Sony has once again helped in producing a game using the motto: Play, Create, Share. In the game players take the role of a little customizable mod to race in a Mario Kart-like racer. There are four different types of power-ups (lightning, rockets, speed boosts, and sonic booms) with three levels of effectiveness. There are several different ways to race including quick race against computer mods, career mode, split screen, split screen online, and just regular online races. I’ll start off talking about the most frustrating mode referred to as career mode.
The concept of the career mode is to rise up from a slightly experienced driver to become a ModNation Racer champion. The commentators that talk during and in between races add a sense of humor to the game that feels right. Along with completing the obvious task of winning each race, there is the added challenge of objectives like taking down three different people on the bridge in order to unlock more items for customization. The problem with this is it is really hard to do both with the CPU always on your tail. I have come within inches at times of winning the race and all of a sudden I would get destroyed by lightning and I would end up in fourth place. This becomes very aggravating at times. Once you do win a race you have to wait through unnecessarily long load times that can take a step back from the high pace action you experience during the race. Although these can be two disappointing aspects to the game there are plenty of things that make this game great. One such aspect that it steps up in is split screen. There are hardly any splitscreen mulitplayer games on the PS3 compared to the PS2 and United Front games delivers this exactly how you would expect it to be, but with your neighbors. When it comes to online play, it seems to me that the people you are facing are a lot more balanced compared to the CPU which leads to a more enjoyable experience.
The part that becomes the heart to the game is the customization. The shear amount of content it provides to make the game your own is amazing. The first thing you can customize is the characters themselves. They can be dressed in all sorts of skins and sticks that are unlocked in the campaign mode. Modding the kart can be changed in the same ways as the characters allowing for such things as different body kits to adding a satellite to the front of the car. Finally comes the track creation which can be the most complex. Although creators can be very complex when creating a track, even the most basic creators can make great tracks using features like auto populate to add a little bit of spice to the levels; something which was hard to do in LittleBigPlanet. For those of you who usually draw stick figures when creating people there is always the option to download other players’ creations which can be pretty spectacular. There have been such things as Mario and Iron Man to the Mystery Machine and a Ferrari. All and all this game has loads of features that will keep you playing for hours.
Pros: Replay Value, Customization, Wide Variety of Content, and Epic Races
Cons: Load Times and Rubber Band Like CPU
Final Score: 9.1 out of 10
With a slew of great games having come out on the Playstation 3 this past year, Sony has proven themself a worthy competitor in the video game market. Fantastic exclusives have been the discs spinning in many PS3 owners’ systems, so this year at E3 I think we can expect to see a lot of talk of sequels. Killzone 3 has been announced and shown off a little bit already, as has LittleBigPlanet 2, but I expect there are still plenty of games up Sony’s sleeves that are waiting for a proper unveiling at their press conference this year. Infamous 2, Resistance 3, maybe some sort of Uncharted sequel (possibly on the PSP), are all big possibilities.
While it’s obvious that Sony has some great games coming down the line, one place they have yet to fully prove themselves is in their motion controller. Will the Playstation Move keep up with Microsoft’s Natal? Both companies are sure to push their respective motion controlled experiences at E3 this year, and on Sony’s end we’ll probably be seeing these games get a sizable chunk of time devoted to them at the press conference.
Sony’s Playstation Network has long been considered inferior to Xbox Live, but that may change after we find out more about the “premium service” Sony has coming up. Will the added features players get for subscribing be worth the fee? I predict Sony will clearly lay out all the details regarding this service at their conference, including the price. It will be interesting to me what exactly the added features will be. Cross game chat? Movie rentals? Free downloadable games, or perhaps some sort of rental service for them?
Another topic that several companies will be tackling this year is 3D. It’s all the rage now after the success of Avatar in theaters, but consumers have yet to be convinced that they need to go out and buy a 3D compatible TV. Will we see an “Avatar of games” – that is, a title so groundbreaking that it convinces everyone that 3D is worthwhile? I’m betting we won’t. Rather, I think all that will happen is some games will be announced as 3D compatible. Killzone 3 is already confirmed to be that, and some of the Ps3’s other big upcoming games will probably jump on the bandwagon as well. I’d be surprised if Sony unveils something 3D related that is truly spectacular at their press conference, but you never really know. I always find myself getting surprised at these press conferences every time.
