VGBlogger Holiday Review Guide: PS3

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These are the PS3 games we reviewed this year!

Call of Duty Classic: “Old warts and all, though, Call of Duty Classic is a trip down memory lane worth taking, especially if you are at all curious to see where what has become the premier FPS franchise all started and as long as you are mentally prepared to forgive certain age-induced design quirks. $15 is also a fair price for what is a pretty robust offering by PSN / XBLA standards, but I suggest taking the ol’ “try before you buy” approach with this one by downloading the demo version first to check your tolerance of the game’s flaws before making the full investment.” Read the full review for more.

Guitar Hero: Van Halen: “At this point, Activision has surged well past the likes of EA as the publisher many gamers love to hate on, and this game carrying a full $60 price tag only gives such haters extra ammunition. It was nice of Activision to initially offer its Van Halen tribute game as a limited-time freebie to those who bought Guitar Hero 5, and if you were able to snag it for free with that offer I’m sure you are glad you did – I got my review copy for free too and enjoyed playing it like any other Guitar Hero game. But in no way would I ever consider dropping $60 on this game – it’d even be a tough sell at half that price — and therefore I simply cannot recommend it. Even if you are a Van Halen diehard I don’t see how you could honestly justify paying that much for such an uninspired production.” Read the full review for more.

Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond: “However, I must say that Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond did grow on me the longer I played it. I’ll never quite feel comfortable with the control scheme, but it’s nothing that I couldn’t get used to and that you shouldn’t be able to adapt to, so if you enjoy games like Contra and Metal Slug it’ll be worth your while to at least have a go with the demo version. Unfortunately, the game is fairly shallow in terms of content and replay value (especially with offline-only co-op), so the higher-end $15 price is a tough sell with other better like-genre games to pick from on PSN and XBLA already. But again, there is a demo and I suggest you check it out.” Read the full review for more.

Heavy Rain: “For a lot of people, Heavy Rain will probably be categorized as an interactive movie, but personally, I like to think of it as a virtual “choose your own adventure” novel where every button press and every flick of the analog stick is like turning the page in a book. Though not without flaws, Heavy Rain is a truly unique experience and a monumental achievement in videogame storytelling, and if you own a PS3 it is not to be missed.” Read the full review for more.

James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game: “As pointless as Conquest and some of the other content can be, though, I do have to give Ubisoft credit for at least trying to push a lot of different ideas into the PS3 Avatar — the ideas don’t always pan out, but the effort was there. The Wii version may be more shovelware garbage, but the PS3 version, in my opinion, certainly is not. That doesn’t mean it’s the greatest movie game in the world…it most certainly is not that either. But it is at least a respectable third-person shooter, and if you liked the movie or are simply in the mood for mindless shoot-‘em-up action, Avatar is the type of game that makes for a fun rainy weekend time-waster rental.” Read the full review for more.

Resident Evil 5: Lost in Nightmares: “So if you still have a copy of Resident Evil 5 lying around, go ahead and download Lost in Nightmares (or wait a couple more weeks for the Gold Edition re-release with the full game and all its DLC packs bundled together). It’s not as substantial an add-on as something like Demons of the Badlands for Red Faction: Guerrilla, but for only $5 it’s a great value extender and a fun tribute to Resident Evils of yesteryear.” Read the full review for more.

Fret Nice: “Its main gimmick may be a colossal failure, but event still, you won’t find a funkier, fresher downloadable game than Fret Nice. The $15 asking price is higher than I would prefer – downloadable games over the $10 sweet spot are inherently less desirable – but if you love a good platformer and appreciate games that try something different, you are surely going to love what Fret Nice has to offer regardless of price. You can always download the demo first if you still have reservations, but I say buy it now and thank me later.” Read the full review for more.

Heavy Rain Chronicles: Chapter 1 – The Taxidermist: “The Taxidermist can be seen as either a success or a failure, depending on what you look for in downloadable content and whether or not you got it as a pre-order freebie. As a standalone chapter, it is a compelling slice of Heavy Rain psychological adventuring and, like a demo, functions as an excellent teaser for the main game. But that’s all you’re getting here: a paid-for tech demo that fails to flesh out Madison’s back story or add anything of substance to the Heavy Rain storyline. Even $5 is too much to ask for that.” Read the full review for more.

Just Cause 2: “Just Cause 2 is so very close to being a truly exceptional game, but, similarly to a game like Crackdown, it just misses the mark. If you want an exotic playground to run, jump, shoot, drive, fly and parachute slingshot around in, Just Cause 2 is the game for you. But for the most part it’s like going on vacation: it’s fun for a week, but after that you’re ready to move on and get back to life as usual.” Read the full review for more.

Yakuza 3: “As someone who didn’t care too much for the first game and subsequently skipped past the second game without even the slightest interest, I’m shocked by how smitten I’ve become with Yakuza 3. It’s a great sandbox brawler with the heart and soul of a JRPG and a storyline that, although heavy-handed, is completely enthralling. The extreme “Japanese” influence may not be everyone’s cup of tea here in the West, but if you like a good story and are willing to try something a bit different, Yakuza 3 is a fantastic buy.” Read the full review for more.

