Bring on the crazy season. Later in the year I realised that 2008 was shaping up to be the racing enthusiasts dream year. What landed next was another title new to me, but an established franchise - Midnight Club: Los Angeles.
This game takes car customisation and brings it to a whole new level. Taking an Audi R8, painting it opalescent red-orange, lowering it, slapping decals on it, adding new rims.. you've found a new hobby.
The car design in itself is a huge focus in the game and that's long before you go driving. You're only limited by your imagination as the tools on offer are so powerful.
Then you have the city, Los Angeles modeled in excellent detail, landmarks maintained and traffic flow getting in the way of your 250mph race. Its done so well. You wonder why Liberty City didn't look as impressive too.
Hard not to be impressed crusing down the highway, or sailing through the air at 200+ in a modded Lamborghini Gallardo. With a big pack of DLC on the way for this one, I can see it being played a lot more in the coming months too.
Midnight Club: LA was a surprise for me. It looked like another NFS Underground with a different coat of paint. When it was everything that modern NFS titles should be. The crown in this type of racer goes to MC:LA this year for me.
When I first booted up Dead Space at about 7pm, in a dark room, on launch day - I knew I'd found something awesome. Always a fan of sci-fi, particularly space-fiction and alien-horror, Dead Space was my dark, terrifying, gaming wet dream.
The cinematics remind you of an intro fly-by in Event Horizon or something and just like any good sci-fi horror, you're always on edge and waiting for the next blast of orchestral music that tries to startle you off your lounge as an alien smashes through a ceiling vent.
While the premise isn't particularly new, the execution is VERY fresh. The zero-gravity sequences are fantastic and there's a great element of suspense when suddenly you're running on tank oxygen and looking for an exit.
Focus is on dismembering enemies to stop them in their tracks and you have a host of futuristic wacky weaponary at your disposal. It is so refreshing to flick through the arsenal and not see standards like the pistol, shotgun and rocket launcher.
Dead Space was a breath of fresh air in the shooter games this year.
I fully intend on doing another play-through of this one over the holidays.
October was a busy month for games and one of the titles I still haven't given significant time to is MotoGP '08 . While initial impressions were great.. the tracks and riders looked good, the layout was very straight-forward and reminiscent of other racers like DiRT, in the face of the other titles on offer, I sort of neglected MotoGP '08.
All that said, I have played it a bit more recently and as far as Moto games go, this one really takes the cake. The physics model is awesome, you really get a feel of the bike and once you start playing with the assist settings, you're really rewarded for good drives. The simulation put me on my butt more than a few times in a single lap.
The competition will leave you behind, but if you race cleanly and quickly, you're on the ball for the win. The night races are also a very welcome addition (I similarly enjoy them in the actual race season) and the atmosphere is very different.
Over the holidays I'll be putting some serious time into this one. Hopefully catching up with some mates online too.
Perhaps one of the year's most anticipated titles delivered when LittleBigPlanet dropped. In a similar way MGS4 revolutionised what could be done with games these days, LittleBigPlanet showed us what we could do with our games.
The power in LBP is obviously the creation. While it's an awesomely fun game to play by yourself, online, with mates, with a girlfriend – the real power comes from its ability to hand the directorial controls over to you. YOU make your own levels. Its what I as a kid wanted from games. I can remember sitting around with mates wishing we could make our own levels in Desert Strike on the Sega. Add crazy stuff and huge intricately detailed missions.
LittleBigPlanet accomplished that – and remarkably, its done it so well that its accessible by just about anyone. When I first read about LBP's creation tools, it all seemed too difficult, too much effort, restricted to the rocket scientists and people that have lived in game developing.. but I was wrong – its simple, straight-forward, well explained. There's loads of tutorials to help you.
This is truly the party title of the year. A game that's always a laugh to play with mates, and never stressful, or stupidly frustrating. Its one your girlfriend will enjoy, one that you can share the PS3 experience.
Truly a remarkable achievement from a company with a handful of staff. Cool DLC already and some excellent stuff coming soon. You can't go wrong.
Naturally, if the signature or the official thread, or my first impressions thread hasn't already given it away – the big one of the year for me was MotorStorm: Pacific Rift.
