Tag Archives: SCEA

The Last of Us: Left Behind Review

Left BehindThe Last of Us: Left Behind (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Naughty Dog
Release Date: February 14th, 2014

Parent Talk: This is an M game if there ever was one.  You cut people’s throats open, crazed lunatics race after you looking for blood, and all other sorts of mature themes are present.  This isn’t a game for children, period.

Plays Like: While the core gameplay remains largely unchanged from The Last of Us, playing as Ellie feels different here.  She’s inexperienced, and virtually everything poses a major threat.  While not in combat Ellie and her friend explore a vast mall.

Review Basis: Sony sent us a review code, and I completed the story DLC within two hours.

One of the best, if not the best game from last generation returns with story-focused DLC that almost everyone needs to play.  Left Behind focuses on Ellie, and the events leading up to the beginning of The Last of Us.  The tale is split in two portions, one being the prologue, and the other when Ellie was protecting Joel when he was injured during The Last of Us.  This heartbreaking tale may be over within two or three hours, but it’s well worth embarking on because of just how incredible this universe is.  Do yourself a favor and read through my review of the full game to get a better understanding of the core gameplay mechanics (http://www.projectcoe.com/2013/06/05/the-last-of-us-review/).

LB1The Great:

Facing off against infected and normal humans at the same time was a breath of fresh air.  It dynamically changes the core combat you’re used to from the main game.  Now it’s possible to throw a bottle, make some noise, and then attract the infected to the humans who are trying to hunt you down.  Wait a few minutes, and watch as the two kill each other off.  Then you can go and finish off whoever’s left, or slowly help one side attack the other.  It’s fantastic fun, and I sort of wish more elements like this were in the original game.

LB3The Good:

+ The story between Ellie and Riley is amazing.  You really come to understand why Ellie acts the way she does at the beginning of The Last of Us.  Even though the story is only a few hours long, it’s pretty shocking.

+ The bulk of the DLC takes place within a mall, and nothing could be more normal than two girls hanging out at the mall, right?  I loved how Naughty Dog played on this simple idea, and yet this is set in a post-apocalyptic world, so it’s an entirely new experience for both Ellie and Riley.

+ Playing as Ellie is nothing new, but it’s interesting nonetheless.  The sense of danger is far greater because she doesn’t have all the skills that Joel learned throughout the years.  As such you really have to keep your distance and play smart.  Stealth kills are important because it’s very easy to get overrun by the infected.

LB2The So-So:

– I can’t help but say that $15 is a bit too expensive for this DLC.  Yes it’s incredible, but $15 is a lot of money for literally two hours.  I’m being generous too.  I finished the entire add-on in under two hours.

LB4The Lowdown:

Being able to play The Last of Us for even two more hours is a true joy.  It was one of the best games I’ve ever played, and this new prologue is spectacular.  Sure it’s over in a flash, but it tells a story that needed to be told.  You’ll look at Ellie in an entirely new way when you revisit The Last of Us at some point in the future, and that’s about the biggest compliment I can give this DLC.  Go download it right away.

Final Score: 9/10

Resogun Review

ResogunResogun (Available exclusively on PlayStation 4)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Shoot ‘em up
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Housemarque
Release Date: November 15th, 2013

Parent Talk: I’ve got no idea how this game scored an E10+ rating as it’s a spaceship shooter based on Defender.  Children have been playing 2D arcade shooters since the creation of the genre way back in the early 70s.  I would easily allow my children to play this game.

Plays Like: Resogun takes its inspiration from the classic Williams Electronics hit from 1980, Defender.  You fly left or right around a cylindrical world, trying to rescue the last humans while taking out all the aliens around you.  Simple as that…if only it were simple.

Review Basis: Finished all levels, and played through the game a second time in co-op mode.

When Sony announced the PlayStation 4 they went to great lengths to talk about how they’re going back to basics and focusing on the games.  They spent a lot of time talking about indie developer because that’s where all the innovation will come from.  It’s true too, as AAA titles have a budget in the tens of millions, whereas indie developers often make their games for a fraction of the cost, and are willing to take chances.  Housemarque might not be an indie developer anymore, but they surely aren’t in the same league as the big boys with operating budgets in the millions, but that doesn’t mean their games can’t stand on their own.  Incredibly, Resogun is my favorite PlayStation 4 game on the market right now, including all the big AAA releases from third parties and Sony itself.  That speaks volumes to the talent at the studio, and how much of a sucker I am for arcade classics.

Resogun1The Great:

Ridiculously simple gameplay that’s insanely challenging to master.  Based on the arcade hit Defender, players move their craft around a large cylinder trying to take out the alien armada.  Once keepers drop, destroying them will free a human.  Your goal is to “save the last humans,” while trying to stay alive yourself.  Each stage is broken up into three phases, ending with a boss fight.  Rescuing the humans is essential if you want a high score, or if you plan to make it to the end of the stage.  When you defeat the keepers a human is released from their cell and you only have a limited amount of time to pick them up before an enemy will take them out.  Returning a human to the base nets you either points or an upgrade, such as an extra life, a shield bonus, etc.

Chasing high scores is a large part of the fun and the risk and reward system is always on your mind.  If you activate a bomb, which clears the entire screen of enemies you take a good chance at losing your score multiplier since you need to continuously shoot down enemy ships in order to keep the multiplier going.  So often bombs are only used as a last resort.

