Any technology which is distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.

From 2600 to 3

Posted: August 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Soapbox | No Comments »
PS3 Slim

PS3 Slim

So after years of not owning a console since the Atari 2600, I finally went out and got myself a PS3. Actually, this happened 3 weeks ago, but I’ve been to busy to write about it! So why a PS and not an XBox? Well, like any other good consumer, I looked at the exclusive titles Most of the exclusives on the XBox are FPSes, and I don’t really think that FPS’s have a legitimate place on consoles. The controls are so obviously clunky, as opposed to the simple point and click action of the mouse. So FPS, RTS, and even some kinds of RPGs… those are for the PC.

Naturally, I bought a bunch of games together with it. Unfortunately, God of War III, which was one of the most compelling reasons to go for the PS3, was out of stock. But I’ve had plenty of others to keep me occupied till I can lay my grubby hands on a copy. So let’s see what I learned from my $700 investment.

Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain

This game by Quantic Dreams is definitely one of a kind, totally unlike anything I’ve played before. The closest I can think of is those adventure games like Phantasmagoria or Longest Journey. But this is so much more emotive. The writing was definitely top notch, and the game flowed very well, much like an interactive movie. The UI, I thought was spectacular. It was discreet enough not to be in your face, but distinct enough to hint you on as to what you are supposed to do next. It was also not quite 2D, but embedded into the 3D world.

Another interesting thing is that there are no game saves to return to. Every choice or action you make is final. The story is quite linear, but has enough branches to accommodate for your occasional failures. In my play-through, almost every one of my main characters died in some way or other, and not all of them intentional! I would definitely replay through this again to see what would happen if I did things differently.

Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII

This was the next game I played. To tell the truth, I have never, ever, ever, completed a Final Fantasy game before. And this was no exception. Make no mistake, it is an incredibly pretty game, with all the colourful effects and striking attacks. The combat system was decent, giving you enough things to do, but not outstanding. Eventually, just like all the others, it became to repetitive. Soon, the only thing motivating you to complete the game is the storyline. The story, while cohesive, is not riveting. This is probably due to the large amount of repetitive combat you go through in between each scene, leaving little attachment for the characters, unlike Heavy Rain.

While I can say I like this more than VII and VIII as far as gameplay goes, that’s about all I can give it. There are much more interesting RPGs out there like DragonAge and Fallout 3 (both of which I played on PC ).

Dante’s Inferno

Dante's Inferno

Dante's Inferno

I was looking forward to playing this for two reasons. First, it’s probably the closest thing I can find to God of War till I can get that. Second, it’s toted as the game with the most amount of gratuitous nudity, which is never a bad thing.

It started out remarkably well. Full props on presentation and the depiction of hell. The 2D western-style-anime-panel-art thing was pretty dramatic, and the story made pretty clear. Combat was just like I saw on Youtube, running around crazily smacking things all over the place. The controller is indeed very well suited for this sort of game, especially with the dual analog sticks.

After a while though, it did start getting repetitive. It’s the same sequence of buttons you mash, wading through hordes and hordes of enemies. The atmosphere, while suitably oppressive, had no breaks or changes. As such, it ended up rather dreary, the combat becoming more a chore than enjoyment. I waded through Lust and partway into Gluttony before I set it aside for the next game.

Metal Gear Solid 4

Metal Gear Solid 4

Metal Gear Solid 4

This is one solid game. At the beginning, the controls were rather complicated and unintuitive. However, as I got used to it, it grew on me and I started appreciating the way they make use of every single button. The sheer amount of things you can do is pretty  amazing. More than that, the cutscenes all look amazing, even if they are played out using in-game graphics. This allows a smooth blend from cutscene to action without any pause or hiccups, resulting in a very slick and smooth flow.

The story behind the game is also one of the strong points. Not only is it suitably complex, but the characters are fleshed out enough that you can get attached to them and emphathise with what they are going through. I particularly liked the scenes where the small girl is frying eggs, for some strange reason. It’s just odd and is always there, much like the “Enchantment!” boy in Dragonage.

Sneaking around and getting the drop on the goons is definitely fun, somewhat like a hi-definition puzzle game. When I mess up and end up in full-fledged combat though, my feeling that FPSes have no place on a console only gets reinforced as I struggle to position my crosshairs accurately without the camera flying all over the place. Fortunately, the  game designers took that into account, making the goons stand still for suitable periods of time so you may get off a proper shot. How multiplayer console FPSes work is hard to fathom.

Bayonetta

Bayonetta

Bayonetta

I can’t describe this game as anything but pure unadulterated fun. The presentation is highly stylized, reflected not only in the impossible dimensions of the lead character, but also in the choice of music. Never would I have imagined slaying hordes of angels to the tune of  “Fly me to the Moon”.

The heart and soul of the game is the combat system. Almost all the combos are there for you right off the bat, with a few special ones available for purchase. Every time a scene is loading you get to practise your combos in  a sort of test room. Boss fights feel like boss fights, with their distinct and sometimes whacky mechanics. They even return later as regular mobs in twos or even threes. The “witch time” system slows down time everytime you dodge something at the last second, giving you some sense of control in all the mayhem, as well as the illusion that you actually are skilled enough to pull it off.

The story itself is rubbish. Either that, or I completely don’t get it. However, the cutscenes are sometimes quite awesome in their own right. Even if they don’t make a lot of sense, they score on the “coolness” front. This is one game that I will be playing for quite some time!

Overall Impressions

There’s definitely a difference between console gaming and PC gaming. For one thing, not one of these games, at any point in time, crashed. I do not know what happens on a PS3 if a game crashes, and that’s probably a good thing. Not having to deal with a myriad number of hardware configurations certainly helps. You can see developers exploit this as much as they can when they go with over-the-top effects. Why not use every single cycle, eh?

Another point is the cultural difference. Most of the games I play on the PC are heavily western-influenced. On the PS3 however, I see a lot more Japanese games. The flavor is most certainly different. There’s a lot more attention payed to style and flash, and the humor is much more in-your-face. There’s a lot more button bashing, as compared to the more measured American and European games.

The next time round when I go on a shopping spree, I’ll be looking at God of War III, either Super Street Fighter IV or Tekken 6, Little Big Planet, and whatever else I can find out there. So far though, I do believe I have come away from the whole experience with a wealth of pointers and insights when it comes to game design and execution. Certainly a worthwhile business investment! ( yeah, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! )



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