Currently Hurling Controllers / Mice At… Metal Gear Solid

October 6, 2008

Here it is, the latest installment of Things We’re Playing. Metal Gear Solid 4 is undoubtedly the highest profile release since we last hurled controllers and/or mice and it’s proving to be a rather divisive title. Fans of the series will undoubtedly love this latest installment while everyone else might say things like “What the crumples is going on?” or just shake their head in silence. Rather than trying to make sense of it all, let’s just move on. We actually have two first time posters this week, with Programmer Arne Olav ‘ao’ Hallingstad and Production Assistant Joe ‘Rex-TheGrunt’ Gibson both typing up lots of words for our eyes to choke on. Here are this week’s wondrous tales, then:

Arne Olav ‘ao’ Hallingstad (Programmer):
I got Civilization Revolution for the Xbox 360 last week, and it’s good! I’m not a big console player, but this is one of the best games I’ve played on the Xbox. Compared to Civilization 4 for the PC the scope of each game is much smaller and feels a bit more like an arcade game. I was sceptical because of this, but it’s fun and I’ve finished all the games within 6 hours. I refuse to do what Gordon does to get all the achievements though…

I signed up for Age of Conan when it first came out in May and have played quite a bit, I’m a level 46 necromancer. I think I’ve had the most fun helping out with making the guild keep with friends as it requires quite a bit of coordination and resources. I’m having a break from the game though but will probably be back in a while; the upcoming patches should be interesting.

Still playing QUAKE Wars, often with Mop and Tully. Yesterday Mop was kicked from a server because the admins needed space for a clan member which I thought was funny.

Ben ‘Randles’ Hopkinson (IT Manager):
I’m taking my time with Metal Gear Solid 4. MGS4 recaptures the feeling of the original Shadow Moses incident and in some ways feels like a more natural sequel to MGS than the other games in the series – perhaps this is the game Kojima wanted to make back in 2002.

I love the fact that you can pick a very different style of play – not many games allow the kind of ingenuity we’ve seen here over the last few weeks, Manuel blasted his way through the game all guns blazing while Rex-theGrunt hasn’t killed a single enemy.

I’ve also picked Guitar Hero III back up after recently purchasing the Coldplay, Muse, Foo Fighters and No Doubt song packs of PSN for Mrs R.

Joe ‘Rex-TheGrunt’ Gibson (Production Assistant):
Having completed the first two Metal Gear titles, I found myself quickly slipping back to my old ways of tranquilizing, shocking or choking anything in sight in Metal Gear Solid 4. If it moved, I shot it in the eye with a tranquilizer dart and shook them down for rations like the hungry mofo that I am.

This has always been the way I played Metal Gear games and so far it seems to work wonders in MGS4. In my evil sadistic way I was happy to be able to carry on these tactics with the bosses themselves with maybe a little bit of experimentation (I don’t think the box and barrel work and neither does placing down loads of playboy magazines, but I’m still going to try it on every boss I meet).

In fact, MGS4 seems to be one of the rare games that rewards my style of trying to shoot things from weird angles (like under a bed, in a box, or standing on something) or by taking the time to try and kill them by rolly polly or stun knife. During one of the boss battles so far I’ve even been rewarded with an erotic photo shoot complete with loud groaning. I didn’t set out to achieve this deliberately, but I guess Kojima likes my style.

Paul ‘MoP’ Greveson (Artist):
I have been making wonderful aliens and animals using the Spore Creature Creator. Before you ask, I am not responsible for any of this filth and hilarity you have seen on YouTube! All of my creations are friendly (for a given value of “friendly”) and spiky multi-peds of varying size and… girth.

It’s pretty good fun, even if it’s limited to just tacking limbs and items onto a body shape, then watching it run around. The animation, considering the procedural nature of the creatures, is surprisingly lifelike and endearing. From a 4-legged bird monster to a giant HyperTapir, everything shows a great range of emotion (and dance moves)!

I am looking forward to finding out how these little critters cope with life inside the full world of Spore

Aubrey ‘Bezzy’ Hesselgren (Technical Game Designer):
Rather boring choices from me, this week. I finally got my Xbox 360 back from my brother, so I finished off Grand Theft Auto 4 (what an irritating last mission!).

On Saturday, I played Call of Duty 4 through to the end on Veteran, including the excellent prologue. It’s only a 90 second mission, but I spent 2 hours on it, learning exactly who to shoot, when, and where to rush to to stop more enemies spawning. It’s not exactly realistic, but it does create a skill requirement in of itself – how quickly can you move forward, safely?

I also pushed my COD4 training mission speed-run time down to 15.76 seconds, which beats everyone on my friends list, but doesn’t come close to beating the top players (~9 seconds flat!). Very impressive. It reminds me how cool a short, sweet speed run challenge can be, especially when hooked up to a leader board. Here‘s an example of a 12.65 second run.

Richard ‘Fluffy_gIMp’ Jolly (Media Director):
Alone in the Dark 4. I had such high hopes for it; the trailers and screenshots looked awesome, but sadly playing it was far from enjoyable. I tried so hard to like it, too. They’ve got some interesting game mechanics hidden in there but they are often so badly executed that it ruins any fun you might have had. I actually walked in on Tim A and a bunch of the guys playing it yesterday – there was so much laughter and cries of frustration that it had drawn quite a crowd just before Tim almost threw the controller out the window with rage.

On the DS I’ve been playing a stint of Orcs & Elves and quite enjoyed it to the stage where I’ve almost missed my stop a few times on the commute home. It isn’t anything revolutionary for the DS, but it’s pretty solid, comparable to Dungeon Master or Eye of the Beholder old school RPG’s, so has that perfect nostalgia feel.

Super Smash Bros Brawl for the Wii will be my next purchase at the end of the week. I enjoyed it on the GameCube, and from what I’ve read it has a plethora of new game modes so might even spawn a SD fighting ladder. 🙂

Jared ‘jRAD’ Hefty (Senior Programmer):
Inspired by the recent Zero Punctuation retrospective review, I started to replay Painkiller last week. It holds up quite well both visually and gameplay-wise. Punting ragdolls around with the shotgun and stake gun is as fun as always, and it’s nice to pay a first person shooter that does honest-to-goodness hordes of creatures. Ahh, nostalgia. Maybe I’ll play some Serious Sam next.

Gabe: Agape?
Tycho: It means ‘open’.
Gabe: You know what else means open? Open.

I finally grabbed Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness on Xbox Live Arcade the other day. After playing the demo for about 20 minutes and decided “I have to buy this.” When you boil it down (you don’t have to do very much of this), the game is a fairly simple RPG with a good combat mechanic and some great quirky Penny Arcade-style humour. It looks great, has a great soundtrack, and made me laugh out loud several times. Definitely worth shelling out £10 for. I’m looking forward to the next episode.

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