Monday, April 12, 2010

Q1 2010 gaming report – PS3, Xbox 360 and PSP

Did this quarter really happen? Did the holiday season shift back by a few months? This many great games in the first three months of 2010 ... really, this many! The sheer number of top quality games would challenge any holiday lineup and it comes in a very interesting quarter. Many game companies have been choosing to push out some titles till the beginning of the year to avoid flooding the market at the holidays and what it means is more great games for gamers spread out over more months. So first up is a look at both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Both systems had a handful of top quality, exclusive, titles but the amount and quality of cross platform titles is mind boggling. Without further ado, let’s take a look.

PlayStation 3 - God of War III would have been great by itself but the realism brought by Heavy Rain not to mention MAG online … oh yeah!
  • God of War III – Kratos quest comes to an end with incredible gameplay, design and graphics. A mature game if ever there was one and should not be missed by any age appropriate gamer.
  • Star Ocean: The Last Hope International – The Xbox 360 exclusive comes to PS3 with more content but same robotic, space anime feeling. A fun romp for series vets but with FFXIII out, RPG fans should only pick up after finishing FFXIII.
  • Heavy Rain – Indigo Prophecy offered a more realistic looking, feeling mystery title with action elements and characters that could live next door. Heavy Rain takes this formula and ramps up the realism from looks to voice work to overall gameplay. Gamers will come to care for characters and feel more involved with gameplay than they could ever anticipate.
  • Yakuza 3 – Mafia titles based the US have been hit and miss, but Sega has now delivered three rock solid Yakuza titles that just don’t seem to get the attention they deserve. Yakuza 3 is sadly more niche than mainstream but for fans of Grand Theft Auto take a gander, give a rental and enjoy some Japanese mafia bashing action.
  • MAG – Lots of online combat on different levels with great weapon and side selection. For PS3 owners it does not get much better than this for online combat.
  • White Knight Chronicles International Edition – Another title that feels sub-par with its anime style and design. A few more months of polish and a summer release would have been better for this title taking on FFXIII. Sadly many RPG gamers will miss out due to the sheer number of grade A titles this quarter.
Xbox 360 - Mass Effect 2 is more than enough for an exclusive.
  • Mass Effect 2 – There are few games that can consume months of a gamers time and do a good job while eating these hours. Mass Effect 2 is such a title with incredible story, characters, graphics, gameplay … need more?
  • Supreme Commander 2 – SC2 does a good job of delivering RTS on the 360 but unlike Halo Wars which was starting fresh, there is an established formula for Supreme Commander which had to be stripped down a bit for console. Vets of the franchise should stick to PC but for noobs that loved Halo Wars then check out SC2 now.
  • Perfect Dark & Scrap Metal – No, not retail games but as downloads go these two require mention as Perfect Dark is better than the original while Scrap Metal is a new generation of car combat in the model of Twisted Metal that fans will dig.
Multi-platform – Great selection of titles from a number of genres, truly, truly solid gaming.
  • Final Fantasy XIII – Wow, what an outstanding RPG, but not one for every gamer. Hours of gameplay woven around a deep storyline, unique combat and characters creates what is a very satisfying Final Fantasy given the years of waiting.
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – MAG on PS3 rocks but Bad Company 2 offers up just as much depth but a fun factor spoken of by gamers that only a polished sequel can prompt.
  • BioShock 2 – It feels more like an extension of BioShock than a sequel but the last few hours make this a great adventure and one that does not require a play through of the first game.
  • Army of Two: The 40th Day – Co-op gamers need apply for this bromance of an action game. Many of the issues from the first game have been resolved but Ao2 still seems to miss on its original promise.
  • Bayonetta – This witch is everything that’s right with gaming in an over-the-top adventure with excellent combat, control and depth of development (level and character) mashed with a passable story. Dante now has a soul sister and same father.
  • Just Cause 2 – On the list based on reputation but sadly a game this writer is yet to play. I can only assume fans will dig this but jury is out for me, for now.
  • Resonance of Fate – The J-RPG that takes hours to get used is going to be lost in the shuffle of fantasy/space RPG’s this quarter but the setting, steam punk, is quite cool and worth a look.
  • Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening – Not new but rather an expansion, a 10-20 hour one, but it shows the new way games are going with downloadable, expansion content that PC gamers have enjoyed for years.
  • Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition – For hardcore fans but mainly those who missed it on the first pass. Now there is no reason for what Capcom is offering up.
  • Aliens vs. Predator – While AvP does not fix the issues with the film franchise it at least gives gamers a better story setting
  • Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing – A cart racer for Sega, yes. A good title for the family, yes.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce – God bless Dynasty Warriors. They just keep on going, releasing new titles and hitting their core audience with updated gameplay. Give it a try at least once, there are like a bazillion titles.
  • Dante's Inferno – A comic, DVD, action figures, bad PR attempt. Sometimes a game just needs to stand on its own and this imagining of original story is another God of War clone. Combat is fun, there are moral paths to follow but gameplay just feels so … familiar.
  • Darksiders – Ripping off elements of Zelda and God of War is not a bad thing especially when done with pizzazz. Darksiders is not original, will actually feel déjà-vu-ish but it’s still fun and worth the purchase or rental.
PSP – Three titles worth mention but sadly none are new or original.
  • Lunar: Silver Star Harmony – Working Designs would be proud as this graphical remake offers up a true J-RPG classic. The opening song lyrics on PS were better, personal preference, but the game is so much fun and memorable.
  • Metal Slug XX – More Metal Slug, more shooting action and while it’s been released time and time again this download is a good purchase on the go.
  • SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 – Gotta be used with its console big brother. Sadly, for a first party title why did it not get more pub??? Where is the love Sony?
PlayStation 2 – Is the system essentially dead? Yes. Buried? Yes, but like a zombie with the recent release of Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love. This long running anime based title finally hits these US shores and while it’s on a dated system (and Wii) it at least gives fans a chance to play a localized version.

Overall the first three months of 2010 were outstanding for the true next-gen systems. The PS2 gets no grade as it’s really just mentioned for one game while the PSP clocks in with a D. One great remake, a re-release and SOCOM … really, that’s all the PSP can muster? The PlayStation 3 gets an A just for Heavy Rain and God of War III alone while the Xbox 360 gets an A- with Mass Effect 2 (that good folks, that good). With grades set so high how will the Nintendo Wii and DS check in? More on that very soon so check back this week.

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