Welcome back to the first PS Plus review of 2019. We were pleasantly surprised with the selection of games on offer this month – with a range of genres from extreme sports to musical rhythm based games.
We’ve always had a soft spot for extreme winter sports games. Snowboard Kids and Coolboarders in the N64 / PS1 days and especially SSX 3 on the PS2 were some of our favourites. The extreme sports genre in gaming peaked in the early to mid 2000s – by which point the hype boosted by games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater began to run out of steam. Attempts to revive the genre have been made over recent years however Steep has managed to avoid the disastrous fate of THPS5 (with its score of 32 on Metacritic…).
Steep casts it’s net wide in an attempt to appeal to a variety of fans. Snowboarding, skiing, paragliding, wingsuit flying are all featured, in addition to a rocket powered wingsuit – how very ‘Just Cause’. The game features vast open world areas of the Alps and Alaskan mountain ranges to explore, race and complete challenges. If you a take a more leisurely approach to the game, find a good starting peak and free roam down to the base, soundtracked by a fitting selection of instrumental electronic and rock OST.
The Director mode is a real bonus for watching and editing replays of runs and tricks you’ve managed to pull off. Youtube is filled with montage like videos from players making the most of it. It does help that Steep is visually very impressive. Disembarking from your snowboard or skis allows the player to climb on foot to access hard to reach spots – often the best opportunity to admire the scenery before wingsuiting off the cliff face. Steep is certainly along the more serious side of sports games. Handling of the snowboard takes a stiffer, more realistic approach rather than the arcade feel of the SSX series. Steep is our highlight of January’s PS Plus titles.
Our initial response to starting up Portal Knights was definitely ‘wow, this reminds me of Minecraft’ – which is by no means a criticism. This also seems to be the general consensus amongst players describing the game. Portal Knights is a sandbox action RPG with good balance between combat, crafting and destroying plenty of blocks that make up the various maps. Level up your character as you defeat enemies and complete quests as you progress through the procedurally generated worlds. Each progression of character level is rewarded with points to upgrade health, strength, agility, ranged weapon damage, mana or spell damage, depending which character class you have chosen.
Just like Minecraft, it’s a game that you could easy lose track of time when playing. It’s both accessible for children and adults alike. Portal Knights is highly recommended for fans of Minecraft and Lego Worlds.
Zone of the Enders HD Collection
Zone of the Enders HD collection features both the title game and the sequel, ‘The 2nd Runner’, released in 2001 and 2003 respectively. This HD collection was then released in 2012. The series is a hack and slash, 3rd person shooter which revolves around controlling Mech robots known as ‘Orbital Frames’.
The original game, Zone of the Enders happens to be remarkably short, taking about 5 hours to beat the story. The combat ends up being repetitive, bashing the square button is a prominent requirement. The cutscenes are incredibly dated and is quite a jarring difference in style from the gameplay.
Due to all this, the original game essentially feels like a prologue to the much superior sequel, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner. Combat mechanics are improved, featuring attack combos. Items from the environment can now also be wielded as weapons. The sequel is progresses in a more linear format than ZOE however this is an improvement. Constantly requiring to travel back and forth between the small arena like areas broke up the flow of the game.
Overall I was slightly disappointed with the collection as I expected a bit more from a Kojima title. The sequel does however make up for the flaws found in the original game. Is it worth playing through the first Zone of the Enders game? Yes, though purely as a quick introduction to The 2nd Runner. You won’t miss out on much though if you simply dive straight into the sequel.
Amplitude is a musical rhythm based game and a remake of the 2003 title of the same name. Basically, it is a precursor to the hugely successful Guitar Hero franchise by the same developers and shares similar game mechanics. Carefully time button presses with the targets on screen to play sections of musical notes or percussive beats. Mistime your action and the section of music stops, missing out on points which tally towards your end score. Amplitude features a mainly electronic / dubstep style soundtrack.
From a musical perspective, an interesting feature of the game shows when there are multiple layer of ‘tracks’ to choose from. There is always background music playing which forms the foundation of each song. As the song progresses, you often have the choice between which instrument track play during short sections. This results in variation between which instrument is the focal point of the music, meaning you could end up with very different sounding music upon replaying levels, depending on your choices.
It is easy to see how Amplitude paved the way for the Guitar Hero series. It is a simple concept that will provide fun, even to casual or non gamers but does get rather challenging in later levels with some quick reflexes required!
Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion (PS4 Crossplay)
Fallen Legion’s 2D art style and fantasy rpg combat system initially looks impressive, however this is shortly replaced with disappointment. The combat system sets each party character a different button to control their attacks, allowing attack combos to be chained together – which inevitably results in button bashing through wave after wave of enemy. There’s usually too much happening on screen to formulate any type of strategic approach – if that’s even possible at all. Fallen Legion really didn’t grasp my attention long before giving up with it.
Super Mutant Alien Assault
Super Mutant Alien Assault is a 2D arcade platformer shooter, heavily inspired by the 2010 indie shoot ’em up game ‘Super Crate Box’. Defeat alien enemies on board your spaceship in small randomly generated single screen levels. Unlock weapons and special abilities as you progress through the game.
Limited Run Games are producing an exclusive physical copy of Super Mutant Alien Assault for PS4. Available from Friday 25th January 2019 – Limited to 1,800 copies only!
Our previous posts featuring PS Plus games can be found here.