never happened.

Instead, Gravity Rush pushes its gravity-shifting mechanic so far to the forefront that you have to wonder if the developers even really knew what to do with their discovery. So much of it revolves around mindless busywork and mediocre combat that you can't help but feel a pang of sadness over the wasted opportunity that is this game.

Don't get me wrong, Gravity Rush is by no means terrible, but no aspect of its game design nor story ever matches up to the genius quality of the game's gravity shifting mechanic. You play as Kat, a sort of accidental superheroine whose abilities come from her best friend, a celestially-colored cat who grants her the ability to adjust gravity in any direction imaginable. Kat doesn't so much "fly" as she does "fall," though she can fall in any direction until she runs into a platform or solid object. Once she does, she can wander around as if she were safe on the ground, even though she might be sideways or upside-down.

Yes, that can be incredibly disorienting. Your only real visual cue as to which way you might be is Kat's hair, which flops in the direction of the normal ground. However, after a few missions and fights, the disorientation mostly gives way to a thrilling sense of freedom. There is a genuine feeling that you can go basically anywhere (within the somewhat restrictive confines of this game world). You can fly up thousands of feet, dash across the roofs of huge buildings to get from one side of the city to the other, and even just float in the air aimlessly, circling around and observing the world that lies before you.

As great as all of that is, it's not much of a game to just fly around with no purpose. So to give your gravity-adjusting antics some context, Gravity Rush tosses together a goofy amnesia storyline, some half-baked combat mechanics, and enough dull errand-running and lite puzzle-solving to more or less fill 10 hours worth of game.

Early on, this stuff is fine. We learn that Kat has arrived in the highly vertical city of Hekesville with no memory of her previous life, where she is, or why this cat is hanging around her giving her insane powers. It turns out that not all is well in Hekesville, as massive gravity storms simultaneously barf out nasty black creatures called the "nevi," and threaten to suck Hekesville whole into some unknown dimension. In fact, large chunks of the city have already disappeared. Shortly after meeting a mysterious man who calls himself a "creator," Kat finds herself all too happy to help out her new place of residence by tracking down the missing parts of the city.

Unfortunately, Gravity Rush's designers weren't able to craft an exciting game around that ability.

In order to do this, Kat must fight a lot of Nevi, float to a number of different checkpoints, sometimes solve minor puzzles, and then repeat the process again and again until the game gets around to its meager conclusion. In theory that would be a fine enough progression, except that the combat dominates far too much of the game for how generally unremarkable it is. On the ground, Kat has a few kicks she can play around with, while in the air, she can deliver more powerful blows by gravity shifting directly into enemies' weak points. The first few times you do it, it's actually pretty cool. Unfortunately, despite earning new abilities over time, the combat never evolves past this initial point. The only wrinkle the game throws at you is increased agility from your enemies, meaning that they're more likely to dodge out of the way of your attacks, or at least blast you mid-kick.

There is a maddening lack of precision in the airborne combat that makes this increased agility an absolute chore. You're not likely to die too often (especially given the bountiful numbers of health power-ups scattered around), but you are likely to get frustrated as you find yourself trying to line up a highly precise attack, only to have the Nevi move out of the way at the last second or get knocked out of the air by an unseen attacker. By the time Gravity Rush gets around to introducing boss fights, you'll be dreading them not because of their difficulty, but because of the game's inability to make fighting them the least bit fun. A lock-on mechanic might have made Gravity Rush's combat too easy, but it also would have eradicated the irritation associated with it.

The sections of the game where you find yourself traversing around checkpoints and solving occasional gravity-based puzzles are at least a bit better, in that they rarely confound or frustrate. But there's also not much to them. You'll bounce around the world, talking to people in obtuse chunks of dialogue, collecting gems and other random items, fixing various broken pieces of the world, and sometimes fight evil things. That's about the whole of the experience. There are optional side missions that involve races through the city, or combat challenges against waves of Nevi, but they don't take good enough advantage of the act of gravity shifting to be worth your while.

