Gem and I.
The purpose of this list is to give you an insight into 5 games from my personal collection that not a lot of people ended up playing. Which is a great shame, because these games are genuinely brilliant – all in their own special way! Now before you read on, I just want to clear up that most of these games aren’t PlayStation exclusives but they are all available on the PS3. So if the PS3 isn’t your preferred weapon of choice, please feel free to read on, as some of these games will also apply to your favoured gaming platform.
Also, please note that this is not a ‘Top 5’ piece, these are simply 5 overlooked PS3 gems that I have had the pleasure of playing, that seemed to go under the radar for a lot of people. There are a few other games I could have put on this list, but I tried to get 5 completely different types of games for a bit of diversity. With that in mind, they are not ranked against each other and are just placed in alphabetical order. Enjoy!
Asura’s Wrath (PS3/Xbox 360)
Asura’s Wrath is a joint venture between CyberConnect2 and Capcom that’s story takes elements from Hinduism and Buddhism yet is heavily influenced by science fiction. It tells the story of Asura, a demi-god, who returns from the dead to seek revenge on the deities who betrayed him 12,000 years ago. This may sound like your run-of-the-mill revenge story, but trust me, there are a whole host of insane twists that take you on a real rollercoaster ride.
The story is told through a series of episodes, like that of an anime series. Each episode even features opening and closing credits, a recap of previous events and a preview of the upcoming episode. It works so well that I even found myself awaiting the next episode as if it were my favourite TV show.
It’s gameplay combines third-person action with beat em’ up brawls and rail shooter mechanics, all of which feature a heavy emphasis on QTEs. This game really opened my eyes to how QTEs can be used successfully in video games, instead of them being forcibly tacked on. In Asura’s Wrath they are combined with cinematics, to make the whole experience a lot more interactive and fun to play.
Asura’s Wrath takes the best parts of games like God of War and Bayonetta and turns them into something completely different but equally amazing – if not more so, especially in terms of sheer spectacle.
This game is epic and I mean epic. The opening episode’s gigantic battle alone features 8 demi-gods, a princess who controls the force, an immense fleet of warships and a demonic being that devours a planet, spawns hellfire and converts animals into giant flying squids that shoot fireballs from their eyes – not to mention this whole thing takes place in space! And that is just the tip of the iceberg… Seriously. If Clash of the Titans, Star Wars and Dragonball Z ever conceived a lovechild together inside a supernova and it was born in the form of an over the top, action-packed video game disguised as a crazy episodic Japanese anime – this is probably as close as it’s ever going to get.
If that wasn’t enough, Asura’s Wrath also has some of the most inspired DLC I’ve ever seen. Two interactive anime episodes that bridge the gap between certain chapters and two Street Fighter IV crossover episodes that feature one on one fights with Ryu and Akuma.
How awesome is that, you say? Very.
Catherine (PS3/Xbox 360)
Catherine is a truly unique game, brought to life by Atlus, the folks behind the Shin Megami Tensei (Persona) and Trauma Center series.
You control a character named Vincent Brooks, a laid back, thirty-something, systems engineer. Katherine (with a ‘K’) is his domineering but caring girlfriend of 5 years; she has been prodding him to get engaged so they can start a family together. This doesn’t bode well for Vincent however, as he has serious commitment issues and doesn’t want to be tied down.
One night, Vincent goes to the bar to drown his sorrows when in walks Catherine (with a ‘C’), the cute blonde-bombshell of his dreams. He awakes the morning after to find her butt naked in his bed and thus Vincent’s life begins to spiral out of control as he starts to deal with the fact that he is cheating on his girlfriend.
Catherine is part horror adventure/part puzzle platformer/part dating sim. The game is split between day and night sequences; during the day the game plays out as one huge, highly entertaining cinematic which shows how Vincent is dealing with his infidelity. What happens in these cutscenes depends on the choices you make when night-time comes around.
