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The Next Level In Gaming

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When Sony first introduced a new scheme called Playstation Plus, my initial reaction was lukewarm to say the least. I didn’t think it was a bad idea, but I also didn’t think it would be the greatest thing ever.

See, long before the PS4 and Xbox One came to rule the roost, online play was free and extra games, to me anyway, were a novelty. So I gave it a miss, but thankfully my Father didn’t. I consequently benefitted from his year-long membership and got access to all his free games every month. Winning!

Playstation Plus slowly rose in my books, but I still wasn’t convinced. I would get to play lots of free PS3 games that I’d never played before AND kept downloading Vita games in the event that I one day got one. But would I have paid money for games that I’d never play? Debatable.

Fast-forward time and we arrive at the launch of the PS4. Sony had been generous enough in the past to make online play free, but financially it would make sense to gain that extra bit of revenue. So I needed my own Plus membership dagnabbit.
I shelled out the notes and got my honorary 12-month pass to the great game giveaway. Now I can admit, the main reason I wanted PS+ was so that I could play online, communicate with friends and frustrate the hell out of kids who end up calling me a hacker etc. However, Sony started to open my eyes past the big games.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a gamer who sticks to the AAA games that even begrudging parents have heard of. I like a game no matter how low-budget, how well-received and how many characters in the game that destroy poop (I’ll explain later).

Right from the get go, Resogun was free for the month of November along with Contrast, and what a contrast!

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Contrast was a unique, albeit very flawed, puzzle game that, when it wasn’t hurling game-breaking glitches in my face, created an interesting experience. A year and a half later and Resogun is still one of the best games I’ve played on the PS4. From the makers of the successful Super Stardust games, which positively rocked the PS3, Resogun obliterated my graphical expectations for ‘next-gen’ titles. I don’t think my jaw was closed or my tongue wasn’t wagging furiously like a dog for the entire time I played it.
But this tasty golden nugget was just a precursor of things to come.

The less talked about feature gets lots amongst the free stuff; it’s the discounts! My god the discounts.

Hello Surgeon Simulator and Hotline Miami. For anyone reading intently and knows their PS+ knowledge, you’re probably asking me mentally “Andrew, surely in your infinite wisdom you downloaded Hotline Miami for free when it was available?”

NOPE. I was an idiot. But thanks to the PS+ discount, I managed to buy the game for £1.99 instead of £7.99. So it’s not all bad I guess.
Hotline Miami has shot, stabbed and danced its way to near the top of my favourite games ever. It’s testament to the indie scene that you don’t need big budgets and well-known developers to produce something fantastic. It’s merely subjective of course, but if you go and check Metacritic to see the reception for the game then you’ll understand.

As the months are going by, the wealth of quality games are just piling up to the point of being absurd. Sony have had a good relationship with Indie developers for a few years now. Showcasing talent like this can only be good for gaming. So I take notice of all games that come out now.

If I didn’t, I’d keep doing what I was doing before and ignoring games that are better than the expensive titles I buy.

Velocity 2x is a bright, fast-paced, explosive ride of a game. It’s nicely charged with rocket fuel and adrenaline to run in parallel with the strategic thinking needed to ace this game. 50 levels of challenging brilliance. Best thing about it? It was free.

Rogue Legacy. What. A. Game. An endlessly random experience every time you play as the big castle you’re in changes its layout, enemy placement, and item placement with each playthrough. It’s a tantalisingly tough but fun experience, especially if you’re trying to beat all of the bosses. Tons of upgrades, a new ancestor each time and loot make Rogue legacy unmissable. Best thing about it? It was free.

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Without Playstation Plus, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth would be an undiscovered star. The one that got away. Lost in the shuffle forever to be made to wander alone in the abyss of obscurity. If I’d never have played this game, then my life would have been wasted. Earlier in my article, I made mention of characters destroying poop. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is that very game.

Now….I don’t want to write too much about the game as I could produce an article the length of a Hollywood screenplay on how good it is. I’ll say this, indie games are so underrated. People play them, but not enough. TBOI: R has so much longevity and replayability that it’s quite frankly humbling. Being a Roguelike game, it randomly generates a new game in its dungeon-crawler gameplay. One disgusting, foul and depraved enemy after another with a whole host of twisted ‘upgrades make this game endlessly playable. Isaac’s Mom, Satan, Isaac himself are just some of the bosses in this game that if I tried to describe alien he’d probably say “You see? This is why we don’t talk to you.”
I’ve not even told you the best about TBOI: R. It was free. FREE.

I honestly feel spoiled by the content we get at times. That’s not me trying to metaphorically shove myself as far as I can up Sony’s backside, it’s just an expression of my gratitude towards their offerings.

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It’s no secret that Microsoft realised Sony had something with the giving away of free games. Sony started with WipeOut and Zen Pinball way back in 2010. Whereas it took “Games With Gold’ a whopping 3 years to become a thing. I question why it took so long for Microsoft to reward their fan base but hey, I won’t judge, at least they’re getting them now which is good.

But in waiting so long, they have had some catching up to do. For example, Bioshock: Infinite and Tomb Raider were very recently released as free games for Gold. Now it’s absolutely great for Xbox users who have never played them before, I’d just feel a little aggrieved that Sony gamers got these games 12-18 months ago. It’s all because Microsoft is lagging behind.

It’s not completely the case though, Rayman Legends, for the Xbox One, was also released alongside Tomb Raider and Bioshock: Infinite. This is fantastic! It shows that Microsoft are trying to make it up to their fans which is very commendable.

All-in-all it’s great for the gaming community. Whether you’ve played the free games or not, there are some damn good games being handed out to enjoy; across multiple platforms too. As someone who has a PS3, PS4 and PS Vita I get to benefit from the full package every month. Tomorrow will see the release of the PS Vita’s best shooter, Killzone: Mercenary, which is a huge bonus.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing though. Driveclub. It was pushed as Sony’s first exclusive driving game for the PS4 with a heavy emphasis on togetherness and delivering a top driving rush. The game was released to an ok reception. From ‘gorgeous’ and ‘stunning’ to ‘boring’ and ‘limited’, Driveclub has had a variety of responses. But with continual updates and patches it seems to be up-to-par now and delivering on its early promise.

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Now originally this racing mammoth was supposed to be crashing into a month of Playstation Plus for free. FOR FREE I TELL YOU. It would be a more lite version featuring less cars and tracks but still very Driveclub. But something went horrifically wrong, not quite nuclear reactor explosion wrong, but still wrong.

The horrid D word impeded our free Driveclub. Not duck, the word is delay. It was announced that it would be delayed, and delayed, and delayed again. I’m now starting to doubt if the PS+ version will ever see the light of day. Lite of day would’ve been so much funnier, alas I’m too lazy to press backspace.

It’s not the end of the world though. Its one game and we’re still getting lots of other games instead. Evident by the consecutive AAA releases. Injustice: Gods Among Us in December and inFamous: First Light in January.

Playstation Plus took a few years to get going in my eyes, but now its gravitational pull is unrelenting. I can feel it pulling me towards the free games and free themes and free everything. It’s become an amazing investment and worth every single one of those 3,999 pence a year.

 

- Andy

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AndyHighton_YNWA On April - 10 - 2015

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