What We Played #20

Gears, either automotive or servants of the Coalition of Ordered Governments defined my gaming this week. Gran Turismo 5 received its usual couple of hours of multiplayer exercise but I have managed to find a considerable amount of time for Epic’s latest.

Gears of War 3 feels like coming home to an improved version of the original Gears of War. It’s comfortable, familiar but better. And importantly far, far better than the disappointing Gears of War 2 whose sole redeeming feature was Horde mode.


It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what it is about Gears 3 that Epic have got so right compared to the second game but I am very pleased that no time is spent ‘platforming’ your way though the belly of a worm shooting its hearts. Praise to the gods of game design for that one, though the jury is still out on 3’s final boss fight.

[drop]The story is of course nothing to write home about but is at least comparatively well written. The graphics have lost the plastic-y look from Gears 2 and look great though I’m not wholly convinced by their ever-so-slightly cell-shaded appearance.

The gameplay though is awesome. After an initial couple of hours to see whether it was better than Gears 2 I’ve made an awful lot of time this week for Gears 3. Enough time that I’ve been through the campaign one and two half times already as well as having battled up to wave 40 in Horde mode with a spectacularly under-strength ‘team’, mostly just three players and sometimes only two.

The one minor criticism of Horde mode is that it does not seem to scale the opposition to the number of players; I doubt very much that two of us will be able to progress any further without competent backup. I have not yet played much versus multiplayer but the little that I have played has convinced me that I’ll be playing this much more online than I did Gears 2.

Now firmly ensconced back in Blighty, Tuffcub has been having some modern-day retro-tastic fun with Renegade Ops likening it to one of home computing’s best two-player experiences.

If you have ever played Amiga classic SWIV then this is the game for you. Multiplayer jeep/helicopter action, massive weapons, even bigger explosions and voice acting straight from a 1980s kids cartoon. It’s so retro the ‘saving progress’ icon is a 3’5″ floppy disc, a detail that is probably lost on half the younglings who play it. Hopefully Sega are working on some DLC and a sequel, what a fantastic game.

[videoyoutube]Aran has been playing the Ace Combat Assault Horizon demo which he says is “fun” but suffers from a sometimes irritating camera and insufficient 3D structures in its predominantly 2D city scapes. However, “doing a barrel roll in a helicopter is amusing though”.

He took to fiddling with balls when he visited EGX finding that as a self-confessed non-fan of rugby that Rugby World Cup 2011 wasn’t his cup of tea. In a FIFA 11 tournament at the show he breezed through the first round before losing in the second to an extra time goal having failed to make the best of some chances earlier in the game.

Our other EGXer who had anything to say was Kris who “played a lot” at the show. He singles out three particular favourites. First up is the “incredibly enjoyable” Sonic Generations. While the demo a few months back suffered from the backgrounds being strangely uncomfortable to watch he is happy to report that the current version is “all kinds of amazing”.

Was there ever any doubt that comic-loving (as in DC and Marvel, not Phil Jupitus) Kris would like Batman: Arkham City? While the game leaves behind the claustrophobic confines of the Asylum, even the demo provided a satisfyingly “much greater feeling of freedom”. He’s also positively purring with delight at the addition of catwoman.

She’ll have to fight for his attentions against Ninja Gaiden 3 though which Kris admits to falling “a little bit in love with”. With its “incredibly paced” action he says that its “just brilliant” before countering that the combat “feels a little over-simplistic, particularly compared to what Batman manages with a single strike button”.

And you’ve been playing?



  1. “Enough time that I’ve been through the campaign one and two half times already”

    So, would that be twice then? :)

    • No, all the way through once and now half way through on two separate playthroughs. Hence one and two halves.

      • Ahhh, i see – That makes much more sense now!

        I did think that it was a very roundabout way of saying “twice”! :)

  2. In response to the question at the bottom of the article though, this week has mainly seen some Red Faction Armageddon as i got it cheap (& has surprised me a little as it’s more fun than i expected it to be) & some WWE All Stars, which i also got cheap & for the most part is decent enough if a little too simplistic on the controls.

    Tonight will see some Singularity (as i am hosting the meet) & then possibly some Alice afterwards, or Mortal Kombat, or maybe even some Driver (which i am still loving).

    Next week will be a different story though, as i am not around. :(

  3. Hey. I don’t fiddle with balls that much!

  4. I’ve been playing Dragon Age Origins when i’m not searching for a job and then wanting to punch the wall. I think i will be able to complete the current playthrough within the next two days if i decide not to do the side quests. I played the BF3 beta and it is fun and looks excellent, graphics wise. Although it is buggy and is filled with campers. >:(

    I also enjoyed the Ace combat demo although i didn’t like the helicopter controls due to the right anlog being used to aim and turn the helicopter. I lost count of how many times i went to aim at something only to find out that the copter turn in the wrong direction. The left stick should have been used to turn and move forward or backward.

