The issues Sony's been having with its PlayStation Network service are well documented across the web.
I'm told the folks at this very publication have been frantically clamouring for more information on the situation, but Sony's remaining tight-lipped. Honestly, it's probably for the best. No matter how big or small the problem is, Sony will want to control the message that comes out of the company. You can't blame them for letting their PR bodies earn their pay packet.
While negativity engulfs the PlayStation webosphere, lets turn our attention to some positivity. The PlayStation Network might be down, but your PlayStation 3 is still capable of experiencing some amazing games this Easter weekend — games that don't involve kill-streaks, ratios and angry teenagers swearing into bluetooth headsets. If you're struggling to commit to a game (minus online features) this weekend, let me help make up your mind.
PSN Outage Recommendation #1 - Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow: — In many ways MercurySteam's Castlevania reboot is derivative of many more popular releases. The combat, for example, is essentially a straight rip of Kratos' escapades in God Of War, with protagonist Gabriel Belmont utilising a religious emblem and chains to overpower the mythical beasts present in this high-budget action adventure. Lords Of Shadow drags in places, but the overall experience is well worth having. The narrative is well written and voiced by accomplished actors, while the presentation values are through the roof. There are also some amazingly dense boss battles against enormous titan creatures. Should the PSN stay down for much longer, Lords Of Shadows is a chunky experience that should keep you occupied until the service is rescued. It also concludes with one of the best endings we've experienced this generation. The final cut-scene makes the whole game worthwhile.
PSN Outage Recommendation #2 - LittleBigPlanet 2: — "But LittleBigPlanet 2 almost depends on the PlayStation Network," I hear you scream. Sure it does, but you can work on your own personal creations at any time without the need to be online. Most people claim they haven't designed their own burlap opus because they're too busy to learn the intricacies of Media Molecule's demanding system. Without the PlayStation Network and a few days from work, you've got the best excuse to dive head-first into LittleBigPlanet's level editor. Make something this weekend, upload it when the PlayStation Network goes back online. Be sure to drop us an LBP.me link so we can check out what you concocted.
PSN Outage Recommendation #3 - Yakuza 4: — Boasting 30-hours of single-player content, Yakuza 4 should easily get you through the worst of the PSN outage. For my money, Yakuza 4 has one of the best narratives available on PlayStation 3. Sure it's a touch convoluted and just a teensy bit melodramatic, but that's part of the game's beauty. For all its flamboyance, Yakuza 4 is built around likable and believable characters at its core. It's hard not to get drawn into the game's cast and feel passionately about their stories. And even if you get bored of all the fist-pumping and face stamping, you can always go and play a mini-game like pool, darts or table-tennis.
PSN Outage Recommendation #4 - Enslaved: Odyssey To The West: — One of the most cruelly overlooked games of last year, Ninja Theory's Enslaved had its flaws. But in spite of its technical challenges as a game, Enslaved easily has one of the most well rounded, carefully developed casts on PlayStation 3. What's amazing is that there are only really three characters in the game. The primary pairing is Monkey and Trip, a contrasting duo thrown together in a beautiful post-apocalyptic world. What's most staggering about Enslaved is how well Ninja Theory managed to create believable facial expressions. In an opening cut-scene, Trip's eyes give a greater indication of plot than any dialogue or backstory could possibly manage.
PSN Outage Recommendation #5 - The 3rd Birthday (PSP): — Not always a well conceived experience, The 3rd Birthday is an enjoyable foray if you're looking for something that's: a) playable outdoors, and; b) a bit mindless. Bring down throngs of similarly styled foes as the outrageously pretty super soldier Aya Brea. You can even watch her take a shower. As the creepy Maeda acknowledges to Ms. Brea: "I'd like to taste your tears." I think I'd like to taste her tears too. Even if that is a little bit weird.
PSN Outage Recommendation #6 - Mass Effect 2: — The best thing to do before you play Mass Effect 2 is to shut out the years of hype from XBOX 360 and PC players. For my money, Mass Effect 2 is not the all-encompassing game of the year that some people like to claim it is. That's not to say it's not a bloody good sci-fi adventure all the same. Ignore the hokey shooting and hastily thrown together structure and there's a lot to get out of Mass Effect 2. The fiction is extremely dense and some of the characters are a lot of fun to interact with. Plus, if you're yet to play Mass Effect 2 it's obviously good preparation for the inevitably excellent Mass Effect 3 due out later this year. Game of the year's going to be a tougher crowd this time around though.
PSN Outage Recommendation #7 - Mortal Kombat: — Who says you need the Internet for great multiplayer? Not only is Mortal Kombat the perfect throw-back release, but it also instills that same regard for nostalgia in the player. My suggestion: get a barbecue going, haul in some Pepsi Max, and appeal to some friends and family for an ultra Mortal Kombat versus showdown. You'll instantly forget your woes — until everybody goes home and you realise you can't get online to find more opponents.
PSN Outage Recommendation #8 - Grand Theft Auto IV: — The subject of unfortunate backlash — if you haven't played GTAIV, you really should take the time to check it out. Some irritations in checkpointing and mission structure are a source of frustration, but Grand Theft Auto IV is one of the most enjoyable sandbox games available on PlayStation 3. It's typical GTA-fare, but the character roster and weighty moral decisions make Niko's adventure well rounded and engaging, in spite of the game's hokey control mechanics.
PSN Outage Recommendation #9 - Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time: — The very definition of a great single-player game — Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time implores you to explore every nook and cranny of the game's universe, introducing exciting platforming mechanics as well as super satisfying combat and weapons. The game's also desperately comical, with brilliant one-shots from every member of the cast. Insomniac's great at crafting well-rounded, polished games, and A Crack In Time is probably the pick of the developers PlayStation 3 roster. If you're looking for something light-hearted, cheeky and colourful, this should pull you through the cold days without PSN.
PSN Outage Recommendation #10 - inFamous: — Too few people played the original inFamous. Sucker Punch's comic-book inspired platformer was one of the most refined games released in 2009. It looked poor at release — and time has not been kind either — but it's still an extremely polished experience. Part of what's so fun about inFamous is just how crazy things can get on-screen. Protagonist Cole's super-hero powers allow him to throw electricity grenades, fire rockets, and blow up practically everything in the environment. After several hours with inFamous 2 you'll find yourself amidst exploding cars, flying enemies and fleeing NPCs. inFamous is insane, and while it might not look very good, the game's frame-rate always holds rock solid. It's a good time to play through the original too — the sequel is out this Summer, and looks to improve on everything that was brilliant about the original.
Its rumoured that Twiggy has spent the past several months touring with avant-garde dance troupe Cirque Du Soleil. The anonymous PushSquare columnist is still on the run from the British monarchy on account of treason. Twiggy was last sighted eating an Asda branded ham and cheese sandwich in Grimsby.