Currently Hurling Controllers / Mice At… Naughty Nightwear and Chainsaws

November 19, 2008

The War on Wallets is still in full swing, and the latest release barrage includes the testorone supertanker Gears of War 2, Mirror’s Edge, Call of Duty: World at War, and World of WarCraft: Wrath of the Lich King. Unfortunately for most of the games, Fallout 3 just won’t leave our trays alone long enough to really take a look at them, and so most of this update is still basking in its post-apocalyptic glow.

As a special bonus, this edition also features TF2 level designer Jamie ‘Fishbus’ Manson who just joined us from the rolling hills of Mel Gibson’s home turf Scotland.

Lock and load:

Jamie ‘Fishbus’ Manson (Level Designer):
Me? I’ve been enjoying Rock Band for the past week since I arrived here at Splash Damage. As I am currently living in the wake of a student income I have nothing but a few pennies to my name and even those are probably on a loan.

I am making the big leap from Hard to Expert on drums; I’ve had a little experience of the drums in real life (i.e. buying a kit and never using them ever – dust hero?). My foot just can’t keep up with the gnarly beats in a lot of the later songs. The only possible route to start hating your favourite song is to play it in Rock Band. Screw you Tom Sawyer!

I also did get to try a few missions of Red Alert 3 before the big move down to London. Camp as hell, fast paced, neon graphics. I love it! Can’t wait to get back into it again and attempt to find another body willing enough to play it though co-op.

Paul ‘Digs’ Saunders (Senior Designer):
I’ve completed Fallout 3 after playing as a goody two shoes, and if I wore a hat, I’d tip it in the direction of Bethesda – it’s an amazing classic. This week I shall be playing it again as an evil dude as there was a ton of content that I missed.

I’m also going to be busy battling the hordes of undead in Left 4 Dead. The demo has had a lot of us tied up playing it again and again, so with its full release, I expect I’ll be sucked in for weeks.

I’ve not known such a slew of good games to be released in such a short space of time, and I’m guessing I’ll be eating noodles and beans for the rest of the month. Well that or the neighbour’s dog. πŸ™‚

Arne Olav ‘ao’ Hallingstad (Programmer):
Got myself Gears of War 2 last week and spent a weekend completing the game on hardcore in co-op. It’s great fun, the co-op is what makes it so good. The plan is to do what I did with the first Gears of War, complete the game on insane. Will probably give that a try in a couple of weeks. I’m not a fan of the multiplayer though so I’ll miss almost half the achievement points I could get.

Also been playing a bit of World of Warcraft and finally got up to level 63. Taking a long time to level up though so I probably won’t see WotLK content for, well, a few weeks at least. I still don’t have a mount, though, there should be an achievement for reaching level 70 without a mount!

Clean-up on aisle 7! Gears of War 2 loves making a mess.

Aubrey ‘Bezzy’ Hesselgren (Technical Game Designer):
Too many games to fit into the Hessel’s stringent style guide! This calls for a highly condensed reflections splurge! DO NOT BLINK. I have a cold and taurine based drinks are streaming out of my nose ducts. Here goes:

FarCry 2: Pretty good core combat. High level mission design needs work and variety (but kudos for trying to keep it as open as possible, and exploring that risk-averse frontier). Assassin’s Creed of FPS games in that respect.
Mirror’s Edge: Good core movement. Combat doesn’t feel at home with it at all. Level Design fluctuates heavily. Moments of brilliance punctuated by “what were they thinking?!” head clutchers. Assassin’s Creed of FPS games in that respect.
Fable 2: Loved it. Kind of wished I had waited for the NXE to play it though, as I hear installing it takes away a lot of the freaky pauses when looking at the menu. There is vaulting in it (although it’s actually most of the time just regular jumping) so that means it’s a lot like Assassin’s Creed, I guess.
Left 4 Dead: You are a zombie! Fast Parkour Zombies = The Assassassin’s Creed of Zomzoms.
FallOut 3: ALL GLORY AND HONOR TO YOU, OH MIGHTY ZENIMAX, WHOSE THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS STATED HEREIN LIE PARALLEL TO MINE OWN . (Nah, seriously. Really good stuff… Although it feels like there’s an important decision every half foot, so it takes around 3 hours for me to deliberate my way from one room to the next! Probably says more about my decision making skills than the game, though. The, um, polar opposite of an Assassin’s Creed of FPS games in that respect.)

Flavius ‘Flawe’ Alecu (Programmer):
Like many others, I still can’t put my copy of Fallout 3 away. It’s the only game in a very, very long time where I completed the game and immediately created a new character and started all over again. I love the atmosphere of the game and how well the world is presented. The characters feel very realistic and not once during play have I been aware that I was playing a game.

I’ve also been playing a lot of Little Big Planet. The game has been great fun and I haven’t even touched the level editor yet. It’s amazing how creative some of the levels are and you get everything from basketball to side-scrolling shoot ’em ups. Playing with friends is without a doubt the best part of the game. Trying to help each other to pass obstacles or, in my case, dragging Randles into spikes or pushing him into fire is priceless.

