- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A physics-manipulating girl and her celestial feline return to save the working class from greedy businessmen and politicians in Gravity Rush 2 (Sony Computer Entertainment and SCE WWS Japan Studio, rated Teen, reviewed on PlayStation 4, $59.99).

Keiichi Toyama and his developers build upon the 2012 game originally developed for the PlayStation Vita handheld system to offer a surprisingly expansive, open-world, third-person action adventure while fitting comfortably into the superhero genre.

Set upon floating cities, the game stars a giddy girl named Kat who’s able to harness the gravitational pull, thanks to her cosmic pal Dusty, the cat hanging out next to her. She exists in a universe sure to appeal to fans of Japanese-styled cartoons and comic books.

Kat can float and toss herself around the air like a rag doll as well as walk on walls, ceilings and up the sides of structures. A player can also shoot her toward enemies like a spinning drill bit and upgrade powers by collecting red shards strewn about many of the environments.

She can use a stasis power to levitate objects around her and throw them at enemies, or intentionally levitate humans to deliver them to locations.

Additionally, new to the franchise, the action offers a pair of gravity styles swapped via the PS4 controller pad. Use the gravity light Lunar Style and its warping Wormhole kick for fights against quicker enemies. Use the heavy-gravity Jupiter Style to deliver powered attacks against groups of bad guys and creatures including a shockwave from a Surge Kick and amass balls of debris to throw.

A player will find the controls of Kat’s powers always a challenge due to some sloppy targeting mechanics and an inconsistent camera perspective but will always appreciate her magic.

Her somewhat scantily clad clothing designs, with an option to change costumes, are reminiscent of Xena the Warrior Princess and classic female X-Men.

Her fashion can mix elements of Psylocke and the White Queen while she looks more like Jean Grey (in Phoenix mode) whenever using her powers.

Our heroine spends time engaging in long-winded conversations with characters displayed as easy-to-follow, motion-comic-like panels, and she eventually handles over two dozen main chapters in her saga and over 50 side missions.

She engages with a variety of humans along her travels including the boisterous boss of Sun Shipping Vogo, a very shy young girl named Cecie, pompous buddy Syd and eventually her former rival, the clothing challenged Raven.

Kat’s complex life might consist of helping a young girl find her missing ducks, snapping five photographs of beautiful women for an old man to appreciate (I kid you not) and getting stuck in a one-on-one fight with a whip-snapping bodyguard.

Multi-part battles will exhaust the player and may involve holding off a group of armored mercenaries (equipped with mech exoskeletons no less) attempting to stop an ore transport from docking at a city port.

A welcomed beginning to the adventure first plops the player in the floating Banga settlement, a place that one might find as an antiquated hut village at the edges of a rainforest and held together by a collection of enormous, industrial mining ships

Life then gets much more amazing when Kat arrives in the large, colorful city of Jirga Para Lhao, a floating mass of humanity living among a more urban setting of lively markets, steel building on islands and literally multi-tiered housing.

And, I do mean literally as the upper class live on the higher levels while to find the poor, a player must plunge Kat down below the pretty white clouds and into a more color-muted hovering world of desperation and rebellious gangs.

By the time Kat, aka the Gravity Queen, reaches her old stomping ground of Hekseville (more oppressive but equally stunning metropolis), a player will simply be addicted to the vast exploration and wonderful visual presentation.

Specifically, the average pop-art connoisseur will find the stylized, cel-shaded animated visual aesthetic akin to watching a “Naruto” or “Dragon Ball Z” cartoon complete with those comic book dialogue panels rolling across the screen.

The older and more discerning eye will see a stunning homage to the sci-fi illustration of French sequential artist Moebius and anime master Hayao Miyazaki, especially when tackling otherworldly environments and appreciating the wide range of costuming.

Developers add a bit of an interactive online component that includes taking a photograph of a newly discover treasure chest to help other online players discern the location.

Overall, “Gravity Rush 2” is a quirky delight that easily offers over 40 hours of time-consuming action and exploration for the player as he free falls and dives deeply into its eye-catching universe.

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