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April 2, 2007
flOw - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
30/3/2007SonySonyThis Game Company
/ Sony Santa Monica
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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At 1080p this game is stunning.
One aspect of the Playstation 3 that we are most excited about is the online service, or Playstation Store. With much downloadable content being made available on a regular basis this will almost certainly become a major selling point for Sony's system and a great way to purchase smaller "non Blu-Ray sized" titles. From free demos, to trailers, to additional game content this has everything, and downloadable games will be a major part. flOw is one of the first games in their store and can be purchased in Australia for only $AU8.45 (or £3.49 in the UK). It's an interesting title - it certainly has elements of a game, but isn't what you would call a 'typical' game in the sense of the word. In fact, Sony classify this games genre as a 'Life Simulation'.

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Watch out for the red lifeform.
As Sony have described the game flOw is a game about piloting an aquatic organism through a surreal biosphere where players consume other organisms, evolve, and dive into the abyss.

With a download size of only 128Mb this isn't the biggest game on the market but it packs a decent punch. After installing the game (which only takes a few moments) you can load it up through the PS3's XMB as per any other game or demo. Upon booting you will see a THX logo, then an introductory screen which last a few seconds before you're into the game. No menus, no cut scenes, no storyline. You are then placed in what looks like a liquid pool, and indeed that's how the game plays. As you move around gobbling up the other life forms your life form grows in size. Should you eat one particular red life form you will be transported (with a rather cool swimming effect) down to the next level. Eat a special blue life form and you can return to the previous level. Red lifeforms will drain your energy, and should you lose too much you will be forced back to the previous level.

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The world looks rather organic.
Certainly the most unique feature of this game is the control mechanism. Hit the analogue sticks and nothing will happen, nor will the D-Pad start your creature moving. In fact the only way you can steer your lifeform through the world is by using the tilt mechanism. Rotate the controller forward and down and your life form will move towards the top of the screen. Rotate it left or right and it will move to the respective side while rotating the controller towards you will see it move to the bottom of the screen. We must say that this is easily the best use of the controller which we have seen to date. You can also get a speed boost by pressing one of the buttons on the controller - a good way to catch up to enemies.

After starting out with one creature you will eventually reach a point where you have unlocked five different ones to control. flOw also supports two players on a single screen which is pretty good fun as you race around to eat up the other lifeforms and become the dominant creature.

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flOw looks simplistic, but it's great.
So where does this game fall down? Well despite being a very budget download I still expected a bit more. There is a multi-player mode, but no split screen or online gameplay. I could easily see this game being played online with dozens of people/creatures through massive levels each trying to gobble the other up. I was also disappointed there wasn't a bit more structure to the game. Perhaps some timed levels, or perhaps some sort of online ranking system could have been implemented. It's hard to criticise a game that costs as little as a Big Mac meal, but that's what reviewers do and there are some areas where this game could have easily been given a few more hours game time. Hopefully a sequel will take this basic groundwork and create a massive living breathing world to explore and compete in online.

Graphics in the game are, as you have probably noticed, quite simplistic. That's not to say they aren't nice to look at - in fact they are quite gorgeous. Just as we still absolutely love Rez on the PS2 despite the simplistic graphics we feel that flOw may represent a unique vision for quite some time on the PS3. Despite the simplicity of these screenshots the game does have some wonderful effects with the game running silky smooth at 1080p.

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Your creature is evolving nicely.
Audio in flOw is what could be described as minimilistic. There's not booming soundtracks, massive explosions or speech. What we do get is some of the most organic THX certified sounds you could ever imagine. It's extremely soothing and very well presented. To be honest though I just though the game needed that little bit more.

flOw is an interesting title. Technically it's a game of sorts, but there are no scores, lives, shooting, story or well, typical game structures. Perhaps that's what makes it so attractive as a download. It's a game that costs next to nothing (c'mon guys you spend more then $8.45 in a trip to McDonald's these days!) and while not game that many regular gamers will associate with it is a great title to draw in a wider audience.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy through the PS3's Playstation Store.
GRAPHICSSimplistic, but 1080p gorgeousness with some great visual effects.
SOUNDYet again, simplistic. But what's there is beautiful, and THX certified!
GAMEPLAYIt's a game, sort of. Actually it's really more of a realaxation device.
VALUEAt $AU8.45 this is great value if you want something a bit offbeat and rather relaxing. Still, you'll unlock everything in a couple of hours.
OVERALLFlOw isn't really a game as such, well it is, but it's so unique that it deserves to be looked at. At a bargain basement price this is worth the purchase.

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