VGB’s Games of Summer 2008 Part 1: PS3, PSP and PS2

Great news, y’all! Summertime is officially upon us. School is letting out across the country and the days are starting to get hotter and hotter, and subsequently more time to indulge in our favorite virtual pastime is freeing up. Typically, summertime is a down period in the games industry as publishers wind down from their early-year lineups and start preparing their big gaming guns for the hectic holiday season, but this summer is shaping up to be quite different with numerous high profile games due out over the sizzling next few months.

But exactly what games are there to look forward to this summer, you ask? Well, I’m going to tell you right now. With today being the first official day of summer (in the US at least), I am proud to present VGB’s Games of Summer 2008, a series of guides I’ve been putting together over the past month or so designed to give you a brief preview of what I think are the top titles that are sure to help you beat the summer heat. Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be bringing you individual guides covering all the major platforms, from the Xbox 360 to Nintendo’s Wii and DS to the PC, and the subject of this first part, Sony’s powerhouse PlayStation trio, the PS3, PSP and PS2.

MGS4.jpgMetal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3; Now Available): Obviously it wouldn’t be a summer of PS3 gaming without Metal Gear Solid 4. Snake’s swan song is, in my opinion, the defining game of this generation thus far and the new benchmark for videogame storytelling and technological advancement. With nearly 20 hours of cinematic espionage action, graphics that will make your jaw hit the floor, a soundtrack that puts all others to shame and some of the best online gaming around, MGS4 is sure to keep you busy all throughout the hot summer months (and beyond). Oh and by the way, I’d highly recommend getting the GameStop-exclusive Limited Edition. It’s pricey, but so worth it for the soundtrack alone.

MGS4Bundle.jpgMetal Gear Solid 4 PS3 Bundle (PS3; Now Available): Still don’t have MGS4? Shame on you! Still don’t even have a PS3 yet? Double shame!!! But don’t worry, all your shame will be whisked away in one fell swoop if you give yourself the treat of all summertime treats, the MGS4 PS3 bundle. It comes fully loaded with everything you need to get in the game: an 80GB PS3 console, a DualShock 3 controller, the gaming masterpiece that is MGS4, and a voucher to download the hilarious PSN title PAIN, all for only $499. Pony up an additional $100 and you can land Konami’s exclusive Limited Edition bundle (at least it appears to be still available).

TheBourneConspiracy.jpgThe Bourne Conspiracy (PS3; Now Available): Without a new Bourne flick to fulfill our need for a good summer blockbuster theater-going experience this year, Sierra and High Moon Studios have stepped in to fill the void with The Bourne Conspiracy. Although Matt Damon found the game “too violent” to contribute his likeness, everything else about it is authentic Bourne, from the rapid-fire pacing to the gritty, visceral hand-to-hand combat. Fans of the Bourne canon are in for a real treat with this one.

SCIV.jpgSoul Calibur IV (PS3; July 29): Following a three-year break, Namco Bandai’s venerable weapon-based fighting franchise returns to action this July, aiming to rejuvenate the series after what I thought was a pretty “meh” third game. Despite a weird cross-promotion with the Star Wars universe that still baffles me (Darth Vader is your exclusive bonus character, PS3 gamers), Soul Calibur IV appears to have all the right ingredients to provide the same wowing effect on its audience that the original did back on the Dreamcast. For one, it’s stunningly gorgeous, but as far as gameplay goes it’ll have the deepest lineup of characters and play modes to date and a number of interesting twists – like finishing moves and destructible armor – that are sure to spice things up. All that will really matter to most long-time SC fans, though, is that online play will be supported for the first time ever.

SirenBloodCurse.jpgSiren: Blood Curse (PS3 via PSN download; Summer 2008): If you’re looking for something a little different to squeeze into your summertime gaming schedule, look no further than Sony Japan’s episodic PSN title Siren: Blood Curse. Spanning 12 downloadable episodes, Blood Curse follows seven playable characters on their horrifying stay in the cursed, Shibito-overrun village of Hanuda, with film-quality presentation and a nail-biting atmosphere ensuring a cinematic interactive horror experience like no other. Details on the episodic release schedule and how much each episode is going to cost hasn’t been announced at this time, but expect clarification on all that soon.

Disgaea3.jpgDisgaea 3: Absence of Justice (PS3; August 26): Flying in under the radar, as usual with most NIS America titles, is Disgaea 3, the latest installment in the cult-classic strategy-RPG series and the first created for the PS3. Graphics snobs will surely take one look at the game and bitch about it not looking that much better than a PS2 game, but whatever. Disgaea has always been about deep, challenging gameplay, bizarre characters and a charming sense of style over high-end graphical power, and the third outing will be no different. And it’ll have Prinnies. Lots and lots of Prinnies!

TopSpin3.jpgTop Spin 3 (PS3; June 23): Tennis enters the peak point of its season over the summer, what with its two biggest tournaments – Wimbledon and the US Open – taking place, so a game like Top Spin 3 is poised to do very well when it comes out next week. Just one look at the game and you can tell it’s sure to be the most authentic, graphically realistic tennis sim to date, and given the series’ pedigree I don’t think there’s any doubt that this third installment will deliver smooth, realistic gameplay. Many of the top male and female tennis stars will be playable on more than 40 real-life court venues, and for the first time ever you’ll actually be able to play as tennis legends like Björn Borg, Boris Becker and Monica Seles and put together your own dream match-ups with today’s crop of talent. And as an extra-special bonus for PS3 gamers, Rafael Nadal will be featured exclusively on Sony’s platform. He’s the second best player behind Federer and one of the biggest tennis sensations in the world, so this is a significant exclusive that makes the PS3 version the one to get.

