[PS Plus Reviews] August 2016 Roundup

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August 2016 does not disappoint for free PS Plus games. We got two indie games for PS4 this time, one a just released game and the other is a carry over of a previous PS Plus offering that did not make it for Asian regions. Add an action game for the PS3, a puzzler and a strategy game for the Vita, and one cross-platform shoot-em-up for PS4, PS3 and Vita, and you have a good variety of games being offered.

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[PS Plus Reviews] March 2016- Broforce

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Disclaimer: This post is made as an entry for PS Asia’s PS Plus Junior Reporter competition. The points and views raised in the review however are not affected in any way.

‘Murica!

Broforce is the winner of last month’s Vote 2 Play campaign, where PS Plus members got to vote for either three games to be available for free this month. This patriotic side-scrolling shooter, made by an indie team based in South Africa, is all about blasting terrorist and patriotism, with a side of bro puns. The Broforce is an ensemble cast of bros- no matter the gender- all based on action movies/TV series with a bro pun as their name. Sort of like The Expendables.

Oh wait, they did a cross-promo when that movie came out, The Expandabros.

While there’s ton of fun to be had with the shooting- destructible environments! Explosions! Cool abilities!- the PS4 port suffers from a technical perspective, and the nature of the game being an Early Access title on Steam beforehand had made the game lacking some cohesiveness.

I have a lot to complain here, but still, Broforce is a ton of fun!

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[PS Plus Reviews] March 2016- Galak-Z The Dimensional

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Disclaimer: This post is made as an entry for PS Asia’s PS Plus Junior Reporter competition. The points and views raised in the review however are not affected in any way.

There’s a certain charm to old 80’s cartoons, more specifically English-translated anime. It’s stylised in a way, with cool sound effects and music. So is he 80’s in general. VHS tapes were the main media format, and recording the cartoons on them were the way to go watch them over and over again, although the sound and image can get distorted a bit, but bearable. The 80’s were also when space-themed games are popular, and like all games during those days, can be quite difficult and punishing in design.

Now roll all those sentiments I’ve mentioned into a game and you will wound up something like Galak-Z, a rougelike space shooter with twin-stick controls and slick presentation.

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[PS Plus Reviews] February 2016 Quick Roundup

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Oh boy oh boy.

February 2016 is a good time to hop on the PS Plus train if you’re looking for great free games. (Free as long as you are an active subscriber that is). The PS3 definitely the strongest offering- a AAA double whammy of a racing and fighting game. The PS4, as always, have no AAA offering (and if you’re wondering why, read my opinion piece here). BUT! They are offering one of their best indies exclusive on PS4, PS3 and PS Vita, well not anymore since there’s already a PC release. But I digress.

Here’s a quick roundup of all the available titles free for all active PS Plus subscribers on February 2016.

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[PS Plus Reviews] February 2016- HELLDIVERS Democracy Strikes Back

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Disclaimer: This post is made as an entry for PS Asia’s PS Plus Junior Reporter competition. The points and views raised in the review however are not affected in any way.

Let me begin this review with some introduction to the folks behind Helldivers, Arrowhead Studios. This Swedish outfit made their debut with Magicka, a game that borrows a lot of concepts of top-down twin-stick shooters and hack n’ slash, but replacing all the shooting and massive hacking and slashing with magic. Its zany humour of the pop-culture references variety, substantial magic system, and plenty of chances to screw around your friends with its (hopefully intentional) finicky control scheme and the always on friendly fire. It was mired by bugs and glitches, but it is now a stable and awesome experience.

Arrowhead went to make a multiplayer-only side-scrolling shooter The Showdown Effect. While that game is fun and didn’t get much love (I haven’t tried it too), the guys got the opportunity to reboot the classic Gauntlet, a hack and slash from the 80’s. And then they worked on this gem, Helldivers.

All this preface is to show how the team has already have a signature style to their game design, and the easiest and most accurate explanation for what Helldivers is “Magicka as a full on twin-stick shooter” (Magicka with guns isn’t accurate, there are guns in that game via DLC). The humour is there, but now more subtle. The franticness is there. Controls are fluid in some place, intentionally not so in others. And now with backing of Sony, they explored new concepts as well.

With that out of the way, let’s get on with the review.

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[PS Plus Reviews]- February 2016- Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

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Disclaimer: This post is made as an entry for PS Asia’s PS Plus Junior Reporter competition. The points and views raised in the review however are not affected in any way.

Otherwise known as Persona 4 ULTIMAX Ultra Suplex Hold in Japan, this is the sequel to Persona 4 Arena, a spin-off fighting game based on the hit RPG Persona 4, released in 2009 on the PS2. The current Persona series has grown in mainstream popularity lately, starting with Persona 3 introducing an ooze of style not seen in other RPGs. Something of an oddity since the first two entries are brooding, dark, and to my seven-year-old self, a super scary looking game. Now there’s even a rhythm game spin-off with the main cast doing sick dance moves.

That aside, Persona 4 Arena is indeed a very good fighter. Made by the masters of 2D anime fighter Arc System Works (BlazBlue, Guilty Gear), they have carefully adapted the lore of Persona to fit into a blend of 2D fighter they are famous for. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (P4AU) can be passed on as one of those update titles fighting games used to do (think Ultra Marvel Vs Capcom, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition). But it is indeed a full-fledged sequel, in some ways.

Is P4AU worth playing for the die-hard pros of fighters? What about the people who have nary a knowledge of fighters but are so into Persona 4 and 3? The answer is: both parties can enjoy!

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[PS Plus Reviews] February 2016- Nova-111

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Disclaimer: This post is made as an entry for PS Asia’s PS Plus Junior Reporter competition. The points and views raised in the review however are not affected in any way.

Another game I went in completely blind, with nothing to expect. And it seems it is designed to accommodate people like me. That feature image is the start screen and poof, it throws you right into the game.

Nova-111 would seemed to be well designed for the Vita, but that is not its main platform. Available for all three Sony systems, as well as on PC and Xbox One, Nova-111 should not be missed. It’s turn-based move-attack gameplay reminds me of a an old pc shareware I forgot the name is, but a more recent equivalent would be Crypt of the Necrodancer. That game used a turn-based system, with a twist that you need to move to the beat of the music, as so are the enemies.

Nova-111 has a similar twist, as some elements follow the turn-based system, while some are in real-time.

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