[originally posted at Total PlayStation]
Sony’s “Welcome Back Program” is finally available after much ballyhoo and anticipation. We previously detailed exactly what is available in the various regions of the world, but that might not be enough information for some gamers to make a decision on what games to claim. This guide will attempt to help readers make an informed decision about what to choose, because free video games are Serious Business.
Don’t forget, you are able to select two PlayStation 3 games and two PlayStation Portable games from the options in your region. You can claim your two PSP games even if you do not own a PSP, so why not claim them? Who knows, you might own a PSP (or the upcoming NGP) someday, and free games are free games. If you go this route, note that all you have to do is complete the transaction for your free PSP games. You do not have to download them and store them on your PS3 hard drive or whatever, wasting precious space. You can always re-download the PSP games in the future from your download history on PSN.
The deadline to claim your free games is July 3.
One last thing. If at any time you claim your “Welcome Back Free Game” and then the item disappears from the PlayStation Store before you are able to pick your game (due to a timeout error or other issue), do not panic. From the XMB, go to PlayStation Network > Account Management > Transaction Management > Services List > SCEA Promotions to complete the process.
Without further ado, here is the rundown of what American gamers can choose from.
PLAYSTATION 3 GAMES
Dead Nation – 1424 MB download (TPS review)
This is a top-down zombie shooter from Housemarque, the same developers of Super Stardust HD, also available in the Welcome Back Program. Like SSHD, it is a PSN title, not a “full” disc game like inFAMOUS and LittleBigPlanet. Dead Nation features two-player cooperative gameplay, both local and online, including voice chat. It was reviewed well, including by TPS, and is recommended if you like zombies and cooperative multiplayer.
inFAMOUS – 7056 MB download (TPS review)
inFAMOUS is a third-person superhero action game from Sucker Punch, the creators of the Sly Cooper games on PlayStation 2. inFAMOUS received universally great reviews, including from TPS, and is generally regarded to be one of the best examples of a superhero video game, despite not being based on a pre-existing property. Gameplay consists of exploring a large open-world environment and completing story and side missions, with lots of melee and ranged combat utilizing a variety of electricity-based superpowers. There is also plenty of replay value, as you have to play the game at least twice to get all the trophies. And of course, the sequel is coming out this week. Highly recommended if you like superheroes, open-world games, and third-person shooters.
LittleBigPlanet – 2039 MB download (TPS review)
LittleBigPlanet is a “2.5D” platformer, with support for up to four simultaneous players with any combination of local and online players. Its biggest draw is the included creator tools and online sharing community, which allow players to create their own levels and post them online for everyone else to enjoy. There are literally millions (plural) of user-created levels to choose from. Despite all this, LBP is easily trumped by its sequel, LittleBigPlanet 2, which introduces many new welcome features and includes backwards-compatibility for all LBP1 content and levels. LBP1 is recommended if you really want it, but you’re honestly better off buying LBP2 if you’re at all interested in the concept of endless multiplayer platforming.
Super Stardust HD – 277 MB download (TPS review)
Super Stardust HD, the second offering from Housemarque in the Welcome Back Program, is another top-down shooter in the vein of classic games like Asteroids and Robotron: 2084, except, you know, with high-definition graphics and all that modern jazz. SSHD was one of the original PSN “must-own” titles way back in the early days of the PS3’s life, and is sometimes compared to Geometry Wars. This is a great game if you want to scratch that arcade shooter itch. Unfortunately, a large amount of additional content in the game is only available via purchased DLC, none of which is included with this free game. It will cost you a total of $10 if you want to purchase all the DLC content, which includes endless mode, survival mode, split-screen co-op and deathmatch modes, and impact mode. Regular non-split-screen co-op is included with the base game. SSHD is still highly recommended if you like arcade shooters and flashy visuals.
WipEout HD + Fury – 1040 MB download for WipEout HD, 738 MB download for Fury (TPS review)
This free game includes both the WipEout HD base game and its Fury expansion pack. WipEout HD is a futuristic racer with weapons; vaguely similar in style and pace to F-Zero. The combined game and expansion include a total of 16 tracks, several different game modes, and a kicking electronic soundtrack. WipEout HD is a visual spectacle and an absolute treat to view on a high-definition display, and is a fantastic racing game as well. Of course, racing against just AI gets old, so thankfully there is two-player local split-screen and eight-player online multiplayer with voice chat. WipEout HD is highly recommended if you like racing games in the slightest. However, it is an easy game to recommend avoiding if you do not like racing games, especially with its extremely high difficulty level.
PLAYSTATION PORTABLE GAMES
Killzone: Liberation – 510 MB download (TPS review)
Killzone: Liberation is a third-person shooter in the popular Killzone series. Chronologically, it falls between the original Killzone and its PS3 sequel, Killzone 2. Liberation was well-received and is considered to be a worthy entry in the series, but watch out for the high difficulty level. The game also features ad-hoc and infrastructure multiplayer, though it might be difficult to actually find other people to play with nowadays. Recommended, especially if you like the other Killzone games.
LittleBigPlanet (PSP) – 1329 MB download
This is the PSP version of the PS3 game, minus any of the multiplayer. You can still create, share and download user-created levels, but the whole experience kind of feels a little empty without anyone to share it with. Despite this, it is a competent platformer with its own unique story mode, and can be recommended to fans who love the meatier PS3 games.
ModNation Racers (PSP) – 1083 MB download (TPS review)
Another PSP version of a PS3 game, though the PS3 version isn’t available in the Welcome Back program. ModNation Racers is a cart racing game, whose main appeal is the ability to create, customize and share race courses, avatars and vehicles in a manner not too dissimilar from LittleBigPlanet. While the creation and sharing is available on the PSP, the game suffers from technical and mechanical issues that hinder the experience. You can read more of the details in our review, but this PSP game is sadly not recommended, even for free.
Pursuit Force – 668 MB download (TPS review)
Pursuit Force is basically a series of high-speed action movie chases on land and water, with lots of shooting, driving, and shooting while driving. While there’s not a whole lot of variety, the game is solidly designed and just plain fun. Recommended.
In Europe, Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty is available instead of Super Stardust HD. The PSP games are identical.
Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty – 2388 MB download (TPS review)
Quest for Booty is a sequel to Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction and precedes Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. Quest for Booty is a short affair, clocking in at about four hours long, and is more heavily weighted to platforming than gadget gunplay. Recommended if you enjoy the R&C series, though it’s considered to be slightly inferior to the other entries in the series.
If you have any other nagging questions about the Welcome Back Program and your free games, be sure to check out the comprehensive FAQ at the PlayStation Blog.