Posts Tagged ‘PlayStation 3’

So as I lie here in bed, partly hung over, partly sleep deprived, thinking back on the sensual overload of gaming news I just witnessed a few hours ago. I feel the need to get some of this adrenaline out of my system and write down all the things that made it difficult for me to get some shut eye last night.

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So let’s start with Microsoft. The big boys came out strong last night and like they promised their presentation certainly was all games games games. In fact the ninety minute show was so jam packed with announcement after announcement you barely had time to catch your breath.

Sunset Overdrive was without a doubt the game for me that reeked of potential. This exclusive showcased a very funny trailer that had the Insomniac trademark humour stamped all over it.

Furthermore there did seem to be a bigger focus from Microsoft on indie games this year (I wonder why) and without a doubt the one that left most people salivating at the mouth was the 1930’s inspired animated Cuphead. As a fan of old school Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons I could not be more hyped for this!

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There were of course other exclusive announcements that we were all expecting. There were your Halos and Fables. However Microsoft did deign to throw in a few unforeseen surprises in the form of a new Crackdown game and the beautiful new offering from Platinum games, Scalebound.

Finally, and as per usual, there were the cross platform games that Microsoft either revealed or had exclusive gameplay clips to show. COD Advanced Warfighter of course looked stunning and the new direction is very intriguing, if a little Matrixy. However the reveal that I don’t think anyone was expecting, and certainly got my blood pumping, was Rise of the Tomb Raider. No gameplay was shown but a very enticing pre rendered trailer left me aching for more nonetheless.

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Then there came the EA press conference. A little bit of a mixed bag for me. Ok so let’s get what I didn’t like out the way first. As incredibly exciting as it was to see games confirmed such as Critereons new arcade racer, Star Wars Battlefront, Mirrors Edge and the new Mass Effect game. These were pretty much behind the scenes interviews with developers and either showcased concept art or at the most very early rough footage. This was especially disappointing in the cases of Mirrors Edge and Star Wars as these two games were announced last year and progress seems to be achingly slow. As a consumer I don’t want to hear about a game that’s still maybe three years away and has not a lot to show for itself. I’m fine hearing about it on a website but maybe the main stage at E3 isn’t the place.

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That being said the new Battlefield: Hardline game looked absolutely stunning. It looked like what Payday could have been if it had had the mighty force of EA behind it. A tense looking game of cops and robbers with what appeared to be (in classic Battlefield style) an entirely destructible city, Hardline looks set to impress with it’s over the top Michael Bay inspired carnage. If you need further proof just find the video of the crane collapsing into a skyscraper at the end.

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And of course it wouldn’t be an EA conference without your dose of sports titles. Fifa, Madden and NHL were all here in their shiny glory. However the sports title that got everyone pumped was definitely the new iterartion of UFC. This game was also accompanied by a very sweaty and brutal demo featuring the immortal Bruce Lee.

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Then came the Ubisoft conference. A personal favourite of mine as this publisher has gone from strength to strength in recent years. I wasn’t disappointed. It was such a sharp presentation it could have cut diamonds. Returning for her third year of presenting Aisha Tyler was an absolute joy to watch. Very comfortable in her role she was very happy to throw expletives, sexual innuendoes and racial slurs around like nobody’s business. And the audience loved her for it.

So highlights then. Where to start? Well of course Farcry 4 was a brutal and beautiful introduction to this new, terrifying world to explore. We were introduced to the new antagonist who was a sight to behold and looks to rival Vass in his villainy.

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Assassins Creed Unity also got a lot of the spotlight. Indeed it was its second showing this evening. And on the one hand, yeah it looks like a lot of the older iterations in the series. However there is no denying that the oomf being given to this game form the next gen consoles is at the forefront. Draw distance, amount of npc’s on screen and resolution are all stunning and feel truly next gen in what they accomplish. The focus on being able to play missions with up to three other friends online is also a very tempting offer.

Other next gen titles which were on show were next gen mmo squad based shooter The Division which still looks as it did a year ago. And the epic and extraordinarily ambitious driving mmo The Crew. If you were to just check out one of these two games then The Crews mellow and relaxing trailer featuring driving across all the different environments America has to offer is a must.

