Sony combats slow season with PS3, Vita compilations

Tuesday, 02 July 2013 01:32 AM Written by 

 

With “The Last of Us” behind us, it’s time to prepare for the summer lull. Sony is attempting to counteract the slow release calendar with a two compilation games: “The Best of Playstation Network: Volume One” for PS3, and “Jak & Daxter Collection” for the Vita.

“The Best of Playstation Network Volume One” is comprised of four PSN games from the past few years. The package includes full versions of 2012’s “When Vikings Attack,” “Tokyo Jungle,” and “Sound Shapes,” plus 2009’s “Fat Princess.” I found it odd that Sony bundled three games from last year, while throwing in the PSN classic “Fat Princess,” but that doesn’t take away from the package’s relatively strong lineup.

The four games’ diversity makes this an intriguing collection. They represent a small sample of the eclectic offerings on the PSN. “Sound Shapes,” my favorite game of the four, is wholly unlike the other three, not to mention the fact that it’s unique compared to the entire gaming landscape.

“Sound Shapes” is the standout game from this collection. If you missed it last year, this is a good enough reason to pick up the entire collection. It combines platforming with the music/rhythm genre. You control an orb on a two-dimensional plane. Progressing through the stage and collecting dots along the way unlocks more parts of the stage’s music.

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The toe tapping jams are laid by some of the top names in the progressive music business like DeadMau5 and Beck.

When finished playing through the pro’s music creations, you can create your own music and stages. If creation isn’t your thing, you can play through the levels that others have created instead.

The four-game collection costs $40, but “Sound Shapes” alone is worth the price of admission. It’s the best of the four games, but “Tokyo Jungle” follows with a close second.

“Tokyo Jungle” provides another unique angle of the PSN game. In it, humanity has vanished, and Tokyo is populated by wild animals. The goal is to survive by eating, mating, and not getting eaten by animals above you in the food chain. Surviving for long periods of time completes challenges, which unlock other animals. I was intrigued by the general premise of the game, but did find it to be repetitive in large doses. It’s fun factor comes from experiencing different animals.

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“Fat Princess” and “When Vikings Attack” are the oddities in this collection, but for different reasons. “Fat Princess,” a team-based hack-n-slash, is best played with a group of friends, but the community has become sparse over its four-year lifespan. However, it’s a beloved game and among the top rated games for the PSN.

“When Vikings Attack” is the least deserving of its inclusion. Having the lowest Metacritic score, it’s hard to consider it a “best of” game, let alone one in the first volume. Not sure why Sony didn’t add one of their darlings like “Journey.”

Even with “When Vikings Attack,” this is a strong collection of PSN titles for its first volume, especially for those who are without a PSN account. I look forward to seeing what the next volume has in store.

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The second compilation title from Sony is the “Jak & Daxter Collection” for the Vita. This collection was already available for the PS3, but is now pocket sized on the Sony’s flagship handheld. The collection includes all three PS2 “Jak & Daxter” games on one Vita cartridge.

PS2 games translate beautifully on the Vita, and “Jak & Daxter” follows that trend, although “Jak 2” and “3” are stronger than the ported version of the original game. The frame rate isn’t as crisp in the original as it is in its sequels, which gave me a headache after long play sessions.

This collection is best suited for longtime fans of the series. Although, if you’re not, it is a good video game history lesson to see what Naughty Dog was up to before they took over next gen with “The Last of Us” and the “Uncharted” series. The first “Jak & Daxter” hasn’t held up particularly well, in terms of focus and gameplay, but it will have the nostalgia factor for the big fans.

Both of these compilation titles are priced right, with the PSN collection at $40 and “Jak & Daxter” at $30. Either of these titles come with plenty of value and will help you get through the slow summer season.

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