Overdrive is a special blast attack that consumes a tiny green meter located around your ship.  As you defeat enemies they explode into hundreds of tiny cubes, and if you collect enough of them you’ll fill your Overdrive meter.  The trade-off is that you can’t control the length of the overdrive, in other words once you activate it it’s gone until you fill the meter back up.  Another move, the boost is far more important to master as it uses a similar meter, although you can control how long you wish to boost for.  While technically a defensive move used for when you’re about to get overrun, the boost actually releases a small explosion once you stop.  A good technique is to boost right into oncoming enemies, and watch as they all explode.

Add extremely powerful bosses into the mix, especially in the later levels, and you have one of the very best arcade shooters released in a long time.  There’s always a constant risk and reward factor to each element of the gameplay.  Do you sacrifice a human so you don’t lose an extra life, or do you take the chance and perhaps get a weapon upgrade in the process?

Things only get more intense when you add a co-op partner to the mix, which I highly recommend you do.

Resogun2The Good:

+ By using voxel (also known as 3D cubes) graphics gives the game its own unique look.  When you destroy an enemy ship it explodes into millions of tiny cubes.  On top of that the particle effects are spectacular whenever enemy ships fire at you, which is all the time.  When you combine everything together, from the enemy ships exploding, to bombs being set off, to the particular effects, you’re left with the nicest looking arcade game I’ve ever played.

+ The soundtrack is techno-infused, and fits the setting perfectly.  All voice samples play out through the DualShock 4’s internal microphone for a little extra flare.  Ship explosions also sound great and there’s lots of bass for those with a good surround sound system.

+ Fun trophy list.  Can you rescue two humans within a second of one another?  Can you kill 50 enemies using only one boost?  I love when developers put time and effort into their trophies because it gives you an incentive to actually try and collect them.

The So-So:

+/- Having only five levels, and three different ships might grate on some people’s nerves.  The three ships play quite differently from one another in terms of the weapons they have available, but the limited levels will eventually start to feel similar to one another after a while.

Resogun3The Lowdown:

Resogun is my favorite PlayStation 4 game right now.  When I purchased my PS4 at launch Resogun, like Contrast was free for PlayStation Plus members.  This is an outstanding game for free, and a great game for the asking price of $10.  If you own a PS4, this is one you really need to play.

Final Score: 9/10

Journey Collector’s Edition Review

Journey Collector’s Edition (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Genre: Action/Adventure
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: thatgamecompany
Release Date: August 28th, 2012

Parent Talk: While these games do feature some mild violence, the sole reason this compilation isn’t rated E for everyone is because you need to be slightly older to really appreciate these three excellent games.

Plays Like: Each game in this collection is completely unique and original, from gobbling up small creatures to become an aquatic mystery to embarking on a journey of pure delight, the three games offered here feel unlike anything else on the market.  Flower alone is such a visceral experience I doubt anyone has played anything like it before.

Review Basis: As with the other collections Sony has released this week, I completed all three games multiple times before, and simply checked what new material was featured in this recent release.

Individual Review:

flOw: http://www.projectcoe.com/sony/games/flow.html?var1=sc3

flower: http://www.projectcoe.com/sony/games/flower.html?var1=sc3

Journey: http://www.projectcoe.com/2012/03/14/journey-review/

thatgamecompany has become one of the premiere indie studios out there, and no matter how big the studio becomes in the future, people will always remember that it was these three PlayStation exclusives that put them on the map.  They’ve grown by leaps and bounds with each new offering, and I’m positive they have a very bright future ahead of them.

This collection features some of the very best videogames currently available for download from the PlayStation Store.  While flOw might now have aged quite as well as the others, it was a truly unique experience.  Swim around using the Sixaxis controller, eating smaller creatures so that you could grow and move on to the next unique environment.  flower was unlike anything I had ever played before, and can barely be described in words.  It’s a moving piece of art and must be played to fully appreciate how it works.  Finally, there’s Journey, which in my opinion is the very best piece of software on the PlayStation Store.  It’s the one game you have to play, even if you ignore all the others here.  This compilation comes in at $29.99, which is a steal for these three gems.

The compilation also includes three completely original mini-games from thatgamecompany, which are all truly unique, although pale in comparison to their larger games.  The three soundtracks are also included, concept art galleries, exclusive documentary, game commentaries, PSN avatars and much more.  Given the asking prices, virtually everyone should pick this one up.

Final Say:

thatgamecompany is a superb studio, and it’s a real shame their exclusive contract is up because these three games show the power of Sony’s publishing arm.  They really know talent when they see it, and help take an unknown into superstardom.  This compilation is a testament to the power of creativity, and given all the extra bonus content and superb pricing, make it a game I can recommend over and over again with ease.

Score: 9/10

inFAMOUS Collection Review

inFAMOUS Collection (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Sucker Punch
Release Date: August 28th, 2012

Parent Talk: Featuring blood, drug references, moderate language, the use of alcohol, sexual themes and violence the T for teen rating is bang on.  inFAMOUS has never featured excessive violence and gore, but some sensitive subject matter clearly aims this set at those at least 13 years old.

Plays Like: The inFAMOUS series has the most in common with Activision’s Prototype.  Both are open-world games where players use their abilities to interact with NPCs and the environment in crazy and insane ways.  As players progress and earn new abilities the open-world becomes their jungle gym.

Review Basis: Much like the other collections Sony has released this year, these games have are more or less exactly as they were when originally released, albeit with extra goodies thrown in for good measure.  As such, a very simple look through all the material offered is all that was necessary for the review.

