The PlayStation Plus free titles and Xbox Live Games with Gold have been announced for February 2018. It’s time to pit the collections against each other to see which console comes out on top with January’s offerings. Welcome to PS Plus vs Games with Gold!
Let’s take a look at the contestants. First up, the PS Plus Instant Game Collection.
- Knack (PS4)
- Rime (PS4)
- Starblood Arena (PSVR)
- Spelunker HD (PS3)
- Mugen Souls Z (PS3)
- Exiles End (Vita)
- Grand Kingdom (PS4, Vita)
Next, here are the Xbox Games with Gold that you can grab on Microsoft’s platform next month.
- Shadow Warrior (Xbox One)
- Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India (Xbox One)
- Split/Second (Xbox 360, Xbox One w/ backwards compatibility)
- Crazy Taxi (Xbox 360, Xbox One w/ backwards compatibility)
PS Plus Free Games February 2018
Let’s take Starblood Arena out of the equation for a moment. While it’s an absolutely fantastic VR title, it entered the PS Plus Instant Game Collection in January. Starblood Arena will continue to be available through March 6, at which time we’re likely to get another PSVR title added to the collection. Watch out Games with Gold, as PSVR owners get that extra Plus kick in March.
Looking strictly at the PS4, we’ve got Knack and Rime. PS4 owners have been clamoring for Knack to be a Plus title for years, and it was a little surprising that it never made the cut around the time of Knack 2‘s release. The best part about Knack being in the Instant Game Collection is that it gives Knack 2 a chance to shine, with the potential for more players to want to pick up the sequel. Knack 2 is a better game than the first in every way, though the first Knack does provide a fun and entertaining entry point, and for free? Well you can’t beat that.
Next up is Rime, an incredible and emotional adventure that got nominated for multiple game of the year awards. It had me in tears multiple times during the story. I figure that Sony added it because the PS Plus free games lineup often has people in tears anyway, so why not let it be the emotional content of the game that makes them cry? While I can see this one not being everyone’s cup of sliced bread, I personally think it’s a great addition as one of the more high profile indie games on the platform. It’s well worth a look if you have even a fleeting interest.
Grand Kingdom is a Vita game, but with crossbuy on PS4 it becomes a bonus PS4 title for the month. I can see this one being fun for some, but it certainly won’t be the highlight of the month. It’s a tactical JRPG with extremely unique combat and exploration systems, and while a niche title, most of the comments surrounding it have been exceptionally positive. The other Vita title is Exiles End, which didn’t review all that well. There is a PS4 version available, but the PS Blog didn’t indicate that PS4 owners would be getting it, so this one might just be for the waning PS Vita owners that still pick up the free Plus games.
On PS3, we’ve got Spelunker HD and Mugen Souls Z. Spelunker HD (not to be confused with Spelunky), is a retro remake of the old Spelunker game. It received less than positive reviews and was criticized for bad game design overall. Mugen Souls Z (not to be confused with Dragon Ball FighterZ, I know the Zs are confusing) was panned and heavily criticized for its perverseness and just being an overall terrible game. Given these two throwaways, I have to wonder how many people are even redeeming the PS3-only free game anymore now that the PS4 has been out for so long.
Xbox Live Games with Gold February 2018
Games with Gold gets Shadow Warrior, an over-the-top gory first-person hack and slash shooter. It’s the type of game that flies just under the radar, so most people don’t give it the time of day, but those that do absolutely love it. Our review compared it to the likes of Bulletstorm and Painkiller, two other goofy games that are just about killing as many things as you can in crazy and bloody ways. This may not be the game that anyone wanted, but it’s a game that they’ll enjoy anyway.
Second up for Xbox One is Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India. The Chronicles series was three smaller Assassin’s Creed games featuring side scrolling gameplay and unique stories from multiple eras and geographical locations. India is the second game in the trilogy, all three of which received mixed reviews. It seems odd not to put the full Trilogy Pack up for grabs, but I suppose the idea is to get players to buy the other two separately. This is a game that I wouldn’t mind playing if I got it for free, but haven’t really had interest in otherwise, so it ends up being a nice consolation prize at best.
Finally, the Xbox 360 titles that are backwards compatible and will play on Xbox One are Split/Second and Crazy Taxi. Both reviewed well and are great games, even if Crazy Taxi is an old HD remaster of an even older game. Racing games aren’t everyone’s sliced banana, so Split/Second will have a particular audience. Crazy Taxi is likely to appeal to more people with its arcadey gameplay, but again, these are more acceptable consolation prizes than games that anyone was really clamoring for.
Which Lineup is Better?
Sony finally gets a player requested title and one of the best indie adventures of last year. The Vita crossbuy game is a unique one that some will surely enjoy, but there’s a reason it’s at the bottom of the list and not a headliner. The rest of the games fill out the expected “six games per month” that Plus subscribers have come to expect, but I’d be really curious to know how many of the Vita and PS3 only games are actually getting redeemed and played. Might be time for Sony to focus attention entirely on PS4 releases. On the Microsoft side, they’ve got some fun games that aren’t necessarily high-profile, but that people will find fun regardless.
Since we’re removing Starblood Arena from the competition this month, PS4 really only has two games going for it. One is a long requested title though, which is a win that shows that Sony (eventually) listened to their subscribers. And Rime is just incredible. It gets points for every tear I cried, which is apparently nine tears if we go by my review score. On the other hand, Xbox One owners get a chance to jump into four games that may have flown under their radar, but that they are almost guaranteed to enjoy to some extent. It’s a tough call this month but–
Yes, Knack, can I help you? (whispers)
Ladies and Gentlemen, between Sony and Microsoft this month, the winner? Neither. The real winner is Knack, because Knack gets to share his love with all of you, and maybe he’ll finally get the appreciation and love he deserves (along with those sweet, sweet sales on Knack 2). Also Knack is standing right behind me and I’d rather not get punched by a 12-foot tall tower of floating knick-knacks. Hey! Knick-knacks. Heh, I get it.
Wondering how March’s lineups will fare next to one another? Come back next month when we pit the newly announced lineups against one another in PS Plus vs Games with Gold. Do you agree with our verdict? Which lineup do you think is better?