Gravity Rush 2 Review
Marking on of the first times I found use for a remaster, I only became interested in Gravity Rush when I played its remastered edition for the PS4, while I had a few issues with that when it come out, my interest in Gravity Rush 2 was nonetheless piqued. Especially considering that the main reason Gravity Rush needed a remaster in the first place was because it was originally only made for the Vita, I was excited to see a version of this game that wasn't obviously trapped in the confines of a system with the relative hardware of a toaster.
Despite uninspired side quests and an all-too-familiar villain-turned-friend-turned-villian-again, Gravity Rush 2 succeeds as a simple, but important story told in an imaginative way that finally takes advantage (albeit not quite full advantage) of the modern means of creating a visually interesting game.
Falling with Style
For those unfamiliar with the plot of Gravity Rush, you play as Kat, who is among a select group of people known as "Graivity Shifters." These shifters have a companion pet with them who helps them manipulate their own gravity, allowing Kat to fall up, down, sideways, diagonally or in circles. Kat's companion animal is - of course - a cat.
It feels like flying, but we all know how Woody feels about that. The overall mechanics of gravity shifting feel more responsive, but that may just be because you can finally see the beauty in them. You'll fall from floating island to floating island just taking in the scenery the entire way.
The sheer majestic nature of traveling around, now on the much higher-powered PS4 - cannot be understated and its assuredly the cornerstone of Gravity Rush 2.
Batman vs Superman
Regardless, this time the steaks are all at once lower and higher. The original Gravity Rush was a simple tale of good vs. evil. If Kat failed, the world would end. You were an alien to any city you entered, a strange being with super powers who earned the trust of everyone, even law enforcement at certain points, whenever they needed help defending against other strange alien being with super powers. You read that right, Kat was basically Superman.
Now, in Gravity Rush 2, you're a lone crusader fighting against the rich and powerful's corrupt grasps on the pillars of the city that is literally constructed to put the rich up high and the poor down low. You use your powers to save the city not necessarily from outside forces, but from the forces on the inside that seek to let in those evil beings for personal gain. In Gravity Rush 2, you're Batman. And, what can I say? I've always been a Batman fan above any other super hero.
So, while the stakes might be, for most of the game, a little lower, they're also more intimate and personal. Instead of trying to save a city you hardly know from alien invaders because aliens=bad, you spend most of the game trying to save a mining company that took you in when you were powerless from going under. You get to know these people through well-told comic-book-like story panels.
But the most interesting character is Kat, herself. Throughout the game, she'll encounter rich people who demean her as a servant (which she isn't), a man who tries to screw over their mining company with shady contract dealings and an sleazy old man trying to take pictures of young sexy women (to name only a few of the checkered characters she encouters) - and she'll help each and every one of them with a smile on her face and the patience of Mother Theresa.
And it's not that she is a doormat, either, letting people walk all over her out of some desperate need to be liked. I'm pretty sure Kat just lacks the ability to see the bad in people. Even if she fails or willfully defies a request from someone she encounters, she will return certain that she can make it right and that the other person will understand.
Kat is the anchor of Gravity Rush 2 in both the story and the act of playing the game. Kat has the innocence of someone whom I wouldn't want to get a parking ticket, much less a horrible agonizing death by the hands of evil blob aliens with purple eyes that might as well have "hit me hear" written on them.
Quoth the Raven Nevermore
While the other characters in the game don't suffer as a result of Kat's rock-solid development, we are faced with a familiar opponent, representing an issue many sequels face that I like to call "Rebuilding the Death Star."
Without making the connection too explicit, many sequels, perhaps out of a lack of new ideas, have their characters face the same literal and emotional obstacles as they did in the original. In Gravity Rush 2, this takes the form of Raven, who has once again, after being a villain-turned-friend in the original game, has now turned villain again. I wonder where this is going? (For the record, Raven shows up relatively-ish early in the game, so this isn't much of a spoiler).
While it's not quite Dragonball Xenoverse 2 levels of doing the same thing, you might find yourself saying "I thought we already took care of this shit!"
You'll notice quickly, though, that the side missions you embark upon are often times mundane and repetitive - merely re-skinned versions of previous side-quests, if you will. In fact, after delivering something in a fetch-quest style side-mission, Kat will be asked to get one more thing, only to respond (in an unintentionally on-the-nose fashion) "another thing to fetch?!"
While I do appreciate that the game doesn't always make you trek back to the person who sent you on the quest (you'll instead be teleported back via loading screen after you've gathered your target), I also can't see that as anything more than removing a rock from a shoe made of pebbles, to which my only reaction can be "thanks, but ..."
And while we're on the topic of seeing things sideways, it seems I'm not the only one to get dizzied by the camera in Gravity Rush 2. The lack of a targeting system made combat more interesting because it wasn't quite as repetitive, but it also made me turn my head like a possessed girl one too many times. Of course, you can always press R3 to return the camera to "normal" orientation, but if you rely too much on that, you'll be doing very little else besides hitting R3.
Gravity Rush 2 is a marked improvement on the original in terms of story, graphics, gameplay and characters. It's not without its plot stumbles and boring ancillary missions, that hardly detracts from everything Gravity Rush 2 does well.
Whether its flying through the sky, walking up walls or exposing a corrupt system driven by the wealthy and powerful, Gravity Rush 2 is a delight.
PS4 code provided by publisher.
REVOLUTION REPORT CARD
Gravity Rush 2
- Much-Improved Graphics and Performance
- More intimate, meaningful story
- Engaging characters
- Fun, beautiful core mechanic
- Repetitive side quests
- Recycled plot device
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