View Full Version : PlayStation Experience review

Bob Todd
2nd September 2003, 02:59 PM
For those of you who are interested. The review of last year's one, if you want to read it for comparison, is on my site (http://www.annarchy.tk).

PlayStation Experience 2003:

This year's PlayStation Experience claimed to be bigger and better than the last one, and it certainly was bigger. The game line-up was around three times the size of last year's, and many of the games were presented in rather droll ways. Many of the screens had bungy chairs to sit on while playing, and the F1 game screens had the players sitting in life-size replica racing cars to play the game. There was a funky-dope driving simulator that held a Gran Turismo 4 screen and rocked and moved sideways to simulate the virtual car's movements, and the hockey game screens were all set into seating that mimicked the step-like rows of seats in a real hockey arena. In the cartoony games area, there was a ball pit in which you could sit to play some of the games, and the controllers were all on springs so that they retracted out of the way when not in use. It was a nice idea, but it just ended up being full of kids throwing the balls at each other, and queueing (are there any other words with five vowels in a row?) was rather difficult as the pit was circular and nobody was sure where to stand and wait.
There were far more events on the main stage than last year, but I didn't bother to watch most of them. The kendo and breakdancing demonstrations were pretty good, though. I was tempted to enter the SSX3 challenge to win a silver PS2, but after playing it and finding that the controls were all different ond my SSX Tricky skills were useless, I decided against it. The non-gaming highlight of the show was definitely the space-hopper racetrack - whizzo fun.

I went to the event with Diana (my mum) and Tom (my little bro), as Chris said he didn't think he could face another one. Tom and I left Diana in the adult creche and then took turns to decide which game to go and see next. Diana didn't think much of the creche - it was cold, dim and full of kids, and the films they were showing weren't very adult-oriented (the Final Fantasy film and some ancient episodes of Friends). We were quite catty about it in the feedback forms.
The whole place was also just too damn loud - we all had to shout at each other to be heard, and the sound from the main stage carried everywhere, despite being in this day and age of acoustic engineering. The chillout area was bloody useless as well - it was no quieter than the rest of the venue. The whole place was also very squalid because there were hardly any litter bins and so the floor was littered with food wrappers. It also wasn't a no-smoking area, which was not only surprising but meant that the cafe reeked. The little maps we got given were also not accurate, and nowhere was signposted. Knickers to you, Sony.


Arsenal Club Football
Asterix 5
Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This At Home
Batman: Rise Of Sin Tzu
Beyond Good & Evil
Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds
Charlie's Angels
Chelsea Club Football
Colin McRae Rally 04
Crash Bandicoot: Nitro Kart
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Dancing Stage Fever
Dark Chronicle
Destruction Derby Arena
Dog's Life
Dragonball Z: Budokai 2
EverQuest Adventures
Formula One 2003
Freaky Flyers
Freestyle: Metal X
FIFA 2004
Finding Nemo
Gran Turismo 4
Hardware Online Arena
Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup
Jak II: Renegade
James Bond 007: Everything Or Nothing
Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death
Karaoke Revolution
Kya: Dark Lineage
Legacy Of Kain: Defiance
Liverpool Club Football
Manchester United Club Football
Medal Of Honour: Rising Sun
Metal Arms: Glitch In The Dipper
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance
My Street
Need For Speed Underground
NHL Hitz Pro
Pop Idol (bleurgh)
Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time
Pro Evolution Soccer 3
Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked and Loaded
The Simpsons: Hit & Run
Sphinx & The Shadow Of Set
Spy Hunter 2
SSX3: Out Of Bounds
Tak & Thr Power Of JuJu
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines
The Hobbit
The Italian Job
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
The Suffering
This Is Football 2004
Time Crisis 3
Unlimited Saga
Urban Freestyle Soccer (how many bloody soccer games are there?!)
Wallace & Gromit: Project Zoo
Warhammer 40K: Fire Warrior
WWE Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain
Zone Of The Enders: The Second Runner


Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked and Loaded
Holy crap, this game is going to rock. Some of the issues in the last game have been resolved (checkpoints are now visibly indicated, for one thing) and there's so much more stuff to do. Virtually everything has been revamped - Ratchet looks even camper than before, Gadgetron has been replaced by a new company called Megacorp, there are more mini-games and new challenges and types of locations. The weapons arsenal has been almost totally changed, and using a weapon frequently enough will automatically upgrade it. I managed to upgrade the Blitz Gun to a Blitz Cannon, which blows away most enemies with a single shot in a flurry of red sparks. Muahahahahaha etc. Killing enough enemies will also upgrade Ratchet's experience, which eventually leads to extra hit points.
Another one of the new things in the game is the spherical worlds. These are interesting because there are no edge-of-world limits, but the area is still finite. Pressing the map button freezes the action and zooms the camera out, which you can then rotate to view the whole planetoid and find your next destination (which you can't always see from the ground because of the curvature of the horizon).
Two of my favourite new things are the gladiator arena (in which you smash big robots to win currency and new gadgets) and the hoversled races (which have embarrassingly better track design, ship design, graphics, sound effects and speed than WipEouT FuSion, which I now only keep for the soundtrack). The new Electrolyzer (used for opening electric locks and replaces the old Trespasser) is fun to use - you have to quickly flip connectors so that current can flow through them. Be too slow and block its flow and the thing resets.
There were some bits of broken code and some of the menu screens haven't been programmed, but these'll obviously be sorted by the release date. The demo on the free demo disc was disappointingly made from older code than what was playable at the Experience - the maps and mission instructions weren't loadable, and some of the things that were smashable when playing at the Experience weren't so here. Ho hum pig's bum.

Initial opinion: 9/10

Jak II: Renegade
They've all but blasted the old game to bits and restarted from scratch with this one. Yes, they've shamelessly nicked the best bits from other games, but they've done it so damn well. I love the new hoverboard and the stealing of the flying cars - they even take damage and will fall to bits if you crash them too much. You can nick a car, drive up to a more desirable one (all this while hovering twelve feet in the air, don't forget), jump out of yours and grab the new one in mid-air and zoom off with it. Jak also has a new Devil May Cry-like demonoid power when he collects enough Dark Eco (evil gooey stuff) that lets him slash the crap out of any and all enemies in the vicinity. Wheefun!
I wasn't too keen on the new controls - I'm used to pressing R1 to roll-jump, but that action has been assigned to the L1 button, with R1 now being used to shoot. Not that I'm complaining about the guns, mind - they're ace and make just the right sounds.
The graphics are obviously as lovely as ever, and the cut-scenes are now subtitled, which pleases me. There's no more orb-collecting either - the game is now mission-based, which is quite a radical shift for just a sequel. I didn't actually get to play this much at the Experience as the queues were so huge, but I saw a good deal of it. It's looking fantastic.

Initial opinion: 9/10

SSX3: Out Of Bounds
I didn't think I'd like the new naturalistic feel after falling in love with the insanely physically impossible SSX Tricky, but it looks well swish - the courses I played on were all an ethereal blue. I'd still rather have some huge ramps and more flashing light things, and I didn't see any fireworks or hear mad Rahzels's commentary (but then the Experience was so loud I wouldn't've anyway, nor could I hear the music). I was pleased to see that a good few of the old charcters are still in, including my favourite the utterly mental Psymon.
The trick roster has been renovated as well - I tried doing a Method and it came out as an Indy. There were also a couple of new tricks whose names I didn't recognise - this is gonna be like mastering Tricky all over again. The shortcuts are hidden as well.
I noticed that there is now a random play mode for the music tracks - I'm not sure if that'll work, because the previous game had three songs per course, which were selected to best fit that course's atmosphere. Still, if it works...