I loved the first one. Despite some of the complaints about the original, like long load times and such, none of this ever really got to me. I honestly didn't notice it. Very quickly, Motorstorm became one of my favourite titles on the PS3 and indeed, one of my favourite off-road racers ever. I bought all of the DLC, the extra tracks and I played it more than a year after originally picking up my system. Online with mates in the UK was massively fun.
So as you can imagine, I was hyped for the sequel. It promised not only to do what the first did, but to do it even better. To offer more options, more tracks, more variation, new cars – and a new car type, the old favourite Monster Truck. All this would be carried out in a vastly new region, Pacific Rift – and the location would me much more unique than before. You'd race on beaches, through lush jungle, over lava, skim across water.
And with no bias, you can't argue that Pacific Rift accomplished all that it set out to do. Evolution delivered a spot-on off-road racer. Everything you'd want from the series and all you'd need from an arcade racing game.
It looks sensational, it feels solid. It improves on the slightly rushed launch concept of the original and provides a polished experience. Everything from the Festival, to the time Attack mode and additions like Photo Mode capture the essence of the racing. Craziness. Pushing the limits.
With already over one million copies sold, loads of people are recognising its good. Great in fact. And it's a title that I won't soon forget. No doubt I'll be playing this one well into 2009 and beyond.
As I've previously stated, I'm not too much of a fan of FPS titles any more. So despite the success of Resistance and quite enjoying the original on the PS3, I wasn't overly hyped for its successor - Resistance 2.
I was of course, very wrong. I should have been hyped. Because 2008's Resistance 2 provides an online FPS experience that is second to none. Insomniac have managed to keep this one basically completely free of lag, glitches or any negative online elements. Stuff that would usually break an online formula such as this one. For the first time - in pretty much forever - an online FPS experience is just about technically perfect.
The fact that I've spent countless hours online and never encountered lag or network errors says a lot.
And not only is the online spot on, the offline campaign experience is solid as well. The story is told in cutscenes rather than the sometimes tedious intel documents that ruled the original. Both graphics and game play compliment the overall package.
It's a title that surprised me this year - mainly due to the fact that I've once again become an enthusiastic FPS gamer. Something I never thought I'd say again after my years in the Quake eras.
Another much anticipated title for me this year was Prince of Persia. Ubisoft has taken the series, renowned for the Sands of Time instalment and given it a completely new look and feel. The art direction is instantly the focus, the sort of comic book slash cell-shaded ****that sets this one apart from its predecessors and gives it a very unique feel.
Adding a bunch of new combat and movement mechanics as is always the case with Prince of Persia titles, gives it another fresh game play feel. New to the game play though is the real open-world feel.
Its a term that's often overused these days, but the latest in the long line of Prince titles really nails the concept. Basically anywhere you can see and jump to, you can go. And you're not limited by gravity or distance either, you have your sidekick, the magic Elika to help you span even greater distances and the Prince's 'gauntlet' glove to assist you along walls, down chasms etc.
Once again taking a new route in the story line, is the 'corruption'; A black, symbiote-like force that has gripped the land. The main procrastinator, Ahriman, escaping from his prison has violated the land's fertile grounds. It is up to you to heal the fertile lands, restore power to the tree of life and reimprison Ahriman.
It makes for a great story and certainly some amazing visuals. The first time you see a land becoming 'cleansed' is quite impressive.
The game is less combat focused than the last series - but to me this was a good thing. I liked the earlier series that were more about exploration, gymnastic feats, platforming and collection. Warrior Within and Two Thrones were a little too much about combat for my tastes - so it stands to reason that the latest incarnation with only 'boss' fights and occasional interim enemies suits my play.
The new direction is one that works. The game has a great polish to it, even the menus in that Arabic ****reek of a developer passionate about what they are producing. Rumoured as part of a trilogy, I can only be enthused about the new path they've taken with the Prince.
One of the best titles of 2008.
Continuing the Prince of Persia enthusiasm, I also picked up Prince of Persia off the Playstation Network. Anyone into nostalgia really has to give this one a look.
One of my first gaming experiences was a foray into the dungeons of Jordan Mechner's Apple IIE title 'Prince of Persia'. And here it is, faithfully recreated in modern form - but with hallmarks of its ancestor.