Perhaps if the story were more engaging, these issues might be more tolerable. Sadly, Gravity Rush abandons nearly every opportunity to flesh out its interesting world practically from the get-go. You'll be introduced to a number of different characters throughout the story, and it's straight-up maddening how willing the script is to just toss them aside. People who seem like they should be able to offer you simple answers instead speak in obnoxiously cryptic terms just for the sake of keeping that carrot of "what the hell is going on here?" dangling in front of you just a bit longer. And by the time it actually gets around to dropping that carrot in front of you, you're left with an abrupt conclusion that's neither satisfying nor particularly coherent.

Gravity Rush never really gets around to fully exploring its own mysteries and characters.

It's depressing, because Kat seems like a totally interesting character you'd want to know more about. Being that she is suffering from amnesia, you'd think her big thing would be pushing to find out who she is and where she came from. And yet, she often just abandons her search in favor of the most frivolous activities. It's one thing to take a break from your identity search to rescue children being sucked into a vortex of doom, but she's not even particularly inquisitive when she's just walking around talking to people. Instead of demanding to know what's going on from this creator fellow, she's more than happy to simply go along with whatever vagaries he spouts and enter the magical dimensional vortex that exists inside his trench coat (no, that's not a euphemism) to go fight some more Nevi. And despite the fact that she has no idea who she is, can shift gravity every which way for no identifiable reason, and the whole world is falling into a dark pit of despair from which only she can apparently rescue it, she still finds time to complain about not being able to find a boyfriend in this town. What?

Hekesville is a world you'll want to explore. Its architectural design and gravity-defying placement (it sits atop a huge, narrow column of rock that can barely be called a mountain) are amazing to look at. That Kat can explore it with such freedom of movement is awesome, especially given the game's gorgeous cartoon art style and generally solid frame rate. But without more things to do and more engagement with the player, Gravity Rush can't sustain itself for the long-haul. As it stands, the gravity-shifting gameplay offered might be complete enough for game-starved Vita owners on the hunt for something to do with their device. But do manage your expectations, lest you be disappointed by how hollow Gravity Rush is underneath its breathtaking shell. This is a game that does one thing very well. If you need more than that, then Gravity Rush isn't for you.

Alex Navarro on Google+
116 Comments
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Posted by WolfieSelkie

Gravity is awesome, duder

Edited by Animasta

I rushed through this review to get the first post

edit; curses! foiled again

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

And here I was under the impression this was a puzzle game. Now i'm intruded, shame there will probably not be a quick look.

Posted by Video_Game_King

Damn it. The only non-Persona 4 Vita game I was actually interested in.

Posted by Morningstar

Slightly dissapointing.

Posted by Enigma777

Still getting it. I must have played that demo 50 times now...

Posted by Atwa

Lower than expected. 

Posted by DonutFever

After playing the demo, I was kind of worried about this. I was hoping that it was just tutorials being tutorial-y, but I guess not. Maybe if the price drops I'll pick it up.

Edited by Recall

Still don't agree with some Giantbomb reviews

Posted by mixedupzombies

@Recall: even when the game isn't even out yet? or just as rule no matter what?

Posted by Sunspots

I want this to be a thing that I own in the very near future. A PS Vita will be on my Xmas wish list and I will buy this game.

Posted by Phatmac

Wish there was a QL for this game. The Vita needs any support that it can get. Oh well. :(

Posted by Zacagawea

@Recall said:

Still don't agree with Giantbomb reviews.

lol, this guy

Posted by Recall

@mixedupzombies: The game has been out in Japan for a little while now and it's a great game. Giantbomb feels its a 3 out of 5 game and I don't agree.

It seems some of the more "different" games get instantly downgraded for niggles that american titles can get away with. But then again that just my opinion and my opinion is no-one else's concern.

Posted by algertman

@Recall said:

@mixedupzombies: The game has been out in Japan for a little while now and it's a great game. Giantbomb feels its a 3 out of 5 game and I don't agree.

It seems some of the more "different" games get instantly downgraded for niggles that american titles can get away with. But then again that just my opinion and my opinion is no-one else's concern.

Niggles? You dirty racist!

Posted by Gerhabio

Well, hopefully another team will pick up the IP for a better sequel.

Posted by Recall

@algertman: Niggles is a simple informal english word for problems.

