Such a simple concept executed so beautifully. Gorgeous to look at and never fails to unwind your senses and relax you.

User Rating: 9 | flower PS3
In Brief

The Good:
-Nothing short of beautiful
-Never fails to deliver a sense of serenity and detachment from life's troubles
-Beautiful graphics
-That Game Company's trademark for creative use of sound as ambience returns in a much stronger capacity
-The landscapes look fantastic
-Simple pick up and play controls

The Bad:
-Can be played to its entirety without any challenge what so ever (which is kind of the point to be honest)
-Short lifespan

That Game Company's last PlayStation 3 outing Flow wasn't trying to be an all out action or strategy game and chased for utter serenity. Instead it was an experience that tried to take away the stress and burden of your every day life and allow you to completely relax and unwind with it's simple controls and creative use of sound. It worked remarkably well but didn't exactly have that long of a shelf life. TGT's second outing on the platform aims to take its original concept and not only build upon it but take it to an entirely different and new level.

Society being the way it is in this day and age along with the concept of the title this does make you want to hide offline so you aren't the subject of ridicule from your friends but there is nothing to be ashamed of at all from playing this.

Flower strives to be taken seriously as a piece of art and not just in a graphical sense (which I will go onto later) but also interactively. The main menu is an apartment and the camera is fixed to the view of a window with a grey, cold city in the background with a table placed just beneath it which is where the flower pots sit. To enter the game you select a flower on the table top.
You are inside the flower's dream away from the emotionless urban surroundings and back into the freedom of huge plains of nature untouched by man. The level always starts from that flower and you gaze continually at it un till you hit any button to make a petal drop off then you take control of the wind and guide the petal through use of the Six Axis motion controls.

The term 'pick up and play controls' is all too commonly thrown around in the industry these days but nothing could describe Flower's better. Controlled strictly via the Six Axis only and pressing any button to give you a boost as you play, it never gets more complicated than that which fit's the game perfectly as nothing is allowed to contradict or interrupt your sense of disconnection from the world in your relaxing experience. I know what you are thinking with other games track records utilising the technology and the inaccurate detached feel it provides but this will sweep that conception under the rug. Sony really needs to release this or Flow as a free download to make them more of a technical demo to show how well the technology can be utilised.

As I said in my Flow review, try to think of this as an ultra modern take of Nokia's mobile game; Snake. Unlike Flow the game is now in full 3D and you start off as a single petal and travel the land gathering more and more petals as you pass over flowers that populate the landscapes to unlock the next section and new puzzles that continues to make your trail longer and longer and ultimately returning more and more colour to the lands before entering a sort of gentile hurricane and your petals all form together and create a new flower that closes the level and you get pre set camera angles showing the plane you have just been gliding around in all its beautifully coloured glory.

It looks nothing short of remarkable watching the accumulated varying coloured petals gather and propagate rotating around the screen. For an even greater effect when you know your trail is going to be a long one make a long winding path while boosting and turn face on to watch your stream of petals flowing along that almost looks like they are dancing with each other. Better still when you aren't being the flower equivalent of Felipe Massa racing around the game enters a sort of slow motion state, the petals rotate slower and spread further apart, the camera pans in slightly and the focus shifts from the game world to your assorted flower petals and treated to a sort of sea shell echoing sound. Despite my last paragraph being such a simple concept it is used so gorgeously and the result is nothing short of awe inspiring.

This sounds ridiculous but the grass almost steals the entire show. It isn't a green tile with a few spikes to try and make it look 3D, every last blade of grass is painstakingly made and produced on screen. More remarkable is the fact that every last strand is interactive. They get brushed aside as you forge a path through them and you can even pan out and watch the wind gently ripple through them causing them to sway. It is nothing short of amazing and even more so when you are on some levels where the grass has sort of a tiny pollen like light at its tip.

It isn't all a simple case of collecting flora between points A and B to complete the level, a lot of effort has been exerted to keep the game fresh and rolling along nicely and the sections that give each level its own personality have been done so well. There's puzzles to solve such as turning off electricity pylons to using moonlit petals to illuminate the lands and others just for artistic effect such as the second level where you can change your trail to a specific colour and use your petals as a huge paintbrush the being able to paint the landscape as if it were a huge canvas.

It is worth purchasing this game for one sequence and one level shown in this title.

Flying around the last level and the only real urban landscape as your race around the city returning colour and life whilst vanquishing the mysterious entity that pollutes the world is a joy. We get scene familiar to the Final Fantasy VII legendry highway chase and it keeps gathering momentum all the way up until the games close as you make your way up through the tower at the inner of the city. Sit back and enjoy the visual poetry ending.
The final level is a champion of art direction and I haven't seen anything that comes close not only this generation but for a long time and I genuinely mean that as I do with my absolute favourite scene in the game.
You have to solve a simple puzzle to activate some wind turbines and you are sent racing through a winding, twisting canyon gathering more and more speed un till you hit the end everything slows down,. The music and sound is replaced by a sort of vacuum, hollowly sound (if such a thing exists) and you are treated to the most beautiful sunset ever seen in gaming. It is a beauty that just leaves you gazing at the screen all wide eyed and sends a chill down your spine, why can't all games give you this sensation?

Sound and music is used to the same extent as its predecessor; Flow. There's a simple uncomplicated base song in the background and you continually add to it upon consuming more petals with each flower colour/ type emitting their own sound. A pluck of an acoustic string from a variety of instruments to a piano key being pressed, they are used to such a striking effect. When not gathering the music notes are replaced by the gentle soothing of a summer breeze.

Graphically Flower is nothing short of spectacular. Everything is so richly and wonderfully detailed. Not only are they incredibly striking to look at but they are so fantastically vibrant, it is a dream after all. They aren't like Wipeout's where the boldness and richness of the colours have a neon look to them, they all sort of feel natural and illuminate the landscapes into looking like everyone's picture of Eden, a place where they would want to spend eternity.

For those of us gamers who don't conform to the stereotypes of old and have the burden of sex and relationships this title will not only get you a lot of brownie points from your partner but it will also take her (or his if you don't live in Alabama or Newcastle and are that way inclined) knock down their common conceptions of the pass time but it is also a great way to introduce them to your hobby, it is amazing how many of them want to actually play this game.

The relaxing harmonious experience That Game Company has set out to deliver has been achieved yet again but to such a higher level than they previously achieved with Flow. The way the graphics and the sound bond so magnificently together along with how the game feels to play and how the interactive elements such as the petals rotating around the screen and the grass blowing gently in the wind compliment each other just feels so effortless and unforced and never delivers a feeling nothing short of complete serenity and peace.