True, you'll start the game with the same story and in the same fashion as the original. You get pushed into the dungeon in the exact same way as you did in the original. The screen looks the same and all of the level layouts are exactly faithfully reproduced. So much so I still remember my way around many of the areas.
Its incredibly impressive.
What has changed is primarily the graphics - and in place of old is flash backdrops, proper palace settings, water features and marble floors. Even the Prince himself has been given a makeover, looking much like the character model from the Sands of Time series.
Movement is also identical to the original - but the animations and sequences between jumps, running etc. is all modernised. Instead of two animation cuts for turning around, you backflip, kick off a wall, shimmy.
The combat is brutal though. With the additional parry and attack combinations, the enemies are much much more difficult than the original. You can sometimes parry a sword attack two of three times, missing the timing and then receiving a critical blow to the chest.
Thankfully the game has been toned down a little bit too by the addition of a checkpoint system - though these points are often quite a distance apart - and quite a few enemies apart.
Ubisoft have gotten that balance right - the balance that keeps a nostalgia title true to its base, but overhauled enough to justify a remake.
Most recently, I've picked up Fallout 3.
Without a doubt, probably one of the best value for money games on the market. I've honestly put over 20 hours into this title since picking it up and I've barely scratched the surface of progress. Nowhere near finishing the game and constantly sidetracked or interested in other things.
There's so much to do. Wander the landscape, looking for settlements, exploring, chancing random encounters, venturing into villages and broken cities, looking through old pre-war stashes, collecting data, weapons, armours.. it just goes on and on.
It is a bold her direction for the Fallout titles. I've played all of them with Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics being real stand-out games for me. They offered you complete freedom, the ability to fashion your character any way you want. You could choose the evil route or the good route. And that night and day has been carried over to Fallout 3, just with WAY more variations.
Fighting from the first person perspective is incredibly immersing, perhaps even more so than its predecessors. You're in the action. The V.A.T.S targeting system is excellent too. Still feels like you're targeting in the original Fallout games, but its more visual and applicable in the Fallout 3 world.
The land is broad and full of stuff to explore. Even having to walk immense distances between places doesn't feel so much like a chore as you're always happening upon stuff on the way. You'll find an abandoned house, full of ammo, or a Super Mutant who's out for food.
Weapon systems are excellent and there's still loads of oldies but goldies carrying over. Waltzing around with a minigun, or plasma rifle in your hands has never felt so cool. The Power Armour is equally satisfying when you finally get to slap on the kit.
Quests are aplenty, they all have multiple ways of completing and usually involve a bunch of side quests, often optional. Rewards range from stat building to weapons and all hinges on the way you want to direct your Karma.
Overall, its an immense experience.
I had put this one off until now for two reasons - the first being the small bugs that have been fixed in the recent patch, and the second being - its so damn time consuming and addictive! I'm glad I'm sitting with this one over the Christmas holidays as you just couldn't do justice to it in an hour sitting in the evening.
2008 has been a massive year for the Playstation 3 and for gamers in general. We have been given a huge array of incredible titles, that in one way or another, we've all experienced in some fashion. We may not all like the titles, we may have hyped some of them too much, we may even have hated the developers for some decisions this year.
The games above are games I've played this year. If I've missed a game you think should be on the list, it may very well be - I've just not had the time or money to get to it yet. There's still a couple games I have in the Christmas list that will need to be played as well - and feel free to add your own comments or reviews as you see fit
All I've seen this year is innovation. Bold new directions. Epic design and execution. I honestly can't remember another year so jam-packed with so many great - and new games. We've been blessed as gamers.
And if 2008 is anything to go by and the momentum is maintained, 2009 is going to be an incredible year with the PS3 indeed.
Some will agree, some will disagree, but 2008 was an amazing year for the PS3.
I can safely say that I've never bought as many games in a year as I have done in 2008 with the PS3. I look at my entertainment unit now, the rack of games that stare back at me, beckoning to be played - and get this tremendous feeling that we're in one of the best gaming seasons in history.
When have we had so many good games in such a short space of time? And when has the overall experience, online and offline, been so enjoyable?
If you can look past the reviews and criticisms and play the games for what they are, you will have loved 2008. Revamped series, new series', titles you had been gagging to see after years of hiatus - and new IP's you were hyped for. And for the large part, they delivered.
So taking a look back at what was - for me - gaming in 2008...