Individual Reviews:

inFAMOUS: http://www.projectcoe.com/sony/games/infamous.html?var1=sc3

inFAMOUS 2: http://www.projectcoe.com/2011/06/10/infamous-2-review/

To make this package more enticing Sony’s added the Halloween-themed inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood DLC to the mix.  Not only that, but they’ve added extra missions, additional character costumes, power-ups and weapon styles.  That’s a wide assortment of content for the low asking price of $39.99

These two games received some of the highest scores of any PS3 exclusives, typically averaging well over 9/10 from most media outlets, including this one right here.  Both offer some of the very best open-world gameplay you will ever experience and shouldn’t be missed by anyone.  The stories, power-ups and feeling of freedom offered has yet to be matched.  These games really are incredible.

Final Say:

The price is right, the extra goodies are excellent and the games themselves have aged perfectly.  If you just bought a PS3, this is one collection you can buy with confidence.

Score: 9/10

Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest Review

Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest (Available only on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1-2
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Zindagi Games
Release Date: November 15, 2011
PSN: Online Multiplayer

Parent talk: Medieval Moves is rated E10+ by the ESRB for fantasy violence.  A few scenes present spooky scenery; so minors may be a little freaked out.

Plays Like: A[n infrared] light gun game… where your gun is a sword, bow, ninja stars and dynamite.

Review Basis: Finished the single player and tried the online competitive and co-operative multiplayer.

In 1998, an original PlayStation game, MediEvil, featured a skeleton protagonist, wild story, and wonderful action platforming.  Its success was followed by a sequel in 2000 before the property disappeared. Medieval Moves isn’t directly related, but clearly set within the same universe, also featuring a skeleton hero. It’s brought to you by the creators of Sports Champions, and is one of the more interesting Move games.

The Great:

I’ve missed this world.  I don’t know why MediEvil has been missing since 2000, but this may be the first step to the franchise returning. Older gamers can enjoy MM just as much as their younger brothers or sisters. Welcome back Sir Daniel Fortesque…I mean Edmund.

The Good:

+ Immediately likeable.  The story is simple, cute and inviting.  There’s a reason Edmund is a skeleton, and why his plight is so important.  In twenty minutes the adventure is set and your goal clear.

+ Beautifully drawn and acted comic book-like cutscenes. Think inFAMOUS, only cuter.

+ Great-looking atmosphere. You don’t expect this kind of polish from a Move game.  Crypts are dark and creepy, while forests are lush and detailed. Edmund’s world is alive and breathing, which makes playing all the better.

+ Great Move support. Swing your sword around as you’d imagine; throw ninja stars as you would a frisbee; reach back to ready a bow and arrow, or cusp the Move ball to prepare a stick of dynamite.  Press the Move button and raise the controller to your mouth as if you were drinking to restore some health.

+ Fun mini-games for co-operative and competitive offline/online multiplayer.  A variety of modes keep the entertainment value high.

The Bad:

– On-rails. With no free mobility, the action becomes repetitive. Defeat the enemies, be dragged to the next location, and defeat more.

– Somewhat lengthy loading.  It hinders progression somewhat, especially towards the end,

The Ugly:

Being sucked into the heat of battle, waving arms here and there…only to have the in-laws witness everything with disappointment on their faces. Ah, the memories.

The Lowdown:

Medieval Moves isn’t MediEvil 3, but offers one of the best Move experiences. If only the on-rails was removed; this would’ve been really special.

Average Score Scale: 7.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 7/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: You love motion controls and enjoy on-rails gaming.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: Repetitive nature: attack and drag on.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-12
Genre: Action adventure
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Naughty Dog
Release Date: November 1, 2011
PSN: Online Multiplayer

Parent Talk: Uncharted 3 is rated T for teen because of violence, alcohol use and mild blood effects.  Given you spend most of the game blowing away hundreds of enemies with realistic weapons, but there’s no gore, the rating fits perfectly.

Plays Like: The previous Uncharted games. Many other action adventures have since copied this formula.

Review Basis: Finished the campaign on Hard. Played several co-op games and a lot of online multiplayer.

Nathan Drake returns in one of 2011’s best games. While not as dramatic a jump from Drake’s Fortune to Among Thieves, Uncharted 3 is every bit as entertaining.  If you’re a PS3 owner, we hope you’ve been paying attention to Uncharted, the system’s flagship series. Uncharted 3 is the must-play 2011 PS3-exclusive.

The Great:

You don’t just play the characters, you live them.  The motion capture technology Naughty Dog employs is what makes this series so incredible.  It’s also the little details.  While walking, Nathan might notice something off in the distance that isn’t obvious, yet move his head accordingly to clue you in for a better look. Sometimes he’ll trip, despite the player not provoking it, or touch a nearby ledge to balance himself.  These elements make the characters more human-like than in any other game I’ve played.  It’s astonishing.

The Good:

+ Fantastic story. By now you should know the drill.  Drake is looking for treasure in some far away land which somehow ties in to his past.  All the twists and turns the series is known for return for an incredibly rich plot.

+ Joyful interactions.  How the characters relate is a delight. The banter that occurs throughout the game will have you chuckling.

+ Animations.  It’s not just when you see Drake holding onto something for dear life, but the way he walks around, grabs enemies, etc.  I’ve never seen a game look this good.

+ Superb soundtrack with old favorites and new tracks. The orchestrated music is nothing short of breathtaking.  I actually purchased the songs online; they’re that good.  Emotional, exhilarating, and thrilling best describe Uncharted 3’s music.

+ Refined CQC. Nathan can now auto-interact with the environment for melee combat. If you’re fighting near a window and lock up with an enemy, you might be able to toss them through it. Or perhaps a locker, which Drake can open and smash the enemy’s face into it. These moments happen so fast and are so responsive that you can’t help but be impressed each time.

