What We’re Playing – Week 1

New year. New features. Welcome to the first in a weekly insight into what we here at TheSixthAxis are actually cutting our teeth on gaming wise. Sure, we spend our days rapaciously consuming gaming news and pestering speaking to people in the industry, digesting everything that comes across our desks and then reporting on what we think you, our fantastic readers, will find interesting. But when we’re not glued to our PCs/Macs and under a mountain of email, tweets and news-feeds, we also like to game.

Each week, the “What We’re Playing” series presents what the staff here are up to when we’re not writing. Which games are currently finding their way into our PS3s, 360s, PSPs and other devices (anything goes as this is What We’re Playing – and we play more than consoles) and how we are finding them in general. Expect insightful revelations (someone is playing Pure), confrontations (CaptainMurdo Vs. ColinBarr66 is a particular juicy face-off this week), worrying trends (see: tuffcub – again) and those of us with a penchant for retro-gaming (I’m playing Assassin’s Creed – the first one – for crying out loud and someone is playing SSX3.)

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Finally, the intention of this feature is to not just tell you what we’re playing – we also want to know what you’re currently tackling. Feel free to voice your opinion of your impressions of said games. We’re interested in what you guys think of the games you’re playing.

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Tuffcub:

Pure – Yes, I know it’s old but only picked it up at christmas. I’ve been meaning to buy it for ages after being impressed by the demo on the PSN. I don’t like racers as a genre but Pure does what it says on the tin. It’s just pure racing joy from the vertigo inducing jumps to creating your racing quad. If you can grab this for a tenner then I can’t recommend it enough.

Fallout 3 – I really should be sick of this by now having played every single DLC on behalf of TSA but I’m still dipping in now and then for a quick blast and to find any missions I have missed. It’s still crashing every few hours and the animation is terrible but I’m rather fond of post apocalyptica.

Eyepet – I’m not sure if this really counts as “Playing” but he’s usually on in the background when I’m doing something else. I’ve taught him to draw a rocket that’s shaped like a penis, so when Snatch is bored he spends his time drawing cocks across the bedroom floor.

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Raen:

After the lovely Davs (djhsecondnature) bought me Modern Warfare 2 for Christmas, I finally busted it out and gave it a shot. I’ve only managed to get into the single player so far, and whilst enjoyable, it feels very disjointed, and if there is a story line, I’m not really aware of it. I’ve been told it gets better further in, so I’m hoping something starts to form in my mind soon. I’ve got a sealed copy of Assassin’s Creed 2 begging for some love as well, so if Modern Warfare doesn’t pick up I’ll probably just switch. I suppose I should quickly weigh in on the infamous No Russian. I didn’t kill anyone who didn’t shoot at me and found it to be generally dull. Why was I forced to walk so slowly for a start? Was the by far the low point of the game so far.

Finally I took part in the Killzone 2 1v1 tournament for my first ever taste of the game. Sure maybe I should have practised before the actual match, but that’s just nitpicking. Despite going down 7-0 to maneorix I had a fun time playing the time. However it didn’t feel nearly as slow as I’d been told it was. Gears of War 2 is a game where you feel slow, where you really feel the weight of your character. Killzone 2 just felt like another shooter, although the sound design was brilliant. Don’t understand why everyone says the graphics look amazing, the post-processing effects were nice but the scenery seemed very average and bland.

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Watchful:

Blessed be the Maker.  In this year, 20:10 TSA, Chantry acolytes have translated some more of our most revered Brother Genitivi’s ancient chronicles telling of the origins of a number of Grey Wardens who came to prominence during the Dragon Age.  Origins for three Grey Wardens have been revealed so far, yet only one is complete, that of a human noble who was instrumental in bringing about the death of the Archdemon that led the fourth blight. Genitivi’s writings also tell of two elven Grey Wardens of differing backgrounds but so far the translations of their tales are incomplete.

Pandora, Day 80:  My weekly trip into Fyrestone was enlivened by Ned’s excited tales of three vault-seekers he’s encountered in recent days.  Two of them, a flame-haired young woman he couldn’t talk about without mentioning her cleavage and drooling, and someone he described as a typical space marine who kept boasting about the size and potency of his “turret”, were travelling in small groups with fellow vault-seekers.  The only companion for the third appeared to be his pet raptor.  As a result of their passing through the arid Borderlands hereabout, the bandit and skag populations have witnessed a noticeable reduction.  Monitoring their recovery will help me while away a few lonely hours in my remote settlement, though previous experience suggests the populations will recover very quickly and be back to normal by the time the vault-seekers pass through this area once more.

