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Critical Reception: SCE Japan Studio's  Gravity Rush
Critical Reception: SCE Japan Studio's Gravity Rush
June 13, 2012 | By Danny Cowan

June 13, 2012 | By Danny Cowan
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines reactions to Sony's PS Vita action-RPG Gravity Rush, which reviews describe as "exactly the kind of original game that a fresh-faced system such as Vita needs." Gravity Rush currently earns a score of 85 out of 100 at

Joystiq's JC Fletcher gives Gravity Rush 4.5 out of 5 stars. "Gravity Rush for PS Vita is a particular kind of superhero simulation I can't recall seeing before," he begins. "Not only is it an excellent approximation of what I imagine it's like to be a superhero, it approximates the life of a new superhero, with all the awkwardness that entails."

Fletcher continues: "Protagonist Kat, who wakes up with no memories and a starfield-patterned cat companion that allows her to alter her personal gravity, is not terribly graceful with her abilities, as befits someone who just gained the power to fall in any direction."

The unique mechanics require practice. "At first, I had great difficulty controlling Kat's powers, which allow her to freeze mid-air, aim her trajectory (with the accelerometer or left analog) and then begin falling in that direction," Fletcher recalls. "After a few hours of exploration and combat [...], I still careen around Hekseville like a drunk bullet. But I do so mostly on purpose, and I get where I need to go with speed and efficiency."

"Kat's ascent to the height of herodom takes place within a beautiful, anime/European world, as just part of a fascinatingly ambiguous, deep, and somehow simultaneously fun storyline," Fletcher praises. "When I had completed Gravity Rush, I wanted nothing more than to play more Gravity Rush, which, thankfully, I could do. There are still so many gems to find, on so many walls I haven't smashed into."

Edge Magazine scores Gravity Rush at 8 out of 10.

"One of the pleasures of Gravity Rushís central gimmick is that it really, truly functions as it claims to," Edge notes. "Watching trailers, or playing the disorientating (in a good way) tutorial, itís easy to think that youíve been equipped with a hybrid superpower -- two parts Superman-style flight to one part Spider-Man wall-crawling stickiness. This is wrong, however: Katís power genuinely is the ability to alter the direction in which gravity pulls upon her."

However: "Gravity Rushís weakness Ė and itís a good one to have Ė is that none of the other mechanics can truly live up to that central idea. The visual style is striking, offering a kind of steampunk, Ghibli-meets-Dickens, sepia-toned quasi-Victorian city in which to play, fight and explore, but the tasks and challenges the game will set you are for the most part fairly simplistic."

"Gravity Rush might not always live up to the promise of its tutorial, but itís exactly the kind of original game that a fresh-faced system such as Vita needs, taking subtle, thoughtful advantage of its control inputs while showcasing its power," Edge's writer explains. "But itís also the kind of game the medium needs -- after years of mutated, supercharged, power-armoured wannabes with an envious eye on comic books, gaming has finally produced a unique superhero."

Alex Navarro at Giant Bomb rates Gravity Rush at 3 out of 5 stars. "I waited very patiently for Gravity Rush to finally kick into gear and start offering me some truly unique puzzles and challenges," he recalls. "It never happened."

Navarro continues: "Instead, Gravity Rush pushes its gravity-shifting mechanic so far to the forefront that you have to wonder if the developers even really knew what to do with their discovery. So much of it revolves around mindless busywork and mediocre combat that you can't help but feel a pang of sadness over the wasted opportunity that is this game."

Navarro feels that Gravity Rush's rudimentary objectives are a poor match for its inventive gameplay. "No aspect of its game design nor story ever matches up to the genius quality of the game's gravity shifting mechanic," he writes. "As great as all of that is, it's not much of a game to just fly around with no purpose. So to give your gravity-adjusting antics some context, Gravity Rush tosses together a goofy amnesia storyline, some half-baked combat mechanics, and enough dull errand-running and lite puzzle-solving to more or less fill 10 hours worth of game."

