PAL PS3 Games Preview
At last, the time of reckoning is upon us, a time when the moaning about overdraft shattering price points, European delays, backwards compatibility and online services can finally be weighed against the most important factor in all of this: the games themselves. It's fair to say that Sony haven't endured the smoothest of entries into the next generation console arena but come the 23rd of March, the console's pre-launch problems will be firmly in the past and PAL consumers will at last be able to get their sweaty mitts on a PS3 for themselves and, Sixaxis controller in hand, make their own judgments.
So, if you're already planning on joining the early adopter band wagon and have secured that elusive pre-order, the next question becomes what to play on your shiny new slab of gaming hardware to show it off to those skeptical 360 owning friends of yours? The launch lineup, while commendably broad, contains a large amount of cross platform titles some of which, whisper it, have been available to those very same 360 owners for months. However, worry not, Sony's new baby has its fair share of launch exclusives too and, because we're nice like that, here's the lowdown on those very titles.
Okay, so Microsoft has the Halos and Gears Of War of this world, but Resistance is the game Sony hope will entice shooter fans to their new console. Pigeonholed as simply a WWII game with aliens in it Resistance : Fall Of Man is a FPS from the people who brought the Rachet and Clank games to the PS2. With a plot that sees an alien menace spread across the world during the mid twentieth century, apparently leaving little time for a pesky world war, resulting in the dropping of US troops into Nottingham, of all places, to help try to stem the flow, it's hardly a surprise to see how such a comparison can be drawn. But, early word from those in the know suggests that such a description tells only half the story. Fans of Rachet and Clank can tell you that Insomniac understand weaponry, and Resistance shows the same kind of inventive flair in its surprisingly sci-fi'ish arsenal which quickly make the WWII comparisons a little redundant - despite the obvious visual themes. The action looks hugely impressive as is to be expected and contains some truly jaw dropping set pieces. How it plays remains to be seen but there isn't that much competition on the PS3 just yet and Resistance looks like being an impressive early entry into a genre that Sony must be hoping to populate with some top draw titles to stand next to the 360's established offerings.
One of the first PS3 games to have a public showing back in 2005, the footage shown was so impressive it was greeted with almost universal skepticism as people doubted Sony's ability to keep the visual promises the footage showed. Two years later and credit where credit's due, it looks like they may just have pulled it off, MotorStorm is an off-road racer that sees the player picking a vehicle from a selection that includes bikes, ATV's, trucks, rally cars and buggies before taking part in some seriously fast paced racing on some of the most impressive off-road tracks ever seen in a game. One of MotorStorm's most impressive features is undoubtedly the tracks themselves, not only do they look very pretty but they naturally evolve over the course of each race. Drive a truck through an area of mud and besides having the expected effect on your own speed it'll also leave deep ruts in the ground causing all kinds of problems for the unfortunate person driving the motorbike behind you. Such mid game landscaping is integral to the way the game plays as each road surface is affected by the vehicles driving over it, enabling Sony to boast that no two laps of MotorStorm will ever be quite the same. Add to the party an impressive physics engine that sees vehicles bouncing off both the track and each other all the while hurtling around at high speed through a variety of canyons and gorges and it's no wonder that MotorStorm is one of the most eagerly awaited of the PS3's launch titles, one that may just become the system seller Sony is looking for.
Yes, we all the remember that embarrassing E3 demo where 'MASSIVE DAMAGE' was inflicted on the underbelly of a giant crab, but a lot of time has passed since then and Genji is now all finished and raring to go. While essentially not promising to ever be much more than a very pretty looking button basher of a slash-em-up Genji does have some tricks up its sleeves. One of the more interesting ones is the ability to swap between any of the four playable characters on the fly with a touch of the d-pad. With each character offering different abilities and fighting styles this has the potential to add an interesting tactical element to things, the prospect of using one character to break through an enemies defenses before switching swiftly to another more suited to delivering the final few blows to finish things off is an interesting one.
Upgradeable moves and weapons look to add an element of character progression to the mix and Game Republic promise some puzzles to test the grey matter now and then too, all of which could make Genji the perfect choice for people looking for a bit of launch day arcade action to show off their new toy.
