Tag Archives: PlayStation Plus

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Blood Knights

I’ve talked before about playing bad games previously here on Grinding Down and the importance of seeing them through and even finished one last year solely to get my first Platinum Trophy, but I won’t be completing Blood Knights. It’s just that poor. I mean I want to, because I like finishing things–whether that’s art projects, books, nicely cooked meals, laundry, whatever–but the amount of frustration this undead monstrosity is throwing in my face is not needed. Not in 2017, not in 2018, not ever. I’d rather eat a garlic bread sandwich and watch the sun rise. Thankfully, Deck13 Interactive’s hack-and-slash RPG from 2013 can now participate in my highly praised and much copied PlayStation Plus purge program.

For those that don’t know, like me when I got this thing for free for PlayStation Plus some many months back, Blood Knights is a downloadable action RPG for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The game was developed by German studio Deck13 Interactive and published by Kalypso Media, also from Germany. You play as bland-as-bread Jeremy, a renowned vampire hunter who is trailing behind a priest in order to stop an army of blood-suckers who have stolen the Blood Seal, a magical artifact which…due to it being stolen, shattered the moon. I won’t fault you for not comprehending that sentence because I played the game for a couple hours and did not comprehend much altogether. Also, Jeremy has been “bonded” to a female vampire named Alysa for unclear reasons. Well, maybe videogamey reasons.

Blood Knights features both single player and local cooperative gameplay modes, but does not allow for online co-op, and so my short time with it was spent playing by my lonesome, mouth agape in disbelief at almost every step of the way. When playing solo, you can swap between Jeremy and Alysa with the touch of a button, which strangely has a short cool-down period, but the other character simply disappears from the level instead of hanging around, being controlled by AI and helping you fight the bad guys. Both share the same lifebar too. Which is strange for a game built on co-op and dropping in and out of play, but hey, I’m no videogame developer.

The main gameplay is linear dungeon crawling with sword swingin’, loosing arrows, magic spells, and picking up loot, kind of like Diablo 3, but far inferior. Far, far inferior. You gain experience points and pick up small piles of gold along the way as you battle back people who hate vampires, and all of that feeds into upgrading your character’s skills or buying new gear, but I found the menu UI and look to be so ugly that it was difficult to even navigate. I struggled to see the stat differences between the weapon on the ground and the weapon in Jeremy’s hands that I often left the sword where it lay. Same goes for each character’s respective skill tree and the controller layout, both of which are hard to grok. Attacking enemies is unsatisfying, even with Jeremy having a super-move clearly inspired by the likes of one Crash Bandicoot.

I feel like it is almost cruel to talk about the game’s graphics and voice acting–because they are atrocious, a heavy adjective for sure–but it’s a big part of what turned me almost immediately off of Blood Knights. Here is the game’s intro. Everything is so wooden and, excuse the wordplay, lifeless, from how the characters move to their speech to the attempt at creating a stirring moment from a dramatic score. I also experienced a good amount of jank, such as frequent slowdowns and popping and flickering shadows. This speaks to the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation as a whole, but there’s also a ton of light bloom happening in nearly every scene. Lastly, take notice of how Jeremy is dressed in a full set of armor, and Alysa is yet another highly sexualized female protagonist for the industry, forced to do battle against enemies with swords and spears in an outfit incapable of protecting her skin from getting poked.

Blood Knights isn’t even close to mediocre. Cue the sunrise.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

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Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Hoard

The first time I became aware of the concept that a dragon even liked gold was as a young lad reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The powerful, fearsome dragon Smaug, who invaded the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor 150 years prior to the events in the book, is now happy to spend the rest of his days sleeping among his loot, a vast hoard of shiny treasure. Eventually, he must defend it from a group of 13 Dwarves mounting a quest to take the kingdom back, who are helped along the way by the wizard Gandalf and the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins. Look, if you haven’t read The Hobbit, please do so as soon as possible; if you hate reading and prefer watching motion pictures, you can skip the Peter Jackson films and eat up the 1977 animated take from Rankin/Bass and Topcraft instead.

Anyways, enough about The Hobbit. I’m here today for another exciting edition of Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge to tell you a bit about Hoard, which I think I got as a freebie way back in September 2014, though the game came out a couple years before that. Honestly, it’s a good amount of fun, but not a keeper. Your true goal in this action strategy game is to be the greediest dragon of them all and amass as much gold as you can before time runs out. You do this by spewing flames and burning towns, castles, and crops to a crisp, revealing piles of gold that can be carried back to your nest. Naturally, not everyone is down to party, and you’ll have to fight off archers protecting towns, knights out to rescue stolen princesses, and other dragons (which can be controlled by other players) that have their own hoards to build.