At night the game is split into two; firstly, a drinking session with his friends at the Stray Sheep, Vincent’s local bar, to make key morality decisions that have a defining effect on the story – leading this game to have some serious replayability value. However, the meat of the gameplay comes in the form of a puzzle-platformer that takes place inside Vincent’s nightmares, nightmares other unfaithful men seem to be having as well. Vincent will find himself being chased up an enormous tower of falling blocks each night to try and escape his, usually, grotesque pursuer.
Just a heads up, this game is not for the faint hearted, as these nightmare stages are extremely difficult, even on the easiest setting; forcing you to replay them countless times before you eventually reach the top and awake from your deadly slumber – although this makes reaching the summit that much more satisfying.
It also features an uber-slick Jazz/Hip-Hop soundtrack; hovering over Catherine on the PS3 XMB plays this song on repeat – that alone is worth the price of this game.
Catherine’s mature themes define what you as a person want out of a relationship and life in general. It gave me an amazing feeling of self-realisation, something I have never experienced before and probably never will again.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (PSN/XBLA/PC)
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is the latest addition to the long running Call of Juarez series of FPS’ set to a western backdrop. Having never played any of the previous titles in the series, I was hesitant at weather to bite the bullet (pun intended) and buy it. But when I finally took the plunge – I was so glad I did.
Gunslinger is a stand alone game with no story-ties to any of the previous titles. The story takes place at the very end of the Wild West era, 1910 to be exact, in a small town in Kansas named Abilene. The now infamous bounty hunter, Silas Greaves, strolls into the Bull’s Head Saloon looking for a drink; when word gets out about his identity, the locals gather around his table as he begins to tell them about his many travels on his quest to hunt down his nemesis Roscoe ‘Bob’ Bryant.
As Silas starts to share his memories, you play through his exploits as his younger self, his narration acting as a guide that helps you get out of sticky situations. While the game doesn’t take itself too seriously and can sometimes be tongue-in-cheek with its humour, there’s an intriguing story underneath that keeps you guessing until the very end.
This game is insanely fun, so much so, that it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing a FPS – and I play a lot of them. Gunslinger is everything an FPS should be: bright, colourful and action packed. The cell-shaded visuals are absolutely stunning and the combat and upgrade system is mighty addictive – I’ve already played through the game 3 times and I intend to do so again!
Gunslinger’s soundtrack sounds like it’s taken right out of a spaghetti western; I always leave the game on the menu screen between missions because that piece of music is so cool. There is also great voice talent in this game, especially John Cygan who portrays Silas so human and frail yet he still manages to come across as an absolute badass. I found his voice so infectious that I couldn’t help myself from just breaking into that southern US accent every once in a while.
I actually used Gunslinger as the subject of my sample review that I sent to ‘Sumonix’ that ultimately helped me get the gig. That’s how much I love this game. I could tell you all about every single aspect about it in great detail, but I found this hilarious trailer that does a much better job of it. So here you go:
Spec Ops: The Line (PS3/Xbox 360/PC)
With a generic name like ‘Spec Ops: The Line’ people assumed this was a standard modern shooter, just another Call of Duty clone looking to cash in on the tried and tested formula. Turns out people were wrong – very wrong.
Spec Ops: The Line is a third-person squad-based shooter in which the player assumes the role of Captain Martin Walker, the leader of a three-man Delta Force team sent to Dubai after a devastating sandstorm engulfed the city. Your objective is clear, to confirm the statuses of Colonel John Konrad and his “Damned 33rd” squadron who were sent there to help with the evacuation and haven’t been heard from since. However, contradicting your orders, you instead try to find out what actually happened in the city.
From here on out you slowly start to descend deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole and are forced to make decisions that don’t have a right answer; every call you make hurts someone, you don’t ever win. This is the complete opposite mentality of every other shooter out there and exactly why the game is so refreshing.