The year begun with a new title to me, but a well established franchise - Burnout Paradise. It was the first true open world racing experience I had and the first time Burnout would take this route. It worked. Undeniably, it's an enjoyable experience. The offline stuff is highlighted by spectacular crashes in wacky and sexy cars. Its edge of your seat arcade racing at its finest - and the online experience is no less impressive.
Completely seamless in transition, you just jump into the online stuff with mates without missing a beat. And you'll spend hours there sucking up the sights and crashing your best mates into walls while pushing to the front of the grid.
Burnout really stands out in 2008 as a flagship title. Its the one I probably remember the most and have certainly poured the most amount of time into. Very few Paradise owners are dismayed by their purchase. And with loads more content coming from Criterion next year, the deal is only going to get sweeter.
Devil May Cry 4 was up next. I'd never played a DMC game before. The first time playing it, I wondered why I hadn't too. February was an eye-opener to the series for me and certainly a good experience. It was kind of like a less-brutal Ninja Gaiden. You could play Devil May Cry without wanting to pull your eyes out and throw your controller across the room or out a window. Yet still it managed to maintain a strong combo-system and pretty exciting combat mechanics.
It is insanely fast but surprisingly manageable.
The only disappointment for me was getting to the halfway mark and then basically playing the entire first half AGAIN in reverse. It was a major let-down. Almost as if they'd run out of development time so just reversed the game with Dante.
Beside that though, Devil May Cry 4 was a very cool addition to the 2008 catalogue.
Anyone who knows me knows that Gran Turismo was a huge driving (heh) force behind my PS3 purchase. Pretty much only owning a PS2 for GT3, GT4 and GT Concept further illustrates my point. Back in September of 2007 when I first read that there would be a GT5 Prologue, it was set in stone. I'd have a PS3.
Gran Turismo 5: Prologue was and still is probably the shiniest and most polished racing title to hit the PS3. What a lot of misinformed people dubbed as a glorified demo has been one of my most-played titles. It got me to buy a Logitech Force GT wheel kit and it spawned a whole series of challenges here with fellow PS3F'ers.
It is a glimpse into what the next full GT5 release is going to be like. And for those of us GT nuts, something VERY nice to bridge the gap. The lack of Private Rooms/Friends races has hurt its longevity in the face of some recent racing titles, but the fact remains - Polyphony knows how to make a simulation racer. Fantastic.
After the massive disappointment that was Tiger Woods '08, I was desperately searching for another Golf title. It was found in March with Everybody's Golf: World Tour (AKA Hot Shots Golf 5). At first the 'animated' ****was a bit of a deterrent, but you get quite accustomed to the characters and cartoon finish when you realise that underneath lies a very solid Golf game.
Most importantly, it worked. Online was solid, you could play with your mates, it never hangs or lags and there's plenty of variation. Even some good DLC to boot. When you see Kratos walk onto the tee and belt a ball 300 yards, you know this is something special.
Bringing back memories of hours spent in the arcades as a kid, came Super Stardust HD. I remember playing games like Tyrian, Raptor and investing hours and as many silver/gold coins as I could muster, beating the high score. Those top-down shooters and space shooters were extremely addictive. And the modern incarnation is no different. Wasn't long after first downloading the demo that I was forking out the dough to get the full version.
In addition to having some slick graphics, SSHD has every game play element you'd expect from similar shooters. Future expansion packs broadened the games' appeal by adding split-screen and various 'party' mechanics and game modes. Its fast and furious, destroy everything attitude promotes some intense gaming. From basic 'Arcade' experience to the immensely difficult 'Bomber' and 'Survival' modes, there is plenty to do in SSHD.
Being the first game on the PS3 to get Trophy support saw another rise in SSHD's popularity later on. The leaderboards became extremely competitive and it was awesome to see a little PSN game get so much acclaim.
Still probably my favourite PSN title to date.
I hadn't intended on picking up Battlefield: Bad Company until it was something the Aussie Crew got behind. My days of FPS' had been left behind with hundreds of hours invested in the Quake series and Half-Life. The console era was for me, one I'd focused on primarily as a medium for racing games. Gran Turismo and the like. However, on finding PS3F and game discussion here, my range has been broadened considerably.
