Currently Hurling Controllers / Mice At … Borders and Lands

November 5, 2009

Quick, grab your eyeballs and get ready for the latest installment of Currently Hurling, our semi-regular look at what games we’re playing here at Splash Damage. If you like games and water-based metaphors, you’ll be happy to know that it’s now high tide for new releases, and Borderlands, Forza Motorsport 3, Torchlight, GTA4: The Ballad of Gay Tony are more than happy to prove the point. Dragon Age, Modern Warfare 2, Assassin’s Creed 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and New Super Mario Bros Wii will all be here before month’s end, so there’s very little prospective rest for thumbs everywhere.

In more immediate news, Art Director Olivier ‘nosebone’ Leonardi is joining the Controllers/Mice crowd for the first time ever this week – please make him feel welcome. Also, if you’re a fan of 87 bazillion guns, this update should leave you fairly satisfied. Words:

Olivier ‘nosebone’ Leonardi (Art Director):
GTA The Balled of Gay Tony: what an amazing DLC! It adds so much more content to an already very rich game, and I found everything even better than in The Lost And Damned: Better developed characters, better story, missions that are utterly fun and even more borderline than before!

I was really missing the skydiving option from San Andreas and here it is with tons of challenges – the missions involving parachutes are so good! Each time I play a new GTA I’m amazed by the amount of writing involved, not just in the main story dialogue but also all the TV ads, TV shows, radio DJs, radio ads, posters, websites, blogs, and so on. I haven’t played any other game were you can sit in a car and listen to a talk radio for 20mn because the content is truly hilarious. KUDOS!

EYEPET: If you have kids and own a PlayStation Eye, you’ve got to play Eyepet. It’s involving, very clever and very easy to set up. You sing, you draw, you move, you grow flowers, you take pictures and play bowling. On top of all that, its furry creature interacts with you; for example, you draw a car or a plane and it will transform it into a 3d object you can then control, like magic! My kids love it. 🙂

And last but not least, I’ve been stoked by a small Austrian company snowboard game called STOKED! on the Xbox 360. 5 huuuuuge mountains and plenty of challenges. The snow rendering is pretty neat and it’s using realtime weather simulation with snow packing as it falls which can change the environments completely. It’s all about big mountain riding – there are no chairlifts here, you drop from choppers and ride endless snowfields. The experience is amazingly true to the real thing. I’ve read that they’re just about to release STOKED! Big Air Edition, with a new renderer and better particle effects. I’m gonna buy this immediately. Also, yes, I’m an addict.

Richard ‘Fluffy_gIMp’ Jolly (Media Director):
Wow I think Olivier has summed up Gay Tony for me already. Yep it’s great fun, I really enjoyed the characterisation and of course the parachutes. I too was a big fan of San Andreas, here’s hoping Rockstar attempt a game of this size again for the next GTA :).

As for what I’m looking forward to, Dragon Age is out tomorrow and I’ve got a hankering for a classic RPG, so that should fit the bill nicely.

Parachutes, helicopters, gunfights, explosions, and a Tony: Grand Theft Auto 4: The Ballad of Gay Tony has it all.

Neil ‘exedore’ Alphonso (Lead Level Designer):
Been largely the usual suspects of late, but the new entry in to the fray has been Borderlands. Been playing quite a lot of it in co-op on the 360, enough to have a level 25 Siren, a level 24 Hunter, a level 21 Siren, a level 11 Berserker, and a level 7 Soldier. Phew! I bought the game in large part to help show support for a lot of my former co-workers from my Dallas days who are at Gearbox now, but I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. Now if we could just figure out how to get Jamie’s driver’s license suspended, he’s a menace at the wheel!

Dave ‘ducks’ Johnston (Senior Level Designer):
Having now obtained an XBOX 360 Elite of my very own, I’ve been banging my head against the wall playing the Hard levels of Trials HD… but fortunately not as much as the poor bloke on the bike. Great, addictive fun.

