Review: ROCHARD - Beautiful, Perfect
Available on: PlayStation 3 via PSN
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10The best gaming experiences don't need to have the highest-end graphics or an all-star cast. They don't need to be produced for $100 million or even come out on a disc. Sometimes, downloadable titles can be true standouts, and the perfect example of that is out now on PlayStation Network, Rochard. It just so happens that this game is actually very pretty, but the graphics aren't why you'll be playing this one. This game stands out for its innovative controls and gameplay, its sense of humor, and its general sense of remembering that video games, sometimes, are allowed to just be fun. When you first step into the world of Rochard, you'll notice how pristine and clean everything is. That doesn't last long, as various explosions, lasers, and the machinations of the evil Maximillion (has that ever been the name of a good guy?) bring the world crashing down around you. Set on relatively simple backdrops of space mining stations, the important thing is that there are lots of things to interact with in the environment. Cargo boxes of various sizes, gun turrets fixed and mobile, and lasers that penetrate almost anything (and are deadly to both Rochard and his foes) litter the world, making you always only seconds and inches away from something else to play with. You manipulate all of these things with your G-lifter, a gravity gun that lets you pick up and throw objects in a telekinetic function. These can be used defensively as shields, offensively as weapons, or even in puzzle solving. In addition to manipulating the gravity of objects, in each location you'll unlock the ability to manipulate the gravity of the environment as a whole. Hold a shoulder button to make gravity lighter for higher jumping, to slow a long fall, or allow you to reach a hidden enemy with ease. Both things come into the puzzle solving, often involving several steps of environment manipulation in order to get through a section. The remarkable thing is how fun and exciting this remains for the entire game. There are some difficult puzzles, and definitely some that you'll die more than once trying to complete, but through the five and a half hours of my first playthrough, I never actually got frustrated. The game makes you look at the world differently each time you fail (and sometimes quite differently, literally turning you upside-down), and it's a fun adventure throughout. With platforming, gameplay that just doesn't get old (trust me, throwing boxes in the faces of the foppish space police is just plain cool), and a gorgeous world, the icing on the cake is the game's sense of humor. This interstellar truck driver/miner who is tasked with saving the galaxy is gruff and stereotypical in the best ways. Throw in a dash of maniacal villain, a touch of sci-fi mysticism, and the aforementioned space police and "wild boys" who say hilarious one-liners when attacking, and even funnier noises when getting crushed by boxes or blown up by sticky grenades, and the audio atmosphere is enough on its own to keep you constantly entertained. This game is a unique experience, something that builds on the past of platforming adventure while pulling in aspects from some of the best shooters, and injecting it all with fun and humor. It's a perfect game, and an absolute must-own for any PlayStation 3 owner. With collectibles and a 3-hour game finish challenge, there are more reasons to come back to this one after one playthrough, besides everything already stated in this review. Rochard is a real winner, a gem, and a pleasant surprise in the world of big-budget explosiveness.
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