Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday MUpdate: It's pronounced "fl-ow-er"

I think, as a note, that people should generally understand that my articles from here on out will be mostly about the PS3. While it was not discussed publicly here, our fearless leader Nate recently had a minor spat with another internet entity, and throughout the general "dialogue" (in quotes because in reality it was more of an attack) it was pointed out that we focus mainly on the XBOX even though we are a general video gaming website. Now, those who have been following for a prolonged period of time will remember that the top of the website used to point out that we focus mainly on the XBOX (because the XBOX is awesome) but when Kara was brought on board, she introduced the element of girls playing video games, which is just plain silly the PC gamer into the fold. Therefore, in order to help diversify, I'm taking my new ownership of the PS3 as a subtle sign to myself that I should give it the love it deserves and focus mainly on the PS3. So from here on out, if you don't actually have any interest in the PS3, I won't be offended if you don't read this column anymore.

I had been promising several mini reviews now from some time, haven't I? Originally when I came on board, reviews were all I did. They were wordy, they were precise, but I feel like they were OK. Then, as I stopped being a bum and got a job, I had to start playing games less and less, and now that I have a job and go to night classes, I play games even less than that. This past week I rented some games for my Playstation 3, and I only ever managed to play one of them and I was less than half way through when I returned it. It's kind of sad, really. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 comes out in less than 24 hours and I'm kind of scared to think I won't be able to dedicate myself to it at all hours of the day (which means I'll be up until 2 in the morning playing it, probably). Regardless of this fact, I feel like I got in a good deal of standard PS3 gaming before my night classes happened to allow me the ability to look fondly back at my memory and bring to you, the faithful reader, some high quality mini reviews. Last week, I tackled Fat Princess, a humorous interpretation of capture the flag that caused quite a stir in my home city (mainly because people are idiots). This week, I bring to you a review of the highly serene Flower (which, despite what Nate may tell you, is not pronounced flow-er).

Let me start by saying that Flower is the single most serene and enchanting game I have ever played in my entire life. I feel like bothering to meditate is absolutely pointless now because I have this game. For those who don't know, the Playstation 3 menu system is different from the XBOX 360 dashboard in that (among other things) when you put the XBOX 360 disc in, a tiny little image will now appear on the dashboard under your section to show you what game you have to play, and if you open up that extra special menu, you'll have a themed background. With the PS3, when you highlight a game or a game disc for gaming purposes, the entire screen changes into a huge advertisement for the game. The Flower music shows a gentle breeze and plays some calm piano music for you, and honest to God, I could just leave this image on and sit and relax. In fact, I do this sometimes, and I'm known to leave this menu on if I leave the apartment for short periods of time for my cats. It's just that wonderful.

In Flower, you essentially play the smoke monster from LOST except you're made of flower petals and instead of tormenting people you collect other flower petals to make you even more epic. That's it. That's the entire game. There is no final boss, there is no real point to it. You start out as a single flower petal, you float around collecting other flower petals, and once you've collected enough you win the level. It sounds so simple, yet for some reason when I hand people the controller to play the game they just don't get it. It's easily one of the best purchases I have ever made though. The absolute sheer and quiet brilliance of the game is just so forthcoming that, in the words of James Franco, it smells like God's vagina is just so good. Within the game are, of course, hidden elements of commentary toward the modern day appreciation of nature, and this becomes painfully obvious later in the game as the sky becomes darker and the world grows scarier with the introduction of massive amounts of power lines, but don't worry. You and your petals will fill the world with such beauty that you easily eradicate any and all man made disasters (you know, except for those buildings...).

Along with the 100% stunning soundtrack (which you in part help create as every flower you collect hits a musical note), the game's graphics are beyond amazing. This is the game that really shows the PS3's engine capabilities as you soar straight into the grass and it looks like you're actually outside running your hand through a lush field. You'll see all sorts of environments as you fly through the game, but none of it ever clips or looks half assed. On top of that, for a game that should have an excessive amount of bloom (for those who don't get the term, pop in Fable II and look at the sun), you'd be surprised to find that it never comes in to play as a blinding factor. There is so much going on here and it runs so smoothly it absolutely blows my mind. It's pretty obvious why this game is only available on the PS3, to say the least - the PS3 is the only system (besides a PC) that can handle this game's insane rendering. Add to that the excellent sound effects placed in the game for the wind and movement and, when you play this in high definition on a nice TV, it really looks like a window outside that you have control over. The irony of the game in itself is that it heavily promotes being outside in nature's natural beauty, and some of the Trophy's include putting the controller down and taking a five minute break or not playing for a week, and yet the game looks better than the grass outside my window does!

If I had to give Flower a grade, it would be an A++. Any owner or potential owner of the PS3 should own this game as it is essentially the Playstation 3 game. In my short time as a PS3 owner, no other game has shown me the true and wondrous capabilities of the system in a way that makes me want to denounce my previous religion and swear only to Sony's. I'm still waiting on my digital audio cable in the mail from Amazon (which is a whole other disastrous story which I'll get to another time), I can't wait to fully maximize my experience with surround sound. This game is absolutely beyond amazing and is hands down the best game I've played all year.

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