Every piece of gold you bring back to your lair in Hoard will give you experience points, which, after getting enough, can be spent to level up your dragon. Your options include making it fly faster, have stronger armor, and a more powerful fire breath. There are a handful of stats you can choose to boost, and you don’t need to stress too hard over this as your dragon is reset to nothing at the start of every game. I focused early on speed and fire-breathing and later would up my dragon’s toughness as more difficult enemies reared their difficult heads.

There’s no campaign to follow here, which is okay, I guess. Hoard‘s core mode is called Treasure Collect, which not surprisingly tasks you with collecting as much gold as possible over a 10-minute period. There’s also Princess Rush, Survival, and Co-oP, though I only tried the former and not the latter two of those types. I do like that no game is longer than 10 minutes, which means every action counts, and you can’t dilly-dally about. Your dragon’s skill will grow tremendously over that short span, but I did often feel like I was just getting into my groove as time was running out. Which only made me want to jump right back into another match.

Hoard is definitely one of those quick fixes type of games, like Spelunky or The Binding of Isaac. Where you can dip into it quickly and have a good time and bounce out before the sun sets. There’s an in-game achievements system, but I don’t have it in me to play hundreds of matches to see these things pop. I enjoyed the few that I did play, and that’s that. Enjoy your pile of gold for eternity, dragon, because I won’t bother you anymore. Or, much like with Super Motherload, if I do feel the urge to poke the slumbering beast, I’ll grab you from Steam instead.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Rag Doll Kung Fu™: Fists of Plastic

First things first–um, what?! Secondly, no, really, what even is this? Lastly, I don’t understand. A part of me really wishes to leave those few lines to describe my short time with Rag Doll Kung Fu™: Fists of Plastic, but the writer in me knows that just won’t happen. Plus, it’s always more fun to write about poor games than great games, strange as that may seem.

Developed by Tarsier Studios, Rag Doll Kung Fu™: Fists of Plastic is an exclusive party-fighting game for the PlayStation 3, focusing more on exaggerated physics than anything else. Certainly, this game has an imaginative look and feel, with the characters acting like puppets minus the strings. There’s a strong attention to detail for the fighting arenas, which are intricate miniature playsets. The characters themselves also look sharp, with plenty of light bloom to go around, and their limp rag doll movement is fun to watch…for a bit. Playing the game is not as enjoyable.

Your battling success depends on mastering basic kung fu moves while using acrobatic skills to swing off platforms and somersault through the air. There’s an unfortunate heavy reliance on motion controls. Still, face buttons are used to punch, kick, jump, and block, and basic combos can be performed by stringing these together. You can use the analog sticks both to move your character around and rotate their arms when grabbing items or swinging weapons around. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Furthermore, if you want to do a quick jolt to slam the ground or convert your chi power into a lightning ball, you’ll need to thrust the controller up or down in a specific way to get the job done. This is not always guaranteed, and I personally hate using the PlayStation 3 controller in this way.

There’s no story in Rag Doll Kung Fu™: Fists of Plastic. It’s a brawler, where the goal is to do more damage to your opponent(s) and remain on the healthy side of things. From the main menu, you can select the following: Multiplayer, Challenges, Tutorial, Character Editor, and Options. I basically only touched the Challenges and Tutorial and experienced enough to know that this isn’t for me. I’ve never been interested in these sorts of games to begin with–sorry, Super Smash Bros., fans–but the action is a little too chaotic and hard to follow. Throw in the wonky physics and reliance on motion controls to do anything cool and…I’m out.

Because I noticed the trademark symbol in Rag Doll Kung Fu™: Fists of Plastic‘s name, I had to know if this was based on some sort of TV series or movie. Nope. This is a fighting video game, created predominantly by artist Mark Healey, while working for Lionhead Studios, along with other Lionhead employees, such as David Smith and Alex Evans. You might remember this studies, defunct since April 2016, as the people behind Fable. Alas, unlike Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom, there’s no connection that I can find to any other media, which then strikes me odd on the insistence to include a trademark symbol. There’s a tiny link between this and the original Rag Doll Kung Fu, which came out on PC in 2005 and had an unusual mouse-only control scheme, but that’s about it.

Here’s the one positive comment I’ll make about Rag Doll Kung Fu™: Fists of Plasticit’s got a pretty strange yet catchy theme song.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Super Motherload

It’s been a couple of years since I played SteamWorld Dig, but, especially given that SteamWorld Dig 2 released this year to good praise, I think about that game often. Not because its story resolved in a way that left me lost and wondering, nor because steam-powered robot Rusty’s journey to rebuild Tumbleton was so distressing that it has forever left me scarred, but rather because that game was both a lot of fun and super, duper relaxing. Like, mega chill. I now have a greater understanding of why dogs like to dig, and the answer is simple–it is because digging is fun. Allow me to further back this claim up by talking about Super Motherload.

