Plus Update – Free Games, Odds and Nuts

As we enter the second month of the Plus service I thought now would be a good time to provide a quick update. Am I sold on the service? Is it worth the $50 (annual subscription) price tag? Is there value to be found in a Plus subscription?

Today I am only going to tackle the free games. So from that perspective, as far as the price goes, as an initial subscriber, thanks to the additional three “free” bonus months, Plus only set me back $3.33. For a rental service that is not too much of a concern, which is of course one way to look at things. Another point of view is that I spent $50 straight up on a rental service that offers some free odds and ends and random discounts to go with the free games.

The first two months offered two “free” games: WipEout HD (87 – 52 critic reviews; 8.1 based on 71 votes) and Critter Crunch (87; 22 critic reviews; earning a spectacular 9.7 based on 11 dedicated, caring gamers).

Lucky for me that I did not own either game. If I did, I would probably not be very happy right now. This has to be a significant concern for heavy PSN spenders. Heck, even casual PSN spenders run the risk of having the monthly free game end up being something they have previously purchased. This is really the price you pay for having no idea what free games are going to be on offer; you are taking a gamble that more often than not, you will not own the monthly free download. This is where Sony could change things up a bit by offering an alternative free month of any PSN game you damn well please, but the alternative “rental” only lasts a month. I am not sure what sort of reaction this type of switch up would invoke, but I would be happy to have an option if I already owned the monthly free game.

I have always been a casual fan of the WipEout series, so while it is nice to get a quality game for free, I doubt it will be huge entertainment sink for me. Critter Crunch has been a welcome surprise; this is one of the better puzzle games I have played in a while!

While Magic Orbz (66 – 13 critic reviews, although the masses rate the game a solid 8.4 based on 11 votes) was not offered as a free download, I took a flyer on this one because Plus subscribers were offered two of the expansion packs for free, and the base game was offered at a discounted price. While Magic Orbz is far from a classic, it is an interesting diversion and a nice take on breakout.

I have not bothered with the free minis; I did download them to my PSP to give them a go on my next road trip. Same for the two free PSOne Classics. Rally Cross was OK back in the day, but I seriously doubt that it can hold up. The controls were always a little bit f’up on the PlayStation, so I cannot imagine that they work worth a darn on the PSP. If I remember correctly, Syphon Filter had a cult following, so maybe this one will be decent once I can be bothered to give it a few minutes.

If I take the $3.33 per month view, I am satisfied with the initial Plus offerings, although I am still reluctant to recommend the service.  Plus I like getting a variety of games each month; sort of fulfills my gaming ADD.  Certainly the $50 I applied to my Plus subscription could have been spent on a new PS3 game, which at some point could be traded in for another game or parlayed into cash to be used towards another purchase. This of course is the advantage of physical ownership of a game.

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