What We’re Playing – Week 4

A big week for both of the main consoles as each received a long-awaited exclusive. MAG launched first, and we’re happy to say that a lot of you have answered the call and are unearthing many of the the tactical shooter’s charms. Mass Effect 2, one of the 360’s biggest exclusives this year, has also caused a massive stir, with early impressions suggesting BioWare’s sci-fi sequel is an instant classic.

But what else are we playing?



I’ve mainly been playing MAG since the servers went live on Monday. Unfortunately, I decided to choose S.V.E.R. so I won’t be able to participate in any sort of clan activities until I reach Level 60 and switch over (which shouldn’t be too far off, I’m already level 14). It’s a really fun shooter and I’m definitely enjoying it more than Modern Warfare 2. If MAG had the clan options that Killzone 2 had, like, well, proper clan matches and the ability to set up private matches, I would easily then call it the best online shooter on the PS3. Though if they ever supported Team Fortress 2 like they did for the 360 and PC (yes, I know why they didn’t), then that would have still been better.

Anyways, I’ve also been playing little bits of Darksiders, Bayonetta and Brütal Legend. I’ve reached the RTS battles now in Brütal Legend, and while I definitely prefer the first bits of the game, I kinda like the RTS element. I’m sure though that these first battles are just too easy and the final battle will be some kind of evil creation that will stop me from ever seeing the ending.

Bayonetta, what else can I say? It’s quite annoying that you apparently miss some fights (verses) and get rewarded the stone award at the end of the chapter, I’d have definitely preferred it to be linear. Also, either I’m going completely mad but did anyone notice that in the camera settings, when you say yes to Invert, it’s not inverted? The Japanese, their creations are always odd. The patch (and therefore, install) has made quite a big difference as far as I can tell, loading has been reduced considerably in-game.

Darksiders is quite the mesh of games, eh? I never really felt that I was ever playing a God of War clone, and any of the other types of games that people say are blended in (Zelda I believe?) haven’t really been played by me, so the game feels rather new for me. For some reason, I’d call this an RPG more than an Action/Adventure game, as there’s quite a lot of weapons, skills, etc. you can manage. It also has the lovely feature of RPGs where time passes by in such a way that one minute is equal to one hour. Where’s that time machine already? They said we’d have it by now!


I’ve finished ‘The Secret of Monkey Island‘ on the iPod Touch this week, and have already moved onto ‘Broken Sword‘. Yet again, another great point-and-click game has gracefully moved over to the portable machine, and the touchscreen really lends itself to the whole ‘point’ thing – something I think wouldn’t work so well on the PSP.

I would have been on the PS2 this week, but my desk has been cleared and is full of little plasticine models for animating. The PS2 is sitting on a high shelf, beginning its dust collecting duties along with the YLOD PS3. Still, my PSP is always available, but ‘Broken Sword’ is pretty addictive.


Whilst spending most of my week hacking around php and css, any spare time I had was firstly spent on the XBLA title Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter. Wanting to avoid divulging my true feelings for a title which has a review eager to be released, I will just say that getting to then play Bayonetta was a welcome change. The game has really impressed me so far, with stunning visuals, an interesting plot and environment along with solid gameplay, Bayonetta is turning out to be one of the best hack’n’slash games of recent times. Let’s just hope that the positive impressions continue throughout.


I stuck to my word this week and returned to Sinnoh to see how my Pokémon were doing. Unfortunately, I had no idea where I was in the story so now I’ve restarted Pokémon Platinum. I chose Chimchar, by the way.

MAG arrived on Thursday so I quickly joined Raven and jumped into the war. I really like the scale of everything but people really do need to communicate more.

Speaking of communication, I played some more Army of Two: 40th Day with Colin, who is very good a communicating. My favourite quote must be, “Where are you?” I was right next to him. The campaign is great but EA still haven’t figured out how to do servers.