Initial opinion: 8-9/10

Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time
The time-shifting thing in this game is ace - cock up leaping across a chasm and you can rewind time and go back to just before you leapt off, thus giving you the chance to try again. It's such a simple idea but it's brilliant.
I didn't play this much at the Experience, to be honest - I was having fun just fartarsing around with the time-shifting, and then a queue started to form behind me so I let someone else have a go. Nice graphics, etc. I'm liking it.

Initial opinion: 8/10

Sphinx & The Shadow Of Set
Basically a rip-off of Primal set in Egyptian times. The basic premise of the two games is almost identical - one character (Sphinx [Jen in Primal]) does all the running, jumping and fighting, whilst the other (Mummy [Scree in Primal]) is a shadow of his former self (Pharaoh Tutankhamum [the demon General Abdizur in Primal]) and is invincible but can't do any fighting and instead is required for much of the puzzle-solving.
This game is a gently-paced mix of puzzling and battling (like Primal) and is rather funny at times - Mummy can be subjected to all forms of punishment and not die (what with him being dead already), which allows him to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. He can be squished flat which lets him squeeze through narrow gaps, set himself on fire and use himself to ignite door-opening oil reservoirs, or be charged with electricity so that he can activate machinery (which is doing what in ancient Egpyt, I'd like to know). He doesn't suffer in silence, though, and makes tortured squeaks in protest. It's quite a laugh.
The puzzles are intelligently structured and are satisfying to work out and then to carry out, and the graphics are nice if rather funny- coloured for a desert environment. Definitely worth a rent, this one.

Initial opinion: 7-8/10

It's Rez with David Bowie, Run DMC and Garbage! How funky-dope can you get? Rather an unusual control system but I got used to it rather quickly. Playing it is greatly aided if you've heard the song before - I found Garbage's Go Baby Go track much easier than some of the other ones. I had fun playing the demo of this at home - this would make a great party game, I reckon.

Initial opinion: 7-8/10

This game has you playing as a funny fox/meerkatty thing trying to escape from an animal-testing lab and free all the other beasties in the process (shades of Abe's Oddysee, methinks). He is accompanied by a cute bunny, and the two are chained together at the meerkat's wrist and the bunny's leg. The two of them are called Shanx and Redmond, but the game didn't indicate which was which (I'm guessing Shanx is the bunny, though). The meerkat is the bigger and stronger of the two, and he flings the chained bunny around as a weapon. There are even places where you can set fire to the bunny to increase your attack power. The enemies in the game are the evil humans who experiment on the animals, but because they're much larger and stronger than you, you can't kill them - you can only knock them out, which means you have to act quickly before they get up again.
The graphics are decent enough and dark-looking, but what I saw of the gameplay looked rather repetitive (but that might've just been because the myriad little kids playing it, no doubt attracted by the cute animals, were all rather rubbish at it). I'll have to see more of this before saying anything more with confidence.

Initial opinion: 6-7/10

Not proper reviews, just quick glances:

Dark Chronicle: Tom was looking forward to playing on this because he loves the prequel, but decided against playing on it because he reckoned it didn't look like the sort of game you could start playing in the middle of. We had a look at it, though, and it looks just as good as Dark Cloud was, but with even more stuff to do.

Dog's Life: There's a huge camera glitch in this which sometimes moves the POV to under the ground so that you're looking up at the dog's shadow and paws, and can't see where you're going. They'd better sort that out. Decent (but not great) graphics, not hugely textured. Looks rather fun, though - you can maul chickens.

Zone Of The Enders: The Second Runner: Huge queues for this at the Experience, most of them consisting of Japanese people. I love the new graphics and the ability to shoot thirty enemies at once, and the other playable Orbital Frames. Crap lip-sync in the cutscenes, but that's probably because they haven't finished coding it for the English-speaking market.

