Patterico's Pontifications


PSA: The Playstation Network is Fully Back, Offering “Sorry” Bribes

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:47 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Yesterday the store was restored to the Playstation Network, which is good because there was a game for my PSP I was waiting to download (fine, call me a nerd).  And today they are providing their “welcome back” giveaways—basically bribes to say they are sorry about it all.  That went live today according to Joystiq.  And bluntly the games they are giving away are pretty impressive.  If I understand it right, you can get up to two PSP games and two PS3 games.

For the PS3 the choices are reported as:

  • Dead Nation
  • inFAMOUS
  • LittleBigPlanet
  • Super Stardust HD
  • Wipeout HD + Fury

These are all very good titles (by what I know and what I read).  For the PSP, we have:

  • LittleBigPlanet (PSP)
  • ModNation Racers (PSP)
  • Pursuit Force
  • Killzone Liberation

More substantively, they are offering a free year’s word of identity theft protection.  But you need to sign up reasonably soon to get that benefit.

And under the fold, I will tell you briefly what I think of the games, to the extent I know them.

I have heard good things about pretty much all of those games, but I only have:

InFamous—a great open world game involving a regular guy becoming a superhero.  Basically the guy starts as a regular guy, a messenger, given a mysterious device.  It blows up in his hands, killing lots of people but giving him electricity-based superpowers.  I always tell people the game is actually more fun than you think it will be.  I mean electrical powers doesn’t sound particularly cool, but the game makes it cool.  It has an excellent balance of superhero type gameplay, platorming and shooting.  On the last point, it’s not that you get guns.  In fact early on, you learn that if the character tries to hold a gun or get in a car, his powers cause them to explode.  But he can take cover and throw lighting at his enemies, in way similar to many of the great cover shooters.  And the enemies are tough enough to make it a fun challenge.  Like the bad guys can be two blocks away, shooting at you with an AK-47 and hit you most of the time.

If you don’t own it, get it.  Its clearly the best choice on this list.

LittleBigPlanet—it’s a good game and all, but there is literally nothing it does that its sequel doesn’t do.  Now, the sequel won’t have the original levels, but bluntly the “story” part of the original game was completely forgettable.  I guess I would recommend it if you don’t own it and that is it.

The basic idea is this.  It is a 2d platformer (think Super Mario Bros.), but with one big twist: you can make your own levels.  Which means everyone else can.  The slogan is “Create.  Play.  Share.”  So literally you can play millions of player-created levels.  The downside is that the original story is such a throwaway you literally don’t care.  But the game play is very well done.

Dead Nation—You are a lone survivor killing zombies so not the most original story.  But its still a pretty fun game.  You control your character from afar, twin stick style, so it will remind you a little of the style of Robotron, but with actual progression and some story.  I enjoyed it (although I enjoyed the mini Age of Zombies 100 times more).

And I can’t say more about the Playstation 3 games, because I don’t own the others.

Meanwhile for the PSP:

Little Big Planet—one thing the PSP suffers from is the ports.  Most ports of most games are pale imitations of the originals.  But to their credit, the people who made this game made it almost exactly as good as the original.  I mean the graphics aren’t quite as good, and the world has two layers instead of three, but you barely notice the difference when playing.  And actually in some ways the portability works better for its format.  So that is a definite download (especially because there is no sequel on the PSP to steal its thunder—though that might change later).  And yes, you can create your own levels in it, share them with others and see what others have created.  In fact I like the sharing feature a little better on the PSP version.  You download a bunch of levels and then play them anywhere as opposed to only being able to download one level at a time on the PS3 versions.

ModNation Racers—now I mentioned last time that the ports were pale imitations of the originals.  Well, yeah, this is one of the ones I was thinking of.  On the PS3, it is one of the best kart racers around, with a genuine sense of speed and very beautiful graphics.  And the endless customizability can be fun, although most of the time that just means people will rip off their favorite characters.  Hey I am guilty.  I created a character who looked reasonably like Agent 47 of the Hitman games, complete with a barcode on his back of his head.  And I created a “Clark Kent” character, basically a guy in a suit, with his shirt half-unbuttoned to reveal the iconic “S.”

