A Happy New Year from here in Kyoto, Japan, one of the earliest places in the world to greet 2009 (being a whole 17 hours or so ahead of the West coast of America for example).
To tell the truth, I didn’t buy a PS3 for my home until late last year (2007), because, well, we have plenty here at work and I felt I could get away with playing games “lightly”, ie. not playing them for hours on end until the wee hours of the morning. However, I finally gave in and bought a PS3 to play PixelJunk Monsters at home and from that point on I have become a “core gamer”.
Looking at the PixelJunk series you might not think I play normal full price titles, but I have always been quite a core gamer as it happens and I was simply going through a lull period at the end of the PS2 hardware cycle. On the PS2 one of my favorite games is Smuggler’s Run (the original) and if you haven’t played this I really recommend it, even if it is standard def and a bit lo-fi compared to games these days on the PS3.
Anyway, on to the PS3 itself. Early in the year, in-between marathon bouts of Monsters I found myself booting up a lot of games, but Burnout Paradise was one that really stuck out for me, thanks to their continuing support and addition of new content. I, of course, took Niko through his paces in GTAIV, although at some points in the game I wish the “difficulty and fiddly” factor wasn’t so high and I could just be washed along with the story, so at about 20-30 hours in I gave up and moved on to Call of Duty 4, but for some reason, and contrary to the huge popularity of this game, I just didn’t end up coming back to play this very much – maybe because I don’t tend to play online. The realtime intro-movie is one of the best bits of gaming cinema I have ever seen though (until then the intro to Half-Life 1: Opposing Force was high up there in my mind).
And then came LittleBigPlanet, or rather, the first public closed beta program for Little Big Planet. Right off the bat, I fell in love with this game – Stephen Fry was a brilliant choice for the voice-over with the way he makes up words to express the emotion of the game, in a similar fashion to the way you make up worlds to express yourself in the game. I have two worlds published and both are devilishly difficult I am afraid to say (as some people say PixelJunk games are I hear!). Try them out for yourselves- > search for Comfy Sofa World and Gion Festival.
Following hot on the heels of LBP, Motorstorm: Pacific Rift became a firm favorite for me, the track design is really too good in this game – at first it seems like the trails you can take are difficult to understand but after a couple of races you soon learn to spot where to go and start taking short-cuts and risks and really enjoying yourself. This and LBP alone could have kept me going for months alone but then Fallout 3 came out…
Re-reading the above, I suppose that because I make PSN games for a living I tend to want to play full price games in my spare time, however I pepper my play time with more immediately addicting games such as the PixelJunk series and other download titles, this creates a good balance for me, and sometimes it is necessary to wind down. Grabbing a Spectra a night on Eden is a great way to come down after being scared witless playing Dead Space in surround sound and in the dark.
Here’s to an amazing 2009 for gaming as I am sure it is going to be, what with two or three more PixelJunk titles coming out, right!?