The PlayStation 3 Offerings: Existential Crysis
Every month, PlayStation Plus subscribers can download six select games for free through the service as part of what Sony calls its "Instant Game Collection." Almost all gaming websites report on the free games given monthly through PS+ - that’s good; the more people that know what’s headed their way, the better. We do, too, but with a twist.
I keep an ever-changing spreadsheet of the games currently offered through this service, and The Offerings is where I post my findings. This feature explores the games currently available and gives you an at-a-glance look at three things: The average rating of each game (via Metacritic), average time to complete each game (via HowLongToBeat's combined average times), and a breakdown of available Trophies by type (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum). This gives you quick access to see if a game is well-received, if the title is bite-sized or meaty enough to sink one's teeth into, and an idea of what Trophy gains are available (if that's your thing).
That's what you'll find in The Offerings that hits the first week of every month. For each week that follows, I share my thoughts on two of the games offered by platform: PlayStation 3, Vita, and PlayStation 4. This week, being the second week of the month, is all about the PS3.
The thing I’ve noticed about Crysis 3 is that the character you play as, Prophet, is too powerful — and this is playing stealth! You’re wearing this Nanosuit made of an alien material that has pretty much taken over your body, and you can do some incredible things right off the bat (jump higher, take more damage, cloak yourself). But then your in-game pal, Psycho, gives you a kick-ass bow-and-arrow made of a similar alien-tech (if you cloak, it cloaks), and there’s almost no reason to play the game any other way. Or, at least, I don’t know why you would. (There's no Trophy for doing so, though. Sorry, Brent!)
Tapping up on the d-pad pulls up a visor mode that allows you to tag things throughout your environment (enemies, ammo, data pick-ups) so when you’re not in visor mode, you can keep track of these things. While cloaked. Using super-quiet, or at least silenced, weapons. And — sure! — walking around cloaked drains the energy of your suit, forcing you to become visible (though you can hide out of view from enemies). The energy regenerates at a quick rate, and you can increase the time you’re able to remain cloaked and decrease the regeneration time of your suit by unlocking upgrades, so then there’s that.
I don’t mean to come off as harsh, or that it’s a bad thing that you’re basically a one man army, because I had fun with the couple of hours I spent with Crysis 3. Those very mechanics and the environment (the game is beautiful) are what made me want to see more, but everything else seems pretty generic and blah and does nothing to make me care. If Prophet ends up living forever in that Nanosuit, or if he and Psycho are never able to take down the militarized forces of CELL (who, I suppose, is trying to harness the power of this alien technology for all the wrong reasons), then I guess that’s fine. I’m left unaffected.
The other side of this PS3-shaped PlayStation Plus coin is Proteus. I totally get why some gamers would like to see through the adventures of Prophet in Crysis 3. And I totally get why some gamers (not necessarily the same group of gamers) would hate to spend more than 10 minutes with Proteus. But where I’m left unaffected by the events transpiring in Crysis 3, I’m left in complete awe of the island you explore in Proteus.
Proteus doesn't guide you at all. If you’re Trophy hunting, there’s just about enough information provided in their descriptors to steer you in one direction or another as far as exploration goes. One can only discover the mysteries on the island, however, by spending a couple of in-game lifetimes in Proteus. Even then, it’s up to the player to try and make sense of any of it. It’s that mysteriousness that I love.
And yeah, there is definitely a lifetime to experience within game. You go through the four seasons, starting with spring. Spring and summer are there for you to get your bearings straight (the island generates randomly for each play through). Autumn and winter are when the most mysterious things occur (at least as far as I’ve discovered); there’s a trippy and wonderful red sky night show by the stone totems in the fall, for instance.
I’m quick to compare dying in Journey with dying in Proteus (spoilers, I guess: You die in Journey and Proteus), but where Journey has an almost hopeful, enlightened way about dealing with death, Proteus takes a more melancholic approach. Dying starts with a beautiful and quiet winter through which you wander. Snow starts falling, there’s a light fogginess to the world around you, and the already darkened day shifts to a darker night. A light droning of a meditated hum grows louder as you start to float. You can still control yourself as you float up into winter’s nighttime sky, but you can’t outrun it. You close your eyes for the first and last time since they opened just off the island’s shore at the start of spring. You’ve made your peace with the life you were given. Or the island has made it’s peace with you. Either way, the game’s complete lack of threats or struggles become more poignant by the fact that you can’t do anything to avoid your inevitable outcome.
I update The PlayStation Offerings monthly as the new games roll out, or if any significant changes should occur. As outlined above, I'll be playing all of this month's offerings throughout the next couple of weeks. My thoughts on the Vita games should be up on Wednesday, August 20. Y'all should give both Dragon's Crown and Metrico a spin yourselves and come back to share your feelings after checking out mine!
In the meantime, let's talk! Let me know in the comments if there's any information you'd like to see included in this feature.