Edward ‘BongoBoy’ Stern (Lead Writer):
Even if you have no particular interest in the imminent Dragon Age, you really should check out the remarkable Dragon Age Journeys, a flash game promoting, trailing, explicating, and educating us in the ways of the full game. It’s a 2D flash game, it introduces the races, classes and unlock trees, has a functional hex-based (that’s hexagonal map tiles, not voodoo-hoodoo spellcraft, although it does have that too if you’re a Mage) combat system. Complete the quests and unlock seeeekrit stuff in the full game. And it’s really really good! It’s a proper little game in its own damn right, and I had to keep reminding myself that it was a promo flash game, and I was getting all furrowed-brow tactical over a website.

Also dipping into Borderlands, loving the bande dessinée art style, and starting to comprehend the workings of the game. Shootybang!

Jamie ‘Fishbus’ Manson (Level Designer):
Oh, so about this Borderlands thing.

Basically, guns guns guns with guns attachments of other guns. It’s hard to get past it, but it’s really what it all boils down to, but I love this thing! I love Borderlands; I’m a massive sap for uniquely generated content which draws from random model parts as well as stats. Every weapon is your unique baby!

I’m going through my first play-through with friends here at SD; we’re keeping a strict regime of leaving no man behind! We’re all doing the same missions as each other (it’s tempting to just run on ahead if someone has to do this ‘real life’ stuff) and doing everything as a team, which I think subconsciously adds to the enjoyment, even if showing off your ‘phat lootz’ to your buddies is your thing.

Apparently Borderlands features firearms of some description.

Aubrey ‘Bezzy’ Hesselgren (Technical Game Designer):
I’ve been playing Borderlands and the Left 4 Dead 2 demo.

Also, I’ve been playing Street Fighter IV at the Eurogamer Expo. It was old school, winner stays on rules. Playing in an arcade setting is so different to playing over Xbox Live. My heart was racing and my hands were visibly shaking, like the worst surgeon alive. I have been hitting this game hard recently inbetween sleeping and working, so if I wasn’t able to get at least a win under my belt, I wouldn’t be able to show my face around the Expo. Luckily, switching to a Tourney Stick a few months ago seemed to pay off. I racked up 4 wins in a row against some pretty scary competition – the Guile and Honda I played were particularly challenging. Just as I started feeling confident, my winning streak was broken by this girl (who I must admit, had me instantly smitten).

Her execution with Ken was tighter and more methodical than mine. She remained totally calm and read me like a book while my shakey hands danced around the taito buttons, searching for an answer to her Kara throws and flawless bread and butter combos. She didn’t drop a single round – not even out of sympathy. She said I had my karas down, but that I was jumping too much. I saw her a couple of times walking around the expo, but didn’t manage to get her gamertag: I long for a rematch.

Philip ‘pipster’ Barnell (Production Tester):
This week I have been mostly playing Team Fortress 2 with my fellow testers, and what gibby fun it has been. Rockets have flown, backs have been stabbed and bodies burnt to a crisp. I’d forgotten how exciting and fun it is, well done Valve you very-clever-people™.

Steve ‘badman’ Hessel (Community Relations Manager):
After spending an extensive amount of time with Forza Motorsport 3, I can confirm that it is about as good a racing simulation as can be done. The game has everything we loved about Forza 2 and adds beautifully rendered environments, a revamped (and great!) career mode, and excellent community features. If you like Things on Wheels, you’ll like Forza 3.

Borderlands has been my other timesink lately and as far as coop experiences go, this one’s right near the top of the pile. 87 bazillion weapons can’t be wrong!

Lastly, Torchlight. I grabbed the demo of this after seeing so many positive comments on the Shack and other various Gaming Places and wasn’t disappointed. It looks great, plays well, and builds upon Diablo’s uber-addicting gameplay. I look forward to spending more time with it.

What have you been playing and what are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!