Sony’s Best Of PlayStation Network Vol. 1 is a diverse collection of fun and crazy titles that will appeal to gamers wary of digital purchases.
Some gamers just aren’t ready to embrace an all-digital future. I can’t say I blame them; as this generation comes to a close many of us are left wondering whether all of the downloadable purchases we’ve made will be playable on next-gen hardware. A lot of us just like having the game box and disk on our shelves for easy access, and there are plenty of gamers out there who just don’t have super-fast internet, or even any internet. For all of these reasons, it makes perfect sense to put out retail releases of digital games, and Sony has done just that in compilation form with Best Of PlayStation Network Vol. 1.
The four games that comprise Best Of PlayStation Network Vol. 1 are When Vikings Attack, Fat Princess, Tokyo Jungle, and Sound Shapes. It seems a bit odd that some more well-known titles such as Flower or Journey were left out, but I suppose they could always be a part of Vol. 2. One thing that should be pointed out is that all of the games need to be copied to your PS3 before playing, and still requires the game disk. If you were hoping that buying this collection would save you some hard drive space, unfortunately that’s not the case.
When Vikings Attack! is a game with an old-school, arcadey focus that is fun in short bursts, but can become a bit stale after prolonged play periods. I would imagine that multiplayer would add some flavor to the title, but unfortunately no one seemed to be online when I was playing through for this review. The basic essence of the gameplay here is that the player controls a group of modern civilians in suburban towns that have been invaded by Vikings. The townspeople have to run around throwing objects at the Vikings to dwindle their numbers, and the larger your group, the larger the objects you can throw. This is also true for the Vikings, so it’s a good idea to try and keep them from creating a horde that can take out your group in one fell swoop. The key to winning in When Vikings Attack! is dodging and weaving to avoid objects, or catching and hurling objects back at the Viking group. There are boss characters every now and then that can take a lot of damage before going down. Though this game’s simplistic nature contributes to its accessibility, this is also its greatest downfall as there’s not much to keep it fresh for the long haul.
Sound Shapes is one of my favorite titles from this compilation. It’s really a genius game that perfectly fuses compelling and deceptively simple gameplay with great music and stunning visuals. The game has a LittleBigPlanet or Patapon-esque visual style to it, and the player controls a ball that must travel through a series of stages filled with obstacles while hitting notes, and in essence composing a song. The way that the songs come together and build over the course of a stage is quite interesting, some beginning with just a few notes plucked on a guitar before building to a head-bobbing beat with a solid groove by the end. Sound Shapes is comprised of a few different “albums”, each created by different visual designers and featuring a different artist, such as Beck or deadmau5.
Tokyo Jungle is a very interesting and unique title that, though a bit rough around the edges, is another one of my favorite titles in Best Of PlayStation Network Vol. 1. Set in a dystopian future where humanity has vanished from the Earth (the reasoning behind which will slowly be uncovered with time) and has been reclaimed by various wildlife, your mission is to pick a species and help them survive in this hostile environment for as many years as possible. You start off as either a deer or a Pomeranian (yes, really), and you’ll have to constantly hunt for food to avoid starving, while fending off attacks from larger animals. You’ll also need to avoid radiation poisoning while attempting to court mates and continue your bloodline. I played this title right after finishing The Last Of Us, and it almost felt like they could take place in the same universe, aside from the dinosaurs, of course. The 15 years allotted to your animal goes by quite quickly, and balancing all the necessary parts of your survival and mating can become quite difficult. Before you can acquire a mate, you’ll need to take over the local territory and make it safe for your young. After some lengthy play you’ll eventually unlock other animals like lions, bears, tigers, wolves, etc. Though Tokyo Jungle’s unique gameplay and addictive nature make it one of the better titles in Best Of PlayStation Network Vol. 1, its graphics are decidedly PlayStation 2-era.
Fat Princess is on here as well, and this character has become well-known enough to have appeared in last year’s PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale video game. I know a lot of critics and fans enjoy Fat Princess, but unfortunately I just could not get into it. I’m not a fan of RTS games to begin with, and though this game’s somewhat simplified nature and cute graphics mixed with bloody gore were charming, I just couldn’t enjoy playing this title. I played it years ago when it first arrived on the PlayStation Network and I honestly gave it another solid try, but it’s just not my type of game. That said, many of you out there will have tons of fun with it, as the possibility of 32-player online matches is pretty insane. There weren’t a whole lot of people online when I was reviewing it though, and unfortunately the single-player A.I. is less than perfect. It’s actually pretty infuriating. The basic premise of this game is to feed your princess as much cake as possible to fatten her up and make it harder for the opposing team to carry her off, while your team of mages, rangers, warriors and more attempt to take the other team’s princess. It’s actually a lot more complicated than that, but for the purposes of a concise review that will have to do.
Overall, these are four quite varied titles that are all well-crafted for the most part and fun. One of them in particular did not appeal to me, but surely every gamer can find something to love in Best Of PlayStation Network Vol. 1. It seems to me that a better idea might have been to release these compilations with a theme as opposed to plucking random games from their line-up, such as a racing collection or a fighting collection. That said, if you’re looking for variety, this compilation does a great job of showcasing the wildly varied titles available on Sony’s PlayStation Network.