Video games are best when they’re taking us to places we’ve never seen before, and allowing us to do things that we can’t normally do. This ability, to give players a totally unique experience, was used to great effect in the original Gravity Rush for PS Vita, along with its remastered version on PS4. The game gave you near complete control over the force of gravity, letting you fly around, and perform daring feats of athleticism that few games have delivered effectively. Now we have a full blown sequel with Gravity Rush 2, taking the action straight to the PS4 this time, the game shines in a lot of ways the first struggled. There’s still some blemishes here, but the unique adventure on offer is worth the time of any action game fan.
Following the cliffhanger conclusion of the first game, Kat has found herself far from her friends she made in the first game, except for Syd. He powers are gone as well, and she’s stuck living a paltry life in a mining village. Soon, things start getting interesting once again though, and Kat regains her gravity shifting abilities. This then leads the new group to a larger town, with its own set of troubles. Kat kind of acts as a general good guy, helping those in need, while uncovering some deeper problems and mysteries along the way. And just when you think things are wrapping up, you’ll be thrown for a whole new loop.
In terms of the story, Gravity Rush 2 feels about the same as the first game, meaning it’s a bit all over the place and not all that interesting unless you really want to dive deep into the mythos. You can do this of course, as there’s a new anime and everything, but for those who just play the games, Gravity Rush 2’s story will keep you playing and give you an idea of what you’re doing and why, but don’t expect the latest plot masterpiece.
Flying around the different areas of Gravity Rush 2…you really get a sense of scale and freedom that few other games have delivered
If it has any singular problem it’s in the tone, which shifts wildly at times. At one point Kat is essentially working to save the world, fighting off a massive beast that threatens thousands of lives. The next she’s dumbstruck by the condition of her house, working feverishly to clean it up and get the proper paperwork for residency. This can be kind of funny at times, but it still throws off the balance of the story more often than it helps. But most people aren’t hooked on Gravity Rush because of the story, it’s the gameplay that keeps them engaged. This is once again a stellar effort from the developer, offering unique mechanics and abilities that make you truly feel like the Queen of Gravity.
Flying around the different areas of Gravity Rush 2, soaring through the air while people walk the streets below, you really get a sense of scale and freedom that few other games have delivered. It’s a compliment to say that just getting from one point to the other is the most fun you’ll probably have in Gravity Rush 2, especially if you do some extra exploration and tackle the multitude of side missions on offer. This is compounded by the great looking architecture of the towns, which feels classically styled, but all its own at the same time. While some areas don’t give you much to do within them at a given time, each seems to take its time in the spotlight, allowing you to really get a feel for the setting.
And this new setting has other benefits when compared to the original Gravity Rush. While you explore a few different areas, the main one is much more open and better designed than Hekseville. This might change later on, but during the majority of the game you will be able to explore a larger and more open environment, which feeds right into the strengths of the game’s gravity system.
What doesn’t work once again is the combat. While fighting has been improved over Gravity Rush, and it takes less of a central role this time around, it still just feels so bland an uninteresting. It’s odd, as the combat is so frenetic in terms of what is happening on screen. Kat flies across the screen, attacking foes with her dive kick, or taking them on from the ground, sometimes hurling objects at them via her gravity shifting abilities. It’s just poor in its execution, and most instances of fighting simply feel like a slog where you need to kill everything on screen, or enough to trigger the next segment of the overall battle.
Players will likely find themselves relying heavily on the dive kick ability, as they did in the first game, since it usually delivers the most punch in a single blow. It feels better this time around, targeting in a more efficient way and hitting its mark more often. However, the targeting still has issues, mostly due to its chaotic desire to target anything nearby. There’s never a full lock on, so it’s just gonna fling you toward whatever was targeted when you hit the attack button, and if you or your target moved, or if something else decided to wander near your reticle, then get ready to stop Kat and refocus on what you were doing.
So combat is still a problem, but it’s less so thanks to some minor improvements. Elsewhere Kat’s abilities are largely the same, with her being able to fly wherever with an almost inconsequential power gauge limiting her range. If it runs out you just have to wait for it to recharge as you drop through the air, so you really lose nothing but time. It almost feels like this is a limitation that should go away entirely, much like the also inconsequential level up system.
For the life of me I’m having trouble figuring out what the level up system was doing in a few of the categories. Sure, some of them are straight forward, but others just seemed to raise the gauge without actually impacting the gameplay mechanic itself. Luckily this isn’t a huge issue as the game isn’t punishingly difficult, so it just gives players a bit of agency over their character and how they progress throughout the story.
Despite these complaints, both major and minor, Gravity Rush 2 is a good action game. It’s fun in a lot of ways, full of interesting missions that are much more varied in their requirements than last time. And it all comes back to that core gameplay of gravity manipulation. Giving players so much freedom and letting them run away with it pays off here, giving some great moments of fun, even deep into the long campaign.
It also looks gorgeous. If you get up close you can see some flaws and where corners were cut, but the cel-shaded styling is excellent, and the game runs fantastic on even a standard PS4. Except for a few instances where the game was throwing everything it had at me, and I got way up close to the action, everything ran well, which allows the excellent art style to shine. The camera does become a problem at times though, making it tough to orient yourself, especially in indoor areas where Kat can get stuck on errant objects and debris. The visual presentation is still great though, even with these issues.
Gravity Rush 2 also earns its sequel number by introducing a few new powers to the mix. Really they’re just remixes of what Kat already has, taking the form of new “styles” she can change to at will. The first of these is a bit useless, actually feeling worse than the original set of abilities that Kat has, but as the game progresses you find more ways to use it and the other new style offers some useful changes. It’s gotta be a tough situation for the developer, who gave you nearly unlimited control over gravity in the first game, so now where can Kat’s abilities go? They find a way around it this time, but I wouldn’t expect much more in the power department without a vast departure from the series’ norms.
Gravity Rush 2 hits all the same notes as the first game, but in better and more refined ways. The combat is still pretty dull, but it takes less of a focus this time around. Everything else is much improved, and given how well the first game was received, that’s high praise. Some other changes could be made to make for a better experience, and the story still kind of feels all over the place, but if you’re looking for something quirky, fun, and unique then Gravity Rush 2 will certainly satisfy.
Gravity Rush 2
- Available On: PS4
- Published By: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Developed By: SIE Japan Studio, Project Siren
- Genre: Action-Adventure
- US Release Date: January 20th, 2017
- Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
- Quote: "Gravity Rush 2 is a step up in almost every way from its already enjoyable predecessor. The sense of freedom and adventure is great, thanks to the gravity bending abilities of Kat. Combat is still kind of dull and frustrating, but it's less of the experience this time. The gorgeous art style and design eases this pain though, delivering a great action experience for PS4."