But the PSP version?  You have to put the PS3 version out of your head and enjoy a much slower, much less impressive experience.  The cars are slowed down, the weapons less impressive, and the controls are looser.  And the customization is cut off at the knees.  You are reduced to mixing and matching parts, instead of actually creating what you want.  Its not bad, just it gets badly overshadowed.

But both this one and the PS3 version also follows the same create-play-share mantra of Little Big Planet.  That is you can customize your character, his/her car, and even create your own tracks.  I haven’t messed with the online element or even track creation, but it’s there.  I have really enjoyed multiplayer on the PS3 version but for that reason haven’t messed with the PSP version.

Pursuit Force—this is the only one on the list of PSP games that is not a port of a game on the PS3 or PS2.  It is like being in the cheesiest action movie ever, with the most ridiculous stunts.  Like a major mechanic in the game is that you hijack cars as you are moving.  That is you press a button and you jump maybe 12 feet to land on their car, shoot the driver, and then take over the vehicle, as it drives.  Which is both ridiculous and fun.  Add to that a completely ridiculous plot involving the most ridiculous national stereotypes (either in the original or the sequel, the Russian bad guys shout something like, “you Americans drive as badly as you dance ballet!”—which I have to believe is intentionally hilarious) and it’s all a good time.  I think the sequel, “Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice” is a much better experience, but it’s still pretty good.

And I don’t have the Killzone game, but I have heard good things about it.

And bluntly, I would wonder if this bribe is part of an effort to head off the class action that has already arrived.  I mean what do you normally get, best case scenario, in a class action?  Oh, maybe about $30 per person and that is about it, which thus might be considered pre-empted by what people already got.  It will be interesting to see if they use that as a mitigation.

And how about you sound off and tell me if you are still mad at Sony…

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

18 Responses to “PSA: The Playstation Network is Fully Back, Offering “Sorry” Bribes”

  1. $30 would be a HUGE class-action jackpot

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  2. Wasn’t Eric Holder supposed to investigate the breach?

    lee (cae7a3)

  3. Nerd.

    j/k ;D

    I appreciate that Sony is reaching out. Unfortunately, I’m not really interested in any of their freebies. And considering that ANOTHER one of Sony’s sites just got hacked ( this time), I’m not at all convinced that they’ve got their InfoSec act squared away.

    I think I’ll let some others beta test Sony’s updated PSN security for a while.

    JR (646e8b)

  4. I won’t give them my credit card, but I do use the online service with my friends. I tried to download one of the free games, but I kept getting an error message. I figure the site is overwhelmed with everyone trying to do the same thing at the same time. I’ll try again in a week.

    NJRob (c6719d)

  5. inFamous was a great game. I played it through twice completely (once good, once bad) and have played bits and pieces apart from that. Looking forward to the sequel.

    I haven’t played many games on my ps3 in awhile (I tend to game on the 360 and use the ps3 for blu ray playback) but I’ll definitely snag a freebie.

    Miguelitosd (f443a7)

  6. hah it’s 5:00 and you know what that means!

    this is very exciting

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  7. I suspect I won’t be able to catch a lot of the E3 coverage this week…

    More’s the pity…

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  8. you can also download up to 3 free movies… Ghostbusters, Final Fantasy Spirits Within, and Bad Boys

    Joshua (baf39f)

  9. I was wondering… Anyone have a contact with BioWare that can get me inside their building?

    You have no idea how badly I want to play Mass Effect 3…

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  10. Here’s hoping that the final boss in ME3 will be a bit more intimidating than the Character Select screen from Golden Axe.

    JR (dc08fc)

  11. The Wipeout HD Combo is freaking great.

    The graphics make an Xbox 360 look a generation old. It’s just amazingly detailed, 1080p high resolution, with 60 fps, and a million things going on at once.

    It’s also pretty damn hard, but they have an easy level. I’d say that’s the best game offered other than Infamous, which I only started playing today (it seems great so far).

    I agree with Aaron that LBP is a well made game, but the sequel is so much better that there’s no reason to pick this one. If you would like it, just get the sequel instead.

    Stardust is actually a lot of fun, and I really like the 2 player mode. The game is simple, but pretty, making excellent use of 7.1 surround. It’s very cinematic, if you just want a shooter similar to that awesome Xbox 360 game, Geometry Wars.

