keskiviikko 26. joulukuuta 2012

COLLECTION 2012 Part II: Sony

As time goes by, my interest in games for the original PlayStation is slowly waning. Although 8-bit games from the 80's stay fresh since developers didn't try too hard, games from the fifth generation keep getting old, with only the most enduring masterpieces surviving the harvest. The one game I got this year is one of those games, but as it happens, I don't really consider it a PlayStation game.

Final Fantasy V | Square | 1998
Notes: Digital (PSOne Classics) | EU
Comments: Probably the most overlooked and underrated Final Fantasy game of them all, at least overlooked, and solely due to its confusing development and release history. Final Fantasy V had many things going for it - the Job system was a fantastic innovation which was later reinvented for several later installments in the series, it had great music and an immersive world with lots of sidequests, which was somewhat new for the series. The story, which is usually one of this franchise's strongest elements, was arguably the only thing about the game that was not nearly up to par. I got the game from the PlayStation Network for €9.99, mainly for my ex-girlfriend who never got around to trying it, but I'd be lying if I said there was nothing in it for me - like an official, albeit digital, version of the game in my possession.


In contrast to my disregard of PlayStation titles, I would love to go out to shop for treats for the PlayStation 2, but it's hard to just stumble on GOOD PlayStation 2 games nowadays - I usually get distracted by something else if I'm shopping online. Retailers still hold PlayStation 2 games, but they're usually sports or kids' titles - if they have something better and more unique, it's usually sold off in two minutes. For the only PlayStation 2 addition of the year, I once again turned to the PlayStation Network - on which Sony began selling PS2 games late last year, to many a gamer's delight.

Deus Ex | Ion Storm & Westlake Interactive | 2002
Notes: Digital (PS2 Classics) | EU
Comments: Simply put, it's like this: I downloaded this game (for €9.99) as part of my effort to merely get into the series. I've tried so hard to not just like Deus Ex, but love it, 'cause on the surface it's got everything going for it. Also, since I had already purchased Invisible War for the Xbox and Human Revolution for the Xbox 360, it was only my natural instinct to buy this game once it popped up on the PSN. As is the case with Human Revolution, I like the game, but I'm far from loving it, and I've refused from touching the series by the ways of review before I can at least acknowledge the subject(s) of people's interest in it.


It's funny that a few months into my purchase of the Xbox 360, I felt I had abandoned the PlayStation 3 in terms of buying retails. Even one of my best friends sneered that I've turned into an Xbot. However, as the numbers indicate, that's not the case - I've only avoided buying PS3 games 'cause I'm running out of hard drive space and can't afford a new storage device just now, and due to what I said earlier of Xbox 360 versions of multi-platform games being easier to find. I still love the PS3, and Christmas 2012 marks the fifth Christmas of our fruitful relationship - the first one without a recently purchased PS3 game, though.

Batman: Arkham Asylum - Game of the Year Edition | Rocksteady Studios | 2010
Notes: Blu-Ray | PAL | SLES-00827/P [PLATINUM]
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: Some of you know what I'm like. If there's a successor in my shelf, I find it very hard to breathe without the predecessor - even if I've already beaten the predecessor up, down and sideways, and even if only an ugly Platinum casing is available. Yeah, so I bought Arkham Asylum 'cause it's a great game, and I already had Arkham City, which I couldn't resist buying back in the day; I didn't own Arkham Asylum, but I had completed it twice. I wanted a PS3 version of the game, and the Platinum version was the only one available at GameStop. It was still the same game, the price (€24.90) fit my budget, so what the hell! ...And just a day or two later, a mint original version of the GOTY popped up in the store's pre-owned games' catalogue, five euros off the new Platinum's price. Sigh.

Borderlands | Gearbox Software, Critical Mass Interactive & Demiurge Studios | 2009
Notes: Blu-Ray | NTSC | BLUS-30386
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: So far, my only NTSC retail, which - among other things - means that it's very hard for me to get working DLC for it from Europe. Well, no matter, since I don't like the game as much as I expected, especially after two or three hours into it. It's like a poor man's Fallout 3 to me, but with a standout Tarantino-ish style I definitely approve of. I bought this off a friend who sold all of his PS3 games after realizing he hadn't owned a PS3 for quite some time, for €12.50.

Castlevania: Harmony of Despair | Konami | 2011
Notes: Digital (PSN) | EU
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: The only game I leeched from my friend's account this year (for now, and it was actually last year, AFTER Collection was published). It's got a wonderful concept: it's traditional Castlevania gameplay, in traditional 2D Castlevania environment, with vintage characters and kick-ass music. Sadly, it makes no sense at all as a single-player experience, and even the co-op gets boring quickly. We want straightforward levels in the vein of the very first Castlevania, not some puzzle rooms. Around this time last year, I would've hesitated to say this, but now I can state that I'd rather play Lords of Shadow, without blinking.

