E3: Playstation 3: Looking Back and Forward
Sony’s Playstation 3 has made quite a transformation over the years. At its unveiling at E3 way back in 2006 the PS3 came off as unappealing with its $599 price tag and thin lineup of games. Over time, Sony was able to come back with a solid library of exclusives and offsetting the price disadvantage with free online play. If you’ve just joined the PS3 bandwagon (or are thinking about buying one) here are three great games you simply must have, three that are great but a bit underappreciated, and three that this year’s E3 has me stoked for.
Must Have Games
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – Last year’s big award winner from Naughty Dog met all the expectations the glowing reviews set for me. A video game story with likable characters and a plot that I actually cared about were just icing on the cake of excellent shooting and platforming mechanics put together.
LittleBigPlanet – This is the game that made me run around on craigslist like a madman to grab a PS3 for. LittleBigPlanet took level creation and sharing to a whole new level – players could make an incredible variety of things, from well themed levels to obstacle courses to shootouts to completely absurd game types (my favorite? Electric fish sword battles!). Round it up with 25 beautifully crafted levels filled with challenge and inspiration for custom designs and you have a really special experience.
PixelJunk Shooter – A brilliant little game available on the Playstation Network for download. Shooter innovates on the standard space shooter with the heat and water mechanics – being near lava or being hit by shots will overheat your ship and eventually burn it, but dipping in water cools things off. The game is almost as much of a puzzle game as it is a shooter, with many environmental puzzles involving flow of lava. You also can’t be too trigger happy or you’ll kill the miners you’re trying to save, or even worse, crush them in lava!
Valkyria Chronicles – I’ve already decided that Valkyria Chronicles isn’t just the sleeper hit of its year, but of the PS3 as a whole. The game tells a tale of war in a beautiful water color style of art; it can be disarmingly pleasant to look at, but don’t be distracted, this is a game of strategic battle. Gameplay consists of deploying your troops into battles that are a hybrid of turn based and real time; you think about where to move troops when time is stopped, but upon choosing a unit the game goes into real time, so path finding and a good aim are important. Upgrading your units and finding the right balance of character classes is important and rewardingly strategic.
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger – BlazBlue had the misfortune of following up the massive success that was Street Fighter 4, making it largely unremembered. I will give credit where it’s due – BlazBlue is probably my favorite 2d one-on-one fighter out there. The game takes what made the Guilty Gear series great, which was excellent character design and advanced combat, and broaden it for a wider audience. The game has a nice coat of HD with some of the best drawn 2D animations I’ve ever seen. The mechanics are still intimidatingly deep, but with relaxed timing windows it no longer takes professional levels of precision to pull off roman cancels, air throws and crazy combos. The story mode was forgettable and the character roster a bit thin, but the rewarding and lag-less online play more than made up for it.
Flower – I’m a pretty traditional person when it comes to video games – I always say, mechanics first, aesthetics second. Flower really surprised me in its approach and ability to convey emotions without words, instead through the way you interacted with the game. You control a flower petal that brings life into flowers and scenery you pass by; the game provides no display or score, you merely choose your path and experience the consequences of it. A beautiful musical score that changes depending on your interactions supplements the experience. Flower, to me, transcended what a normal video game felt like. It was no longer about winning or losing, but instead relaxing and enjoying a great experience.
Games of Interest Looking Forward
The Last Guardian – It’s sort of funny that I’m excited for The Last Guardian, since it was more or less a no-show at E3 this year. From the trailers thus far the game seems to be about a boy and a giant animal that befriends him somehow and accompanies him. The graphic and animation quality just from the trailer’s gameplay footage looked stunning. The studio behind it, Team ICO, has already produced two games that have pushed the boundaries of what the PS2 could do graphically and what video games could do with narrative. I can’t wait to see what they’ll do with the PS3.
Time Crisis: Razing Storm – Huh? A game that got nothing more than a name mention during Sony’s E3 press conference? Hear me out – this isn’t just about Time Crisis. Ever since my childhood days at now-extinct arcades I’ve been longing for a real light gun game for a home console. I had faith the Wii would have something, but the shooting games simply don’t live up. The problem with rail gun games on the Wii, such as Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, is that you’re not truly aiming; instead, you’re guiding a reticule on screen by tilting and moving the remote. It’s not true aiming until it is 1:1 precision, until the reticle can be removed and I can judge a shot by my own depth perception and aim. I’m taking a bet that the PS Move’s advanced sensors can make this happen, and I can relive those childhood thrills with modern games.
Sorcery – When I first saw the PS Move controller, I instantly thought, +3 Wand of Glowing! Really though, the first thought to my mind is that it be pretty neat for a game involving magic gestures. Lo and behold, Sorcery was announced at E3 – a game with magic invoked by gestures (they must be reading my mind over there). There is a lot of potential here – the game demo showed how a single spell, like casitng fire, can have multiple effects depending on how it is invoked. Waving your wand one way will send out an offensive shockwave, but waving it another will create a defensive wall of fire. Throw in things like RPG elements and the ability to transform into a rat (!) and you definitely have my interest. This could very well be the game that will sell me on the PS Move, so I can’t wait to try it out!
What are your favorite PS3 games so far and what are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!