And then came the absolute spell binding gem of the show. Valiant Hearts. This new ip from the infinitely talented Ubi Art studio looks like it will be one truly special game. Set during the trench warfare of World War I, it appears that you take on the role of a medic’s dog as he roves from owner to owner, all of which are of different races, creeds and backgrounds. Think Ghibli classic Grave of the Fireflies crossed with the art direction of Triplets of Belleville.

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And Ubisoft went out on a bang. BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL 2!!!! Nah, unfortunaly I’m joking. I think that game has without a doubt gone the way of The Last Guardian. Instead we were treated to the first Rainbow Six game in six years. The demo played out well enough. A squad of four gamers breached a house to rescue two hostages. It looked interesting enough however it did feel a tiny bit muted after the bombastic glory of Hardlines.

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And finally Sony has come BACK to E3! Once again and for the second year in a row Sony came out and proved why they are the best in the business. Why their fans love them so much and why the PS4 is the bestselling system. I’m not going to lie I was very skeptical going in. I didn’t know what Sony had left to show. Boy oh boy did they come out swinging. In fact, not only did they come out swinging, they came out swinging with adamantium grafted to their bones and Wolverine claws flailing.

There is soooo much that they came out with. It was literally game after game and surprise after surprise. Games wise it was all killer no filler and apart from a slight stumble in the middle where we were treated to about twenty minutes of being told how many time the share button has been pressed, it was a performance that completely eclipsed last year’s show.

There was so much good information that I think the only way that I can convey just how much was shown is by doing this in short sweet bullet points. Otherwise I would be in danger of rambling for another five pages.

  • Things started off with a trailer for Destiny. Nothing particularly new but nice to see that a glacier white PS4 will be getting released as a bundle with the game.
  • Infamous Second Son stand alone dlc where you can play as neon wielding bad ass Fetch?!? Sign me up! This was straight out of left field and couldn’t have me more excited to jump straight back in to that world.

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  • Little Big Planet 3! Did not see this one coming! To be honest it was a bit of an awkward demo. But it was nice to see new ideas being implemented as well as new characters.
  • A stunning demo for The Order 1886. The frame rate and graphical fidelity has been really tidied up since the last gameplay footage we saw. Looks suitably terrifying and is definitely back on my radar.
  • An absolutely awe inspiring gameplay demo of Farcry 4 was shown. Complete with wing suits, grapple hooks and weaponised elephants. Not to mention the incredible announcement that on PS4 and PS3 you will be able to invite anyone to your game who is on your friends list….EVEN IF THEY DON’T OWN THE GAME! An incredible announcement and again exclusive to Sony platforms.
  • Shu came out to introduce the darkly gothic and grossly beautiful new game from From Software. Bloodborne looks set to be just as unforgiving and brutal as anything else from the Souls series.
  • The makers of the iconic Journey also introduced us to their new project. A game that very much looks like a spiritual successor and aquatic version of the aforementioned game. Abzu looks to be one of the most atmospheric games of the show.

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  • GTAV is coming to PS4. And in a startling move not only will you be able to transfer your online saved data from your PS3 to the PS4 but also from your Xbox 360. Well done Sony. Well done.
  • We got told that not only is the Ratchet and Clank movie coming along nicely, but we can also expect a completely ‘rebuilt from the ground up for the PS4’ version of the first R&C game to be revealed soon.
  • No Mans Sky pretty much stole the show with it’s ground breaking and infinitely ambitious….ambitions. A timed platform exclusive it shall be coming first to PlayStation.
  • We also got treated to the first in game footage of Mortal Kombat X. It looked like a very next gen version of Injustice. But hey, if it ain’t broke. Suitably and gloriously violent.
  • My personal announcement of the show. Grim Fandango baby! It’s coming back in a remade version exclusive to PlayStation. Indeed my right hand is still bruised from where I punched the chair I was sitting on in excitement.
  • The Last of Us showed up in a spoiler filled trailer. It looked incredible, as expected, and we were also treated to a release date of July.
  • The new Metal Gear Phantom Pains was as promised, a harrowing and brutal watch. Things have never looked more mature for this series. A lot of screaming, child soldiers and Snake with a blood soaked face.
  • Batman won me back with an absolutely mind-blowing gameplay trailer. Gotham has never looked so vertical, gothic and dark. It really looks like it will be a pleasure to explore.
  • And we were also treated to our first proper teaser trailer for Uncharted. What else can I say except ‘HYPE’! We see an older more world weary Drake replaying a conversation with Sully in his head. He looks tired and alone. Things definitely look a lot darker thematically in this latest instalment.

