Currently Hurling Controllers / Mice At… Buzz! and Lots of Other Stuff

July 10, 2008

With Metal Gear Solid 4 (mostly) behind us, we’re slowly starting to feel the gaming lull of the Summer months. The appropriately named Buzz! probably made the biggest splash here in the office in these past two weeks with impromptu 8 player quizzing sessions spontaneously forming during lunch time and after hours. Aside from that there aren’t that many new releases sprinkled throughout this update and if you ask anyone what releases they’re looking forward to in the next four or so weeks, you’ll usually be greeted with one or more shrugs and a distinct ‘ummmm….’. On a side note, animator Chris ‘Hauser’ Bull untangled his hands recently and makes his first ever blog appearance in this update. Words:

Chris ‘Hauser’ Bull (Animator):
After going over a year without a working pc at home I finally decided to fix up my laptop and expose its innards to replace the screen, and… it worked, woohoo! So, since I’d been longing to have a fix of C&C Generals: Zero Hour, though at the moment only in skirmish mode against computer, the computer opponents provide a really good fun challenge. Loading up for the first time and hearing my G.L.A worker groan “ok ok I will work” brought tears of joy (ok maybe not quite that)! πŸ™‚

After buying a DS for my girlfriend (not for me of course not!) as well, I have mostly been playing the pretty compulsory New Super Mario Bros. which after getting pretty far in, is the first game in ages, with it’s insanely awesome and fiendish level design, to induce lovely sweaty hands moments! mmm. One or two of the levels took me many many lives to complete but when you do it sure is satisfying!

Steve ‘badman’ Hessel (Community Relations Manager):
Civilization Revolution is fun! I actually had serious doubts about the long term appeal of the game, but they’ve now been squashed. It’s a nicely streamlined version of the Civilization experience and, as Arne pointed out a few weeks ago, one of the most interesting and unique games on the Xbox 360.

Rock Band continues to rear its musical head and I’ve almost guitarred my way through all the songs on Hard. Comparing the same songs in Rock Band and Guitar Hero III, the RB version is generally more fun to play while the GH3 flavor is made for people who want to find out just how quickly they can move their fingers around.

Finally, Buzz! seems to be the first PS3 game I actually enjoy playing. It’s a pretty polished version of a traditional You Don’t Know Jack-style quiz show game and 8 player multiplayer is the icing on the cake. Sadly we’ve had to ban Joe from playing since he somehow kept winning.

Laurel ‘Tully’ Austin (Concept Artist):
I was fortunate enough to try Buzz! with some of the guys during lunch last week. Overall it’s pretty fun, though I have one reservation. Having been on my high school’s tournament trivia team (geek, I know) I’m pretty good with general knowledge, but two of the three rounds were about 80’s music and extreme sports. Not my strong point, so I was in second to last place going into the final round. Then I managed to win the game somehow.

The guys will *say* I won all because of a question about hair removal — and to be fair, the fact that every one of them got it wrong did help quite a lot — but I also got all but one question in that round right, and nabbed the most points by getting it correct before anybody else did. I’m a bit leery of party games that allow someone to come from being so far behind (makes me think of Mario Kart!), but I’d have to play it more to decide whether this is something that can happen very easily or if it was just a freak occurrence.

Richard ‘Fluffy_gIMp’ Jolly (Media Director):
Buzz! on the PS3, has become my method of training for a forthcoming Develop Pub Quiz which I hope we won’t lose at too badly. I wasn’t expecting anything special having not played any of the previous incarnations, but was pleasantly surprised. A nice mix of fun quiz rounds and the ability to download additional question packs, and who can sniff at an 8 player office battle, it was mayhem πŸ™‚

Super Smash Bros Brawl hasn’t had the attention it deserves yet, but of the small amount I have played it is good fun and has a fairly decent single player mode for a change. Of course the multiplayer is where it comes into its own, though I have yet to sample the 4 player loveliness of it.

I’m still drooling in anticipation of Diablo 3 after the recent movie releases, but I fear I will need to wait longer than I want to play it. In the meantime there’s Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway just around the corner I hear.

Aaron ‘Hoffa’ Hoffman (Lead Environment Artist):
I’m currently playing (and watching πŸ˜‰ Metal Gear Solid 4, enjoying the mix of action and stealth. I like playing both ways, so I alternate per level. I’m up to Shadow Moses (snow section), and glad to be back to the main gameplay style. It’s great how they’ve revisited the old location from MGS, and added the dream sequence so you can remember all the ways in. I got a bit bored of all the non-standard MGS gameplay (apc & bike). Received my new Dual Shock 3 the other day, feels so much better and solid in the hands.

Ben ‘Randles’ Hopkinson (IT Manager):
Trying to get to grips with Top Spin 3 has been my main task this week. You actually do have to train yourself to play this game at a competent level. Your character’s position affects the shot and there are two timing elements to every shot.

In addition to all this, there are two risk factors that you can apply to a shot for more extreme placement and power as well as the usual 5 types of shot – lofted, top spin, slice, lob and drop. To be honest this can end up overloading the player and resulting in a brain freeze; but is considerably more rewarding if mastered.

Of course, I’ve also been partaking in the 8 player lunch time and extra-curricular Buzz! sessions. Great fun!

Gordon ‘digibob’ Biggans (Senior Programmer):
This week I’ve mainly been playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 on the DS. I was a big fan of the previous incarnation on the GBA, though it did have its flaws. Thankfully, most of these flaws have been ironed out in the new version, so it’s an even better experience than before. There are some new things as well, such as the bazzar. This is an odd way of getting the ability to buy new equipment, as you can’t see what you’re getting other than in a really general sense, but I haven’t found it much of a pain at all, I just have the feeling it could have been presented better. The fitting room is pretty nice however, as you can outfit all of your characters at once, but not have to pay till the end, so you can shuffle stuff around if you find you don’t have the money to buy that oh so pretty new sword that you really wanted.

On the side I’ve also been playing through some more Civilization Revolution, just working my way through all the different nations. So far I think the Americans have the craziest bonuses, especially in the mid-game. Half price unit rushing, as well as interest on gold reserves can let you rush multiple units *every* turn and still not lose any money overall. Crazy, I say.

And finally, I got my 1000 points in Lego Indiana Jones at the weekend, such a great game, looking forward to Batman! (But please, please, no more vehicles, they suck)

Arne Olav ‘ao’ Hallingstad (Programmer):
I went to a small LAN party with friends last week and I’m still waiting for that worthy successor to Warcraft 3/Starcraft with good and balanced multiplayer. We played a lot of Warcraft 3 DOTA (perhaps one of the most popular mods for Warcraft 3?). Demigod is apparently getting a lot of ideas from this mod so I’m looking forward to that game.

Also played quite a bit of Sins of a Solar Empire in multiplayer and it’s surprisingly good fun. It has a lot of depth with all the technologies to research and ships you can build. The games are quite long even on the smallest maps with only one star and ~12 planets, clocking in at about 4 to 6 hours. I can’t imagine the time needed to finish a game with multiple stars.

What have you been playing? Let us know in the comments!