Surprisingly, I’m one of the few here at the office who got sucked into the MMO trap and have been playing Wrath of the Lich King. It’s actually nice to see the game evolving and with every expansion, it truly gets better and feels like a new game. This is most definitely true for WotLK where they have changed many of the grinding quests from “killing x of those” and “gather y of that” to much more creative things like “fly that cool gnome bomber plane and bomb those ghouls”. This should give me something to do for a couple of months.

Richard ‘Rahdo’ Ham (Creative Director):
A lot of great games have come out recently and I’ve been trying to spend time with all of them, but the game that’s stood out for me most has really surprised me: the 360 version of Alone in the Dark.

Yes, it has flighty controls, the third person camera is tough to wrangle, the inventory system is too clever for its own good, etc. But in spite of all that, the overall experience gels for me in a way I haven’t seen in other games. The big moments (especially early on) are really awe inspiring, in the best “Hollywood blockbuster disaster film” kind of way, and the atmosphere is really great too. The actual script is poor, but the story is fantastic, and I’ve really enjoyed its twists and reveals (even if it does rely on the overused amnesia gimmick). And I LOVE all the little things like closing your eyes to see things, hot wiring cars, etc. So much to like here.

Unfortunately, I just hit the end of game fetch quest that makes you travel all over the huge world map for no good reason, with almost no resources and even less patience. Really disappointing, and stopped me dead in my tracks with no desire to go back and grind through it. After making it through all the other broken parts (2nd driving sequence, I shake my fist at you!), it’s heartbreaking to get stopped by this. Dunno if I’ve got the strength to go back in. I could skip the sequence with the DVD controls, but that just feels wrong. What should I do?! I put it to you, community! What… should… I… do?!?

In the meantime, I cannot wait for Resistance 2’s full release in the UK. Unfortunately, all my normal co-op buddies don’t have a PS3 (and neither did I until LBP), so I’m not sure what I’m gonna do about that. I’m amazed from the beta though how satisfying it is to play co-op with complete strangers. Amazing accomplishment there, Insomniac! If only you could release it for the 360! Damn system exclusives! πŸ™‚

Little Big Planet – stuffed to the brim with something called Sackpeople.

Paul ‘MoP’ Greveson (Technical Artist):
I just completed Fallout 3 last night… I have to say that while it was great fun, the ending came a little earlier than I expected. The sequence just before the end is awesome to behold; I actually thought it was better than the finale itself!

Fortunately, since the game world is so huge and crammed full of interesting places, I will definitely play this through a second time with a different type of character and do all the weird and wonderful side quests, try out all the different weapons and items, and generally mess around. I’ll maybe even play it three or four times, it seems like it’s got enough depth to last that long!

On the multiplayer front, while I was enjoying the Left 4 Dead demo, I don’t know if I liked it enough to buy the full game, so for the time being I’m staying with ETQW. πŸ™‚

Steve ‘badman’ Hessel (Community Relations Manager):
I’ve completed Fable II (fantastic game btw) and am now lost (in the best way possible) in the vast depths of Fallout 3. I don’t think there’s anything else I can say about it that hasn’t already been mentioned. Just buy the thing.

Gears of War 2 also just came out (stop it with the new releases already!) and is pretty much required playing if you liked the original. With chainsaws, boats, big worms, several(!) new environments and 30% less cringe-worthy writing, you can’t really go wrong. The whole thing is mindless fun, which somehow makes it the perfect companion-piece for Fallout 3.

The final piece in this week’s gaming triangle is, rather unexpectedly, Open Transport Tycoon, a free and open source version of the beloved classic. I first fell over it browsing Fishbus’ website and had to download it immediately. There’s full XP / Vista compatiblity along with a few other fixes and it’s as addicting as ever! Check it out if you’re old like me and a fan of the original.

Richard ‘Fluffy_gIMp’ Jolly (Media Director):
My attempt to finish Fable 2 before starting Fallout 3 has failed miserably; the pull to rekindle my Oblivion paladin persona in a post apocalyptic world was just too strong. I’m completely hooked – I’ve already put in almost 80 hours of play and have no plans of stopping any time soon.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the side quests and general exploration; it’s amazing how many quests a random stroll across the wastelands can turn up. One random event that springs to mind happened whilst looting an abandoned safe in the metro tunnels. I’d just spent a dozen picks trying to open a hard safe only to find it contained some leopard skin pyjamas. Thirty seconds later, a Raider comes running in demanding “Give me the naughty nightwear!”, and threatening to kill me if I don’t hand it over. The attention to detail is immense and without sounding like too much of a fanboy, I must say it’s one of the best RPG’s I’ve played to date.

Sorry Gears of War 2, you’re going to have to wait a bit longer, I’ve got super mutants to kill!