Release day quandry

Alongside my PlayStation and television there is an ever-growing pile of games I refer to as my “to-complete pile.” Each time a new title is released, the pile grows and I feel a little worse about myself.

As pictured below, the games that I’m so heavily avoiding are some of the best games to be released lately, and LEGO Marvel (which I’ve since obtained the platinum in).

Currently, my pile sits in the order I want to complete the games in; of how annoyed I’ll be if the plots I’ve so carefully been avoiding are suddenly spoiled for me. Not playing these games is exhausting. Constantly on the alert for spoilers from podcasts, articles and loose-lipped friends, these are games I am going to go back to, games that I loved playing. That I will love playing again.

“I’m not going to buy any more games until I’ve finished the ones I’ve got” has become a catchphrase of mine, but as release day for a new game rolls around, I get caught up in the hype and want to be instantly involved. I don’t want to work through the pile just to get the new game, I want it now.

I’ve recently managed to restrain myself from buying both Thief and South Park: Stick of Truth on their own release days, and have made an internal promise that I’ll be caught up with my gaming pile by the time Watch Dogs rolls around.

Using new releases as an incentive brings about it’s own issues. If I really do want to make it through these games before I buy anything new, I have to add new titles to my ever-increasing list of spoiler-blocking.

With game developers bringing out so many worthy games in recent months, the urge to buy new games gets stronger and stronger. With each new release that I deprive myself of, I feel like I’m learning a valuable lesson about the perils of spreading myself too thinly across too many games.

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Platinum Review: The Smurfs 2

Sometimes, I sit down and think, “Time to get serious with this gaming. Time to play GTA V.” Sometimes I’ll think, “Oh sweet! A new LEGO game! I love LEGO games!” And just sometimes the little voice in the back of my head will say, “This LEGO game sure is taking a long time. I want a platinum trophy NOW.” As I sat down to play The Smurfs 2, it’s pretty clear which thought was running through my head.

To add context into my shame, the LEGO Marvel map is huge, and a real effort to do all of the side-quests and is just taking too long for my platinum craving. I am also playing Sound Shapes on PS3, PS4 and Vita, but I need something to break up the mind-altering frustration caused by Death Mode. The lure of the triple platinum is just too much for me to ignore completely.

I’d like to be able to talk about the plot of The Smurfs 2, but the cutscenes are skipable for the most part and I only really took in the non-skippable ones. As a very brief synopsis, Smurfette is kidnapped by Gargamel and the rest of the Smurfs have to save her. I’m sure there’s more too it than that, but I’ve never been a fan of The Smurfs, and frankly, don’t care about the danger they are in now.

Gameplay is divided up into five levels and a boss in six different worlds, with each level taking less than five minutes to complete. No exaggeration. Levels are linear, with no opportunity to stray from the path. In order to complete your first playthrough as quickly as possible, you should look to do a speed-run and play as Clumsy who can tumble forwards, much more quickly than the other Smurfs. Don’t worry about collectables as you’ll be playing through again once you’ve unlocked Smurfs with different abilities anyway.

As far as games go, The Smurfs 2, is probably about as easy as they come. The Playstation Trophies website lists the game as being 1.5 out of 10 difficulty, with a platinum obtainable within 5 to 8 hours, I would agree with this and perhaps go so far as to suggest the game is even easier. There are no troubling trophies, and the only thing that will take some time is collecting the 100 Smurf coins, which can be done without a guide though there is a comprehensive one online.

Platinum review: LEGO Legends of Chima

The 39th platinum to pop onto my screen was LEGO Legends of Chima: Laval’s Journey. A PS Vita game, LEGO Chima is one of the only original Lego IP’s. Never one to pass up a LEGO game, and an easy platinum to boot, I snapped up a preowned copy of the game for £15 at MCM Expo.

The storyline of the game centres around the antagonists’ quest for the triple Chi. The Chi is an ability characters can obtain in order to provide them with heightened strength. The main character, Laval, is told that to let any one animal possess the power of the triple Chi will be catastrophic. The plot is easy to follow, and perhaps a little contrived; principle members of each tribe are introduced rapidly (every two levels) and you never seem to get a sense of why things matter to each tribe. The player is introduced to these characters through a series of frustratingly long and unskippable cut-scenes, which insist on playing even on the second playthrough of the game.

When playing the game I tried to bear in mind that the game is principally for children, and a complex plot isn’t going to appeal. While I want to love all LEGO games I had to concede that the games all have the same target audience and while the majority of them manage to have widespread appeal amongst children and adults, it appears that LEGO Chima has missed the mark.

The game mechanics are identical to previous LEGO Vita games, only differing slightly from the non-handheld variants of LEGO games. The map seemed at times to be too big, and with different areas branching off the main areas, it was often very frustrating trying to figure out where to go next. I had some issues with the camera, which you are able to control using the right analogue stick. Often the camera wouldn’t go in the direction that I wanted it go, causing my view to be obscured and making me take multiple attempts at part of the game.

The platinum itself is easily obtainable; PS3 Trophies rates it as a 2/10 difficulty, and estimates that it will to 10-12 hours before the platinum pops. Through my personal experience, I agree with the difficulty rating, but it took me closer to 15 hours.