Gaming

Superhero that manipulates gravity

Kat's superpower lets her fly, or rather fall clumsily through the air, as well as throw objects at enemies.
Kat's superpower lets her fly, or rather fall clumsily through the air, as well as throw objects at enemies.PHOTO: SONY INTERACTIVE

Two new modes make the protagonist feel extremely overweight or underweight

I would rather watch someone else play Gravity Rush 2 than play the game myself, simply because I am not any good at it.

This open-world sequel to a 2012 PlayStation Vita game (remastered for the PlayStation 4 last year) features the same likeable protagonist, Kat, who can manipulate gravity.

This superpower lets her fly, or rather fall clumsily through the air, as well as throw objects at enemies. But even after hours of playtime, I could not get the hang of Kat's physics-defying abilities.

Instead of feeling like a superhero, I felt like I was constantly battling with the wayward camera to point it in the right direction.

Stealth missions were another source of frustration, mainly because the game does not, unlike others with stealth-based gameplay, have a radar to let the players know the enemies' location. These missions then become a matter of trial and error.

  • 8/10

    RATING

  • PRICE: $72.90 (PlayStation 4, version tested)

  • GENRE: Action-adventure

The sequel changes the gameplay with two new modes, Lunar and Jupiter styles - Lunar makes Kat lighter and more bouncy while Jupiter makes her heavy but enhances her attacks. They have their uses, but I found the tutorial that introduces these two new modes too tedious.

I also wishthese styles were unlocked earlier in the game - that would have livened up its first part.

Visually, the cel-shaded graphics make the game look gorgeous. Its comic-book-like cutscenes make an effective storytelling medium.

I did not play the first game, but I got up to speed, thanks to a short anime from the developers that explains how Kat ended up so far from her hometown of Hekseville and without her powers.

For a large part of the game, Kat is in Jirga Para Lhao, a city of floating islands inspired by Latin America and Asia. It looks like paradise, but the simmering hostility between its richer inhabitants and the less privileged soon erupt into class warfare.

A lively, jazz-like soundtrack accompanies Kat while she explores the city, doing side missions that range from quirky (shopping for a gift) to weird (taking pictures of attractive women for an old man to improve his health).

The game includes online elements, such as speed challenges and hunting treasures based on photo hints left by other players.

Eventually, Kat makes her way home, where things have changed drastically: she has been supplanted by a new heroine while a city-defence system manned by robots has sprung up in her absence.

Several characters from the first game return, but any emotional impact from these reunions is largely lost on me.

• Verdict: This sequel expands the first game's setting into a larger open world. Kat's powers, too, become more varied, but her cheerful, optimistic personality is her biggest strength.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'Superhero that manipulates gravity'. Print Edition | Subscribe