Currently Hurling Controllers/Mice At… May Fever

May 21, 2010

Welcome to the latest edition of Currently Hurling, our semi-regular look at what games we’re playing here at Splash Damage. By the looks of it, May has us surrounded on at least three sides and keeps throwing new games at our feet. Alan Wake, skate 3, Lost Planet 2, Split/Second, Prince of Persia, and of course Red Dead Redemption are all vying for our attention, backed up by earlier releases like Splinter Cell Conviction and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. At least for now, this Summer is looking like a busy one.

In this installment, Olivier is afraid of the dark, Ed fires birds at helpless piggies, Splash Damage takes to Xbox Live to needle as many people as possible, and so much more. Finally, we love hearing what you’ve been playing lately, so don’t forget to share your recent games with us in the comments. And now, words:

Tim ‘Huntle’ Rose (Production Coordinator):
While it may not seem so, I do play games other than Left for Dead 2, honest…

Alan Wake has also been keeping me up at night as I fight my way through haunted woods and small town shenanigans. Initially apprehensive of a horror/thriller game (I scare very easily), the story has kept me playing and I’m slowly learning to confront my fears. I am now proficient in using a Maglite, earning torch grade 3, although my pistol skills are still letting me down. The episodic delivery works well, with each instalment building on the last and elegantly introducing new game-play elements. There’s even a “Previously on Alan Wake…” recap at the beginning of each episode – luckily I don’t need to wait a week between each one! The game looks lovely and the lighting certainly adds to the atmosphere and all important fright-factor.

Having never played the original, Lost Planet 2‘s promise of coop lured me into Capcom’s magical menagerie. Huge beasts with orange limbs, crippling mechanised brutes and soldiers with over-sized bum-bags combine to create a wonderfully fun arcade experience. I’m still having a great time working through the Campaigns with a friend and hope to get my face owned in the multiplayer very soon.

I’m looking forward to donning my chaps and rubbing cowboys up the wrong way in Red Dead Redemption at the end of this week.

Neil ‘Exedore’ Alphonso (Lead Game Designer):
There still hasn’t been that much free time, but there has been some gaming to be had. I finally started playing Mass Effect so I can eventually get to Mass Effect 2 in a proper manner, and I had to get the XBLA edition of Final Fight, as it’s one of my cherished games from younger days. I’ve also played a bit of Aliens vs Predator, and played through the campaign of Gears of War 2 again. Last but not least, I started with Alan Wake this week. I’m a fan of the lads at Remedy, so it’s been eagerly anticipated.

Alan Wake

Olivier ‘Nosebone’ Leonardi (Art Director):
I’ve been mostly playing Skate 3 this week, cuz it’s an awesum game, bro’! Massive playground, very varied challenges, the hall of meat mode is hilarious and the whole community aspect with team creation and content sharing adds even more value to a skateboarding experience that feels so natural and close to the real thing. Best skateboarding game ever!

If you’re into The X-Files, LOST and Stephen King’s novels, I would encourage you to play Alan Wake. It’s not survival horror, but a psychological thriller and plays very cleverly with negative emotions, loss of control, fear, uneasiness, revulsion, and anxiety. It’s all quite subtle and very well presented. It’s quite a challenge to scare people with video games but this one obviously works for me!

Stephen ‘Crispy’ Etheridge (Production Tester):
The studio’s name was taken a bit too literally when I got us all kicked for teamkilling in the Halo: Reach (beta) with some fairly liberal use of a jetpack and rocket launcher to rain down death from the skies onto a spawn-camping vehicle. What can I say? You can’t kill a Banshee without breaking a few legs!

The same rule also applies to the new Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising expansion pack, which has been lapped up by fellow QA cultists and other 40k addicts around the company. Sadly many an Emperor’s Child has been lost to the temptations of the dark side, known affectionately by its evil masters as ‘War Pony’.

Peculiarly-named UK indie title Frozen Synapse (beta pre-order) also got a brief look-in and impressed with its core mechanic a cross between UFO: Enemy Unknown and Counter-Strike.

Steve ‘badman’ Hessel (Community Relations Manager):
These past few weeks have been really great for new game releases. Splinter Cell Conviction was near the top of my ‘Do want’ list and it did not disappoint one bit. Great story, superb presentation, and slick gameplay that stays fun all the way through. Sam Fisher’s back and in top form.

