Currently Hurling Controllers / Mice At… Get Off My Lawn! Edition

September 11, 2008

Pinatas are yummy!With Spore, Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise, and Mercenaries 2 coming out last week, our wallets are finally able to go back on their diet while our thumbs revel in this rather sudden call to action. Rather bizarrely, opinions on this latest batch of games are not as positive as one might expect, so this installment of Currently Hurling Controllers / Mice reads a bit like something written by grumpy old men (which, mind you, may not be far from the truth). It is a bit odd that VP2 and Spore, which both got good reviews in the media, drew such a mixed reaction from our local gaming lot, while Mercenaries 2, which fared considerably less well in the media, is making for some good coop times around these parts.

In any case, let’s hurl some eyeballs at the following:

Jared ‘jRAD’ Hefty (Programmer):
I finally picked up Battlefield: Bad Company last weekend. I’m still playing through the single player, and I quite like being able to decimate an enemy’s cover by blowing up pieces of buildings. The characters are amusing enough to keep me interested, but the actual game play is starting to get a bit stale, and the token vehicle driving sections are rubbish. I suppose I should get back to finishing it and checking out the multiplayer at some point. Eventually. I guess.

Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise seems to be a much more refined version of the original, based on my first couple of hours of play last night. The goofy cuteness is still there and the interface for common tasks has been streamlined quite a bit. It looks like Viva Pinata, but more, and that’s just fine with me.

Richard ‘Fluffy_gIMp’ Jolly (Media Director):
This week I have been mostly playing Xbox 360 and it’s been a bit of a mixed bag. Firstly there’s Fable 2‘s Pub Games. The hook here is that any money you win in the games will transfer over to your Fable 2 hero when the game is launched next month, giving you a hefty head start. The games are pretty run of the mill but still good fun to play around with. Unfortunately, there is an as yet to be patched betting exploit that lets people rack up gold pretty quickly and it’s, regrettably, all too tempting.

I gave the new Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise a spin and if first impressions are anything to go by, it feels all too similar to the first game but harder 🙂 Plus you have to capture the same pinatas you already nabbed in the first game! I’ll give it a few more tries before it hits the shelf, but before then there’s Mercenaries 2, which is pulling most of my attention. Bugs aside (and believe me there have been a lot of them, I could easily fill another 5 paragraphs just covering those), it’s a lot of fun ‘once you get past the first level’ (which is the worst in the game). Randles and I have been playing a lot of co-op and enjoying ourselves immensely – the sandbox nature of the game leads to some funny moments 🙂

Viva Pinata: Trouble in ParadiseViva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise – more troubling than anticipated.

Steve ‘badman’ Hessel (Community Relations Manager):
Much like Jared, I’ve been instigating mass incest in Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise and so far I’ve got mixed feelings about the game. It is pretty much just more of the same with a few refined mechanics. About half of them change things for the better while the other half seems to have been designed to make things more frustrating and unfun. I spent ages trying to get a penguin (mainly to monocle and top hat it up, because how can you not), only to have Professor Pester come in and “randomly” select it as the pinata he’d most like to smash into oblivion. This was naturally followed by rage quitting. Despite this very untimely penguin departure, I still think the game’s a worthwhile buy, especially at its reduced price point.

Also briefly tried the demo for Shred Nebula and just couldn’t get used to the controls. Probably the first game I quit before even finishing the tutorial level. On the bright side, my glorious Battlefield: Bad Company multiplayer adventures continue and I’m happy to report that the game hasn’t gotten old yet.

Flavius ‘Flawe’ Alecu (Programmer):
Spore came out not long ago and of course I was one of the people that rushed to the store to get it. The same night I played through the first two stages until I came to the Tribe stage where the game basically turns into the worst RTS game ever. It got so terrible that I quit the game right there and haven’t played it since. I might give it a second chance later on to experience the last part I missed, but in the meantime, would anyone like to buy a pre-owned copy of Spore?

What I have enjoyed though is Folklore, a surprisingly cool and fun Japanese RPG/Adventure. It’s not like your regular Japanese RPG, though. The combat is more action-oriented and utilizes the PS3 SIXAXIS better than any other game I’ve played so far, and the story is really good as well. It’s not about the world coming to an end and it’s played out in Ireland! The gameplay mechanic I enjoy the most is that all the creatures you defeat throughout the game are absorbed by the awesome cloak you are wearing, thus allowing you to use the creatures to fight for your side.

Arne Olav ‘ao’ Hallingstad (Programmer):
After having had a lot of fun with Braid on XBLA I’ve been playing Castle Crashers together with Tim Appleby, Aubrey and Manuel. A very fun game to play in multiplayer with a cartoon style. The humor in the game is quite funny too.

Also been playing Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars online together with MoP.

SporeSpore – presumably not the bit causing Flavius Rage.

Matt ‘Anti’ Lowe (Production Coordinator):
After deciding this week that I really did want Spore, I was fairly underwhelmed once I got my hands on it. I can understand why many gamers will find it fun and I can marvel at its technical achievements, but ultimately I don’t think there is really much of a ‘game’ there, it’s just a toy! Sadly for people like me who have little imagination or creative talent, it’s not even that good of a toy; most of my creatures just end up being blobs with arms or green cows.

I also returned to Civilization 4 this last weekend, it’s a truly awesome game! Within an hour of founding the great English civilization I was faced with my American neighbours to the north invading my lands – typical! Never fear, though, as with a few shouts of “Huzzah!” my cavalrymen, mounted on their trusty native English elephants (wtf?!?!), smashed them back into their own lands. History really can be fun!

Alas the new game releases seem to dry up again for the next few weeks. Warhammer Online is tempting, but I can’t afford either the money or the time to try it; maybe I’ll just wait for Call of Duty: World at War.

Joe ‘Rex-TheGrunt’ Gibson (Production Assistant):
PES 2008 for the PlayStation 2 is a great laugh. Plugging in the multi-tap and playing with 8 people is brilliant, you always get one person on each team who’s playing really badly and messing up loads of chances, and if that team starts to lose, that poor person will get all the flak for letting the team down. Needless to say, our lunchtime and after-work sessions have been quite entertaining.

Soul Calibur 4 is alright overally, but to me the Star Wars characters seem out of place and a bit overpowered. To make matters worse, the amount of jiggling body parts in the game makes me blush every time (and being an owner of Dead or Alive 4, it’s not like I’m unprepared or anything!).

Lastly, Battlefield: Bad Company seems to be a solid game. So far, I’ve only played the single player mode and the animation and VO of the characters is great. It gives your squad loads of personality and makes the cutscenes a lot more fun to watch, with your squadmates messing about in the background playing rock, paper scissors or flicking each others ears when you’re getting new mission objectives.

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