October 2013 PlayStation Plus Free Games in North America Include Hotline Miami, Shadow of the Colossus HD, More

This month Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is entering the Instant Game Collection. With a tale crafted by NY Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, stunning visuals from Todd McFarlane, and a customizable combat system, Reckoning has a lot to offer RPG fans. The mix-and-match combat means you can get your magic fix while also smashing things in the face with a hammer, or stabbing them with a sword and other various pointy weapons.

Sine Mora on PS VitaKingdoms of Amalur Reckoning on PS3Poker Night 2 on PS3Shadow of the Colossus on PS3Hotline Miami on PS Vita

You may remember that last month we added Team Ico’s original cult classic ICO to the IGC, so their equally beloved sequel Shadow of the Colossus seemed like a natural follow-up. Slaying the majestic Colossi should make you feel something (read: incredibly guilty), but hey, you gotta save your #1 girl, right? In a completely different vein, Plus members will also receive Poker Night 2, which is an amusing twist on the classic card game. With GLaDOS as the dealer and opponents like Claptrap from Borderlands and Ash from Army of Darkness you can sit back, have a laugh and bet all your fake money away.

PS Vita owners are in for a couple treats – both the gorgeous shmup Sine Mora and the critically acclaimed top-down shooter Hotline Miami are joining the Instant Game Collection later this month. Sine Mora boasts stunning backdrops and cinematics as well as a slightly different shoot-em-up mechanic – you are in a constant race against the clock and the only way to get more time is to kill enemies. Hotline Miami embraces hardcore twitch-based play, which means you may need to repeat levels multiple times, but once you get through it it’s incredibly satisfying. Since Hotline Miami is a Cross-Buy title, you’ll be able to download it for both PS Vita and PS3.

These games will hit the Instant Game Collection at various times throughout the month, so check back with us every Monday morning for that week’s update.

October PlayStation Plus Preview

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PS3)

PlayStation Plus: October Preview

Free for PS Plus members, Regular Price: $19.99
Immerse yourself in an all-new massive universe from the minds of bestselling author R.A. Salvatore, world-renowned artist Todd McFarlane, and legendary game designer Ken Rolston. Choose your path and battle through a sprawling master-crafted world featuring some of the most intense, responsive, and customizable RPG combat ever.

Shadow of the Colossus (PS3)

PlayStation Plus: October Preview

Free for PS Plus members, Regular Price: $19.99
Experience a majestic journey through ancient lands, on a quest to bring a girl back to life. The only way to save her is to slay sixteen Colossi. Explore expansive landscapes and seek out each gigantic beast in its own natural habitat. Armed with only a sword, a bow, each Colossus presents a unique challenge to test your wits, determination, and skill.

Poker Night 2 (PS3)

PlayStation Plus: October Preview

Free for PS Plus members, Regular Price: $9.99
The chips are down and the ante is up in this sentence already bursting with poker clichés! Take the fifth seat in Poker Night 2, at a table featuring Claptrap (Borderlands 2), Brock Samson (The Venture Bros.), Ash (Army of Darkness) and Sam (Sam and Max series). Your dealer is GLaDOS (Portal), but at no point will you be considered as a candidate for a visit to Aperture Science’s Enrichment Center. Unless you lose.

Hotline Miami (PS Vita/PS3, Cross-Buy)

PlayStation Plus: October Preview

Free for PS Plus members, Regular Price: $9.99
Hotline Miami is a high-octane action game overflowing with raw brutality, hard-boiled gunplay and skull crushing close combat. Set in an alternative 1989 Miami, you will assume the role of a mysterious antihero on a murderous rampage against the shady underworld at the behest of voices on your answering machine.

Sine Mora (PS Vita)

PlayStation Plus: October Preview

Free for PS Plus members, Regular Price: $9.99
SINE MORA is a horizontal shoot’em up that provides a unique take on challenge, where time is the ultimate factor. Mixing classic shooter sensibilities with contemporary presentation, SINE MORA is a gorgeous shmup that offers a Story Mode that weaves an over-the-top tale and an Arcade Mode that provides deep, satisfying gameplay to challenge fans of the genre. With many ways to manipulate time, SINE MORA features over 60 weapon combinations to complete each beautiful stage that form fits to the player’s skills with scaling difficulty.


Hotline Miami 2 assault scene under consideration

“We didn’t add the scene just to be controversial”

Hotline Miami

Dennaton, the creator of Hotline Miami, has removed a controversial sexual assault scene from the sequel’s demo and is currently reconsidering its place in the finished game.

“We respect everyone’s opinion. We felt like we might have to have the whole game for that scene to work, or maybe we were doing it wrong. It didn’t come out the way we wanted it to,” developer Dennis Wedin told RPS.

