I now have a PS3, so I am working though a (very thin) back catalogue of good PS3 games (that aren’t on the 360 or PC). The first game to really catch my attention is a simple downloadable game, Calling All Cars. It has earned more attention than most PlayStation Network download games because of the fact that it was developed by God of War creative head David Jaffe. It’s quite a departure from his work on the epic scale that God of War was. It reminds me of the multiplayer portions of the Midtown Madness games, except shrunk down to an RC Pro-Am style ¾ overhead view. The gameplay is simple: drive your car into the escaping convict to make him fly up in the air and land in your car, and drive him to the jail. If any other player rams into your car, the convict will fly out of your car and into theirs. You, then, try to ram them and get the convict back. Whomever takes him to jail gets the points, and he immediately “escapes” again and the chase is on anew. It’s frantic, manic fun, though it doesn’t have a whole lot of content or variety. Great for online play with friends.
If you’re still slumming on a PS2, or (better yet) have a decent PC with GameTap, please check out Tomb Raider: Anniversary. It is, bare none, the best Tomb Raider game ever. Last year’s Tomb Raider: Legend was a major rebound for the languishing franchise (moving the property to developer Crystal Dynamics is the best thing that could have happened to it), but it still was a bit more action-heavy and featured some pointless motorcycle stages. This game is a remake of the original 1996 game, using the snazzy engine from TR: Legend, bringing the great original spelunking adventure up to today’s 3D adventure standards (the original game was quite frustrating with its primitive 3D nature - trying to hit a ledge just right for a jump was a hair-pulling affair). Nintendo Wii owners will have this game soon, and 360 owners will be able to download it episodically from Xbox Live Marketplace. But with such a lean summer and such a bountiful fall of games, I suggest plugging a 360 controller into your PC and playing this off GameTap. It’s beautiful, and runs exquisitely well on middle-of-the-road hardware.
2K football is back. All-Pro Football 2K8 moves on without the NFL license, opting instead to license over 240 former NFL players (ranging from legends like Joe Montana to merely “decent” players like Yancey Thigpen). Players will create their own teams, choosing 11 “legend” players broken up between gold, silver, and bronze tiers, and then the rest of the team’s lineup is filled by randomly generated players. The videos look excellent, displaying a bit of a lack of player model detail, but an impressive range of realistic animations. Customization and personalized touches are the name of the game here, as players will create their fictional teams by choosing one of over 150 team names and city names, as well as designing a helmet logo. I, for one, am excited to create professional football franchises for Fresno and Salinas. Online leagues are back, which is something NFL 2K5 excelled at and Madden has still completely failed to deliver. 2K8 releases July 16th. (Note to 360 & PS3 owners: all of this year’s football games have been confirmed to run significantly better on the Xbox 360, so if Xbox Live wasn’t enough to make the decision obvious, you should keep this in mind and probably stick with the 360 game).
Also making a big splash this month is NCAA Football 08. I never thought I’d live to see a WAC player on the cover of NCAA Football, but there’s Jared Zabransky, QB of last year’s undefeated, Fiesta Bowl winning Boise State Broncos. EA’s football games on the next generation consoles have been, in a word, disasters. Rubbish. Completely inferior to the mature versions running on the old consoles (and on the PC and Wii, which have not yet been migrated to the new next-gen code base, and been better off for it). That may be changing, however, if this hands-on report from the first ever EA NCAA Football Community Day are any indication. I still strongly suggest renting before buying, but I’m hopeful that this means that the EA football games (which had become quite good in the last couple of years on the old consoles) will finally hit the next-gen consoles with the same level of quality that they slowly built up to in the last generation.
It’s July, so there isn’t much releasing this month. But the new, slimmed down E3 starts next week, so hopefully we will see some exciting announcements. I am particularly looking for some more news on the PS3 front, as the Xbox 360 already has a very healthy release list for the rest of the year and belong. I also want to see if 3rd parties are rushing to provide good games for the Wii, now that the little console-that-could has sold so well.