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And there we have it. These are the things that stuck out for me the most at E3 last night. As I said in the beginning this isn’t an in depth look at everything. Just the things that tickled and stimulated me.  I haven’t even talked about #Driveclub, Forza, PlayStation TV or the mad scramble for Battlefield beta codes. This has been one of the biggest E3’s of all time so far. Which is saying something considering last year was the big console reveals.

And as I look through bleary red eyes, after only three hours sleep and then staring at a laptop screen for a further three, I realize I’ve got Nintendo’s press conference to watch in five hours. I need to refuel. Thanks for reading and goodnight J

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Let’s get two things out of the way straight off the bat. One; TSOT has some loading issues. I mean some serious loading issues. I don’t know why Obsidian find it so hard to ship a game before ironing all of the creases out of the finished product, but hey, that’s life. Now I don’t mean loading issues as in that the game is stuck on a loading screen for five minutes when you enter a shop. In that regard the game performs admirably. I mean that every time you move from one screen to another, or things get a bit hectic in battle, boy oh boy does this game lag and slow down to a near halt. An issue further exacerbated in a battle system that requires precise timing to pull off moves. Two; whoever was in charge of writing the magic tutorials in this game needs to be hung, drawn and quartered. Throughout your time in South Park you will be taught various magical fart techniques from different characters. Taught poorly I might add. As you mess up an instruction for the twentieth time only to have the npc chastise you and then explain to you again in a long vague manor makes for some incredibly frustrating moments.

PHEW! Glad I got that off my chest! Because here’s the thing, it might sound like I’m attacking TSOT, I’m not. I just needed to get those two niggles out of the way so we could focus on what makes The Stick Of Truth one of the funniest, well written and enjoyable licenced games of all time. Let’s begin shall we?

As I just said TSOT is one of, if not the, funniest game of all time. From the minute you start playing the game to the second you finish watching the credits scroll I guarantee you’ll be in hysterics. The game focuses around you, the new kid in town. After creating you’re character from a very generous character creation screen you are whisked away into Trey Parker and Matt Stones gloriously vulgar and satirical world. As the new kid in town it is your job to do what most new kids in town do. Go out and make friends. And it’s not too long after leaving the confines of your parents’ house you bump into Butters who in turn introduces you to everyone’s favourite fat ass Eric Cartman. It seems that all of the children of South Park are currently playing a Dungeons and Dragons style role playing game which has led to an all-out war over who controls the stick of truth and ultimately the universe.

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As expected, and in true South Park fashion, events quickly spiral out of control as the government, aliens, Nazi zombies and underpants gnomes get involved and swept away on the tide of beautiful ridiculousness. In a master stroke though, it never really leaves behind the fact that the events mostly play out in the background. Never losing sight that the children are just playing a game with each other. Having Matt and Trey write the story was perfect as you could probably easily cut all of the cinematics together and have one of the best seasons of South Park ever made.

The true star of the game is South Park itself. Apart from the occasional slowdown when transitioning from screen to screen it looks and feels exactly like an episode from the television series. From the jilted shuffling way everyone walks, right down to the camera angles and southern twangs on the guitar. Almost every building is open for exploration and literally stuffed to overflowing with references to past episodes. I’m not even kidding. I’m an avid South Park fan and have been since it started and I can’t think of a single character or item that isn’t represented or at least referenced in this game. One of the collectables in the game is the Wild Wacky Action Bike for crying out loud!

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The game doesn’t just draw on past glories to get laughs out of its audience however. It also does one of the best jobs of satirising modern videogame culture I’ve ever seen. From the constant Skyrim references that surround your characters ability to use fart magic, to a very memorable moment on a ufo collecting audio diaries that have been left by a disgruntled prisoner who just whines about the uselessness of audio diaries. It’s very fresh and very very funny. And then there’s Canada. Oh my days Canada! But I’ll let you discover that treat for yourself!