The scene in question was first brought to media attention by writer Cara Ellison, who objected to the handling of a sexual assault scene within the Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number playable demo.

“The control is taken from me by the game, and my character, the Pig Butcher, pins her down and drops his trousers,” said Ellison.

Wedin added that the intention of the scene wasn’t just to be controversial, and that there is much more to the two characters involved than is shown in the demo.

“We’re gonna see how people react to it when we test the whole game. We’ll get opinions and stuff like that. We’ll see how we can present this in a good way. In a way that we want it to come across. Not just as provocative. That’s not our meaning at all.

“I respect people’s comments and the fact that people voiced them. That’s how they feel. Our scene made them feel this way, so we have to think about why and if there’s something we can do to make it better. I don’t think it’s right to just say, ‘You’re wrong. You’re just looking at it wrong.’ That’s not the way to go.”



Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number Coming to PS4 and PS Vita in 2014?


Back when Hotline Miami 2 was originally announced, Devolver Digital didn’t mention if it would be coming to PlayStation platforms of any kind, despite the first Hotline Miami coming to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita very recently.

In an update to the description of the Hotline Miami 2 teaser trailer that was posted back in June (via NeoGaf), it says that the bloody sequel is “coming to PlayStation 4, Vita, PC, Mac, and Linux in 2014.”


We’ve reached out to Devolver Digital to confirm this news, but here’s that teaser trailer and the game’s description in the meantime:

A brutal conclusion to the gruesome saga, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number follows the escalating level of violence through multiple factions born from the events of the original game and driven by uncertain motivations. Step into the murderous mind of several distinct characters – each with their own motivations and methods of execution — as storylines intersect and reality slips away into a haze of neon and carnage. Blistering combat, an unmistakable visual style, and a powerfully intense soundtrack will once again push you to the limit and questioning your own thirst for blood.



Hotline Miami Review

Hotline Miami Review

There’s nothing artistic about maiming wave after wave of enemies. But there is an opportunity to be somewhat creative about it and this is where Hotline Miami excels. From a top-down perpective you’re tasked with clearing buildings full of ruthless gangs, armed at the start with just your fists and a mask. As you sneak or lure enemies one by one to their doom Hotline Miami gives a great deal of sadistic satisfaction as the blood of one helpless soul splashes in an all manner of directions.

“there’s nothing quite like winning, especially when ‘winning’ means bashing someone’s head off with a baseball bat”

As you make your way through a typical chapter you’ll nonchalantly start by waking up, then driving to your destination to perform the killing before stopping off at a pizzeria or video shop to rent a movie for the night. Hotline Miami’s fantastic change of pace is such a simple recognition of needing a slight come down after the high-octane and extremely fast paced moving bloodbath action. Even being killed doesn’t stop it, half a second later and your straight back in the action – it’s non-stop and I found it difficult to put it down.

The weapons you have on offer give you a plentitude of options on how to deal with your prey. The hunters truly become the hunted after you’ve bust through that first door and arm yourself with a shotgun after taking down the first few enemies. Hotline Miami manages to mix it up throughout with clear glass windows catching me out constantly. It forced me to not only keep my eye on just the room I’m entering, but also adjacent ones. A neat gameplay trick then kept me thinking at every turn.

The game itself will last you just a few hours, but at the budget price it’s been launched at there isn’t much to grumble about, especially when the punch it packs is such high quality. After the main game is finished there’s still the addictiveness of jumping straight back in and trying to beat your highest score.

Hotline Miami also comes packed with a soundtrack that’s rich with the retro groove that the game emanates with at every turn. It’s delightful, almost hypnotic soundtrack is so entrancing I found myself slaughtering enemies to the rhythm at times. In fact when you initially boot up the game on the PS Vita it tells you it’s best played with earphones – an experience I truly recommend you indulge in.

An added bonus about this release of Hotline Miami is that it’s cross-buy as well. So purchasing the game on the PS3 unlocks the PS Vita version, cross-save is also included. Throughout my playthrough I used cross-save and unlike some other games there were no problems at all with how the feature worked. Overall though I would recommend playing the PS Vita version, as the quick witted nature of Hotline Miami works wonderfully on a handheld system. That’s not to say the PS3 version is worse off, but Vita would be my personal preference if I had to make a decision. It’s a great addition to Vita’s growing library of games.

Hotline Miami does come with some frustrations, getting repeatedly hit by the same guy over and over again can be a real grind and some of the tougher sections are quite frankly brutal. But in the end, the reward justifies the frustration, there’s nothing quite like winning, especially when ‘winning’ in Hotline Miami means bashing someone’s head off with a baseball bat.

Hotline Miami is available on the PSN now in the US for $8.99 and £6.49/€7.99 in Europe.



