OK, so maybe I was almost a year late to the Sound Shapes party but it wasn’t over by the time I got there. Not only that, there’s new content coming out for it even now, especially with the PS4 launch just behind us. The game is as simple as they get – you roll around as a small ball that can stick to some surfaces and is harmed by red elements in the environment and the goal is to reach the end of the stage. A very basic platformer game, it would seem. What lifts Sound Shapes beyond such a simple premise is its music design. With tracks composed by artists such as Deadmau5 or Beck, the songs become richer and richer with every note our little protagonist collects on its jumpy merry way. All this adds a rhythm element to the game and makes it that much more fun to play. There are several quite distinct worlds (records) to visit, each one with a unique visual and audio style, and all of them are worth exploring.
The features of Sound Shapes don’t end here, however. Beating the game unlocks the Death Mode, which introduces much harder levels that can sometimes be challenging even for platforming savants. We are also offered a channel editor with sounds and shapes (ha!) unlocked throughout the campaign. Similarly to LittleBigPlanet, the amount of user-generated content is staggering. And last but not least, the Beat School mode asks the player to recreate a sample loop prepared by the game designers. I spent most of my time solving those little puzzles. Not only do I like a musical challenge, all those silver trophies are worth going through the levels and the game awards a single trophy per challenge.
In summary, Sound Shapes is another game that offers almost unlimited content with several interesting modes and tons of trophies for the hunters out there. Even though it is also available on PS3 and PS4, I liked it best as a portable experience, playing a level or two whenever I had some time.
I don’t think I could be more excited about this game. I’ve been a fan of the series since day 1, although the first game I played was Broken Sword 2 and it was a bootleg copy, too, with no cutscenes or sound. The fact that my favorite adventure game series or maybe ma favorite series altogether comes to the Vita and it’s Revolution who are making it is simply amazing. Just a few more hours…
Revolution is making a new Broken Sword game for the PS Vita and it is going to become an episodic series, with the first episode coming tomorrow. The next one is likely to arrive early next year. The announcement post on the EU PS blog:
“Revolution has been publishing adventure games on Sony platforms since 1996 when Broken Sword – Shadow of the Templars launched for the original PlayStation. After finding success with three Broken Sword games for Sony (the second Broken Sword title was voted fifth best PlayStation game ever by Official PlayStation Magazine readers) we are very pleased to bring our latest game to PlayStation Vita with the backing of our faithful fans who funded development through a highly successful Kickstarter campaign.
Broken Sword 5 – the Serpent’s Curse: Episode One, out on PS Vita tomorrow priced €12.99 with a 20% discount for PS Plus members, returns…
I was rummaging through some of my old papers while cleaning up before Christmas when an Amazon receipt found its way into my hands. The receipt was from November 23rd and the only item on it was a PlayStation Vita console I had ordered taking advantage of one of the blitz deals Amazon Germany had to offer several days earlier. I had been wondering if the Vita was worth getting but being able to buy one for 25% less was a deal I couldn’t have refused. It’s now been over a year since I got it and I have to say it had been a very good choice. I already put up a post explaining why I think the Vita is worth having but for those who still say that there are no games to play on Sony’s handheld, let’s have a look back at the last 13 months and see what titles I got to enjoy on PlayStation Vita. I’ve been jumping from game to game, especially for the first couple of months when I wanted to try everything out, but I decided to pick one title for each month I had my Vita starting from November 2012.
Even though the Vita I got from Amazon came bundled with Little Big Planet, it wasn’t the first ‘big’ game that I decided to focus on on the handheld. I decided to quickly grab the free PlayStation Plus titles, which were Gravity Rush and Uncharted. I knew what to expect from the latter and that’s probably why I went with Kat first, choosing her over Drake. I had heard about Gravity Rush in PlayStation podcasts and it got good reviews so why not give it a try?
The gravity shifting mechanic and the tilt controls took some time getting used to but after a while it was smooth sailing. It feels much longer now but I got the Platinum trophy in just 10 days. The game wasn’t especially difficult but some of the challenges, especially the ones involving throwing objects, weren’t something I completed on my first try. Also, I had to look online for help to find all the rare Nevi that had to be defeated for three of the trophies.
