Wednesday, 29 November 2017 09:04

REVIEW: Play Link - Hidden Agenda, SingStar Celebration, Knowledge is Power (Playstation 4)

Written by Brett Hale
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Since Sony launched their Playstation 4 console in 2013 they've had the PS4 camera which worked much like Microsoft’s Kinect camera but was never really supported by many games on the PS4. Since then they brought out PSVR which i’m still undecided with the whole VR gaming, but something Sony has created that I think very highly of is their most recent great idea of PS4’s Play Link.

What is Play Link? It's something only available on the Playstation 4, and doesn’t require a subscription. What Play Link means is that if a game is apart of the Play Link series, the PS4 controller is only used to access the game and some games main menus, other than that you don’t use a PS4 controller. What you'll use instead is a smartphone, either an Apple or Android device, tablets can also be used.

The first game to release as a Play Link game was That’s You! It was a free Playstation Plus title, and acted as a game show to play with others. It was a good game, but the latest games are even better! Each Play Link game has it’s very own app, whatever the game is titled is what the app will be called so don’t try searching the app stores for a Play Link App.

The guy’s at Sony were nice enough to give MKAU Gaming Australia a copy of each Singstar Celebration, Knowledge is Power and Hidden Agenda, my review will cover all three games.

2017 11 29 00072

Singstar Celebration

I’m a bigtime player of Rock Band 4, and while I never sing I do like to play guitar but there is something about Singstar that has me thinking that i'm the best singer ever to have sang a song but i’m sure my neighbors would think differently. I reviewed the first Singstar game to release onto the PS4 back in 2014 and in my time playing I purchased a number of DLC songs, but now there's a new Singstar game on the block. Good news for gamers who purchased songs for the first game will be happy to know that Singstar Celebration will put all DLC songs you own into its library as long as there still on your HDD. If not, just download them all again and you’ll have many of your favorites to sing it out to. Singstar Celebration comes with 30 songs, artists include Adele, ABBA, Blondie, SIA, U2, Roxette, King’s of Leon and Meghan Trainor. Singstar can be played with 2 - 3 USB mic’s depending on how many USB ports you have free, but the best way is wireless with your smartphone or tablet. I will note, playing Singstar with a tablet feels weird AF, a phone fits in your hand and you can move around far more easily.

Singstar Celebration can be played with 1 - 8 players max, and if you’re an owner of the PS4 camera you can record clips of you and your friends singing like pop stars till your voice has gone and you can no longer sing. New players who don’t have any pre-existing DLC songs purchased fear not, there is the 30 songs that come with the game as well as the 776 DLC songs on the Singstar store. There are a couple of free demo songs as well, but they aren't full songs so it's rather pointless to downloading them.

Singstar Celebration is a fun game to play sober or at a party having a few drinks. There isn't a difficulty settings when playing, it’s just how good your voice is and that's it. Missing too many notes won’t have you kicked out, and creating a playlist to do multiple songs one after the other is also an option. When playing any song you can play the normal length or the short versions. Normal is the entire song and didn’t see the point of ever wanting to do the short song. As for game modes there is solo, which is for 1 player, than there is battle which requires at least 2 players and a max of 8 players. You’ll sing the entire song and see who does it better. Battle Duet is a 2 player mode where you’ll have your own sections of the songs to sing and see who comes out the winner. After finishing a song you’ll be shown your score and stats along with your place on that songs leaderboard, if you sing good enough that is.

All songs include the songs music video to play in the background. My only issue with this is that the resolution for the video clips is rather low and poor looking, unlike the rest of the game which is crystal clear.

So if you own a smartphone/tablet and love to sing or just want to pretend you can Singstar Celebration is worth the $24.

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0

2017 11 29 00071

Knowledge is Power

Love watching game shows on television like Family Feud or The Price is Right? Ever dreamed of going on one? Well that dream can become sort of true in video game form. Knowledge is Power is a fun game show that will need at least 2 - 6 players. You’ll play 11 rounds, and the 12th is the final round to decide the winner and there can be only one.

Just like any other Play Link game you'll need the app installed onto your smartphone or tablet. Prior to starting a new game you’ll need to input your real name or something made up. it doesn't matter. You’ll then need to pick one of many characters from a wizard, cowgirl even a hotdog man and then take a selfie with your device's camera, and then once everyone's ready the game show begins.

Who remembers that classic Sony gameshow BUZZ? I do... while this isn’t the exact same, it is similar minus the wireless buzzers now being replaced with mobile devices. The game moves along quickly, but doesn’t cut itself short. You’ll play a variety of categories, and sorts of rounds from selecting 1 of 4 doors to mix and match as well as swipe left or right kind of games. Over the span of the 12 rounds you’ll see categories of games, people, and just general knowledge. Some things you’ll know a lot about, others maybe not so much. Now, game shows are said to be all fun and games, but pfft to that, anything that can get you ahead of the rest can’t hurt right? Knowledge is Power has what are called power picks and power plays.

