In part two of our ‘Love Letter to the PlayStation 3′ we look at the highlights of 2008 and 2009 including the release of PlayStation Home and Uncharted 2.
So let’s begin part with the second proper year of the PlayStation 3.
In an apparent response to Xbox 360’s achievement system, Sony gave players trophies in firmware update 2.40. They offered four tiers of trophies ranging from bronze to platinum, with platinum trophies being given when all other trophies were obtained in a game. Trophies could be compared with other players which has spawned multiple websites dedicated to the trophy system.
Some games were given the trophy treatment retroactively, most notably Uncharted: Drakes Fortune.
Rejoice! PlayStation 3 owners got the DualShock3 controllers; the SIXAXIS controllers that were available for the system previously lacked the vibration function.The delay in release of the DualShock3 was a result of a lawsuit between Sony and the creators of the rumble technology.
For many, including myself, it was a welcome piece of hardware giving PlayStation fans back the familiar feedback they were used to. A pleasant side effect of the rumble functionality was that it gave the controllers weight which felt much better than the previously light SIXAXIS.
Home Sweet Home
Oh Home, where to begin. Released in 2008 this everlasting beta was made available free for all. The social networking game had you create an online avatar and socialise with others playing, it was very reminiscent of the PC fake reality Second Life. This was obviously a money maker for Sony with it having in game billboard advertisements, an apartment you could buy furniture and other decorations for, and even a shopping mall to buy in game items for your avatar such as clothing.
Out of curiosity I tried PlayStation Home again and wow, the game is completely unrecognizable and also just as insane as I remembered it. The worst part about Home is by far the community which has turned the public areas into a cyber-dating suite for lonely hearts. Still the quality of the games in there has improved astronomically and if you have excess money there is plenty for you to do. Plus members also get their fair share of exclusive memberships.
What is truly mind boggling is that PlayStation Home is still in Beta. It is madness, perhaps it is a planned release on the next PlayStation. A scarier thought would be perhaps Sony will be using it like the Nintendo Wii’s Mii-verse *shudder*.
A good year for the PlayStation 3 as some of the best exclusives for the console made their appearance:
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – Kojima did it again taking the video game industry by storm with another entry in the revolutionary franchise. A game that was equal parts gameplay and cutscenes was fan service at its highest. The totally bonkers plot-line attempted to tie up all the loose ends for fans whilst providing incredible visuals and intense cinematic gameplay to new comers. It managed to live up to extremely high expectations and managed to wrap up a franchise that spanned all of the three core PlayStation consoles.
Little Big Planet – A game that’s success relied heavily on the creativity of the PlayStation community. The cutesy game hid a serious level creator that was in-depth enough to create some truly marvelous levels. If you didn’t want to create have no fear, there was a story mode which could be played with up to three other players and provided lots of enjoyment. Players could also search and play levels much like a sort of gaming YouTube. A brilliant idea that was brilliantly executed, Sackboy has since been largely recognized as the mascot of the PlayStation 3.
The disappointment of the year
Haze – Exclusive to PlayStation 3 and by the company that created the acclaimed TimeSplitters franchise there were high expectations for this game. Unfortunately this game wouldn’t have been received much better without its hype building background.
The first-person shooter was a critical and commercial failure selling less than 500,000 copies in its release year and receiving overwhelmingly mediocre to poor reviews. The game was marred by glitches, unimpressive graphics, poor voice acting, and a story that failed to deliver.
Luckily the next year would make the memory of the failure hazy.
The PlayStation 3 was really hitting its stride now. This year heralded the rebranding of the console with a new logo, new console iteration and even a new marketing campaign with the fictional Sony Executive Kevin Butler line of commercials:
The release of the PlayStation 3 Slim and a more attractive price tag brought more people over to the PlayStation system though backwards compatibility ceased to be a feature.
Trophies were also made mandatory for all PlayStation 3 games submitted to Sony for certification meaning we would no longer see the odd PlayStation 3 game that had not adopted it.
The software side this year was a cut above the previous years when it came to exclusive titles:
Demon’s Souls – This fresh action- RPG took everyone by surprise with its innovative online play and unforgiving but rewarding gameplay. Players could summon others into their world to help but were also liable to have others invade their world. This relatively unknown title managed to snag GameSpot’s game of the year gaining a cult following which paved the way for the future entry Dark Souls.
Killzone 2 – Many were skeptical after E3 footage showing off the game was later found to be a fabrication however when the game came out it managed to cause a U-turn of opinions. To this date it is one of the best looking games on the console and a great showcase for what can be achieved on the system.
Though the single player campaign was hardly compelling, the online component made up for it with a unique, ever-changing objective mode that added much needed longevity to the game.
InFamous – Brought to you by Sucker Punch, the developers who created the Sly trilogy on the PlayStation 2. InFamous is a third person super hero game which gave you the choice, be a hero or a villain.
The ambitious game had you roam free in a city with electrical powers, the decisions you made affected the world and how the AI reacted toward you. This game showed potential to become one of the heavy hitting PlayStation 3 franchises.
Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time – In my opinion this remains the best Ratchet and Clank game on the system. A charming platformer filled with puzzles, inventive weaponry, and a compelling yet humorous story. It also allowed players to modify their weapons and pick the color schemes for them too, though this was limited to a specific line of weaponry.
It’s a game that appeals to both young and old and once again warrants the comparison between it and a Pixar movie.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – It is essential to own this game if you own a PlayStation 3. Naughty Dog smashed the first game out of the park with this title. Top notch visuals, engrossing story, incredible writing, and voice acting all come together to make one of the greatest games of this generation and certainly among the top three games of the system. This is all without mentioning the fully fleshed online component of the game featuring both co-operative and competitive modes.
It was a critical and commercial success for Sony winning multiple game of the year awards and became the fastest selling game in the history of PlayStation. Naughty Dog proved the power of the PlayStation 3. A MUST BUY for the system.
In our next ‘Love Letter to the PlayStation 3′ we’ll be looking at PlayStation Plus and the horror that was the PlayStation hacking outage.