The Last of Us was my favorite game of 2013 and one of the best, if not the best, PS3 games I’ve ever played. I remember that the game was supposed to come out on a Friday and I placed my preorder weeks before the release. To my surprise, I got an e-mail on Wednesday before the launch date telling me to come over to the store and pick up the game. For whatever reason, I got The Last of Us two days before the official release date. Unfortunately, I was too busy to get into it and I didn’t want to fragment my experience so I still had to wait until the weekend to play through it. However, I decided to at least see how the game looks and I played through the prologue and it blew me away. The visuals and the sounds were amazing but, most of all, the story that began to unfold was breathtaking.
More than half a year has passed since the launch of The Last of Us, which I already beat 3 times, but on Valentine’s Day 2014 Naughty Dog did something they had never done before and released a single-player add-on to their game, bringing us an extra story chapter – Left Behind. I divided this post into three parts, first giving you my non-spoilery impressions of the game, then moving into spoiler territory and finishing with a short trophy guide. I encourage you to leave your comments and impressions below but make sure you’ve beaten the single player campaign of The Last of Us and the Left Behind chapter before diving into the latter two parts of the post!
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.
I had to take a break from all the platforming madness that comes with the Jak and Daxter Trilogy and decided to go for a shorter, more story-driven experience. I’ve been hearing good things about Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons but I was cautions enough to avoid spoilers, believing I would find the time to play this game some day. The truth is, not much time is needed to play through Brothers but it does leave an impression, similar to titles such as Journey, which was among the top games of 2012. In Brothers, just like in Journey, not a single (understandable) word is spoken, although there is much more direct communication in form of body language and pseudo-talk. Still, the main source of entertainment, although I don’t think this is the best word to use here, comes from the visual prompts and the display of emotions by our protagonists.
The beginning, the story takes us to a world of Nordic-like mythos, where we see the younger of the titular brothers on a hill, by a tombstone, remembering his tragically departed mother. A cut-scene shows the woman drowning during a storm, her son not being able to drag her back up to the rowboat. The reminiscing is interrupted by the older brother, who needs help transporting their ill father to the village doctor. It turns out that the only way to save the only remaining parent is for the boys to go on a long and dangerous journey to a mysterious place, where they might be able to find the medicine. Not thinking twice and not looking back, the two brothers start their mission and let the player join their adventure.
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.
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.