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More often than not, I always hear about these developers who try to load a multiplayer game with an abundant amount of features, whether it’s additional weaponry, new maps or some other technical doodad that’s trying to draw attention.  But, honestly, the best kind of multiplayer games are the simplest ones, built upon an ideal concept that players can immediately grasp onto.  For some inexplicable reason, When Vikings Attack, a new PlayStation Network effort from Clever Beans, found its way into our hearts.


When I first played Gravity Rush last year at E3, I saw how it stood out in the PlayStation Vita line-up at the time, with its exquisite art style and its innovative gameplay style.  But then I thought…”What if they ‘gimmick’ this and make it more about the features of the game than the game itself?”  And doubt began to sank in.  But, as I usually get these days with game developers, Sony Japan Studio pulled a 180 on me and actually made Gravity Rush one of the more entertaining Vita efforts to date.  Gotta love surprises.


At one point, folks were worried what would become of Insomniac Games’ Ratchet and Clank series, considering that the team was moving on to multi-platform development with its upcoming Electronic Arts project Overstrike, announced at last year’s E3.  Well, don’t fret.  Along with the forthcoming Ratchet and Clank HD Collection, which is being developed by Idol Games and overseen by Insomniac, the team is actually returning for an all new effort – one that long-time fans will appreciate.


When it comes to games made specifically for the PlayStation Move, Sony could’ve done better.  Some of the lamer party and dancing efforts are easily forgettable; Kung Fu Rider stunk worse than a slice of Gouda cheese left in an unplugged fridge for a week; and Medieval Moves was too jittery for its own good.  But now, two years after its initial announcement, we have a game that actually makes the PlayStation Move look likable, even though using it actually reveals a pretty big weakness.


A lot of folks I know were pretty disappointed with Resistance 3, despite Insomniac Games’ efforts to take the series in a new direction following the death of its main hero, Nathan Hale.  Me?  Well, it irked me in places, but I could see what the developers were trying to do, and I had a fair amount of fun with it – even though I still turned to Killzone 3 by default afterward.  Now, people are once again getting divided up over the release of Burning Skies, the first portable entry for Resistance on the Vita.  (In this case, game critics.)  But, honestly, is it really that bad?  Nope, in fact, it’s pretty good.


Dylan Cuthbert and his team over at Q Games aren’t known for making routine downloadable game experiences.  Each one they’ve produced stands out in their own right, like the twin-stick shooting fun of PixelJunk Shooter 1 and 2, the sheer addiction of PixelJunk Monsters, or the crazy old-school-ness (that is a word) of PixelJunk Sidescroller.  But even with such an offbeat resume, there’s no way you could see something like PixelJunk 4am coming.  It’s as funky a game experience as you’re likely to find this year, if not really about being a game itself.


When WarHawk released for PlayStation Network a few years back, it introduced some important new fundamentals to the multiplayer battle experience, letting teams take out one another either on the ground or in the air, using a number of well-armed vehicles.  While it was fun for networked battles, it really didn’t offer much outside of that, since there was no sign of a single player campaign.  That said, some team members behind that game have since shacked up with Lightbox Interactive to produce a sequel of sorts, and StarHawk is the result.  And as fun as the original Hawk was, this experience surpasses it.


If you've been reading our stories as of late, then you already know about Sony's recent push for independent game hits on the PlayStation Network, including games like Papo & Yo and The Unfinished Swan.  However, one additional game that will deserve some attention once it arrives over the summer is Dyad, a game that channels the energy of such old-school shooters as Tempest 2000 and N20, and puts them into a contemporary experience that will addict PSN players for hours on end.  We recently caught up with the game's progress during a recent trip to PAX East 2012.


Sony’s push for independent games continues to be a pretty solid one, with the likes of Shawn McGrath’s Dyad, the innovative Papo & Yo and several others coming to the PlayStation Network over the next few months.  But one that slipped under the radar for some time – and is just now resurfacing – is The Unfinished Swan.  First started as an independent project under the guidance of Ian Dallas in 2008, the game has since grown into a huge exclusive for the Sony camp.  Recently, the company, along with Ian’s team at Giant Sparrow, invited us to get a first look at the game, leading into the huge showing it’ll be getting at E3 next month.


With Nintendo announcing that development has just begun on the next iteration of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting the game this year, as the team makes time to really have everything balanced.  So what’s a hardcore player to do while they wait for that brawlathon?  Well, how about engage in another?  Today, Sony announced that it is bringing its much-rumored PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale out for the holiday season, with a slew of fighters from the 15-plus year Sony gaming legacy and a smorgasbord of levels.  The company recently invited us to an event to go hands-on.


Retro/Grade has quite the story behind it.  This downloadable game for PlayStation Network has been in the works for some time, introducing a new style of music/rhythm gameplay that ties in with a space shooter -- in a way.  We've seen it at a number of events, including last year's PAX Prime in Seattle, but upon seeing it at this year's PAX East 2012 event, we were treated with some good news.  The game is finally coming out later this year, as part of Sony's push to bring innovative new downloadable experiences to the PlayStation 3.


Kratos has pretty much done everything he can now, hasn’t he?  Spoilers ahead, by the way.  He’s taken down Zeus, he’s pretty much wiped out any god that’s opposed him, and he’s even managed to accidentally off Athena, all for the sake of quelling his rage.  So what’s left to do?  Put him in New York City?  Pit him against a new god?  Nah.  For Sony and its team at Sony Santa Monica, the answer is very clear – prequel.