On the other console, my 360, I put a little bit of time into ranking up on Modern Warfare 2 mainly using my favourite gun, the Intervention. As you can see, I like shooters.


This week I’ve spent a lot of time with Mass Effect 2. There’s a review on the way so I don’t want to say too much but I think it’s okay to tell you all that it’s awesome and you should probably buy it if you have a machine that will run it.

I’ve also been playing Prince of Persia which I picked up for £5. I’m tempted to say it was still a little overpriced but that would be massively unfair. It’s enjoyable but a similar ilk to all the other “free running” parkour-style games and not as good as any of them. I have warmed to the art style though which I remember thinking was awful when I first saw it.

Finally, I’ve been playing Telegraph Crosswords. I read the Minis round-up that it featured in and went to buy it but at £3.49 I paused just long enough to remember that there might be an iPhone version. I think that one was £1.79 so I bought that instead. There’s a lesson there for whoever decides the Minis pricing.

I also bought Fallout 3 for the third and fourth times but I haven’t got around to playing that yet…


It’s been a relatively quiet week for me gaming wise due to having other things that require a little of my time. I did however get the Colin McRae: DiRT 2 platinum on Tuesday after finally getting the annoying online trophies. It felt good earning a platinum trophy, it’s been almost a year since my last.

Again I haven’t been on Killzone 2 much, played a few games in the boot camp and my semi-final fixture, and spent a little time on Modern Warfare 2. Unfortunately the host migration decided to kick me from almost every game I was in.

I also tried Army of Two: The 40th Day online for the first time. It didn’t work properly either. Thankfully though MAG does seem to work online, I’ve played a couple of hours on this and it seems a good FPS, nothing amazing so far but I’m assuming more powerful weapons and skills come from ranking up.


What with various meetings, job hunting, partying and working late, I haven’t actually played anything this week, so here’s what I wish I’d been playing instead. Heh, I didn’t want to be left out.

MAG was released, and whilst I may have been rubbishing it compared to the look of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 on Twitter, it certainly does look interesting. Maybe Davs will get it and I’ll be able to take a look. Along with that, the interwebs have been a buzz with talk of Mass Effect 2, but I’d like the first game… well first. It looks quite cheap now. Finally Mirror’s Edge. Why? I don’t really know, mostly just because. It pops into my head every few months as something I need to buy along with Crackdown (ooooo Crackdown).


This week I have been playing a bit of Gran Turismo PSP on my travels to Newcastle. Very enjoyable it is, too. I manage to get my GT kicks but while still on the move and it’s great preparation for Gran Turismo 5 (when it finally arrives). The handling is nice and forgiving, plenty of shiny new cars and the excellent tracks that are the GT standard.

When I have been at home, I have been putting in the hours with Manager Mode in FIFA 10. I’m thoroughly enjoying the action on field, but not so keen on the clunky menu system. Dabbled a bit in the Live Season mode, which was very impressive.

Finally got round to playing Bloom Blox on the Wii too and had a blast (no pun intended) playing multiplayer.


SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection – Just picking this up now and then and delving in. One thing I have learned from playing all these games is that current gen games are way too easy. On a PS3 game, if you are wandering around a spooky hospital, the chances are there will be some nice big red arrows (painted in blood) on the walls so you know where to go. No such hints back in the day, I get to the end of a scrolling section on level one of E-Swat and.. what? I can’t see where to go, there are no helpful arrows. Gah! Stuck!

Even when there are helpful arrows such as the on in Shinobi III, it’s pointing vertically upwards. What? I can’t jump that high? What the hell do I do? Resorting to the age old solution of waggling sticks and pressing all the buttons at the same time and I finally discover I can time jumps to bounce off walls.


I’ve sank a fair few hours into MAG this week, thoroughly enjoying my time spanking both Raven and Valor. It’s a game that depends so much on the luck of who you’re joined with on your squad, as being paired with a vocal, competent leader usually results in one of the best online experiences you’ll ever have. Get a muppet with a mike, however, and prepare for frustration.

