Posts Tagged ‘Xbox’

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.

Trophy Whore

And so here we are. At the end of a very very long journey. That last bit was a little grim wasn’t it? All doom and gloom? Well don’t worry. Like I said, the golden age is just about to start…

And so I was living in Bristol. I had been there for about a year and I had been making new friends and enjoying my new life a lot. However there was one thing that was missing, and that was Simon. However, as mentioned before, I could be quite hot headed and I was too stubborn to do anything about it. Soon after this though I received a message from Simon on Facebook. And I’m going to be honest it really humbled me. I won’t go into the details here but it explained everything, and he told me about what had happened concerning the move and why he felt he couldn’t confide in us. It all now made sense and I now felt like a bit of a dick. He finished the message by saying how much he wanted to recover our friendship of old and come and visit in Bristol. I was straight on the phone to him. We hammered out some details and arranged for him to come and stay in a month or so. What does all this have to do with Playstation? I hear you ask. Well as we were now ‘friends’ again society states that one has to then fix all the damage done on a social technology level. And so Facebook friend requests were exchanged again. As were PSN names. And what I saw when Simon accepted my Playstation Network request shocked me to my very core.

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As I stated in the last piece I was primarily a 360 gamer at this point in time. Most of my friends in Bristol had 360’s and I had become a little bit of an Achievement Hunter. For those that don’t know, an achievement is a little score you get for doing a particular thing in an Xbox game. For example you might get rewarded with 100 points for completing the game on hard difficulty. Or it can be something silly like getting an Achievement in The Simpsons Game by pressing the start button. I wasn’t completely addicted to getting these, but I was revisiting a lot of my old games as it was nice to be rewarded and get bragging rights for playing things differently and experiencing the game in a different way.

Now Playstation didn’t have Achievements. They had recently introduced a similar system called Trophies. Every PS3 game at this point shipped with a specific number of bronze, silver and gold trophies that, exactly like XBOX, would be awarded to the player every time you fulfilled the requirement. The only difference was that with Playstation Trophies the player actually got a further reward by completing the trophy list. The much coveted Platinum Trophy. This differed greatly from the 360 as you didn’t get anything after getting all standard 1000 GamerPoints that were in a retail game. The numbers just got added to your ongoing total. However with PS3 all the trophies you earned got you experience which levelled up your player profile. And a Platinum trophy not only net you a hell of a lot of exp but also looked pretty darn cool. This also started the argument about what was better, the number of platinum’s a player had or the trophy level they were at. I personally think that it’s the number of platinum’s and, even if it’s a shitty game, you still have to dedicate so much time and skill to getting that trophy.

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But at this point I didn’t know that much about trophies or their function. All I knew was two things. One, they were the Sony equivalent of GamerPoints. And two, Simon had loads more than me. Seriously, because I had barely used the machine I had maybe a couple of trophies. Simon had hundreds. This would not stand. And so quite literally there and then my first trophy whore war began, as did the chain reaction of my love for the PS3. I had recently bought the Ghostbusters video game and I remember putting it in to the system straight away, checking the trophy list, and then replaying the game with what I had to do to get some of these trophies in the back of my mind. And it didn’t stop there either. I worked at Sainsbury’s at the time and in our car park was a Blockbusters. I loved this place. So many cheap second hand games so little time. I began going in there every lunch break seeing what I could find to get a platinum trophy in. phone in hand I had recently discovered a fantastic website, www.ps3tropies.org, which had guides on it for all ps3 games with trophies, gave you an estimated time to platinum the game, a detailed walkthrough and difficulty rating. This was my bible. Now many of my friends often berate me for my trophy addiction. There is no beating around the bush, an addiction is what it was at this point. And on the one hand I entirely agree with them. Yes trophies mean nothing. But on the other hand in my quest to outdo Simon I played some fantastic games and had some amazing experiences that I would never ever have come across had I not been on this journey. Games like Wolverine were a genuine joy to play. However due to reading middling reviews of it I would never have ordinarily touched it. Hell I used to actually sneak out of work for an hour at a time to run back home and play it just to get some trophies. I also came across other games that blew me away which I would never in a million years have played. If you would have told me years ago that one of my favourite games this generation would have been a movie licenced game based on a kids film I would have laughed heartily in your face. However Where the Wild Things Are was an amazing experience that, believe it or not, could easily be compared to the Team Ico games. And the only reason I initially went to it was trophies.