Ever since God of War III came out a couple of years back on the PlayStation 3 and wrapped up the current trilogy in entertaining fashion, fans have been wondering what was next for Sony Computer Entertainment of America and Kratos.  Sure, he's been back in a couple of God of War compilations, including a recently released one that brought Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta to consoles in high-defintiion form.  But we mean a true God of War sequel.  Well, according to recent ads that have popped up, one may not be far off.


While I appreciate the fact that Sony is going for a more diverse game collection for its PlayStation Network service, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone’s going to be batting out of the park with their efforts.  Case in point – Gelid Games’ Wheels of Destruction, a game that obviously takes its inspiration from the Twisted Metal series, but tries to add its own diverse touches here and there to make it feel different.  And indeed, it does.  Unfortunately, it’s not for the better.


Recently, Sony Computer Entertainment of America announced that it was looking to go with a more abstract library of games for its PlayStation Network service, stuff that was original while, at the same time, appealing.  So far, it looks like the job is getting done, with Dyad in the works and Papo & Yo coming soon after that, among other games.  But one game that should certainly be included in the group is Closure, a stunning example of black-and-white design, perfectly recreated for the downloadable front.


When Okami came out a few years ago from Capcom, it introduced an awe-inspiring hand-drawn world, provided by Clover Studios, that few games can match today.  It’s still highly regarded as a classic, and for good reason.  That said, Acquire, the same studio behind the old Tenchu games, has teamed up with XSEED Games to give their own artistic touch a try with Sumioni: Demon Arts, a game that combines beautiful traditional art with platforming gameplay.  It sounds like a dreamy combination, but the lack of replay value sets in way too quickly.


When ModNation Racers came out for the PlayStation 3 in 2010, United Front Games had created a great new portal for community for the PlayStation Network, allowing racers to not only engage one another in races and share their track creations with others to see what they thought.  Its community grew just as huge as LittleBigPlanet’s, making the game an imminent success.  Seeing lightning in a bottle for its handheld front, Sony decided to release a ModNation Racers game for the PlayStation Vita, Road Trip, complete with a new touch-screen track building feature and plenty of racing action.  But for some strange reason, this one feels somewhat stuck in second.


LittleBigPlanet has been thriving for a few years now, getting its start on the PlayStation 3 and attracting millions to its level-building community.  We’ve seen quite a few creative levels over the years, along with plenty of hilarious co-op opportunities and the kind of ingenious level design that only developer Media Molecule is capable of.  And while we await the next chapter in the series on PS Vita (coming this summer), we’ve got a first look at the latest project involving Sackboy and company, a kart racer from the folks that brought us ModNation Racers.


When you run out of ideas for a series, sometimes a fresh perspective is all that’s needed.  Look at Call of Duty.  For the longest time, it dwelled in past wars, and while fans thoroughly enjoyed it, the team vied for something different.  And they provided it with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, jettisoning the series to new heights of excitement.  Now, Evolution Studios’ latest game doesn’t go to such heights – and can’t even come close to last year’s crazy Apocalypse title – but MotorStorm RC provides an interesting new take for the series that both PS3 and Vita owners will enjoy.


One of the features that Sony is vehemently trying to take advantage of with the PlayStation Vita is its augmented reality.  This is where you can take a real location and implement some sort of gaming into it, and while others may not get why you’re so excited, the experience in itself is an interesting one.  Sony’s already offering a number of free games that take advantage of this feature, as well as offering the full retail release of Reality Fighters, a brawling game where you can not only take locations and have a fight anywhere, but also create your own.  It’s a great idea, though one that’s sorely lacking in execution.


Q-Games has always been a developer that’s been just as much about style as it has substance with its games.  Take a look at the PixelJunk Shooter games, or, for that matter, the gorgeous PixelJunk Eden or the entertaining (if slightly difficult) PixelJunk SideScroller.  However, its latest effort, PixelJunk 4AM, might be its most innovative to date.  The reason for that is, instead of giving you pre-set objectives, it instead lets you play around with a musical space, shaping it however you see fit using the PlayStation Move controller.


Sony is no stranger to taking its PlayStation 2 classics and remastering them for PlayStation 3 collections, but it’s been a business practice that’s proven worthwhile.  Both of the God of War compilations (Collection and Origins Collection) are outstanding; Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are in a class by themselves; and this year’s Jak and Daxter Collection has been nothing short of marvelous.  Now Insomniac Games gets a turn, even though the company’s moved on to duo-console development, as three of its greatest PS2 efforts are being celebrated in a new collection.  And, yes, it’s Ratchet and Clank.


Ever since Sony signed a deal with them a few years back, thatgamecompany has been defining itself as one of the company’s best weapons on the PlayStation Network – even though their games are hardly the conflictive type.  flOW demonstrated simplicity in game design, while staying involving on its own level.  Then came Flower, a game that was not only gorgeous, but entertaining – and also quite soothing.  Now comes the company’s third project, the long-awaited Journey, and once again thatgamecompany defies usual gameplay design in favor of something eloquent – and unforgettable.


Baseball season is almost upon us once again, with spring training games in full swing and big-league players ready to step up.  With that, Sony’s also hitting the plate a month out with its latest diamond-running sim, MLB 12: The Show.  As in previous years, it really knows its authenticity, and inserts it into every frame of the game, from the crack of the bat to the mad scramble around bases, with players making crack decisions about stealing bases or running for home.  But they’ve been doing that for the past few years.  Does anything really stand out to make this year’s game different?  Yep, but not all of it is for the positive.