Saturday, 22 September 2007

PS3: Where Art Thou? Part 2

Before writing this piece, I fully anticipated having to really rack my brains to find reasons for me actually being interested in the PS3. I wasn't exactly overwhelmed with ideas, but one game in particular totally sealed the deal. That game is UK Developer Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet. And so, we begin.....

LittleBigPlanet: A mere glance at its surface was all it took for me to be seduced by LBP's overwhelming sense of character. The character design, environments and soundtrack instantly drew me in, clearly sending off the signals that this was MY sort of game. Scoring the trailers with The Go! Team was an instant YES! for me, as they are undoubtedly one of my favourite bands. Aside from that, the rag doll, abandoned-toy characters have a lonely, almost pitiful quality, but this only serves to reinforce their cuteness, almost begging you to play with them. The playful aspect is one that is fully continued by the toy-box environments; giving off the sense that everything is there not for show, but for your amusement and interaction.

The gameplay details confirm everything that LBP's visuals tell me, with the developers placing a large amount of emphasis on the importance of creativity and resourcefulness. I enjoy slaying my virtual enemies as much as any other player, but thinking and writing about games as much as I do, you begin to question why it is that 99% of the games I play simply involve defeating others. By nature I am not a competitive person, so I wholeheartedly welcome any game that places emphasis on co-operation and positive teamwork - not just the kind that involves clubbing together to overcome more enemies. LBP offers players the opportunity to team up to tackle puzzles, collaboratively create their own, or simply share their home-made offerings with the community. This is brilliant and I won't hear a bad word said against this style of gameplay. Dare I say it.....this may prove to be as refreshingly positive an experience as Animal Crossing, at least I hope so.

With the Internet, and by consequence, many other media forms being so heavily reliant upon user-generated content, it is fitting that games should follow suit. We only need to look at Skate's video editor and sharing program: Skate Reel, or the replay editor and Forge Mode that both look to cement years of UGC from Halo 3, to see just how important us users are to the future development of videogames. Aside from our obvious financial input, that is. LBP, with so much importance placed upon user content heralds the coming of a wholly new type of game that can, almost in total, be played using content produced by fellow gamers.

Watch, enjoy and become seduced by an overwhelming sense of fun....

PS3 Home: OK, so its not up and running yet, and there continue to be delays, but sooner or later, PS3 users will be enjoying the Sims/second life-esque HOME; Sony's answer to XBOX Live. Whilst it is the simplicity of Live that makes it so perfect, you can't knock Sony for trying. Sure HOME is ambitious, and no doubt this ambition is the cause of its delays, but Sony are trying to deliver its users with something different, which in my opinion shows a positive change in character for the company. Did I mention that it was free? Yes, no subscription fees will always be welcome.

The idea of HOME is definitely an appealing one, especially when I start to think of the Lobbies being decorated for seasonal events, or big game launches. HOME presents Sony with a world of opportunity and again, seems to lean towards the importance of user-generated content, even if that be as simple as decorating your virtual flat. Point is, this is new, ambitious and full of potential, and I salute them for offering something different to Live. Much of my frustration with the PS3 lies with the fact that it, on numerous occasions, simply comes across as a bigger, uglier and more expensive 360, with far less decent games. It seems now, that Sony are learning their lessons and doing their best to forge a distinctive character for their console, rather than simply always trying to put down the competition.

The price of the PS3 will forever be a barrier to me and I still worry whenever I see a piece of schizophrenic Sony marketing telling me one minute that I could be buying a Blu-Ray multimedia device, and the next minute, that I could be buying the most powerful console on the market. However, these aspects aside, I am becoming genuinely interested in the PS3, and I will watch its development more closely from now on.

The Faux-Bot

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