"Without more things to do and more engagement with the player, Gravity Rush can't sustain itself for the long-haul," Navarro concludes. "As it stands, the gravity-shifting gameplay offered might be complete enough for game-starved Vita owners on the hunt for something to do with their device.

"But do manage your expectations, lest you be disappointed by how hollow Gravity Rush is underneath its breathtaking shell. This is a game that does one thing very well. If you need more than that, then Gravity Rush isn't for you."

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Ron Dippold
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I do really want to play this game since I've heard so much about the great aesthetics.

Can we get this on Steam? I guarantee you may sell it for 1/4 the price but will get an order of magnitude more sales.

Jeremy Reaban
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Erm, it's a Sony developed and published game...

Benjamin Quintero
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Despite the mediocre reviews, I'm still interested in the game. A few more titles like this might convince me to pick up a VITA. Now there just needs to be some unique Tactics experiences and a solid jRPG and I'm ready to spend my money on Sony.

Uncharted on the small screen.. Not so much.

Sony needs to focus on original IP for the handheld and make it an experience you can't get anywhere else. I don't care to buy a port-box, but I do like the idea of deep/lengthy core experiences.

Robert Boyd
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Mediocre reviews? Most of the reviews have been extremely positive.

At the time I wrote this, over half of its reviews on gamerankings give it a 90% or higher score. Also, it's gamerankings average places it among the top 20 highest scoring games of the year (if you remove duplicate entries from multiplatform games).

Dave Bellinger
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Hmm, Reality Fighters, Little Deviants, Unit 13, Army Corps of Hell, Escape Plan are a few original IPs already available on that PS Vita.

Claiming it is or will become a "Port-Box" is a little unfair, after all, Uncharted, Resistance, Wipeout, Silent Hill are all original entires into their respective series' for the Vita. Then, of course, you have a couple of ports, such as Mortal Kombat, MvC 3, Mod Nation, etc. Personally, I'd say this all adds up to a rather diverse library early on in this little portable's life, so clearly there's an aversion to not pigeon-hole it.

A good JRPG would be really nice, I agree. Hopefully something classic from Square-Enix in the works. (Even though they already pushed out ACoH)

Keith Thomson
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The system will be getting Ragnarok Odyssey, which is a like a JRPG. As far as ports go though, I'm perfectly happy to get a portable system that has several decent ports of games that I haven't finished yet, and both Disgaea 3 and Persona 4 qualify.

That said, I have Gravity rush and am quite enjoying it, despite what 1 reviewer said of it.

Ian Uniacke
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85 is mediocre now? Wow. I'd hate to be the person who cooks you dinner. "oh this caviar is such a 9/10 experience for me...take it away" ;P

Benjamin Quintero
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sheesh =) tough crowd. yes metacritic of 85 is kind of an "average" score which, in a time when I have the option to play an 85 game for 7 other 95 games, that kind of makes it mediocre. I'm sure the game is good. It's not an exceptional score but given that it's a new IP I'm still interested.

Uncharted was an original game in the series but just about every review I read was that it played like it wanted to hang with his big brother PS3 instead of defining itself. New IP's have to freedom to break free from any molds but porting a franchise (even if only by name) means that the luggage comes with it.

Pablo Simbana
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Loved the demo, played it around 10 times and couldn't get enough. Buying the game today on the psn store ^^

Jeffrey Touchstone
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I'm loving it. It just so damn pretty and fun to look at. it is a very playful game in many respects

wes bogdan
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wish i could play it but witout the face buttons mapped to the d-pad and the d-pad mapped to the face buttons southpaw will continue to be ignored on vita which is to date a default only club leaving me out in the cold regarding dual analog games though stardust has customization so i can map the controls and play it.

This isnít just a vita issue as wii u might be unplayable as i can only use southpaw with the face buttons mapped to the d-pad and d-pad mapped to the face buttons.

FIX THIS so i can enjoy games on new hardware or iíll be stuck with single analog games if i buy new Hardware.

