After a year of PS5 it is Time For Sony’s Exclusives to be Finally Unleashed

The PS Plus Collection is quickly becoming a rotting catalogue and wasted potential

Anyone who became a first-time Playstation owner this year with the arrival of the PS5 (which itself was no easy feat) will no doubt herald the included PS Plus Collection – A terrific catch up catalogue of twenty of the PS4’s best titles. This PS5-only benefit is unlocked once you become a member of the PS Plus scheme which, for £50 a year, provides members with free games each month, exclusive discounts, and online play. But for long-time Playstation players, and up to date PC players who will likely have experienced some if not all these games at some stage, its a bit of a waste. One year on, its a neglected ecosystem that could easily be reignited.

Personally I am yet to own a PS5. Before you get your pitchforks out or slam down your laptop lid in disgust, please hear me out. I have been a Playstation gamer (non-exclusive) since the hazy days of the PS One all the way through to today. My own PS4 is in constant use with plenty of life left in it and, naturally, a backlog library longer than both my arms. And that’s just the titles I own; the PS Plus membership catalogue of “free” games of the last 3-4 years is a backlog of its own. These are both factors in my reluctance to make the inevitable generation jump.

With the PS5’s own rather underwhelming catalogue in tow, Sony’s powerhouse would be nothing more than a 4K Blu-Ray player plus backward-compatibility peripheral in my household. I am yet to be sold otherwise; Astro’s Playroom is a highly enjoyable showcase of the PS5’s controller’s capabilities, but it is an experience that is over very quickly, even for the less keen trophy hunters, and without the significant investment in software the current generation demands, the head once again turns to a collection of games that needs an injection of life. The solution? Enter Playstation’s other platform that is undergoing a revolution of late: PS Now.

Until the last twelve months or so, PS Now struggled with both its catalogue and streaming performance. Even the largest internet bandwidths were negated due to consistent streaming issues, leaving cinematic titles such Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, a PS3 title, unwatchable and unplayable. More recently, the option to download PS Now titles locally removes the performance issues, and, most importantly of all, the catalogue has expanded exponentially since the release of the PS5. Surely some of these offerings could be interchanged with the current PS Plus Collection crop, or adopt a similar approach in releasing new offerings on a regular basis?

Should Sony ever decide to adopt such an approach it would do little to devalue a PS Now or PS Plus subscription. We’re all aware that if the latter’s free monthly offerings are not claimed, then we’ve missed out. Furthermore, taking this interchanging approach keeps things varied, and may even influence a decision to invest in the PS5 if they haven’t already. Including myself.

Covid-19 Lockdown: the Sequel – Video Game Picks for Survival

Like an inevitable movie sequel, the UK, among many other countries too, are back in Covid-19 isolation. As the virus continues to spread across the globe, many have been told to work from home and isolate where possible. Restaurants, bars and most non-essential shops have closed once again, and many people’s lounges have become their office. For others that may mean not being able to work at all. Staying indoors for long periods can of course take its toll in different ways to all of us. But don’t fear, as in between those Zoom/Teams/Skype meetings there is a plethora of incredible video game across a variety of platforms to catch-up on. Here is a list of suitable candidates to sink your teeth into.

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

There isn’t a soul in the world who doesn’t like Studio Ghibli, is there? Whether you have seen just one of their movies or the whole collection, it is easy to see why they’re loved unanimously around the world. So imagine the excitement of many when Ghibli decided to lend their talents to the video game industry. The recently remastered first Ni No Kuni entry, Wrath of the White Witch, adopted the standard JRPG style of open-world adventure with an active-time battle system. Revenant Kingdom retains the open-world aesthetic but with free-roaming battles, for a more action-RPG affair. Add to that a completely new set of characters and story, all animated by the Ghibli team, and you’ve got yourself an adventure well worth your time. It took over 100 hours of mine, and that was before lockdown.

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is available on PS4/PC.

Vanquish: 10th Anniversary Remastered

One of Shinji Mikami’s lesser-known titles, Vanquish is an action tour-de-force that is short but oh-so-sweet on the fingertips. You play Sam Gideon, an agent of DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency), as he teams up with an army of US space marines to retake a Russian-occupied US space colony. Armed with the prototype Augmented Reaction Suit, Sam can wield three weapons of varying types at a time, from assault rifles to sniper rifles and laser cannons. Against the backdrop of an almost exclusively greyscale colonial fortress, you guide Sam to shoot, run, roll, duck, cover, even slide through six acts of intense, robotic-destruction action. A quick flick of L2 while rolling initiates a slick slow-down feature, which is critical as swarms of sentient soldiers breathe down your neck. Whilst a little dull in appearance, the 60fps upgrade to the speed of Vanquish is a real highlight. And if you’re a trophy/achievement hunter, this is a really fun and often-challenging title to exploit. And for less than £20, its a tough one to ignore if you need a few hours of unadulterated entertainment.

Vanquish is available for PS4, Xbox One, PC. Please check out my full review here.

Fall Guys

If you have access to a PS4, and a PS Plus membership, the likelihood is that you’ve had at least one round of Fall Guys. Visually a vibrant, multicoloured Gang Beasts meets Takeshi’s Castle (including the wacky costumes), Fall Guys pits round after round of sixty online players across several challenge games until just one remains to take the crown (By the way, that first victory crown still eludes me). Simple, fun and on the right side of frustration, a round of Fall Guys is the perfect way to pass on a few minutes.

Fall Guys is available on PS4/PC.

Streets of Rage 4

There are some positive events amongst the shit-cloud that is 2020. The announcement of one of Sega’s most beloved 16-bit franchises receiving a sequel over twenty-five years on was initially met with mighty scepticism. However, all those fears were crushed as publisher Dotemu, on the back of the excellent Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, teamed up with Guard Crush Games to deliver the finest scrolling fighter since Streets of Rage 2. Ex-cops Axel, Blaze and crew are back. Ten years on from the death of criminal overlord Mr. X, his children have taken over as the new masterminds of crime. Streets of Rage 4 not only delivers top fighting action, it is a sequel that always has its predecessors at heart in all the right ways. Intuitive, challenging, exciting, wonderfully animated with an absolutely masterful soundtrack, Streets of Rage 4 is a retro-revival everyone should experience.

Streets of Rage 4 is available on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Spider-Man is the most accomplished comic-book-hero video game ever made. Developer Insomniac Games have come a long way from platforming series Spyro the Dragon. Honing that platforming with a narrative adventure in the Ratchet and Clank series has led to this, a licensed comic-book adventure that is, at times, a storytelling masterpiece. As a long-time Spider-Man comics fan I needed to adjust somewhat to these new takes on Peter Parker and supporting cast. But Insomniac certainly stuck with the courage of their convictions to deliver an excellent Spider-Man tale that is a unique and universal experience for anyone willing to pick up their gamepad and play. It’s open-world Manhattan environment contains seemingly unlimited tasks and missions to complete, and that’s outside of the main storyline. Visually it ranks among the greatest looking games on Sony’s console, with a ton of top action and storytelling that makes Spider-Man an absolute must.

Spider-Man is available on PS4, with a remastered version available for the PS5 also.

There is still a fair amount of time left in this current lockdown, if it even is one (don’t go there now – ed.). If you’re having to isolate or stay home for any reason at the moment, hopefully these suggestions will keep the spirits up as we head towards Christmas and the next generation of consoles. Stay Safe.