I’m going to sum up this review of Tetris for the PS3 succinctly: it’s Tetris, it’s in HD, and the Game Boy version has better tunes. If that’s enough for $9.99, then you’ll have a solid version of Tetris for your 50” TV.
But you, my friend, are connoisseurs of the classical puzzle game from one Mr. Alexey Pajitnov. You want to know more? Then let’s dive right in the very familiar and ubiquitous world of Tetris. Most people would jump right into the single-player Marathon mode, in which the core gameplay is as solid as ever. The DualShock controller has that particularly nice D-pad, so very rarely will you make the silly miss-drops that other console controllers seem to struggle with. Really, it’s a more than fine representation of basic Tetris. If you want it, you got it.
When done with Marathon, Variant modes keep things fresh. Twelve in all, they vary from Treadmill, in which every column shifts to the right with each drop, to Laser, in which a line drops slowly from the top of the stage with each drop, and players have to eradicate 40 lines for completion. Most of these are fairly easy, offering little in initial challenge, but by cranking up the speed and working toward a high score, hardcore puzzle gamers will find a lot to like.
Multiplayer is where many will spend their time with Tetris. With up to six players online, and four players offline, there’s a lot to do. Unfortunately, none of the Variant modes can be played online. I don’t quite understand how EA Mobile let this happen. While these modes offer some of the more interesting versions of Tetris, make sure you have a couple DualShock3s around. However, once online, the classic Timed Battle is as competitive and malicious as ever, with matches lasting for only a few minutes. It’s the perfect pick-up and play mode, and probably the best element of the game.
Tetris for the PS3 does have three exclusive modes. Battle mode isn’t really that different from other item-based versus modes in previous versions of Tetris, however this one does incorporate some interesting power-ups like a freezing ice ability that stalls opponents and a dark mode that only lets opponents see two columns of their play field. Team Battle is much more complex, almost to the point of being needlessly so. In a 2v2 puzzle battler, players can alternate between offensive and defensive attacks with triangle. It’s really easy to mix these up with the “hold” button for holding a tetromino, a frustration that cost me many of a match. Finally, Shared mode is a co-op version of Marathon where two playing fields intersect in two columns, like a Venn diagram, and the two players have to work together to complete rows. It is surprisingly fun, although infuriating when your partner screws up.
Outside of the core game modes, there’s not too much to say. The in-game stat tracker is powerful, but only major Tetris fans will care. The game looks nice, although fairly bare bones, with very little in the way of screen customization. Colored blocks fall down a black and blue grid, and while the HD, 1080p sheen is appreciated, this is Tetris. It doesn’t need to look amazing, especially since one of the best versions of Tetris came out for the Game Boy. Audio is one area that left me a little disappointed. All the familiar Tetris tracks are here, but they are decidedly modern takes on the music. Whereas previous Tetris games used the music as a reward for players as they progress through faster speeds, here it is mostly an afterthought on the whole
Ultimately, you’re going to have to ask yourself if Tetris for the PS3 is worth the $9.99. It’s a perfectly playable version of the game, and it looks nice. However, there’s nothing really special about it. It’s Tetris. It’s on the PS3. It’s kinda hard to get too excited about that.