Final Fight: Double Impact: “Still, though, Final Fight: Double Impact is everything a retro re-release should be. It brings back two classic arcade games, updates them with modern features like online co-op, leaderboards, Trophies/Achievements and novel graphics filters while maintaining the integrity of the original coin-op versions, and packs on unlockable extras that are sure to stoke the flames of nostalgia inside the hearts of every old-school gamer. What more could you possibly ask for?” Read the full review for more.

3D Dot Game Heroes: “Proving that great game design philosophies never go out of style no matter their age, 3D Dot Game Heroes pays homage to the golden age of gaming in the most flattering way possible while at the same time delivering a gameplay experience that can stand toe to toe with the Hollywood production values, cutting-edge technology and intricate complexities found in games of the current generation. And, forgetting about all the Zelda comparisons for just a moment, it’s a damn great game in its own right. That’s no easy task to pull off, but Atlus, From Software and Silicon Studio have done it, and we as gamers should be very, very thankful.” Read the full review for more.

Section 8: “As a full-price retail release on PC and Xbox 360 last year (you can find both cheaper now though of course), Section 8 was a tougher sell because of some of the drawbacks I have addressed. But as a $30 PSN game, it really is a no-brainer if you’re itching for another multiplayer FPS obsession.” Read the full review for more.

Final Fantasy XIII: “So, to wraps things up, this is how I see it: Final Fantasy XIII is somewhat of an experimental installment in the series and thus won’t go down in history as one of the franchise’s brightest moments, and for many long-time fans it will probably be shunned for all eternity. But personally, I appreciate Square Enix’s efforts to try some different ideas (Square Enix has often been criticized for NOT trying out new ideas), and even though they didn’t all pay off, I still thoroughly enjoyed my 50-60 hours with the game and plan to go back to complete all of the Pulse side quests when my work load lightens up enough.” Read the full review for more.

ModNation Racers: “Naturally, the possibilities aren’t as limitless in a kart racer as they are in a more diverse game like LittleBigPlanet. But nevertheless, the “Play, Create, Share” spirit fostered by Media Molecule’s revolutionary platformer has been passed on to ModNation Racers in inspiring fashion.” Read the full review for more.

Alpha Protocol: “But even with shaky production values and a somewhat unfinished feel, Alpha Protocol is an outstanding game, and one that is quietly sneaking into position as one of my favorites of this year. As long as you know to treat the game as an RPG and not a shooter, and don’t mind its rough appearance, I think you’ll appreciate its nuanced gameplay and story as much as I do.” Read the full review for more.

Green Day: Rock Band: “Put bluntly, Green Day: Rock Band is an incredibly lazy and uninspired production. Obviously, if you’re a Green Day fan you’re buying this game no matter what I tell you, but in my opinion it is maybe a curious rental at best, a forgettable cash-in attempt at worst. I say don’t bother.” Read the full review for more.

Widgets Odyssey: “At five levels and roughly an hour and change in length on the first playthrough, Widgets Odyssey is a short adventure. But it is right-priced at only $2, and already I’ve replayed it three times just for kicks. Overall, this is exactly the type of breezy, lighthearted experience the Minis platform was established for.” Read the full review for more.

Young Thor: “Concessions were made to squeeze Young Thor into such a small package, but they do make complete sense when looked at as part of the bigger picture and are easily forgivable when you consider the effort and ambition that obviously went into every aspect of this game’s creation. ” Read the full review for more.

Widgets Odyssey II: “Regardless, Widgets Odyssey II is a goofy puzzle-adventure romp priced just right at $2. Grab it and the first part, and kick back for a couple hours of silly fun.” Read the full review for more.

Mafia II: “But I must admit that the more I played, the more the game grew on me. Had 2K trimmed away the false open-world grandeur and focused the game on its linear storytelling — using cutscenes as transitions between missions rather than dull vehicular navigation — Mafia II could’ve been something truly special. But as is, it’s a very solid game held back from reaching its maximum potential by a questionable design choice.” Read the full review for more.

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4: “LEGO Harry Potter is indeed a sloppily made game, which is only made more disappointing by the fact that these same technical faults have existed since the LEGO gaming invasion began many years and games ago. But what it lacks in polish and refined gameplay it does make up for with heart, imagination and endless collectibles, and quite frankly, the audience this game is targeting will probably look past the technical shortcomings more than I am able to. Good family fun is what LEGO Harry Potter is, and that’s really all it needs to be.” Read the full review for more.