Opinion: Sony killed it at E3, but their Vita news was a huge letdown

PS Vita

To Vita owners watching Sony’s press conference at this year’s E3, the brief stage time probably felt like another nail in the coffin. Sony showed a handful of games, games that, aside from the God of War Collection, had already been announced in one way or another. Jack Tretton described the Vita as the ultimate companion device to PS4 with Remote Play, and spoke of a future game library bolstered by indie developers. Then, they moved on to PS3 and PS4.

For all the murdering they did on the PS4 front, the Vita presence at the most high-profile part of Sony’s E3 was upsetting. Where was the price drop? Why haven’t they addressed memory card prices? Where were all the games? Where was the confident and bold Sony that showed its hand during the PS4 section?

This was a chance for Sony to boldly proclaim their plans to get the Vita into people’s hands, but they acted more like nothing was wrong. The same Sony that has been learning to listen to its customers, that’s pushing indie development heavily, that skipped DRM, that influenced Microsoft’s next-gen strategy, and that announced a PS4 price people seem pretty happy about, is treating the Vita like it’s the PS3 in 2006.

The Vita NEEDS a price drop

Vita and memory card

In terms of sheer design, build quality, and technical prowess, the Vita is probably a steal at $250-$300. The problem is that value is a nebulous thing. Sony hasn’t shaken the notion that Vita “has no games,” nor has it proved that the Vita is a worthwhile $250 companion device to the PS4. A glorified Wii U controller isn’t worth $250 anyway.

What’s worse is that Sony still hasn’t responded to the criticisms of hidden costs with the Vita. Want a decent memory card? Get ready to pony up $60-$100. Want to embrace an all-digital future? Have fun as the Vita’s largest and priciest storage solution is a mere 32 GBs. Even if you manage your larger game files on the Vita, you have to get past Sony’s terrible decision to tie save files to the game data. If you want to get that 3 GB Uncharted save off your Vita you have to transfer it to a PS3 or PC or lose your save file with it.

If Sony is married to the $250 price point, then they need to incentivize the hell out of it. A 32 GB card in the box with a year of PlayStation Plus would be a good start. Updating the firmware to allow easier save file management would be nice too. Bigger memory card options should be there as well, with more reasonable prices that come closer to non-proprietary storage mediums. Simply getting the handheld under $200, then announcing it at a high-profile conference, would have been a nice shot in the arm too.

The Vita NEEDS to shake the “no games” issue

Hotline Miami 2

The Vita has games. It also has a lot of games in the pipeline. The problem is that the high profile games so far have been force-fed disasters. Call of Duty on a handheld would have been cool if it was a legitimate entry in the series and not some half-assed reskin of Resistance: Burning Skies. Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation was closer to a proper Vita experience, but it was still a mediocre AC game. Uncharted: Golden Abyss, while probably the best of big franchises thrown on a little platform, still felt like a B-tier experience. Gravity Rush and Soul Sacrifice are average-to-phenomenal depending on who you ask. Persona 4: Golden seems to be the platform’s true must-have, yet it really only has a niche appeal. In fact, most of the Vita’s truly great games are bizarre niche titles like Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, Frobisher Says, or Thomas Was Alone.

The solution, it seems, is to celebrate the weird and the unique, and instead of advertising the Vita as a device that puts familiar experiences in your hands, it should be a device with experiences you can’t get anywhere else. Furthermore, it’s the only handheld where you’ll be able to play amazing indie games like Hotline Miami, Spelunky, Limbo, Terraria, and Runner 2.

Is that what Sony touted at E3, though? Not at all. The highlights were Final Fantasy X/X-2 and the God of War Collection. Great, familiar titles for sure, but not anything that’s setting the Vita on fire. What’s worse, a sub-par port of the Jak & Daxter Collection was just quietly released. What’s to say these other collections won’t suffer the same fate?

The thing of it is, Sony had an impressive showing of Vita games on the show floor. They had dozens of kiosks with playable games that were either briefly mentioned or forgotten entirely at their press conference. Why didn’t they follow through during their high-profile conference?

One of the highlights of the PS4 presentation was when Sony showed off a spread of independent games headed to the next-gen console. They could have easily done the same thing with the indie titles headed to Vita. Imagine if Hotline Miami 2 had been announced on stage for Vita. Considering the developer Dennaton Games is hopeful about bringing it to the Vita, there’s little reason Sony couldn’t lock that down.

“UPDATE” Hotline Miami is available for download on PSN for PS Vita.

The bottom line is this: A lot of what’s said at these conferences has a lasting impression. The platforms and games speak for themselves in the end, but there’s something potent about these conferences. They tend to lay the groundwork for what’s ahead, hinting at where the company’s focus is. If that’s what Sony was going for with their E3 press conference, then the Vita still feels like an afterthought.