Includes: A Classic CoD Title and an Epic Open World Puzzle Game…
A bittersweet month for PS Plus as we say goodbye to the Vita, but the wound is healed by two of the best free games for download that the service has had yet.
This month’s PlayStation Plus games have been announced for this March and will be available starting March 5th 2019.
Although the service has now officially ended for PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3, it was a reasonable assumption that this would mean more games per month for PlayStation 4 users. However, this has not been the case; the update consists of one AAA title and one Indie game. I would bet good money that this how it is to be from now on, except for holiday gifts and special events.
This isn’t bad news however, as although there are still only two games for PlayStation 4’s PS Plus this month, they are of a higher quality than usual, and given what the AAA game this month actually is, it has probably cost Sony a pretty penny, and you can have it for free.
PlayStation Plus is an excellent service from Sony that provides free games and online gaming access for PlayStation 4
The PlayStation Plus free games this month are, what I believe, some of the best that the service has offered since it began.
Although PS Plus is a great service, and can really be called a bargain, since it technically comes free with your PlayStation Network subscription (let’s face it, Sony could have charged extra), the free games that it offers each month can sometimes be a little disappointing.
Not that they are not good games, but a lot of the time, they may be games that I have played before and don’t feel the need to play again, or they aren’t in my preferred genre.
This month is a little different, as I feel that Sony have made a good “all rounder” decision with the games that they have chosen for March 2019:
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – Remastered
- The Witness
The choices here are excellent, and for various reasons:
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare needs no introduction. This is considered one of the best FPS games ever made and the best Call of Duty game in the series.
CoD: MW remastered appeals to the more serious gamers out there and this is the remastered version of the game, which has been beautifully improved for modern hardware. The graphics were pretty great anyway, and now they just look amazing on current generation.
As an added bonus, all the great online features are there, so fans of the series can now play their favorite installment on their new consoles with friends, which I am guessing is what Activision were hoping to achieve.
The Witness on the other hand is a game I had never heard of. Don’t judge me, I just don’t often play neither Indie games, nor puzzle games.
However, upon some further reading, I have discovered that The Witness is actually an extremely popular game, not just with puzzle or Indie fans, but with the general gaming community also.
The game has a lot of respect for it’s gorgeous graphics, imaginative game world, intriguing setting and genuinely compelling story. Also, the puzzles in the game aren’t too difficult, making the game smoother and more enjoyable, rather than fractured and frustrating as some puzzle games can be.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – Remastered – A Classic Evolved
I know some of you may not be OK with Call of Duty being one of the games added to PS Plus this month, but let me explain to you why I like this as a choice.
First of all, Activision, the publisher of the CoD series of games, is a typical game publisher giant.
They are big, scary, mean and very protective of their intellectual property, much like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft.
It is for this reason that it is a surprise to see such a game included in this month’s lineup; suffice to say, there would have certainly been a lot of legal wrangling, and Sony will have had to work hard, and pay A LOT of money to be able to give us this game.
Second, and this may scare you, I have never played a Call of Duty title. Gasp! What? I know, right?
Now, I don’t have anything against the series, or Activision, or any one for that matter. It’s just that over the years I have fell out of love with FPS games and I mostly play third person action games like GTA, Spider-Man, Tomb Raider and Uncharted.
So, the reason I am happy about this is that I will get this game for free, it’s the remastered version and it is considered the best CoD game out there. So, why not, right? In fact I am going to download it when I have finished this article.
But first, just in case you are like me and you don’t know much about Call of Duty, here’s some information on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – Remastered:
Modern Warfare is one of the most critically acclaimed first person shooters ever created, winning many awards, including, but not limited to:
- Action Game of the Year; Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences
- Console Game of the Year; Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences
- Overall Game of the Year; Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences
- Game of the Year; Golden Joystick Awards
- Best Action Game; Game Critics Award
- Best Shooter; Spike Video Game Awards
- Best Military Game; Spike Video Game Awards
So, it’s clear that this game is not just some random, bargain basement title that Sony have just pulled out of a hat. They have given us a definitive, quality game to enjoy for free this month.
Released in 2007 for PlayStation 3, Xbox One and PC, this was the first title in the series to depart from the usual World War II setting (after Call of Duty 3) that the series was known for and focused on, well, modern war.
The shift from WWII to current conflict ideals lent itself to a more robust game design enticed a younger generation of players to the series, as the historical setting was replaced with a modern one, more like a movie than a battle simulator.
Because of the new, and more importantly, fictional setting, this allowed the developers the opportunity to create their own world and ultimately their own universe that the series has now become.
Taking place in 2011, you can take control of multiple characters from the United States Marines and the British Special Air Service (S.A.S) across various location such as the UK, Russia and the Middle East, as you fight to rid the world of an Ultra-nationalist threat.
