Playstation Plus: Is It Worth the Money? – Weeks 12 and 13

Although Sony said the PSN update (and thus the Playstation Plus update as well) would be a day early, falling on September 20th, it actually didn’t go up until well after midnight EST, meaning this was either the latest update yet, or incredibly early, depending on what way you want to look at it. Either way Playstation Plus subscribers have TWO reasons to rejoice even though Sony can’t seem to figure out how to do a timely regular update like Nintendo or Microsoft can. The first is that the update was a day early this go-around. The second is that for only the second time (Week 5 was the only other quality update.), PS+ has finally been a service that lives up to the original potential Sony promised it would have. Sure it comes on the heel of Sony’s “Playstation Plus FAQ” that managed to piss off more users than it made happy(see for yourselves why), but at the end of the day, a good update is a good update and anytime I don’t have to rail about the quality and shenanigans (Someone going to have to pistol whip Farva now!) behind the service makes me happy. On top of that, this update comes in addition to a stellar PSN update, making this easily the best week for Playstation downloads that I can remember.

I picked up Blade Kitten and DeathSpank: Thongs of Valor (you can read the review of the original here)along with the two PSOne imports Cho Anki and Gaiaseed (we all know I love shoot ’em ups) and the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow demo. Oh wait. Not that last one as it didn’t show up for us. Ugh. Why must the European version of Playstation Plus be so much better than what we’re getting here Stateside. Do I need to move back to London?

With this week’s edition, we’ll be continuing with the same format. We’ll take a quick look at the Playstation Plus lineup for this week and then break it down into six categories:

1. Already own, but would have purchased without PSPlus if I hadn’t.

2. Already own, but regret purchasing.

3. Don’t own, but would have purchased w/out PSPlus.

4. Wouldn’t have purchased, but downloaded due to PSPlus.

5. Wouldn’t bother downloading this regardless.

6. Discount isn’t enough to make me pull the trigger.

So there we go. Six possible categories each PSPlus item can fall under. Then at the end of the column we’ll see if I got my $3.33 for the mouth out of it.

Playstaton Plus Updates for 09/20/2010

Zen Pinball (PS3) (Free to Playstation Plus Subscribers, $9.99 normally)

Echoes (Minis) (Free to Playstation Plus Subscribers, $0.99 normally)

Syphon Filter 3 (PSOne) (Free to Playstation Plus Subscribers, $0.99 normally)

Sword & Soldiers ($9.99. No discount to Playstation Plus subscribers, but early access to both full game and demo)

High Velocity Bowling – Move Compatibility Add-On (Free and exclusive only to Playstation Plus subscribers)

Shades of Autumn Theme (Exclusive and Free to Playstation Plus Subcribers)

Cuboid (PlayStation Plus Price $5.00, original price $9.99)

Savage Moon (PlayStation Plus Price $5.00, original price $9.99)

LittleBigPlanet: Monster Costume Pack (PlayStation Plus Price $1.50, original price $2.99)

Cho Aniki (PlayStation Plus Price $3.00, original price $5.99)

Gaiaseed (PlayStation Plus Price $3.00, original price $5.99)

LittleBigPlanet Avatar – Hugo

LittleBigPlanet Avatar – Marvin

This is a HUGE update compared to other weeks, which is enough to make me happy for once, so let’s get to it.

1. Already own, but would have purchased without PSPlus if I hadn’t.

Zen Pinball – This my friends is exactly the type of thing Playstation Plus should be about. Why? Because unlike last fortnight’s Warhawk, this is a $9.99 game rather than a $30 one. This means if you decide to dump Playstation Plus and you like Zen Pinball enough to buy it, you won’t be shilling out a lot more for a DLC title than you should be. Even better, Zen Pinball is a really fun game and it features several tables to play from. Now if Sony really wants to do this right, then each update they’ll provide one of the five Zen Pinball add-on tables for free or half off (of course we’d all prefer free but hey!) That would cover two and a half months of updates and give people who downloaded this game something to look forward to, even if the rest of the PS+ update turns out to be its usual less than lackluster self. Street Fighter II, Earth Defense Force, Ninja Gaiden, Excalibur and Mars are the themes of the five add on tables and I know that most Playstation Plus subscribers (I’d say all, but there are always exceptions and crazy folk) who would love to have access to those at a discounted or free rate since they’ve downloaded the game already, right? It’s good business for Zen Studios and it would be a good PR move for Sony. Make it happen guys.

2. Already own, but regret purchasing.

Nothing here. Let’s move on.

3. Don’t own, but would have purchased w/out PSPlus.

Cho Aniki – I’d have happily paid six dollars for this, but through Playstation Plus I get it for half off. As both a longtime shoot ’em up fan and import gamer, this is a great deal. Of course, savvy gamers know how to set up a European and Japanese PSN account in addition to their North American one and also know how to get digital Yen cards for the Japanese PSN store, so it’s probably cheaper and smarter to go that route. I bought this through the US store simply to support this idea. Nintendo’s Virtual Console has done a great job with including import games…when it actually updates, so it’s great to see Sony copying them on this front like Playstation Move is meant to be their answer to the Wii controls.

Gaiaseed – See Cho Anki.