Dante's Inferno | Visceral Games | 2010
Notes: Blu-Ray | PAL | BLES-00713
Additional downloadable content: Dark Forest, Trials of St. Lucia
Comments: Ever since this game's release up to May when I bought it for a bargain of €9.90, I wanted to play this game so bad. A third-person melee action game influenced by God of War, based on the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, sounded a little too good for all the subpar reviews it got. Well, it's exactly like God of War, only the level and character design suck sacks, and when it comes to the brutal difficulty of the game, even my friend who appreciates challenging games - he seriously loves Ninja Gaiden, for example - said that it definitely crosses the line of not being fun to play anymore, be there fairly placed checkpoints or not, since it's difficult for so many wrong reasons. I will force my way through the game when I have the time and the interest to go back to it, and when I accomplish that task, a full-length review will be up, pronto.

Dead Space: Ignition | Visceral Games & Sumo Digital | 2010
Notes: Digital (PSN) | EU
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: Speaking of Visceral Games and the disappointments I've endured by them... Dead Space: Ignition is more than a disappointment. Here's the deal: I downloaded this hybrid of an interactive comic book and puzzle game when I found my assumption of it being on the game disc of the Dead Space 2 Limited Edition to be false. I was in a "Dead Space mode" after buying Dead Space 2, there were in-game rewards for Dead Space 2 awarded for the completion of Ignition, and it was only €4.99. How bad could even the most different game be as long as there's a quality brand to back it up? ...BAD. REALLY BAD. That's all I'm going to say right now. The game was next in line for the last Monster Mash, I'll make sure it's the first in line for the next one.

Dead Space 2 | Visceral Games | 2011
Notes: Blu-Ray | PAL | BLES-01040 [LIMITED EDITION]
Additional downloadable content: Severed
Comments: I reviewed this game for the Xbox 360 last year, and as you might remember, I ultimately found it a moderate disappointment after an overtly strong beginning. I always thought it'd be nice to own, though, especially the Limited Edition, since it includes a missing piece in Dead Space: Extraction - not a great game, but playable, unlike that fucking waste Ignition. I bought the game back in July when I found a pre-owned copy of the Limited Edition for €16.90 - just about the highest price I was ever willing to pay for the game, after all I bought its superior predecessor for under a ten. Still haven't even really started with the PS3 version, I'm in no rush to see the game to the end again, but I believe that's inevitable in the near future - I will most certainly at least TRY Dead Space 3.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 | Square Enix & tri-Ace | 2011
Notes: Blu-Ray | PAL | BLES-01269 [NORDIC EDITION]
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: This year's last - and probably least - addition to my Final Fantasy collection, which has now grown to a total of 11 official and legitimate games. I never finished Final Fantasy XIII, which already makes this direct sequel to that disappointment of the decade a forbidden quest for me, but even without that limitation, I'm not too interested in this game. The little I've played it has looked better than any minute of the previous game, but not much. I will play it once I do finish the previous game, and finding the inner strength for that might take a while, especially since I'll pretty much have to start it from scratch. Bought this one for the FF collection's sake, and because it was a bargain like no other. It was a brand new copy of a special edition, four months had passed since the European release of the game, and it's part of the most valuable video game franchises of all time - €19.80. Nineteen-fuckin'-eighty. No matter what the game's like, if a brand new copy of a Final Fantasy game pops up at that price, I'll buy it without a moment of hesitation. Even if it's Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon.

God of War III | SCE Studio Santa Monica | 2010
Notes: Blu-Ray | PAL | BCES-00510
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: Even though I completed the game well over a year and a half ago, God of War III was always bound to end up in my collection sooner or later. The original issue of the game turned out a real pain to find, but learning from my mistake with Batman: Arkham Asylum, I chose not to give in to a Platinum or Essentials version of the game, and finally stumbled on a pre-owned copy of an original issue at the fair price of €19.90. I pre-ordered a Special Edition of the upcoming God of War: Ascension at the same time, and thus my God of War collection became complete.

God of War Collection Volume II | Ready at Dawn Studios | 2011
Notes: Blu-Ray | PAL | BCES-01277
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: The only PS3 game I bought whole year from somewhere other than GameStop or a friend, I picked this up from a supermarket, where it was priced €29.90, about 7-15 euros cheaper than at any well equipped retailer. As I stated in the reviews I wrote of the two games featured just a while back, I was surprised at the quality of these games, which is notably higher than any previous major ports of handheld games I've played, and I'm willing to bet that at least Chains of Olympus is even better than the original, with a real controller replacing the bulky PSP.

Heavy Rain - Move Edition | Quantic Dream | 2010
Notes: Blu-Ray | PAL | BCES-00802/P [PLATINUM]
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: I wanted this game for my own, wasn't too crazy about the Move Edition ('cause I don't have Move), and definitely wasn't positively apeshit about a Platinum casing. My then-girlfriend pressured me into getting the game for €24.90 back in April, due to her infatuation with "free" DLC and I kind of had to give in after some vocal hesitation, 'cause she was acting as the bank. The DLC ain't too good and I'm more than pissed with the Platinum's technical differences with the original; I had almost nailed all of the Trophies in the game the last time around, but that turned out to matter little as the Platinum won't read a save file from another version. Time will tell if I have the interest to blast through the story a million more times in addition to the million times I have already beaten it.

