Review: Gravity Crash (PS3)December 14th, 2009 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: PlayStation 3, Reviews
This generation has been nice to old games and concepts as there’s a lot of promise for their art styles to reach their full potential in HD. Just Add Water has taken the gameplay of Gravitar and added Geometry Wars-style vector visuals to make Gravity Crash for PSN. The result is a beautiful shooter with more elaborate levels to play around in.
Gravity Crash takes place during a war in space between two factions when all of the forces on one side are wiped out, so they turn to a lone robot janitor to help them out. As that janitor, you’re tasked with completing missions on six planets in each of the five solar systems, which gives you 30 levels to play in the single-player mode. These missions can range from simply collecting a certain type of crystal to more complex goals that involve destroying certain types of structures before a wormhole will appear to let you finish the level. There are tons of collectibles you can collect in a level, though they’re not necessary to beat the level or even achieve the goal time that each level has.
The way that Gravity Crash controls is probably the biggest dividing line for this game’s appeal since the game looks like a dual-stick shooter while not being anything like your typical dual-stick shooter. There are two control schemes that can basically be described as being for a hardcore and a more casual Gravity Crash player. The hardcore scheme requires you to control rotation and thrust separately while the direction your ship is facing is where you’ll shoot, much like Asteroids or Lunar Lander. The casual scheme is a bit friendlier for people that are used to dual-stick shooters like Geometry Wars, as rotation and thrust are handled on the left stick and shooting is on the right stick despite not handling anything like Geometry Wars. Both can work fine, though the hardcore controls require much more precision than the casual controls, which should be enough to appeal to almost everyone that tries out the demo.
The basic gameplay in Gravity Crash is all about the gravity, obviously, as you must move through space with regard for how gravity will affect your ship’s movement. You do have a shield to protect your ship when you eventually hit something, though you can choose between an automatic shield that protects you at any point that you hit something and a manual shield that you have to turn on and off yourself, which are nice options to go alongside the big choice between control schemes.
You need to shoot at any enemy ship, turret, or structure to get points along with being able to save any stranded crewmen you find by slowly floating towards the ground until your landing gear is lowered for additional points along with any of the collectibles you come across. As you fly, you use up the fuel in your tank that has to be refilled by shooting off fuel crystal fragments, which also have an added bonus of replenishing your shield at the same time. There are also power-ups that you can collect that mostly change your gun to shoot in multiple directions along with two that give you an additional life or another shot of your special weapon.
The campaign in Gravity Crash has a standard structure that requires you to beat all of the levels in a solar system before unlocking the next solar system and repeating that pattern until you finish the whole game, but there’s a bit of an arcade twist to it. There is a lives counter that will reset your score up to that point if you wish to continue playing, but not continuing resets your progress so you have to start over. It adds another layer of challenge since your high score likely won’t last for all 30 levels, so you do need to be careful and precise if that is your goal. Any levels you do play through are unlocked for planet mode, which is an extra mode that lets you play those levels with no strings attached.
Outside of the single-player campaign, there are the multiplayer modes and the level editor that rounds out Gravity Crash’s offerings. The multiplayer mode isn’t really anything to write home about and just makes us wish there co-op for the single-player levels. The level editor is really robust as it has a lot of items you can put into a level along with lots of setting that can change what the mission for your level is, how high or low the gravity is, and even backgrounds, music, and weather. Any levels you make can be uploaded online so others can play, though the interface for that isn’t quite as nice and easy to use as we’d like.
Taking a page out of Geometry Wars’ visual book, Gravity Crash manages to really one-up Bizarre Creations’ iconic look with the insane amount of detail that it has. From space grass to bright dots for connecting vectors to the way that your ship morphs shape when in water, it’s clear that Just Add Water enjoyed making these games since a lazier developer would’ve been complacent with skimping out on those kinds of superfluous details. Everything explodes with a great amount of particles that makes this a great game to play on a large HDTV. The music has a great electronic style to it that really adds a lot to the visual style.
Gravity Crash does a great job of recapturing the old style of gravity-based shooters and giving it a nice visual upgrade that even bests Geometry Wars with more elaborate level design. It may not a game that can appeal to everyone, but those that are able to enjoy what they see in the demo will be hooked on what this game has to offer with a lot of levels, lots of replay value, and whatever the users create with the level editor.