    • I just started a playthrough of DAII today, just one last push so I can get the 3 trophies standing between me and my 5th platinum. I’m loving it to, forgot how much I liked that game, though Origins is still the better one.

      Apart from that been playing the Team Ico Collection, in which I’ve wasted most of my time in Shadow, looking for juicy fruit and lizards with shiny tails ;)

  5. I’ve been playing F1 2011, Nascar 2011 (actually really, really enjoying going round in circles lol), You Don’t Know Jack (enjoying more than Buzz), Catherine, Mercury Hg (awesome) and finally nearly completing 4 Elements HD. I’ve also been doing small spurts of Summer Challenge but there’s so much stick mashing I worry for my controller (and my wrists lol) so I do it in small quantities. Oh and I 100%’d learning with the PooYoo’s… Never let me loose on the PSN store drunk ever again. I will buy anything :’-(

    • What the hell is learning with the PooYoo’s?? :S

      • It looked cute, I didnt realise its a spelling, numbers and shapes learning game. Think an interactive Tellytubbies episode and your almost there. Sorry world!

      • Fair enough – I wont be adding that to my ‘must buy’ list in that case!

        Now if it was a ‘shoot a teletubby in the face’ game, i’d be all over it like a shot! :D

  6. More zombie grinding for me – done 4 levels of Dead Nation on Morbid (solo) – this MUST be my last playthrough for the Platinum. Also, the very reasonably priced DLC – it’s a nice spin on the usual survivor/horde modes!

    Then some Dead Island, it’s not quite as repetitive as Far Cry 2 but I only do a bit at a time to avoid it getting boring.

    A little Might & Magic – can’t rate this game enough!!

    Tried the BF3 Beta today. I’m a huge MW fan but really enjoyed the Beta, so it’ll be purchased along side MW3. I think MW3 has better class customisation which is a big part for me, and will be smoother. However I like how BF has the destructable environments, and how the maps move along as you progress with the objectives. Graphics are down to preference, I think the character models and guns are sharper in MW but the envirnments in BF are more realistic, if a bit saturated by the overlighting. Either way us FPS fans are blessed this year!

    Then tonight, it’ll be FIFA 12, followed by some FIFA 12, and probably finished off with a little bit of FIFA 12.

  7. I’m finding it almost impossible to sit and play games at the moment, don’t find enjoyment in any thing. I think I’m going down again. :(

    • Pretty much the same here to be honest. It dawned on me last night that there have been very few games this generation that have made me go “ooooo I’m loving this!”. It doesn’t help that every other day I read an article talking about developers getting angry we aren’t buying their broken, unfinished, day-one-patch games brand new. Replaying RE4 recently has reminded me how much more awesome it was to be a PS2/PSX/Gamecube/N64/Dreamcast owner than a gamer in this generation :(

  8. Team ICO collection will be arriving tomorrow so I’ll be spending my time playing that.

  9. BF3 beta (disappointingly choppy), Resistance 3 both SP and MP, and perennial fave Magic 2012 with it’s new DLC.

    BTW, out of the myriad examples possible for the word “comic”, you pick Phil Jupitus?!?!?!

  10. Finally got around to getting my platinum for Tiger Woods 12, more Dead Island and a sprinkling of PSN games … Max & the Magic Marker, Arkedo Swap and Pixel. Also need to get back to From Dust, Burnout Crash and Renegade Ops.
    Started playing Fifa 12, which arrived yesterday and of course my usual TSA meets (Motorstorm Apocalypse, Dirt 3 and SARPBC).

    • What are those Arkedo games lime mate? They are definitely the right sort of price from what i have seen, but to me Jump & Pixel looked pretty crappy.

      That’s not taking anything away from the way that they play i guess though?

      • I really enjoyed Jump, it’s a basic platformer where you need to collect bombs before their countdown timer runs out. There are thirty levels plus a bonus level if you complete the challenge mode. There’s probably about two hours play or so in it.
        I’ve not played much of Pixel yet, but it seems like a decent little platformer.
        The gameplay in both is pretty solid though, if you like retro games.

      • Ah cool, thanks man.

        I guessed you sussed it anyway due to your response, but just to confirm, i was asking what they were ‘like’ & not whether they were ‘lime’. I am not even sure what the latter would imply! :D

        I do like the odd retro game, but i find i never put as much time into them as i first think i would. I do like puzzle games though (as does the missus), so is swap any good?

      • Swap is pretty good. It’s kinda like the usual match games, except you can move any piece about without it having to make a match which allows you to set up combos.
        There’s a short story mode, arcade mode and a bunch of challenges, some of which are pretty difficult.
        I’d say take a punt on it , especially at such a low price.

      • Cheers bud – Sounds like it’s well worth the asking price from what you have said.

        Sold. :)

    • What’s Max and The Magic Marker like? Looks interesting, but a bit Wii-ey (if it isn’t a word it should be!)

Comments are now closed for this post.