Splash Damage Blog
Currently Hurling Controllers/Mice At... Space, Pew Pew, and Shotgun Heels
Here it is, the latest installment of our regular look at what games we've been playing here at Splash Damage. Somewhat predicably, Mass Effect 2 is the talk of the town/office this week, and it's garning high praise all around.
Less predictably, the other big gaming story this week is after extensive and no doubt harrowing training sessions, our IT magicians Ben 'Randles' Hopkinson and Joe 'Rex-theGrunt' Gibson at long last stand victoriously at the very top of Pixeljunk Shooter (right). Or more specifically, the leaderboard for the first stage of episode 1 after somehow squeezing 311,500 points out of the thing. Watching them play is a bit like watching two brain surgeons go about their business simultaneously - it's all very precise, meticulously coordinated, and probably supremely confusing to onlookers. Our metaphorical hats are off to them.
Now, Mass Effect 2 isn't the only thing in our trays, of course. Read to see what else we managed to get our thumbs on:
Neil 'Exedore' Alphonso (Lead Level Designer):
It was a busy festive period! I started with Assassin’s Creed 2, and found it an enjoyable experience. So much more polished than the first, and with better pacing and variety to boot. I also finally tried Mirror’s Edge, I just couldn’t take any more of the Brink comparisons! It’s certainly a different sort of FPS, but it elicited something out of me that I consider extremely high praise... all the stylized rooftop action gave me the same adrenalized feeling as Jet Set Radio, one of my favourite games ever.
I also managed to dump a significant chunk of time into Too Human; I’ve always had a soft spot for Silicon Knights as they’re based in Ontario and Eternal Darkness was brilliant. It’s not the quickest game to pick up, but in the end it really played to my tastes, and I had a blast. I really liked the giant scale of the environments and the techno-Viking narrative slant. As an exercise in opposites, I also played through LEGO Indiana Jones... though that’s in part because jRAD was so excited about playing the sequel. It was as great as all the other LEGO games; great humour, simple but always fun gameplay, and good replay value.
We ventured into Mad Moxxi’s Underdome for a little arena action in Borderlands, but the rest of my game time has been taken up with completing the main quest in Oblivion and starting on the Dark Brotherhood questline. I’m only a few quests in but quite excited about it, it seems I definitely saved the best for last!
Stephen 'Crispy' Etheridge (Production Tester):
Mass Effect 2 is exactly what I could have hoped for over the original. The world, your character and their story have real continuity, environments are richer and more diverse, the combat has more depth and is more fluid, your character feels more personal with increased customisation in both look and ability, optional exploration is better integrated into the rest of the game with a bigger payoff, the hacking and scanning minigames are more fleshed out, and your choices have far more consequence. It’s an awesome game and an even better sequel.
Mass Effect 2
Jared 'jRAD' Hefty (Lead Tools Programmer):
I’ve been drawn into Mass Effect 2, much like I was by the first one. ME2 is a streamlined version of its predecessor that lets me get on with what I’m playing the game for – story, polished cutscenes, solid combat and the Zen art of harvesting minerals from planets (!!). Plus I can buy fish and make my Personal Assistant feed them while I’m away. How rock star is that? I’ll definitely be savouring this game for a while.
Steve 'badman' Hessel (Community Relations Manager):
So this Mass Effect 2 game, then. I'm not going to lose too many words about it - it's a brilliant, brilliant experience and very highly recommended.
In more historic news, I made the foolish mistake of picking up not one, but two Total War games in Steam's humongous holiday sale. Many nights were cut short because of this and I now find myself anticipating even more. Just one last tuuuuuurrrrrn, I promise.
Richard 'Rahdo' Ham (Creative Director):
I’ve been on a co-op board game spree with my wife recently. Been playing Pandemic (plus the On the Brink expansion, of course), Castle Panic, Red November, and Island of Dr. Necreaux. All very fun in different ways, though I had to come up with my own variants for Castle Panic (minor changes) and Red November (big changes).
Olivier 'Nosebone' Leonardi (Art Director):
I’ve been playing Bayonetta for a while now and it’s a fantastic game! Honestly, Dante, Kratos, the Prince, the Ninja don’t stand a chance against the skin-tight catsuit witch, she’s slapping their bottom one by one!
It sounds like a few people were turned down by the opening sequence but it gets better and better as you progress through the game. Over the top acrobatic gunfights, monumental boss battles, crazy combos and weapon customization all make this game so enjoyable to play. The DMC gameplay is pushed to perfection in this game; it has been reworked in every possible way and it’s clearly about more reward, less frustration. And, anyway what’s wrong with chainsaw blades and shotgun high heels?
Philip 'pipster' Barnell (Production Tester):
I’ve recently discovered Bayonetta and wow, my eyes and other senses have taken a pounding over the last week. It’s like watching the Millenium fireworks all over again, but this time in HD and with half-naked witches all over the shop. I have to say its the best beat-em-up I have ever played and OTT to the max, bring on the sequel!
Matt 'Anti' Lowe (Production Coordinator):
Mass Effect 2!!!! Oh boy, it's good. The universe is way more evolved and engaging whilst there is a considerably bigger selection of interesting and entertaining characters (who all look awesome, especially Grunt!). The 'random planet' side missions from the first game are gone and replaced with small bite sized N7 missions whilst big quest hubs like Ilos and Omega have been added to give you more of the kind of gameplay you got in The Citadel last time out. Best of all is the new combat, which is more involved and thoughtful than previously.
The game's much longer than number one. I’m still missing a squad member and have to make a good half dozen of those I already have loyal to me still, so there is plenty of play to be had. Goodness knows what ME3 will bring but I’m excited already, most of all though ME2 has me hoping for a Mass Effect MMO…..oh how awesome that’d be!
Aside from that I’ve also been out in space playing EVE Online. For me that game mainly involves mining giant rocks floating in space, it’s not that exciting but kind of acts like some sort of relaxing therapy for me, which is nice :)
Flavius 'Flawe' Alecu (Tools Programmer):
I’ve been having fun with the Sega Mega Drive Collection. It’s been great playing old games like Sonic and Streets of Rage on my PS3. So far I’ve spent a lot of time on Fatal Labyrinth (The most cynical RPG ever: http://www.i-mockery.com/shorts/fatal-labyrinth/). I’d never thought I’d play a roguelike on a PS3, but there you go.
What have you been playing? Let us know in the comments!