#PlaystationMemories Part 2

Posted: November 12, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Giant Enemy Crabs

ps33

My first few years engaging with Sony’s newest black box on the market were much like that of Sylvester Stallone’s early Hollywood career. Rocky. At this point in my life (around about 2006) I had recently purchased an Xbox 360. And I frickin loved it. After getting so excited for the PS3 and then witnessing that infamous E3 reveal I had cast aside any aspirations of ever purchasing one. They looked bulky, the price was straight up dumb, no rumble feedback and the motion control looked abysmal (especially on games such as Lair). No my friends the Xbox was all I needed. With amazing games such as Mass Effect and The Orange box, which actually worked on the 360 compared to its outsourced PS3 counterpart, why would I ever need to even consider Sony’s device?

lair

My first actual hand on with the PS3 was also a lame experience. I was living in a shared house at the time and my friend Simon (Guitar Hero from part 1) had bought one close to launch and wanted to bring it over to show me. He did. I hated it. The one thing that did impress me from the off was how quite it was compared to the 360. You could barely hear it. But everything else was so weak. After Simon excitedly thrust the controller in my hand I gawped. It was as light as a feather. But not in a ‘isn’t technology great, this thing weighs nothing’ kind of way, more in a ‘holy crap I’m going to break this fragile piece of plastic if I so much as look at it’ kind of way. This coupled with the fact that the L2 and R2 triggers felt flimsy as all hell also didn’t help matters. And then came along Resistance Fall of Man. Impressed I was not. This was next gen?!?! Timesplitters on the last cycle looked better than this muddy grey piece of garbage! I couldn’t actually believe that people were buying this. The Xbox had Halo and Gears of War on it for crying out loud and they looked stunning. I then gave Simon the controller back and vowed to myself to never fall for the allure of a Playstation 3.

resistance

However a year or so down the line after a colleague of mine at Starbucks looked at my payslip and told me I had been on emergency tax for the last year I got a tasty rebate. A tasty rebate in the shape of a thousand pounds!!! So what was the first thing I did? Well the first thing was a trip to Forbidden Planet in London to buy all 26 volumes of the Dragonball and Dragonball Z manga. And then, a few days later, spend the remaining money on a brand new Playstation 3 with some new games. The system had been out for a while now so there were a few games that I had heard were good and what with Metal Gear Solid 4 looking stunning and around the corner I knew that it was an inevitable purchase anyway. So I took my system home, plugged it in and played my two new games. Ratchet and Clank Future and Uncharted Drakes Fortune. And again if I’m honest, I felt a little underwhelmed. Ratchet just felt like an up scaled version of a game that could have easily been done on the PS2 and, apart from the amazing character dialogue, Uncharted didn’t feel like it was doing much the Prince of Persia trilogy hadn’t done before. And so I went back to my 360. The months rolled by and then Metal Gear Solid 4 arrived. I pretty much ran to my local Woolworths to grab a copy and then sprinted back home. So many reviewers had been giving this game ten out of tens! This was it! The justification for spending all that money on this hunk of circuit boards! This was going to be the game of the generation! And was it? No. it was ok. Again not terrible, but a very pale counterpart to previous iterations. And so MGS4 was completed and the console turned off again. This time for about a year.

mgs4

Gallia to arms!

That is until a game started getting a lot of hype in the magazines and websites I was reading called Valkyria Chronicles. Coming straight out of Japan this was a stunning and gorgeously cell shaded tactical RPG. And this DID look like the game I was waiting for. And so I waited and waited. I downloaded the demo as soon as it hit the Playstation network and my eyes were blown away. This was on a level with Okami in terms of sheer beauty. This looked like a watercolour painting bought to life! And the gameplay! Oh it was perfect, new and innovative.

ValkyriaChronicles5-620x

So I patiently awaited release day and when it finally got here I walked to Woolworths only to be told they didn’t have any in stock. I wasn’t too surprised as this was quite a niche game. Anyhoo I rang the nearest Gamestation (I say nearest, it was a whole town away and involved an hour and a half round trip on a bus) and asked if they had any. They had one copy which they agreed to put to one side if I picked it up that day. So on the bus I got, and forty five minutes later I was paying for my copy of the game. I was brimming with excitement and anticipation. Forty five minutes after that I was walking in through the front door of my house, hurriedly trying to get the game out of the damn cellophane. A further five minutes later, after brewing a cup of coffee, I was putting the game into the PS3. Three minutes later and the game was installing its data! I was so hyped! So ready to finally get some use out of this system I had paid so much for, to finally be playing a game that I actually wanted to play! One minute later and my PS3 had broken.