    The PSP game selection seems really strong. LBP and Modnation are AAA titles.

    But I’ve actually gotten 8-9 free games, if you add in the Playstation + trial. And don’t miss the themes. The fireplace one is pretty sweet.

    This is a really nice ‘apology’ package, considering I don’t pay a monthly fee for PSN service (albeit, I paid enough for the console to expect better service).

    Sony’s delay here is embarrassing, but it’s clear that the hackers trying to take them down are very dedicated criminals that don’t mind harming tens of millions of people. Whatever they say of Sony, Sony didn’t try anything worse than being a profitable company that didn’t want their games pirated.

    Anyone defending the hackers or bashing Sony for being ‘evil’ really needs to get their head examined.

    I’m getting a few error messages, I think because the servers are overwhelmed, but I’ve downloaded at least 30 gigabytes of games in the last 12 hours, so it’s working relatively well. Imagine that server load! Thank goodness I’ve got a big hard drive in my PS3.

    Anyway, if you don’t have Wipeout, that’s a great pick.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  12. Sony hacked AGAIN! This time it was the website for Sony Europe. Account passwords for the site are in the wild.

    Sony’s number one problem has ceased to be damage to revenue stream. It’s all about damage to corporate reputation now. I sympathize with Sony’s new CISO. Sony is so large that any systemic policy failure to maintain best practice security would be a herculean task to overcome.

    Ultimately, this isn’t going to have much effect on Sony’s installed base of PS3 users. Gamers spend many times the cost of the console on software, and won’t be eager to lose their investment. New users is another matter entirely. If my child was in the market for a new console, I’d be inclined to guide them in the direction of a Wii or a 360.

    My sympathies to Sony. The stigma of continual InfoSec failures is absolutely the last thing they need going in to E3.

    JR (646e8b)

  13. While I haven’t played many top down view games in awhile… Dead Nation has turned out to be a fine time waster. It’s good for a 20-30min playthrough of a single level.

    Ended up getting that and the Wipeout pack (I recall having the first Wipeout game years ago).

    Free is just a big plus.

    Miguelitosd (f443a7)

  14. If my child was in the market for a new console, I’d be inclined to guide them in the direction of a Wii or a 360.

    I can see the Wii, but is the 360 more secure?

    I mean, the truth is that all these hackers have been trying harder than ever to hack the PSN since it came back up, and have failed miserably. I think the long delay was because Sony greatly improved security.

    I know one company with more security flaws on record than any other, and that company is Microsoft. They often wait months to fix known exploits. Most dangerous thing you can do online is use unpatched Win XP and Internet Explorer. After all, without that security flaw, the botnets used to inject sql into Sony’s systems wouldn’t have existed.

    Anyway, you’re associating a website unrelated to the Playstation Network with Sony’s PSN, but your alternative choice is a 360, even though the company behind that system has hundreds of thousands of reported security breaches. Seems a little unfair.

    The stigma of continual InfoSec failures is absolutely the last thing they need going in to E3.

    It sucks for them. But they have great games, as usual. The PS3 has been the best console I’ve ever had. The long offline nightmare was terrible, and a valid gripe, but the games keep getting better.

    Migueltoast, I love Wipeout. If you’ve got a huge TV, those Zone modes are amazing.

    Infamous is great, btw. I played it for a few hours yesterday. Thanks for the tip, Aaron. It’s a lot like they stole the best elements of other games. GTA San Andreas combined with Assassin’s Creed’s building climbing, combined with a superhero RPG. It’s not earth shaking (it’s no Assassin’s Creed 2), but it would have been worth $60.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  15. Oh, and my wife found this game with the Playstation Plus trial. The link goes to the Flash web browser version (it’s free on there). It’s a lot of fun.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  16. Correct Link

    Dustin (c16eca)

  17. Ooh.. I had missed that inFamous 2 streets today. Looks like I’ll need to hit Best Buy on the way home.

    Miguelitosd (f443a7)

  18. I’m probably going to get the game too. It’s really a lot better than I had expected. Just good solid gameplay. The controls are a little… imperfect, but I’m comparing it to Assassin’s Creed 2.

    Sony was smart to give Playstation Plus, because my wife very much would like to keep it (which is odd… she plays games, but not really very much.

    Dustin (c16eca)

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