Nihilistic’s interpretation of what should constitute a PlayStation Hero reads more like a who’s who of PlayStation 2 brand iconography rather than the current generation machine: whilst Ratchet and Clank have seen their fair share of action on PS3, Jak and Daxter haven’t, and Sly Cooper (and his sidekick Bentley) are only here on account of an HD wildcard. It’s an odd triplet of sadly rather dated team-ups – where’s Nate and Sully, for example, or Sev and Rico – the real heroes of the hour?
The initial movie sets the scene nicely, bringing the six heroes together for the game.
Perhaps, but then where’s Sackboy?
Regardless, Heroes, then, offers up an assortment of modes split over four environments (Metropolis, Haven City and Paris from the respective games and one based on the alien race at the heart of the game’s loose ‘story’), with each location housing four or five unique settings. In each you’ll find a small number of missions, played singly or local co-operatively, divided up into a slightly bewildering array of weapon and game mode types, all of which are given little icons on the level select screens.
The weapon types vary from projectiles (including a Sports Champion-esque throwing disc) to melee (specific to each character) and the rather bizarre aforementioned bowling ball; these are paired up, with varying levels of success, with a smattering of challenges: survive for as long as you can, locate trapped aliens, collect crystals. The game goes to great lengths to tutor the player on a few combinations before letting you loose, although it’s easy enough to get the hang of things even when it forgets (like the first time you get given a rocket).
The problem is that the game isn’t actually much fun, and it’s not helped by the forced Move implementation, which works best with a Navigation controller (rather than a Dual Shock) but save for a few waggles of the whip could easily have been dialed down to a traditional controller without losing any of the appeal. Indeed, although the inputs manage reasonably well when flitting between steering a flying explosive and aiming a third person targetting reticle, you can’t help feeling that this would be better with dual analogs.
Daxter's the funniest of the lot, although don't expect much in the way of belly laughs.
It’s not all bad though, the game steadily develops into something at least half interesting and the slow trickle of rewards mean that there’s always reasons to try to ‘gold’ each minigame, but repetition sets in quickly and feels at odds with the uneven difficulty curve, part of which can be blamed on floaty Move aiming or a frequently appalling camera – when the two are combined, like with the bowling sections, any failures are hard to pin entirely on the player. Coincidentally, such missions are mostly void of characterisation, too.
The visuals are nice, though – the various representations of the characters’ home environments are rich and vibrant, the attention to detail pleasingly gives off a nice sense of fan service, especially for Sly Cooper’s Parisien locale, and the frame rate remains locked at thirty. Sound too, comprising of the original voice actors, is at least authentic but the omnipresent announcer fails to excite, or indeed remind players that this is meant to be set inside an intergalactic game show, his main focus being to irritate as the game progresses.
It’s an odd game, PlayStation Heroes. Condensed further and simplified into nothing but quick-fire minigames the concept might have worked, but dragged out like it is it falls uncomfortably between third person action and a mish-mash of weapon types, none of which are honed as neatly as they could have been, the experience diluted to accomodate one too many styles of play. Co-op team play helps a little, but this is an offline title save for a rather back-seated implementation of high score leaderboards, and suffers for it.
- Reasonable graphics
- Original voice actors return
- No online play
- The range of ‘heroes’ is disappointing
- The Move support isn’t optional, or needed
Distinctly average then, PlayStation Move Heroes trades off some legacy brand IPs without ever really giving them room to shine or, indeed, interact. It’s a frustratingly shallow collection of styles, dressed up as something more than it ultimately ends up as. The presentation’s slick, the visuals are nice and some of the game types are actually rather entertaining, but as a whole this could have been so much more. Interestingly, a sequel that fixes some of the above issues could, potentially, be quite brilliant. We’ll wait and see.