The PS3 again shouldered most of the load of my console gaming this year, and it shined bright with exclusives this year. Let’s get right into it.
## High Points & Surprises
Infamous allowed one of my favorite PS2 devs, Sucker Punch (creators of the excellent Sly Cooper series) to do a free-world game full of super powers, electric combat, enjoyable controls, and (admittedly mild) moral choices. It all came together to be the game that tided me over for a solid month early in the year.
After being disturbed by the backwards step taken in the PS2 -> PS3 jump when it came to Sony’s flagship trivia series, Buzz: Quiz World righted all the wrongs with endlessly configurable games, significantly better online play, and more personality. Hell, Sony even finally splurged to license a few bars of Europe’s seminal song when the final round of the game – The Final Countdown – begins. What was already a good party game became a great party game.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is not without it’s flaws – the beginning is slow, some combat sequences are painful, and Naughty Dog couldn’t resist throwing Nazis and the supernatural into the plot. But with a huge list of everything else they got right, I could go on for an entire post about how much I enjoyed this game. Worth getting a PS3 for.
“No risk, no reward.” describes both the gameplay and Atlus’ decision to release Demon’s Souls in the US. As the gaming world starves for solid next-gen RPGs, Atlus took From Software’s punishingly difficult action RPG and threw it down in front of US gamers. Having double dipped – my Korean copy sits next to my US one – I can understand why multiple friends have given up in disgust at a game that often feels unfair or cheap. But having inched my way through the darkness to lay waste to the monsters dancing in the shadows, I can think of few games in my life that felt so rewarding to scrape through.
When the iPhone app store launched, Critter Crunch was one of the first games to be downloaded, loved for a few days, and then yanked off the phone to make room for others. But this year’s PSN release feels like the way the game should’ve been in the first place – beautiful drawn artwork, cutely inventive puzzle gameplay, and full of personality.
It took a while, but now Dylan Cuthbert’s studio can release a generic title for a game and a few random screenshots and get the fans frothing. Luckily, PixelJunk Shooter excelled as a hybrid shooter/puzzle/fluid dynamics simulator. Hard to explain, but harder to put down.
Sidhe created the excellent Gripshift in 2005 (and again in 2007); 2009 brought Shatter, which broke my head with multi-directional brick busting. Extra credit for an amazing electronic soundtrack, which you should buy.
## Low Points & Disappointments
Kudos to the team who made Killzone 2, as it simulated running around in heavy body armor better than any game I’ve played yet. Unfortunately it never clicked in single player, and online was a near disaster. A perk system that rewarded the grinders meant I couldn’t compete; a standard mode that feature multiple short objective rounds meant I often had to wonder if my teammates didn’t understand how to read. All in all, a let down.
I appreciate that Sony is finding talent in the demoscene to make software, but there’s no reason that detuned. should have cost any money.
Last year, I complained about Jeopardy in this section. The presentation was “horrible” – a combination of there being no announcer and a multiple choice answer method. Wheel Of Fortune fixes the input method by nature of not being a trivia game, but still doesn’t have anyone talking. A complete failure; I look forward to Sony ruining another game show property on PSN in the future. (You know one of the many reasons I like Buzz? Because the game actually HAS VOICE WORK.)