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Nofi:

Well, I’ve been playing two versions of Bayonetta, one version of Darksiders, a bit of Spirit Tracks and probably the most addictive game ever: Telegraph Crossword on the PSP from the Minis service – it’s so good, really tough but nicely presented and damned cheap.  On the flip-side, I’ve also beaten the first episode of Blue Toad Murder Files (in about 30 minutes) and didn’t enjoy a single bit – I thought it was a bland, poorly scripted and terribly paced rip off of Professor Layton that doesn’t come close to the DS classics. Let’s hope episode two fares better. Finally, I dipped into Braid to sample the PS3 version: thankfully, unlike the week’s big multiformat release, I can quite happily confirm it’s just as mind blowingly awesome as the 360 version.  Now, back to Bayonetta.

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ColinBarr66:

This week I was able to try Left 4 Dead 2 for the first time. As it turns out, hitting zombies with guitars is quite fun. Who would have thought it? Playing this and the Forza 3 demo has made me want a Xbox 360 now just for those two games; both highly enjoyable. As usual, I hopped on the tour bus to Helghan (Killzone 2) for the weekly TSA boot camps and a few clan tournaments. This week also saw the first round of the Man on Man tournament but the less I say about my match against nofi the better. This week also saw me slip into some virtual spandex and jump into WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 and TNA iMPACT! – not great games, but it is incredibly fun to smash your mates face in with a steel chair then proceeding to throw him off a twenty foot high cell.

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Michael:

I’ve been in the trenches this week playing a game called Trenches on my iPhone, Red. Trenches is a little like Flight Control crossed with a simple RTS crossed with Cannon Fodder. Super playable, but very short.

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Zuler:

Been slicing my way through God of War II for the first time. Seriously, look up epic in the dictionary and you’ll be greeted with huge bold text saying “GOD OF WAR.” Zeus will pay.

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CaptainMurdo:

This week I’ve played quite a selection. Every night for me usually has an hour or two of Modern Warfare 2 but I had to give it a miss on Friday due to the perfectly organised Killzone 2 Man-On-Man Tournament. I’m pleased to say I won my first game. L4D2, TNA, WWE and PixelJunk Shooter have also been played a bit this week and the first three were with Colin, who I obviously beat (he will deny it). Shooter is a great step away from the usual brutality and really helps me relax. My PSP has also seen some action in the form of SackBoy (LittleBigPlanet) and I simply can’t recommend this game enough. It just works so well on the PSP and the online levels are so easy to download and play. Finally, I’ve had a backlog of demos (?) to play including Dante’s Inferno, Inferno Pool and Smash Cars, with Smash Cars being the most fun. Oh, and I’ve got a new puppy to play with too.

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tom_lord:

The Beatles Rock Band : Picked this up for PS3 for only £50 (with the drums, mic, game & guitar) last week. Can’t say I was ever the biggest Beatles fan, but I’m converted now. It really is surprising how many of the songs you will recognise and the attention to detail is second to none. My family seemed to enjoy it too over the Christmas holidays.
2. F1 09 : Still playing this perfectly decent PSP racer. Nothing more to report here over what I said in the review other than a couple of Ad-Hoc Multiplayer games and a couple more challenges completed.
3. DJ Hero : Finally got to play 2 player with 2 DJ decks (as opposed to one set of decks and a guitar). No rewind feature (understandable really), but otherwise exactly the same as the single player game. But the added layer of competition really spices things up, you just have to be really fortunate to know someone who also owns the game.
4. Guitar Hero 5 : Continuing my rhythm action game binge, GH5 is the slicked and most accomplished to date. The soundtrack springs a few surprises and pulls it off with aplomb. Sure, it’s not ground breaking stuff, but enjoyable none the less.
5. Blue Toad Murder Files : Last but not least, finished the first two episodes of Blue Toad Murder Files. Perfect family game to pass around before I left for university again. As big murder mystery fans, my family loved it, although some of the puzzles were fiendishly difficult (easy when you know how, hindsight is a wonderful thing etc.). Will almost certainly be purchasing the next episodes when they become available.

The Beatles Rock Band: Picked this up for PS3 for only £50 (with the drums, mic, game & guitar) last week. Can’t say I was ever the biggest Beatles fan, but I’m converted now. It really is surprising how many of the songs you will recognise and the attention to detail is second to none. My family seemed to enjoy it too over the Christmas holidays.

F1 09: Still playing this perfectly decent PSP racer. Nothing more to report here over what I said in the review other than a couple of Ad-Hoc Multiplayer games and a couple more challenges completed.

DJ Hero: Finally got to play 2 player with 2 DJ decks (as opposed to one set of decks and a guitar). No rewind feature (understandable really), but otherwise exactly the same as the single player game. But the added layer of competition really spices things up, you just have to be really fortunate to know someone who also owns the game.

Guitar Hero 5: Continuing my rhythm action game binge, GH5 is the slickest and most accomplished to date. The soundtrack springs a few surprises and pulls it off with aplomb. Sure, it’s not ground breaking stuff, but enjoyable none the less.