ICO & Shadow of the Colossus | Team ICO & Bluepoint Games | 2011
Notes: Blu-Ray | PAL | BCES-01097
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: Never played ICO, gave the original Shadow of the Colossus to a friend who appreciated it as a reward for a noble deed. Never planned to buy this HD collection of these two cult games, but I guess I always wished for a new chance with Shadow of the Colossus. Haven't played this at all yet, actually it's not even officially mine, it's my ex-girlfriend's with whom I'm not in speaking terms for now, so I guess that kind of makes it mine. That, her usual disregard for console games, and the fact I hold the receipt - dated April 2012, €49.90. One of this year's pricier purchases.

Journey | thatgamecompany | 2012
Notes: Digital (PSN) | EU
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: The last game on the list which directly involves my summer swing. She paid for this download after reading about the game on one of her friends' Facebook status, but if I remember it right, she never even caught a glimpse of the game. I played it, completed it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Another extremely enjoyable, surreal yet beautiful game by the same guys who made Flower - also their last PSN exclusive.

Limbo | Playdead | 2011
Notes: Digital (PSN) | EU
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: An impressive indie effort by the Danish developers Playdead - a very original horror game with a message... BUT, not quite as good as the demo made me believe, and not quite worth its high price of €12.95. It's just the kind of game I might appreciate a little more in a few years, though, so I'll go for another round some time in the future and see if it strikes me any different.

Mortal Kombat - Komplete Edition | NetherRealm Studios | 2012
Notes: Blu-Ray | PAL | BLES-01508
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: By the time I finally got around to buying this game, there was a Komplete Edition available, so I bought it, and for the PS3 'cause I heard - and could definitely imagine - rough criticism on playing Mortal Kombat with a digital pad, the only way it's meant to be played, on the Xbox 360. Took a while to find a PS3 version, but I stumbled on a brand new copy for €29.80 at GameStop's Summer Sale. This game made most of my gaming summer, and reminded me what was once so great about fighting games. It's a traditional, not to mention EXTREMELY BRUTAL fighting game, and my all-time favourite in the genre. The Komplete Edition has some downsides to it, like all of the original's unlockable items being unlocked from the very beginning, which more than "kind of" tones down on the excitement. But, it is great, and there's absolutely no need for DLC. Completing the arcade mode with all characters has been hanging for a while, I'll get to it when I have the necessary couple of hours to spare.

Resident Evil 6 | Capcom | 2012
Notes: Blu-Ray | PAL | BLES-01465
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: Resident Evil changes with the times, too bad it's not for the better. Resident Evil 6 is like a compilation of three (ultimately four) near-identical game/movie hybrids, all of which you need to play through to see the true ending. It's entertaining, but could be so much richer in content and variety, and more efficient and consistent in the teased differences between gameplay experiences. Pre-ordered the standard version which was tagged with a multiplayer map exclusive to GameStop pre-orders, and mainly because the special cost honey I wasn't prepared to pay for a single game - I'm glad I didn't.

The Saboteur | Pandemic Studios, Kalloc Studios & Point of View | 2009
Notes: Blu-Ray | PAL | BLES-00743
Additional downloadable content: -
Comments: An EA-financed Grand Theft Auto clone, starring a skilled engineer and race car driver on a personal vendetta against the Nazi regime in times of World War II. An interesting set-up, not too much of a game especially for someone who's grown to expect the GTA standard from these types of games. This is the Czech version of the game, ended up with it via the same friend who sold me Borderlands - the Czech subtitles have to be changed to English every single time the game's started up, which is kinda weird. Although my friend said he played the game - and enjoyed it very much (?) - he hadn't used the new retail's DLC code. Too bad for my completism's sake, customer support for the game ended just a while into the game's release (due to the collapse of Pandemic Studios), so I couldn't get the DLC either, not by code and not from the PSN.

SingStar | London Studio | 2012
Notes: Digital (XMB) | EU
Comments: Every PlayStation owner's favourite skeleton in the closet became free to use and play in October, and it wasn't just free, but a mandatory CrossMediaBar application via a hardware update. Some people seemed to have a huge beef with it just popping up on the XMB with no option to remove it, but I like it, since a few of my friends have SingStar games I can use with the app, and I've got about ten songs I downloaded a few years ago for a few nights of fun in stock. Admit it or not, SingStar's one of the greatest party games Sony has to offer, and making it free to use, not to mention compatible with every single SingStar game for the PS2 AND the PS3, was a great move - paying for songs you really want to sing is way better than paying for a retail game which usually features a couple of good songs and a whole lot of crap (with the exception of SingStar Queen, which is one of the greatest music games ever made).

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