Beyond!

So suffice to say I quickly rose in the trophy ranks and started playing my Playstation more and more. It was also around this time that another defining factor in my PS3 experience came to light. I had been listening to IGN’s gaming podcasts for years. All the way back to their pc based AFK podcast. I didn’t listen to them religiously, only when I checked, on the off chance, that there were any new episodes of the Xbox podcast Three Red Lights or the broader videogame podcast Game Scoop. I enjoyed them enough. It was something fun to listen to on my walks to and from work or the forty minute commute I had to do back in Kent. The hosts on there always seemed to have a laugh and a good time and it was an easy way to keep up to date with the industry and what games were coming out. It was when browsing the IGN website one day that I discovered there was a Playstation podcast that IGN did called Podcast Beyond. And so I downloaded it, thinking that I might as well listen to it now I’m playing the PS3 more. Everything changed. I think that it was Podcast Beyond that made Playstation for me a lifestyle and no longer a hobby. Hosted at the time by Chris Roper, Beyond blew all the other podcasts out of the water.

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And I think I can narrow it down to one reason. Passion. These guys LOVED their Playstations. Be it PS3, PS2 or PSP these guys were so enthused by these devises and how they worked, where they came from, who made them, what they could do, that it was hard not to listen to an episode and become totally infected with their excitement. And it was funny to boot. Mainly due to the maniacal Greg Miller, I would often find myself laughing out loud as I listened with my headphones in on the way to Sainsbury’s. And hell if Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida is a regular listener they must be doing something right. Right?!

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So it is fair to say that my love and addiction was in avalanche stage at this point. It was just getting bigger and bigger and Sony seemed to be getting things right. And then Uncharted 2 came along and my faith and loyalty to the Playstation brand was 100% sealed. Spoiler alert but Uncharted 2 is my game of the generation. And I wasn’t even initially that excited about it. It came out on the same day as Brutal Legend which I was much more interested in playing. However, not one to mess about, I had bought a copy of each and spent the next few days playing through Legend. It was ok. Not a patch on Tim Schafer’s previous works and definitely didn’t hold a candle to Psychonauts. But it was alright.

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I then clearly remember waking up one Sunday morning and making myself a steaming hot cup of coffee. As I took the first few tentative sips downstairs in the kitchen I suddenly remembered I still had some Uncharted to play. Splashing some cold water on my face I went upstairs and popped the disc in. let’s see what all the fuss is about then. And see I did. In fact this is one of the few games that I have sat and played from beginning to end in one sitting. I was completely and utterly blown away. Everything this game was doing I had either never seen it done to this standard or it was completely fresh. I won’t go into too much detail as this isn’t a review but I will say this, the last time and game floored me in this way was when I first played through Half Life 2 Episode . It’s THAT amazing!

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It was from this point that the Playstation 3 truly became the console it always deserved to be. There always seemed to be some Playstation exclusive on the horizon that would be pushing the machines limits further and further. And these weren’t just great looking games but again most of these games are ones that have come to define this generation. God of War, Ratchet & Clank a Crack in Time, LittleBigPlanet 2, Demon Souls, Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Whitch, Sly Cooper 3, Infamous 2, Playstation Allstars and so so many others. Indeed it seemed for a very long time that the only way in which the 360 was trumping the PS3 was in the amount and quality of games it was offering exclusively from its online marketplace. Games like Shadow Complex were the only thing that kept me flicking the old machine on every now and then. However I shouldn’t have worried. As soon as Sony had their retail games strategy down to a T and started focusing on their digital developers those tables got flipped pretty quickly indeed sir! And again I feel I should point out that these download only games are not just good or even great, a lot of them are truly special and unique. Some of these have gone on to win Game of the Year awards over their multi-million dollar retail cousins. So if you do have a Playstation and want to know the best of the best on the Playstation store then be assured that there are a metric tonne of mind-blowing titles. Such as Guacamelee, Flower, Journey, Sound Shapes, Wipeout HD Fury, Shatter, Joe Danger and many many more.