With Bayonetta getting its much needed (Sony driven) patch last week, I’ve also returned to the bewitching charms of the saucy gun-totting minx. To say the game is now better than its initial outing is a gross understatement. Loading times are practically extinct, with some graphical improvements apparently also introduced into the mix. It still runs better on the 360 in my opinion, but the distance between the two products now is a mere fraction while before the gulf was Grand Canyon-esque.

I’m still playing around with ModNation Racers, which I think will be one of the year’s gaming highlights. If only they can sort out those infuriating loading times. I also had a quick look at the Polar Panic and Thexder Neo demos. The former is a competent if perhaps simplistic block pushing puzzler (with polar bears), while Thexder Neo is a bizarre throwback to arcade games of the past. An eccentric combination of Mega Man meets R-Type, the transforming mech side-scroller probably caters for a certain market – it’s just not for me.


I’ve dug out the DS for this week’s gaming, and have sunk countless hours into steering Link around an overworld suddenly populated with train tracks.  I love The Legend Of Zelda games, always have, always will, and the two recent DS games have been absolute joys to play through.  Sure, I didn’t really like the dumb repetition of Phantom Hourglass and the trains of Spirit Tracks seem a little bit at odds with the canon, but I can see how their presence has resulted in two distinct games in the series so I’m happy enough.

In addition, I’ve been delving into the murky, confusing waters of Xbox Indie Games.  There’s some absolute stinkers in there but there’s also some brilliance too in amongst the fluff, it’s just finding it using Microsoft’s silly Dashboard that’s the problem.


I’m not sure if designing tracks is playing as such, but that’s what I’ve been doing in ModNation Racers. But it’s got worse in the sense that it’s taking over my life. I keep thinking about track design, and I doodle curves and banks and bends and breadcrumbs when I should be shuffling data around databases.

I find that I play others’ tracks with a really critical eye on the design. I’ve even started researching track design on the web so as to help me with my own tracks. I’m no expert, but people seem to not playtest their tracks too much, because some aren’t fun to drive round.

I also bought MAG, because some TSA writer bod wrote some nonsensical review which was average, and I figured I’ve give the game a go. Somewhat predictably I am rubbish at MAG and end up dying a lot. However, the tightness of some of the level design has given me some good ideas for ModNation Racers tracks.

I’ve also overused the word “some” some. Sorry.


This week I’ve been playing Folklore. Although I haven’t got deep enough in to the story yet, it seems wonderful, involving and just generally an all-round good experience. The character development is great and your actions affect the story of the second playable character, it also has the only good use of SixAxis control I’ve ever seen. I recommend this to anyone, and not just because it’s set in Ireland.


Pandora, Day 101 – Finally found The Vault and discovered its secret. Now the mercenary in me wants to investigate reports of strange activity on a distant isle, but unfortunately the travel agent won’t accept the millions of Pandora currency I have earned these past weeks.  Instead I must use a strange currency called UKP which I cannot find enough of yet, so further adventures will have to wait. [Borderlands]


I didn’t play anything this week until Friday, when I bought Mass Effect 2. I have literally spent every waking moment (short of going downstairs to get a drink or a meal to bring upstairs and drink/eat whilst continuing the game) since playing it and finished 5 minutes ago. Since Friday at 4pm, I have spent 32 hours and 40 minutes in ME2. It was thoroughly brilliant and absolutely essential to anyone with thumbs and an appreciation for, well, stuff that is good.

I’m pretty certain I had a tiny orgasm every 5 minutes whilst playing the game.


This week I completed the campaign for Modern Warfare 2, and I have to say that I absolutely loved it. I really didn’t expect to like it all that much, but (as I was playing on hardened) it was much longer than I was expecting, it had some fantastic set pieces, and I loved the way it unfolded a lot of the story during the actual game to give everything much more impact. That said though, there’s still a lot I would fix about it. Like the annoying patriotic music that played during every level set in America. Get over yourself game!