PS+ Free Titles For June Show No Lack of Faith With Dogfights, Fistfights

By on June 17, 2021

It’s a big month for the next-gen PlayStation system as the Ratchet and Clank series has arrived on the PS5 with Rift Apart, which will understandably be drawing the attention of those early adopters lucky enough to have obtained one of the systems. This would’ve been a big enough distraction from a noteworthy PlayStation Plus freebie regardless of the circumstances, but Rift Apart is also being propped up as one of the first tried-and-true demos for this next console generation’s capabilities, so naturally eyes are more on that than what PS+ has offered here.

While the PS5 title available this month might not be an attention grabber, Sony hasn’t taken the opportunity to ignore their subscribers, as the pair of PS4 titles manage to hit some sweet spots and their PS5 title does offer an intriguing multiplayer experience. It’s still a lower-profile month, but the stuff that’s here certainly isn’t dissatisfying. Let’s take a closer look, but before we do, be sure to click here and Grab a 12-Month Subscription to PlayStation Plus on Amazon.

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Operation: Tango

It’s a familiar scene in both video games and in spy/sci-fi media: there’s a heroic character making their way through an obstacle-riddled area, while another unlocks doors, diverts attention, and gives them helpful directions over a communication device. Usually, the player’s the one charging through levels with a voice in their headspace, but Operation: Tango aims to use this model for co-op gameplay.

While one player continues to pilot an “agent” through physical obstacles, the other over an internet connection serves as the “hacker” that finds solutions to the problems that the in-person entity cannot fix on their own. Billed as an “asymmetric” experience, Operation: Tango will obviously be a more action-oriented experience for one player and a more methodical, communication-based one for the other as they navigate a futuristic first-person environment. Both critics and players have enjoyed the cooperation, though the short length and goofiness of the puzzle design have emerged as negatives.


Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown

Since the mid-‘90s, the longstanding fighting game franchises have maintained certain reputations for what their individual series do well. While some were known for their speed and their brutality, Virtua Fighter was always looked at as the more mature, realistic, and calculated fighting game of the lot, helped by its fluid 3D implementation that made jaws drop all the time in that era. While SEGA had to have been tempted to shake up their fighting franchise and draw in new players, instead they’ve kept up with roughly the same philosophy across all iterations, making minor adjustments seem like overhauls.

Virtua Fighter 5 feels like a preserved memory of those first awe-inspiring times seeing the franchise in action, as the weight and fluidity of combat meshes with the absence of grandiose superpowers into something that feels virtually realistic in the current era. This installment is often regarded as the best and the pinnacle of its measured evolution; however, the Ultimate Showdown version, an “upgrade” from the PS3 generation to PS4 standards lacking in new visual polish, isn’t packing enough of a punch for critics to consider it worthy upgrade. Perhaps the subtlety of its modifications is the reason it’s free at launch.

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Star Wars: Squadrons

Some might feel the same way about Star Wars: Squadrons as others do about Virtua Fighter’s relationship to its older versions, reminding them of those mid-‘90s days spent zipping around in X-Wing and TIE Fighter. A lot has changed when it comes to flight simulators and video game entries from the Star Wars universe, though, and those shifts are on full display in Squadrons, a pseudo-RPG space combat experience which takes place after the climactic events in Return of the Jedi. Amid the cleanup and stabilization effort from the New Republic, straggling members of the Galactic Empire still seek to thwart their plans and construction projects, and alternations in perspective between the two make up the campaign.

Over in the desirable multiplayer part of Squadrons, the player can choose whether they want to be Republic defenders of the effort or Empire pilots aiming to take it all down in massive dogfights. It’s not the only choice, as the player naturally gets to pick which of the fighter craft they’d like to pilot, separated into a quad of classes.  Once behind the cockpit, Squadrons begins to encompass the player in the nostalgia of space combat games of yesteryear, though not without criticism for its campaign/character storytelling and learning curve.

About Thomas Spurlin

Film, home-media, and videogame scribe who digs green tea and walking his dogs.

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