Don’t go into the light

yellow

I felt like I had been thumped. How could this have happened?! Xbox’s broke, PS3’s were at least meant to be reliable. I had barely used the thing! I had different lights flashing at me and the heat pouring off the console felt like a Balrog was breathing in my face. I was instantly pouring over websites to try and find out what had happened. Some said that the disc drive was broken, and that seemed possible. It was playing DVD’s but it wouldn’t even register if I put a game in. Other sites claimed that it had probably overheated. I panicked. I put the PS3 straight into the freezer. Anything to try and get this problem rectified. Eventually, after about an hour of trying to fix it like a lunatic, I rung Gamestation. I knew that the manager had a PS3 and he would probably know what I should do. I was on talking terms with Milo, as I did frequent Gamestation quite often, and he used to come into Starbucks on a regular basis. I explained the situation and he asked if I still had the box and receipt for the console. I said that I did and he said that if I bought them back, even though I was well over the return date for faulty items, he would swap them for a new console. What a gent. And so I got the box and packed the PS3 up. Now if only I could find that receipt. Surprise surprise, I couldn’t find the damn thing. I spent an hour tearing my room apart looking for it and of it there was no sign. Great. Yet another obstacle and this time I looked royally screwed. I rung Milo back and explained the situation, fully expecting him to say that there was nothing he could do, but maybe he could help me with trying to fix it. And that is when, in my eyes at least, Milo went Super Saiyan. He told me not to worry about it. Just bring it back in the box and he’ll do the swap anyway. I could have cried. So I rung Simon and explained what had happed and he agreed to drive me to Gamestation to swap it (he was good like that) and not only did Milo swap it over for a new console but the new console had about 60gb more storage on it than the last one, AND it came with one of the new Dualshock controllers that actually vibrated and had a bit of weight to it! I was so chuffed. So eventually I went home set up the new system and played through Valkyria Chronicles with no hiccups. And it was, and still is, one of the best games I’ve played this generation, and it was only on Sony’s platform. Finally my relationship with this machine was starting to look up.

The trouble with Simon

And so my time over the next few years was spread pretty much evenly. I still favoured the Xbox, but the amount of quality titles on Sony’s platform was slowly improving with games like Infamous, Ratchet, God of War and Demon Souls steadily being released, things were looking up. However my personal life was taking a bit of a nosedive. Guitar Hero Simon was meant to move into our shared house with us. But we hadn’t heard from him or hung out with him in months. We were constantly trying to get a hold of him to find out what was going on and as various moving in dates came and went it became clear that the move wasn’t going to happen. Unbeknownst to me Simon was going through his own troubles at home that we didn’t know about. So being the slightly hot headed individual I can be I took this as a personal sleight, and pretty much cut Simon out of my life. Phone number? Deleted. Facebook? Unfriended. Playstation friends list? Blocked. I didn’t take any pleasure in this. Simon was one of my oldest and closest friends. The Yin to my Yang. To make matters worse a few months later the restaurant I worked in burnt down. I was out of a job, as were my other two housemates Chris and Matt who had both worked at Woolworths. After not being able to find work my only option was to move in with my dad. The only trouble with that was my dad lived in Bristol on the other side of the country. It would mean a completely new start. I wouldn’t know the area or know anyone. However with things the way they were at home it felt like it was what I needed. And so I gave myself a few months to tie up loose ends in Kent and hang out and play games with my housemates. At least the games couldn’t piss me off right?

little-big-planet-2-win-game

Wrong. The PS3 was still up to its old tricks. Soon after the release of the incredibly original Little Big Planet I had decided to set up shop in the living room with Mat and spend well over twelve hours of the day creating my own level. And if I say so myself the amount of blood sweat and tears I put into it in that space of time could have filled an Olympic swimming pool. I was just adding the final touches in the evening when Chris (who had procured a job at Waterstones) came through the door. Like an excited puppy greeting his master after being left alone all day I jumped at him wanting him to be the first person to play it in its entirety. As he started playing I watched him avidly to see if he was enjoying it. He was! Shit! Maybe my calling was to become a games designer?

‘Oh’ Chris then said. ‘Is this meant to be happening?’

I quickly looked at the TV. The whole thing had literally fallen apart. The level that I had made with my dreams and soul had broken like a cheap Ikea wardrobe. Then after spending about half an hour frantically trying to fix the level to no avail, I walked over to the PS3 in a dazed state, confused and angry, I hit the off button. This wasn’t just the games fault. As a Sony exclusive this was also, in my tired brains view on things, Sony’s fault and therefore the PS3’s also. I didn’t turn it on until a year or so later when I was living in Bristol and I heard from Simon. And that was when the golden age of Playstation 3 started…

uncharted2

To be concluded in #PlaystationMemories Part 3

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