Gravity Crash Preview: Retro Evolved

If any downloadable game deserves the subtitle Retro Evolved, it's the PlayStation Network's Gravity Crash from developer Just Add Water.

What Is It?:
While Geometry Wars might have gotten the pure twitch shooting down pat, Gravity Crash focuses on a much more finesse-based sort of shooter style. You pilot your spaceship around beautiful HD-vector graphic planets completing various objectives, from gathering resources to rescuing stranded spacemen, all the while fighting against the pull of gravity. It brings to mind classic titles like Lunar Lander combined with shooters like Defender.

The game comes with 37 planets worth of game play for both single and multiplayer action, but that's just the beginning. Gravity Crash also contains a robust yet simple level editor, with hundreds of different objects to place in order to build your own custom levels, which can then be shared with the community over PSN.

What We Saw
I got to play through several levels worth of the game, and watched as several quick levels were created, edited, and tested. http://publish.kotaku.com/ged/new

How Far Along Is It?
Everything seemed in place to me, though they still have plenty of work ahead of them. Items for the map builder are being finalized, bugs are being fixed. The game is due out in September.

What Needs Improvement?
Gravity Tweaking: The developers are still kicking around the idea of letting users set the level of gravity in their own levels. Gravity plays a big part in not only how your ship flies, but how the various weapons in the game react. Being able to tweak that, even on a small scale, would make for some extremely interesting single-player levels.

What Should Stay The Same?
Simplicity: The game is easy to pick up for anyone who has played an old-school shooter game, and the level editor is simple enough to where a novice can have their own creation up and running in minutes, while still giving the more involved map creator plenty of options to craft something special.

Gravity Is A Harsh Mistress: Gravity isn't used enough these days. It seems like it is a mechanic that flared up in the arcade briefly and then fell into disuse. It's used in Gravity Crash in such a way that the player has to use a bit of finesse and judgment while piloting their craft. The addition of water, which frees your ship from gravity constraints but affects the way your weapons fire is a very nice touch.

Sharp HD Vector Graphics: I am certain that one day I will get sick of seeing colorful, high-definition vector graphics, but today is not that day. They fit the whole retro look and feel of Gravity Crash quite nicely, so they may leave them in.

Final Thoughts
Gravity Crash is one of those games that you can start playing on a lark only to find that hours have passed and you're late for your next E3 appointment. It's quick and dirty fun with an added layer of complexity thanks to the level editing feature. If the user-creation tools hit it off with players, it's a game that could constantly offer something new.