Currently Hurling Controllers / Mice At… It’s Almost September! Edition

August 28, 2008

Pixel TapirWith virtually no major releases in the past two weeks, we’ve got another small gaming drought at our hands, but that certainly didn’t stop us from picking up our peripherals of choice. Xbox Live Arcade continues to deliver the goods and while we may not have gotten any new AAA fodder, the occasional quiet time lets us catch up on games we missed the first time around. Those of us yearning for new games will be happy to hear that September, which for some reason of other seems mark the early early beginning of the holiday season, is just around the corner.

If you haven’t seen it yet, join our local Xbox Live Community Leaderboard (currently headed up by forum member Ging) and show off your achievements to the world. Getting on there is simple – just register a forum account, fill out the Xbox Live Gamertag field and start posting on the forums. Now, let’s see what’s been killing our thumbs:

Aubrey ‘Bezzy’ Hesselgren (Technical Designer):
More Live Arcade goodness going on. Castle Crashers is an excellent brawler that managed to suck me in for about 4 hours last night, and I have a feeling it’ll be even more interesting with friends. The art is fantastic and the combat, while not perfect, is still pretty excellent, and almost never irritating (apart from the occasional mobbing by loads of bad guys). Really enjoying it.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed was a bleedin’ fantastic remake. At first, the controls felt completely bizarre, but once you’re used to the controls, however, there’s a hell of a lot of depth coming out of the movement system. It’s possible to pull off moves which really make you feel like you’ve got skills, making it a great antidote to the recent glut of superficially cool but mechanically hollow Quick Time Events in mainstream games – but that’s a rant for another time.

Also been playing Splinter Cell: Double Agent. I like some of the things they’re trying, and controls have certainly improved since the first game, but I’ll never be able to get over how unresponsive it can feel due to constant use of special case animations, or incredibly long transitions where you have not control what so ever. I’m also save/loading like a madman, spending a good portion of my time on said loading screen. It’s pretty unforgiving when you’re trying to experiment with new strategies.

Castle Crashers – Xbox Live Arcade

Aaron ‘Hoffa’ Hoffman (Lead Environment Artist):
The last couple of weeks have been playing Battlefield: Bad Company multiplayer. And I must say it’s been so much fun, even better than COD4. The maps have a nice balance of close quarters down the middle and more open areas around the outside, suiting to how I feel like playing. The ability to blow out a wall to nab a flag camper is quite rewarding, and the fact that maps evolve slightly (due to destructablility) over the game keeps things intersting. I don’t see myself putting down the Bad Company M16 anytime soon.

Richard ‘Fluffy_gIMp’ Jolly (Media Director):
It’s been another slow couple of weeks for new releases, so it’s been back to my ‘should really play list’. At the top of that list (of course) was BioShock, which I have now completed. It was good, but whether it stood up to all the hype I’m still not sure. It certainly had the same feel as the earlier *Shock games; the story was engaging and had some interesting twists along the way. I did find the end boss a little underwhelming and felt cheated that I could finish it easily without the need of my amassed plasmids.

I’ve also had a recent hankering for point and click adventures as it’s one of the few type of games I can play together with my fiancée. I had a quick trawl of Amazon and picked out a few, of which Secret Files: Tunguska has been drawing my attention most. It’s very much in the same vein as the Broken Sword games – ‘couple work together to foil devious world ending plot’. It’s been localised into English from the original German version, so the one caveat is that the voice acting is pretty bad in places. Americans trying to do Russian accents, oh my, it really is as bad as you are imagining! But that aside, what it does do it does well, provoking great satisfaction having solved one of the main puzzle beats. I also hear that Secret Files 2 is on the way! 🙂

Still waiting for the GTA4 Xbox 360 downloadable content, hurry up guys! 🙂

Arne Olav ‘ao’ Hallingstad (Programmer):
I tried Braid last weekend, really more by chance than anything since I don’t usually enjoy the Xbox Live Arcade games and give up on the few I’ve tried after 5 minutes. But this is an awesome 2D platformer puzzle game with some new and cool gameplay elements. I ended up spending the weekend completing the game and even getting all the stars!

Battlefield: Bad Company

Flavius ‘Flawe’ Alecu (Programmer):
With the recent arrival of trophies on the PS3, the competition against friends has begun on this platform, as well. PS3 folks don’t have many games to choose from when it comes to collecting trophies, so if you want to show your friends who’s boss, you need to get all the trophy games available. Having said that, a week or so ago I just bought Uncharted, since I never got to play that and it seemed to be a very good game. I was not disappointed at all. I spent the entire weekend finishing the game and I’m still working on the higher difficulty levels to get the last few trophies.

There is also Pixel Junk Eden, which managed to keep me interested in a PSN game for more than a day. It’s an simple concept but very addictive and re-playable. The art style is just so soothing and I really like what they’ve done with the soundtrack, as well. I’ll be enjoying this game for quite a while. And it has trophies!

Steve ‘badman’ Hessel (Community Relations Manager):
I can’t stop playing Battlefield: Bad Company multiplayer! It’s like a more focused and polished version of Battlefield 2 and great fun indeed. When not laying down covering fire with the M60, I rather enjoy counter-sniping people in ghillie suits with the RPG-7 – it’s every bit as satisfying as it sounds. 🙂

I also tried the Star Wars: Force Unleashed demo and it seems like a worthy successor to the first Jedi Knight, a game I spent hours playing online and offline. Viva Pinata 2 is just around the corner, as well, and there’s no way I’m not going to pick that up. Hell, it’s got Penguin Pinatas. What else do you really need in a game?

Tim ‘Huntle’ Rose (Production Coordinator):
I could never get into Diablo, or Diablo II – to me it looked dull. Endless dungeons of grey filled with skeletons to furiously click on was never my idea of fun. So how is it I have been hooked on Titan Quest : The Immortal Throne? It reminds me of the good old days of building rustic villages with little farms and miles of meandering walls in Age of Empires II. I can forgive the monotonous levelling-up game play when it looks this nice and there are pets to collect! I have a wolf, a Woodland Nympth, a Liche King and, for special occasions, a huge sword-wielding giant. I just sit back and press my mouse button – a true point ‘n’ click adventure!

Soul Calibur IV has also been the object of my attention, allowing my grace and sportsmanship to shine like a beacon of broken Olympic dreams. I saw many nights turn into dawn while playing Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast and was excited to retake the helm for this fourth installment. It looks great and I like the prospect of customising characters to make a whole army of Voldo-inspired gimps. Now where is that feather boa?

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