Spec Ops is intensely narrative driven, very loosely based on Joseph Konrad’s seminal novel Heart of Darkness, it tests your own morality, not just as your character but also as a human being, it goes to dark places that shooters have never dared go before it. Walker constantly reassures you that you are doing the right thing – but as the game progresses you really start to question his actions and your own. The story works so well, you get to the point where you are playing a shooter in which you don’t want to kill anyone and certainly don’t enjoy doing so, but you have no choice. Or do you? It’s a great social commentary on the mindless escapist fantasy of playing a modern day shooter.
This game does have a multiplayer mode, but don’t bother playing it, as it’s very uninspired and just degrades the amazing single-player experience. When the game comes to an end you will have many unanswered questions, some you will have to come to your own conclusion on. Others, however, can become clear once you play the 6-hour campaign through again making different decisions and experiencing a totally different ending.
“There is a line men like us have to cross” is the notion the game revolves around; you constantly try and fight the line but in reality, have you already crossed it? And if so, can you ever come back from it?
The Unfinished Swan (PSN Exclusive)
The Unfinished Swan plays out like an interactive children’s book, the game is told through a gentle woman’s voice as she tells the story of Monroe an orphan, who’s mother loved to paint although she never finished a painting. Upon her passing, the orphanage let Monroe choose one of his mother’s paintings to take with him – he of course chose the unfinished swan. One night he awakes to find that the swan from the painting has gone missing, so Monroe leaps into the blank canvas and the game begins.
Once inside the painting, you take control of Monroe from a first person perspective. You stand staring at a completely white world; luckily you have an unlimited supply of black paint that you can hurl onto anything to bring it to life. It is the most unique gameplay mechanic I’ve ever seen in a video game; developers Giant Sparrow allow you to literally paint the picture yourself and create your own path through the game – giving you the option to discover as much or as little of the world as you want. This is just the beginning of the wonderful journey that is The Unfinished Swan; but I’ll leave it there for now, as telling you more would spoil the magical adventure the game takes you on.
The Unfinished Swan tells an incredibly touching, emotional and enchanting tale. The soft music, the charming art style, basically everything about the game makes you feel like a little kid again. It clocks in at only around 2-3 hours in total, I know this seems short, but it’s the ideal length for The Unfinished Swan, as it’s meant to be played over and over again like your favourite children’s book. This game is meant to be played sat by the fire, wrapped in a blanket whilst drinking a hot chocolate – it is the essence of perfection.
Special Mention – Jetpack Joyride (PSN/iOS/Android/Windows)
Jetpack Joyride is a side-scrolling endless runner/action game developed and published by Halfbrick Studios. You play as Barry Steakfries, a businessman for a gramophone company that, while walking home from work one-day, accidentally discovers a jetpack being developed in a ‘top-secret’ laboratory. You take control of Barry right after he bursts through the wall and decides to steal the jetpack. From here on out you are faced with a constant stream of obstacles impeding your path as the jetpack becomes faster and faster. The aim of the game is to traverse these traps and get as far as you possibly can before you crash.
Obviously I couldn’t put this game in the same league as my chosen 5 because of it’s sheer simplicity, but it is so damn entertaining, I had to give it its own special mention. The jetpack has only one function and that is to shoot bullets at the ground, which in turn, makes you fly higher. You can also get in vehicles which are scattered around the path whether it be a gravity suit, a golden dragon or a plane shaped like a bird, all of which have their own special ability. This means you play the whole game by only ever pressing one button, however, Jetpack Joyride is far from boring; you have been warned – this game is ridiculously addictive.
I must have spent 10 hours playing this game within my first two days with it because for a game of such a repetitive nature – it has so many unlockables!
This game encourages replay for more than just beating your best distance; you can collect in-game coins to use towards purchasing many different jetpacks, costumes, vehicles, gadgets and power-ups. There is also a levelling system, complete with a whole host of different challenges. This is a massive amount of content for an endless runner and to top it off, it is available as a free download on the PlayStation Store and is trophy compatible! There is literally no reason not to get this game.
Now, remember, this is purely opinion based so if you agree or disagree with any of my choices, or even if you want to make your own list, go ahead and leave your thoughts in the comments section below and help everyone else discover some of your very own hidden gems!