Formula One Championship Edition
If you have even a passing interest in the world of F1 this game is no doubt up there on your list of launch titles to buy. First thing you notice is that it looks stunning, a phrase that gets banded around all too often but is honestly appropriate for this title, it really is a thing of beauty. It also promises to be accessible (well, as much as F1 can be) with a host of driving aids that can be turned on and off, ranging from lines on the track showing you the best route and speed through corners to the more expected automatic gearbox. The single player career mode sees you try and work your way up from test driver to world champion over the course of five championship seasons and there's always the single quick race options to fall back on when you don't want the hassle of the qualifying stages and all the fuss that comes with a full race.
F1 as a sport isn't for everyone and as such F1 games tend to be a love 'em or hate 'em experience, something Formula One Championship Edition is unlikely to change, however, if you fall into the former category then this could just be the greatest F1 game around.
Ridge Racer 7
You mean its a new Sony Console, and it's got a Ridge Racer launch title? Whatever will they think of next! Ridge Racer and the PlayStation brand have become almost inseparable since Sony nabbed the exclusive console version of the original to help launch the first PlayStation, in the process converting a whole generation of racing fans to Ridge Racers crazy drifting-driving style. It's therefore a little bit of a shock for Sony fanboys to realize that this new Ridge Racer is actually almost identical to number 6, the one Namco sneaked out as an XBox 360 exclusive when Sony wasn't looking, all be it with the added bonus of a funky 1080p mode, slipstreaming, some new tracks and finally in a series first, a degree of car customization.
Surely by now most people will have played a Ridge Racer game at some point and experienced their unique and gloriously unrealistic approach to cornering, specifically how rather than actually breaking to get round a corner you instead send your car into a high speed slide around the bends, the real skill coming in avoiding other cars in the process and being able to regain control as your car exits the drift. Such an exaggerated arcade take on driving means that gamers more used to their Gran Turismos and Project Gothams sense of realism may find such a relaxed attitude to the laws of physics enough to put them off but for existing fans or anyone looking for some high speed arcade driving Ridge Racer 7 could well be an early PS3 must buy.
Gundam : Target in Sight
It's a Mech game, that little nugget of information probably either just made you sit up and take notice or caused you to move on to the next game in the list. Still here? Good. While western gamers have never truly embraced the Mech (giant robot battle suits) genre of games en mass, their continuing huge popularity throughout the far east means wherever there's a gaming platform there are Mech games. Gundam sees the player picking sides in an epic global conflict and jumping into the cockpit of their chosen mobile suit to fight for their lives across vast battlegrounds in a huge variety of missions. Despite how it may sound, Mech warfare is a surprisingly slow process and those wanting to stomp around Rambo style in a robot the size of a seventy story building will be sorely disappointed as robots that size don't move with any sense of urgency meaning that patience, planning and strategy are required far more than you may initially expect.
As a PS3 sequel to the 360 original, which saw players duke it out in heavily armored vehicles while racing through tracks full of destructible scenery that when toppled at the right time caused havoc on those following behind, Battlelines doesn't try to break the original mold and as such retains the core features fans would expect: manic racing action, destructible environments, car mounted weaponry and the cool time rewind "Unwreck" ability. This time round the idea seems to have simply been bigger, better and more. One of the key improvements in this version is the environments, where as leaving wreckage behind on the track could often cause a few problems for your opponents in the original, in Full Auto 2 it plays much more of a part in things resulting in some spectacular looking moments and adding a certain layer of strategy to things.
With an impressive number of vehicles, tracks and weapons as well as all kinds of customization options along with the obligatory multiplayer online features such as deathmatch, team-play and assault, Full Auto 2 could be the perfect alternative racing game for people not won over by the likes of Ridge Racer 7 and MotorStorm.
Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom
Taking the core gameplay ideas from the PSP original, namely fast paced hack-and-slash role-playing, Dark Kingdom promises to be an enjoyable and easily accessible action game backed up with a solid fantasy storyline and the kind of customizable character progression that role-playing types so enjoy. Obviously coming from the PSP to the PS3 has seen a significant graphical upgrade for Dark Kingdom and the new coat of paint is further enhanced by the addition of the Havoc powered physics engine, meaning everything falls over and collides that much more convincingly. As well as all out action there promises to be some puzzling to get stuck into too which should break things up nicely.
Players will be able to choose from three character classes (brute, mage and scout) with which to tackle the games story. Talking of the story, the plot sees the player start out as part of a military unit assigned to quell uprisings against the King, only to discover that the monarch in question isn't all sweetness and light himself. At which point, presumably, your allegiances change and things start to get a lot more dangerous.
So, there you have it folks. The End. Bring on March 23rd and all the exposition it entails...