So it came to be that I grabbed Battlefield: Bad Company. The offline campaign was what I concentrated on originally. Just to get a feel of FPS' with a controller rather than a keyboard and mouse. It was certainly my first proper console FPS experience. Eventually I'd get into the online component.
Online was mostly enjoyable, but the lack of mic support at the time and odd freezes here and there put me off the multiplayer aspect.
Its a title that has been improved on over the last few months though and with mics working now and Trophy support added into offline and online modes, its one I'll be getting back into over the Christmas break.
And then came the jewel in the PS3s crown. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
I have previously admitted I wasn't a big fan of the MGS series. Not by choice mind you, simply because I'd never known anyone with it and never had input on the series. All question was put to rest though after playing for a few hours on launch day. Wow.
The game that takes gaming to a new level. Showing what games can do and what games are capable of. Thankfully I'd done my research, caught up on much of the story, watched synopsis' of the prior instalments. It wasn't too much of a stretch to keep up.
It kept getting better. The epic experience continually going beyond what you could have imagined and expected.
A true keeper title. One you'd go back to and play again every 12 months at the very least just to see what gaming is all about.
About mid-year, gaming was starting to become an obsession. Hours invested in Burnout, other titles filling the gaps. Weeks spent with two play-throughs of MGS4.. something had to give. The girlfriend wasn't going to keep putting up with an evening of watching me playing games.
So along came Buzz! Quiz TV. Amazingly accessible to everyone, not just the missus. I've had the family sitting around for a game of Buzz and it can be surprisingly good fun both offline and online. A bargain too when you consider the game, and the quiz-buzzers all cost you no more than an average new release title these days too.
This is one of those 'party games', something you can show off when a friend who isn't too enthusiastic about gaming comes around for a visit. Easy to start and fun to play. Plenty of variation and loads of quiz questions.
The only downside for me was the online. It seemed like a great idea and a lot of us picked it up - but for whatever reason, an incredibly social game like this one... didn't have headset support. No banter, no chatter, no taunting, no congratulating during events. Why they decided not to include this is beyond me.
Nonetheless, good fun on an 'in-house' basis.
After recently purchasing a Logitech Driving Force GT and building a lounge rig for it, I was on the hunt for racing games that would really make use of the wheel setup.
I found that (oh man did I find it!) with System 3's Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli. I never thought a racing game could make you feel like you were at the wheel of an 1100kg, 380 kW Ferrari F430 GT2. As you struggle to maintain a balance of throttle through Eau Rouge in the rain, with 5 other cars metres off your chassis, your hands are sweating and your shoulders and neck are aching.
And its like this all the way through, every car, every race.. every challenge. Tiff Needell shows you the ropes and leads you through the basics, but after that you're on your own to master some of the worlds greatest race circuits in some of the most amazing Ferrari's of all time. The FXX, the 333SP, the 250 GTO. Each with their own subtle nuances and characteristics.
I honestly never thought I'd experience a racing simulator that was more of a sim than GT - but Polyphony are going to have to pull something special out of their hats if they're to topple the driving experience in Ferrari Challenge.
An amazing game, a brilliant driving marathon.
When Star Wars: The Force Unleashed threads first started appearing on the forum, I wasn't all that excited. It had been quite a while since I'd played a good Star Wars game and one that really made me want to come back for more.
SW:FU had a different outlook though.. put you in the path of the villain and give you limitless powers to dispatch your foes.
The scale of the Environments in SW:FU is quite impressive. You could pretty much fall off everything and jump anywhere if you had the path right. If almost felt open-world in some areas.
Despite some little bugs here and there, Force Unleashed is a great return to the Star Wars gaming franchise. After playing the demo I was sold on the full release - and the level design, coupled with a combat system that's really only limited by how wacky your imagination is.. it all adds up to good, mindless fun.
After last years' awesome Tools of Destruction, Insomniac took a break from Resistance 2 and delivered us Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty - a little mini story along the same story line as the ToD path. The fun is maintained and the graphics are - as is always the case for Insomniac games - amazing.
While you're blasting evil robotic Pirates into nuts and bolts, you're getting the urge to play ToD again. you don't want the experience to end - but suddenly - it does. And you're reminded that this was just a mini game, not a full release.
Despite the length, you only paid a small fee for this little dose of Ratchet & Clank goodness. So it feels better. And along the way you encounters some great new level design and a new platforming mechanic with the modified ratchet.