Now, fast forward ten years and Activision decided to give us a remastered version. Yawn, you might say, but it was actually received with arms wide open, with critics and reviewers from popular gaming website such as IGN, Destructoid and Hardcore Gamer stating their own various opinions on how it felt to be reminded at just how great this game was:
“It might not have the same effect it did the first time around, but it works as both a great embodiment of what shooters used to be and one that still plays well.” – Kallie Plagge, IGN.
The immediately obvious difference between the remaster and the original is the graphics.
Click to enlarge…
Given that there had been ten years between the two releases, the visual quality of games had improved significantly and there were vast differences between the two time periods.
- Game resolutions had improved with HD and 4K being standard.
- FPS counts were a lot higher than in 2007 with 60fps being expected.
- Texture resolutions and rendering such as anisotropic filtering are now standard.
- Lighting in games has been significantly improved as hardware got better.
- Post production FX such as depth of field and motion blur can be utilized in real time.
All of these and many more improvements, had been instilled in the game, which was actually rebuilt from the ground up by Raven Software from assets provided by the game’s developer Infinity Ward, so could technically be classed as a “remake”, rather than a “remaster”.
Just take a look at this graphics comparison video from Candyland to see for yourself:
The remastered version also includes all the iconic multiplayer maps that were so popular and loved by fans of the original:
- All Ghillied Up
The Variety Pack however, which includes additional maps, is not included in the remaster and must be purchased separately from the PlayStation Store.
The Witness – Mysterious Desolation
When you think of puzzle games, you may immediately think of Tetris, Candy Crush and similar titles. However when you think about it a little harder, you may start to realize that puzzle games can often be disguised in unique ways as with games such as Portal, The Room and Unravel.
All of These games have the same intuitive and creative direction as any typical AAA title, but they present a puzzle game in a subtle and not too obvious way, usually obscured by a beautiful setting, creative level design and colorful characters.
The Witness is one such game.
What I mean by the descriptions above, is that you could play these games and it’s not immediately clear that they are even puzzle games.
Portal for example, created as a AAA development of a student game (Narbacular Drop) that used Valve’s Source engine from Half Life 2, plays out like a typical FPS, only, you need think a lot about what you are doing, making it worthy of being categorized with other FPS games such as Half Life itself, rather than other typical puzzle games.
The Witness presents in a similar manner to the aforementioned puzzle games; the setting is colorful and imaginative, in an almost flawlessly designed world.
Click to enlarge…
Using seminal and legendary game Myst as inspiration, The Witness was developed from the start to be a beautiful and compelling puzzle game and was nominated for many accolades but unfortunately did not win, losing out to such games as Unravel and Inside, some difficult competition to say the least.
Despite not winning any major awards though, the game was recognized by many major game review sites:
- Destructoid; 10/10
- IGN; 10/10
- Gamespot; 9/10
The open world setting, locked down by puzzles gives the player an incentive to explore and ultimately solve puzzles in order to advance to another part of the world.
There are eleven regions on the island, with the ultimate goal of eventually making your way to mountain that sits to the East of the island, that will bring the story to a conclusion.
The puzzles themselves are grid type puzzles and are found scattered all over the island. There over 650 to find and solve, all of varying difficulty, and some that are extremely difficult, such as the optional puzzles once at the mountain, known as The Challenge.
More of a subtle adventure with some puzzles involved, The Witness is the kind of game I love to play after a hard day working. When it’s raining outside and I am warm, drinking a nice cup of tea with some of my favorite biscuits. But hey, that’s just me. You can play this game any time.
So, there you have PlayStation Plus March 2019 free games.
Now they may not include any PS3 or Vita games, but the quality is there as one of the best free games download months we have had for quite some time:
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – Remastered is almost a required game for any gamer, myself included, who will be playing it after writing this article. If not for the pretty much remade entire adventure, then to experience a true classic in modern form, rather than having to go back and abuse my eyes with ten year old graphics and my hands with old controls.
I can tell you though that I won’t be playing any multiplayer maps; I don’t feel like feeling sorry for myself after getting pwned by some 12 year old kid who is going to shout abuse at me over his headset. I have enough emotional issues in my life right now.
The Witness however, may just be the thing you need after experiencing such abuse while trying to win your first multiplayer match online.
The soothing visual tone and engaging flow of the game will relax you, I guarantee it, and you don’t even need to solve puzzles before you can immediately be drawn in to it’s beautiful and calming world.
Maybe this is the pattern we can expect from now on: one massive AAA title and an extremely popular Indie development. None of us really know what the Sony Gods have planned for our PS Plus destiny, but if losing the PS Vita is what we had to sacrifice to get quality games like this each month, then I am all for it.
No matter what happens, controversy is always abound and I am sure you guys will have something to say, so please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can check the current game charts using the links below:
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Michael is the sole writer and owner at chartxgames.com.
Many thought that his youth (and adulthood) playing video games was a waste of time but here he is writing about them for a living.
Michael has a background in IT and enjoys (apart from video games) building and repairing PC’s, digital artwork (Photoshop, 3DS Max) and has interests in too many subjects to mention.