Let’s momentarily leave this trash-dump of a planet of ours and head for redder terrain. Set on Mars in an alternate Cold-War era, Super Motherload is a 1- to 4-player couch co-op digging adventure. Yup, a digging adventure. The game’s storyline was written by Image Comics’ Kurtis Wiebe and features a fully voiced cast of Soviet and American characters, with some aliens to boot. Also, it’s procedurally generated, which means no playthrough is ever the same in terms of how and where you dig down. The goals remains to go deeper, and you do that by purchasing powerful upgrades and supplies for your mining pod. These range from faster drilling speed to a large inventory space to taking less damage when you inevitably bounce it against a wall going too fast.

I put more time into Super Motherload than I initially expected to, something like eight to ten hours. Especially when this feature is meant to get in, grab a bite, and get out. So that certainly says something about the game. I really enjoyed digging deeper underground, gathering items and mix-and-matching them with the smelter in specific orders to create better elements, for more moolah. Finding the next base was also extremely rewarding, and I loved the freedom offered here, in that, if you wanted to and had enough fuel, you could just descend, descend, descend. Still, the game wants you to load up on stuff, return to base, upgrade what you can, and do it all over again, inching further forward each time. Actually, that’s not what the game wants, but what it rather is–a relaxing push deeper. Well, until the final boss.

Alas, I was unable to beat Super Motherload. I got all the way to the end boss fight after many hours of upgrading, exploring, and so on, but there’s seemingly no way for me to beat it. See, the fight is two phases repeated multiple times. The first phase is you zipping after this large machine as it shoots up towards the closest base, and you need to quickly follow it as lava is rising beneath you. Once you are at the base, the next phase begins, where you need to dodge it and drop bombs to deal damage. Rinse and repeat for each of the bases going back to Mars’ surface. The problem is I quickly ran out of bombs and money on the first base, and with no money or bombs or other way to get more resources due to the aforementioned lava, I could do very little save for hide in a corner until boredom set in. The switch from a super relaxing time to extreme action and emphasis on early preparation and inventory management–in terms of bombs–was one of the most off-putting experiences I’ve ever dealt with in videogames.

The good news is that, if I do get the itch to play more of this type of game (minus its final 15 minutes) and returning to SteamWorld Dig isn’t cutting the cheese just right, I can grab Super Motherload on Steam. Though me-thinks I’ll either go back to SteamWorld Dig or try out its sequel before I do that. Either way, that’s another PlayStation Plus title tried and uninstalled.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Monster Jam: Battlegrounds

Monster Jam: Battlegrounds is a bad game. I thought I’d just put that up front here in this new feature for Grinding Down where I finally start taking a look at the many, many PlayStation Plus titles I have installed on my PlayStation 3. Why? Well, the service is not what it once was in terms of the games you get (at least for the console I’m still on), and I’m looking to ultimately cancel it down the road. Unlike Microsoft’s Games with Gold program, you don’t get to keep the titles from Sony, so I should try some of them out before I cut ties and these disappear for good.

Let’s get to it. Monster Jam: Battlegrounds is Trials, but instead of motorbikes you use monster trucks to get the job done. The job is usually going from the left side of the screen to the right side. Actually, that comparison is completely unfair to the Trials franchise, which is noteworthy for its physic-based controls and steep challenge, but high level of polish. Also, completing a tough jump in Trials Evolution felt do-able and was really rewarding; here, you are fighting at every twist and turn to keep these monster trucks upright, almost as if they are hollow inside. Ugh.

There are three modes: Skill Driving, Stadium Events, and Stunt. Each is less exciting than the previous one. Skill Driving has you trying to reach certain areas by maintaining momentum and not toppling over. Stadium is a ridiculous scenario where you drive in a circle two or three times and beat an opponent doing the same thing, and to call this a “race” is an insult to the very definition of the word. Stunt wants you to use your boost power effectively and see how far you can make a monster truck fly through the air. These are all straightforward and over quickly, which makes the long load times to get to them and unresponsive controls all the more frustrating.

So, in the end, not a keeper. The physics are appalling, the challenge and graphic designs are lackluster, the audio is a mess, cutting in and out and culminating into one large crunch of static, crowd cheers, and cheesy rock music, and it takes forever to play, which, for a game I don’t want to play all that much, makes the decision to uninstall pretty easy. Didn’t even need to boost.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Hilariously, baby’s first Platinum Trophy is for Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom

2017 Game Review Haiku, #48 – Datura

Forest of choices
PlayStation Move, controller
It’s only your hand

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.