Thursday, December 18, 2008
I picked up a PS3 a few weeks ago. The number of exclusive games for the system currently and soon-to-be available finally pushed me to pool my resources and complete my current generation console collection. Last weekend I also scored a Playstation Portable from the random gift draw at my company holiday party. That, plus the consoles and my Nintendo DS, means that I have fully joined the current gen videogame club.
(I'm going to ignore the iPhone for now until a truly amazing game comes out for it.)
I'll say it right now: the PS3 is an intimidating console. Physically, it's an almost ridiculously large piece of metal and plastic. It seems to almost dominate my entire entertainment setup. It's dark, shiny monolith makes the Wii look utterly pathetic in comparison.
Even the interface conspires to make me feel like I've entered a club that nobody invited me to. The XMB is as black as the hardware that houses it. The number of options underneath each category, especially under the settings section, is dizzying. While I'm sure I'll get used to it, moving around seems to generally take a few too many button presses.
I downloaded Home and briefly played around with it. Going from the dark XMB to the bright white initial Home screen was jarring, and made me think that Home is even more cynical an attempt to reach the Wii crowd than the 360's Avatars. It even features the silly "soothing" music that the Avatar editor has, and that both are again imitating from the Wii.
The controller itself is a mixed bag. Like the PS2 controller, the DualShock 3 feels too small and light in my hands. The d-pad and shoulder buttons are much much better than those on the 360 controller. Seriously, Microsoft. Just license the d-pad patents from Nintendo and Sony. It's worth it. Wireless is of course nice, and even better is not having to buy batteries or rechargable battery packs to keep the juice flowing.
Trophies and the online community integration are pale shadows of Microsoft's offerings, of course. No surprises there.
Of course, games are why we buy consoles. I picked up LittleBigPlanet with the console, and when I got home I immediately downloaded Super Stardust HD, Echochrome, Everyday Shooter, PixelJunk Eden, and Linger in Shadows.
LittleBigPlanet, unfortunately, has been disappointing. In Super Mario Galaxy, I pretty much always know how high, how far, and how fast Mario will jump at any particular time. In LBP, there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to how Sackboy will behave at any particular time. He builds up momentum incredibly quickly, so sometimes it'll seem like I'll make a jump, only to slide right off the other side of a platform. Sometimes I'll hit the jump button and he simply refuses to do anything. Moving objects are particularly frustrating, as often times Sackboy will land cleanly but then slip off, often to his firey or watery doom. It can also be hard to tell when you need to move forward or backward in order to catch a ramp or other object. I think it's great that Media Molecule have made such a full featured level editor, but the underlying game just doesn't seem to completely work as a platformer.
I've only played Super Stardust HD once so far. The graphics are great, and the various weapons and enemies are fun. However, I found my thumbs constantly slipping off the sticks during the frantic movement and shooting. I think most of that comes from not being used the controller, and trying to cope with its small size.
Echochrome is an interesting case. Having levels based on M.C. Escher drawings is a neat idea, but the graphics are so sparse, and the music so conducive to drowsiness, that the only real stimulation the game offers is the puzzle solving itself. While the 5 laws the game revolves around are interesting, they don't carry the game enough for me. The harder levels just require more convoluted combinations of the 5 laws. The game reminded me of reading a college textbook: an overall dry experience.
I really like Everyday Shooter, even though I'm really bad at it so far. It's mostly the music. It's catchy and memorable, like Geometry Wars' music. I've managed to get to the third level after half a dozen tries, but I'm not giving up yet. Figuring out how to chain points in each level adds a nice bit of puzzle solving to the initial playthroughs of each level.
PixelJunk Eden is as good, and frustrating, as I've read. I love the art, flinging around each garden is soothing, and it's also likely to induce streams of profanity when I tumble all. The way. Down. I haven't gotten out of the first garden yet, but my only complaint so far is that it seems a bit repetitive. Get one spectra, then two, then three, and so on. Maybe that changes in later gardens.
Linger in Shadows was pretty interesting, though it left me confused and slightly depressed each time I played. I feel like it stopped rather suddenly, and I wish I knew what happens next. Perhaps there's some hidden method of unlocking more content? The color palette, the look of the strange flying robot, and the flowing blackness reminded me very strongly of Shadow of the Colossus, which is no bad thing. Even though it's just supposed to be an interactive art piece, it made me wish it was a full game.
Overall I'm happy with my purchase. I think I'll be picking up Uncharted: Drake's Fortune next. It's supposed to be one of the best games on the PS3, so hopefully it's worth the purchase.