Vita up my balls

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As this saga draws to an inevitable close it feels only right to talk very quickly about the PS Vita. A more recent addition to the Playstation family, this is one of the Sony devices that has got it right from day one and is still trucking at a good pace. I was so excited when I saw the Vita get announced. I loved my PSP but it never felt like a true extension of my home console experience. The Vita did. It felt like a handheld where the developers had listened to every criticism and made every effort to adjust and innovate where they could. You could say it’s the Assassins Creed 2 of consoles J this was everything and more I want in a handheld. Dual analogue sticks? Check. A unified account which links directly to your PS3? Check. Console standard graphics? Check. I won’t run through the whole list of what this baby could do but suffice to say it felt like I was leaving the store with a mini PS3 in my pocket when I bought it at launch. Hell you could even get trophies on it which added to your main score! Talk about hype! Not to mention that there is an entire catalogue of games on there that are cross buy and cross save. Meaning that, for example, you buy hotline Miami once on your PS Vita, you can then download it again at no extra cost on your PS3 and seamlessly transfer your saves across via a cloud storage system. This really is the perfect handheld. Not only do you have console standard games such as Uncharted or Killzone on there but there is also an ever growing library of phenomenal Indie games taking root on the system too. Furthermore you can also download all the PS1 classics and PSP games onto it too. It had always been a dream of mine to have a version of Final Fantasy VII in my pocket. And now that dream is reality! And probably its crowning achievement is whoever it was at Sony HQ making the decision to include it in Playstation Plus.

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What? Wait hang on! I haven’t spoken about Playstation Plus yet?!? Christ on a bike I’d forget my own head! Ok! Playstation Plus is Sony’s ace in the hole. It’s consistently the best deal in videogames. Basically you pay a flat rate of £11.99 every three months and every two weeks the Playstation Store gets updated with a load of free games that you can download at no extra cost. You get to keep these games for as long as you’re a member. And its not only games but you are then entitled to get discount off of a lot of things in the store and loads of exclusive themes and avatars are at your disposal too. Still on the fence? I was too. It wasn’t until I actually got a free trial and started downloading that it hit me full on in the face just what an amazing bargain this is. Still don’t believe me? I’m sitting in front of my TV at the moment and I can tell you exactly what you get right now. Grid 2, Guacamelee!, Remember Me, Giana Sisters, Dragon’s Dogma, Uncharted 3, LittleBigPlanet Karting and XCOM. That is a stellar list no matter how you look at it.

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You download just one of those games and that service has paid for itself. But is doesn’t stop there! Oh no. like I said the Vita is now included in this service. So if you own a Vita guess what? MORE FREE GAMES! Sonic All-star Racing Transformed, GTA Liberty City Stories, Uncharted Golden Abyss, Gravity Rush and Guacamelee again (cross buy remember). And in two weeks’ time that will be updated and there will be a slew of new games to get. So you see the Vita just makes sense. It is the handheld that not only the people need but the handheld that the PS3 needed. Pay attention Nintendo! This is how you do it! Oh and I almost forgot. The Playstation 4 is now included in that subscription too.

Playstation 4

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So how do I end all of this? How do I bring it to a close? Questions that have been gnawing at the edge of my mind ever since I started this journey. And only now has it dawned on me. I don’t. Playstation isn’t just something that is going to end for me. I will always be playing Sony Consoles until my dying day. The Playstation 4 is here now and all that means to me is that it’s time to start forging new memories. And indeed some are already getting made. I bought my PS4 on launch day. My friend Kurt came over to my house and we both experienced what was, for me anyway, the best console launch I’ve ever had. Hanging out with a best friend with beer and pizza. Shooting the shit and entering the next generation the way it should be. With a buddy and a bud. Two days later it was broken. Was I upset? Yeah a little, but I knew I could get a replacement and I know that this is only the beginning. There will be problems down the road. Of course there will. But as the PS3 has proven, with any relationship you need to try. You need to persevere and take the good with the bad. All the best relationships are the ones that require a little hard work. There will be ups and downs but if you can look back on your time together, into the golden glow of the past and say ‘wow, look at what we’ve done. Look at what we’ve achieved’ then it will have been worth it.

Beyond

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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.

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.

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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…

uncharted2

To be concluded in #PlaystationMemories Part 3