+ Integral stealth on the higher difficulties. One reason I play Uncharted on Hard is because it forces you to think. There’s little more exciting than slowly creeping towards an enemy with a powerful shotgun, popping out behind them and breaking their neck.

+ Mostly untouched gunplay.  That’s not bad since the pop-and-cover mechanics work just as well as Drake’s last outing.  The weapon variety offers different degrees of firepower.

+ Challenging puzzles.  A few times the game stumped me, and I needed to wait for it to hold my hand for a solution. That’s because I’m a moron though; most of the puzzles are ingenious.

+ Limited, but excellent platforming.  Some of Uncharted 3’s best moments deal with the wonderful platforming. As Drake leaps from a ladder to an outcropping, the ladder might give way or the rock will potentially crumble under his hands.  Moments like these inject so much excitement into the experience that you’ll wish there was more platforming.

+ Sensational co-op.  There are three modes. One has teammates working together to stop a relentless onslaught of enemies. Another is two-versus-two where one team tries to steal treasure as the opposition is charged to stop them. The best is the adventure mode, which has you tackle combat-centric campaign-inspired levels.  Sometimes one player must lay down suppressing fire, as the other goes in for silent kills. Whatever the case, there’s no shortage of players online.

+ Competitive online multiplayer.  U3 builds upon Uncharted 2’s already-excellent online multiplayer with a much tighter experience.  The expected modes are here, but the run and gun over cover emphasis makes the experience unique and enjoyable.

The So-So:

+/- Tried-and-true formula, but it’s at times a little too familiar.  Don’t mistake me, the gameplay is sensational, but it’s more or less Uncharted 2 in terms of puzzle-solving, be surrounded by enemies, watch a cutscene, repeat. Is this bad? No. But it is starting to get a little repetitious.

The Bad:

– AI.  Sometimes enemy behavior is spot-on, but on the higher difficulties they somehow spot you even when Drake is in cover. X-ray goggles perhaps? Other times your partner(s) sit around, waiting for you to kill everyone. Wasn’t that my strategy?  These instances are few and far, but do happen.

The Ugly:

Witnessing someone’s face be smashed into a wall in slow motion, then pitched over a cliff to their death.  Ouch!

The Lowdown:

Sure U3 is a lot of the same: excellent gameplay, tight combat, great cover, superb storyline…you get the idea. Nonetheless, these elements make Drake’s Deception the best PS3 exclusive of 2011.  I can’t recommend it enough for fans. This is another GOTY contender, and one you should already own.

Average Score Scale: 9.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 9.5/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: Do you like the Indiana Jones films? This is as close as you’ll get to playing them.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: If you’re tired of Uncharted’s solving puzzles, being attacked by swarms of enemies and cutscenes.

Everybody Dance Review

Everybody Dance (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-20
Genre: Rhythm/Dancing
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCE Studios London
Release Date: October 18, 2011

Parent Talk: As per most dancing games, the ESRB rates Everybody Dance T for teen due to mild, suggestive dance moves and questionable lyrics.  Parents can easily monitor the songs their kids dance to in order to make this a game for everyone in the house.

Play Like: Just Dance, sort of like Dance Central.

Review Basis: At a recent party I tried everything the game offers.

The Great:

It’s hard to compete with Harmoinx’s revolutionary Dance Central franchise because it interprets your exact movements, but at least Everybody Dance tries something new.  The dance creator allows players to record custom routines and challenge others to mimic their choreography. It’s original and really fun, especially when you can move and are in a house full of half-drunk lunatics.

The Good:

+ 40 tracks, complete with their official videos to cut loose to.  Variety is the spice of life and Sony clearly took that to heart.  There’s something here for everyone.

+ Fun alone, with or against a friend.  Regardless of how you play, Everybody Dance promotes exactly what the name implies.  Everyone will want to get up in front of the TV and bust a move.  There’s even an excellent 20-player party mode, something the other dance properties miss out on.

The So-So:

+/- You dance with your arm…at least that’s how it feels.  While you can’t trick the PlayStation Eye, we suspect your dance moves are judged based on the position of the Move controller, which makes sense given the limitations of the setup.  It’s not bad, but not nearly as advanced as it could be.

The Bad:

– The card system featured in Dance Central is somewhat mimicked here except it doesn’t flow as naturally, hindering your progress. One bizarre element is that the game expects you to remember routines.  The cards stop displaying if a routine is repeated in the same song.  This makes progression extremely difficult in some of the tougher routines.

The Lowdown:

Having just reviewed Dance Central 2, it’s hard to now play a dance game that uses a controller instead of your body. That said, those who only own a PlayStation 3 can certainly enjoy Everybody Dance, though its few hiccups prevent it from becoming the life of the party.

Average Score Scale: 6.5 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 6.5/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: You love dancing, only own a PS3 and have parties all the time.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: Somewhat broken gameplay keeps the dancing from reaching its true potential.

Uncharted Dual Pack Review

Uncharted Dual Pack (Available only on PS3)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-10
Genre: Action Adventure
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Naughty Dog
Release Date: September 6th, 2011

Parent Talk: Uncharted is the ideal T-rated series.  It features non-gratuitous violence, suggestive themes and strong language.  Anyone 13 years of age and older should have no problem playing either of these two phenomenal games.

Plays Like: A much better Tomb Raider.  There is lots of action, platforming and a great deal of puzzles. I always think of Uncharted as the perfect match for the Indiana Jones franchise.

Review Basis: Played through and mastered Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

Unlike most of our reviews in which I would list the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, there’s little point in doing so for this compilation, as we already have reviews published.  You can find both below.

