Journey

The moment Journey came out, it was an instant success, with fans and critics alike singing praises for thatgamecompany’s new creation. Like with their previous hit, Flower, the main qualities pointed out in reviews were the unique art style, the sheer beauty of the scenery, and the minimalistic storytelling. Despite the short length (reviews mentioned 2 hours), people around the world loved it, fans drew pretty art based on the game’s world and characters, and word of mouth contributed greatly to its success. And now, it’s my turn to share my thoughts of one of the 2012 gaming phenomenons with you.

Journey Cover

Game: Journey
Developer: thatgamecompany
Platform: PlayStation Network
Original release: 2012
Territories: All

I got my hands on this game thanks to my girlfriend’s sister who gave her a PSN voucher as a birthday present, with the explicit instruction to buy Journey. The $15 price the game launched, and is still sitting at, didn’t seem justified to me, considering its length. I was going to wait for it to drop to at least $10, but, thanks to the aforementioned circumstances, I was apparently going to play it in the year it actually released. 🙂

In the beginning, I thought that people had praised this game for a good reason. The visuals, while not going into much detail, were really beautiful, much like in Flower. I spent a minute or two to admire the scenery before even starting the game. And this stayed consistent throughout the game – every new environment was as pretty as the previous. The atmospheric music and sound effects also impressed me… And the protagonist, with his strange clothes, long scarf, and Final Fantasy black mage-like face, seemed mysterious and cool. But we gamers know that all these things complement a game, they are the side-dish to the meat…

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Scarygirl

In a world full of run-of-the-mill shooters, sequels, and even indie games that try so hard to be different, they end up looking the same, Scarygirl is a game that really stands out. While the game in itself is not that different from your typical 2D platformer, the art style is incredible, and it was the first thing that impressed me and prompted me to play all three Scarygirl games available.

Scarygirl Cover

Game: Scarygirl
Developer: TikGames
Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, PC
Original release: 2012
Territories: All

The Scarygirl I’m reviewing here, the PSN/XBLA/PC version, is the most polished of the three, but I have to also highly recommend the browser version, which is the best browser game I’ve ever played (and you can pass on the PlayStation Minis version, which is a watered-down version of the browser one – but it’s still the one that got me into the Scarygirl franchise because it was free with PS Plus during the period when PS Plus was free due to the PSN hacking fiasco :)).

Scarygirl is a 2.5D platformer (the game takes place in 3D environments, but movement is in one 2D plane at a time) with a nice combat system which has combos and blocking. It supports couch co-op for 2 players (a feature many game developers seem to have forgotten about) and is a good deal of fun with a partner. The gameplay is quite varied, featuring, aside from the normal platforming, also swimming and wall-climbing segments. Jumping is a bit floaty and not precise enough, but you can fly a small distance forward through the air by holding the jump button. The bizarre art style is truly the highlight, it gives the game a unique feel and a lot of charm.

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Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

One cannot avoid the feeling of sadness when a great story ends. In addition to the awe at the conclusion, one feels the bittersweet disappointment that now all the secrets have been unveiled and all the dots – connected. That is how I felt when I finished Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – the final chapter of my favourite game series. Everything came together nicely, there was nothing more to be added… But Peace Walker proved that wrong.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Game: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Developer: Kojima Productions
Platforms: PlayStation Portable; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (as part of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection)
Releases: 2010 (PSP), 2011 (PS3/Xbox 360), 2012 (PS3/Xbox 360 – Europe)
Territories: All

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the latest installment in the ground-breaking tactical espionage action series by Hideo Kojima. Built for the PSP, it is superior in every way to its handheld predecessor, Portable Ops, and Kojima himself and his trusty team were the ones working on its development from beginning to end (as opposed to the overseer role Kojima had with Portable Ops). Furthermore, with the game coming to consoles as part of the HD collection (and that was the version I played, too), it proved to be ambitious and well-made enough that one barely sees differences from the full-blown console Metal Gear Solid titles.

Fans of the series will certainly love this one, and even people completely new to it will be pleased. Peace Walker keeps the core gameplay we’ve come to know and love, and also takes some interesting new approaches that help the game feel fresh and exciting even to Metal Gear veterans. And it’s another chapter of the story of Big Boss – one of the most badass, awe-inspiring game characters to have ever existed.

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Phantasy Star Online 2 to be free-to-play!

Phantasy Star Online 2

SEGA has announced that the sequel to one of the finest online RPGs and a pioneer of the genre, Phantasy Star Online, will be free-to-download and free-to-play. The game model will be based on microtransactions with items and other benefits costing money. However, it will not be required to buy anything in order to progress and there will not be a level cap or any other restrictions for non-paying customers.

PSO2 had already been announced for PC and PlayStation Vita, and now we know that a third version is being developed – one for Android and iOS devices. This version will share character data with the main PC/Vita versions, but will be more simplistic and will not offer cross-platform play.

The PC version is scheduled for a summer 2012 release in Japan, the smart phone version follows in the winter, and the Vita version is to be released in early 2013. The PC version’s second alpha test for the game was recently completed and reached a scale of 50,000 users. A closed beta for the PC version will start in April, with a scale set to 100,000 players.

Source: http://www.gamespot.com/news/phantasy-star-online-2-will-be-free-to-play-6368061

I am really happy with this news. Since I would not be able to put in more than 10-20 hours of play a month, I was never going to get the game if it had monthly fees. Now it is a definite for me. If it has even half of PSO’s magic, I will enjoy it greatly. I have a total of about 200 hours logged into Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst for the PC (138 on my currently existing character), and I still play it occasionally on Schthack’s server.