Review: Gravity Crash Portable
Developer: Just Add Water
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: July 20th, 2010
What I liked:
- A mostly faithful port of the PS3 version, which feels more at home on the PSP.
- New/exclusive PSP additions work nicely.
- A great game for pick up and play sessions.
What I disliked:
- The entire level download/sharing system has been severely downgraded from the PS3.
Gravity Crash is an explore-the-cave adventure/shooter that has you bouncing from planet to planet, collecting diamonds or blasting bases to complete objectives and open your escape wormhole. The style will be familiar with anyone who’s seen Geometry Wars, but is different enough to hold its own. This PSP version adds a few new exclusive features and modes while trimming some PSN features out of the game, but is mostly the same game you might have played back in November. Or at least, I thought it would be.
Interesting, how much a change of platform can alter the “feel” of a game. I thought Gravity Crash was a good PS3 game, with some uninspired gameplay but some really great level creation tools and an easy sharing system. Now comes the PSP version, which has downgraded the level sharing quite a bit but has ported over the PS3 single player experience quite faithfully (same levels and all), and as a result seems just plain more fun on the PSP.
Perhaps it has to do with the addition of a new control scheme specifically for the PSP, called the anti-grav option, which essentially defeats the purpose of the title now that I think about it. With this option you’re no longer affected by the downward gravity of the planet, and instead float along in space until you boot up the thrusters. It’s a scheme that just plain works better given the lack of precision on the PSP, and makes the game slightly easier (and more fun) to play, though since firing is mapped on the buttons I wished the control for the craft was mapped on the d-pad as well.
There are forty planets/levels to explore (thirty-five in game, and five coming in DLC form says the official Just Add Water website) and almost all of them are huge… so huge, in fact, that I would get completely lost in many levels until I ran out of fuel (replenished by finding crystals along the cave walls, though limited in supply in the later stages). The radar could use a better system of telling the player where exactly they need to go, especially since the objectives aren’t very clear on the PSP screen as they were on the PS3. But, once you do get close to an objective, it does blink handily on the radar screen.
The one major downside to this PSP port is the level creation system. On the PS3 version you could upload your levels on a server, rate and download user levels and sort them by popularity, date of creation and so on. On the PSP, all of this functionality is stripped out. I can understand this given the PSP’s limitations on networking, but the level sharing has really been brought down to it’s very basic core- you need to drag and drop levels in a specific folder on the PSP in order to play them. So if you and a friend have a level to share with each other, you better have a PC nearby since there’s no kind of ad-hoc sharing mode. What a shame.
Still, I enjoyed the single player a bit more on the PSP with the new control option, not to mention the gameplay is much better suited for handheld gaming. While the level sharing is a bit disappointing, the campaign is meaty enough to get your ten bucks worth. I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to.