Ahh, the PlayStation Network. What is it, exactly? Well, PSN is your one-stop shop for all the entertainment Sony can offer you—video games, movies, TV shows, music… you name it! Whether you want to download Call of Duty, or simply watch the latest episode of Breaking Bad, Sony’s got you covered. And don’t forget: the PlayStation Network is free to use! Unlike its competitors – mainly Microsoft and its Xbox Live service – Sony doesn’t charge you a penny for online gaming or access to the best applications. It’s completely free, and that’s one of the best parts.
However, with so much content to choose from, one can easily become overwhelmed—especially if you’re a newcomer to PSN, or just bought a PlayStation 3 or PS Vita for the first time. That’s exactly why we’ve crafted this PSN Holiday Guide for you. Let the PlayStation experts here at PSU show you around PSN; it would be our pleasure.
Launched in 2007, Super Stardust HD still stands as one of the best PSN games on the market. If you just got your PS3 and want to show it off on your new HD/3D TV, this is the game for you. With graphics so crisp and clean, a gorgeously smooth frame rate, and really fun gameplay to boot, you can’t go wrong. As addictive as it is fun, you’ll find yourself coming back for more.
There’s something for everyone here. The PixelJunk series has grown with PSN from the beginning until now. Each game is completely different from the last, but that’s okay because for the most part, they’re all fantastic in their own way. You can play PixelJunk Racers: a frantic casual/family-friendly competitive racing party game that will offer you hours of fun. Or, if you’re approaching the series from a hardcore gamer’s perspective, try out PixelJunk Shooter or Sidescroller, both games that’ll put your skills to the test. However, your safest bet may be PixelJunk Monsters—arguably the most engaging tower defense game on PSN.
Proclaimed to be one of the best indie games of all time, Journey is as beautiful as it is simple. You don’t do much more other than jump and run across a vast desert, however, words don’t do this game justice. You need to experience it for yourself. Like the title implies: it’s all about the journey through the game. If you’re in the mood for an artistic, beautiful and fresh experience, pick up Journey. It only lasts a few hours, but it’s worth every penny.
Winner of Spike’s VGA Game of the Year 2012, The Walking Dead is not to be overlooked. A nearly perfect blend of storytelling and gameplay, The Walking Dead is surely one of the greatest games on PSN. At just $4.99 a pop or $19.99 for the whole season (five episodes), you’ll definitely get your money’s worth with this one. Play it alone, with a friend, or even a significant other, because this one plays much like a TV show. A fantastic TV show. Click here to learn more about The Walking Dead.
Another game that’ll make your pixels pop, WipEout HD/Fury is all about the face-melting sense of speed paired with superb 1080p visuals and a silky smooth frame rate (locked at 60 FPS). This futuristic racer is still played online today by PS3 and Vita gamers alike, but can also be played in split-screen! That means that you and a friend can go head-to-head against each other in PSN’s most popular racer. And did I forget to mention that the soundtrack is fantastic?
If you’re a new PS3 owner, you probably need to build your game collection, right? Well how about an “Instant Game Collection”? If you haven’t heard of PlayStation Plus, it’s Sony’s subscription service to PSN that offers you over a dozen games – on constant rotation – to call your own! So long as you have a subscription to the service, you can start collecting great full PS3 games, PSN games, discounts, themes, avatars, etc… PS Plus is tremendous value for anyone with a PS3. At only $49.99 a year, this has turned into one of the strongest pillars of PSN.
Who doesn’t love Netflix? The convenience and simplicity of streaming quality TV shows and movies straight to your living room in HD! Sure, it doesn’t have everything you’d want, but the selection is rather vast. With new movies/shows added every few days, you’re sure to find something you’ll love to watch. Also, PS3 is actually the leading home console for Netflix users, beating out the Wii and Xbox 360! Once you use it, you’ll see why; the slick interface and quick, clean menus make for a simple user-friendly service your whole family will use. Note: different regions/territories offer different content, so make sure to do your research about Netflix in your respective country.
Life with PlayStation
Originally named “Folding@Home,” this application allowed Stanford University to solve super complex protein folding equations to help further biomedical research by “donating” unused PS3 processing power. Sounds crazy, but Life with PlayStation helped advance research for diseases like Huntington's disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and more. It doesn’t do that anymore (as of November 2012), but it’s still a cool app to have. It’s a free app that can act as a screensaver, displaying global news, weather and more. Check it out for yourself. After all, it’s totally free!
Want to rent a movie, but don’t want to leave the house? Video Unlimited is exactly what you’re looking for. Whether you want to purchase or just rent a new release (or older titles), Video Unlimited has got you covered. With an extensive library, you’ll almost surely find what you’re looking for. It does TV shows, too, so you’ll be able to download your favorite series in high definition. Prices may vary.
This is Sony’s official YouTube application for PS3. This one doesn’t need much of an explanation, but you should know that it’s been built ground-up for use with your DualShock 3 controller. It works great, and you can log into your YouTube account using it. It’s a free download, and you know you’ll use it at some point. It’s YouTube.
Amazon Instant Video
Amazon Instant Video is a great way to get brand new movies or TV shows streamed directly to your living room. With an astounding collection of movies and shows (more than iTunes), you’ll surely find what you’re looking for. Best Part? You use your Amazon account to pay as you go. Amazon Prime members will also have access to some content for free.
What some call a suitable alternative for cable TV, at $8 a month, it’s hard to argue that Hulu Plus is anything but. Giving users streaming access to hundreds of TV shows, new and old alike, Hulu is an affordable option—if it offers the TV shows you want to watch, that is. You can watch full seasons of your favorite show, or check some critically acclaimed movies that Hulu has to offer. Check here to see if Hulu offers what you’re looking for.
So, make sure to bundle up with friends and family this holiday season and make use of this PlayStation Network guide—no matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong. Happy Holidays!