Keith Thomson
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I'm not sure if I get this criticism. Unlike writing, using a mouse, and other skills, I find that which side controls what in a game matters very little. In Descent on the PC and most other PC games I've played, for instance, I am controlling movement with my right hand and firing and aiming with my left, (Keyboard only, not using the mouse.) but in other games such as most console games I can flip that around and move with my left while firing with my right hand. Which hand maps to which controls is mostly a learned thing for each game.

wes bogdan
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I learned my dual analog on n64 where the yellow c buttons were up,down,strafe left /right while the only analog stick was freelook + i'm a very dominant lefty so while i can play nsmb u,god of war,lego and other single analog games fine give me freelook on a 2nd analog stick it better be the left stick because it is only possible in southpaw.

Default puts the face buttons/freelook stick side by side whereas southpaw keeps the face buttons in default even though freelook has switched sides the face buttons have not.

With systems like wii u and vita having a 5 1/2"-6" G-A-P draging my freelook hand back to the face buttons becomes a game breaker heck look @ :uncharted,resistance,unit 13 and now gravity rush all are DEFAULT ONLY with no southpaw all are UNPLAYABLE and it's soo simple for southpaw to work the face button functions must remain next to freelook or i supose i could stop moving and DIE but it's interchangable up -triangle,down-x,left-square and right-o properly fliped to match the stick layout southpaw works even with a huge gap between sticks otherwise southpaw will join legacy in oblivion and games will all become default only which means wii u,720 and ps4 are all expensive paperweights and so are vita and circle pad pro 3ds....ALL UNPLAYABLE.....if only there was an easy fix which i've been using since ps2-xbox 1 days when i designed it on a gamester phoenix revolution pad which has 4 holes and 4 pods so i put face buttons,right stick,left stick and d-pad and FULL SOUTHPAW was born then i had my 360 pads rewired and use gilmount thrustmaster's 3-1 dual trigger FULLY CUSTOMIZABLE OUT-OF-THE-BOX playstation gamepad.

What's sad to me is i fixed southpaw 10 years agao and still it's hobbled or now began to be left out entirely. Gaming's come far but upon the dual shock's arrival there was no great renasaunce in game options of late they're going in reverse to a point it'll be here don't like the gameplay or how we laid it out too bad.

A real next gen system should allow resistance 1 or 2 level profile customization so players could file n forget and simply play games.

This NEEDS fixed or i'll be skiping many great games even beloved series i've followed forever because if i can't play it what's the point?!!

wes bogdan
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By the way i have no idea why in southpaw mode aim is left stick but zoom is right trigger-any monkey can fire a gun but zooming is a much more precise and delicate operation so that's right i'd put zoom on whatever freelook stick you use which would make it left trigger for southpaw and right trigger for just makes more sense i mean in halo 1 the freelook click was zoom so if on a trigger it should match the freelook stick side.

wes bogdan
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The profile custom slot would be @ the xbl/psn level and i dub it the Master Control Profile or M.C.P for short but the point is if i want to play dual analog games (even pixel junk shooter,blast factor and tank battle which use a smash tv dual analog LACK SOUTHPAW and NEED it) i set it up within my "MASTER" profile then with a simple command line when the game is installed / played for the first time it would check "default" against your "M.C.P" and whatever changes if any would become the game's default mode.

There would have to be multiple users allowed on each xbl /psn system like how ps3 has a master and sub accounts each sub account would need it's own "check" so if i'm inverted southpaw with zoom on my left gun trigger and the face buttons mapped to my d-pad but 1 of my kids was a default player and so was my wife then it couldn't just check once but @ game start for say 4-5 players including the master profile like ps3 has set up.

Mike Huttner
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Learn to punctuate and capitalize. Then we'll talk

wes bogdan
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My coments were all typed via the nook tablet which is much more easy to misspell with no red underline or spell check as i respond.

But my points are still valid :1-southpaw in the current configureation is hobbled and becomes useless when controls get spread farther apart like vita and wii u with large screens.
2-fixing it is also easy keeping the face buttons and freelook together as in default.

3-zooming the scope should also be on the freelook side no matter your scheme.

Again brought to you from a 16GB NOOK TABLET...and please patch the games i talked about so i can play them. Thanks.