This Month On Playstation Plus – December 2016

Oh dear. Best laid plans and all that, I seem to have fallen rather behind schedule with these wrap ups.

Right, only one thing for it. Let’s rattle through a few of these as quickly as we can to get us back up to date. A maximum of 15 minutes on each game, after which I’ll write up my snap, woefully under played, off the top of my head judgement. Fair? Not in the slightest, but hey I don’t make the rules (er, wait…).

And speaking of rules, the usual one applies. If anything really catches my eye and seems worthy of a more in-depth review, I’ll come back to it in a longer form write up.

Ready? Then let’s go. Start the clock…

Invisible, Inc. (PS4)

Well I’ve never heard of this one, let alone remember downloading it.

First impressions from the title screen – the game is subtitled ‘Tactical Espionage’ and the character art looks almost Timesplitters-esque. I’m expecting a skills based, forced perspective puzzler of some description.

Well almost. Turns out it’s a D/Generation¬†or Head Over Heels style fixed camera viewpoint. Action is turn based as you take control of a group of special agents, infiltrating this and hacking that. With each turn you have a set number of action points, used up by moving, attacking guards etc.

The tutorial takes you through the basic controls as you guide what appears to be a hungover agent for some reason out of whatever hole he’s woken up in. Starting the game proper takes you into a Mission:Impossible type story as headquarters are attacked and you start the fightback with limited resources.

Within the limitations of the chosen viewpoint it’s a nice looking game. It has bags of character, even if the plot does feel a little generic. But I can’t say this got me particularly excited. I’ve enjoyed a turn-based bout of Civilization down the years but this did little for me, the constant fiddling with controls and deliberate pace of the action jarring for my somewhat itchier trigger finger.

This is one mission I won’t be signing up for.

Stories: Path of Destinies (PS4)

This is a strange game. It opens almost like The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, a great weighty tome, the narrator taking us through the backstory up to the present day.

With that done it’s into the game. Action is viewed from a fixed camera position, offering a similar perspective to something like Prince of Persia. I got completely lost as to who was what and why but you start out chasing some kid to get a magical book back before having to fend off some beasts with your sword and unlock a door to proceed to the next area.

In fact it’s not only the viewpoint that reminded me of Prince of Persia, the mode of attack is eerily reminiscent of that classic, although the protagonist here is somewhat less agile, lacking even a jump, although skills can be upgraded.

Yes, we’re in the realm of skill trees and upgrades. Maybe it’s just me but I find all that a bit too much like hard work (not to mention a trigger for my anxieties). Screens pop up allowing you to craft and upgrade with instructions spread all over the screen. Maybe I’m just tired (or old. Or old and tired. And grumpy) but it irritated the hell out of me. I don’t want to read reams of text whilst I’m playing. I don’t want the action to stop every two seconds whilst you explain to me how clever your game is. Just let me bash something in the face and be done with it.

Tonally it’s all over the place, trying a little too hard to be clever without any real wit or invention. The narrator from the opening of the game stays with you throughout, reading the words from the book and after a while starts to really grate.

Cop-out time; there’s probably a fun game here for those so inclined. It has a unique graphical style, although the world I encountered was a little barren. I couldn’t shake the feeling though that it just liberally borrowed from far better games. A touch of Prince of Persia here, some God of War there, a dash of Final Fantasy and poof! we’ve mixed a game!

Well, this isn’t going well.

Color Guardians (PS4)

American spelling aside, this looks a bit more like it. A cross-save compatible title with the PS Vita, this is a fairly straight forward sprint to the end of the level affair. Similar in many ways to mobile games such as Subway Surfers et al, although the perspective moves from into-the-screen to side on, you control a cute little colour creature who must collect coloured orbs on his free run sprint through the environment.

The gimmick is that the orbs are different colours and on different layers of the screen so you have to hope between 3 different lanes, hitting X, O and triangle depending on what colour you come across.

The concept is as simple as it gets but levels are spiced up with obstacles to avoid, mushrooms to spring off, water hazards and other nice touches.

It’s not likely to win a game of the year award but it’s a decent little time sink and probably great fun for kids.

Tiny Troopers Joint Ops (PS4)

Another cross-play title but this time despite the visuals, a decidedly less child friendly experience.

You control a little platoon of troopers, moving round the map shooting grunts, blowing stuff up and collecting bonuses. You move with the left stick and fire your gun with the right, the shoulder buttons allowing you to use auxilary weapons such as grenades and rockets.

It’s Cannon Fodder basically. Just like Cannon Fodder, you control all your troops at the same time, the platoon following the leader. Extra troops and upgrades can be purchased between missions whilst the levels themselves range from the simple (shoot everyone) to the slightly less simple (shoot everyone and everything, protect civilians). In between you get side missions, including Survival missions, just you and your gun against an advancing horde of grunts.

It lacks the subtlety and sophistication of Sensible’s take on war based fun but it’s not bad. Much like Color (grrr) Guardians, this is perhaps better suited to the quick, no-frills play that a handheld offers.

Also Available

PS3 owners can blast their way through 3D space shooter Hyper Void whilst PS Vita owners get to enjoy gravity-based platformer VVVVVV.

Coming Soon

In the next instalment we move into 2017, January’s offerings headlined by a remastered classic that has sat in my unplayed PC games collection for about 10 years.

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