PlayStation recently announced plans to shake up its current PS+ offerings, with it set to merge with the subscription service previously known as PlayStation Now. This will roll out in stages, starting in June in selected territories (several markets in Asia, followed by North America, Europe, and the rest of the world where PS+ is available).
Rather than two separate services, both will be rolled into one and feature in 3 different priced tiers, which each othering more benefits than the other as you go up in price.
The basic tier of Essential will be very similar to what’s on offer with Plus just now but spending a little extra (yes that’s a pun) will get you access to even more. Extra is the next step up and adds a catalogue of up to 400 PS4 and PS5 games. Once you go to the next level, that gets you to access to the stuff that this article relates to.
Premium then adds access to a “catalogue of beloved classic games” from the earlier console and portable platforms like PS1, PS2, PS3, PSP and PS Vita. This is noted as being available thru download or streaming but it has been widely reported that PS3 will only be via streaming (streaming on PC is also available).
Although it’s good to see Sony and PlayStation give gamers more options when it comes to how their players want to play, I still have concerns. Notably missing from the blog announcement is any mention of what games we might see on the service. As well as this, the numbers mentioned (400 PS4 and PS5 games, plus 340 additional earlier generation games) ring rather close to what is already on offer with the current version of PS Now.
There’s also no mention of any upgrades being available for any of the games that may feature, be that resolution or framerate. As much as I love being able to revisit my favourite titles, some can be a bit of a slog if they don’t have some of the much-lauded enhancements that Xbox have been able to implement. Xbox’s FPS boost on older titles is a massive reason to stay with their ecosystem.
Putting my concerns aside and letting my ageing gamer get excited, I’ve taken a little look at some of the titles that could make the service a massive win come launch day. I’ve gone for 3 from each console and a couple of bonus games from the handheld platform that would be a joy to have easier access to.
Driver is a classic title for gamers of my age… and no you shouldn’t be asking just how old I am… it also features one of the most punishing introduction levels that you’ll ever experience. It’s a great game but it’s aged rather poorly. That shouldn’t stop it from being featured in the hopes that should engagement be good it might help get a long-deserved sequel off the ground.
Story-based driving games are still quite a rare thing, and with a little polish this could really be a great way to experience the series.
PS1: Die Hard Trilogy
Why add one game when you can have 3! Don’t get me wrong, this pick drops massively into the so bad its good bracket, but I’d still be extremely joyous should it make the cut. The 3 games based on the movie all take a slightly different take, with a 3rd person shooter, on-rails shooter and driving game all on offer.
It’s all very cheesy and not the best example of retro gaming, but I have no doubt fans would go wild should a game like this be confirmed.
Any of the games in the series could be added and all would be a massive win. For personal preference, I’d prefer Tekken 3 as it has aged slightly better than the earlier entries, but they would all be a huge addition to the service.
Fighting games are a rare breed, with them often being exempt from the benefits of things like higher framerates as they are mostly locked to 60 FPS to not break the game. Here an FPS boost wouldn’t really be needed and just making the game accessible would be enough. It’s also a shining example of what made the PS1 such a legendary title.
PS2: Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3
THPS3 makes the cut rather than 2 thanks to the excellent recent remake featuring 1 and 2. This seems like a natural choice thanks to the fact that it’s the joint highest-scoring game for the PS2 on Metacritic alongside GTA 3.
It seemed way bigger in scale than the original games and still had tight controls and addictive gameplay. All bundled up in the same prime humour of the time of its release.
Unfortunately, as crazy as it seems now, this one could end up behind the forbidden door and in the hands of Xbox should their acquisition of Activision end up going thru. That likely won’t be completed for a while yet, so maybe this one could have one last outing on PlayStation systems.
PS2: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
PlayStation and Hideo Kojima go hand in hand and adding titles like this would really cement that going forward. This 2001 classic received acclaim for its gameplay, graphics, and attention to detail.
However, its also often remembered for the bait and switch toward the beginning of the game’s campaign that sees players end up playing most of the story as someone other than the main character Solid Snake, who had featured in the previous game.
Some loved it, some hated it, but their no doubt it was one of the many reasons the game is so well remembered. With the lack of a remake or remaster (yet at least), this would be a great way to experience a game-changing title from PlayStations past.
PS2: SOCOM 2: US Navy Seals
When thinking about some of the best PS2 titles on offer it would have been easy to reach towards a GTA title or maybe even a Final Fantasy game, but honestly, most of those titles have already had a refresh and in some form are already available to play on modern platforms.
Instead, I’ve picked the second SOCOM game, as it’s something that could really hold its own given a few more modern features. Its multiplayer was great back in the day and with PlayStation sometimes a little lacking in terms of exclusive multiplayer offerings, they could do far worse than to bring this and its servers back online.
AI was much improved over the original game and it was more varied than what had been featured before. Hopefully, with a little more interest, it might give the series another chance to be a hit and maybe get a modern full-fledged sequel greenlit.
PS3 : LittleBigPlanet
The PS3 had loads of great games (although it took a little while to get going), but LittleBigPlanet always stood out to me. It was cute, fun to play and also offered a ton of replayability thanks to a powerful level creator.
Although it was always popular, it never seemed to hit the heights it originally seemed to be heading for. In the last few years, simple platformers have made a bit of return to the charts and Sackboy truly deserves one last chance at greatness.
PS3: Killzone 2
Guerilla Games have since been busy crafting the wonderful world of Horizon, but their previous series Killzone was also pretty good. This was a rock-solid FPS game that’s only major issue was PlayStation using a faked “gameplay” video to announce its development and release. Although the game didn’t look bad, it certainly didn’t look quite like the video from 2005.
That seems to have been an error by PlayStation rather than the developer and please don’t hold it against the game. It’s fun and also probably the best FPS game featured on the PS3. Although Killzone seems to have faded as a franchise letting players get their hands on the best the series has to offer wouldn’t be a bad thing.
PS3: Infamous 2
Another game that would show the power underneath the PS3s hood, Infamous 2 was Sucker Punch Productions really starting to flex its muscles. Although the first game was well regarded the story and graphics featured in the second game were far superior.
It’s also one of the best superhero style games on offer to this day and its traversal system can only really be bettered by fellow PlayStation exclusive studio Insomniac. Games often don’t give players the freedom to develop the main characters as they see fit, but here the “Karma” system let the players have the choice between good and evil, with story elements changing depending on the path chosen. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a nice touch in the otherwise stale world of good guys in hero style games.
That is just a few of the games I’d like to see added to the new and improved PS+ when it launches later this year. Let’s hope we hear more about possible improvements that could be on offer to the wonderful back catalogue of games from PlayStations history. Here’s hoping it’s worth the cost!