Sony’s PlayStation Plus is a subscription-based service that allows members to get weekly and monthly access to discounted games on the PlayStation Network, as well as the occasional free game. Sony has calculated that the $50/year service has granted thousands of dollars in savings.
Everyone loves free games, but nobody likes a free game that’s a piece of HDD-hogging garbage. “In PlayStation Plus We Trust” is a weekly feature outlining the new free addition(s) to the Instant Game Collection to help you decide whether that newest freebie in the Store is worth your time.
This week, see if you can pull yourself away from GTA V long enough to play the very excellent ICO and GTA: Liberty City Stories.
This is the first game from “those guys that made Shadow of the Colossus,” also known as Team ICO. The quality shows it, too, even if this game is a bit different from its successor. ICO boasts that same brand of outstanding, emotional storytelling, but the PS3 HD update is even better and more immersive. It’s not terribly complicated, either; at its core, this is a short puzzle-platformer, with a fair amount of switches and blocks to manipulate. Surprisingly, that’s not a detraction at all.
I’ll be honest–I never played ICO on the PS2. Having played it now, I can see what a mistake that was and can recognize how much better of an experience it is to actually play instead of just watch. It’s elegantly designed, and far ahead of its time. We need more games like this.
Verdict: Must Download
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
I know, playing a PSP pseudo-sequel to Grand Theft Auto III might seem like a step backwards after GTA V, but this revisit is still a great time. You’re back in Liberty City, just as you might remember it from GTA III. As sprawling and realistic as things got with GTA IV, there’s still a great deal of charm to that old version of Liberty City that’s difficult to resist. Even though this is a different story and character, expect the waves of nostalgia to come quickly when you start playing. It’s still GTA on the go, and that’s darn impressive, particularly considering the game looked pretty good for a PSP game and ran incredibly smoothly. It’s awesome, just remember you’re going to be dealing with mechanics from San Andreas and earlier.
Verdict: Must Download
If for some crazy reason you didn’t get this when it was free a few months ago and still haven’t played it, you really, really need to. Sleeping Dogs is a terrific successor (and one-time sequel) to the True Crime series, and is an impressive mix of a number of different mechanics drawing from GTA, Arkham City, Max Payne, and more. In it, you’ll find parkour, martial arts, insane chases, karaoke, and more side activities than you can shake a katana at. Plus, the story ranks up there with some of the absolute best open-world narratives of recent memory.
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
This game was ambitious and interesting, but also deeply flawed. It was a Heat-inspired co-op heist game with some fairly solid shooting mechanics and a finicky cover system. It’s not a great deal of fun to play, but the story is quite interesting, as are the cooperative mechanics and movie-inspired action sequences. For $6, you could a lot worse.
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
The Kane & Lynch sequel was another game that took multiple risks that didn’t all pay off. This one’s big gamble was to have it styled like a found-footage movie, complete with a grainy filter and video distortion. Some people thought it was a really neat idea, but it didn’t land with most. The story and characters were far better this time, however, and the overarching gritty mob story really packed a punch. If nothing else, this is an interesting experiment and worth taking a look at. It’s just not all that great.
Real Boxing (Vita)
Unreal Engine 3 powers this boxing simulation, which aims to replicate the brutality and physical toll of boxing. To be fair, the graphics engine is quite impressive for a handheld game, though this one does fall into the trap of trying too hard to integrate all of the Vita’s features, leaving the design a bit unfocused. Apart from that, this is a perfectly competent boxing game that’s worth checking out for sports fans.
Pixel Junk Monsters: Ultimate HD (Vita)
This one comes around a lot, and they might just keep making it a Plus discount until everyone’s purchased it. This strategy/tower defense game does have stellar reviews across the board, and sports a strong aesthetic with exciting looking gameplay. There’s also a very deep upgrade system, and that’s always worth something. The discount isn’t as deep as it has been in the past, so it might be best to wait, but if you’ve been wanting a new strategy game for your Vita, maybe this is it.
Tell us what you’re picking up in the comments, and we’ll see you next week!