PSN

The Sun Rises – Okami HD (PS3)

Okami HD is the remastered version of the PlayStation 2 title made by Clover studios and published by Capcom which was released in the UK back in 2006.

Set in the ancient land of Nippon (Japan); you play as Amaterasu, the reincarnated goddess of the sun who has been sent back to earth. Together with your little sidekick, a woodland sprite named Issun, you travel across the country in order to destroy the malevolent forces that are wreaking havoc on the land and its inhabitants. Over the course of the game you discover  new locations, take on ferocious creatures and collect new powers for Amaterasu’s ‘Celestial Brush’, making  better equipped to fight off the demons.

So what has been added to the PS3 HD version?

Well first up is obviously the graphics; the stunning sumi-e style art is back and now in glorious 1080p. Every detail is  a lot clearer than both the PS2 or Wii versions with cut-scenes and gameplay continuing to be pretty much indistinguishable from each other.

The music is elegant and fits perfectly with any setting, whether it’s a wide open field or the lair of a ferocious beast.

The combat is an excellent combination of melee action and the Celestial Brush, making Amaterasu a force to be reckoned with. The brush can be used outside of battles as well. You can use it to with help solving puzzles or just so you can change it from night to day; the Celestial Brush is a handy tool. There’s also a levelling system for the brush. Doing good deeds or by defeating bad guys will give you ‘Praise’. The ‘Praise’ can then be spend on enhancing your brush or gaining another life orb.

As it’s an HD remake on the PlayStation 3 the game wouldn’t have been complete without a trophy system. While some are challenging to get, most are just arbitrary achievements that you get for just playing the game normally, which to me seems pointless.

Speaking of pointless, Okami HD is compatible with the Playstation Move. Now, I don’t own the Move controllers, but I did try playing the Wii version of Okami when came out in 2008. If the Move controller is anything like the Wii version of Okami then it may be better to steer clear.

One last thing , I’m surprised that Capcom or Clover didn’t look into adding a remote play functionality for the Playstation Vita; considering the dual touch screens it seems like a fairly good idea; but oh well.

Overall Okami HD is brilliant remaster of a severely underrated PS2 game; Everything  fits perfectly together to deliver a wonderful game that leaves me feeling nostalgic. With an interesting plot , breathtaking graphics and a wide array of diverse characters, this game will keep you entertained for a long time to come.

~HeadphoneGirlZ

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Papo &Yo: Much more than meets the eye

When I was looking at the new additions to the PSN this week I saw Papo & Yo. I must admit I was a little confused and intrigued. Watched the E3 vid for it and decided that it may be a bit surreal, but just the type of game I enjoy. The PSN description marked it as a puzzle platformer and I’d be inclined to agree, although more puzzle than platformer.

So, you are a boy, Quico, in this very unusual looking landscape of favelas and no one else around when you suddenly see another child. Of course you give chase and the game begins. Only the world around you is a bit dream-like and you can influence it in unusual ways by interacting with the chalk drawings on the walls. This is where the thinking begins too. The standard platform game has you going along a set route and just following it through, not here. In here your way will never be completely straight forward and you’ll pretty much always have to do something to create your path. Sometimes it’s easy, other times it takes a bit of thinking, but it’s always interesting. In the beginning it’s rather standard; pick up box and put on trigger. Very quickly though that changes and you’ll soon be moving houses and watching barrels fly through the air. Did I mention that this is a rather surreal game? Cause well, it really is.

Through the course of the game you’ll become acquainted with the other child and the big pink rhino, Monster. Quico’s relationship with Monster is an important one and something definitely worth mentioning, but I don’t want to spoil any of the metaphors for you. Suffice to say that the whole game, especially Quico & Monster, is a very well presented metaphor for the designer’s, Vander Caballero, very difficult childhood. By time you get to the end, I’m sure you’ll understand; I really found it was presented well.

I know I keep saying metaphor, but trust me when I say it has no effect on the gameplay. If anything it has a positive effect on the atmosphere causing a dreamlike, odd, weird world where you can do the unusual.

The controls aren’t complex, which is a positive thing I think. The last thing you want in a weird game is convoluted controls. At its heart it is a puzzle game though, so you really don’t need complex controls. My only problem I had with the controls was towards the end in a section that particularly platform-y. The double jump timing was being a bit pernickety, but once I grokked it I felt a bit stupid for getting frustrated.

Overall, I’d say get this game. It’s not expensive and I got between 3 and 4 hours of play and it certainly has some replay value. If for no other reason, but to see that great environment again. The art is very interesting and unique.  You really feel like you’re in the favelas.


E3 Sony Announcement PSN Plus for Europe

Okay so at E3 last night it was announced that the benefits of the PSN+ were going to greatly improve. As anyone in the UK/EU knows, this can often be very different for us here compared to those in the US. So thankfully the EU Playstation blog has pre-emptively explained how it will be for us here and the shinies for us.

Have a look here at the blog and it’s nothing but good news.


E3 Sony Conference

Last night I stayed up late and watched the Sony conference. Normally I don’t get to do this, but thanks to the bank holiday this year I could.  The conference was so chock full, it was a a mile a minute with the announcements and news. The time flew by.

There were a lot of great things, but a couple things especially stood out for me. The announcement of Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation for the Vita, Last of Us,  God of War: Ascension and Beyond.

