My adventure with the HD remake of the Jak and Daxter trilogy on the Vita came to an end. I finally beat Jak 3, which I enjoyed more than Jak 2, even though the games look, sound and play very similarly. Naughty Dog pretty much reused the engine from the previous game, upscaling the models and upgrading the audio-visuals. Unfortunately, the Vita versions suffer from dramatic frame rate issues, especially with many characters on the screen at the same time. Still, the visual quality is not the most important thing in this 10-year old title and there’s no denying that the game is fun to play, with diverse missions, challenging platforming sections and cool boss battles. And you should know by now how I feel about boss battles…
I bought Killzone Mercenary the week it launched here in Europe and it was my first card released games I got for the Vita. The handheld being my travel console of choice, I prefer digital games, since I don’t want to carry the cards with me. Yet, it’s nice to get a physical game once in a while and since I expected big things from Killzone, I decided to add its box to my collection. I’ve written about my adventures with Killzone Mercenary before and I’ve been enjoying the game ever since I started playing it five months ago.
Being the trophy whunter I am, I considered having a go at the Platinum trophy but the prospect of spending many hours playing online and thinking I would suck at it made it seem unreachable. However, it turned out that multiplayer was fun and I was able to compete with many of other players and after around 50 hours of gameplay the final trophy popped up in the upper right corner of the Vita’s display.
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.
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.
And now, to the polls!
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.
One thing I learned from playing Hitman: Absolution is that I am not very good at stealth games. To be fair, this was the first game of that genre I played since the original Thief on PC, and I did my first Hitman walkthrough on Hard. Still, it was a much bigger challenge than I initially expected it to be. Following my gaming motto, ‘one bronze trophy at a time’, four and a half months and one glitch later, I got the Platinum trophy and I will move on, at least for now. In the Platinum Tracker posts I will briefly describe how I felt about the game in a mini-review format and I will also write about a few specific trophies that influenced my experience with the title.
Blood, sweat and fireworks
I always believed that stealth FPP/TPP games were fun and different, in a good way, than your straightforward action/adventure titles or shooters. They present more of a challenge to the player’s brain and not only his or her reflexes. They force the player to be patient, observe the environment and have a well thought-out plan instead of running around, guns blazing. That’s the theory. In practice, it turns out that trying to beat one section of a single story chapter for over an hour, constantly being spotted by the enemy, isn’t that enjoyable. I admit that maybe I was too optimistic trying to do all that without any disguises and refusing to use guns, sticking to Agent 47’s favorite garrote or simply his bare hands to get rid of the opponents. When I finally decided to change my approach about one third into the game, it picked up pace and the experience was much better. Also, isn’t it more fun to run around Chinatown in a chipmunk costume, setting a guy on fire with fireworks rather than sneaking around with a piece of wire? I believe it is.