Sony is a respected company, but so far it has fallen behind Microsoft in terms of sales. In this economy, people are not going to want to spend lots of money on a new game system, especially if they already have one. Luckily, Sony has some first party games coming out that are so big they might justify a console purchase to some.
God of War III
First and foremost is God of War III. This uber-violent and uber-awesome action game has got legions of gamers excited, including Frayed Wire’s own JustMattPwn3r. And he doesn’t even have a PS3! A trailer and playable demo will most likely appear in the convention.
Heavy Rain is another PS3 exclusive that has the potential to be great. It seems to be an adventure game that’s heavy on dialogue (and rain, apparently), but with an interesting twist. The game’s narrative never stops no matter what happens to the main characters. If you end up getting killed, the story goes on. Needless to say, there will be numerous endings that can only be seen after several playthroughs. It also helps that the game has incredible graphics that really show off the PS3’s power.
MAG is one of the most ambitious shooters in a long time, boasting 256-player online multiplayer matches. It would be interesting if this was playable in 256 different spots on the showroom floor… I mean, what better way to show off the multiplayer? Somehow or another, I’m certain MAG will show up at E3 this year.
Some of the early PS3 favorites are finding sequels this year. Uncharted 2, PixelJunk Shooter, and Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time are confirmed by IGN.com to be shown, and all three look to be great games. The Xbox 360 has many interesting titles set to release in 2009, but most of them are third party games that will also be appearing on the PS3. Sony is doing a good job with making cool looking games that are exclusive to the Playstation 3, and the games may be able to win over people who are trying to decide whether to buy a 360 or a PS3 based on their exclusivity.
Of course, there’s the problem of cost. The PS3 is the most expensive of the three main consoles out right now, so a price drop would be a smart move. Sure, Sony might lose some money if they make one, but such a move could mean big sales when combined with such a great lineup of console exclusives on the horizon.
On the other side of things is the PSP. With Nintendo having recently released the DSi, Sony is failing to make a big impact on the handheld market at the moment. There have been rumors of a PSP Go, which supposedly has a touch screen and no UMD support. That means that all games played on the handheld would have to be downloaded and stored on the system… a risky move, but a potentially genius one. It will be interesting to see if Sony talks about such a device next week.
With a great lineup of games on the PS3, all Sony needs to do is lower the price of the system to bring in new customers. E3 this year can either be a breakthrough or a missed opportunity for Sony, so all eyes will be on the company this coming week.
The shooting game genre is jam-packed nowadays, so to stand out amongst the crowd, any new entry needs a unique mechanic or appeal. What makes “Haze so different? Drugs. Players can inject themselves with “Nectar” to improve their fighting abilities. If you take too much Nectar however, you’ll overdose, causing the screen to blur red and your character to move and shoot without your control. But in a practical sense, these drugs don’t affect you in cools ways like drugs do in Bioshock (shooting electricity from your palms, for example). We’re talking the boring and predictable effects – improved speed, strength, and accuracy. And it’s not like you’ll really need the help of that little yellow drug to defeat the brain-dead AI, who can hardly scratch your ridiculously overpowered suit if they get a chance to try.
When my equally dumb teammates were wounded before I got to shoot out their Nectar tanks and watch them spaz out, I didn’t feel any sense of wanting to save them. Those ‘roid-freaks reminded me of the douche-bag jocks with huge egos I used to hate at school. During the cutscenes, I just wanted them to stop talking, but it was several long, painful minutes before my wish came true.
The graphics are, dare I say it, hazy. Weird lighting blurs the scenery and makes the levels hard to navigate during heated moments… then again, the levels are always hard to navigate thanks to confusing paths that make finding your next checkpoint needlessly difficult.
Is Haze all bad? Well, the controls are good and the gameplay is at least functional, and it was cool that even on the demo, there was 4-player online co-op for the campaign, with multiple people on one console able to go online together. However, most of the fun I had with that was when JoeWillBeatJohn and I betrayed our team members and laughed as the host repeatedly restarted the level. For PS3 owners looking for another shooter, you might just want to wait for Resistance 2 or SOCOM: Confrontation later this year instead of shelling out $60 on Haze.