Sword and Soliders (Demo) – Really this isn’t a “purchase,” per say, but I’d have happily downloaded this demo if it was on the regular PSN anyway because I was interested in it. I haven’t gotten a chance to fool around with it too much, but so far it seems pretty cute. This is also the sort of thing Playstation Plus should be doing. You know, early access to demos and even purchasing titles. You want to make the PS+ customer feel elite and that their money was well spent. Things like this go a long way.

4. Wouldn’t have purchased, but downloaded due to PSPlus.

Syphon Filter 3 – I haven’t even played the first one yet, which was made available in the awesome Week 5 lineup. It was supposed to be great two generations ago, but most of the people I’ve talked to that have downloaded that title say it hasn’t aged well. Still, it’s a better choice than f’n Rally Cross or 2Xtreme, right? It is a bit odd that the PSOne download jumped from SF1 to SF3 though. What happens to Gabe’s second adventure? I guess it’s akin to how SF3 was first made available on PSN in June of 2008 and SF2 didn’t hit until Sepember 2009. Again, this goes back to what I talked about in my Zen Pinball paragraph. Playstation Plus will work best with a constant offering of known quality titles or offerings from the same franchise in following updates.

Echoes – I’ll admit that when Echoes was first released I had no interest in the game. That 44 second preview video did nothing to pique my interest in the game. Of course, now that I’ve played it I have to say that first impressions still holds. This is definitely the weakest of the three free games available this week, but considering it’s only a 99 cent download, you can’t really expect too much from it. It IS a bit insulting that this is our free Mini for the fortnight and Kahoots remains the only PS+ Mini I’ve actually enjoyed. Here’s hoping we’ll get something like Dracula: Undead Awakening, which I own but can say it’ll a fun old school Contra/Smash TV style fun fest. Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess is another Mini I can strongly recommend.

Shades of Autumn Theme – Hey, free theme! Why not? I think the Mystic Fractals has been the best one so far, unless you’re a fan of Warhawk, because a free dynamic theme for a game you like is nothing to sneeze at. It’s not like “Shades of Autumn” is as bad as the “Nebula Tunnels” or “Bloody Escape” themes. In fact, this is actually really pretty and serene. I rather like it.

5. Wouldn’t bother downloading this regardless.

High Velocity Bowling – Move Compatibility Add-On – While it’s nice to see just how hard Sony is pushing Move (as compared to ass add-ons like the PS2 Hard Drive), I can say from experience that Move is pretty underwhelming. Sony gave me the chance to play it as a meet up here in Washington D.C. a few weeks back and like most of the press (and regular gamers) there, I found the games and service to be lackluster. VG Chartz also shows only 50-60K or so Playstation Move units have moved in North America, which means only about one-sixth of one percent of PS3 owners purchased it, but it’s still great to see some games getting this retroactive fix so Move purchasers can get another game to play. I’m not saying this is a bad download – just that as I don’t own Move due to my negative experiences testing it out for a few hours, so it would be silly for ANYONE who doesn’t own Move to download this. My only real complaint is that this shouldn’t be a PS+ exclusive as the goal Sony should have in mind is to make something like this available to as many Move customers as possible. Right idea, but wrong demographic.

LittleBigPlanet: Monster Costume Pack – I don’t have LBP so this is worthless to me. Now maybe is the North American Playstation Plus package was consistently awesome like the European one and gave out free copies of LBP and Sam and Max I would…

LittleBigPlanet Avatar – Hugo – No interest or need for this. I have my Akuma, my Morrigan and my Heavy Rain crane avatars. That’s plenty. Who wants or even needs a plethora of avatars? Besides people with the pack rat version of OCD I mean. The monkey is the cooler of the two options though.

LittleBigPlanet Avatar – Marvin – See above.

6. Discount isn’t enough to make me pull the trigger.

Sword & Soldiers (Full Game) – I haven’t gotten enough time with the demo because it took Sony about half an hour longer to update the PS+ section and the demo didn’t come up until 1:27am. From what I’ve played it’s cute, but I need to play it some more before I decide whether or not to plunk down $9.99 for it.

Cuboid – No interest in Cuboid, even at 50% off. The price constantly fluctuates on both Playstation Plus and the regular PSN, so it still does nothing for me.

Savage Moon – Tower defense games are a dime a dozen and there are already two full free ones through PS+. Why pay $5 for Savage Moon when I already have Mushroom Wars for free?

So there we go. About the only negative things I can say are that we didn’t get the Castlevania demo and that the Sonic Adventure demo was delayed as well. But as both of those are regular PSN issues and not Playstation Plus issues, I can honestly say that not only is this the second time Sony has done a great job with Playstation Plus content, but it’s the best week they’ve had so far. Sure the there have only been two good updates out of eight, which gives the service a miserable 25% quality rate, but we’re only a quarter into the service, and I still have a year left on my 15 month membership. I know last time I said, “Here’s hoping this is a sign Sony has finally got things right,” it took them another seven to offer a quality Playstation Plus update again, but let’s try for optimism once again. Maybe it’ll only need to be the second time that is the charm with PS+.

Now if only we could get Sony to actually update the store at the same time each week…



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