Uncharted: Drakes Fortune Review: http://www.projectcoe.com/sony/games/uncharted.html?var1=sc3

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Review: http://www.projectcoe.com/2009/10/22/uncharted-2-among-thieves-review/

 

The original Uncharted is a modern classic

For only $39.99 USD/CDN, you get two of the best videogames ever created.  Uncharted provided that next-gen action adventure experience fans wanted, then Uncharted 2 cranked it up about twenty notches.  The Dual Pack includes the Game of the Year Edition for Uncharted 2, meaning you receive all the DLC at no additional cost.  That’s a steal for $40.

 

Don't let the excellence of Uncharted 2 pass you by

The Lowdown:

If you never had the opportunity to play either of these wonderful games, take advantage of this dual pack. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception will likely be waiting once you’re finished. Leave these games behind and you would miss out on what is arguably the best new IP introduced this generation.

Average Score Scale: 8.0 (+/- 1) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 9/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +1 Inflation: Incredible games for an incredible price

Reason for -1 Deflation: Nothing added for those who already played the originals

 

NGP To Be Renamed PlayStation Vita?

We don’t have a lot to go on, but if you happen to hit up the European PlayStation developer site you might notice a bizarre subdomain.  The question is, why does this subdomain even exist if this name isn’t legit?  Over the weekend there were a few unnamed sources who confirmed the name will be officially unveiled at E3 as PS Vita.  With only a week left until the big show kicks off, what do you think?

I’m surprised Sony wants to move away from the PSP moniker given how many systems the company sold.  That said, by changing the name they can always market it as a completely different machine, thereby removing the need for backwards compatibility.  Regardless of what the device ends up being called, you can be sure Vita or NGP will have a huge showing at this year’s E3.

MotorStorm: Apocalypse Review

MotorStorm: Apocalypse (Available only on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-16
Genre: Racing
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Evolution Studios
Release Date: May 3, 2011
PSN – Online multiplayer

Parent Talk: The ESRB warns against crude humor, drug references, language, suggestive themes, and violence.  All that is featured in the game’s comic-style cutscenes which play in-between races.  None are overly offensive, but children should play Mario Kart over a racing game that tasks players to ram or blow each other up.

Review Basis: Festival mode completed; all online multiplayer modes sampled.

MotorStorm was among the first games to run natively on the PS3 hardware.  It looked stunning, and featured incredible physics.  The tracks changed as players raced them.  It was a technical showpiece and a blast to play.  Chaos and destruction were at the heart of this racer.  You had to tough out the rough terrain and survive the constant ramming, flips and explosions of others.  MotorStorm: Pacific Rift offered new environments and increased chaos. Here we are several years later, and the PS3 has its first original trilogy.  Evolution Studios has brought the chaos front and center with a city racing circuit that’s falling apart.  Do you have what it takes to conquer collapsing buildings, tidal waves, military helicopters firing on the street, and much more?

The Great:

Chaos reigns supreme.  Evolution Studios nailed the feelings of desperation and excitement here. There’s nothing like racing through an earthquake.  Tracks morph as frequently as cars explode.  One minute you’re on a highway, the next an earthquake hits and said highway gives out under you.  Your car flies through the air as a gas station explodes off to the side.  At the same time a hurricane moves in while tankers, water and anything you can imagine is hurdled your way.  Dust and debris spread, and three opponents don’t make it out.  Now it’s just you and your rival racing to the finish line as everything is disintegrating around you.  That’s what I call exciting.


The Good:

+ Natural progression. You begin as a rookie, playing through a three-day festival on beginner difficulty.  After his story, you replay with another character and higher difficulty.  The races aren’t identical though, and neither are the vehicles.  This creates a nice sense of balance and urges players to keep going.  It’s nice to have a clear beginning, middle and end.

+ Technically impressive.  Despite all the action and devastation, the framerate never skips a beat.  Think about this.  A city is being torn apart, and you won’t notice a single hiccup.  That’s something Evolution Studios should be proud of.

+ Vehicle variety.  You don’t select a vehicle anymore thanks to the story, but  I’m pleased to report that each vehicle type is as unique as ever. A monster truck feels heavy and easy to lose control, while a sports car enjoys the refinement you expect.  Other vehicles aren’t as refined, such as the superbikes, but for the most part players will be pleased with the vehicles’ handling, and additions.

+ Improved boost.  One of the common complaints with the series is the overly sensitive boost system.  It’s completely improved refined with Apocalypse.  The boost meter now cools down while in-air and driving over water.  This adds a new layer of strategy to otherwise chaotic races.

+ Quality A.I.  While playing as the rookie, you might wonder if it’s possible to lose a race.  That quickly changes around halfway through the medium races. By the time you’re at veteran…look out.  The challenge is fierce and rewarding, as it should be.

+ Awesome multiplayer.  There’s four-player splitscreen and fantastic online with a Call of Duty perk system.  There’s something for everyone.  In a generation where multiplayer has often been online-only, it’s a breath of fresh air to trash-talk three buddies on your couch as you try to destroy each other.  Even with four times the chaos, the framerate holds up remarkably.  And now that the PSN is back up, you can all enjoy the madness.


The Bad:

– The story.  Everyone knows that when racing games attempt to include a story, it never turns out well.  The same goes for Apocalypse.  Sure the story adds context, but it’s ridiculously goofy. No one is going to pay attention.

– As brutal as ever.  Brutal isn’t bad, but replaying races over and over because you couldn’t see anything is.  Sometimes all the destruction obscures your view.  Not only that, but occasionally you can no longer race the same path because of the changing tracks.

