PS3 in February: Heavy Rain, BioShock 2, White Knight Chronicles
February is normally a quiet month with everyone still broke and trying to catch up with the Christmas games rush. It’s been different this year as many developers delayed their star performers until after Christmas to avoid clashing with Activision’s colossal beast, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Many of these games are only reaching us now and it’s resulted in arguably the busiest February in gaming history with BioShock 2, Dante’s Inferno, White Knight Chronicles, MAG and Heavy Rain all demanding our precious time.
February has all been about Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain; the month started with Sony confessing Heavy Rain was a “gamble“, if this is what happens when Sony takes a risk then we think Sony should try living on the edge more often.
It’s rare for a new IPs to achieve the groundswell of anticipation that Heavy Rain has, but is it a revolutionary game? Only time will tell if it is. The Attitude team is currently undecided; some of us have argued for and against. One thing is certain, even if Heavy Rain doesn’t reimaging how we play games, at the very least, it has raised the bar.
If you haven’t played it yet make sure that you do as it’s landmark title in the evolution of gaming. If can’t afford to buy a copy then steal one. Well, maybe not steal, renting would suffice. Read DolphGB’s review to find out exactly why this game is causing such a stir.
This month, we also got a chance to leave Attitude Towers to revisit Rapture, a prospect that didn’t exactly fill us with excitement. We love BioShock. Rapture is one of the most captivating landscaped ever created, but we felt Rapture had been fully realised in the first game.
Can it wow us the second time round? Yes, and no. In terms of gameplay, BioShock 2 is way ahead of its predecessor: The AI is much improved, and the combat is slicker and more dynamic. The story is once again intelligently and hauntingly told. This, and the addition of an excellent multiplayer, makes BioShock 2 a joy to play.
Ultimately, we were right to be concerned. Rapture is still an astounding symbol of dystopian terror, but our familiarity with it from the first game meant that the sequel felt like BioShock 1.5. That’s not entirely a bad thing though.
Another title released in February, was the outrageously plagiaristic Dante’s Inferno. As was the case with BioShock 2, we didn’t get a chance to bring you a review. Rest assured though, it isn’t a game that required a comprehensive review. All you need to know is that it’s every bit the God of War clone everyone had anticipated it to be.
Does this make it bad? Not at all. There is a long trail of games that have failed disastrously to copy the chaotic joy that Santa Monica Studios has in God of War. Dante’s Inferno does it better than most and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. It’s the perfect appetiser for the main show, that will come next month with the return of the big daddy, God of War III. A new trailer surfaced this month, check it out below if you haven’t done so already. It’s epic.
February has also seen Final Fantasy, the legendary Japanese RPG series, dominate our news pages. Initially, for the right reasons as Final Fantasy VIII finally made it to European PlayStation Store. With Metal Gear Solid, Vagrant Story, and now Final Fantasy VIII joining Final Fantasy VII in recent months, Europeans can now start to feel a little less bitter about missing out on essential content.
Elsewhere, things haven’t gone so well for Square Enix; Final Fantasy XIII, the long anticipated next-gen iteration, has been heavily criticised by Western publications. GamesMaster and PSM3 magazine gave the game weak scores (by Final Fantasy stardards) of 81% and 71% respectfully, mostly for its excessive linearity. The criticism has promted Yoshinori Kitase, Final Fantasy’s producer, to come out in defiant defence of the game citing critics as “looking at Final Fantasy XIII from a western point of view.” Is Final Fantasy XIII shaping up to be the unexpected flop of 2010? We’ll endeavour to bring you the definitive review upon release.
The criticism of Final Fantasy has brought much passionate discussion regarding the ‘death of the J-RPG’. Is it really the end? Our very own Delriach reviewed the hotly anticipated White Knight Chronicles. Sadly, the acclaimed developer’s Level-5 haven’t brought us a J-RPG saviour. White Knight Chronicles suffers from all the tired clichés that make J-RPGS a tired genre. Nevertheless, Delriach has put 100+ hrs into playing White Knight Chronicles. So despite its flaws, there are still plenty of joys to be had.
Every new release seems to back up the tide of evidence suggesting J-RPG’s are stuck in a formulaic rut. PS3 Attitude laments the demise of the J-RPG. We were brought up on a diet of level grinding and spiky haired protagonists. We hope reports of their death prove to be greatly exaggerated. It’s up to Japanese developers to show that they are open to new innovations.
On a lighter note, Attitude towers was invaded this month by a clowder of felines, the Kamikaze Kittens. The all-girl clan brought their peculiar (but wonderful) blend of girl/geek power and expertise in busting male genitalia. Check out our interview. Don’t worry, they’re not feral, although you’d have thought so had you saw the reaction when Danny_D ran off with their DualShocks.
MAG has been taking up a lot of our attention this month. It will take time for MAG to show its full potential and all its flaws. We’ve been keeping you updated through our ‘MAG Monday’ feature on how it’s progressing. It’s been so much fun, this feature could end up running for a while.
One story that proved popular amongst our readership, was our announcement that Sony have partnered with Future Publishing to create FirstPlay. It’s Europe’s answer to Qore, an interactive HD show for gamers that will be distributed over the PlayStation Store. It’s being developed by the team behind the Official PlayStation Magazine. PS3 Attitude is pleased that more non-game content will be available on the PlayStation Network. Keep it up.
One story that may have been missed though, as it only relates to PSP owners at this moment, is Sony’s new anti-piracy approach. Those who buy a packaged version of SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3 will find a code inside their case that must be inputted to gain access to online features. Here’s the catch, second-hand buyers will have to pay Sony $20 for access.
Sony appear to be testing the water here. Should they find the experiment successful, we may end up with PS3 games taking this approach in the future. $20 for online content? A bit steep we think. Sony will need to be careful they do not alienate loyal fans.
Sadly, this great month of gaming ended on a sad note with the news of Mark Beaumont’s untimely death. PS3 Attitude would like to send our condolences to Mark’s family and friends. The COO of Capcom was a hugely respected member of the games industry and the platitudes that have been circulating around the web are testament to how much he will be missed. R.I.P
Please feel free to share your own highs and lows of the month in our comments section below…
What’s going on at Attitude HQ:
What else happened in February:
- Resident Evil 5: Lost in Nightmares – the PS3 Attiude Review.
- The PS3 got 70MB additional RAM.
- Call of Duty 7: Vietnam?
- Sony’s Jack Tretton said thank you for a great year in 2009. It really was.
- Does GTA IV still cut the mustard? Check our retrospective review.
- A plea to developers, put more care into your babies before sending them out into the world.
- Another plea to developers to stop going with the easy option by shovelwaring zombies.
- The most expensive games ever.
- An in-depth look at the state of morality in games today.
- Sony to charge for PSN. What we know.
- Our preview of Alien Vs Predator. What you need to know about this up-coming beast.
- Some of our favourite, most innovating games of this generation.
- Are consoles a playground for sexual predators?
- Gordon Brown champions the UK games industry. It’s about time as well.