Video Game Reviews – August 2012

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Gravity Rush
Project Siren/Sony
Reviewed on: PS Vita (Exclusive)
Street: 06.12
Gravity Rush brings a new gameplay element into view by taking full advantage of the Vita’s power and its own innovative controls. The premise is simple: You’re a young girl who wakes up with no memory and a strange pet cat, which allows you to control gravity for some reason. A seemingly evil, parasitic race called the Nevi are attacking a town and its citizens. Your job is to help an odd-humored man known as “The Creator,” the local police force and the army clear them out, all while discovering who you truly are. If the description sounds too complex, I promise it’s not. The game boils down to really one thing: flipping everything you can with gravity and speed kicking the enemy. The actual gameplay is extremely enjoyable, and is only detracted from by the lack of advancement your powers receive. There is a leveling system which increases the amount of time you can hold gravity hostage, boosts your life bar or makes your kicks a little extra powerful, but I found myself sticking to the same two or three attacks throughout the game. Repetitive controls definitely hold the game back, but the creative world in which you play and the story keep you pushing level to level. Cut scenes are replaced with lightly animated comic frames that you can explore by swiping across the touchscreen or with the accelerometer. The cel-shaded world of Gravity Rush doesn’t have the greatest combat system I’ve ever utilized, but it’s interesting enough to earn a play through. Borrow it from a friend, snag it on GameFly or rent it from a video store—if those exist anymore—you’ll enjoy the time spent. –Thomas Winkley

Waking Mars
Tiger Style
Reviewed on: iOS
Also on: Android
Street: 03.01
My brain is hardwired to expect some form of violence out of a video game. The majority of games out there consist of a simple formula: good guy kills bad guys to achieve a goal. Even though Waking Mars is touted as a quest to bring a planet to life, I kept expecting some bloodthirsty creature to jump out of the shadows and shove a parasitic egg down my throat. However, this really is not that type of game. In Waking Mars the player takes control of Liang, a scientist who is trying to recover the remnants of his research team’s missing robot. In order to do this, Liang must carefully plant and cultivate an ecosystem within a mysterious Martian cavern. It’s easy enough until different forms of plant life are introduced. Each plant contributes somehow, but they will also try to eat each other if you’re not careful. This minimalist gameplay is enhanced by some truly breathtaking graphics and an excellent ambient soundtrack—some of the best that I’ve experienced on an iOS game. Though the game’s ambitious concept is a major strength, it also creates some irritating flaws. For example, if you don’t plant the right combination of flora in one room, you’ll be spending anywhere from 20-30 minutes traveling back and forth until you’ve gathered the correct seeds and fixed the problem. I believe that games for a mobile device should be friendly to the player who just wants to kill time while riding TRAX instead of requiring such a large commitment. In the end, Waking Mars struggles to reconcile the fact that it’s a well crafted and highly ambitious game that’s been released on a platform that is better suited to quick and easy diversions. –Alex Springer

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