The Ugly:

The animated cutscenes don’t fit the game.  They look similar to what was featured in inFAMOUS, but with less pizzazz.  Maybe it’s just me, but as a comic book fan they look really rushed with very limited animation.


The Lowdown:

If you want an excellent arcade racer, you can’t go wrong with MotorStorm: Apocalypse.  Its local and online multiplayer makes the game one of the only racing games that provides for every fan out there.  The fantastic single player draws you back over and over. Take all these great qualities and mix them with the chaotic environments and you have a memorable wrap–up for the MotorStorm trilogy.  Consider MotorStorm: Apocalypse an instant buy.  I doubt however that this is the last time we hear the name MotorStorm.

 

Starhawk Preview

For all those out there who loved 2007’s Warhawk, we’ve got some great news for you this morning, the rumors were indeed true, Starhawk is coming your way in 2012 exclusively on the PlayStation 3.  The new game is described as bigger and better than Warhawk in every way possible, not the least of which is thanks to a robust and deep single player offering.  Get this, it even has a story.  Can you believe that?

The biggest new addition is something called “Build and Battle” and it is this feature that has delayed the game’s announcement for literally years.  The developers at LightBox had this idea of adding RTS elements into the game, but they sort of lost track of what the series was all about.  By going back to the intense action and fast paced vehicle switching, they were able to create something truly special around this new feature.

So what is this new feature all about, well it’s something you would expect to find in any real-time strategy game, namely, the ability to call in new equipment as you need it.  Do you require a fortified position around your current location, no problem, just bring up the new in-game menu and select a walled protection grid.  Obviously you can’t just call in back-up support vehicles like tanks and new ships without having the necessary points, which are earned from getting kills, etc.  Imagine how strategic you can be in the online multiplayer mode, with everyone trying to build their massive fleet before their opponent.  Not only can you call in support vehicles, create protection fields, but you can also call in specialized weapons as well.  If you work better as a team, you could become unstoppable.

The story seems to be about something called rift energy, it’s what all the various planets in the sector are fighting for.  Think of it like space oil as LightBox describes it.  The protagonist of the single player campaign is a man named Emmett Graves (the one featured in the screenshots) who just so happens to collect and sell rift energy for a living.  Everyone hates this guy because he’s so good at what he does.  It doesn’t help that he’ll stop at nothing to get his hands on the rift energy either, including taking out entire planets if he has to.

The single-player missions feature everything from ground assaults to aerial combat and even mechs.  This game sounds like it has something to offer for just about every action fan out there.  The action doesn’t stop there either, because of the inclusion of a story there will be a natural progression from an early training mission to more advanced areas where you will have to master the Build and Battle system if you have any hope of surviving the onslaught.  LightBox made it very clear that strategy will be a very big part of the single player campaign, but that at its heart Starhawk was created as a shooter.

Have you also noticed the significant boost in the graphics?  LightBox says they’ve spent a tremendous amount of time improving the game engine used in Warhawk to the point the one they’re using now is virtually brand new.  The characters also animate far better than anything seen in Warhawk.  The end result is a game that run better, supports more players and features, and should provide much more immersive experience to players all over the world.

Multiplayer games play out similar to what you remember from Warhawk except with a whole bunch of strategy thrown into the mix.  For example, when you respawn you can select where your capsule will drop.  A good strategy is to drop right on top of an enemy, giving you a perfect kill right off the bat.  Once on the battlefield your first job is to secure your position and make use of teamwork to ensure you use the “Build and Battle” system to your advantage.  Why not fortify your position and then build an armada to take on your opponent all together?  Be careful though as your enemy may use smaller teams with individual tactics to take you out before you have time to build everything you need.  Doesn’t that sound awesome?  I sure think so.

If you’re interested in features, LightBox has you covered.  Starhawk will include support for clans, tournaments, calendar support, and even a connected Android app.  How cool is that?  None of these features could be discussed in any great detail what with the PlayStation Network being offline right now, but the promise of these features actually being part of the game is quite exciting.  I say that only because when Warhawk was originally announced it too featured a robust single-player offering that was eventually cut from the game.  LightBox said that thanks to the sheer success of Warhawk they’ve been able to secure financing for the follow-up and none of these features will be cut.  If anything, more features will be added before the game’s 2012 release.  I expect we’ll be hearing more of this bad boy in another few weeks.

For all those out there curious by the timing of this announcement, it’s because with E3 right around the corner Sony felt like now was a good time to get people excited about just how big of a show they have in store for us at E3.  Starhawk is described as being the beginning of a truly killer line-up of software for the PlayStation 3.  I don’t know about you, but all of this sure sounds exciting to me.

inFAMOUS 2 Shocking Your PlayStation 3 On June 7th, 2011

Normally I would post this news as a sentence or two and be done with it.  Then Steven would create a post making fun of what I posted, and I would comment telling him he’s a loser.  This would go on and on until eventually I would post another article with a sentence or two.  Well I’m already on my fourth sentence so take that!  OK, I’ll write a bit more in-depth, but only because you all asked so kindly.

I could care less about the June 7th release date, but more on the fact that this year is really shaping up to be a wicked one for the PS3 in terms of first party offerings.  We’ve had LittleBigPlanet 2, Killzone 3 is literally right around the corner, and Uncharted 3 will end off the year with a bang.  That’s not including all the other crazy titles coming our way like the ICO/Shadow of the Colossus Collection.  That thing is going to rock…hard!  The rest of the competition has been somewhat quiet thus far, or is it just me?