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands: “Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands will never be considered as highly as any of its predecessors, and for the most part it doesn’t deserve to be. The story doesn’t really add anything to the series, and once it’s over there isn’t anything truly memorable to go back and relive through multiple replays (a bonus arena combat mode lasting no more than 15 minutes certainly doesn’t boost replay value either). However, the game itself is thoughtfully and competently crafted, from the shallow-but-fun combat to the adrenaline-pumping, reflex-intensive acrobatics that I firmly believe outclass any other action/adventure game of this ilk. The game looks fantastic too, and has an epic musical score to further heighten the cinematic atmosphere.” Read the full review for more.

Mafia II: Jimmy’s Vendetta: “So, let’s get to the question that needs to be answered here: should you buy Jimmy’s Vendetta? Ultimately, my recommendation depends entirely on the platform you own the game on. If you bought the PS3 version and already have the free Betrayal of Jimmy DLC, there’s really no reason to get Jimmy’s Vendetta because it is basically a retread of the same content, only with Trophies and a slightly larger mission count. However, if you’re playing on the PC or Xbox 360 and missed not having the open-world fun of a free play mode, this add-on definitely hits the spot with simple, arcade-style mobster action.” Read the full review for more.

BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den: “BioShock 2 initially caught flack for being an “unnecessary sequel,” and to be honest, I felt that way at first too. But after playing through Minerva’s Den and reflecting back on my time spent plowing through the full game, I’ve developed even more respect and admiration for the game (the multiplayer mode was and still is completely unnecessary though). BioShock was a difficult game to succeed, and while BioShock 2’s storyline doesn’t resonate quite as much as the original’s, it still tells an engaging underwater tale — and I don’t think anyone can argue that the gameplay isn’t a vast improvement. Minerva’s Den only reinforces this, and should this wind up being the last time we get to stomp around in Rapture, it pleases me to see the underwater city close up shop on such a graceful note.” Read the full review for more.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West: “Most of all, I have to commend Enslaved (and its developers) for daring to be distinct and individual in an era in which far too many games have become all too familiar and far too many developers have become scared to let their creativity run loose. Play this game and let developers and publishers know that you want more from gaming than dark-and-gritty shooters, me-too copycats, and lazy sequels.” Read the full review for more.

Clash of the Titans – The Videogame: “What more can I say. Plain and simple, Clash of the Titans is yet another derivative, uninspired movie game with absolutely nothing of value or substance to offer, not even as a rainy-day rental. Hopefully Game Republic can get back on a positive streak with the upcoming Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, which is shaping up to be a promising holiday sleeper.” Read the full review for more.

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock: “I’ve grown pretty ambivalent towards the Guitar Hero franchise and music games in general over the years, part of me always expecting to enjoy myself, part of me always expecting to become bored after a few play sessions. Warriors of Rock has, unexpectedly, sparked my interest in the genre all over again and reminded me why I fell in love with Guitar Hero so many years ago. I’m not sure where the series can possibly go from here, but for now I will happily appreciate Guitar Hero as the Demi-God of rock video games once more.” Read the full review for more.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1: “What’s most disappointing about Sonic 4 is that, despite the return to 2D, it really doesn’t distinguish itself enough from past titles to deserve the title Sonic 4. To me, the game felt like nothing more than a hedgehog hodgepodge, pulling bits and pieces of old adventures and reassembling them in the guise of a “new” game with HD graphics…running on a gameplay engine that’s not as fast or exciting as the 2D Sonic classics it is attempting to emulate and extend.” Read the full review for more.

Costume Quest: “But that is a small complaint in an otherwise fun loving, easygoing role-playing adventure. Costume Quest is a sugary sweet gaming delight, tastier than any candied treat you can stuff into your face this Halloween or anything other time of the year. I wouldn’t want all RPGs to be this brisk and this basic, but in this instance it works like a charm.” Read the full review for more.

Quantum Theory: “Quantum Theory has serious flaws, no doubt. But if you are the type of gamer who can play a game for what it is without comparing it to other games and constantly thinking to yourself, “this mechanic doesn’t work as well as it did in this game, and the graphics aren’t as impressive as this other game,” I think you’ll find Quantum Theory to be a pretty fun ride, warts and all. I sure did.” Read the full review for more.

Racquet Sports: “Inconsistencies like this are common in the majority of games released alongside any new piece of gaming hardware, and because of them there can be no escaping the fact that Racquet Sports is nothing more than a typical just-good-enough launch title that serves its purpose as an introduction to the Move…and that’s about it. What I find most interesting about Racquet Sports, though, is that it may just be the most telling example of how much better the PlayStation Move motion control tech is than that of the Wii. This game doesn’t even put the Move to full use, yet when played next to the Wii version and many other Wii sports titles, the controls are vastly superior in every way.” Read the full review for more.

NBA Jam: “Another concern I know many prospective players probably have has to do with the game being sold as a full retail product as opposed to a cheaper PSN / XBLA title, which is understandable given the game’s roots as a simplistic arcade game. But trust me, this game is packed with more than enough content to keep you slammin’ and jammin’ for days, weeks and months to come, especially once EA gets the server situation stabilized and the online community settles in.” Read the full review for more.

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!