After sinking a couple hundred hours into Bad Company 1’s multiplayer, I finally managed to go online in Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Unsurprisingly, I’m finding it pretty hard to stop playing and try to get a match in whenever I’ve got time. Much like the first game, it’s one of the best team-based multiplayer experiences out there at the moment and highly recommended.

Splinter Cell Conviction

Ed ‘Bongoboy’ Stern (Lead Writer):
SteamBirds! Free turn-based top-down steampunk dogfighting flash game! It’s really, really good. My personal mark of excellence is when I enjoy a game even when I’m absolutely no damn good at it. And that’s certainly the case with SteamBirds. I’m embarrassingly terrible at it, like a chicken pecking at a keyboard in the hope of finding corn. But so good. And the music is great, in a swaggering Wolfensteiny way.

Also, iPhonically, finally got round to Angry Birds and yeah, it’s splendid. Nothing beats sniggering green pig faces when you fail to destroy them by catapulting enraged avians at their stone/glass/wooden fortresses. Normally I play games to escape my quotidian trials, but in this case I’ll make an exception: it’s even more fun as a game than in real life.

Jeshua ‘Beanz’ Nanthakumar (UI Artist):
Fable II: Playing this for the first time ever, and man, it’s fan freakin tastic, just love the game mechanic and the worlds and the music, oh man, the music…

Halo Combat Evolved: Yes, the very first Halo released. I was a huge fan of Halo before it was picked up by Microsoft and turned into an Xbox exclusive title… yes, in the hayday when it was going to be released on the Mac. Man, I wonder how that would’ve turned out; they did a lot of things right in that game. Playing it now, I’m still kinda amazed at what they did back then.

Aidan ‘udp’ Price (Production Tester):
A bunch of us have been really enjoying the Halo: Reach Beta, making the most of its limited availability. It’s new objective game modes are well put together and a welcome addition to the standard Halo fare. It’s a fairly drastic overhaul, making combat quicker and more brutal, whilst maintaining the signature Halo “feel”. On top of that new armour abilities allow users to add their own unique play style to the game, and are an interesting approach to class based multiplayer. Halo: Reach is definitely worth a look, and has even managed to convert a few anti-halo stalwarts!

Splash Damage brings on the hurt in Halo: Reach

Ed ‘mred’ Reid (Online Services Programmer):
Well with all my crazy metropolitan living having settled down a little there’s finally time for games again. How fortunate too that the big pre-Civ V promotional on Steam meant I picked up Civilization IV and its 3 expansions for the miniscule price of just £6.25, value for money wise that can’t be beat!

I also finally got around to a little trip back to rapture in Bioshock 2. The plasmids and combat are still as joyous with new level 3 spewing fire, flame and ice (woohoo!). This brought back a lot of memories of the original Bioshock and just how masterful a game that is, the characters encountered and every location telling such an intricate story.

In the next couple of weeks I’m finally going to be catching the retail version of Battefield: Bad Company 2 and seeing whether it or Red Dead Redemption will be dominating my drive tray. I can’t wait to find out!

Ciaran Begley (Environment Artist):
You see, I’ve never actually cleared a Final Fantasy game; something has always come up to impede my progress across that finishing line whether it be moving country for a job, social life (I know) or something as mundane as doing washing when I should be playing. But not this time. I promised myself I would finish Final Fantasy XII, notch it on the belt and have a glass or 4 of wine to celebrate. So when I loaded up XII for the first time, the striking visuals, story, characters and depth made it all the easier to dig in deep and run this marathon.

I loved it. The world of Ivalice took me in and made me a slayer of Judges, giant wolves, Espers and dragons. An explorer of ghostly forests, vast deserts and possibly the largest dungeon ever created in a game. It was epic to say the least. And all made the more personal with my aging old pal; my PS2. We have been through the wars and seen distant worlds and yet, never has it looked this good.

Jeremy ‘pinflux’ Hay (Media Artist) as written by Aidan ‘udp’ Price:
This week I have mostly been playing Halo: Reach with Aidan, although playing really doesn’t do what he does justice. It’s more like virtuosity – never before have I seen such synergy between man and game. As I blinked away the tears of joy from my swollen tear ducts I realised I was in the presence of a true master.