50 Games in 2012 – #3 Saints Row III [ PS3] (Completed January 30th)
Saints Row and over the top go hand in hand
Thanks to a Boxing day buying spree my library of games was full of titles to choose from heading into my 3rd title of the year. Having played a puzzle fps and puzzle platformer I was still looking for an outside the box gaming experience and Saints Row stuck out as a sore thumb choice to continue. Up until this year I’ve never touched a Saints Row title but with the positive reviews the game got in the fall I decided it was finally time to try out GTA’s zany cousin. Having a soft spot for sandbox games I decided to take Saints Row for a spin and in return I was treated to great time.
One of the greatest features about Saints Row III I felt right out of the gate was it’s inherent ability to make you feel like a bad ass. Whether your skydiving out of an exploding airplane or parachuting onto a penthouse roof guns blazing Saints Row makes sure that your in for a ride. This is largely why Saints Row III main story shines as the game will give you insane missions to accomplish that truly feel unique and fun. Mix these Michael Bay action sequences with over the top tongue and cheek humour in an open world and you start to grasp what Saints Row III is all about.
Being a sandbox game I misconceived Saints Row to be a GTA equivalent but it really differs itself greatly in it’s own charming way. Saints Row pays homage to GTA but where it differs is in how the whole city of Steelport feels. With an open world to explore, missions and activities are abundant if not at some times repetitive. The game will offer you ample opportunity to roam the city in search of things to do. With Stores, side missions and rival gangs to take down you won’t find yourself wanting if your looking for more content outside the main story.
When it comes to gameplay Saints Row delivers good solid fun with easy to learn controls and outrageous weapons (see photo). The main story will run you around 10 hours but with an open world, co-op play and side missions the game holds enough replay-ability and fun to keep you coming back for more. Whether roaming the sand box or playing the story Saints Row III delivers mindless fun that few games try and it works.
Date Finished: 1/30 | Saints Row III (PS3)
Pros: Loose story with fun missions tied into a zany experience.
Cons: Lacks polish and main story suffers from pacing issues.
Conclusion: It doesn’t take itself seriously and that’s the best part about it. Overall fun game.
50 Games in 2012 – #2 Catherine [PS3] (Completed January 23rd)
Vincent having a drink at the Stray Sheep.
Following up Portal 2 turned out to be an interesting experience. Still riding high on the lovable dialogue puzzle adventure that was Portal 2 I wanted to experience more of the genre. Straying from the beaten path seemed like a solid idea at this point and the puzzler I turned to was Catherine. I had heard good things about this game from reviewers in the summer of 2011 and considered that it could potentially be a sleeper hit for me to sink my teeth into.
When starting up Catherine I came into the title with reserved thoughts. To my surprise I found myself right off the bat enjoying the animated cut scenes which set up the story of the main character Vincent well. Simple in premise the games style of platforming was intriguing and entertaining. Although a little confusing at first you soon realize that Vincent is falling into puzzle platforming dreams each night he falls asleep. In each level I was tasked with escaping Vincent’s “nightmare” by arranging blocks to reach the top of the falling tower. Outside of these nightmares is where most of the cut scenes take place and where the story of Catherine unfolds.
As Vincent during the daytime you get to learn more about the games characters and get to interact with them at Vincent’s local bar called “The Stray Sheep”. This is a really cool feature as you start to see how some of the other people at the bar are having the same nightmares as yourself. Without this there isn’t much context to why Vincent is suffering these horrible dreams but with each trip to the bar you start to unravel what’s going on which is quite rewarding. Outside of your bar visits the cut scenes also help piece together the story of Catherine with each night’s passing.
Vincent’s bar visits and his actual nightmares are all Catherine offers in terms of gameplay. In most games that would be a recipe for repetitive disaster but what made Catherine work was the innovation and difficulty that grew with each nightmare moving forward. As the story progressed I grew to enjoy the cut scenes and the bar visits more than the gameplay but the game never tired to the point that I wanted to put it down. More than anything these feelings came from my personal shared dread with Vincent for the coming night. Which in the context is awesome that the story made me feel that way. Overall Catherine took a simple game mechanic and made it work with great level design and cut scene storytelling. Not everyone’s cup of tea but a great title to pick up if you’re looking for something outside the box to play.
Date Finished: 1/23 | Catherine (PS3)
Pros: Fantastic animation, compelling story and great level design.
Cons: Level linearity and mediocre in game cut scenes.
Conclusion: Incredibly unique which makes the title shine through minor flaws.
At the beginning of the 2012 I had a craving for solving puzzles in the Videogame world and Portal 2 fit my needs perfectly. After sinking 40+ hours into Skyrim, experiencing the cinematic blockbuster of Uncharted 3 and racing through levels of Raymans Origins it was definitely time for Portal 2. My previous experience with the series stemmed back to the PC and the original Portal. I did not own the Orange box set but my friend Andrew raved constantly about the title. Taking his word I sat down and played through the experience at his place and quickly dug an interest for the series quirky dialogue and simple but fun level design.
Flash forward to January of this year though and I pushed in my copy of Portal 2 into my PS3. This would be the first game of the year for me and arguably looking back now in May still the best. Right off the bat the controls of the title were great on console a long with the level design. The puzzles were fun to solve but most of all the characters of Wheatley and Glados are what drew me in. Hearing Stephen Merchant ramble throughout the levels was hilarious and the story overall really took shape where the 1st game didn’t. The level design for 6 or so hour experience didn’t tire as the game continually switched up it’s pawns at play on each level giving you new toys to play with. The reward of finishing each level grew as the games puzzle difficulty grew to the climax of the story. Near the end there were a few frustrating points but that may attest to my brainpower more then anything. Overall the game took the best of Portal and added even more to the equation. With a great story, fun online co-op and the potential for future level design on the consoles Portal 2 rounded out to be one of the best games I’ve ever played.
Date Finished: 1/21 | Portal 2 (PS3)
Pros: Immersive story and dialogue with fantastic level platforming and fun co-op.
Cons: Small stretches of level frustration.
Conclusion: Portal 2 pushes nearly all the right buttons to make an extremely memorable story driven puzzle game.