Currently Hurling Controllers / Mice At… Last Call of 2008 Edition

December 17, 2008

Welcome to 2008’s final edition of Currently Hurling, but not to worry, we’ll be back in full force next year. While Prince of Persia was the major release of last week, most of us still way too swamped with other things and Fallout to even contemplate playing it. Luckily there won’t be any major releases for the next few weeks, giving us some much needed breathing room to work our way through everything.

In this installment, Richard likes Dead Space, Paul sort of likes Mirror’s Edge, and Jamie’s foot doesn’t like Rock Band. Also, please give a warm welcome to freshly excavated Neil ‘exedore’ Alphonso, our new king of level designers. He’s really good at making maps.

Neil ‘exedore’ Alphonso (Lead Level Designer):
I’ve moved to the UK without my consoles for the moment, so I’ve had to put Fable II and Dead Space on hold (not to mention Rock Band, /twitch), and I’m instead splitting time between Left 4 Dead, Far Cry 2, and Wrath of the Lich King. It’s an interesting balance between trying to not let your brains get eaten, using brains in interesting ways to deal with sandbox style challenges, and semi-brainless grinding with dancing and atrocious spelling. I did at least get to play through all of Gears of War 2 in co-op mode before moving, and I found it much more enjoyable than the first game; the gameplay is more varied and with better pacing, more impressive set-pieces and bosses, interesting environments, and just tight and polished all around.

‘Tis also the season for travel, so my Nintendo DS has been getting quite a bit of use; currently I’m playing through Final Fantasy III for a bit of retro action, whenever I actually don’t feel like playing Civilization: Revolution.

And to top it all off, I have an unopened copy of Fallout 3 for PS3… hopefully there will be some time for that one over the holidays!

Richard ‘Rahdo’ Ham (Creative Director):
Played through Dead Space, and really admired a lot about it. Very polished, great design elements, fantastic sound, etc. But mostly, it made me wish the Alien movies had never been made. Personally, I’m sick of industrial “oil rig in space, covered with growing brown biomass gunk” style environments, and if I never see another one, it’ll be too soon. Don’t get me wrong, Dead Space did this stuff very, very well, but who needs to see more of it? As I ran through endless corridor after corridor of this ship, I spent a good deal of my time thinking what a dismal, awful place it would be to work. I mean, have they never heard of paint in the future? Splash a bit of it around, it’ll do wonders. Trust me.

Prince of Persia is pretty.

Gordon ‘digibob’ Biggans (Senior Programmer):
I have been playing the new Prince of Persia this week, and well, it’s awesome! I only played Sands of Time from the previous series, so I was a little saddened to not have the rewind time ability anymore, but I think the replacement they have works well, even if it doesn’t look as cool. The controls and feel of the game are great, only occasionally spoiled by it thinking you wanted to go up instead of left. It’s almost impossible to get lost, as paths are very clear, and you can always request a little twinkly path if you aren’t sure where to go.

I felt the combat was a little less free flowing than Sands of Time, with a few too many quick time events for my liking; however it’s not so bad that it makes me want to break my controller, unlike another game I played recently. The script and voice acting are very good, and the achievements are fairly sane, so overall it’s a very solid, pretty looking game.

Paul ‘Locki’ Wedgwood (Studio Director):
This past week I completed Mirror’s Edge, started playing Fable II and finally got back to BioShock! I thought several aspects of Mirror’s Edge were really innovative, I enjoyed the parkour elements more than many reviewers, and I thought the art direction really bold. The story, cut-scenes, shooter-moments and voice acting didn’t give me quite as much joy, but that’s as much due the fact that straight after I finished Mirror’s Edge, I went back to playing BioShock, and was knocked out all over again by its superb art, story and game depth. I did enjoy Mirror’s Edge on its own terms, particularly the latter jump puzzles. My advice is to get it and play it and you’ll enjoy it for its innovation. Just don’t play a standout stunning shooter straight away afterwards.

I also started playing Fable II – I’m only about an hour in, but I’m enjoying it!

Jamie ‘Fishbus’ Manson (Level Designer):
I’ve been playing Rock Band a ludicrous amount since last week. After playing it a lot with fellow staff members doing random songs, I thought I’d sit down one day and play through the drum solo tour doing expert. I couldn’t believe how much better I was doing than the last time I remembered, I was 4 or 5 starring everything! It feels pretty awesome to hit all the complex kick patterns. I got about 34 songs through on Sunday until my foot packed in after 5 starring Green Grass and High Tides (oh god please make it stop!). I think I hurt Rock Band too in the process. So I’ll leave it for a while and come back to it in the new year.

I have been grabbing a few nights of Left 4 Dead and one or two games of Team Fortress 2 (new update, engineer buff, hurrah!). Probably the only way now I have for catching up on my buddies back at home. Well, except for a phone.

And the last little nugget of gaming I’ve been enjoying is Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe. I love trains, you should too.

Not to ruin the surprise, but World at War is filled with people shooting at each other.

Steve ‘badman’ Hessel (Community Relations Manager):
Finally managed to plow through most of Fallout 3 and it’s truly amazing just how many little side missions and areas there are to explore. Definitely one of my longest-played games of the year, and one of my favorites.

I just started playing Call of Duty: World at War, and after getting halfway through the second level, I’m not sure I feel like finishing the thing. I absolutely loved CoD4 start to finish with its superb pacing and gameplay variety. And granted, as far as sequels go, that’s a very tough act to follow. But after all that PR speak about World at War being super gritty and unlike any CoD game that’s come before it, it just seems to be way too formulaic and repetitive, at least so far. My question to you, community, is – does it get better as the game goes on?

Finally, the new Prince of Persia is next on my list. Really looking forward to that one! The upcoming Fallout 3 DLC is looking rather interesting, too, so I’ll be giving that a go when the time comes.

Richard ‘Fluffy_gIMp’ Jolly (Media Director):
Finished off Fable II finally – it’s a really good and fun casual RPG, but for me it still pales a bit compared to Fallout 3. I think that’s probably because I favour deeper gameplay when it comes to RPGs; I like to be able to tweak all my stats and such, which is something that Fallout 3 let me do rather extensively.

I’ve recently started playing Saints Row 2 and while the graphics are nothing to write home about, it’s fun just to mess around in. As Joe put it recently, it’s somewhat reminiscent of some of the earlier GTAs where there were some really crazy missions to complete.

Everyone keeps going on about Dead Space and FarCry 2, so I expect these will be the next games I check out. The Fable II DLC sounds fun, too, and I’ll gladly return to Albion.

Mattias ‘dof’ Engstrom (Senior Technical Designer):
Fallout 3 has been running got in my computer lately and I must admit it’s an awesome game. Granted, it has its few share of bugs (as expected in a game of this magnitude) but it doesn’t really detract from the overall experience. The possibilities are almost endless, the humour is spot on and the game just feels right. While it’s obvious that the game has some underlying mechanics that are very much derived from Oblivion I must say that it is a game on its own legs with its own identity. It really is a game you want to play through multiple times just to try out new things. Merry Christmas everybody!

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