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CONSOLE: PlayStation 4 DEVELOPER: Japan Studio/Project Siren PUBLISHER: Sony
RELEASE DATE (NA): January 20, 2017 GENRE: Action-Adventure
// review by Matt

Gravitate my way, baby.

The original Gravity Rush is a game close to my heart. It was the "killer app" that made the PlayStation Vita look attractive and smashed my expectations with its massive game world and unusual story. The sequel, developed exclusively for PS4, is so much bigger and lengthier that it makes up for all the years of waiting that fans of the original had to endure. But those fans, ugh. Some of them saying, "How dare they not release this on Vita"... what a bunch of entitled morons. I'm sorry, that was a bit harsh. The vision of Gravity Rush 2 would've been shrunk considerably to fit on the Vita handheld — a story campaign I've already pumped 30 hours into, and there are still more challenges and side missions I haven't dug into. Just how big is this game? Massive. Colossal. Mind-blowing.

Between the first game and this sequel, the main characters (Kat, Raven, and Syd) were caught up in a big storm and flung far away from Heksville, the setting of the original game. I'd recommend watching Gravity Rush Overture as it bridges the gap in the story, something I didn't do until I beat Gravity Rush 2 which is why I had so many unanswered questions to begin with. Now working for an ore mining company, Kat and Syd are hungry, miserable and missing their best friend Raven. The Banga Mining Company keeps them fed and clothed, at a price: hard manual labour with little respect or thanks. And when the antagonistic delivery company makes an enemy of Kat, they soon regret it, putting in motion the main story for the whole game.

The story begins in a truly disappointing way. No gravity powers. Stupid back and forth talking missions with no fun stuff. The first hour is pretty much painful to play for fans of the original game, and really disappointing. Then you get Dusty back. Kat's trusty partner, Dusty, is the little cat-like creature that gives Kat her gravity shifting powers. You soon unlock the game's first (seriously, there's more than one!) hub world, Lhara Para Whatchamacallit, a sprawling city made up of different districts. Upon reaching the city, Gravity Rush 2, which I was ready to dismiss altogether as a failed sequel... becomes a must-own video game. Because somehow it manages to improve on the first game, which I already considered absolutely perfect.

Side missions get you a feel for this massive breathing city, while the story takes you through political turmoil and military issues in this bizarre twisted floating world. Big ethical questions like, "Is stealing wrong if it helps other people?", and "Should dogs be allowed to urinate from great heights?", and many more.

The online components felt tacked on at first, but are a key element of what makes Gravity Rush 2 feel less lonely. In an almost night and day tonal shift, Gravity Rush 2 drops the original game's "loneliness" vibes completely (well, in the first half) and gives us a highly populated cityscape crawling with NPCs just going about their everyday lives. The difference is so blatant between the first and second game, but it's welcome.


Gravitating toward perfection.

But with added people, and a less lonely world, online interaction features that bring players together don't feel unnecessary. You can challenge players to a score battle on various missions, ask them to rate photos you've taken and shared, or work with other players to hunt for hidden treasure around the game's sprawling huge worlds. In short, love it. Special unlockables like photo props, outfits for Kat and furniture for her room are the little extras you work towards by using the online features. When you unlock one, it feels good.

Large chunks of the missions revolve around the photography mechanism, which does seem a bit out of place, but I interpret that as a result whatever writing hell this game must have been through in the five or so years it's been in development.

Gravity Rush 2 has two endings, the former a conclusion of the game's main events, and the latter the explanation of Kat's past and origins. If you're a fan of the first game and the promise of a Kat's origins story didn't make you salivate, then I'm starting to doubt your credentials. Are you really a fan?

Every element of this is stunning. The graphics, the sound direction and music, everything. The controls are as awkward as ever and the new gravity styles are even more confusing, but do they detract from the experience? Nah, I just got used to them in the end. The whole game is a tutorial in that regard; everything is put together so it trains you as you go. Some might dislike that, but in a game as complicated as this, it's necessary.

This is one of those rare occasions where you wait what feels like your whole life for a sequel and it is better in every way you ever thought it could be. That is Gravity Rush 2 for me, this borderline perfect experience I'm extremely satisfied with. A funny and charming game oozing with content, a truly large and open experience I couldn't have been any happier with.


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