First I’d really like the share with you Beyond. This is the game trailer for that now infamous concept trailer from Quantic Dream. That concept trailer has nothing to do with Beyond, but the game is using that technology. No gameplay in this trailer, but you certainly can get a good feeling of the atmosphere. It reminds me a lot of Alan Wake in feeling, and I mean that as a compliment.

[youtube http://youtu.be/dOZmToV8PJ0?hd=1]

Next let’s have a look at Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation. This is an exclusive PS Vita and it will hook into the Assassin’s 3 game on the PS3 and will unlock things in the console game. This is exclusive content and will introduce us to our first female assassin. I’m so very excited for this.

[youtube http://youtu.be/0RfsXnd6pC4?hd=1]

My last gushing point is Last of Us. It looks amazing and the combat is very intense. You have a companion in the game, but she is anything but helpless and this makes me happy. So glad to see games moving away from the helpless companion in games of yore.

[youtube http://youtu.be/dwWCrB13750?hd=1]

Everyone should have a look at the whole conference. There is some awesome things in there about Gods of War, PSN+, the Happy Potter Book of Spells, Assassin’s Creed 3 ship battles and so much more. Go look and get excited, I sure am.

[youtube http://youtu.be/vzYIFEjuEc4]

Closure

There’s a neurological phenomenon that we’re all familiar with, in one way or another. Artists use it to double the effectiveness of their pieces through ‘negative space’; puzzle books use it to make our eyes water; neurologists use it to study the brain. It’s called “closure”, and it lends its name to this surprisingly difficult indie game from Eyebrow Interactive.

“Closure” is what happens when your visual cortex sees an arrangement of shapes, shadows, or lines that should (when complete) delineate a single object — and fills in the gaps. Here’s a familiar example for you:

Try to not see the white equilateral triangle in the middle. Hard, right? Well, it’s almost impossible unless you have an atypical brain, so don’t worry. What’s happening is that evolutionarily speaking, your brain is adapted to interpret patterns of light and shadow in a way best suited to spotting predators, prey, obstacles, etc.

The creators of Closure have designed a game specifically to mess with your visual cortex: in this game universe, any object that is not lit doesn’t exist (apart from the character you play, light sources, and some crates). You’d think it wouldn’t be much different from games that force you to stay in the light. Nah. Think about it: you can make holes in the floor by redirecting lamps. You can ride a lift up the centre of a stone column if you have a moving spotlight.

In sum: so cool. And you have to retrain your brain, otherwise you’ll spend hours falling through the floor and getting stuck in isolated bubbles of water.

You can buy Closure on the Playstation Network. Find gameplay trailer and images from the game on the official website, here.

~ Alice M.


At Journeys End – Journey (PS3)

ThatGameCompany  has released its final game out of its 3 games that were contracted by Sony. Starting with Flow; where you navigate a series of 2 dimensional planes as a microorganism. Then there was Flower; a game where you play as a gust of wind collection flower petals in a variety of environments. Now there’s Journey, in which you play as a robed figure and travel through different environments in order to reach the mountain in the distance. Journey was released on the PSN earlier this month and has received nothing but praise from everyone I’ve spoken to, and after playing it I can understand why.

It’s clear that a lot of thought was put into the design. The environments are beautifully rendered and react to not only to what you do in it, but also its climate. The desert sands will shimmer and glisten when the sun shines on it and leaves a trail behind you when you move. Powerful gusts of wind will send you flying unless you find shelter in time; in colder climates your robe will slowly freeze and your energy will gradually decrease.

The use of music is quite clever aswell. The more exhilarating and action packed parts come alive with the use of upbeat musical scores, whilst calmer moments will have little or even no music, relying on the sounds of your footsteps moving through the sand or the howling of the wind to set the tone.

The cooperative play is where Journey truly shines. Throughout the game you may encounter another player navigating the ruins and you can choose to either leave them alone, or team up with them and face the challenges ahead together. There’s only a little change in the game play if you have a partner. If you run out of energy, they can restore it by either standing next to you, or by holding the “O” button. Pressing the “O” button will also make your character to emit a sound that resembles a bell, and a glowing symbol will hover over your head for a few seconds. These 2 tools are the only way to communicate with your traveling companion, which can make trying to convey anything rather difficult at times, but it also means there’s no way of using crude language or being offensive; which in my books is a huge plus for a co-op game. Your partner will change from time to time, if they quit, their character will vanish, leaving you to fend for yourself until you come across another player.

Overall I loved Journey. Simple gameplay, interesting use of co-op, delightful aesthetics and a charming way to waste a few hours. If you have a Playstation 3 there’s no reason why you shouldn’t add this to your collection as it’s only £10 and is worth every penny.

~ HeadphoneGirlZ


PSN Update – We’re coming back!

Sony are gradually bringing the PSN network back up in North America and in Europe. There’s an update for the PSN, but we knew that was going to happen.

So this is what we’ve got from the Sony Blog

Thank you for your patience and encouragement over the last few weeks. As covered in the post from earlier today, you can now update the firmware on your PS3 and change your password. Kazuo Hirai just announced that we have begun the phased restoration by region of some of the services, starting with online multiplayer functionality.

Please note that these services will take a bit of time to be turned on and rolled out to the whole region. The process has begun and some countries are being turned on now, so please be patient as we reach you.

In the meantime, now’s a great time to get your PS3′s firmware updated and change your password, both of which are required to get online.

So we’ll be waiting with baited breath for everything to come back up. You can do the update before the PSN is back up in your area, I have. And best to get in there before everyone tries doing it all at once.

I’m just happy it’ll be back up in time for L.A. Noire. W00T!