No Gravity – The Plague Mind has officially launched on PlayStation Store, and brings with it a taste of one possible future for the online network. A PlayStation Portable title available exclusively through the PlayStation digital shop that has quite clearly pipped the NintendoDSi to the post in Europe, digital distribution has rarely seen such confidence on behalf of a third-party developer; with even Sony’s own proposed PlayStation Store exclusive releases arriving in physical retail channels also. Whether or not this confidence has been misplaced only time will tell, but whether or not No Gravity – The Plague Mind is the ideal title to base such foundations on is a question that can be answered right now.
As a fairly traditional 3D title, No Gravity – The Plague Mind plays like many Space Shooters before it: from an internal cockpit viewpoint (although a third-person perspective is also available), the player can fly a full 360-degrees around a set arena with no visible limitations. Players of G-Police or Forsaken from the PlayStation or Nintendo64 will undoubtedly have matured familiar with such a control system, however, for some the available freedom and constant shifts in perspective may be incredibly disorientating at first – in a game which allows full 360-degree movement in space, there is no top or bottom, floor or ceiling, or any other positioning marker besides the on-screen objective, which too can freely move in the 360-degree spectrum. Once players accept the fact that a non-existence of up-and-down simply doesn’t matter, things will become a lot clearer, and nimble movement is only a few Missions away.
Straightforward objectives ease the player in – the difficulty in adapting to the control scheme elegantly disconnected via simple back-and-forth’s across the arena and relatively non-confrontational enemies. Once the basic ship controls are firmly ingrained however, the difficulty ramps-up dramatically; before the end of even the first Chapter. Objectives pile-on as progression through each Mission is achieved; what might start-out as a simple defence Mission will almost inevitably become a full-scale war once your target successfully reaches its destination. Receiving new objectives on-the-fly is not as disorientating as it sounds, with the player able to quickly return to the desired area of the battlefield and target alerts having been well devised.
The game features a healthy selection of Power-Ups, though with no Instruction Manual to speak of it’ll be some time before the player recognises the worth of each. Risking your energy bar to travel half-way across the arena to a glowing white symbol which simply restores the energy you lost getting there will be a common occurrence for those without devotion.
The visuals are well defined, if somewhat basic for the most part. The ships fly with agility and are never improperly placed – a missed shot is always the player’s own fault, and you will never feel cheated by a ship jumping ahead a frame-or-two. The backgrounds are pretty much lifeless, but it’s once the action heats-up that No Gravity – The Plague Mind begins to shine. Some dazzling explosion and laser effects can make the action on screen look somewhat psychedelic when several ships are staged in all-out combat, and the fact that the frame-rate never drops during these moments is a fantastic achievement. The screen will pick-up scratches and cracks to denote the player’s damage, and the grain effect of collisions relay the important information of what hit you, and where, without the need for volume – perfect for that busy bus or train journey. In respect of that, however, the sound quality in itself is certainly noteworthy.
No Gravity – The Plague Mind does in itself feel like the perfect fit for the PLAYSTATION3-to-PlayStation Portable download service. While not particularly demanding capacity-wise, the game is perfectly enjoyable on short trips and features enough content to more than justify the removal of a handful of music tracks from your Memory Stick Pro Duo. The lower costs of digital distribution allow for the game to be sold for a reasonable price, without appearing as a “bargain bin” release alongside full-price titles on retail shelves, and in this No Gravity – The Plague Mind will more the justify it’s £8.99 price-tag to 3D Space Shooter fans.
No Gravity – The Plague Mind will without doubt be a trendsetter; developers Anozor have encapsulated the ideals behind the possibilities of the PlayStation Store within the larger PlayStation family perfectly. Designed for gaming-on-the-go and yet still managing to remain addictively challenging, No Gravity – The Plague Mind‘s blemishes will be overlooked by all but the most cynical. Though previous releases on PlayStation Store may have suited the handheld format well, none have yet come close to matching No Gravity – The Plague Mind‘s expertly pitched offering.