For anyone who played and loved Costume Quest then the battle system will feel like very familiar territory. Also not entirely different from the systems used in the various Mario rpg’s the fighting here is all down to your timing and reaction speed. Casting spells and attacking will require various waggles of the analogue sticks and button presses and defending yourself involves hitting the correct button when an enemy attacks you. It’s not perfect by any means as the response time can seem a bit out of sync and, as I mentioned, if the screen stutters when you’re at a key point in a qte that can sometimes mean a game over screen will shortly follow. Had it been in any other game I would probably be a bit harsher on it. However in a game where fights consist of things like Jimmy playing the ‘brown note’ causing enemies to soil themselves in diarrhoea and Kenny impaling himself by accident on his rainbow unicorn, it’s easy to forgive the game some of these things.

I feel that going into much more detail about what you do and who you meet would spoil some of the surprises that are in store for you, so I think I shall start winding my review down here. One last thing I will mention is the controversy over the censorship in certain scenes of the game. I caved in and paid the extra money to get the American version as I wanted to experience the game in its purest form. I have no personal experience over how the game is affected by taking these moments out. However after talking to a colleague of mine who is playing the UK copy, he said that the ufo scene (the first heavily censored one in the game) ended up feeling disjointed and broken. He is still enjoying the game though so I guess the only real question you need to ask yourself is how much does it mean to you to play the game without the little snippets breaking the immersion for you.

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And so we come to an end of the review. I loved this game. It is definitely not a perfect game and like I said, it has its fair share of frustrations. With that being said I have never laughed out loud so much and so often at a game, or dare I say it, an episode of South Park, as I did whilst playing TSOT. It is a game that will constantly have your jaw on the floor as you move from one outrageous task to the next. And to be honest, any game where I can go into work the next day and casually say that I fought a load of aborted, Nazi, zombie, baby foetuses last night, is a game that I’m proud to have in my collection.

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Don’t let the understated and almost mute appearance of Strider fool you in the opening of this game. What is about to follow is one of the most explosive and action packed metroidvania games released in recent memory.

Developed by Double Helix Games, the people who also bought you the Killer Instinct reboot on Xbox One, players once again assume the role of Strider Hiryu in this revisiting of the classic 1989 arcade game. However Double Helix have done more than just take the original and slap a new coat of paint on it. Rather than do that they have completely rebuilt and refocused the game from the ground up.

As I mentioned, Strider is now a metroidvania type game. And why is this a good thing? Well apart from being possibly the greatest videogame genre out there, it now gives us a chance to experience being Strider in his purest form. With the amount of backtracking, exploration and combat now implemented in to the game you really get a feel for being the all-powerful ninja like never before.

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For the first few minutes of the game it’s business as usual. You run from left to right, spamming the attack button. Don’t worry folks, Strider’s trusty Cypher is still in play, and his trademark laser katana makes very short and satisfying work of many of the cyber enemies you face early on. However after a few of the early bosses have been vanquished and you’ve upgraded you’re Cypher and abilities a little, you suddenly realise that this isn’t the Strider of old. As you cast cursory glances over your map you can see that various areas that were previously inaccessible you can now gain access to. Perhaps you had the wrong element Cypher for a certain door that you can now smash through. Or maybe that double jump ability you just acquired will now let you reach an impossible looking ledge from earlier. And this exploration is really where the meat of the game is. Straying from the path is a fun, and to be quite honest, necessary past time. Doing this will gift your Strider with a whole host of new upgrades. Be it energy tanks, health increases or just different costumes. Oh and did I mention that some of the unlockables offer up new bonus challenges outside of the main game? Well they do. These range from timing based platform sections where your nimbleness will really be put to the test. And combat challenges that pit you against ever difficult and challenging enemies.

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Now I say that backtracking is necessary as the difficulty in this game can spike in a couple of places. After you’ve played the game for a couple of hours you will really be getting into the swing of things, annihilating enemies with absolute ease, only to suddenly come up against an insurmountable boss who can obliterate you in a couple of screen filling hits. Now like I said this only happens in a couple of places and can be frustrating even with a fully upgraded Strider. However I believe that it is important to remember that this is and old school game with old school sensibilities. Perseverance and pattern memorisation is the key. Stick with it and the sense of achievement is palpable.

