Catch Up

Having been absent for the lion's share of May and then preoccupied with E3 for the first half of June, I have yet to share my thoughts on what I've played over the last six weeks. We all enjoy speculating about titles we’ve only seen from afar- Sony All Star Battle Royal looks shit - but today I thought I’d concentrate on the games I have played by way of a catch-up post. For the next thousand words I shall be a purveyor of truth, offering not the tease of conjecture but the nourishment of fact and empirical research. Basically, it's half a dozen quick reviews.

As the proud owner of the Limited Edition Metal Gear Solid HD Collection - I've flicked through the art book twice and in twenty eight years I've yet to find the right occasion for a video game t-shirt - I recently took the opportunity to revisit Metal Gear Solid 3 and play Peace Walker for the first time. MGS3 is still one of my favourite games of all time, but I won't dwell on it here as I hope to post something about Snake Eater at a later date, as part of my oft-stalled series on revisiting old favourites.

To my disappointment, I found Peace Walker to be by far the weakest of the series. The constant drive to procure a small army for Outer Heaven is highly addictive and there is untold depth in the extras, but the short-burst missions do not lend themselves to a home console port. The series is well known for its larger than life villains, characters that endure long after you have moved onto something else, but Peace Walker is populated by non-entities whose names I struggle to recall. Dialogue has always been long-winded and heavy handed in MGS, but the script in PW went a step too far, bordering on the nonsensical. Often times it felt like characters were not even sharing the same conversation, skipping segues entirely and going off on bizarre tangents. On the plus side, there were lots of big robots and no shortage of cardboard boxes.

Sticking with robots, I finally got around to playing Binary Domain. It is better than its Metacritic score would suggest but not quite the overlooked gem that Twitter and forums would have you believe. Combat is smooth and you are unlikely to tire of shredding through the mechanical enemies that come apart in bits and pieces, continuing to advance appendage-less until you destroy the head. Their destruction is surprisingly violent considering the lack of gore and is just as satisfying as stamping on someone's chin on the streets of Kamurocho.

Save, save, save, save, save!

The story is predictable but never fails to engage. The central characters are thoroughly entertaining, just so long as you are happy to take the lazy stereotypes with a grain of salt. The international Rust Crew includes a muscle bound black American with an aversion to speaking properly, a snooty Brit and a French robot that has to be seen to be believed. The combat does get a bit samey in places and the near future Tokyo setting is underutilized, but it’s definitely worth a look if you are a fan of the genre or appreciate Toshihiro Nagoshi's other Tokyo based series, Yakuza.

Aside from Yakuza: Dead Souls, which I'll write about another time, the rest of my PS3 gaming has been of the downloadable variety. PixelJunk 4am is a music game/visualizer that is as unique as it is difficult to explain. Using the Move controller you layer and loop tracks, samples and effects by picking them out of the air and moving around the on-screen canvas. Although there is no multiplayer, 4am is a social experience as people from all over the globe may drop in uninvited to watch your set, cheering you on if they approve of your tunes. It can start to feel a bit limited and repetitious during longer sets but when it’s going well, 4am is a blast, especially when the kudos starts to pile up. If you want to chill out of an evening and make use of that Move controller, then I'd definitely recommend having a gander at 4am.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World was a most welcome addition to the PSN Store. It is just as difficult as I remember it being all those years ago, but fortunately it now allows you to save your progress at any point. With one hit kills no longer a concern, I was finally able to complete this bastard of a game, saving after every tough jump or creature avoided - i.e. every 20 seconds - and making a mockery of its no continues format. It looks its age but is not without charm, though I certainly could have done without the Janken (rock, paper, scissors) end of level boss nightmare, with his projectile, fist head.

With very little going on in the world of Vita, I decided to return to Uncharted: Golden Abyss for a second playthrough. I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it, even if I wasn’t as enthused this time around and was quick to skip any Sully-less cut scenes. On second inspection, it definitely isn’t on par with the home console entries, but it’s still a must have for any action loving Vita owner. Monster Hunter Freedom Unite has kept me entertained, though it has yet to hold my attention for longer than thirty minutes at a time. With Gravity Rush now in play, it may be a week or two before I re-join the hunt.

What have you been playing?


  1. I started MGS3 today. And Escape Plan, which is also very good. Gravity Rush, and RC Motorstorm, Diablo III, and various pinball tables, real and imaginary. I also hunted a Purple Ludroth, just to stay in shape. lol

    1. I keep looking at Escape Plan, as it is in the Vita store sale. I know it's one of those games that, if it weren't for a lack of Vita titles of interest, I probably wouldn't even consider. I wanted to try the demo, but it just keeps throwing up error codes following the newest firmware.

      I'm sure I'll kill a Purple Ludroth one day!

  2. I have been really enjoying Gravity Rush. Also just started playing Alan Wake's American Nightmare which is kind of an odd game. Not sure how I feel about it at the moment.

    1. I'm enjoying GR too - such a great gameplay mechanic. I just wish the combat was even half as good as the exploration. I was looking forward to Alan Wake AN but I went off the idea once I started to learn more about it. If I turn on my 360 this year it'll be for Witcher 2

  3. I have been playing nothing. I just can't get into anything right now. Started Dragons Dogma, Max Payne 3 and Gravity Rush but just have no desire to play anything right now. For the past month I have only used my PS3 for MLB.TV to watch my Padres lose. Nothing like paying $125 to watch your favorite team get its ass kicked every night.

    1. Sounds like you are going through a rough gaming patch. Sometimes happens to me in the summer months when there is little new of interest. Oh well, at least you have found another use for the PS3!

  4. Hi matt, I love being able to save old console games! It feels so wrong but for my weak brain its necessary to get any enjoyment from stupidly hard megadrive/nes/snes games these days. I completed Ghouls 'n Ghost which, while also feeling utterly hollow, did allow me to say "I've completed Ghouls n Ghosts!" to whoever passed by.
    The only time in which a game t-shirt has felt correct is when, in a horribly hungover state, I went to a house party with a MechWarrior 3 t-shirt on and a girl there commented on how she used to play it. We talked about 90s PC games for a while. That's literally the only time a game t-shirt has ever felt 'ok'
    In terms of games, I've been playing a lot of Thief: The Dark Project again and The Witcher 2 for the 360 - which is pretty good, though there are a few noticeable glitches on the 360 version I didn't notice when playing on the PC.
    Personally I find all MGS dialogue uninteresting. In fact I generally hate it - its all nonsensical to me. Shame to hear you're not enjoying Peace Walker - how is it in terms of the upscale from PSP to PS3?

    1. I went running once in my peppermint green "You must play SEGA Saturn" t-shirt, but it was at 6.30am when most human beings were still in bed. I feel like a MechWarrior 3 t-shirt is suitable attire for a drunken house party.

      I think I'll be playing Witcher 2 this summer when everything goes quiet.

      The PW upscale is pretty good but you do notice the lack of detail in comparison to MGS3. Snake's blank, expressionless face for example. The graphic novel style cut scenes that worked great on the PSP, in portable ops at least, look really rough on a big screen. I don't think they were touched in the transfer.

    2. A website devoted to dodgy video game t-shirts would be amazing! I might start photographing them. They're a bit like christmas jumpers I guess - very comfortable for some reason, but only when no one can see you!


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