Madden09.jpgMadden NFL 09 (PS3, PS2, PSP; August 12): I’ve held a grudge with EA Sports and Madden ever since they snatched up the NFL license and pushed the superior NFL 2K series off the playing field. I thought it was a cheap, sleazy way of eliminating the competition so they could sit pretty and keep pumping out new Madden games without much advancement between each iteration. But even I must admit that this season EA really seems to be pushing Madden further than it’s ever gone before. New features like a BackTrack and Rewind mechanic that provides instant feedback on what happened during a play and allows you to go back in time to run the play again and a cool holographic virtual training center show that EA Sports still has some innovative thinking going on. Best of all, PS3 football fans won’t get a gimped game like they did last year. Yep, that’s right, the PS3 version will run at a full 60 frames per second this time around. Hurray!

TigerWoods09.jpgTiger Woods PGA Tour 09 (PS3, PS2, PSP; August 26): Now that Tiger has come up lame after his dramatic, gutsy triumph at the US Open and has to shut it down until next year, the only place you’re going to find golf’s greatest champion driving for show and putting for dough is in his latest videogame from EA Sports. The PS3 version will be the top draw with its new dynamic skill system, club tuning feature, post-round feedback and training from Tiger’s real swing coach Hank Haney, and retooled online play, but the PS2 and PSP versions will have plenty to offer as well, like new mini-games, a 16-player EA Sports Cup mode, 20 courses and intuitive new Maximum Control swing options. It’ll sure be sad to not see Tiger continue his chase for The Golden Bear’s records at the British Open and PGA Championship, but through the power of gaming at least he’ll be around in spirit.

GodOfWarPSP.jpgGod of War: Chains of Olympus PSP Entertainment Pack (PSP; Now Available): God of War: Chains of Olympus came out months ago, I know, but Sony’s Chains of Olympus PSP Entertainment Pack only just came out earlier this month and man oh man is it one hell of a deal. Priced at $200, the bundle contains a copy of the smash-hit God of War: Chains of Olympus game, the comedy movie Superbad on UMD, a PSN voucher to download Syphon Filter: Combat Ops free of charge, and the star of the show, a limited edition “Deep Red” PSP system with Kratos’ sneering mug silkscreened on the back. If you’re looking to join the PSP nation, this bundle is a great place to start.

Madden09PSPBundle.jpgMadden NFL 09 PSP Entertainment Pack (PSP; August 12): But hey, maybe God of War just doesn’t do it for you and Madden is more up your alley. If that’s the case, the Madden NFL 09 PSP Entertainment Pack is the bundle for you. At the same exact $200 price point, EA and SCEA’s Madden bundle comes with a similar offering of content, including a copy of this season’s Madden game, a special behind-the-scenes video on UMD titled “NFL: In Just One Play,” a free coupon to download Beats from the PlayStation Store, a 1GB Memory Stick PRO Duo perfect for storing music files and videos to take with you on your summer adventures, and a sporty “Metallic Blue” PSP system. The only problem? You’ll have to wait until August 12th to get your hands on this bundle of portable gridiron gaming goodness, and by then summer will almost be over.

SecretAgentClank.jpgSecret Agent Clank (PSP; Now Available): After a tremendous job well done bringing Insomniac’s hit action-platform series from the PS2 to the PSP in Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, the team at High Impact Games has returned to action with Secret Agent Clank, the Ratchet & Clank series’ equivalent to Daxter. Ratchet’s robotic sidekick finally gets his time to shine as a solo star, and he does so in style as a James Bond-esque secret agent out to rescue his Lombax friend from prison. Clank comes out of his shell for the first time as an action hero, pounding on enemies with his metal fists, using all sorts of crazy gadgets to dispatch any foe that crosses his path and using stealth to circumvent laser alarms and other traps. Clank may be the star, but fret not, Ratchet has plenty of prison battles he needs your help dealing with, and Captain Qwark even makes a playable appearance.

HotShotsGolfOpenTee2.jpgHot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 (PSP; Now Available): Everyone’s favorite portable golf game is back and better than ever with more character customization, more courses, more modes and more on-the-go fun than you can shake a putter at. It’s kinda disappointing that the sweet advanced swing system from Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds wasn’t carried over, but the traditional Hot Shots swing meter is simple enough to get back into so it’s not a huge issue overall. Plus, 16-player online tournaments have been added this time around, which more than makes up for it.

AloneInTheDark.jpgAlone in the Dark (PS2; June 23): Mulling over various release schedules in compiling this guide, I didn’t find much of anything worthwhile coming to the good ol’ PS2 this summer other than multi-platform releases of the sports games I’ve already touched on. There was one game that did stand out, though, and that game is Atari’s Alone in the Dark. While the PS3 version is on hiatus until who knows when and the PC, Xbox 360 and Wii versions seem to have garnered most of the attention, the PS2 version looks like it should hold its own and deliver a gripping survival horror experience. And one thing’s for sure, the only PlayStation platform you’ll be able to play it on for the foreseeable future is the PS2.

Other summertime PlayStation titles to watch for:

GRID (PS3; Now Available)
Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution (PS3; July 8th)
Battlefield: Bad Company (PS3; June 23)
Overlord: Raising Hell (PS3; June 24)
Hail to the Chimp (PS3; June 24)
Space Invaders Extreme (PSP; Now Available)
Fading Shadows (PSP; June)
N+ (PSP; August 12)
PixelJunk Eden (PS3 via PSN download; Summer 2008)
Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (PS3, PS2; June 29)
Beijing 2008 – The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games (PS3; July 8th)
NCAA Football 09 (PS3, PS2, PSP; July 15)
Monster Madness: Grave Danger (PS3; August 5)
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames (PS3, PS2; August 31)
Hellboy: Science of Evil (PS3, PSP; June 24)

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!