PS+ has been running since around E3 last year and Sony promises to deliver each month a series of new games for PS+ users giving them full access to an instant games collection, each of these titles are AAA titles from the past or even in the case of the Vita new titles that were launched with the console! Here I will go through some of the titles on show, admittedly AAA studio titles, I feel you can’t go wrong with for free really.
Some are even Vita games. Actually something to play on my Vita besides Persona 4: Golden.
Jet Set Radio (PS Vita)
I admit to being a little biased here. I love Jet Set Radio, I love the soundtrack. I love the art style, hell I can look past the slightly dodgy controls. Jet Set Radio is a simple game, you roll around an eccentric version of Tokyo, Tokyo-to (but everyone just calls it Tokyo). You fight rival gangs and spray paint targets whilst fleeing from every aggressive police campaigns of policemen, dogs, tanks and helicopters.
The soundtrack as well is absolutely phenomenal and has in the past made me boot up the game just to listen to it, wonderfully composed by Hideki Naganuma (also known for the Sonic Rush soundtrack) and with various tracks from other artists such as Rob Zombie.
The ability to customise and create your own graffiti from your own images as well is pleasing and seeing your own little doodles sprayed all across the city feels great.
A portable version of this makes it all the better for me, the ability to take the game on the go and experience one of the best and most individual titles of SEGA’s Dreamcast era is definitely a big selling point for me, we reviewed the console version previously. Check out our review here.
BioShock 2 (PS3)
This one is contended often really as whether it is worthwhile to play. What I have to say about this title is whilst it looks like BioShock and sounds like BioShock it isn’t really BioShock in nature. BioShock 2 revisits Rapture and places you in the role of a Big Daddy who has had his Little Sister stolen by a woman named Lamb. Lamb is now being treated as a God by the citizens of Rapture in the absence of Andrew Ryan. The theme is there and everything feels right but BioShock 2 has much less atmosphere than the original since you do not play the role of a lone stranger traversing through the hallways of Rapture and tooling yourself up as you go along, there is no sense of fear as there was with the original game either since in this case you are the tank, instead of facing the tank.
I really enjoyed the first BioShock and despite what I said previously I really enjoyed BioShock 2 as well for what it was, it was the sequel we didn’t need but it was fun. Putting you into the role of a Big Daddy really makes you feel powerful as you charge enemies with your drill, piercing through the chests of splicers in a fairly visceral and pleasing manner. Add to this you can augment and change the nature of your drill; something I loved was the ability to freeze people at a tap of my drill and then shatter them into pieces, and it keeps the same charm that the original BioShock had in combat. The “Big Sisters” of the game are also a nice twist on the games original threat, you’re now slower and clunkier in the shell of the Big Daddy so these fast spinning machinations are intimidating.
Unfortunately this is where BioShock really caps, whilst Lamb is annoying, she never really lives up to the nature of Andrew Ryan or the games true villain and never really gets any screen time that makes her threatening enough. The characters lack the charm and never quite reach the fear inducing levels of characters such as the truly villainous and unhinged Sander Cohen. But that’s the problem with BioShock 2, it will live in the shadow of BioShock and its expectations.
There was also level design assistance from Dishonored’s Arkane Studios as well, so you know, that’s pretty cool.
The game also comes with a multiplayer mode which is intended to be the civil war of Rapture, I cannot attest to how populated this is although I imagine that the title being free on PS+ has helped a little with population issues.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Vita)
Uncharted is a fairly cool little cinematic series from Naughty Dog and whilst this iteration was developed outside of the confines of Naughty Dog’s walls, it’s still a fairly competent action game. The tacked on touch screen controls aren’t amazing but work fairly well, one addition I enjoyed particularly was the ability to draw a pathway through the various walls you climb. However it can be sometimes annoying especially with the annoying back panel on the reverse of the Vita used when identifying items.
Overall the formula remains fairly identical to the previous games:
Drake is venturing into grounds he shouldn’t
Drake annoys someone
Drake’s friends annoy someone and turn on him
Drake falls through some stuff
Drake falls through some more stuff
Drake saves the day
However, that’s what I enjoy about the series personally. The story isn’t killer but you’re playing Uncharted for Drake and his surrounding companions over the content of the story most of the time I found and this game delivers as a fairly solid prequel to the first game, my only complaint is that it is hampered with the same issue as the first title on the PS3: new technology syndrome. The team were told to implement all the new features of the Vita into the title somehow and whilst some of them don’t ruin the gameplay (such as tapping the gun logo with your thumb to reload) some are pretty poorly implemented (looking at you back touch panel).
Mortal Kombat (PS3)
Fighting game. Good for multiplayer, nice gory visceral attacks. Everything you expect from Mortal Kombat really right here in a nice clean updated package. If you and a buddy are looking for something to kill time there are much worse ways to do it. The classic roster is all here and there are a few new additions as well, the combat is fairly solid and is nicely presented.
There isn’t much more to say about it really, it’s Mortal Kombat. If you had the ability to process information during the 90’s to remember it you know what to expect, bones cracking, blood spraying and sweeping the leg to annoy your friend. All in all a fairly solid update to the franchise.
Gravity Rush (Vita)
Collect orbs and throw a young girl with no memory called Kat around a series of platforms. Gravity Rush places you in the role of young amnesiac Kat, an anime style romp fest where you attempt to help the scared citizens of a town whilst using your power to control gravity and defeat the evil creatures showing up in the town.
The combat is fairly slick with combos flowing fairly smoothly from fight to fight whilst using the gravity to maintain your momentum. The game has a series of challenges that you can undertake as well as extra content, taking part in these events gives you more orbs. What do orbs give you? The ability to unlock stuff around the city (shortcuts, bridges and the like) and to unlock and upgrade more of Kat’s abilities. These act as neat little distractions from the games main content since a lot of them you’re against the clock giving you a challenge to try and beat your best times.
The gravity mechanics can be a bit clumsy at first and hard to get used to but this feels intentional as Kat flops around and smashes into the ground when she lands, toppling over. The game is well stylised with the story elements being presented like a comic book as you flick through the panels.
LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
Stephen Fry narrating a game, ‘nuff said.
LittleBigPlanet is a pretty popular title and for good reasons, it’s a cutesy platformer title that can be anything it wants to. The main campaign is fairly challenging and demonstrates to the players all the different skills they can use and includes some well thought out co-op sections, with some levels only having sections you can access with other players giving you reason to play with others.
The real meat is LittleBigPlanet is the level creation, there has been some truly phenomenal stuff done in it, complete remakes of the Legend of Zelda, first person shooters and of course less tactful stuff. The game employs a fairly standard “collect them all” style and does it well, making each level feel like a challenge and not a chore and the different mechanics you use to traverse them all feel fairly well thought out such as the ability to swing from nodes.
So that’s it. PS+ is constantly updating and Sony have just announced their releases for February. So keep an eye out. As well as free games you can also frequently get discounts on new titles as well as prioritised access to new demos, such as the just finished beta access to the God of War Multiplayer. Playstation Plus is currently in the January sale which is just ending and you can pick up a subscription for £30 the price will soon revert to £40 for a year or £11.99 for 3 months.
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