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No Gravity: The Plague Of Mind

11:4513/03/2009Posted by Simeon PaskellNo Comments

The year is 8002, and the mighty Krosso empire of System Oolro 3 is under attack – an unknown mind disease has surfaced and a new plague has been born; indications are that it came from the blackness of space… It is with this that No Gravity: The Plague Of Mind launches you and your PSP into an interplanetary conflict set to pulsing rhythms of ambient techno. In space, no one can hear you chilling out!

ng1The history of No Gravity is almost as interesting as the game itself. Spawned by the homebrew scene, it was originally available from, shall we say, more dubious sources than PSN, and built to run on customized PSPs. In a move not dissimilar to its embracing of the 3D demo scene (see the art-software Linger in Shadows, which hit PSN last year), Sony has given publisher Anozor the opportunity for No Gravity to receive a legitimate release, a move for which we should, for the most part, be thankful.

Its homebrew origins are apparent from the outset, with an introduction rendered through a series of stylized photographic stills that do an admirable job of setting a unique, if somewhat, kitschy tone. From the robotic narration to the Blake’s 7-esque ship design, the setting is drawn from more innocent times, its world stitched together with hyperdrives and laser beams rather than the gritty high-tech dystopia’s presented in titles such as Killzone or Dead Space. This is a galactic future as featured on countless late-70’s lunchboxes, something that undoubtedly adds to its charm.

ng2No Gravity’s gameplay can be seen as somewhat of a throwback. Clearly inspired by PC classics such as LucasArts’ X-Wing and Tie-Fighter series, with lashings of Elite thrown in for good measure, deep-space dog-fighting is the order of the day. Although lacking much of those titles’ complexity (there is no ship system management or interplanetary trading here), developer Realtech VR have lovingly crafted an engaging tribute to a genre that is very much out of fashion.

Gameplay is fairly simple: following a short mission brief you are strapped into the cockpit of one of three available spacecraft and released into the vacuum of space. Unfortunately, the missions themselves can be fairly uninspiring, generally adhering to a few simple formulas; patrol area x, defend allied ship y, or attack enemy z. Luckily this misstep is alleviated by robust mechanics. Controls are simple but elegantly executed, helping to convey a real sense of weightlessness, and combat is tactical enough to prove engaging, if a little on the sedate side.

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