I liked the comic book style of the cut scenes in the game and the graphics and audio quality were amazing. I did not expect that a handheld machine was able to produce such images and sounds. There were some frame drops when Kat used her ultimate attacks and there were many enemies on the screen but that was expected and didn’t take away from the experience much.
As a first experience with a complete system that is only slightly bigger than a DualShock 3 controller, playing Gravity Rush was really something else. Having completed Kat’s adventure, I had no doubt that buying a Vita was a good choice and it would bring me many hours of fun and entertainment for months, and hopefully years, to come.
Let me start by saying that the first time I started this game I was certain I would play it for half an hour and never go back to it. The first races were just too easy and the cars looked just too small and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to enjoy it. But then, the challenges started to become more difficult. I no longer managed to beat the threshold time to get all three medals for each of them. I realized that the fastest times on the leaderboards were up to 30 seconds better than mine. Finally, I broke and I decided I would not put this game down until I managed to shave enough seconds off my total time to unlock its most difficult trophies.
It’s the challenge of MotorStorm RC that kept me coming back for more. It’s a classic case of a game that’s easy to learn but very difficult to master. The premise sounds easy enough. A Micro Machines clone that offers several game modes, including straightforward racing, drift challenges, hot lap time trials and pursuit (overtake a given number of enemies as fast as possible). The courses are very short and seem simplistic at first glance – most of them have literally 5-6 turns and it takes on average 15-20 seconds to complete a lap. Nothing so far seems too appealing. But the fact that the race is over so soon makes the challenge to push the boundaries by hundreds of milliseconds at a time that much more exciting.
So the European region is now more than a week into the PS4 extravaganza and, even though there aren’t that many new titles available, trophies have started to become unlocked and the next-gen hunt has begun. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to put as many hours into the new system as I would have liked to but I still managed to at least try all of the games that I had available during the first week. Thanks to PlayStation+ I had lots of fun with Contrast, which I already completed 100%, and Resogun. I started playing Killzone: Shadowfall, which came with the Player’s Edition of the console. I also decided to buy a party game for the launch party I organized and I got Just Dance 2014. During the same party we gave Playroom a chance too.
An honorable mention goes to Sound Shapes, which I synced from the cloud and unlocked 1 1 72 just like that. Some call it cheating but I call it free trophies and this little trick helped me break the 1000th position on the leaderboards list in Poland, which I’ve been steadily approaching for some time now. There’s no way I’ll ever come close the top 100 – I have nowhere near the time and will as some other hardcore trophy hunters do – but occupying a three-digit spot is also quite cool.
One more thing I’d like to add – all the screenshots in this post has been taken by me using the share functionality of the PS4, which is amazing. Too bad that it isn’t possible to simply download the image and video files to a storage device directly but the quality of the captured moments is more than satisfactory. I’d love to see what fun or glitchy clips or stills you managed to grab so far. Post links in the comments below the post!
The poll is now closed. Thanks to all of you for voting! After a very close race, Resogun (6 votes) won over The Last of Us (5 votes), which really coincides with what I wanted to do. What I didn’t anticipate is getting another Platinum trophy in between, which I managed to unlock in MotorStorm RC.
Since Resogun is a PS4 title, I would like to invite all of you to watch me stream the game and encourage me to get better and also give me some helpful tips. Just go over to my Twitch page. The show starts at 7pm CET / 1pm EST.
With all those PS+ and other games floating around and limited time, I decided to ask you to help me decide which game I should focus on next. I propose a rather wide selection of different genres and older and new games to choose from but if you have some other ideas, please let me know. However, I won’t be buying any new games so if you want to add another option, make it a PS+ game.
I’m away again next week and will only have my Vita with me so when I get back I will tackle the game that wins the voting.
When Sony announced during E3 that Driveclub would be available at launch for PS+ members I got excited that an interesting game such as this would be waiting for me to download the day I get my console. I’m not a huge racing game enthusiast but I was looking forward to seeing a great-looking driving title on my PS4. Unfortunately, Driveclub got delayed and another title got added to the PS+ Instant Game Collection – Contrast. It launched with the PS4 but is also available on PS3, MS Windows and Xbox 360.
