Thursday, 30 June 2011

Online Only Games from PSN for the PS3


Despite a continual uptake of players I’ve noticed a distinct lack of information, or even interest, about console based multiplayer gaming on the PS3. 

 So, in this blog I’m taking a look at what MMORPG and MMO games are available through PSN for the PS3.

 PNS On-line Only Games Quick list:
FPS:
M.A.G.
Near future, up to 256 players in a game.

Battlefield 1943
World War 2, up to 24 players in a game.

Modern Combat: Domination.
Contemporary, up to 16 players in a game.
3PS:
Warhawk        
Middle future, up to 32 players in a game.

Section 8
Far future, up to 32 players in a game.

SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALS  
Near future, up to 32 players in a game.
RPG:
Free Realms    
Fantasy past, massively multiplayer game.

DC Universe
Contemporary, massively multiplayer game.

Angel Love Online
Fantasy, massively multiplayer game.

Angle Genki.
Fantasy, massively multiplayer game.
  • FPS = First person Shooter
  • 3PS = Third person Shooter
  • RPG = Role-Play Game
I’ve taken a look at what’s available, and compared their pricing structures, game-play, graphics and sound.
Not every type of game will suite everyone, and there can be a world of difference between what a MMO and a MMORPG player thinks is good.
Just one other thing before we get started on the mini-reviews: You may think I’m being overly generous in my prise of the graphics for these games, but you have to remember the yard-stick is different for massively on-line games. Today’s machines simply can’t process the type of graphics capability displayed by the latest single-player games in a massively on-line environment.  The reasons are both complicated and boring, so why yatter on about frame-rates and network speeds, yada, yada… Ok, so given all the techno-reasons, my estimation of the graphics is based on other similar types of on-line only games. Oh, and a game that has on-line options isn’t the same as a true MMO system. There are more technical reasons for this, but bottom line is they would just crunch with the amount of simultaneously connected game users a true MMO or MMORPG can handle. And this isn’t a bolg about technical stuff…



What’s out there now?
The following MMORPG and MMO games are currently available from PSN:

M.A.G:
This is possibly the best known of the on-line-only MMO type games for the PS3. It is a first-person shooter that has a polished feel to it. There are several team-based game modes with the largest having up to 256 on the playfield (128 per side). M.A.G has a basic single-player tutorial mode, but  is based on various online mission modes each with diferent numbers of players.

The graphics, while not up to the standard of the best single-player games, are fairly detailed and better than average for an on-line game of this type. The on-screen movement is both quick and smooth with no easily-discernable glitching. There are enough missions to get started with and as you progress you will relatively-quickly unlock the 256 player mode. The downside is a rather steep learning curve that may put of the casual FPS player, although there are always plenty of people on-line.


Battlefield 1943:
This is definitely one of those one-more-go games, and has a good on-line following. It isn’t difficult to jump into a game, and there are always plenty of players. 1943 dosn't have any capture-the-flag type game modes. it is purely a team on team gole based game centered on capturing and holding bases. I’d say the compass system is the mail let-down in this game, it can be a bit confusing, leading to unexpected deaths that can cause some frustration. The shooting system can also be learned rather than being intuitive, leading to you thinking you should have killed someone only to have them kill you after you have already shot them. There is also a separate air-combat only game, but although all ground and sea vehicles are fine the aircraft control system could also have been better implemented. I found this rather clumsy and annoying.  But these are relatively minor niggles to what is otherwise good compulsive and easily accessible game-play. The graphics are noticeably simpler,  less detailed,  than some of the other on-line FPS offerings,but still very crisp. Although they can very ocasionally suffer from the occasional glitch, but overall they are well up to the job, and the game is relatively glitch-free even with a lot of players on-screen. Another cause for frustration in this game is caused by experienced players waiting at the designated spawning positions and gaining instant kills.


 Modern Combat: Domination:
Another one with good graphics for what it is. Again they are not quite on-par with the best comparable single-player games but this is to be expected. The playfield seems tighter and more claustrophobic in this one, and for a non FPS player the learning curve is as steep as, if not steeper than, M.A.G. From the three FPS available I’d say this game probably suffers the most from ‘campers,’ e.g. people learning the best hiding positions, usually near spawning points, and waiting for people to appear. Not as fault of the game as such, but it can be a source of frustration.
The game works well with a number of players on-screen at once and the mission-based game-play means you can achieve the objective relatively quickly without a lot of kills. One niggle is the way you may have to sit-out a lot of the game if you are killed early, if there were another it would be that the weapons selection was initially a bit confusing.


Warhawk:
The first third-person shooter I played on the PS3. I have to say I liked this game from the offset. The radar/warning system on this one is easy to read and understand, clearly showing enemy movement and positions. In my opinion the over the shoulder view may take a bit of getting used to, but gives a better feeling of special-awareness than most FPS games, but this is just a personal preference. It is well carried out here however. The controls for this one, including all vehicles, are intuitive and responsive. This gives the impression of a fun game rather than some of the more serious shooters.


SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Confrontation
Another third-person shooter, this is more or less an on-line version of the SOCOM series. The graphics are good but not outstanding.
However, the game is relatively easy to get to grips with and does play well with little glitches.

It’s a fairly standard type of behind-the-character view 3PS shooter, and is played out well in multiplayer on-line…

Not a bad thing at all.



Section 8:
The last third-person shooter on the list is a future-based game. It could be argued that this is also a first person game, as the viewpoint shifts betwean firing and moving and I found this slightly disconcerting at first. I think it’s fair to say this has the best graphics of the three third-person offerings, and has decent game-play, although it does have a slightly confusing array of options.
All things considered, this wasn’t the easiest game to figure out at first. But once you are up and running, as it were, the movement is clean and sharp with no discernable lag.


DC Universe:
Set in an alternate contemporary world filled with comic-book superheroes, this is a bold attempt at a MMO based action game with RPG elements, and to be honest I’m not sure the attempt entirely paid-off. It’s a fighting game trying to be something else, but I’m, and I think it’s, not entirely sure what. The graphics are good, and do well for what it is. Over all it is fine for what it is, but not remarkable.

My main gripe with DC Online is the payment method. You have to pay standard price for the game, and then you need to purchase fairy expensive calendar-time-based subscription charges in order to play it. Even if this was based on game or play time it would be better… but still an expensive game to play.


I had to update this post as DC-Online has changed its access policy, and the basic game is now available to download for free through PSN, with additional in-game transactions now making up the bulk of the income. In my opinion this significantly bumps up the value of what is after all a fairly polished game. I think Sony have pitched it right this time.
For free its well worth a look even if you don’t particularly play this type of game...




Free Realms:
People have been comparing this as a possible alternative to Playstation-Home, and I can see why. It is heavily based on the social aspect of the MMORPG experience. Battles are only undertaken if you chose to, so combat is entirely optional a bold move for a MMORPG. This means no random system-controlled battles or PK’ing, leading to a perceived safe social-rich game-play experience. But fighting is just one of the many home-like mini games on offer. You can race cars, or compete in many other arcade-type task-based games. Although seemingly aimed at the younger audience, Free Realms is all good clean fun, and there is a lot to explore and do when you first join. The cute graphics weren’t a problem for me, and seem to fil well with the general game environment. It all flowed along at a decent pace and didn’t suffer from any lag or glitching that I saw. The pain comes from the realisation that the free game is severely crippled; the micro-transactions aren’t always all that ‘micro’ and the Subscriptions don’t deliver quite as much as you may have thought. There are still level-caps with subscription, and you still have to pay all those micro-transactions.


Angel Love Online:
This is a very Japanese-only MMORPG and as such may not be everyone’s cup-of-tea.
Even if you can get past the Japanese writing; not actually that difficult, as it’s all fairly intuitive, and there are many guides; a lot of people in the west may not like the 2D overhead style of game-play, although to others it will be manna from heaven.


Unless you speak Japanese the story and speech of the characters is largely irrelevant as you won’t understand any of it; then again they are generally largely irrelevant in this type of game anyway! I don’t speak Japanese, but I was able to play these games enough to enjoy them without getting overly frustrated by the interface. Now, these are micro-transaction based games and I only played the basic game without purchasing anything. I couldn’t as I don’t have a Japanese credit-card, so I can’t comment of the value-for-money aspect of the transaction system. But as a curiosity I’d say it’s worth a look.
Angle Senki:
Well, see above really.
This is the second game in the series and I’d say the graphics are slightly prettier but apart from that the game-play and environment is fairly similar.
As with the previous outing the story is completely incomprehensible if you don’t read Japanese, but I wouldn’t worry about it because apparently it’s the normal nonsensical stuff anyway!
You can’t play these games on a standard PAL TV.
You can now log into this using your normal PSN ID.






 My Marks out of 10:

Game
Type
Payment Type
View
Type
Graphics
& Sound
Game Play

Replay Value
Value for Money
MAG
MMO
Game Only
FP
9/10
7/10
7/10
7/10
1943
MMO
Game Only
FP
6/10
8/10
9/10
9/10
Domination
MMO
Game Only
FP
7/10
6/10
6/10
7/10
Warhawk
MMO
Game Only
3P
7/10
8/10
9/10
9/10
SOCOM
MMO
Game Only
3P
7/10
6/10
7/10
8/10
System 8
MMO
Game Only
FP3P
8/10
6/10
7/10
8/10
Free Realms*
MMORPG
Transactions
Subscription
3P
7/10
7/10
8/10
7/10
5/10
DC Universe*
MMORPG
Transactions
Subscription
3P
8/10
8/10
6/10
5/10
Angle Love*
MMORPG
Transactions
OH
7/10
8/10
7/10
N/A
Angle Senki*
MMORPG
Transactions
OH
8/10
7/10
7/10
N/A
         *Basic game is free and has no subscription charges

View Types: FP= First Person, 3P = Third person, OH = Overhead view

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