Despite suffering from various snippets of frustration-inducing gameplay, Gravity Rush 2 mostly succeeds in expanding upon its predecessor’s winning formula.
The gameplay concept of the Gravity Rush franchise is simply genius! The act of manipulating gravity to allow your character to fall through the sky to their destination felt excellent in 2012 on the PlayStation Vita. Five years later, it feels even better thanks to the PlayStation 4’s more polished controls and advanced hardware. Gravity Rush 2 has taken everything that worked about the original Gravity Rush and expanded upon it greatly. Unfortunately however, it also flaunts many of the flaws that prevented Gravity Rush from being the masterpiece that it could have been.
One of Gravity Rush 2‘s strongest points is that its heroine, Kat, is so incredibly likeable due to her radiant positivity towards others. The sensation of agreeing with the vast majority of your protagonist’s decisions within a game featuring a fixed story is something rarely seen in the medium. In short, Kat is a wonderful character and protagonist, and is criminally underrated within the gaming community at being so. Alongside Kat, Gravity Rush 2 features many other wonderful characters, including favourites from the original such as Syd and Raven, alongside newcomers such as Lisa and Cecie. All of said characters are a joy to witness, thanks to both their unique personalities and a well written script of intelligent and humorous dialogue.
Gravity Rush 2’s story follows in the wake of its predecessor, which is somewhat unfortunate for players unfamiliar with the original’s story, as Kat’s new adventure provides little to no explanation of the events from the original Gravity Rush, and features many callbacks to it in the form of returning characters and locations which it will assume that players recognise. With this in mind, if you decide to play Gravity Rush 2 without experiencing its predecessor in full, be prepared to be left in the dark. With this aside, Gravity Rush 2 offers a satisfying continuation of its precursor’s story, and whilst it takes a significant back seat to the gameplay, it is satisfactory none the less.
By far, the strongest element of Gravity Rush 2‘s story is its exploration of themes concerning class division within society. Whilst a little too unsubtle at times, it draws fascinating and depressingly accurate parallels with our own society. In the lower levels of Gravity Rush 2‘s map are those living in poverty, with little to no opportunity of escaping it regardless of how hard they work. In the middle levels of the map, a bustling market place operates. Essential items such as fuel for heating homes and food are far outside of the financial price range of those living in poverty. The rich elite, those living in the upper levels of the map, purchase fuel in extortionate amounts to light extravagant parties. With the most frequent customers being those with deep wallets, the price of said fuel naturally rises to take advantage of its customer’s financial standing, reaching a price threshold far beyond the capabilities of those living in poverty. As Kat, you attempt to aid the poor, and expose the injustices within societies’ harsh class segregation. With most games avoiding political and social themes, to see Gravity Rush 2 embrace them so openly is both bold and refreshing.
Graphically, Gravity Rush 2 borrows the cel-shaded anime inspired art style of the previous Gravity Rush, but makes improvements to character models and their proportions (which can been seen most notably with Kat herself). The improvements are very significant, and the development team have made sure to take advantage of the PlayStation 4’s hardware, leaving the PlayStation Vita’s restrictions far behind them.
Gravity Rush 2 features combat against a variety of enemies, including Gravity Rush’s ‘Nevi’ antagonists, as well as human soldiers and military robots. Much like it’s predecessor, you will spend most of your time performing gravity kicks to dispatch your enemies, although the addition of two other gravity styles, Lunar and Jupiter, help to provide some much needed variety to combat and movement. Most importantly, there have been improvements made to the stasis field mechanic (throwing objects via the use of gravity shifting); whilst in the original Gravity Rush it felt uncomfortable and unresponsive, here it becomes one of the highlights of combat, as Kat can now move freely whilst launching debris from the environment at her opponents. Special attacks also make a welcome return, although they do feel both under-powered, as well as underwhelming due to only a small number of them being present. Fortunately, an improved map and upgrade system, collectible ability enhancing talismans, a photo mode, and the option to enter a first person viewpoint at any time via the touch of the left d-pad button more than make up for it.
Gravity Rush 2 features a humongous amount of side missions, challenge missions, and extra content beyond the main story, and as a result offers a significantly greater length of play when compared to the series’ previous entry. However, this leads to its first major downfall: whilst some of the side missions are genuinely enjoyable, many rely on monotonous repetition. Too often will you complete a relatively dull task, just to discover that you must complete it twice more before you can conclude the mission. Bizarre gimmicks, varying in quality, also make appearances. Some, such as sneaking through crowds possessed by Nevi without arising suspicion, feel genuinely tense and enjoyable. However, throwing a frisbee for a dog to catch in order to raise a meter corresponding to the dog’s happiness, raises questions of “Why am I playing this game again?”. Quantity over quality seems to be a trap that Gravity Rush 2 inevitably falls into by offering so much content to the player.
The second major downfall of Gravity Rush 2 is that, like Gravity Rush before it, much of your time will be spent wrestling with a poor camera system during combat, and cursing the absence of a robust and reliable lock-on targeting system. Flying in to perform a gravity kick to an enemy, only to miss it and then have to relocate it via the camera controls happens all to often, and tends to dampen what should have been an excellent combat system.
Despite these faults, Gravity Rush 2 still for the most part succeeds in what it wants to achieve. It is a bold, refreshing and unique game which will keep the majority of its players entertained for a very long time. It may suffer from some frustrating issues that affect the quality of its combat and side missions, but given how much Gravity Rush 2 has improved upon the original, it can only be expected that its follow up entry, whenever it may come to fruition, will finally reach the true potential that this franchise is capable of!