What We’re Playing: Hello Spring Edition

April 14, 2011

Spring’s most definitely arrived and even though we’re getting more than averagely nice weather here in England, it’s not stopping us playing games. Despite that alluring New Game Smell being spread by all manner of great titles in recent weeks, it’s Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars that has featured in our lunchtime gaming sessions recently, joining regular fixtures Magicka and Mount & Blade: Warband. Magic, swords, guns, and aliens from outer space – we’re pretty sure we’ve got the entire range covered there.

But that’s not all! Find out what other games we’ve been checking out lately by venturing deeper into this latest edition of What We’re Playing. Oh, and as always, don’t forget to let us know what you have been playing in the comments. And begin:

Paul ‘MoP’ Greveson (Technical Artist):
Still playing Mount & Blade: Warband at lunchtime here. There’s nothing quite so much fun as running around with a throwing axe sticking out of your eye/arm/leg/horse’s head.

That said, I’ve just got The Witcher on Steam… going to try and play through that before The Witcher 2 comes out, since it’s looking stunning!

Steve ‘badman’ Hessel (Community Relations Manager):
I’ve been spending time in Kirkwall and its surrounding areas in Dragon Age 2. The game has seen a bit of streamlining from its pretty hardcore predecessor, but still has a considerable amount of depth. Especially liking the quest design and the overall presentation of the whole thing and am actively trying to pace myself to stretch the experience out as much as possible.

Started Crysis 2 recently and oh my, it’s gorgeous, this one. I’m only a few levels in so far, but I’m digging all the little touches that help immerse you in the world. This is undoubtedly one of the best looking games out there at the moment and for that alone you should sneak a peek.

There’s also been a bit of Dawn of War: Retribution here and there. And I still haven’t had a chance to touch Bulletstorm, Homefront, or Dead Space 2. Too many games and not enough time to play them!

Paul ‘Locki’ Wedgwood (CEO/Game Director):
If I shared the view held by many journalists and developers, I should privately hate Heavy Rain. One camp feels that as a video game, it’s not very interactive, while the other sees it as a sub-par drama. I disagree with both, and having just finished it on the PS3, I’m prepared to call it a MOMENTOUS interactive drama. I don’t even mind that the developers insist it’s not even a video game – I disagree with them too. What it is, is an interactive experience that produced an emotional response in me, unmatched by any other game to date, whilst also entertaining my partner, who in a relationship-first, sat with me throughout the entire thing and loved it too. It is simply genre-defining, in the best and most appropriate use of that phrase.

Yes, it may well be uncool to like Heavy Rain, but I’m giving you all permission to love it. All the cool kids do.

Dragon Age II

Edward ‘BongoBoy’ Stern (Lead Writer):
World Of Tanks! Free to play Tank RPG! With Tanks! Really thoroughly playable entirely enjoyable online rolling, clanking, armoured shooter. If you have a Company Of Heroes/Men Of War/WWII AFV nerd taste for tankage, or even if you could not care les, WoT is shaping up to be a really really fun game. By all means check it out.

Oh, and if you haven’t played Mount & Blade‘s SP campaign, you’re honestly missing out. I did a flippin’ history degree (also known as MA in Pub Quizzes) and learned stuff about the Middle Ages from playing it. Fascinating project, and very playable.

Stephen ‘Crispy’ Etheridge (Lead Tester):
I’ve not had much time for playing lately, but I have been watching a lot of the Dawn of War: Retribution tournaments, casted live and stored at Dow2Live.com or GameReplays.org. Next on my list is the Off-Limits closed beta: a long-in-the-tooth Half-Life 2 mod with some art contributed by our own Tim Appleby. Keep an eye on their ModDB page for the final release!

Richard ‘Fluffy_gIMp’ Jolly (Media Director):
My desk is stacking up with titles I really should be playing. With Brink monopolizing plug-powered play at the moment, my gaming usually happens on the iPad in between press events.

Battleheart is one of my recent conquests – it’s a very elegant single screen class-based-RPG-advancing-dungeon romp. It makes great use of the touchscreen, allowing for effortless finger swipes that direct my chipper band of monster slayers deep into the fray. At the end of each battle, my guys are rewarded with coins and XP that allow me to upgrade my abilities and equipment respectively. For the countless hours of play I’ve gotten out of my 59p investment, it’s certainly not one to overlook.


Andrew Quinn (Sound Designer):
I’ve been really enjoying playing Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer lately, well when I say playing I really mean repeatedly getting destroyed by people half my age. Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam has also been a stalwart for the last month or two, in my opinion its easily one of the best sounding games out at the moment. Failing that I have also been dabbling in Mafia 2 and Mass Effect, but really all this is just time killing before Portal 2.

Chris ‘peaceful warrior’ Sweetman (Audio Director):
Alan Wake – I must say one of my favorite games from the last few years! It feels like an interactive Stephen King novel. Didn’t seem to set the world alight when released, but it is a gem!

Love the light aspect to the game play and batteries for your torch become like bullets in the Resident Evil series. Many times have I been running towards a generator to turn the lights on whilst being chased by axe wielding demons. Beautiful graphics, great story, great dialogue, awesome sound design – in short, I love it!

John ‘Nifty’ Molloy (Designer):
Magicka… what to say. An immensely fun game with lots to find out and a great sense of humour. I hear they’re planning on a PvP version, but if you’d ever played with Digs & Ducks you’d swear it was already out. We’re mostly playing the (supposedly) co-op adventure mode, with occasional forays into the arenas. Definitely worth a look.


Paul ‘Digs’ Saunders (Senior Designer):
What can I say – it’s been a busy couple of weeks of game playing for me. First on my list is World of Tanks, an addictive and very easy game to pick up and play, centred around tanks blowing the crap out of each other. It’s not a sim but has a surprising amount of depth with a fantastically simple control system. Two teams of players go head to head in round based combat, and each player controls their own tank, which they can improve through spending XP (yes there is tank progression!) and cash. Or can just buy different tanks for the right role. It’s in open beta at the moment, so head over and give it a go, I’m betting it’s going to be a big hit when it releases later this month.

I’ve also been playing a bit of Dragon Age 2, which, once you download the PC texture pack and ramp up the detail levels, is an absolutely stunning looking RPG. It sort of reminds me of the massive change there was between Mass Effect 1 and 2 – it’s the same here as it seems a world away from the original and it has had me hooked from the start.

On the MMO front I’ve decided to boot up Dungeons and Dragons Online. I used to play it years ago and only really left it due to the lack of content in its early days. Well, it’s now free play and has more content than you can shake a stick at. I’ve yet to encounter an MMO with such dynamic adventures where if you put a foot wrong the floor can literally collapse beneath your feet. Just bring friends and you’re bound to have tons of fun.

Romain Toutain (Programmer):
A lot of Monster Hunter Third this month. Fulfills all previous Monster Hunter players’ expectations for their next title. New areas, new monsters, really nice graphics ( some places are really awesome for a PSP game), and crazy online adventures.

Phil ‘pipster’ Barnell (Production Tester):
It took me a while, but I finally got into Mass Effect 2. I am thoroughly enjoying its dark, brooding world, which I think is composed of the following elements: great characters, ground-breaking and game-changing conversation options, amazing hub-worlds and astounding music. I’m trying to explore every undiscovered world to make it last as long as possible, may they never run out! (although they will, blatantly, noooo…)