Posted by cosi83

The only reason I would buy a vita

Posted by Slixshot

Day 1 buying this anyway. My Vita needs some action and I've seen just as many higher reviews for this game than I have mediocre. I WILL BE MY OWN JUDGE FOR THIS GAME.

Edited by Legend

Still buying it. My Vita needs games!

Edit: OK, I just finished the game and unlocked the platinum trophy, and I can honestly say that this game is amazing. If you're considering buying the game, you should definitely go ahead and buy it. It's absolutely fantastic.

Posted by dafegamer

funny i kinda disagree with this review Gravity rush has a 87 on metacritic with 32 reviews

http://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-vita/gravity-rush

Posted by Nevi

Still getting it, largely because I loved Keiichiro Toyama's work on the Siren series so much. Hope he gets to make a fourth Siren game at some point.

Posted by Recall

@Slixshot said:

Day 1 buying this anyway. My Vita needs some action and I've seen just as many higher reviews for this game than I have mediocre. I WILL BE MY OWN JUDGE FOR THIS GAME.

Thank fuck that someone else out there isn't a sheep and hangs on every word of the giantbomb review.

Posted by asian_pride

@Recall said:

Still don't agree with some Giantbomb reviews

Opinions. Deal with it.

If you can't, get the fuck out.

Posted by Jimi

@dafegamer: I also judge all my game purchases from an arbitrary number.

Posted by nickux

Not surprised by the score. Seems like most reviews are giving it average to slightly above average ratings. However, of late I feel like Alex has been harder to please. Coming out of E3 I can't help but thinking daaaamn this dude is tired of the gaming industry. So I'm taking this 3/5 with a grain of salt.

Posted by Little_Socrates

This is almost exactly what I expected.

Posted by IAmNotBatman

@Recall: Umm, you know that there isn't a single review that everybody agrees with, right?

Posted by Jolt92

@dafegamer: 87 means great!!

Posted by Redsox44

Good review. Excited to play this even with it's shortcomings.

Posted by altairre

@Recall said:

@Slixshot said:

Day 1 buying this anyway. My Vita needs some action and I've seen just as many higher reviews for this game than I have mediocre. I WILL BE MY OWN JUDGE FOR THIS GAME.

Thank fuck that someone else out there isn't a sheep and hangs on every word of the giantbomb review.

Because the review clearly states that you should not buy the game. What?

Posted by AssInAss

@nickux said:

Not surprised by the score. Seems like most reviews are giving it average to slightly above average ratings. However, of late I feel like Alex has been harder to please. Coming out of E3 I can't help but thinking daaaamn this dude is tired of the gaming industry. So I'm taking this 3/5 with a grain of salt.

Uhh, dude he loved Rayman Origins and quite liked Darkness 2. Maybe it might be that the game's mechanic seems like a wasted opportunity for more variety? Maybe read the review, instead of skimming at the score.

Posted by TheRawski

Seriously dude, I think you are expecting way too much from this game. It almost sounds like you don't like to play games. Now I am going to be getting this game and will be the judge for myself. But you don't seem to understand this is an original IP on and handheld that is still relatively a launch title. It's not going to be flawless. Remember when game didn't have any story? I've been reading mixed reviews on this one, but I'm sure I'll have some fun, it's not like Mirror's Edge 2 is being announced.

Posted by CaLe

If it got a 90 I would buy it, but 87? Pfft, mediocre at best.

Posted by dafegamer

not sure if serious

Posted by Vegetable_Side_Dish

Damn, I'm sad you didn't enjoy it Alex. 

Posted by spilledmilkfactory

I'll be giving this a shot for work, and even beyond that I've been looking forward to it for a while, so it's kind of a shame to hear this.

Posted by Alex

@nickux: That's a fun theory. But I actually played through most of it before E3 started, and long before my jaded brain soured me on anything with analog sticks.

Posted by Totori

I'm getting this game 99% because it's so damn pretty. The other 1% because of those awesome 3-D comicbook scenes.