Its undoubtedly one of the coolest IPs around. Pixar on the PS3 really..
Anti-gravity racing was up next with WipEout HD, the first big PSN game that almost justified a disc release. Also the first PSN game to get a Platinum Trophy (not that I'd ever get it ), the next-gen WipEout is something special, running at a blistering 60fps in full high definition.
The futuristic menu system greeted you and it wasn't long before you were immersed in the fast (extremely fast) paced action. For a complete WipEout noob like me, the learning curve was pretty steep - balancing air brakes with dropping the throttle, hitting the boost pads, when to turn in, the snap-steering.. it wasn't like any ol' racing game - this was something else.
I spent quite a bit of time in the Photo Mode bringing screenshots across as wallpapers. Zone mode was especially great to look at.
Online was pretty solid from my experience and we had some good games, but ultimately it didn't really excite and I played it mainly offline to fill time.
This is one of those titles that rewards the very patient and most likely the skilled. Some of the Trophy requirements seem completely unachievable for me, at least with the amount of time invested so far. Not impossible, just improbable.
Difficulty aside, its a flash game - and for a PSN title, its a great pickup.
Possibly the biggest surprise of the year for me was a title from Disney, in the form of Pure, the wild ATV game that seems to not have only dropped off the radar recently, but its also one that was barely on the radar to begin with.
And for the life of me, I can't understand why.
At the time of its release, people were waiting on Motorstorm and ignoring it simply because it 'looked the same' and such. In fact, apart from ATV's, the two titles have virtually nothing in common.
Pure sets the benchmark for stunt-type games. The stunts and tricks in Pure are absolutely WILD - and the fact that you can pick from a huge range of ATV's, built from the ground up yourself, made this one all the more interesting and fresh, no matter how many times you played.
Loads of customisability, plenty of tracks and variations, even more tricks and stunts, plus a perfect online mode with mic support.. well, its a sadly underrated and underhyped title. I'm still playing this one when I'm looking for a release. Its fast, slick, almost perfectly executed, looks wonderful - and yet, hardly anyone has ever heard of it. Much less given it a chance.
Sleeper title of the year for me.
If you've ever wanted to be a part of a city-wide gang, run over the elderly, take to the skies in an Apache chopper and machine-gun the suburbs or blow up a delivery fan with a heat-seeking missile, Saints Row 2, is probably part of your 2008 game collection.
Its hard to summarise this game. Simply because there's SO much to do. The graphics *****s immediately dismissed it because it wasn't the worlds best-looking GTA-esque game. Those that could look past that fact were rewarded (and I mean truly rewarded) with some of the best fun the console has to offer. You can do everything. Literally anything.
Dress like a tranny, or a pimp, then steal a car, or a monster truck, or a sewage truck, drop a grenade into a group of people doing Yoga in the park, streak in front of the police... there's really no limits.
hi it was back in december when i brought a ps3 from JB-HI-FI and it had the blu ray redemtion offer where i would get casino royal, spiderman 3 and ghost rider on blu ray. When i went to buy it i filled out a form for the offer and left with my ps3. I waited around a month. And i didnt recieve my blu rays so i rang up Sony and they just said that they will follow it up i rang up 4 TIMES and finally they said they recieved no paperwork. They said did u send us the form and i said i got no forms from JB-HI-FI but i filled one out so Sony said its not our problem and to ring JB. I then rang JB and they said they wil talk to the manager and ring back in a week. I waited a week and no reply so i rang back and demanded to speak to him and i did and they said they will follow it up and they never did. I rang back again and asked to speak to the manager again and i said why havent u rang me he said he forgot and said that he cant give me the DVD's but if i buy 1 he will give me 2 for free. But the funny thing is it was his staffs fault for not giving me the form so, i fliped him off and hung up. And the last phone call was to consumer affairs and they said to ring up sony and send to terms and conditions on the deal and if it says the shop should supply the form we have a case if they dont we lost those dvds. I am currently waiting for the terms and agreements.
A multimillion dollar company like that cant admit they made a mistake and give me 3 blurays. Disapointing i will never ever go back to JBHIFI
What are your thought on this who is right and who is wrong and join me and mabye others and stop shopping at JBHIFI.