The Offerings 5/28/14: Five Games Hang In Limbo
Every month, Xbox Live Gold members and PlayStation Plus subscribers can download select games for free from their service of choice. Almost all gaming websites report on the free games given to PS+ and XBL Gold subscribers - that’s good; the more people that know what’s headed their way, the better - so from here on out, we will too. But with a twist.
I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of the games offered through PlayStation Plus' Instant Game Collection (Xbox Live's Games With Gold only offers one title at a time at the moment, so there's currently not a reason to maintain a sheet for the service). The Offerings will feature the games currently available and, at a glance, 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 it's something bite-sized or if it's meaty enough to sink one's teeth into, and an idea of what Trophy gains are available (if that's your thing).
Velocity Ultra left us on Tuesday to make room for a personal favorite of mine, Limbo. A more exciting note to make about the above is that five - FIVE! - games are leaving next week. This leaves a lot of room for speculation: Is Sony shrinking the number of free games available? Are we getting five new games all together? Next week will be the week before E3, why not wait to have a "these five great additions to the PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection are available...right now!" type of announcement at its press event (Monday, June 9, at 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern)? Either way, I'm excited to see what's to come of it all.
Sigh. Limbo is both a short game (around four hours) and a long, heartfelt sigh. Though the story you play through is open to interpretation - and one can't deny how ominous it is - I wouldn't have it any other way. And, if you're like me, you won't mind one bit, as you'll pretty much love every second of its atmosphere, from the minimalist sound design to its vignetted, monochromatic visuals. The game doesn't prompt you with what to do or how to do it, nor does it hold your hand, so it's quite likely that you will die a lot on your first playthrough of the title. I think that's all part of the narrative but, again, that's open to interpretation.
Of Limbo's 13 Trophies, 11 of them relate to finding hidden, glowing eggs (a collectible that's only really there to inspire exploration and light puzzle solving). While some of the eggs can be a challenge, the Silver you receive for completing the game makes Limbo worthy of at least one play through...if its intrigue, challenge, and gameplay weren't enough, that is.
The Chopping Block
LittleBigPlanet Karting released two years and some-odd months after United Front Games' first flirtation with "Create.Play.Share." kart racing, ModNation Racers, hit the PlayStation 3. The developer took a little bit from Column A and mixed it with a little bit from Column B, and what shook out were, critically speaking, mixed results. Like Puppeteer, LBP Karting is a game that's been in my back catalog for a while, but after looking over its list of Trophies, it may have shot up near the top of my queue. I love it when the Trophies come quick-and-easy, so when I see ones like "Change your costume," or "Upload a photo taken from any level," it's like the developer is begging me to jump in and play, if only for 10 minutes. And I'm not one to say no to that.
Next up on the chopping block is the most recent entry in Konami's long-running footie franchise, Pro Evolution Soccer 2014. And, I don't know, man... it sure is soccer!
Moving alphabetically down the list of departing titles, here's one game leaving that's kind of a shocker to me. When the PlayStation 4 hit shelves on November 15, PlayStation Plus subscribers could download two games right off the bat: the kind of all right Contrast, and the supremely awesome RESOGUN. Where Contrast came and left, RESOGUN has been a true constant for those who just purchased their PS4 to download and enjoy - and I mean enjoy. If Housemarque's perennial favorite, Super Stardust, was the developer's take on the arcade-style twin-stick shooter, then RESOGUN is its take on a Defender-esque shmup. The game makes for a fast and fun showpiece to display the PS4's ability to have tons of particles (voxels, in this case) exploding all at once without a hiccup. RESOGUN is also a ton of fun co-op, so grab a PSN friend, toss on a headset, and bang out some of those Trophies together while it's still free (though it's totally worth the $14.99 they're charging otherwise).
With both RESOGUN and the recently added Stick It To The Man! on their way out, that either leaves a two-game slot to fill for PlayStation 4 Plus members, or something fishy's going on here. But that's right! Stick It To The Man! is also leaving next week.
Despite the title screen featuring the hit Kenny Rogers song "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)," Stick It To The Man! didn't really stick with me, but that doesn't mean it won't with you. By all accounts, it's a relatively short game (around four and a half hours or so), and as long as you read everyone's mind, the Trophies shouldn't be so hard either, so for free, you may as well give it a whirl.
The last of the five titles leaving is actually a PlayStation Plus exclusive, in that it's the single-player portion of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. You can earn the single-player Trophies, but since the game's Platinum Trophy requires that you've played at least two online matches, you'll have to pay to download the co-op portion of the game (multiplayer is a free download, otherwise) and it's all very confusing, really. If you want the full Uncharted 3 experience, unhindered by some weird pay structure, you can pick up the Game of the Year edition for $20 through most retailers, and that honestly might be a better route to go.
If, however, all you care about is the story, then this is your last chance to download this beast for free. If you or someone you know hasn't played any of the Uncharted games, I'd recommend playing through them chronologically (Drake's Fortune, Among Thieves, then Drake's Deception) to experience the full impact of the story being told here in Uncharted 3.
Nothing I can say here will really add to the conversation of how terrific the Uncharted franchise is all-around (the three main PS3 titles Metacritic scores average out to a 92). While I'm a bit of an outlier in that, overall, I prefer the first game, the third title is an undeniably great playing game and deserves a spot on your shelf, digitally or otherwise.
Xbox Games With Gold
Starting in June, Microsoft will be changing the way its Games With Gold system works, so as such, this will be the last time both PlayStation Plus and Xbox Games With Gold offerings will be seen in the same post. Which is probably all the better, seeing as how you had to wade through all the PS+ goodness just to find out that, much like right here, right now, 360 gamers can still (and only) download their copy of Saint's Row: The Third.
The way Games With Gold is now will continue to be the same for 360 gamers; if you download a game with your active Xbox Live Gold membership, you get to keep the game even if you let your membership lapse. When titles start hitting Xbox One next month, it'll work a little more like PlayStation Plus, where you'll have access to the games available as long as you have an active membership.
If you have a 360 and an active membership, download Saint's Row: The Third before June 1 so you have it, always and forever.
I'll be updating this as new games hit these services, or if any significant changes should occur. In the meantime, let's talk! Let me know in the comments if there's any information you think I should mention when I update The Offerings.