Power picks can cancel others choices in the round allowing you to make sure your choice is the one that's picked. Power plays on the other hand are disadvantages to other players. Everyone gets a chance to pick for others from green goo that covers answers, to bombs that if touch only delays you to be able to answer the quickest. My favorite to pick for others was the freeze option, anyone who gets stuck with freeze needs to tap the answer they want a number of times to crack the ice to finally tap the answer. The point of Knowledge is Power is to obviously be the winner, but to win you’ll need to answer correctly, and the quickest you answer the more chance you’ll earn more points because when it comes to the 12th round the finale, low point earners get a pretty unfair placement on the pyramid.

What makes Knowledge is Power stand out is the visual design. It's a very colourful game, it's fun and in the process you’ll learn a thing or two. It’s a great game for adults, though younger kids might have some trouble with knowing some of the categories. You are able to help them if they need it because it's all about having a fun time.

Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2017 11 29 00070

Hidden Agenda

Now I left the best Play Link game out of the three till last. Hidden Agenda is a crime solving game, you’ll play as mostly a female cop/detective (Becky) as well as another female character in the game (Felicity). Both are strong characters in the game, the character model and voice for Becky is someone who was once in Supernatural the tv show, and currently in Arrow as the Black Canary that being Katie Cassidy.

Hidden Agenda is anything but a standard game, it's more like a movie or a tv show. It’s broken into 3 parts and you need to simply watch and make choices. The story has it’s focus on The Trapper Killer and all movement is done by the game itself, however all choices you or your friends make will have consequences. Playing can be done in two ways, Story which can be played alone or with friends max of 6 players. Then there's a competitive mode which is the same game as story but with added changes to make it more interesting. this has a 2 player minimum and 6 players max.

I played the story mode by myself for the first time, just so I could get a single player perspective, and playing alone was a good experience. You don’t need others to play with when it comes to Hidden Agenda, you will however need either a tablet or a smartphone and download the games app on all devices you want to play on to be able to play the game. Once launching the game all other controls from gameplay to the menus is done by smart phone/tablet. Before starting a game you’ll need to input your name, real or made up, then select one of 6 colours that will help with whose cursor is on screen. Once starting a game, unless you have friend join prior to the start no one else can join until the game is finished.

Now it’s understandable that being a game that has players using smartphone and tablets that the game won’t be all that long. SingStar Celebrations is different from Hidden Agenda and Knowledge is Power for the fact it's singing songs, Knowledge is Power is short but being a game show it fits. What I didn’t know was how it would work playing Hidden Agenda. Turns out, my single player playthrough was clocked in at almost 2 hours, so it's short though your time playing it doesn’t feel cut short. The time it takes to play will be shorter or maybe longer depending the final outcome to the game, but don’t expect it to go for much longer that 2 hours max.

So playing the story mode is good, but it gets even better when playing with friends in competitive mode. There are things in competitive mode which are absent from the story mode and i'll fill you in all about that stuff. When playing in a competitive environment you’ll still need to work together as choices that are made need to have a majority vote or the game won’t move on. In a moment where you could possibly shoot someone, if you're the only one to vote to shoot and no one else does then you get out voted because majority rules. Whilst playing, take over cards can be earnt and these can help you on the choice you'd like to make, but a take over card can be trumped if someone uses a takeover card over someone else's. The stand out difference when it comes to story mode to competitive, is how hidden agendas plays out in the competitive mode. I assumed that this would be given to one person and would play out the entire game, but I was mistaken. Instead, as the game goes on you’ll be possibly given a hidden agenda but sometimes no one will be given one so it's a matter of seeing how people select their choices. You can even get a hidden agenda more the once, but this will come down to how many people are playing. The hidden agendas side of the game will earn you points if you happen to make your hidden agenda a reality, and if others guess correctly to who had a hidden agenda then they’ll earn points as well. There is one last agenda, and that's the endgame agenda but i'll leave that one as a surprise.

Now, no matter if you're playing either mode, the phone app isn’t just to pick choices and to find clues, it also works as your log book. You’ll see in real time ripple events, character information and helpful tips on how to play the game.

So yes, there are many endings to the game, so replaying the game is a must if you want to get all those trophies. When playing with others you’ll need to play smart, find your inner poker face because you’ll need it to succeed whilst playing competitively. Quick time events and even finding clues are timed, so you need to think quick before time runs out.

Gameplay ran smooth, and on a visual point it was pretty damn realistic, but there were parts that looked unpleasant. Fun fact, the guys who made Hidden Agenda also made Until Dawn and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood and i’m not going to lie, from the second I started I loved the game, it was just a shame it was short but needless to say I really hope Sony continues to make games for their Play Link genre.

I will state, to connect your devices to your PS4 console both need to be running on the same network.

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0

Now, do I believe Play Link is the future of gaming? That’s an easy no. But there is nothing wrong with giving us the choice to play games in a different manner.

Additional Info

  • Review Score: Overall: 4.5 / 5.0
  • Platform: PS4
  • Genre: Indie, Action, Misc