I’ve been toying with reviewing my current-gen games for a while, but kept putting it off for no reason in particular. Then, on Tuesday, I wrote my review for Far Cry 3. Spoiler: I love it. Then the review disappeared into the vapor. No Bueno. So I figured now is the time to go to my back collection, and start doing some quick hit reviews of games I played this generation.
First up: Little Big Planet
This game absolutely surprised me. I am a “creative professional”, and as such, I am always looking for a good outlet of my creativity. I also love a good platformer. This game managed, on it’s own, to be the best platformer since Mario 3, in my opinion. Some hate on the “floaty” controls, but all those things make it feel more old-school to me. the fact that you could adjust Mario’s direction in midair is part of what made the game WORK. A decent single player story, with lots of goofy characters, and bright colorful world brought me right back to the days on my NES, back to what made me fall for videogames in the first place.
Then you add in the level creator, which has now made literally MILLIONS of levels? It is simply amazing. Is every level great? Of course not. Does every level have at least a bit of heart in it? Yes. There is a reason I was first in line at the NYC Sony Store for the launch of Little Big Planet 2, where I got to play the game with people trying to set a world record for almost an hour, meet Jeff Rubenstein (AKA Zombie Blognack for the IGN fans out there), and get some nice signed swag. But mostly, it was to thank Media Molecule for the first game I got a platinum trophy for.
Gran Turismo 5
This game is a tricky review, as it is so hot and cold in so many ways. Are you using a control, or a wheel? Do you have a TV for sound, or a sound system? Do you care more about the realism of the driving, or do you want a smooth experience? Each of these could effect your feelings for the game to a large degree on their own. Together they can create a huge difference. I happen to have a decent 6.1 sound system, a racing wheel with force feedback, and I LOVE a sim racer. To me, Gran Turismo 5 is ALMOST everything I wanted. The cars sound, and FEEL great. You can, with a feedback wheel, really feel the moment your tires are about to lose traction because you are pushing to far. You can feather the throttle perfectly into a corner, and throttle up JUST SO on the way out to get even more grip without oversteer.
Even for me, however, the UI and menus seem straight out of GT 2. Some things are better, but a racing series that really guides you through most of the series in the game would be a huge improvement.
And from what I hear, if you don’t have a pretty good sound system, the audio can get pretty mediocre. Not a game changer, but it can be an issue.
All in all, I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a sim-racer, but not an arcade racer fan. It’s not… fun… in the same way Mario Kart 64 or Need For Speed Underground was. It’s fun in the way Battletoads was. It kicks your ass, without cheating, and makes you want to keep going back to shave off seconds, because you are making yourself better, and the challenge itself is a BLAST.
The first inFamous was the second game I platinumed, and with good reason. I was always in a weird in-between place when it came to superheros. I LOVED anything I could find on TV- TMNT, X-MEN, Batman: The Animated Series. But I never had access to the comics for some reason, and therefor I never fully got into the medium. inFamous gave me a chance to enjoy the true origin story of a superhero in it’s original form. And I could shape the character into a hero or villain as I saw fit! Sure, to really rack up trophies and get super powerful you had to play a “good” and a “bad” playthrough, you couldn’t really walk the grey moral line. But also most of the choices were pretty black and white, so there were rarely things that in my “I’m me, a nice, decent, non-asshat” where I wanted to make the “bad” choice.
This game gave a great story of being accused of being a criminal, only to find, slowly, that you have superpowers, and have to make the choice: do you return the vitriol humankind is giving you because they are scared? Or do you rise above it, and help them to spite themselves. Either choice is a tough one, and is legitimately made of dozens of smaller choices. This was the first game I played that gave me that kind of organic choice, and it 100% pulled me in. It will always have a special place to me as the first game that made me feel like I had control of the universe I was in.
OK, that’s it for now, but there will be more of these quick hit reviews to come, with more custom box-art too.