Monday, March 30, 2009

Networked Gardens

The first couple of months with my Playstation 3 wasn't that exciting. That was not the console's fault though, it was mine. As I purchased it around the same time I was feeling overwhelmed with other games, it was unfortunately neglected while I focused on playing them instead. It even got to the point where I had considered returning the console, getting my money back and then buying it again once I was able to give it the time it deserved. Thankfully, I did not end up doing that and instead had my epiphany (if you will) with the console thanks to three games. Gran Turismo 5: Prologue was the first game, but more importantly both Flower and PixelJunk Eden surprised me in such a way that I stopped playing other games like Fallout 3, becoming increasingly addicted to both and falling in love with them.

Flower

To be honest, I needed this game. I needed it because of how overwhelmed I was feeling with all the shooters and darker titles I had been playing and thankfully, it came out at the perfect time. Before release I expected it to be relaxing and because of how drained I was, my anticipation for it was a lot higher than it might have been under 'normal' circumstances. It met the expectation I had created for it and also surprised me with just how exhilarating and gorgeous it was. If words like "stunning" can describe most of the good looking games out there, then the word beautiful is how I would describe Flower. It is beautiful -- not just visually but the whole package. The minimal soundtrack, the implied narrative, the sense of discovery and the simplicity. All of it, every single element, combines to make what is just simply a beautiful game. It is unique, amazing and if you own a PS3 and don't give it a go, you are doing yourself a massive disservice. Buy it, now!

PixelJunk Eden

I had no expectations going into this title though I had seen quite a lot of praise for it so after a quick purchase, I was ready to play. What a surprise it was, then, to find such a fascinating little game. I was shocked by its simplicity, how easy it was to become addicted and also how strong I felt about it after putting the controller down. I could not stop thinking about it. It reminds me of Flower actually, two completely different games in design and intent and yet similar in terms of simplicity, beauty and even subtlety. It can also be frustrating though, especially when you misjudge a jump and end up falling all the way back down to the bottom of the level. Later levels can also be frustrating, but the onus for that is more on you than the game as you need to take some time to adjust to the different ways of play. The other notable thing that I love from this game is how you can record in-game footage, either saving it to the PS3's hard drive or uploading it to Youtube. It reminds me of the theater in Halo 3 and the Skate.reel in Skate, and I can only wish that the feature was in other games.

I will be changing Internet providers this week and as a result could be offline for a few days so unfortunately I won't be able to extend my thoughts on Flower or PixelJunk Eden. Hopefully these small paragraphs give you a hint of what I think of the games and when I return, I look forward to looking at each of them in more depth than I did in this post. Until then, be safe, have a great week and happy gaming.

2 comments:

Scott Juster said...

When I was buying my PS3, I didn't really imagine that I would get so much use out of the Playstation Network. Like you, I'm happily suprised.

I hope you stick with PixelJunk, things get crazy hard (at least they did before the patch...) but after you clear all the gardens it's fun to go back to the earlier ones. You realize just how good you got and the levels seem downright relaxing!

Steven O'Dell said...

Yeah, as I mentioned I wasn't expecting much from the PSN either, it was just kind of 'there' if you know what I mean. I'm in no way going to complain about it though.

I will be sticking with it as someone who loves the game as well as a completionist - I fully intend to collect every single Spectra, including the ones on the way in PixelJunk Eden Encore.