Specially talking about inFAMOUS 2, I’d like to say that I only really got into the first one sometime last year.  While I played through the original when it was released, I mastered it much later.  It wasn’t the end-all, be-all I was hoping it would be, but it connected with me for one reason or another.  What this boils down to is that I’m very excited to get my hands on the sequel and see just how far Sucker Punch is able to move things forward.  The new powers look great, the graphics look greatly improved and overall it looks like a major upgrade compared to the original.  That’s what I like to hear!

Are you guys looking forward to inFAMOUS 2?  What about all the other big games Sony’s releasing this year?  Is this indeed the year of the PS3?

(EiC’s Note: Don’t forget about the $99 Hero Edition!  It comes with an 8.5″ statue of Cole, a replica of the pack Cole wears, exclusive access to hidden in-game content (including two powers), a comic from DC…and more!)

PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter In Da House!

Sony Canada was super nice to send us a surprise package this morning, it’s the PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter, or Sharpshooter as I call it.  This reminds me of the Super Scope, for all those old enough to remember.  Here’s a quick picture to remind all those children of the 90’s or those still playing games in the 90’s at least ;)

The Super Nintendo Bazooka...AKA The Super Scope!

While certainly bad ass back in the day, it was only playable with a handful of titles and never came close to matching what the original NES’ Zapper did.  Remember that light gun?

That's right baby, the Zapper! Pew Pew Pew!

Alright enough with the trip down memory lane.  Let’s take a look at what Sony sent us this morning.  Behold the Sharpshooter!

Here it is with the stock closed. It fully extends as you'll see in the next image...which makes this caption virtually useless, but not useless enough!
The oh so different fully extended stock Sharpshooter picture. See how original we are here at COE?

Why didn’t I put a navigation controller in the lower portion?  I have no clue, I just saw the Move controller beside my PS3 and so I grabbed it, put it into the Sharpshooter and took some pictures.  I like doing things half-assed apparently.  If you visited the site at all yesterday you can testify to that ;)

Included with the Sharpshooter are three sets of decals which can be used to nerdify your Sharpshooter, as if you really needed to do that.  I’ll take a picture later showing what I look like actually playing with this thing.  Let’s just say, it’s not pretty.

There are some pretty cool features on this bad boy though.  It has several shooting modes, which is handy, all the buttons are located around the trigger for easy access with your thumb, and the pump action grip as Sony calls it is bloody awesome.  All that remains now is a game.  The gun is compatible with Killzone 3, SOCOM 4, Time Crisis: Razing Storm, and Dead Space: Extraction.  Considering I don’t own the two games that are already out, and the other two get released shortly I can’t test it out.  That’s just the news you were hoping for, I know.  Fear not though, I’ll be using this gun to review Killzone 3 which should arrive early next week.  So be sure to look forward to that, and the picture ;)

If any of you have picked up the Sharpshooter, what are your impressions of it?

The Sly Collection Review

The Sly Collection (Available exclusively only on PS3)
ESRB Rating: E-E10+
Players: 1-4
Genre: Platformer/Compilation
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Sucker Punch/Sanzaru Games
Release Date: Nov 9, 2010

The Great:

Three of the PS2’s greatest platformers on one disc. If you missed the Sly series, why are you still reading this? Go by this now! Usually lumped in with fellow franchises Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank, the Sly games offered platforming at its purest on the system. Not only are all three fun to play, the stories and characters are among the most likable of the games I’ve played.  The series is charming and can win over anyone.  Not to mention enjoying these three games on one disc, in HD, is a fantastic deal.

The Good:

+ Gracefully aged. Obviously Sly-Sly 3 aren’t as technically advanced as games being pumped out today, but so much in them just feels right.  The past excellent polish has so far stood the test of time.  The HD upgrade provides a new coat of paint for the vibrant and colorful cel-shaded worlds. The overall style helps give the games a pass on the low poly-count, but it’s so cartoony and fun you won’t care.  The formula is still addictive, and it’s neat to witness how the series improved playing each game successively.   It started simple and was added upon, but favorably, not unnecessarily.

+ A fantastic deal.  You’ll get your money’s worth with Sly Collection.  You don’t need a PS2, and the HD visuals are superbly shiny!  And of course, trophy support and new Move-supported mini-games sweeten the experiences.  There’s not much to dislike.

+ A great introduction to Sly.  If you haven’t played these platformers for any reason, this set is worthwhile.  Sucker Punch teased us with Easter eggs in inFamous (some in this disc), and hopefully more Sly is coming.  Hence, there’s no better way to greet Mr. Sly.

The So-So:

± Shallow Move games. They support four people simultaneously, but have nothing to do with Sly.  They basically boil down to target-shooting, or piloting a vehicle through rings.  A DualShock 3 can be used, a Move isn’t needed.  Either way, the minis won’t hold your attention, but they’re good for trophies.

± Past glitches are still around. Aside from the visuals, these are straight ports.  The Sly titles are polished, but control/camera issues from before have been carried over.  Instances are few and far between, but some clean-up effort would have been nice.

The Lowdown

There isn’t much negative to point out about this compilation.  If you care for additional detail, take a gander at the reviews for the original games on our site archives.  I can’t stress enough how much of a bargain this three-games-on-one-disc is.  Sly is one of my most beloved PS2 franchises, and I’m confident that there are many of you who feel the same.  Buy this.  I can’t recommend it enough!

