#oneaday Day 900: Gravity Rush Wrap-Up

I finished Gravity Rush on Vita tonight. I was rather disappointed to note it’s a game that gets significantly worse the further you go rather than better. That’s not to say it’s not worth playing, however — more that it’s clear roughly 75% of the way through that the team simply ran out of ideas.

Gravity Rush is a joy to play initially. Once you get your head around the strange gravity-flipping mechanic and realise it’s different from a conventional “flight” system (you can’t really steer while “falling”, for example — you have to stop and then start “falling” in a different direction) it’s a lot of fun to swoop around, run up walls and leap down onto things.

The thing is, the whole gravity-shifting thing seems somewhat underused. There aren’t any particularly clever puzzles through the game that require you to run up walls or on the ceiling or anything, so after some time you begin wishing that protagonist Kat could just fly like a proper superhero.

This problem is compounded when we get to the dreadful aerial combat, which coincidentally is the reason the game’s “fun factor” takes a significant nosedive when on the home straight. I mentioned this a few days ago, but it became the cause of significant teeth-gnashing frustration as the game progressed. Allow me to explain.

When floating in the air, Kat is able to launch a “gravity kick” move by aiming the on-screen reticle at something and then holding the Square button. She then swoops towards the thing you pointed at, hopefully causing damage. Fair enough.

The trouble with this is that a lot of enemies, particularly later in the game, are only vulnerable in specific weak points. If said weak point is on the far side of an enemy, Kat will simply plough into said enemy and do no damage whatsoever, usually putting herself in harm’s way. (This isn’t helped by the fact that a lot of late-game enemies also have the ability to fire bullets at Kat, which the player has to dodge by swiping on the touchscreen.) A lot of late-game combat simply becomes a case of launching Kat at enemies from a distance and hoping she hits them — because more often than not, they’ll simply dodge out of the way before impact, and it’s honestly difficult to tell whether or not the game actually “locks on” to these enemies or not. (I believe it is supposed to, though you could have fooled me.)

By far the worst thing, though, was the “Special Forces” DLC that came free with the “special edition” of the game I got — it was the same price as the normal game for a limited period, so I figured there’d be no loss in getting it.

Oh man. If ever there was an argument for DLC being tacked on, pointless, moneygrabbing shite, this is it.

It contains just two missions, both of which are immensely tedious “fetch and kill” quests, and the latter of which incorporates a totally unreasonable time limit in which to accomplish your objectives — which, by the way, aren’t marked with navigation pointers unlike in the rest of the whole game. The latter mission also makes heavy use of the game’s idiosyncratic “throwing” system, whereby Kat can pick up objects in her gravity field and then fling them at things. The trouble is, this mission requires Kat to fling things precisely, but the game regularly decides that you actually wanted to aim at that enemy a little to the left of where you were actually pointing when you pressed the “throw” button. In a non-time sensitive situation, it would have been helpful to have this quasi-“lock on” facility when throwing things; when attempting to fling water towers at fires, however, it’s a pain in the arse.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t finish the DLC because it irritated me so much — thankfully, it’s possible to cancel out of the missions once they’ve started and simply proceed back on with the main story. As a matter of fact, the second mission in the pack soured me so much on the game by making its flaws so abundantly apparent that it significantly impacted my enjoyment of the finale which, on reflection, wasn’t terrible.

Gravity Rush isn’t a bad game. In fact, it’s a very good game, and a fine showcase of the Vita’s capabilities and unique features. But with a bit of work it could have been an amazing game. It looks fantastic, it has an endearing main character and a wonderfully entertaining core game mechanic, but it simply falls to pieces at the end with a string of unimaginative fetch and kill quests. These just make you want to get to the end so you don’t have to play any more, not because you want to see the end of the story (which, incidentally, leaves a whole lot of frustratingly unanswered questions).

It may sound like I’m being unduly harsh on this game and perhaps I am. I did like it overall, and I’m glad I played it. If you own a Vita, you should play it too.

It’s not perfect. It has potential, though, and that’s quite exciting. The possibilities that a Gravity Rush sequel might offer are very intriguing indeed. For my money, I’d like to see more creative use of the gravity mechanic for puzzle-solving, less aimless open world flying around, less combat (or at least combat that isn’t so incredibly irritating) and a story that wraps up properly.

That’s that for now, though. Next up is Persona 2.

4 thoughts on “#oneaday Day 900: Gravity Rush Wrap-Up

  1. unmanneddrone

    Good rundown, Pete. I can’t say I’m rushing through it, but perhaps my glacial progression might work in its favour, given the frustration it elicited.

    Reply
  2. slapshot82

    I like Gravity Rush as well, but there are just as many things that I do like to equal those that I don’t. The gravity (falling) gimmick is really cool and I dig it’s use for the most part, but agree that it could be effectively used in many more creative ways.

    Some of the Bad:
    The open world, even though it’s unique and beautiful, it’s also lifeless for the most part, and has never pulled a a real connection with me as a player. Also, the “gravity throw” ability is overly frustrating to me. I don’t understand why she lifts up every time it’s used. I want to pick stuff up and then run to a proper spot to launch it at the enemy — if I wanted to lift Kat up off the ground, I’d press then dang R-button! It’s messed me up so many times that I can’t count and I find it a highly annoying and unnecessary part of this ability.

    Some of the Good:
    I really like Kat. I love here teenage girl personality. The fact that she acquires this awesome ability and still cares more about boys is flippin’ hilarious, and well, her character design is just adorable. I adore the art style Japan Studios chose for the game. It’s beautiful and perfectly fitting for the game. When you factor in the weird blob-like enemy design, it plays even more into the art styling. I also enjoy the hybrid controls between the analogue stick and the gyro tilt controls. We saw that this would work really well with Uncharted: Golden Abyss and it looks like we’ll see this perfected even more so with Vita in the future.

    I’d thought about taking on the Gravity Rush review, but chose not to do so. Simply put, I don’t agree with the extremely high praise the game has gotten. It’s indeed a really good game, but it’s just not worthy of the (near) perfect marks I’ve seen. I enjoy its boldness to be something creative and unique, but it also feels like this is another game that Sony’s rushed out to move consoles. I’ve seen this too many times already and it’s not doing Sony, or Vita for that matter, any sort of justice.

    Reply
    1. Pete Davison Post author

      I agree particularly with your comments about Kat. She’s adorable. I like that they bothered to infuse her with a degree of personality — it’s easy for characters in this sort of game to become little more than ciphers for the player, but they really made an effort to make Kat a sympathetic character that was fun to be around. Like a lot of things in the rest of the game, though, I feel like they lost interest towards the end, because there was far less character development for Kat once “it all kicked off”, as it were — but I shall refrain from further spoilers here for those who haven’t played it.

      I want to see more of her. (That sounds rude. You know what I mean.) I want to see a sequel with a more fleshed-out open world that has some meaning. I want a better story. And I want more creative use of the excellent mechanics. Given the time and resources for them to make a sequel, there’s potential for real greatness there — it’s just not quite there yet.

      Reply
      1. slapshot82

        It’s not rude. She’s looking down other girls’ tops! Haha… but I do agree with everything you stated. I’m about halfway through the game and I need to push through to the end. I got frustrated and put it down and I really need to pick it back up again.

        Reply

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