Obviously, we’re talking about two games that couldn’t be different both when it comes to gameplay and ‘new-genness’. Still, I wasn’t too upset because everything I saw about Contrast looked very promising. The setting in the 1920s Paris, the cool shadow shifting mechanic, the characters. Unfortunately, some control issues and glitches in the game made it less enjoyable than it could have been.
So here’s something I haven’t done on my blog yet. It’s a Platinum Tracker post for a brand new game. Tearaway launched here last Friday and I knew it was a must-have for the PlayStation Vita so I didn’t hesitate much and got it. The fact that it’s cheaper than most other Vita retail games was also a nice bonus. Since the game is new I will avoid spoilers in the text and the screenshots I took are also spoiler-free so don’t worry if iota’s (or atoi’s) adventure is still ahead of you (or should I say, You?).
In Tearaway, the player controls an anthropomorphic envelope, called iota, on its quest to deliver a secret message to an even more mysterious recipient. We don’t really know much about this task until the very end of the game where everything suddenly sense and is incredibly rewarding. On his way, iota meets many friendly characters who try to help him and who are fascinated by the You which appears in the world’s sun. As you can see in the screenshot below, the You is… you, the player. The most interesting point about this fact is that You can directly interfere with the game’s world using all of the PS Vita’s capabilities.
When I first beat Spec Ops: The Line, it left me with more questions than answers and I wasn’t sure what to think about the game. The hype around it was enormous and I heard many people say that it had been their Game of the Year candidate in response to my writing about the game previously. Well, three weeks have passed, I did my second playthrough on FUBAR difficulty and… I’m still not sure if I completely understand the story, the ending and the drama that unfolded. (As always, SPOILERS ahead)
Let’s get back to the beginning, or at least what seems to be the beginning. Delta soldiers Walker, Adams and Lugo are given the task to figure out what happened to the 33rd Infantry after a sandstorm that hit Dubai. The division, led by Colonel John Konrad, volunteered to assist the civilians weather the storm and evacuate the city. The conditions got so bad, that all communication was lost and it was up to our three protagonists to investigate what happened.
What starts like a simple search and rescue scenario quickly turns into hell, as the player-controlled Captain Martin Walker and his squad have to face not only the refugees but mostly the remaining soldiers of the 33rd in a seemingly never-ending carnage. The violence in Spec Ops is excessive and showcases the anti-war sentiments of the game. Piles of mutilated bodies, very graphic scenes of burnt soldiers and civilians and the gut wrenching image of a mother protecting her child from a white phosphorus air strike leave an imprint on the brain and make the player question his decisions all the way through.
There’s still almost two weeks left to grab some of the ‘old-gen’ trophies before PlayStation 4 comes along with brand new games and challenges. Although I will be getting the new console day one, I still plan to go back to some older titles that I haven’t managed to play so far. One of those titles was Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, a sequel to a PlayStation 2 franchise, created by Sucker Punch. This time, however, it was Sanzaru games who were responsible for developing a new Sly adventure for PS3 and PS Vita. Previously, Sanzaru ported the Sly Cooper trilogy to a HD collection for PS3. There was no doubt they understood the characters and the franchise and, in the end, they did a very good job with Thieves in Time.
I have not played any of the previous Sly Cooper games but I always liked action platformers and this title was right up my alley. To be honest, the gameplay reminded me of the inFamous series, even though the story and tone of the game are obviously completely different. The structure is pretty straightforward – advance through the levels, get upgrades and new abilities to better take care of subsequent challenges. The strength of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time lies in the diversity of those challenges and gameplay elements. Sly Cooper is only one of many playable characters in the game, which include his closest friends Bentley (the brain) and Murray (the muscle) as well as five of Sly’s ancestors and his girlfriend. Each of the characters has a distinct style of play, which keeps the game fresh and interesting, even though the particular set pieces (climbing, jumping, shooting on rails, etc.) are common for this genre. However, the rythm mini-games with Murray and Carmelita or the Bentley’s hacking challenges bring a welcome break from the platforming portions of the game.