Blue Toad Murder Files: Last but not least, finished the first two episodes of Blue Toad Murder Files. Perfect family game to pass around before I left for university again. As big murder mystery fans, my family loved it, although some of the puzzles were fiendishly difficult (easy when you know how, hindsight is a wonderful thing etc.). Will almost certainly be purchasing the next episodes when they become available.

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Kovacs:

In what I can only call a bizarre bout of masochism, I’m playing through Killzone 2 again. On Elite. This is despite the fact that I literally have thirty games I haven’t even started waiting for me (the likes of Uncharted 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Borderlands and Modern Warfare 2 just a sample of what makes up my backlog).

I’ve been trying to come up with the perfect word that describes the Elite difficulty on Killzone 2, and the best I can come up with is “punishing.” Stick your head out for more than two seconds? You’ll lose it. While the Higs take nearly a full clip to the face to die, you’ll fade to black (and then white – trust me, I’ve been seeing that death screen a lot lately) after picking up four shots anywhere on your body. Your squad are also completely useless; forever dying and begging for help. Top tip: leave them to rot. The set-pieces are insane. Those of you who have played the game on its Normal difficulty setting will undoubtedly recall Salamun Bridge. That one section on Elite took nearly an hour. Needless to say, I’m dreading catching up with Radec.

Staying off the urge to throw my controller/dog/self at a wall, I’m also dipping into Guitar Hero World Tour. Thoroughly enjoying it, though I’m still reeling that there is no Trophy support. Seriously. It’s also a great retort to my neighbour’s screaming new baby. Child crying again? Time to thrash along to the Tool songs I believe.

I’m also half way through Assassin’s Creed, which I need to get back to before picking up its sequel. I usually buy games based on personal recommendations, and when a gamer whose opinion I respect tells me that it’s been one of his best gaming experiences ever – that’s good enough for me.

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ColossalBlue:

I’ve mostly been playing Forza 3 which has surprised me a little bit, the racing is tight and brilliantly done – as expected. The surprising bit had been how much time I’m sinking into the painting and vinyls creation. It’s such a brilliantly paced game with so many options for personalisation and tuning that it really must play slightly differently for everyone. Even more surprising is that my wife asked to have a go and with all the assists on she gave me a really good race in Volkswagen Beetles (when faced with any supercar you could imagine she picked the car that looks like it was built by the Early Learning Centre). It really is accessible on whatever level you want it to be.

I’ve interspersed that with brief (far too brief) snippets of Football Manager 2010 and Half Life on PC. I got the Orange Box (again) in the Steam sale so I’ve experienced the Lost Coast HDR tech demo for the first time. It is as wonderful as Half Life 2 always is. I’m trying to find time to play through HL2 and the Episodes again so maybe I’ll be talking about them next week!

Aside from that I’ve been playing “gape in wonder at the Planet Earth Blu-Ray”. We picked up Attenborough’s best just after Xmas to fill that period of no work and rubbish TV and it really is amazing to watch in HD. There is no more joyous sight than an elephant swimming underwater. Except maybe a Polar Bear sliding down an icy slope …

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Djhsecondnature:

Pokemon Platinum – It takes time to catch them all you know …

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Gamoc:

I’ve been playing a lot of Modern Warfare 2 on 360 to take out all my frustration over my PS3’s agonising death last Wednesday. I tried to make something in Trials HD‘s editor, but that desire fizzled out when I realised I had no clue what in the hell I was doing. Inevitably, I built a penis out of two tires and a plank of wood, then turned it off.

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Gastos84:

I’ve been travelling through time with a Lombax and a robot. That’s Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time, for those who are unaware or uninterested! At first I was disappointed as it lacks something that Tools of Destruction has/had; what that is I can’t quite figure out. But, what with all the snow and a catalogue of slapstick events leading to the best part of a week without net or phone, that big-eared furball and that metallic know-it-all have done extremely well at keeping me very entertained. Hours upon hours of gameplay and masses of things to do…so much so that I don’t think I’ve played anything else recently. It did lead to quite a weird train of thought, even for me: How cool would be to have a lombax as a pet?!

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BioEye:

SSX3. After my PS3 broke, I’ve been in tears, so resuscitated the PS2 and got into the snowy mood with some (what looks like to a 19-year-old) retro graphics.

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Lorcan:

Pokemon Platinum! With a broken PS3 and broken laptop, I’ve been on the DS playing Platinum for the past few days solid! Trying to catch all 493, and updated my collection with a Typhlosion, Feraligatr and Tyranitar! And also some other ones that nobody cares about. Except me because I love all Pokemon.

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CC_Star:

Dragon Age: Origins, but I’m too much of a n00b so have retreated to the safety of Warhawk. Down to only about four hours a day on it now.

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