I think that the real place where Strider stumbles is in the music department. The whole affair is a rather muted one, with only a couple of little jingles and sound effects standing out. Honestly if you asked me to hum a tune from the game I couldn’t. Even with the music turned right up to the max in the settings it just seems to fade into the background.

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But with that being said that is the only quibble that I have with what I consider to be a phenomenal reboot. If you had played the Vita or 3DS versions of Batman Arkham Origins earlier on last year but found it to be a bit plodding, dull and trite, then believe me Strider is the shot of adrenaline you need. The well-paced gameplay is perfectly balanced with the, mostly, challenging difficulty curve. Bombastic, crazy, hard and always beautiful to look at it is a game that can without a doubt stand side by side with the likes of Guacamelee!, Metroid and Symphony of the Night.

Left Behind Review

Posted: February 22, 2014 in Reviews
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So after two extensive playthroughs and finally managing to pick my jaw up off of the floor, I figured it was time for me to weigh in on my opinions of Left Behind, the only single player DLC to come to Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. Just a quick word of warning, I am going to try and avoid getting into spoiler territory, however as the game is quite short it’s going to be quite difficult to talk about it without mentioning some key points. So if you want to take the game head on without any idea of what’s going to happen then take my word that this is an incredible piece of content and I wholeheartedly recommend it!

Ok so let’s set the scene. Oh and spoilers here if you haven’t even played the main game. So where does Left Behind fall chronologically in Naughty Dogs post-apocalyptic earth? Well, remember at the end of The Last of Us Ellie tells Joel that when she was bitten in Boston she was with her best friend Riley? And Riley was also bitten? Well guess what? You’re about to play through those harrowing events. Fun right? There is also a tie in comic by the name of American Dreams that is set just before the events of Left Behind. Don’t worry if you haven’t read it. It’s not essential, however there are a couple of references that you will miss out on and it is nice to see the world fleshed out across different forms of media.

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Now you might think that going into this DLC and knowing what the outcome of the story is might work against Naughty Dog in bringing us a new perspective on the world of TLOU. I am very very pleased to announce that it doesn’t. In fact if anything this three hour emotional rollercoaster is just another example of how much of a daring developer Naughty Dog is. In the space of time it takes you to complete Left Behind they have thrown so many new ideas and innovations your way that it really did put me in mind of playing Portal for the first time. Not that this is a funny puzzle game. But the fact that like Portal, Left Behind manages to squeeze so many fresh and exciting new ideas into its short play time that you do have to sit back and think to yourself ‘why can’t other developers show this amount of creativity in a massive 40 hour long game?’

Again it’s really hard to talk about a lot of these things as they are so much fun to discover on your own that it would be a shame to ruin them. I will talk about my favourite one here though, so if you don’t want to know then I’ll let you skip onto the next paragraph. As Riley and Ellie are exploring the mall they come across an old arcade. Now of course the game cabinets are broken and derelict but Ellie really wants to play one. Riley takes her over to The Turning cabinet starring Angel Knives. Remember her? Ellie talks to Joel about it when they come across a similar cabinet in the future. Of course the cabinet doesn’t work. However Riley takes Ellie’s hands and tells her to close her eyes. As Riley then commentates on what is happening in the game a fighting hud appears around Ellie’s face as she takes instruction from Riley and you, the player, are given button prompts on what to do. Throughout the whole experience all you are looking at is Ellie’s face. But as she gets drawn into her imaginative game and it concludes on her smile of pure adulation you can’t help but smile along with her as you see the joy she is experiencing. It’s an incredibly touching moment. And definitely one of many.

