What We’re Playing: ’tis the Season Finale

December 24, 2010

The end of the year is fast approaching, making this 2010’s last regular look at what games we’re playing here at Splash Damage. With most of the office already off on their well-deserved Christmas holiday, this edition is somewhat shorter than usual, but packs the same amount of sugary sweetness as the rest. Oh, and with 2010 over and done with, look for a special edition revealing our individual game of the year picks soon.

And now, without further ado, let’s get to the games, shall we?

Philip ‘pipster’ Barnell (Production Tester):
To describe Starcraft II, I need to quote Marv from Sin City, “This is blood for blood and by the gallon. These are the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days. They’re back! There’s no choice left. And I’m ready for war.” Playing Starcraft II harkens me back to my Red Alert days, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see that I still love this style of gameplay. Each game is like being put through an inferno; there is constant action, split-second decisions to be made and millions of Zerg to be destroyed. Viva!

Neil ‘Exedore’ Alphonso (Lead Designer):
Cataclysm, and NOTHING ELSE. Have I eaten recently?

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Olivier ‘Nosebone’ Leonardi (Art Director):
A lot of racing going on this month with two completely different games: Gran Turismo 5 and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. GT5 is, well, GT as you know it, with more of everything: more cars, more tracks, more tuning… and more loading. Like it or hate it, but the sheer amount of content they’ve put in this game is absolutely amazing and it’s frankly the best driving simulation ever done.

Then you have Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit where you notice immediately that driving is more on the arcade side of things. The presentation is amazing, the police chases are adrenaline-packed, and the cool gadgets make the whole thing really enjoyable. Special mention for the autolog feature which allows you to keep your friends close and your nemesis closer! 🙂

Jamie ‘Fishbus’ Manson (Level Designer):
I got spurs; that jingle jangle jingle.

Ed ‘mred’ Reid (Online Services Programmer):
I RRODied 🙁

Steve ‘badman’ Hessel (Community Relations Manager):
After assassinating and brotherhooding my way through Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood for several weekends, I can now safely proclaim that it’s one of the best games I’ve played this year. The game world is as fantastic as ever, and there’s a smorgasboard of different side missions, tons of weapon and armor upgrades, and a few new mechanics like guild management to keep you busy all the way through. Play it if you haven’t already.

In more wheel-based news, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit‘s Autolog is made of pure win and evil all at the same time. It automagically pulls in your friends’ completion times and gives you a target recommendation to beat based on your past driving performance. There are few things more satisfying than beating a recommendation by miles and claiming the top spot on the leaderboard. Oh hi, Olivier.

Finally, I’ve been having Words with Friends on the iPhone, which is a great little game. It’s essentially a play-by-mail version of Scrabble, which makes it a fantastic thing to fill those intermittent downtimes.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Ed ‘BongoBoy’ Stern (Lead Writer):
Metro 2033. I’m sorry to admit I didn’t check this out when it first released. Possibly I’d mentally made it offspring or twin or cousin or fur-hatted stepchild of the excellent but prohibitively-life-consuming STALKER. If so, I was a buffoon. Slate.com are doing their annual Gaming Club round-up with game-thinky-writey luminaries Chris Suellentrop, John Lanchester, Tom Bissell and Seth Schiesel. It’s well worth checking out. Tom Bissell mentioned Metro 2033 in glowing terms, I thought I should finally give it a go and OH MY GOODNESS what a great game.

You could argue that it doesn’t do anything entirely new, but everything it does, it does so well, and in such a characterful way. It’s all about Scarcity. Which is appropriate for a Scare City. I love how the pre-apocalyse ammo is so much better than the reloaded/remanufactured stuff that’s all anyone can make any more, it can be used as money. So when you fire it at the scarier enemies, you really are shooting money at them. The Logbook you consult by the light of a cigarette lighter, the hand dynamo for the rapidly exhausted headlamp, the hand-pumped pneumatic sniper rifle. Oh man, the weapons really are something. Best weapon design I’ve seen in a game in a long, long while. Everything about the visuals and audio and gameplay mechanics conspire to tell a sort of story we don’t often seen in shooters. I found it entirely compelling and convincing, much more so than games with vastly higher budgets. Do yourself a favour and try it.