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Posts Tagged ‘ps3

Platinum Review – Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PS3)

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is my absolute favorite game from the sixth-generation of consoles, even over the magnificent Eternal Darkness. I fell in love with this on the GameCube back in 2003, and I’ve tried to re-play it in every incarnation it has appeared in, including as an original Xbox game through backwards compatibility on the Xbox 360. (Sadly, it was borderline unplayable.) Fortunately, the good folks at Ubisoft commissioned a well-made, high-definition port to the PlayStation 3 that ran extremely well. The only drawback was that all the cutscenes were still in 4:3 standard definition, a relic of an earlier age in television. Indeed, this irony is not lost on me because I remember thinking that the cutscenes used to look much better than the game itself, but now the reverse is true.

Best Trophy: Prince of Sand (Gold) — you receive this trophy automatically for simply beating the game, but given how great this title is, and how endearing the characters and the voice acting all is, the very privilege of playing it again made this my favorite trophy to earn of them all.

Worst Trophy: Sands of Time (Silver) — sadly, the eponymous trophy is a bit of a nuisance. It requires you to play the game for more than ten hours; but, due to my experience with the title, I could easily beat it in five hours. Thankfully, this timer is cumulative across multiple playthroughs, which is required for other trophies anyway.  It all worked out in the end.

Special Mention Trophy: Secret of Agrabah (Gold) — I mention this trophy because I remembered where each of the ten hidden locations were without the aid of a guide. (Shows you how much I’ve played this game.) Well, all except one of them. Had I not needed another reason to replay the game for other trophies, I would have been furious at missing this one location.

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Written by Michael

19 June 2015 at 10:50 pm

Platinum Review – L.A. Noire (PS3)

Platinum number six was reminiscent of number four, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, in that it featured a huge overworld with a lot of little errands required to complete it.  That said, I really loved L.A. Noire, and I was happy to go through it again to complete this.  I still feel a great sadness that Team Bondi fell apart after the release of this tour de force, and that their next project, Whore of the Orient, will probably never see the light of day.

Best Trophy: Hollywoodland (Silver) — I normally don’t find collectible quests to be all that thrilling, but this one was special.  Even though I had played the game quite thoroughly before, I never found a single one of the fifty gold film reels required to complete this trophy on my own.  I didn’t even know they existed until I began pursuing this Platinum, in fact.  In addition to being pretty cool in and of themselves (they’re all named after films from that era), they led me to parts of the Los Angeles I hadn’t had cause to explore through the normal course of the game.  One of these, entitled The Body and Soul, was located underneath a bridge at 7th St and Santa Fe, an area I had no idea existed.  When you take the stairs down into this area, there’s a homeless community there, authentically and meticulously detailed — perhaps the only one in the game, which otherwise made L.A. seem idyllic.  This trophy made me appreciate the obvious passion Team Bondi had when making L.A. Noire.

Worst Trophy: Auto Fanatic (Silver) — there are a staggering 95 cars in L.A. Noire, all beautifully modeled.  They all handle differently, and they’re all cool in their own ways.  That said, this trophy requires you to get into and drive every single one of them; let me just say that this was one of the biggest pains in the ass I’ve ever endured for a trophy.  For a Silver, no less!  What makes matters worse is that there are a number of cars that look similar as they speed by (as many come in a variety of colors, no less), and there are parts of the city where certain cars will only appear, and others where they won’t.  This was absolutely miserable, even employing the clever method the folks at playstationtrophies.org came up with to earn this one.

Special Mention Trophy: (Silver) Public Menace — this trophy requires you to rack up $47,000 in damages to public and private property in one single case.  (That’s an astronomical $494,706 in 2015!)  Let’s just say I had a lot of fun wrecking everything in sight to try to reach this amount.

Written by Michael

16 May 2015 at 11:34 pm

Posted in Games, Reviews

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Platinum Review – The Wolf Among Us: Season 1 (PS3)

Platinum number five is similar to number one, The Walking Dead: Season 1.  The difference is that I played this Telltale game on PS3 rather than my Vita, and the experience, while still chippy, was much better.  I also found the story more interesting as well, so that improved my overall enjoyment immensely.