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However this is The Last of Us, and as we all know a piece of DLC can’t all be about two girls hanging out at the mall. Time to talk about the combat. Now I’ve read in at least one other publication that they thought the combat felt forced and got in the way. I have to disagree. I think that every time you are facing enemies, be they Clickers or humans, it felt completely in context with what was going on in the story. It’s also really nice to be controlling Ellie in combat again. As she is a much weaker and smaller character than Joel you have to rely on stealth a lot more. There is also the new mechanic of luring Clickers and infected to human targets and watch them take each other out. Very satisfying indeed. I also feel that had there been less combat then the climactic finale would have felt a little flat. Word of warning, just when you think you’re safe is when you’re at your most vulnerable 😉

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To be completely honest I think that the only gripe anyone could possibly throw at this miniature masterpiece is the price of entry. Sure if you’ve already bought the season pass and are getting the most out of multiplayer then this hasn’t really set you back more than a couple of quid. However if you, like me, are mainly interested in single player content then you would have had to pony up £11.99. Now I know that this really isn’t cheap at all as far as dlc goes. You could also argue that the length of the game, 2-3 hours, doesn’t justify the asking price. Trust me. Play the game. Enjoy the story. And marvel at the revelations. Then tell me it wasn’t worth it. Furthermore, like I’ve said, I’ve already played through it twice and am now gearing up for my Survival play through.

It might not seem that I’ve talked about a lot but believe me this gripping adventure is filled with collectables, conversations and hidden titbits. It is very very unlikely that you will see everything in your first play through. Naughty Dog have once again outdone themselves and shown that they are still the greatest developers around and not afraid to take risks. If you own a PlayStation 3 then you owe it to yourself to see where Ellie came from and what she had been through before meeting Joel. Like I said, this is a masterpiece and will undoubtedly be one of the best things you play this year.

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Giant Enemy Crabs

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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?

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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…

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To be concluded in #PlaystationMemories Part 3

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Do you own a PlayStation 3? If you do then go and download Guacamelee! Do you own a PS Vita? If the answer is again yes then go and download Guacamelee! If you own a PlayStation 3 AND a Vita then WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE WASTING MY TIME AND YOURS?!?! GO AND DOWNLOAD THIS GEM OF A GAME NOW!!!

If you couldn’t guess, I’ve fallen in love. Guacamelee is not just one of the best PSN games available but also one of the best games on Sony’s Vita. Bought to you by those fine people at Drinkbox Studios (the same Drinkbox Studios that made one of the best games at the Vita’s launch, Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack) you know that the expectations for this Mexican fiesta are high. So let’s just dive right in and see what all the fuss is about then!

Guacamelee is a metroidvania style game that takes all of the best elements from the great action platformer games of yesteryear (Castlevania and Metroid) whilst mixing up the tried and tested formula with elements from more contemporary indie games such as Super Meat Boy and Shadow Complex. And it does this with amazing flair and style.

As the player you are cast into the shoes (sandals) of Juan Aguacate. Who sets out on a mission to save El Presidentes daughter after she is kidnapped by the evil charro skeleton Carlos Calaca. All of this is set up about five minutes into the game after Juan gets killed by Carlos and you are resurrected as a superhuman lucha libre wrestler. Yeah the story is pretty far out there and littered with fantastic humor similar to that seen in Monkey Island and other classic old school adventure games.

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Anyone who has played a Metroid game or Shadow Complex will instantly feel at home in this bright and beautiful Mexican setting. The aim of the game is to explore your surroundings whilst finding new abilities and moves which will in turn allow you to backtrack and reach previously unreachable areas. However what sets this apart from other similar games of the genre is its combat. You start off with merely basic melee moves at your disposal, then as you unlock new moves for your repertoire this gives you access to combos that, in length, would give Tekken reason to stop and stare.

Furthermore there is the fact that Juan can switch between the world of the dead and the world of the living. At first you don’t have control over this ability but soon into the game you can do this at will with a simple button press. This adds a whole new experience to proceedings as some enemies and platforms can only be interacted with when you are in that certain spectrum. This makes for some fiendishly difficult but insanely satisfying combat and platforming sections that are just as well thought out and implemented as any of the NES era Mega Man games.

The only complaint that I have with the game is its length. It took me about 6hrs to reach the final boss and complete the game. However my total percentage of the game complete was 76% so I have plenty of reason to go back and continue exploring all the nooks and crannies for health and stamina upgrades. There is also an unlockable hard mode (essential for obtaining the games elusive platinum trophy) and a hidden ending rewarded to you after collecting the games ultra-rare and even harder to get secret orbs. So all in all I think my time with Guacamelee is far far far from over.

