In a world where top-down space shooters aren’t exactly rare, Gravity Crash Ultra tries to do something different. Instead of simply placing you in a small arena and challenging you to achieve a high score, you are instead found in a reasonably expansive map and given a simple objective…although usually this objective boils down to destroying 5 of the same target somewhere on the level.
Gravity Crash Ultra controls like you would typically expect. One stick flies your ship, whilst the other controls the direction in which you’ll fire. The right shoulder-button also allows you to use one of four special abilities, but these are considerably limited, so you’ll be picking the best moment to do so. And that’s it. It’s a simple control scheme, but one which makes the game very easy to pick up and play. Unlike other game’s in the genre such as Pixeljunk Shooter however, Gravity Crash Ultra chooses to give your ship momentum and fairly realistic physics. This means that flying at a high speed will more often than not result in you colliding with a nearby wall and exploding. This doesn’t make the game “bad” as such, but it’s a feature which just feels a little out of place. Sure, other top-down shooters may give you a small amount of momentum to feel weighty and enjoyable, but Gravity Crash Ultra goes the extra mile and makes you feel like a wrecking ball on a chain, albeit a very, very weak one.
The game consists of several ‘systems’ which are each filled with around 6 or 7 planets. In order to progress to the next system, you must beat every planet in the previous one, which is done by completing each level’s goal. As mentioned, this is usually just to find and destroy a set number of targets, but each system also features an expected boss on the final planet which must also be defeated. Although blowing up miscellaneous targets might sound a little monotonous on paper, the exploration side of Gravity Crash Ultra really lends itself to this style of play. Particularly as you progress through the game, levels will become more expansive and complex, meaning you will need to find ways to shut off lasers or gates in order to progress. This makes the game slightly unique compared to others within the genre, as no longer are there screen-by-screen challenges split by loading times. Each level also contains a number of collectible crystals and artefacts which are optional, but add a little bit more replayability to the game.
Visually, Gravity Crush Ultra is engrossing but not hugely original. The vivid neon lines which outline almost every object are very reminiscent of games such as Geometry Wars, and really make the game feel futuristic and suitably sci-fi. The game also boasts 60fps which is quite unique for a handheld title. This is most apparently when looking at the multiple particle effects the game boasts. For example, whenever moving your ship will expel hundreds of small blue particles, all of which have their own physics and can be flown through to make them disperse from one another. It’s a very small detail but one which is consistent with the particles in the game, and makes it feel very next-gen, especially for a game on the Vita. It’s not quite up to the standards of last year’s Resogun, but is definitely pleasing to look at.
Gravity Crush Ultra is by no means a forgettable game, but one which lacks a huge amount of replayability. Yes, the small collectables within each level are a nice touch, but not exactly one which draws you in and leaves you wanting more. If some sort of customisation feature was included which these collectables could be spent on, then maybe it would be worth much more of your time. However, being a handheld game, it’s understandable that it goes for a much more quick, ‘arcadey’ feel. Because of this, the quick 10-minute levels and fairly simplistic gameplay feel fairly at home, and make the game reasonably fun for short bursts. Gravity Crush Ultra won’t make you go out and buy a Vita, but it’s certainly a fun little game to have if you already own one.
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