Lord of Arcana Review

Lord of Arcana (Available exclusively on PSP)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1-4
Genre: Action RPG
Publisher: Square-Enix
Developer: Access Games
Release Date: January 25th, 2011
Ad-Hoc Multiplayer

Parent Talk: Portable videogames usually aren’t scrutinized for offensive content, but Lord of Arcana is a rare exception.  It features explicit violence and a fair mix of blood and gore.  It’s nowhere as bad as most M-rated console offerings, but you may want to look elsewhere for your child’s next dungeon crawler.

Lord of Arcana came out of nowhere.  It arrived at the COE office a few days ago unannounced.  I love that because it makes the game all the more special.  Lord of Arcana is Square-Enix’s answer to Monster Hunter, thus it will appeal to a limited audience.   This is a niche game in a niche genre, and unfortunately happens to have its fair share of flaws.  It’s certainly not a game for most, but is it for you?

The Good:

+ A nice dungeon crawler/fetch quest game on occasion does the gamer good.  If you enjoy long quests, fighting countless enemies, grinding for hours, or creating powerful weapons from a massive assortment of scavenged items, then Lord of Arcana is for you.  It’s that simple.

+ A strong soundtrack and decent graphics.  The environments are a little bland and barren at times, but the audio-visual package is mostly what you’d expect from a somewhat lower-class RPG.  It isn’t Final Fantasy, and doesn’t pretend to be either.

The So-So:

+/- A lacking story.  Per the typical JRPG, Lord of Arcana’s protagonist has lost his memory and must overcome incredible obstacles to save the day.  He resides in the magical kingdom of Horodyn.  Magic takes the form of eight giant creatures called Arcana, and he’ll be the new Lord upon defeating them all.  It’s basic; a stepping stone to push players from one quest to the next.

+/- Quests are standard.  You either must eliminate a certain number of enemies or acquire an item that a specific enemy holds.  Sometimes this is as simple as slaughtering a hoard of goblins, or tedious as you search everywhere for a missing feather which happens to be randomly attached to a skeleton.  Quests are fun when executed well, but the pacing drops to a snail’s pace otherwise.

+/- Traditional experience system.  You grow stronger while defeating foes, and they keep up all the same.  A level 20 character will struggle with early enemies.  This is because Lord of Arcana is designed for multiplayer.  Four players fighting together is much more enjoyable than going alone.  It’s as though the combat and experience system is suddenly balanced.  Remove your friends, and it’s a mess.

+/- While playing with friends certainly fixes a large portion of the game’s problems, the lack of online multiplayer dramatically decreases the usefulness of this mode.  In Japan an Ad Hoc mode makes sense given the heavy use of trains, but in North America most people will either play alone, or online.  Its exclusion is painful, and show poor execution.  As it is players need to find at least one other person who continues to use their PSP and own a copy of the game.  While there is Game Sharing, its features are limited.

+/- The customization options are quite surprising and deep, but not perfect.  While it’s wonderful being able to create powerful weapons that cause massive damage, it’s something else entirely when the item drops are so random that it takes you three days of playing just to make one item.  You might have to look for a super rare item just to create a medium-level weapon, which doesn’t seem to add up.  If you put in enough time and effort the customization mode certainly pays out, it just doesn’t do it early and often enough.

+/- Fighting is a chore, but boss battles are great.  While fighting your everyday enemies you have to continuously hold the L button to lock-on to the enemy that’s closest to you.  This becomes highly problematic as you can’t switch between enemies on the fly.  The combat system itself is extremely basic forcing players to repeat the same combinations over and over again.  That said boss battles are interesting and thought provoking.  They’re difficult and require several playthroughs in order to figure out what strategy to use in order to beat them.  A typical boss battle can last up to thirty minutes though, if you’re playing alone.  It’s yet another example of why it’s so important you don’t play alone.

The Bad:

– Too long.  Battles take forever!  The game doesn’t scale, so enemies have the same HP if you fight alone or with others.  If you’re a lone level 20, it might require eight minutes to down a grunt, but said foe doesn’t stand a chance with allies.  Imagine boss battles late in the game.  Fetch quests also drag because of the random nature of items.  It’s frustrating to seek a specific enemy for hours for one item, only to discover that you need another three for your weapon project.

– Broken multiplayer.  There is no online support, and ad-hoc is extremely problematic.  The most aggravating element is the inability to join another player’s battles if they’re too far away.  While logical in the physical sense, it doesn’t work in a videogame setting.  If this arises, your friend has three choices: fight alone, try to flee, or die and end the co-op session for all involved.

– Battles don’t take place on the same field as quests do.  This is the most perplexing design choice.  The landscape is more than large enough to house all the fighting, but instead players are sucked into a new arena.  It works like the classic FF games, and really hinders the flow.

The Ugly:

Repetition.  I know some people love these types of games, and they’ll likely love Arcana.   However, the genre has become too archaic for its own good.  Monster Hunter does it right, helping the player feel accomplished, but even it is extremely mundane.  You never get that here, especially when playing alone.  At least with local multiplayer you can talk to battlemates and enemies don’t appear as strong.  Even the fetch quests work much better.  The problem is, once again, no online support.  As such, you repeat the same quests, combat and customization processes and wonder what the reward is.

The Lowdown:

What type of gamer are you?  Do you love dungeon crawlers, fetch quests, or Monster Hunter?  If so, by all means play Lord of Arcana, but you’ve been warned.  Rent it if you’re unsure of the genre.  As I said at the beginning, LoA is aimed at a very small group of people.  If you’re not part of the club, you won’t enjoy this game.  That’s why Square-Enix develops Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy and bought Eidos for Tomb Raider.  Those franchises appeal to a much wider audience, and would likely be more in line with your interests.