Ones I wanted to see but didn't get round to:
Beyond Good & Evil
Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon
Crash Bandicoot: Nitro Kart
Freaky Flyers
James Bond 007: Everything Or Nothing
Kya: Dark Lineage

Goodie bag contents:
Two month-old issue of OPS2 Magazine (boo and hiss), amusing t-shirt (white with black lettering saying 'fun, anyone?' surmounted by an androgynous laughing figure), Prince of Persia zip pull, Judge Dredd keyring, Finding Nemo stickers, Italian Job poster (not the nice old Italian Job, the new American one coming that'll probably murder the original), fortune cookie (my fortune said 'If you can't beat 'em, cheat'. Diana's and Tom's said 'It's only a game if you can't be sure of victory' and 'It's not the taking part that counts, it's the winning'), choccy bar, temporary tattooes of a Dual Shock, demo discs and the usual pages and postcards of advertising.
There was quite a nice merchandise shop too - it sold silly t-shirts and various PlayStation-emblazoned paraphenalia. I bought a blue camouflage-design skin for my PS2. It looks really funky-dope now.

2nd September 2003, 04:54 PM
Good effort there, Anna - I didn't get to go this year, so it's good to have a report from the trenches :)

3rd September 2003, 09:24 AM
nice report PA! Im a bit limited for time so i`ll keep it breif (and plus I cant comment in-depth on everything because I only went for GT4)
PSE`03 claimed to be bigger and better. Physically the same size area, but this year seemed to be less-well organised. Mass expanses of empty space, and small areas of games that were so crammed with people it was impossible to see what game they're playing. Kinda like cattle-herding. An annoying thing is they give you a book that you have to fill out and return in exchange for your goodie bag.. Thats not so bad, but they dont give you a pen to write with. Perhaps with all the hype around modern technology, sony are forgetting the fundamentals? Overall event was not as good as last year. I definatley wont go again, unless there is a mega A*** racing game being released (GT5, WipEout Fusion Evolution, that sorta thing :P )
GT4 has changed a little. Cars are a bit heavier and suspension travel and weight shift are now essential to success.The AI still rank amongst the worst ever. To quote Namco... " A rolling barricade" My first race and I ranked 1st by a clear 11 secs over 2 laps on professional difficulty. Choice of cars definatley oriented to those in their 40s and 50s with a major emphasis on classic sport cars rather than the traditional brace of japanese beasts-from-the-east muscle cars.

Nice to see some familiar names like Sonic and the teenage ninja turtles on the PS2, also nice to see eyetoy get an overwhelming reception for two years in a row. Amplitude is a treat of a game, following on nicely from frequency.(but to be honest I thought it was a bit too easy)

I would talk for more, but im a bit pushed for free time nowdays (apart from the 13th, eh bruv? :wink: )

Bob Todd
3rd September 2003, 01:11 PM
I never actually realised that they didn't give us pens to write with - I never leave the house without a pen of some sort, so it wasn't a problem for me. Plus, I think they expected everyone to buy one of those funky light-up pens from the merchandise shop. Everyone who took part in a spacehopper race got a free pen as well.
On our way out the three of us were told that we didn't have to fill in the card to get the goody bag, but we did anyway. My mother and I were even half-tempted to sneak into the staff office and tell all of them what they'd done wrong, but we'd've been thrown out faster than you could say Porto Kora.

I know what you mean about it being less well-organised. Several bits were far too crowded. From the cafe we could see all the unused space, and it was like a concrete desert - so much floor space they didn't use! It wasn't even being occupied by another event, like the last one was.

Very little vertical space was actually used - I wonder how feasible it would be to build a temporary ceiling so it could have two floors? The games could all be on the ground floor and all the silly stuff out of the way (but still there if you want it) on the first floor.

3rd September 2003, 05:49 PM
the owners of the space would certainly have charged more cash for every square footyardmetre of that space that was left empty. they might have even done that for a second level of display in the area that was used. possible safety hazard for a flimsy second level too, or higher cost because of added insurance risk [people falling off or through platforms, blah], but i dunno; i'm just talkin


anna and thrusty, thanks for the reports. those of us who couldn't be there at least get a taste of what it was like. :)