Currently Hurling Controllers / Mice At… – Grand Fit Auto

May 1, 2008

It’s GTA4 week! Few games are as … present as Grand Theft Auto 4 is around the office, so expect much of this installment of Stuff We’re Playing to focus on the latest incarnation of the franchise that is single handedly eroding the morals and humanity of every child on the planet. It’s not all about capping punkz this week, though, since both the Metal Gear Online beta and Wii Fit were released right before the Grandest of marketing onslaughts.

So, without further ado, let’s see what’s currently lurking in people’s disc trays:

Tim ‘Huntle’ Rose (Production Coordinator):
Having previously experienced Nintendo unflatteringly expose my brain age of 68, I was thrilled to find out my body is a spritely 41, thanks to Wii Fit. And even more excited to find out I have no balance and am decidedly amateur. But none of that matters when you come into work at the weekend to knock others off first place on the mini-game leader board. Not that we’re competitive here…

Still full of blood lust after Viking and No More Heroes, and on a tip, I picked up GTA IV. Only 16.6% through and already I am feeling that my waking life is but a dream and reality is Liberty City. Do I play the over-zealous Japanese ‘Train Packer’ so eager to get people on trains that I might push them a little too early, helping them under an approaching train?

Or, do I give the victim of my recent car-jacking the small glimmer of hope that he might get his car back if only he holds on to the driver’s door a little longer? Why, of course! And then happily introduce his head to the front bumper of an oncoming car.

Hmm, something about a Team Fortress 2 update as well this week, although will I be able to escape the LCPD to check it out!?

Aaron ‘Hoffa’ Hoffman (Lead Environment Artist):
G…..T…..A……I……V got to 12% on the first day.

Tried out the Metal Gear Online Beta, found the gameplay quite clunky for an online shooter. But still doesn’t hinder my anticipation for Metal Gear Solid 4.

Paul ‘MoP’ Greveson (Artist):
Over the past week or so, I’ve been playing a bit of the ETQW “Dusk” mod by Tex (aka Tinman)… it’s just an alpha version at the moment, but it’s already a pretty cool take on the FPS genre, where the GDF start out with very few weapons and ammo, and each class has a special skill to help their teammates.

All the Strogg team act as zombies (this works best by having lots of bots on Strogg), who are very fast and tough, but only armed with spikes for melee attack. The GDF aim to “escape” from the map by repairing a vehicle and taking it to an extraction point in order to win. The Strogg “zombies” win if the GDF fail to escape before the time runs out.

It ends up being a pretty tense match, with everyone trying to kill or avoid the zombies, and simultaneously repair the vehicle or help their teammates out. Obviously there are still a few minor bugs since it’s only in alpha, but even now it’s very playable and fun. I can’t wait to see what later releases of this mod bring 🙂

Ben ‘Randles’ Hopkinson (IT Manager):
While waiting for the release of GTAIV I’ve been killing time on the Metal Gear Solid Online β.

While it’s still very much a beta with clunky controls erratic animation, frustrating camera and awful sounds; the sheer attention to detail of the online infrastructure puts other console games to shame.

It’s got the console regulars of character customisation and auto player matching but it’s also got an in-built messaging and buddy system, a server list with server filters, clan support, player stats, a ranking system and unlockables: It’s practically a PC game!

It’s the fusion between first person and third person that leaves a lasting impression – first person immersion and accuracy with third person situational awareness.

Stephen ‘malarky’ Gaffney (Development Manager):

Gordon ‘digibob’ Biggans (Senior Programmer):
Unfortunately, I lack the gene associated with enjoying GTA, so I haven’t been playing the latest installment of it; instead, I’ve been continuing to slog through Lost Odyssey. I’m on disc 3 of 4 now, and it’s really beginning to drag. I’m a big fan of JRPGs in general, but Lost Odyssey seems like a step backwards in a lot of areas, random encounters really bug me for one. The game is very pretty… in places, but the cutscenes are rather a bit too long winded. Yeah, yeah, I know I can skip them, but that’s missing the point really, I should be able to enjoy the story, but this makes it pretty much impossible. Overall, I think I’ll stick to Blue Dragon.

I picked up The World Ends With You for the DS yesterday, and I’m really loving the art style in it. The combat system is pretty neat, and makes good use of the touch screen, though I do find it a little tricky to get it to do exactly what I want some of the time. I’d heard that the main character was rather annoyingly clichéd, but I don’t find it anywhere near as bad as I was expecting. All in all, I’m looking forward to the rest of what this game has to offer.

Having played some of the new Mario Kart at lunchtime in the office, I’m glad to see it’s just as fun as ever, so I should be picking this up myself soon. I loved Double Dash, but it’s not nearly as much fun playing against the CPU as other people. Hopefully the online play should help to make that a thing of the past, that is, assuming more people use it than seem to do the DS version’s, in which I sadly only managed to get about 2-3 races going.

Steve ‘badman’ Hessel (Community Relations Manager):
So GTA4 is finally here and sadly I’ve only managed to spend about an hour with it. It’s pretty talky so far and it actually feels like I’m just driving from conversation to conversation, which isn’t exactly the most exciting thing to do. We’ll see, though, everybody seems to think that it’s the second coming, so my hopes are high.

In rhythm game news, Rock Band continues to float around the office and after watching Tim Appleby and Olivier coop a few songs, I can’t wait to pick it up myself when it’s released here in a few weeks.

Burnout Paradise made an unlikely comeback on my gaming schedule last week after a bit of absence. I finally managed to win enough events to get my A license and also got the vast majority of smashes, jumps, and billboards. I’m actually only missing four of the latter, which is starting to get just a tiny bit maddening (I’m looking at you, last missing Crackdown orb!).

And to end on a family friendly note, Rich’s recent Viva Pinata exploits are making me want to pay my garden another visit, especially now that he’s sent me one of the horse pinatas, which I’ve so far been unable to attract. And while this installment ironically makes a Wii Fit reference in the title, Nintendo’s latest peripheral contraption only got a day or two of playing here at the office. For shame, Richard’s Hype!

What are you playing this week? Sound off in the comments!