In the city of ECP17, or “Hover City” as it’s more commonly known as, things are not ok. The Great Admin has passed a law making the act of having fun illegal and banning things like video games. He then blocked off all communication with the Galactic Union, further cementing his tyrannical rule. It is all up to a rebellious, fun-loving gang called The Gamers to find a way to get to the Orbital Station, contact the Galactic Union, and take down The Great Admin to bring fun and happiness back into Hover City. The light-hearted plot isn’t going to win any awards, but I find it captures the fun nature of the game perfectly.
After a brief tutorial to teach you the basics, you are plopped into Hover City with very little direction. There is a vague set of story missions to follow, but the real fun is in exploring every nook and cranny of the open world playground that is Hover City while running into other players doing the same. Although you can turn it off and play solo if you want, Hover supports seamless online multiplayer. You can cruise around and explore the city with friends and strangers alike, taking on missions or doing other activities together. And what a city it is to explore! Hover City was created with a large amount of verticality in mind. Your characters come equipped with special gear that allows them to run, jump, grind, and generally just parkour all over the place much better than regular human abilities would allow. That, and the fact that you take no damage from falling means that the sky is the limit in terms of where you want to go. Another handy feature is the bubble. Holding down a certain button encases your character in a bubble and rewinds his movement back to a certain point. This is incredibly useful if you miss a jump or accidentally fall from a tricky to get to spot and want to get back there with as little fuss as possible. I personally think this option is awesome since it saved me from more than a couple annoying situations. The one thing I don’t like about exploring Hover City is the lack of even the most basic of maps to help orient yourself and at least let you know your current position. I find the lack a bit strange because the sewer area of the game has its own map you can use.
The funky soundtrack and the cel-shaded graphics are where Jet Set Radio’s influence is most heavily felt. Hover has some of the most vibrant and colorful graphics that I’ve ever seen. And to top it off, it runs smooth as butter. My computer was clocking a steady 60 fps with the settings on the highest level and it never spluttered or dropped a frame. There are also very few loading screens when roaming the city. The music is exactly what you would expect if you have ever played a JSR game. The tracks are a mix of pulse-pounding beats and techno funk, with a couple of slower, more ominous tunes in there. While Hideki Naganuma created a couple of songs for the game, Cedric Menendez composed the bulk of the soundtrack.
I had a hell of a fun time exploring Hover City trying to do all the activities, but I found the missions kind of average. However, Hover is a great game to just load up and play around in, and the community is super-friendly. It also managed to scratch my nostalgic Jet Set Radio itch for the time being. Even if you’ve never played a JSR game, I’m positive that you’ll have a blast running around Hover City and busting out parkour moves while enjoying the beautiful graphics and a great soundtrack.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review
+Nice open-world to explore
- Main missions feel unstructured