As the summer builds to the inevitable throng of AAA videogame releases this fall, Atlus brings forth a new kind of ‘Persona’ to the two big consoles. Meanwhile, smaller releases include what may be Sony’s most important title this year.
Persona 4 Arena (360, PS3)
The ‘Persona’ series has always intimidated me with its reputation as an RPG that requires you to grind through hundreds of random battles before facing a boss. ‘Persona 4 Arena‘, however, continues the ‘Persona 4’ story, while morphing into a full blown 2D fighter, ‘BlazBlue’ style. Unfortunately for me, while I enjoy fighting games, the ‘BlazBlue’ series and even the recent ‘Skullgirls’ have failed to hold my interest after a few matches, despite having an incredible art style and visuals, and a cast of varied fighters. Are there any ‘Persona’ or ‘BlazBlue’ fans hanging around The Bonus View?
‘Hybrid’ is a third-person, faction-based shooter. The two factions vie for control of zones by fighting over dark matter samples. Once a faction captures enough dark matter by winning matches, that faction wins the zone, and the zone resets, ready to be fought over again. The persistent competition between the factions allows the individual player to gain various perks, helmets and other buffs.
More distinct for ‘Hybrid’ is how the game plays. All players have jet packs, and movement is decided in advance. If you want to move forward into a cover slot, you highlight that slot to jetpack there, leaving your control focused entirely on shooting as you move. (While moving, you can abort the move, and you can dodge within the movement vector.) For me, it remains to be seen whether this unconventional movement system is entirely problematic or fun and addictive. ‘Hybrid’ was developed by 5th Cell, the same company that made ‘Scribblenauts’ and ‘Drawn to Life’.
Sound Shapes (PS3, PSV)
‘Sony Shapes’ has made the tradeshow rounds for a few years, appearing as both a handheld game where the user makes music with a robust editor, and as a quirky 2D platformer on the PS3. ‘Sound Shapes’ is a cross-play title, which means that you get both the PS3 and PSV versions when you purchase it from PSN. Even though I’m not in the slightest way musically inclined, I have already bought ‘Sound Shapes’. In an odd way, I think that this is a big title for Sony. It’s one part ‘LittleBigPlanet’-like level creation, and one part indie musical game, all for the PS3 and PSV for cheap. If the game is even a tenth of what it promises, the community creations could make this sleeper title a big hit.
Hero Academy (PC, iOS)
‘Hero Academy’ has been out on iOS for some time, and has grown a strong fan base. This semi-casual, semi- competitive, turn-based fantasy game has been described as the closest that any current game has come to some kind of ‘Star Wars’-like holo-chess. While that may be hyperbole, ‘Hero Academy’ is both easy to get into and hard to get away from. It has many varied possibilities in each turn. through the strategic use of move points, and a plethora of extra team types available.
Of note this week is the release of a PC version on Steam that features a ‘Team Fortress 2’ team in addition to the several other included and optional teams. What’s most impressive is the ability to face online opponents on either the PC or iOS platforms. That’s a feature that I hope becomes common in games where it makes the most sense.