Snackbar Games Holiday Gift Guide 2012: PS3

November 20, 2012

Looking for a good game for yourself or someone else this holiday season? We’ve got you covered. Here are this year’s releases that have our stamp of approval on the PlayStation 3.

Tales of Graces f: This series has always played second fiddle (or third, depending on your point of view) in the U.S. to Final Fantasy in popularity, but Graces f should serve notice to all fans that the Tales series is prepared and able to take first string. Seriously, this is the best JRPG released here in the past few years. Go play it. (Full review)

DishonoredEvery now and again, we come across certain games that offer players a large toolset, allowing them to progress through situations as they see fit. These games are few and far between, but allow those who wish to experiment and try new things to do so. Dishonored is the kind of game that is as much about the end goal as it is how you reach that goal, offering plenty of opportunities to go about it however the player chooses. As a result, it is an experience as rewarding as it is unpredictable. (Full review)

Persona 4 Arena: The game has amazing graphics and music, game mechanics simple enough for anyone to pick up and enough depth to rank up there with the more technical games out there, and it has an amazing online mode that Capcom and other companies could learn from. If you’re a fan of the BlazBlue or Guilty Gear series, or a fan of the Persona 4 series and want to get into fighters, Persona 4 Arena is definitely something you should play. (Full review)

Transformers: Fall of CybertronPlaying with Transformers toys was a big part of my childhood. I don’t know what generation mine were, but turning Megatron into a space shuttle and Optimus Prime into a semi was great. It got me interested in figuring out how things work. They were fun to play with from an engineering perspective, and they were fun to play with in conjunction with G.I. Joes, Centurions and Ghostbusters. My house was home to some great mash-ups between my brother’s and my differing tastes. As I grew up, Transformers became less prevalent and I forgot about them. Then Michael Bay started making movies, and they came back into popular culture prominence. Thank goodness he did because, while the movies aren’t great, some of the games that have come to fruition as a result are. (Full review)

Sleeping DogsSleeping Dogs is a fantastic game that does nothing to move the genre forward, but does enough to stand out on its own thanks to its distinct setting, great cast of characters and excellent gameplay. There is enough here to keep you busy for a while, and even with its shortcomings, the main story missions are full of plenty of fun moments and surprises. Even if you are sick of open-world action games, this is one that would be hard to pass up. (Full review)

Borderlands 2Borderlands 2 succeeds at iterating on a great first entry. The humor is maintained without going overboard, the story is worth paying attention to, and the new character classes complement each other well.[...] Borderlands 2 isn’t perfect, but you should play it, set things on fire and laugh like a maniac with three other vault hunters. Then do it all again with a new character class or build. (Full review)

Darksiders II: Darksiders II was not initially on my radar, and I got off the primary quest early in the game and attempted to defeat a boss that I wasn’t capable of beating at that point and was ready to shelve the title out of pure frustration. After giving it a second shot and getting back on course, I leveled up a few times, secured more powerful weapons and got over my initially-negative reaction. The further I got in the game, the more impressed I was with what Vigil did with each of these distinct styles, and I appreciated more of what Darksiders II actually delivers: a cohesive gaming experience that literally has something for everyone. This is one you won’t want to miss. (Full review)

Tekken Tag Tournament 2: It’s been three years since we last saw a Tekken game, but almost 12 years since the last Tag installment. The series itself has been considered one of the best 3D fighters available on the market. With the critical acclaim of the last two games in the series and the overall hype of the game surrounding the release of Tag Tournament 2, would this game live up to the expectations that everyone had for it? Definitely. (Full review)

Mass Effect 3: While it may not appease everyone, Mass Effect 3 offers a satisfying and engaging conclusion to the best gaming trilogy around. This is all thanks to some amazing story moments, great writing, and improved combat. This is a fitting end to Shepard’s story and hopefully not the last we will see of the dense Mass Effect universe. (Full review)

Sound Shapes: Sound Shapes is a game to be experienced, by everyone. It’s best in short bursts and not particularly challenging outside of the Death Mode, but that’s just fine, because it embraces the idea of being a purely creative, fun experience, and it delivers. (Full review)

Sonic CD: If you love Sonic and never had the proper equipment to play Sonic CD, then now is the time to rectify that. It is hard to argue with a new (for most people) classic Sonic experience for only five dollars. And for those of us who were lucky enough to play it the first time, it is finally time to retire the Sega CD, and let’s be honest: you weren’t using it for anything else anyhow. (Full review)

Retro/Grade: There isn’t much you can do with the shoot-‘em-up genre these days that hasn’t already been done. You usually have a character, sometimes someone in a spaceship, and other times a person who is magically able to fly and shoot projectiles. You often find yourself moving from one end of the screen to the other, shooting down enemies as they show up and doing your best to survive. Now imagine this classic concept in reverse, with you flying backwards in time instead of moving forwards. Add a musical spin on it and you have Retro/Grade, a game that is actually less of a side-scrolling shooter and more of a rhythm game. (Full review)

Journey: Journey focuses not only on intuitive exploration, but also the emotive experience that is a core element of the game. It was created first and foremost to dive into the possibilities of invoking an emotional response out of the player. It takes a very cinematic approach to the presentation, almost like an interactive animated film, that never stops letting the player have a hand in how they view the world. Through use of visuals, sound, music, and a minimal approach to text or dialogue, Journey immerses the player in a very unique emotional journey that isn’t often seen in games. (Read feature)

{ 3 comments }

w kvrtis November 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm

“And for those of us who were lucky enough to play it the first time, it is finally time to retire the Sega CD, and let’s be honest: you weren’t using it for anything else anyhow.”

What an ignorant thing to say.

For an alternative perspective (and a bit of Sega CD education):

Lords of Thunder

Popful Mail
Silpheed
Lunar: Eternal Blue
Lunar: The Silver Star
Shining Force CD
Vay
Sol-Feace
Shin Megami Tensei

Lots more listed here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Sega_Mega-CD_games), plus lots of upgraded, arcade perfect-er, or otherwise interesting exclusive versions of various awesome 16 bit games.

Snackbar/Shawn: hold the snark when you are speaking for your readers (or just avoid it completely.) I thought you were here to encourage people to hook up their classic systems and have unexpected or long-forgotten fun.(?)

Graham Russell November 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm

The Holiday Gift Guide series consists of excerpts from our original reviews, and is compiled by Shawn, our news editor. The text itself is the voice of the reviewer as of publication time. Regarding this particular case, I don’t think it was at all intended to dismiss the Sega CD or its library in its entirety.

You’re right; we very often find ourselves to be advocates for gaming of all types, be it classic or modern, analog or digital.

Thanks for reading!
Graham

w kvrtis November 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Thanks for your response! I see now that each entry is an excerpt from it’s respective full review, so it is indeed “whatever.” I do feel that the ‘joke’ that “nobody uses their Sega CD for anything but Sonic CD” is a bit misplaced among this readership, but I suppose it’s no harm.

I just wanted to give another perspective, as that particular writer supports (at least in jest) the mainstream idea that the Sega CD didn’t have any good games. Some of the PSX’s and Saturn’s best games were actually ports of Sega CD games, and many others can’t be found (or can’t be found in their “best” versions) anywhere else, to this day!

Also, considering the Sega CD is literally bolted to my Genesis, it’ll be a cold day in Afghanistan before I box it for good. Why would I take them apart? To save space?

Thanks again for listening!

William