This Month on Playstation Plus – October 2016

After September spoiled us with its bountiful treats, time to take a look at October’s fare.

As usual these will all be quick hits, just dipping into the games to get a feel for them and report back. If anything looks interesting, I might revisit it in a longer post.

Let’s dive in…

Resident Evil HD Remaster (PS4)

Remasters are a funny old affair. Gamers will likely fall into one of two camps; you either played the original game, in which case you don’t need to revisit it, or you never played it first time round in which case no matter how much of a spruce job the developers do, you’re still effectively playing an old game.

Now I love a good bit of Resident Evil me. Having scandalously let the games sit unplayed for all of about 15 years I finally got round to playing and finishing both Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 over the last couple of years. When I saw this appear in the games list for October I was very much looking forward to the chance to dive back in but with some of those rough edges from the original PS1 outing tidied up.

And that is certainly the case here. Visually this is like chalk and cheese compared to the original. Gone are the jagged lines and gurning faces, replaced by smooth textures and natural looking character movements. The mansion has had quite the makeover, the deeper palette and enhanced visually clarity bringing out the gothic architecture.

But as someone of dubious physical attraction who has somehow married a woman of radiant beauty, I feel well qualified to attest to the fact that looks do not an experience make. Playability, as ever, remains king and it is here that the real test lies. Fans of the original will remember the ‘tank’ controls, whereby you turn on the spot, moving only in straight lines. It was a cumbersome system, artificially adding to the drama in moments of high tension as you wrestled with the pad to try and evade a lunging corpse or simply avoid walking into a doorway. But lo! Modern technology has moved at such a rate that this antiquated system need no longer impeded us, free as we are to live in a world of 360 degree freedom of move…what’s that? Oh.

Yes the control scheme has had a tweak but it remains an unsatisfying system. Instead of pure tank, you now have a far greater range of movement but the trouble is that the game retains its use of fixed camera perspectives. This is important for capturing that b-movie scare vibe, and worked within the limitations of the old control scheme, but with this revised hybrid system it feels clunky. More than once I found myself pushing up to move before the camera switched, took my thumb away for a second to readjust and when reapplied found I was going the wrong way as the camera effectively dictated my direction of travel.

If I sound down on the game it is only because I enjoyed the original so much. If you never played it then this reworked version is essential. It retains most of what made the original great – mood, atmosphere, genuine jump scares, gloriously cheesy voice acting – and improves on some of the areas that time has been less kind to. For series veterans, this is an interesting curio but for all its faults, the purity of the original experience remains king.

Transformers: Devastation (PS4)

Alright, now we’re talking!

I’m putting it out there right now; I’m a great big, grown up, geeky Transformers nerd. It was my absolute favourite cartoon growing up, I still regularly rewatch my box sets of the series and I even have the (1986) movie soundtrack on my mp3 player. And so when I saw this poking its head out of the box I couldn’t wait to take a trip to Cyberton.

There is no Michael Bay garbage here, we’re in proper old school Transformers territory. Optimus Prime looks like Optimus Prime with the game graphically capturing that 80s spirit. In fact the graphics are interesting. In one sense they are a cool homage but they are not a straight copy, instead employing a cell shaded look. It’s not unattractive but I would have preferred a stricter facsimile of the original. That aside, it looks terrific with Autobots switching in and out of vehicle form effortlessly. Sound is great too with the original voice cast used where possible, lending an additional air of credibility to it.

But it’s the gameplay that is all important. My first hour or so with the game saw me do battle as Optimus against Devastator and Bumblebee against Megatron, both of which seem like somewhat of an unfair fight but both hugely satisfying. Battles consists of a combination of sword slashes, gun fire, vehicle attacks and combos which each foe requiring a unique take to best. In between battles you explore the fairly generic looking streets with pick ups and street battles popping up to keep things interesting.

I have had great fun with it so far and look forward to playing more, although whether gameplay will begin to stretch a bit thin over the length of a full adventure remains to be seen. Still, Transformers, right? Watch out for a full review coming soon.

And The Rest

Why Sony, with these games you really spoil us.

PS3 owners can look forward to their noisy, breeze block update fests letting them loose round the muddy circuits of Mad Riders from Techland. It’s basically a cross between Burnout and Motorstorm, or a really angry Mario Kart, although nowhere near as good as either. Either way its quick, shallow fun.

From Dust on the other hand, directed by Another World creator Eric Chahi, is a rather more cerebral affair. You take the role of The Breath (don’t ask), guiding a tribe of nomadic settlers around their barren landscape. It is basically a 3D version of Populous and whilst it might be fun to some, my wife inadvertently summed it up when she remarked, ‘Who would want to play that?’ Who indeed. It drew positive reviews on release so maybe its just me (and my wife) but I found it all rather boring.

In addition to the above, PS Vita fans can look forward to visual novels Code: Realize – Guardian of Rebirth and Actual Sunlight.

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