Easy Come, Easy Go: A Year in Review of Sony 2010

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I’m not gonna lie, 2009 was by all means the year the Play Station 3 dominated. To recap, we had Killzone 2 in the first quarter, Infamous in the second quarter, the release of the PS3 Slim in the third quarter, and both Ratchet and Clank Future A Crack in Time and Uncharted 2 Among Thieves for the holidays. That was a pretty solid lineup of Triple A exclusives that kept us busy the whole year. With that said, was 2010 anywhere near as good? Not at all.

You could say that Sony just burnt themselves out after being on such a roll last year, but the real reason I believe for the slump has to do with a certain “Move” they tried to make in the second half of the year that is going to take a lot more time to get off the ground. So without further ado, let’s get a “move” on with this review.

The Good

I better say something nice before Kratos seeks vengeance upon me.

Before we get too critical, I believe it’s fair to note that Sony had a few very strong releases in its arsenal this year. To begin, God of War 3 is, by definition, the God of action games, boasting probably the most fluid and diverse combat system in a game to date. Chris Pranger wrote a very critical review, (which you can read here) stating the game’s final act looses steam and ceases to give him a satisfying conclusion. Well, I believe there is a very simple solution to that: DON’T binge through the whole game in one sitting like Chris did before he wrote his review. One of the first things our Econ teacher taught us back in High School was that more isn’t always better; in fact it rarely is. In other words, playing through God of War 3 all in one sitting is like trying to eat 50 fun-size Snicker bars one after another. As Chris and I’s old friend Casey Ekman can attest to, it’s not an enjoyable experience. God of War 3 is a blast to play, not to mention a visual marvel. It disserves to be savored. Game of the Year? Not Quite. But easily my pick for Best Action Game.

Probably the next biggest title Sony provided this year comes from completely opposite terrain. Heavy Rain is an interactive murder mystery, with gameplay that pays homage to classic point-and-click PC adventure games. In Chris Pranger’s review (here), he stated that while some of the characters aren’t as well developed as others and the controls get tiresome, the power to drive the narrative through the course of four different perspectives is quite compelling. This is a game that relies on build up, and when action scenes finally occur, they feel suspenseful and enticing. My pick for Most Original Game.

Oh wait… Grand Turismo 5 is finally out too. Yeah… better late then never I guess. Don’t ask me, I stopped caring eons ago.

While that was pretty much it for exclusives this year, there was still a handful of outstanding third party games available as well. Final Fantasy 13 looks outstanding. Red Dead Redemption is definitely a Game of the Year nominee winner. And after just a few rounds with a handful of my friends, I am convinced; Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood hands down wins Best Multiplayer. It’s so fun yet so original, there really is no better thing for me to say than to tell you go and experience it yourself.

Finally. A Multiplayer that even Yatzee of Zero Punctuation will admit is good.

The Bad

So okay, that lineup doesn’t sound too bad. What went wrong? Well, this year we saw the release of the Play Station Move, a brand new gaming peripheral that hit the market with an earth shattering… “meh.” So far, all the games that have released for Sony’s new motion controller vary from being consistent and average at best, like Sports Champions, to being unresponsive, boring, and downright agonizing at worst, like Start the Party. Games like The Fight, The Shoot, and Kung Fu Rider were suppose to introduce us to the peripheral in fun and interesting ways, but have all come out as bland, unpolished gimmicks. Not worth our time or money. They’re almost like experiments that Sony has to get out of their system before the developers learn how to use this [somewhat]new technology properly.

Sound familiar? Well that’s because Nintendo went through the very same trials and tribulations not that long ago. Only now, if you’re like me and already own a Wii, there’s even less of an incentive to go out and buy a peripheral that is essentially the exact same thing as Nintendo’s system from four years ago.

Sorcery is the only game for the Move they showed at E3 that kind of made me want to try it out, and even then, that’s a maybe.

Even a game like Heroes on the Move, which boasts every single one of my favorite characters from the PS2, doesn’t appeal to me. In fact, it makes me feel worse. I’ve been waiting for a crossover game with Jak and Ratchet for what seems like forever now, but now that it’s on the Move it just makes me afraid that they’re going to use them to sell some cheap gimmicky adventure game with no substance. I don’t want that.

Somewhere in Between

That’s about as good and bad as it gets. But let’s look at what else they’ve done in 2010.

One thing I have always been thankful about Sony is their free online network. For someone like me who only plays online multiplayer casually, it’s very convenient. However this year, Sony released the PSN Plus. It is an optional monthly paid subscription that drops the price on downloadable games, add-ons, and gives players exclusive previews to upcoming titles. Appreciate the offer, but for now, I think I’ll stick with the free account I already have until I find myself a real job.

I think there is something to be said about the re-releasing of their classic titles from the PS2 onto the PS3. Early this year, we saw the God of War Collection, which contains the first two God of War games for $40, and then late this year they released the Sly Cooper Collection, which has all three Sly Games, also for $40. On the skeptical hand, you could look at them as just remakes that Sony is using to make a quick and easy buck. I, for one, enjoy them because 1.) They do come out at a discounted price with updated visuals, and 2.) It’s a huge benefit for anyone who may have missed out on any of these franchises. In my case, I was too busy playing Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank when I had my PS2 to play the Sly trilogy. Now’s my chance to catch up.

Three of the best Platformers of the last generation, remastered in High Definition, optional 3D and Move support, all for $20 less than a conventional game? From the words of The Thievius Raccoonus himself, “That’s a steal.”

So, to summarize: God of War 3 and Heavy Rain were both great. Third Party support, also great. The Move outright failed to give us anything worthwhile for its launch. As for the God of War and Sly Collections, I dig them. A hit and miss year for Sony. I give them a C+

Still to Come

The most limitless game in the world just got even more unlimited.

On January 18th 2011, Little Big Planet 2 will be the start of what promises to be a big year. Media Molecule’s anticipated sequel to their highly successful and expansive platformer creator now seeks to give gamers the power to create almost any game type they can think of. You name it: Platformers, RPG, RTS, FPS, Racing, Party/Mini Games, Arcade shooters have all been confirmed. This is a dream come true for anyone who’s aspired to be a game developer, and even if you’re not, like me, you will be hard pressed not to find at least one element of the game you enjoy. (double negative)

February 22nd, Guerrilla Games releases Killzone 3, where Sev will go undercover to get an inside view of the people of Helgan and see what little humanity still resides in them… IN 3D!!! (Optional of course.)

In Spring, Team Ico will release the third Sony Collection, containing both their first two masterpieces, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Just in time to prepare for their new upcoming title, The Last Guardian.

And it doesn’t end there. Ratchet and Clank All 4 One, Resistance 3, InFamous 2, and Twisted Metal. All scheduled for 2011. Quite an impressive line up of exclusives. So what will really happen? Will the Play Station Move continue to struggle and bog down Sony’s progress? Or was 2010 simply a relapse year before the PS3 get’s ready to blow our minds again? Only time will tell.

Oh, one last thing. Uncharted 3 Drake’s Deception JUST got announced last week. Damn.

Want more game news? Check these out:

No Freaking Way: A Preview of Duke Nukem Forever

What’s New From E3 2010

Let’s Think Deep: Kinect and What It Means

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