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Top Five Must Have PS3 Games for Summer

June 8, 2012


I’ll be posting a Rapid Review of Prometheus the weekend of the 16th/17th, but until then, here are my top five PS3 choices for your summer gaming.  Have fun!

5.)Batman: Arkham City

The Good:

Many of my complaints about Arkham Asylum were thankfully addressed in the sequel.  There’s more of an open world element to Arkham City, and the graphics keep it from being a standard shoot ’em up.  Batman’s enemies are next to none when it comes t0 having their own unique and interesting personalities, and there are quite a few perennial favorites who make an appearance here.  Highlights include the return of Harley Quinn and Ra’s Al Ghul.  It’s worth the extra couple of bucks to download the Catwoman DLC; her missions, while non-essential, give the story more depth and meaning.

The Frustrating: 

Batman STILL can’t murder anyone, so you are very often left swinging from gargoyle to gargoyle in frustration waiting to strangle one of many minions that pop up in each mission.  Also, there aren’t enough side quests to make it truly immersive.

4.) Final Fantasy XIII-2

The Good:

Lightning’s little sister Serah steps up to the plate as the protagonist, in a story which opens up the universe of Gran Pulse across both time and space.  The addition of the time-traveling Historia Crux makes it possible to re-try missions and open up new loot and cut scenes.  The battle time has been streamlined and cleaned up a bit, and the best thing about FFXIII’s system, the paradigms (where you can utilize each character’s strengths in different formations) is back.  One thing the Final Fantasy series has always done well is create a storyline and characters you can care about, and Serah and her partner Noel’s journey is no different.  Only a few locations are “recycled” from XIII, and many new locations await your discovery within the game’s main storyline.

The Frustrating:

Many missions involve the need for solving mini-game  “paradoxes” that are simply math problems disguised as fantasy lore, which I found repetitive and tedious.  I also missed the team element of battle, which is missing from this particular fable.  Serah and Noel are the only main characters in the game, and instead of being able to choose from various formations of a traditional ensemble cast, your only other “squadmate” is a monster that you must capture and train to be a part of the team.  Lightning, the underrated protagonist of XIII, only makes sparse appearances in the sequel, which is a shame.   And, oh, the ending.  If there isn’t a sequel to this sequel, I will not be a happy camper.

3.) Max Payne 3

The Good:

The crotchety, off the wagon renegade ex-cop is back in all of his David Caruso-esque glory (including the trite but amusing monologues about his messy and poetic life in the underworld).  The best thing about the first two games was the noir-feel of it all.  The dingy streets and bitter thugs Max encountered were not original, but the style and story were.   The third game picks up with Max as a gun for hire, and wisely chooses to intercut his current story of woe with flashbacks to how he got there in the first place.  Weapons are easy to use and handle, the graphics are stellar, and the voice acting is top-notch.

The Frustrating:

Playing on medium or hard levels will wreak havoc on your nerves when it comes to auto-aim and use of bullet time.  There are stages where the next cut scene or autosave is MILES away, leading to replaying the same set of enemies multiple times.  The cut scenes themselves are “artistically” grainy and wiped out in parts, no doubt to show Max’s addict mindset, but they would be an epileptic’s worse nightmare and seem out of tune with the rest of the action.

2.) Dead Island

The Good:

This game was surprisingly well-crafted and engrossing for a zombie epic.  Taking place on the resort island of Banoi, you are not just running from zombies, but also helping other survivors to shore up and combat the End of Days.  The story takes you from a pampered resort to a third-world city and finally a creepy jungle.   Along the way there are plenty of weapons to craft, survivors to assist and zombies to hack to pieces.   Although characters are secondary to creative gore, each level has more than enough side quests and exploration to make even the pickiest gamer happy.  The zombies aren’t all slow-moving and mindless, leading to some genuine scares if you aren’t paying close attention to what’s around the corner.

The Frustrating:

Although well-written in its first 3/4ths, the game’s final chapters seem rushed and out of tune with the rest of the story.  Weapon upgrading is only worthwhile if you manage to secure the rare items in the game, so come prepared to scavenge and hunt for what will get you to the next level.  Each character has a weakness as well as a strength, so make sure that you choose wisely for longevity.

1.) Mass Effect 3

The Good:

The storyline is movie-worthy, and every decision your main character makes has a ripple effect on the world and the outcome of the plot.  A rare non-Star Wars RPG that stuns on all levels, the final chapter of Mass Effect is a worthy sequel to its predecessors.  Leveling up is straightforward and logical, characters are well-rounded and well-acted, and the enemies are clever as well as interesting.  Alien races have their own quirks and weak spots, while the humans in the game are considered to be the lost children of the galaxy.

The Frustrating:

Some of the side quests are difficult to complete without psychic powers or the help of a strategy guide, and your journal is often worse than useless in pointing you in the right direction.  Character interaction is great, but having to re-play a half hour’s worth of dialogue when you chose the wrong response on the menu is a mood killer.  And oh, the ending.  Don’t mind the naysayers.  It’s a fitting end to the series as a whole if you’ve been paying attention, but is still a kick in the proverbial pants.

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