Best Trophy:  A Silver Bullet (Bronze) — most of the trophies in this game are chapter markers, for whatever that’s worth, and this one is no different.  That said, the showdown between Bigby and Bloody Mary was so good, so epic, that it really overshadowed the remaining chapters of this final episode.

Worst Trophy: Master Librarian (Gold) — while I bemoaned that The Walking Dead: Season 1 was an automatic Platinum, this is not the case with The Wolf Among Us: Season 1.  Extra care is needed to unlock the Book of Fables entries for each episode, which you typically do by being thorough in dialogue choices or in searching areas.  (So far, so good.)  However, there are a couple of times that you need to actually make two different, mutually exclusive choices at key moments to see each version of events.  What’s frustrating is that I like how Telltale has tried to make it feel like your playthrough is your definitive version of the story.  (Hence the importing of decisions from chapter to chapter and season to season.)  By requiring you to reload a chapter and play through it again a second time so that you may pick a different option undermines that.  The result is that I now have two versions in my head of how something happened, making the story less mine.

Special Mention Trophy: The Enchanted Land of New York City (Silver) — the trophy marks the first showdown between Bigby and Bloody Mary, but also provides some major resolution to the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum plot thread.  Awesome stuff.  After this, you just know that Bigby and Mary are headed on a collision course.

Written by Michael

9 March 2015 at 12:35 am

Posted in Games, Reviews

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Platinum Review – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3)

My fourth Platinum was a hell of a grind to finish.  I had accumulated many of the trophies over the course of what was probably a hundred hours of normal gameplay.  However, there were some notable ones that required me to make very specific decisions, which I realized I had failed to do after the fact.  Namely, I had decided to destroy the Dark Brotherhood, just to see how differently it played out compared to trying to join the assassins from other playthroughs.  Further still, I had made the decision to not become a cannibal in the The Taste of Death quest, so I failed to acquire one of the necessary Daedric artifacts required to achieve the Oblivion Walker trophy.  Both of these “mistakes” are irrevocable, so I had to start a new character just to run through those the way the game intended.  (From a design standpoint, I find that frustrating, by the way. )

Sadly, that meant not using a character I had leveled up and crafted extremely powerful weapons and armor for.  Instead, I found myself playing through the tutorial area yet again.

Best Trophy (Tie): Master (Silver) — this one requires that you level a character to 50, which is an obscene investment in time.  That said, the net result of this is that you will end up completing much of the quests, including the Civil War and the Dragonborn, as well as a myriad of other faction storylines like the Thieves Guild and the Companions.  There’s also a strong likelihood that pursuing this trophy will also result in you trying to learn other disciplines besides the one you chose at the beginning (be it swordplay, archery, magic, potioncraft, enchanting, smithing, etc.).

Dragonslayer (Gold) — the Alduin storyline, especially as it relates to the Elder Scroll component, is actually very cool.  The lore is complex, the artifacts and ruins you visit are fascinating, and it feels every bit as epic as an enormous game like this should feature for its primary story.  I was able to do both of these on my primary character, thankfully.

Worst Trophy: Oblivion Walker (Silver) — you are required to collect 15 Daedric Artifacts for this one.  Fifteen!  That means fifteen different quest lines that can range anywhere from a half hour to several hours.  This one took forever, and I was always afraid of running into some kind of bug, which was a real threat at times.  (The game’s hidden artifact counter can get screwed up in a few different places, I read.)  What’s most insulting is that this is only a Silver trophy.  Bathesda felt like it had put in 50 trophies to cover the breadth of the game’s experiences, which led to some serious dilution.  (There’s a max value that a game can have, so the developer couldn’t throw too many Golds around, for example.  In fact, there is only one Gold trophy in the entire game.)  Oblivion Walker is such a nuisance that a mere 3.6% of players have it.  Compare this to the one Gold trophy, Dragonslayer, which a staggering 30.3% of players have.

Special Mention Trophy: Master Criminal (Bronze) — in order to earn this trophy, you have to have a 1,000 gold bounty in all nine holds in Skyrim (which are sort of like confederated states).  This was hysterical to earn because it largely entailed me straight-up murdering guards in broad daylight and then fleeing for my life when everyone in a given city would try to seek revenge.

