January 29, 2016

Gravity Rush Remastered - Review

When PlayStation said they were going to remaster Gravity Rush, I was excited, I attempted to play through the game when it released on Vita, but the screen size and motion controls hindered that, so the game on PlayStation 4, sounded good to me.

The story of Gravity Rush is a very slow burning one, from the outset, you awaken after falling from the sky, with no idea who you are, after being dragged to help an old man, you still don’t know, but you discover that you have the ability to shift the direction of gravity. It is not long after that however, that someone gives you a name, Kat and things start to feel like the progress. The problem is, that while Kat likes her new name, she never really lingers on the fact that she has no memories or that a mysterious black cat follows her around. Much later in the game, there are details of her past that come to light, but as that can be many hours in, it feels like a bit of a pointless addition to the character.

The other characters that we get to talk to are not as interesting as the game clearly attempts to make them, Syd, the happy go lucky member of the police force is always around, taking credit for the work that Kat does, but they form a friendship still, Raven is a constant pain, without giving any reason until much later in the game and then there is Gade, a homeless looking man who is just as crazy as he dresses, but still able to help Kat in the quest she has decided to take up. The problem is, everyone else is just there, while there are a few more named characters, they are all completely forgettable and those without names are even more so.

What make Gravity Rush interesting, at least on paper, is the concept of changing the flow of gravity in order to move around the world, doing so is pretty simple, you just tap a button and you start to float, tap it again to shoot off into the direction that you are facing, in fact zooming around the city is quite fun. But the problem comes when you enter into combat with the Nevi, when you are fighting on the ground, it’s not too bad, but in the air its almost impossible to do anything and there were a number of times I found myself raging at the game.

As you fly around, you have the ability to launch into a few different attacks, the most common being a gravity kick, which is just a gravity assisted kick, you get an aiming reticule, that shows you were you are going to kick, the problem is, the aiming is not quite as accurate as you would want. There were so many instances of the nevi I was targeting moving just a little to the side, causing me to shoot past them, or they would move out of the way completely and once you start the kick, the only way to aim for them again, is to stop, realign your shot and try again, which of course leaves you open to attacks from the other nevi around.

I had the issue in the original Vita version, so that was the one thing I really wanted them to fix above all else here, but it is the same as it was there. The other attacks you can use, are actually much more powerful than the kick, but they take time to charge, the most common one is just launching yourself at the enemy and Kat then spins rapidly, which also auto targets, but it also means you get no choice at which enemy you attack. There were times when, right in front of an enemy, I started the attack, only to have Kat do an about face and start after another enemy, something I did not want to happen.

The other issue with the gameplay is a pretty big one, even more so than the ones already highlighted and that is it’s just boring. There are challenges that are scattered about the place, but they all amount to moving around the world, there is very little variation on the core gameplay, in fact the only time there was a significant change to the gameplay, still had me changing gravity around, but I had to avoid the police at the same time. There is not else the game has to offer, you run or fly from point a to point b, talk to someone, then repeat and with the city itself being devoid of anything overly exciting, the lack of variety stands out.

Speaking of standing out, the character model of Kat, Raven and others all come up wonderfully well here, the team at Bluepoint games are very adept at ensuring character models work when moved to PS4 and it shows there. The detail on Kat is still very minimal as it was on the original Vita release, but it is now at least sharper, the game sports a quasi-comic art style, but never sets itself into it too deeply. There are times when story is told through comic book panels, but there are also times when it acts much like a regular cutscene, the lack of constancy in its presentation is not really a problem, that actually comes from how Kat speaks, which is always random. There are times when speech is done via a text display, just how the others do it, but then randomly, there are times when Kat speaks, which while nice, not having it 100% on is just strange.

The games art style looks to me to be a matter of necessity on the Vita and while it looks fine here, the way it loads in is not fine, not by a long shot. With the added power of the PlayStation 4, there could have been a significant addition to the draw distance here, keeping with the same draw distance now let’s backgrounds and anything just out of reach look like large brown masses, which really detracts from the game. The only issue with the audio that I have is that the town music is far too short, repeating enough to become irritating, the battle music breaks it up enough, when they happen, but when you are exploring a section of the town, be prepared for the music to grate.

Gravity Rush Remastered is a solid port of the original title, sadly there is very little in the way of improvements on offer. The extremely frustrating aerial combat is something that most will grow tired of fast and as it makes up the bulk of the fighting, its not a good thing.

Thanks to PlayStation Australia for supplying the game for review

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