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It’s been years since I have been able to look at a game and find it so hard to pick any faults. I have always said that the only Xbox exclusive game that I am truly jealous of is Shadow Complex. However now with the release of Guacamelee I can say that’s not the case anymore. This game out performs every other attempt at a metrodvania style game since Castlevania Symphony of the Night. And if that’s not high praise for a game that is so clearly inspired by and cut from the same cloth as these timeless classics then I don’t know what is.

PLAY. THIS. GAME.

Of the last generation, out of all the platformers on the main three consoles, the Sly Cooper trilogy was probably the least well known. You had your big dogs up front in all their glitz and glamour (Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Mario) and then you had your underdogs. The games that were a bit rough around the edges, but gosh darn if they weren’t a ton of fun to play! Titles such as Maximo and Psychonauts spring to mind. Now it’s hard to decide which category the Sly Raccoon games fall in to. On the one hand they were gorgeous looking cell shaded platformers with a great cast and fantastic varied open world gameplay. And who knows, if we lived in a world in which J&D and R&C didn’t exist maybe they would have become timeless classics. However when stood next to the aforementioned games, it was difficult to see Sly through the shiny breath-taking environments of Ratchet or the gritty yet hilarious worlds of Jak. And even though the Sly games never sold gang busters, someone at Sony must have loved those titles enough to give Sanzaru Games the reigns of this terrific franchise.

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Now those fine peeps at Sanzaru aren’t entirely new to the Sly family. They were the people in charge of porting the original three games to the PlayStation 3 in glorious HD. And in my opinion they are the three best games to see the light in HD. And yes I’m including God of War and the Ratchet and Clank games in that statement. Apart from having timeless and solid gameplay the main reason for this is this, cell shading. All the other HD collections and re-releases look like sharp last gen games. The PlayStation 2 Sly games look like a current gen titles. Purely because cell shaded graphics don’t age. And I’m pleased as punch to announce that nothing has changed for the fourth outing.

Hell if it aint broke don’t fix it! Seriously, usually a game would get criticised for pretty much no innovation from a previous title. But, like DQVIII, all that has come before has been so good why change it? The gameplay remains exactly the same as older iterations. I didn’t need to read any of the tutorials at the beginning of the game as it pretty much all came flooding back instantly. And the platforming, jumping and climbing is still as tight as ever.

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The layout of each ‘world’ is still the same as what we have seen before in Sly 2 and 3. You have your open world map (Medieval England for instance) and you choose your character at the hideout to go around doing missions and picking up collectables. You then do the final boss of the area watch a cut scene and then move onto the next location. Even with all the power of the PS3 the maps remain pretty much the same size as in Sly 3 (albeit with a tad more detail) and this is all ok.

That’s not to say that this game isn’t ENTIRLEY without innovation. With the time travel story we get to play as lots of Sly’s ancestors and collect different costumes as Sly. Both of which add lots of new elements to the gameplay and make the backtracking more bearable. Also if you are the proud owner of a Vita you can use the Vita screen to locate collectables whilst you play on the PS3 version (a la WiiU). The game also comes with cross buy and cross save features. So if you buy it on either PS3 or Vita you get the other version for FREE! So this means you can transfer your save and play on the go. Finally, and of course most importantly, two full trophy lists! That means TWO PLATINUMS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!!!

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So why is this game so important? Well so far the sales of Sly TIT (lol) have sold pretty well. Again not ground-breaking numbers but it’s sold enough. So why has this tiny little platformer financially performed better for its developers than big AAA games like Tomb Raider and Dead Space 3? Because it was cheap to make. The developers changed nothing from previous games, so could work with a smaller team and put out a game that was £10 less than other retail games at launch (£15 less if you went the digital route), and because of this Sly didn’t need to sell bucket loads. And because of this it looks like we already have another sequel in the works. Although this has been slightly hidden in the news by reports of Tomb Raider only selling 3.5 million which isn’t enough and with the fate of Visceral Games hanging in the balance after Dead Space ‘flopped’. So proving that sometimes it pays to stay in the shadows and remain quiet, Sly skulks off into the ether once more. Until we see him again for Sly 5 that is!

Don’t ever change
Don’t ever change, I’d be sad
And I would cry if you leave me
Don’t ever leave me

Don’t ever change
Don’t ever change from the way that you are now
If you ever change
I would be sad ’cause I wanted you just as you are

The Kinks, Don’t Ever Change