Rating: B- — there are many great trophies in this, most of which are quite satisfying to pursue.  Many of them feel natural to completionists, like me.  That said, there are too many trophies, several of which are merely used to designate incremental progress, like a trophy for reaching level 5, then 10, then 25, and then finally 50.  I would rather have seen some condensing done here, to find ways for the developer to assign higher values to some of the more difficult trophies, like Oblivion Walker.  Speaking of which, the pursuit of that one was ridiculous enough that it docked the entire score down one letter grade.

Written by Michael

16 February 2015 at 12:26 am

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Platinum Review – Minecraft: PlayStation 3 Edition (PS3)

My third Platinum was the one I felt like I needed to do just purely to make a statement about my Minecraft cred — I have purchased and played this game on PC, Xbox 360, and iOS, in addition to this release.  And I’m going to pay the $5 fee to upgrade this to play on PS4, too.  Obsessed much?

Most of the trophies in the PS3 Edition are ones you would earn through the natural course of Survival Mode, especially if you make a point of completing The End.  There are a few oddballs, though, so don’t be surprised when you’re tasked with running an insanely large rail through the overworld in one direction for one of these.

Best Trophy: The End. (Gold) — even though many people are surprised a game like Minecraft even has an ending, I enjoy that the folks at Mojang (and 4J Studios in this incarnation) have created a complex enough quest to seem worthy. You have to harvest a few rare resources and build the most advanced equipment you can to outlast the Enderdragon, which feels appropriate.  That said, the console version of this boss is a bit less daunting than the PC incarnation, as this one lacks the ability to knock you off the island and into the Void.  The acid breath attack is very cool, but I wish it weren’t the only ability the dragon had.

Worst Trophy: Return to Sender (Gold) — while there’s something very satisfying about killing a Ghast with its own fireball, the spawn rates for Ghasts in this edition are extreme enough that this trophy can present a true exercise in patience (and masochism), as your target’s buddies will try to blow you away while your focus is engaged on only the one.

Special Mention Trophy: When Pigs Fly (Gold) — this trophy is so goofy that it deserved a mention.  The notion of saddling a pig and then discovering you can’t control it, effectively making it useless, is so perfectly Minecraft that there’s little else to say.  (The PC Edition added carrots on sticks eventually, but this is still lacking here.)

Rating: A-  — as I mentioned before, most of the trophies will come naturally through playing the game, and I kind of appreciate that.  But I’m especially glad they’re not automatic, as they were in The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season.  There are ridiculous ones in this title (like killing a skeleton from 50 meters away, nearly the distance it would despawn at), but that’s okay and expected.  I’m excited to do this again for the PS4.

Written by Michael

31 August 2014 at 11:40 am

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Snap Judgment – Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time HD (PS3)

It’s rather hard to refer to this review as a snap judgment, as I’ve played through Ubisoft Montreal’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time as many as ten times now. I originally had it on the Nintendo GameCube, and it was literally my favorite game of that generation. Even though the sequels that followed were not nearly as charming or compelling, that whole trilogy is special to me because it made me start taking video-game storytelling seriously. Admittedly, The Sands of Time certainly isn’t the tour de force that The Last of Us is, but I consider this game to be an important early step in game narrative.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the whole trilogy received a high-res makeover, which made this entry palatable to play on my HDTV; sadly, the in-game cinematics were not remastered and are still SD, an unsightly sore thumb in an otherwise crisp-textured if still low-polygonal port. The amusing thing about this is that I clearly remember thinking that those very cinematics were so much better looking than the actual game back in 2003; some eleven years later, the reverse is now true.

What has stood up well is how beautiful scored the game was; the music somehow builds from being playful to being serious and desperate by the end of the game, and its progression feels completely natural. This is truly one of the biggest achievements I’ve seen in this regard. Also impressive is the general voice work, especially Yuri Lowenthal’s portrayal of the Prince; while not always perfectly delivered, he and Joanna Wasick, the voice of Farah, had a wonderful and playful chemistry in the game. There’s cheesiness to be sure, but given the game’s storybook-style tale, their interplay really works.

