Each month, PlayStation Plus subscribers get two games at no extra cost – so what do members have to look forward to in June?
As usual, Sony is offering a pretty diverse range, covering the PS4, the PS3, and the PS Vita – let’s take a look.
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (PS4)
While the Metal Gear series debuted way back in 1987, on the MSX2 (with a sequel in 1990), it wasn’t until Metal Gear Solid that it became a household name for gamers. With a massive amount of hype, MGS went on to become a huge success, embracing a genius blend of fast-paced action and tactical stealth to players at a time when most action games required little in the way of strategy.
More than fifteen years later, the Metal Gear series has moved on, with multiple sequels and spin-offs – the games become more and more epic, with incredible visuals, sprawling storylines, and a wide range of characters. Now, as part of their June line-up, Sony has added Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes to PlayStation Plus.
Serving as one of several prequels to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes follows Snake as he breaks into Camp Omega, a secret American base in Cuba, to rescue two prisoners. Being a Metal Gear game, this features new ways to sneak and the ability to choose missions in any order the player likes – affecting the way in which the story is told.
The gameplay has been tweaked, with the threat-detection system no longer shown as a meter on-screen – instead, dangers are represented through visual and audio cues. There are seven missions in all, and players can enjoy a more free-form approach to the game: while previous entries were fairly linear in their design, this aims to be more open.
Snake has always been a great character to play as, and the backstory to the franchise is rich with intrigue and larger-than-life figures. Whether you’re here for the plot, for the stealth, or as a first-timer, you’re sure to find plenty to love.
Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition (PS4)
This fast-paced, turn-based strategy game looks to be great fun, putting players in control of General Akamoto – the greatest shogun in Japan. On the eve of what looks set to be his biggest, most glorious battle yet, Akamoto is killed and sent to the Samurai Afterlife. With an impostor stealing his place, he must take on this enemy and regain his honor!
This is designed for super-fast gameplay, with quick rounds and strategic combat, all with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor. With a ten-hour single-player campaign as well as multiplayer options, players must build an army of undead warriors, consisting of archers, infantry, and scouts, as well as some awesome magical animal monks. Player armies can power-up by eating the skulls of fallen enemies, with three in a row granting any unit the ability to become a rampaging demon – kick-ass enough to turn the tide of battle at a crucial moment!
While there have been countless turn-based strategy games over the years (some great, some not so much), few have embraced the same sense of fun as Skulls of the Shogun. The gameplay is always fast-moving, and the physics engine’s impressive, giving the player new and inventive ways to get rid of enemy units – push them into environmental hazards, or knock them right off the edge of a cliff.
While the original version of the game was great value for money, this Bone-A-Fide Edition adds a new episode to the single-player campaign (jacking the number of missions up to an impressive 24), and the new multiplayer maps take the overall selection for 2, 3, or 4 players up to a huge 36. Thanks to the new progression system, players can earn XP and use this for titles/emblems for showing off in multiplayer games.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (PS3)
Western games have plenty to live up to since the mighty Red Dead Redemption gave players a vast, authentic Old West to roam, but this latest entry in the Call of Juarez series has plenty to offer. Playing as Silas Greaves, a brilliantly-named bounty hunter chasing down some of the West’s most-wanted outlaws, fans of the series will recognize the familiar fast-paced first-person gameplay: bullet-time returns, as do the gripping gunslinger duels; bullets can also be dodged in quick time events.
Story mode follows the life and career of Silas, as he recounts some of his tall tales to an audience – however, as Silas is pretty unreliable, the listeners question his accuracy, which leads to sudden changes to the in-game settings (for example, characters may appear or vanish as he changes his story). As the game progresses, players can earn XP to improve their gun-skills – boost your abilities with shotguns, dual pistols, and rifles.
Gunslinger also features an Arcade mode – which sees the player fight against one wave of enemies after another – and Duel mode, where numerous classic gunslingers engage in showdowns. This is a great little game for members of PlayStation Plus.
Super Exploding Zoo (PS4 and Vita)
Developed by Honeyslug (the team behind Frobisher Says and Hohokum), Super Exploding Zoo is just how it sounds: the titular zoo comes under attack aliens looking to eat the animals’ eggs – and only an army of exploding animals can stop them!
Featuring addictive gameplay (in the vein of tower-defense titles), this allows the player to gather herds of animals (all set to explode when needed) and protect eggs through 80 levels. This is brilliantly simple, but not shallow – players need to be strategic.
Honeyslug have added Puzzle, Random, and Multiplayer modes, offering plenty to see and do. Players can compete on both PS4 and PS Vita, and pit their explosive armies against each other!
Cloudberry Kingdom (PS3)
The perfect platformer for gamers with an appetite for a challenge! Play as Bob (a cape-wearing, green-clad hero), adventuring through randomly-generated levels with strong AI, throwing countless obstacles in your way so hard and fast even the hardest platform games you’ve ever played will look easy.
However, the game’s impressive physics-editor allows you to change the settings on gravity, friction, acceleration, and many other elements – this will produce new levels better-suited to your own tastes and abilities. This ensures that, rather than be put off by the massive challenge on offer, players can tailor it to make it more enjoyable – before trying something a little tougher next time.
With great, colorful graphics and fast-paced action, this is a must for fans of the evergreen platform game.
Futuridium EP Deluxe (PS4 and Vita)
Fan of old-school shoot-em-ups? Then try Futuridium EP Deluxe! This is a fast-paced 3D blaster, putting players in control of a speedy ship which must be piloted through colorful, bold levels to eliminate various targets. Players can flip their ship 180 degrees on the spot, changing direction and spinning the world at the touch of a button.
This is a challenging game, for players at all levels. While the first few stages are simple enough for gamers to practice their flying skills, levels become tougher and tougher – but not too hard: two-man development team MixedBag have been careful not to put players off.
The Deluxe campaign has a softer learning curve than before, while there are also continues to be unlocked and additional game modes. Players can become more and more skilled the further they progress, allowing them to learn on the fly and come back to beat their scores.