Splash Damage Blog
Currently Hurling Controllers / Mice At... Pro Evo Saints Batman Unleashed
We're moving into the holiday season full steam ahead and for the first time since, well, the last holiday season, great new releases are flooding the market on a weekly basis. LEGO Batman, Saints Row 2, FIFA 09, and Pro Evo Soccer are out already and with Fable 2, Far Cry 2 and Dead Space, the next round of big budget titles is already waiting in the wings. We'll be doing our best to stay on top of the impending madness and may even have to increase the frequency of Currently Hurling to make sure each wave of new titles gets to be covered here on the blog.
Anyway, this week Senior Environment Artist Mark 'static_mover' Lack makes his blog debut with what's arguably the most concise entry ever, while Huntle salivates over Saints Row 2 and jRAD hates on the "Million Points" levels in the LEGO series. Let the games begin:
Tim 'Huntle' Rose (Production Coordinator):
Saint's Row 2 is the bomb, Yo! For all the accusations of a second rate Grand Theft Auto clone, Saints Row 2 is boatload more fun than GTA IV. Screw the Scorcese-esque gritty realism and story-led world of GTA IV and herald in the Bruckheimer-inspired action-packed blockbuster of Saints Row 2. Character customisation is great - create the biggest freaks you can - I love it! My fat old man transvestite with a comb-over in a boob-tube and pink jogging pants with dodgy make-up is not to be messed with, lest you wish to be ritually executed with a samurai sword. Where the game really shines is when you take to the streets with a friend in coop play. All the missions, activities and diversions are available in coop and it feels as solid as the single player game. With two of you rampaging around the city, the opportunities for role-play and recreating scenes from movies are almost endless...
"OK, so they have four guards at the front of the Casino and two at the rear. We fly our helicopter in, parachute down, enter from the rear and work our way along the casino machines, exiting through the front to our waiting sports cars. Next, let's fight our way along the freeway through SWAT teams and FBI to the airport and escape in my personal jet. Simple. And yes, we will be wearing the HotDog suits!"
While there are some bugs and glitches (thankfully, not as many as the first), Saints Row 2 is still damn fun and a great game in coop. Try it, you might like it!
Ben 'Randles' Hopkinson (IT Manager):
As a Pro Evolution Soccer purist, I’m appalled to say that I’ve been playing FIFA 09 – to be honest, this is as much to do with what’s been lacking in the most recent iterations of PES as it is to the merits of the latest FIFA. FIFA 09 has solved the input delay and buggy graphics that blighted last year’s incarnation and succeeded in mimicking the best bits of PES’s gameplay, while further enhancing the gloss of the package with subtle lighting and transition effects that make it the most immersive football game of all time.
Until recently, Wipeout HD was eating my spare time. It really is fantastic playing wipeout with my own sound track, in 60FPS at full HD and what’s more at £11.99 on PSN, it’s a bargain. A word of warning though – the trophies in this game are seriously difficult to collect.
Then of course as it was Flawe's and my birthday party this week, Singstar and Buzz! made a showing, with the former leaving some lasting memories that will be hard to shake off.
Chris 'peaceful warrior' Sweetman (Audio Director):
Have finally had a chance to sit down with Battlefield: Bad Company and there are things I like and things I don’t. The audio is superlative and probably the best example of audio in an FPS - to me it's easily the best part of the game.
So far I've only played single player, and it's a little samey, to be honest. I’ve played for maybe 4 or 5 hours and so far, it's all deserted Russian village, then a deserted Russian village with a lake, then driving through a deserted Russian village. I like the ability to approach an enemy or objective from a different angle by blowing through a gate or building with C4 or a grenade, which adds a nice bit of variety to the otherwise fairly similar game objectives. Also, please no more 'regroup at smoke.'
As for what's next on my list, roll on Far Cry 2 and Fallout 3!
Mark 'static_mover' Lack (Senior Environment Artist):
I started playing Okami. Wow, I played a game!
Jared 'jRAD' Hefty (Senior Programmer):
I’ve been playing LEGO Batman for the last week or so. It’s a great take on the franchise, giving knowing nods to the films and the animated series. It’s also a worthy update to the previous game, LEGO Indiana Jones (skippable cutscenes are a great improvement.) You get a nice variety of gameplay with the different batsuits and villains, and the settings are unique and well-presented.
I do have a few gripes, however. There are some inexplicable places where the game breaks its own rules. For example, all glass doors can be shattered with the sonic suit, except for one particular glass door, which must be opened by a switch. Grrr. Also, the bonus “Million points” levels, while certainly never the high point of the LEGO series, are truly terrible and unfun. I’m getting annoyed just thinking about them. Those few complaints aside, the game is very enjoyable overall and worth checking out (I just hit 100% complete last night!).
Richard 'Fluffy_gIMp' Jolly (Media Director):
Based on recommendations from the last issue's comments, I too have donned the latex mask with the latest LEGO instalment, LEGO Batman. To date it is the best game Travelers Tales have ever made - its great fun on your own or in co-op and you even get to play as the villains!
On the PC, I'm still going through a retro point-and-click adventure hankering and playing The Black Mirror which originally came out in 2003. Frustratingly, the game departs from the standard of allowing you to pick up whatever you can see, safe in the knowledge you might need it later. Oh no, here you must hit certain triggers before the game allows you to add to your inventory, so you are constantly revisiting areas in the hope you might be permitted to pick up the hammer you already know you need. There are countless other rule breakers, but I still find myself going back, the urge to complete it is just too strong.
Finally finished The World Ends With You on the DS and I really enjoyed it. The story is well written and has some unpredictable twists along the way. I would probably rank it a close second after The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass, another amazing game for the DS. However, I'm now game-less on the DS front, so if anyone has any suggestions, please post them up in the comments.
Steve 'badman' Hessel (Community Relations Manager):
I've just started playing Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and so far it's a mixed bag. It's definitely one of the better Star Wars games featuring a compelling story, great lightsaber / Force gameplay, and solid underlying tech. But unfortunately the whole thing is a bit marred by sometimes frustrating jumping puzzles (due to the camera not reacting quick enough), and a general lack of polish. Still though, the game is very atmospheric and for that reason alone worth playing.
Rich, Joe, Randles, and I have also been rescuing the ladies in style in Castle Crashers, a game I can wholeheartedly recommend. Combine four player coop with character leveling and fun brawling mechanics and you've got what is definitely one of the best Xbox Live Arcade titles yet.
These next few weeks are going to be insane and the list of games I'm looking forward to playing couldn't be longer.
Flavius 'Flawe' Alecu (Programmer):
Recently I got my hands on Battlefield: Bad Company which one or two of my co-workers have been raving about. I'm glad to say I will most definitely spend a lot of time playing this game. I haven't got far into the single player campaign, but so far it's been great fun and I can't imagine it getting worse. I really love the feel of the game!
I've also just recently been introduced to the Metal Gear Solid series. Starting by playing the 4th game might not be the best idea, but I'm able to enjoy the story quite a bit despite that (and that's probably a must when the game fills an entire Blu Ray disc with cut scenes!). The gameplay itself is really fun and I did not expect to enjoy sneaking around this much. Even though the maps are fairly linear, it still gives you a few choices when it comes to selecting a route, which is always fun. And the fact that I can actually complete a level by not shooting anyone (and not have to play the map 40 times) is just great.
What have you been playing? Let us know in the comments!