The gameplay isn’t quite the lofty standard it once was, given its age, especially with regard to the combat mechanics. Nevertheless, I still remember The Sands of Time as an incredible achievement in the early part of last decade, even if gaming, voice acting, and graphics have gotten considerably more refined since then. I very much enjoyed pursuing the Platinum Trophy in this game, too, and it’s worth every penny of the $14.99 it retails for on the PSN.  A

P.S.  Every time I see an Assassin’s Creed game from Ubisoft Montreal, I get a little angry because I feel like that series stole PoP’s birthright this last generation.  Even though we did get two entries in the franchise since The Sands Trilogy, it still feels like it has languished quite a bit.  Here’s hoping for a bright return in this new generation of hardware; I would love to see an open-world entry, a la the Assassin’s games.

Written by Michael

27 July 2014 at 11:39 pm

Snap Judgment – L.A. Noire (PS3)

Released more than three years ago now, Team Bondi’s magnum opus, L.A. Noire, still stands up well in the era of PS4 and Xbox One.  The resolution isn’t particularly sharp, but the MotionScan performances of the actors’ faces are still incredible — and critical to one of the primary gameplay mechanisms: interrogations.  The game’s main protagonist, Detective Cole Phelps, needs to be able to spot the difference between honesty and deceit by reading a suspect’s face.  That said, most of the actors who portray these suspects use just enough exaggeration in their facial expressions to make sure this isn’t too hard; what can be difficult, however, is knowing whether you can Doubt a suspect’s statement, or call it out as a direct Lie.  The latter requires proof, which isn’t always easily connected based on the dialog from the scene.  Nevertheless, the detecting aspect of the game, including going through the evidence of crime scenes, is really a treat.  Finding these clues and successfully interviewing suspects all contribute to how well you can close the case, though you will always be able to close them even if you screw up.  (You might accuse the wrong person, however, so you’ll want to do well.)

Less great is the vehicle chase mechanics, though I began to develop a love for those pursuits after I finally mastered the driving controls.  Speaking of, there are 95 cars in the game, which are period specific to the late 1940s.  Many of the cars handle differently as well.  This attention to detail, along with the massive recreation of eight square miles of Los Angeles (30 minutes to traverse!), is perhaps the biggest achievement for Team Bondi.

Also less great is the combat mechanics, whether we’re talking about gunplay or brawling.  It works, but it’s quite stiff.  Thankfully, the amount of time you need to spend doing these things is limited enough to not be all that big a chore.

What makes me most happy about L.A. Noire is that it tackles a genre that’s sorely under-represented (mystery) and does so in the context of reasonable historical accuracy — a timeframe that I can’t recall appearing in any other game.  There are countless World War II games, but none that examines America in the years immediately after.  The musical score and overall sound design feels incredibly appropriate to film noir of that period, as does the dialog and the writing.  There’s even an option to play the game completely in black and white!  Many of the cases are inspired by true crimes of that era, too, including The Black Dahlia murder.

Sadly, the cost of this title was so great that it financially crippled the studio (along with some other controversies).  The studio sounds all but dead, but the staff is apparently working on Whore of the Orient, which will be set in Shanghai in 1936 during a time of corruption and organized crime, and is slated for release on PS4 and Xbox One next year.  I hope that’s true, but we haven’t heard much from them in recent years.

If L.A. Noire is the only work that Team Bondi ever produces, it’s one of my favorite games of last generation.  It’s not all perfect, writing-wise, I’ll admit: without spoiling anything, I will say that the turn towards the end for Cole Phelps doesn’t feel well executed and seems to mainly have been done to serve the theme of fallibility and the lasting scars of war.  The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that how this twist makes a lot of sense on paper, but the natural development of everything before doesn’t match this.  A sign of mature writing is being willing to change the direction of your story if it develops differently than you expected; stories sometimes write themselves, in spite of a writer’s intentions.  Team Bondi resisted this and regrettably and awkwardly shoehorned the conclusion into L.A. Noire.  This isn’t enough to destroy the game, but it’s the reason I’m not awarding it an A+.  Instead:  A-

Written by Michael

21 July 2014 at 11:47 pm

Posted in Games, Reviews

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