Posted by dafegamer

What review should I trust now. Other review sites like gamesradar,eurogamer,joystiq,machinima and egm are saying quite the opposite about the combat and giving it a 9+ score

Maybe you just dont have the hang about the controls

Posted by Cybexx

Thats too bad, I've seen this opinion similarly echoed from other reviews so its definitely not just Alex. I'm still probably going to grab it tomorrow because I enjoyed the demo and there isn't anything else coming to Vita for a while but it sounds like the game design doesn't evolve much past the tutorial stuff found in the demo.

Online
Edited by Draxyle

I tried this out at E3, and yea, this is kinda what I expected. I only had time to throw myself around the world a bit, which is legitimately very cool, but I didn't really see how they were going to turn this into an actual game.

I would look forward to a Gravity Rush 2 though, if such a thing is possible to occur.

Edit: People comparing this to other reviews and Metacritic? What?

Posted by asian_pride

@dafegamer said:

What review should I trust now. Other review sites like gamesradar,eurogamer,joystiq,machinima and egm are saying quite the opposite about the combat and giving it a 9+ score

Maybe you just dont have the hang about the controls

Oh oh oh! I got a better idea! Why don't you go to those sites because they agree with you and give them all a great, big hug! And uh, leave Giantbomb and don't come back? Doesn't that sound great? You don't have to see such a painful score from somebody who has such a hurtful opinion. Spare yourself the drama that's to come! Oh, Giantbomb, woe is me!

Edited by Vegetable_Side_Dish
@nickux said:

Not surprised by the score. Seems like most reviews are giving it average to slightly above average ratings. However, of late I feel like Alex has been harder to please. Coming out of E3 I can't help but thinking daaaamn this dude is tired of the gaming industry. So I'm taking this 3/5 with a grain of salt.

Most reviews are extremely positive, I think for a new full price handheld IP only TWEWY has scored higher in the past...what... 5 years? I've tried the Jap version on a significant other's system and I can echo the praise it gets. However  it does seem like an esoteric pleasure that just won't click for some people, so I'd encourage you to look into it yourself. 
Posted by Nakiro

Giant Bomb reviews are probably the worst place you could get a proper review at. I wish they would just drop their reviews altogether. They are all over the place and usually not even close to the metacritic.

Which kinda tells me they are out of touch.

People who care about their opinions will listen to the podcast anyways.

Posted by mabber36

that's disappointing to hear

I guess I will just wait for a steep price cut of the vita before i get this game for cheap

Posted by dafegamer

Are you serious?

http://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-vita/gravity-rush/critic-reviews

Just look at this nonsense. I'm not surprised actually that this review is the lowest score.Even if you can't control the Game right you still need to write a fair review. On Metacritic this is by far the lowest score for the Game.

What reviews should people take serious now? All great reviews or the

two bad reviews from Destructoid and Giant bomb? Sorry but this Score is like a "Huge"Deviation from others sites

Posted by TentPole

@asian_pride said:

@Recall said:

Still don't agree with some Giantbomb reviews

Opinions. Deal with it.

If you can't, get the fuck out.

FUCK YOU. He didn't shit on Alex for his opinion who are you to shit on him for his.

Posted by AjayRaz

..well, i thought it was a well written review. i'm at least glad that i'm not alone in feeling kinda out of touch with the combat, or at least based from the demo. i still have my pre-order down so i'll go nab it tomorrow regardless. it's nice buying handheld games again because of their 40$ regular price.

it's also silly how irritated people are getting with this, but to each their own, i suppose (much like the review.)

Posted by asian_pride

@dafegamer: It is HIS opinion, not yours. Alex has said that he was looking forward to this game, but ended up being disappointed at it. He gave it a fair shot, in my opinion.

And why the fuck do you care? It seems that you trust the ones who gave the game a high score, so why do you care about an outlying opinion? Go to those sites then. Just because somebody has a different viewpoint than you doesn't mean it's wrong. If you can't handle it, go somewhere else. This site needs less bitching and moaning from people who most likely just took a glance at the score and didn't even attempt to read and hear out what Alex has said.

@TentPole: GAH FUCK YOU BACK ALEX IS PART OF GIANTBOMB THEREFORE I HAVE THIS DUMB EXCUSE TO SHIT ON HIS OPINION WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE

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