Twin Shooters Review pt.1: Gravity Crash (PSN)

Two shooters were recently made available during the holiday season on the PSN with Gravity Crash and Pixeljunk Shooter.  Even though when looking at both games on the surface one may think they are generally very similar, they are in fact quite different within the boundaries of this genre.  Console Creatures takes a look at both titles firstly with Gravity Crash (currently on sale on the PSN up until Jan/27/2010); a retro styled shooter with modern physics based gameplay with a heavy emphasis on velocity.

The Pros

The first thing that stands out with Gravity Crash is it’s cool, neon, retro themed art style also reminiscent of more recent games like Geometry Wars.  The glowing outlined objects and environment against a dark space backdrop gives Gravity Wars a nice presentation right from the get go.  This is only complimented by the soundtrack of the game which lies within the techno/electronica style.

While visually nice to look at, it’s the gameplay that seems to be finely tuned while providing enough options for any player to customize their playing experience.  The goal of the game is simple to understand: you’re given an objective for a level whether it be collecting and/or destroying a certain number of items while you navigate through the area given the different obstacles like enemy structures, alien inhabitants, natural elements like water, lava and meteors, as well as narrow passageways considering your ship is destroyed on impact with the jagged rock that surrounds you if not protected by a shield.

The main challenge lies in navigating through the environment as the game puts heavy consideration into physics and the velocity at which you’re traveling at.  What that means is that the player has to consider the subsequent drift your ship takes with any change in direction which is also dependant on the speed you’re going at.  Luckily there are options to avoid the potential countless one hit collision deaths that may of incurred when trying to naviagate through the more narrow routes as Gravity Crash provides two ways to implement a shield option that once activated avoids those one hit collision deaths.  The first option is to have the sheild activate automatically until it’s depleted where then you must collect energy crystals to recharge, while the second option is where the player must manually activate the shield before any impact but it will automatically recharge when not in use.  This avoids potential frustration allowing you to concentrate on the success in traditional aspects of a shooter like score chasing and time runs while demanding increased level of skill considering the physics based gameplay and shield implementation.

Other options given to the player are the choice between firing with the second analog stick or with the X button, and choosing one from a variety of special attacks to equip your ship with.

On top of this, to add to the longevity of the game it also includes a level editor for players to create and share the levels online.  The user created levels break the monotony of the levels played in the single player campaign contributing to the re playability factor of the game.

The Cons

Level editor aside, the campaign mode can get a bit repetitive over time as the only thing that seems to change from one planet to another is the backdrop.  Other than that, the mission types generally stay the same as well as the structures within the level.  In some cases the quality of the story in a game may lead you overlook the repetitive nature of the levels but the one for Gravity Crash is uninteresting and shallow living up to the retro feel of 2D shooters in this particular area.

Gravity Crash also includes a local multiplayer mode that is otherwise forgetttable.  Up to four people can compete via split screen from a selection of standard game types but the split screen is set up so awkwardly to try to make everything visible on each player’s screen that it just doesn’t work (especially with 2 players).

Here’s the Deal

Gravity Crash is a stylishly challenging shooter combining the retro look of vector graphics with updated physics based gameplay.  The player will meticulously navigate through the levels while considering the subsequent drift with any direction change, always keeping in mind shield management , while trying to speed run and score chase the level.  Unfortuneatley, the shallow story doesn’t deter you from the fact that the campaign levels do end up being repetitive if you are not being motivated by achieving the fastest time/highest score.  The repetitiveness is offset by the deep level creator allowing you to create or enjoy other people creations.  With a cool style, challenging gameplay, and a theoretically infinite re playability with the built in level editior, the repetitiveness of the campaign mode and forgettable multiplayer is not enough to bring this PSN shooter down.  7.5/10  Sean C.

~ by consolecreatures on January 24, 2010.

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