By Gabriel Jones 07.02.2017
Ever the stranger, Kat's encounter with a freak gravity storm sends her to what seems to be another world. Put to work by the leader of a mining settlement, she'll quickly discover that her adventures are far from over. With the fate of the universe again hanging in the balance, can the heroine of gravity put a stop to the forces of chaos and destruction? Gravity Rush 2 is an exhaustive epic that has everything a fan of the prequel could ever ask for, and then some.
As Kat weaves in-between buildings, under archways, around spires, and through tunnels, there is this sensation that's bound to overcome whoever is controlling her. It's not just about defying gravity; it's about making it their own. It takes a long time to reach that level of mastery, perhaps longer than some gamers could ever have the patience for. That is what making art is all about. Oft-times, open-world superhero games miss what's most important. With great power comes great effort. Coming to grips with Kat's amazing abilities takes practice, there aren't any shortcuts or secret moves that make it easy.
Anyone who has played the first Gravity Rush is well familiar with this challenge, and will welcome it with open arms. Really, all the sequel had to do was reacquaint fans with Kat, her friends, and the intriguing world they call home. Better graphics, more content, a continuation of the storyline, that's typically enough for a new game. However, the development team went above and beyond to create something special, though not without flaws.
When it comes to the controls, the most noticeable change is that the stasis field is far more manageable. What was once clunky has now become second nature. The three gravity styles offer a lot of variables to every situation, and the ability to switch between them at almost any time allows for a very customisable style of play. The sizable differences in weight help to keep the aspects of traversal and combat as fulfilling as possible. Scaling buildings and jumping between islands is really exhilarating with the Lunar style, while the Jupiter style gives a nice sense of impact to every movement. The upgrade system has also been revamped to account for the three forms, providing more of an incentive for members of gravity royalty to experiment.
The combat has also improved, thanks not only to Kat's wider variety of abilities, but also by the more diverse line-up of adversaries. The Nevi, mysterious beasts of unknown origin, are still prone to showing up the worst times. Other threats of all shapes and sizes will menace her, and one can expect some truly inspired duels with similarly-skilled opponents. It's almost like engaging in a dogfight, and the crisp controls will never let the player down. The camera is a bit finicky, but it's usually not too problematic in combat-intensive situations. It can be a serious headache in narrow corridors, though.
This game is indeed much larger than its predecessor. There are not one but two ginormous cities to explore. Every day is a party in Jirga Para Lhao...well except for everyone starving down in Lei Elgona. In a world where people spend their lives miles above the ground, the elite in Lei Havini live above all. In dealing with the many issues plaguing this otherwise beautiful city, Kat will eventually find herself back in Hekseville, a place that's very familiar to fans of the previous game. Both locations are loaded with places to see and things to do. As the story progresses, numerous sidequests, challenge missions, and other activities will unlock. The multitude of distractions border on overwhelming, but for the most part, they're worth digging through.
Due to the episodic nature of the game, it's probably not the best idea to rush through it as if it's a singular arc. The colourful cast of both Hekseville and Jirga Para Lhao all have stories to tell. Alongside Kat, they grow and change in their own ways. The pacing is a little uneven, as some of the later episodes practically fly by. Thankfully, no matter what happens, it's impossible to miss out on sidequests.
The talisman system is a nice addition, though perhaps a bit unnecessary. Kat will collect various gems that confer various bonuses to her abilities. It's nothing game-changing, but a little extra health or a slightly faster throwing speed never hurts. The best talismans tend to be found in special time-limited events, such as giant Navi appearances. Accepting sidequests and challenges can also lead to a few good talismans. The Gravity Queen can even customise them, though that requires quite a lot of story progress.
Even though Kat's sidequests often involve her engaging in mundane jobs, there is a certain endearing quality about them. The Gravity Queen, whose abilities are beyond comprehension, still struggles with menial tasks. Without her powers, she has to try and retry something until she gets it right. It's irritating, but also very human. It's part of what makes Kat such a great character. Rescuing balloons or walking dogs aren't the most heroic things superheroes can do, but they help to make them friendlier and more relatable. It's the personal touches that breathe life into this game. Although, it's also fair to point out that a few quests border on miserable.
When designing a game around spectacular abilities, one has to wonder how "stealth" or "follow suspicious person" missions even enter the equation. Nobody likes them, and yet they keep worming their way into games. Gravity Rush 2 mitigates the stealthy portions somewhat by allowing Kat to knock out guards with gravity-propelled objects. The routing tends to be arbitrary. Certain paths are blocked off by all-seeing patrol ships, forcing the player in directions that are seemingly far away from the objective. Shadowing persons of interest as they go about their day is duller than anything. On the bright side, some sidequests put a cute spin on the ordeal, such as when Kat has to tail somebody's sneaky boyfriend.
Basically, not all of the content is great, but the worst episodes and sidequests are still interesting. They manage to elicit emotions from the player, even if one of them happens to be anger. There are some hair-tearing moments that are kept to a minimum thanks to generous checkpoints. Aside from that, it's hard to stay mad when the game is so ambitious and oh so charming. The world is convincing, its attention to detail is astonishing, and the strength of the wonderful protagonist brings it all together.
While it struggles at times, Gravity Rush 2 is every bit as thrilling and creative as its astounding predecessor. Its players will be wowed by the gorgeous visuals, and every second spent traversing is an absolute joy. This game succeeds at keeping the player involved, not just in the spectacle, but also in the minutiae. A talent for darting through city streets without clumsily slamming into walls isn't necessary to complete the story, but it's rewarding in its own way. Kat's odyssey is one well worth undertaking.