After I completed Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy a couple of weeks ago, I was really looking forward to tackling the two remaining titles in the main Jak and Daxter trilogy. I loved the platforming emphasis of the first game and, even though the camera work was lacking sometimes, I had a very fun and challenging experience. That’s why I thought that what was about to come next was even better. Naughty Dog had two more years to fix some of the controls and game modes and deliver a difficult, amazing platforming experience.
However, they decided to go in a different direction. An open world, guns, more vehicles, more varied gameplay, less platforming. I decided not to look anything up about the game before playing it, in order not to ruin the surprise (10 years after the fact but what the heck…) and indeed, I was very surprised. The game I was playing was, more or less, Jak and Daxter: Grand Theft Auto, with less emphasis on stealing cars. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for and certain parts of the game can go back to the depths of hell they came from, but I had fun with it anyway and ended up unlocking the Platinum trophy in less than two weeks.
I am a relative newcomer to PlayStation gaming. I got my PS3, my first Sony platform, just three years ago and I wasn’t really familiar with all the studios and IPs that PlayStation had to offer. Sure, I played Crash Bandicoot many years earlier but I didn’t recognize Naughty Dog until a friend recommended a little series called Uncharted to me. Still, having played and platinumed all three of Drake’s adventures, and having enjoyed The Last of Us more than other games last year, the names Jak and Daxter didn’t really ring a bell.
Luckily for me, the HD remake of the Jak and Daxter trilogy was made available to PlayStation Plus subscribers last September in Europe. I was out on holiday and with no Internet access to grind the Killzone: Mercenary Platinum, so I decided to give the platformer a go, not expecting anything and feeling that it would take me just a couple of minutes to go back to Spelunky or Stealth Inc. Well, 3 days, 4 hours and 45 minutes later, the Platinum was mine and now I’m really looking forward to beating the remaining two games in the series.
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.
Urban Trial Freestyle is a game by a Poland-based (yay!) developer, Tate Interactive. It’s a 2D racing/platformer that was originally published on PlayStation 3 and ported later to PS Vita, 3DS and, most recently, to PC on Steam. Through 5 environments, each consisting of 8 stages, the player competes in time trials (Time Attack Mode) and acrobatic challenges (Stunt Mode) on a customizable trial bike. The idea is simple – get to the finish line as fast as possible or get as many stunt points as possible. However, doing that is not always that easy.
The player finds money bags placed throughout the stages that can be used to upgrade the bike and to buy pieces of clothing. The former changes the three properties of the bike – max speed, acceleration and handling. The latter only changes the look of the biker and has no influence on the gameplay, but hey, riding a bike and doing backflips without a helmet is simply irresponsible.
There are many blog and news sites out there that give you all the latest scoops on one of the most popular entertainment platforms in the world. However, it’s not always the raw news that are interesting to gamers. What matters a lot is a sense of community with other players, the ability to exchange gaming stories that we experience through games. I do not have access to industry insiders, I will not be able to play games before they come out, I will not even be able to play most of the hot new games.
What I will share with you, however, are experiences that will feel familiar to most gamers out there. Endless hours trying to complete all the quests in that RPG (when, not if, another Fallout game comes out), struggling to get that final star in an arcade-style game, missing a critical jump in that platformer. We’ve all been that, we’ve done that. With the help of PlayStation’s trophies I want to relate what I’m going through in the many games I play on both the Sony’s Big Daddies PS3 and PS4 as well as the Little Sister PS Vita.
Come back every week for a fresh supply of the bronze, silver, gold and the rare platinum trophies. Behind every one is a story that I want to share.