This Month on Playstation Plus – August

Just Cause 3 (PS4)

I was dead excited when I saw this in the free games list.

‘Oooh,’ I thought, ‘I’ve got the 2nd game of this on PS3 that I never got round to playing. This should be fun.’

Then I realised that I actually had Far Cry 2, Not Just Cause 2. Dang.

So apart from not being Far Cry, what the hell is Just Cause? Well after a brief foray, it seems to be a bat-shit crazy mash up of GTA, Uncharted and everything in between. I mean where do you begin trying to unpack a game that, in its opening level sees you stood on top of an aeroplane firing RPG shells at targets?

Crazy as it seems, you end up getting blasted off the moving death trap, parachuting down into a cave before using some weird grappling hook to nimbly skip your way up the top of a mountain before engaging in gunfire with enemy grunts. A quick drive through some checkpoints later, you hop into a stationary tank, using its gun placements to blow the crap out of anything that moves before jumping into a helicopter on your way to another intense shoot out, ripping a dirty great gun out of its placement and waving it around like Blain from Predator.

And this was all in the first ten minutes!

It should be great fun, and perhaps with a more extended play time it will be. But in my introductory time playing, it all seemed a bit disjointed. I had no real idea of who I was fighting or why (something about an oppressive dictator and rebel forces) and as a result felt disconnected from the action. Without a cohesive narrative and engaging characters to draw you in, games can feel less like an interactive experience and more like one of those whack-a-mole type games you get at Chessington World of Adventures.

There looks to be some fun to be had here though and so I’ll definitely be back for another go.

Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry (PS4)

Back to that PS3 again.

The first Assassin’s Creed came with my bundle alongside PES, Lego Star Wars and Motorstorm. It was a bit fiddly to get into and slow going to start with but I came to really enjoy completing it. Sure, it was repetitive throughout, the plot was bonkers and the side quests were an exercise in utterly futility but it was an early graphical showcase and it’s combination of deft climbing and jaw-dropping falls into hay remain firmly wedged in my gaming memory.

For reasons too numerous to document here, I have never played any other games in the franchise. Until now. I wonder then, what has changed.

A standalone offshoot from Assassin’s Creed IV, Freedom Cry starts by dumping you in the middle of the sea at the helm of a whacking great ship. Apparently some other fellows are late with the library books or something because it’s not long before we are chasing them down for some good old ship-to-ship combat, blasting them to smithereens with a dose of cannon fire.

Ships sunk and it’s time to take a swim, our captain dodging hungry sharks to uncover some loot in the remains of the now doomed ship. But lookout, reinforcements are on the way and so with a finger in the air to caution, we dive into the midst of a great storm to outrun our predators, before being tossed into the sea.

Talk about lost at sea. I didn’t have a ruddy clue what was going on. The ship combat was kinda fun although I’m not sure how realistic the handling was. I felt like I was at the helm of a Nissan Skyline on Gran Turismo as I belted round the seas, cornering like a dream. Graphically everything appeared pristine, until I blasted the final ship into the sea and rather than sinking like the weighty wreck it was, it disappeared below the sea line with barely a ripple, like a piece of cardboard. It was momentary but stuck out like a sore thumb.

The under water antics were all a bit silly too. Everything you need is clearly sign posted on your little scanner so there’s no exploration as such (I tried swimming the other way and the game told me I couldn’t access that are. Dude, it’s the sea!). Instead it was just a dull plod from a to b to c.

Anywho, having somehow washed safely ashore, we are back on dry land and so more in line with my memories of Assassin’s Creed. It’s not long before we are offing someone and not long before I’m confused. The HUD tells me that some folk are on the lookout for me but, aside from the chosen few, no-one bats an eyelid when I rip some guys throat out and rifle through his pockets.

Let’s keep going though because it’s mission time and we get to…follow some bloke around. Joy. To be fair there are lots of little side quests, such as rescuing slaves and the like. But to be honest, I found it all a little dull and pretentious. Maybe it’s one of those games you need to properly get into to really get the best out of it. But hey, I’ve got 3 kids and a stack of unplayed games to get through, I haven’t got time for all that caper.

Also Available

PS3 owners can treat themselves to Super Motherload and Snakeball whilst PS Vita owners can snaffle the 8-bit style looks-naff, plays-naff but kinda fun in a weird way Downwell, together with Level 22.

Coming Soon

This will be the last of my PS Plus round ups for a while. But fear not, this is simply because the September and October headline games look so good (Infamous Second Son and MGS V respectively) that I want to play them fully before posting a review.

In the meantime, expect a whistle-stop tour through PS3-PSPlus offerings soon.

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