Games We’ve Been Playing Recently: Episode 3: “I Have a Dream Cast”

Welcome to the third episode of Games We’ve Been Playing Recently. This is where we comment on a particular game that we’ve been playing recently, be it bad, good, or just a bit ‘meh?’ Not going to be full reviews, but just might give you an idea as to if it’s a game you might like.

And as always, leave your comments on our selections or your own recommendations in the comments.

 

Whogavatarolfenstein: The New Order (PS4, X1, PS3, 360 & PC): I have to admit, I had no interest in this game, it looked like another shooter. And then I read a lot of very positive recommendations from other gamers and decided ‘why not?’ Oh my, this is a pleasure, from the very first opening mission, to the eventual climax, this game was an utter joy an a pleasure. If you think the FPS genre is dead or repetitive, Wolfenstein: The New Order is a game which will remind you just how awesome this genre once was.

It’s very easy to throw around terms like ‘this is the best FPS in years’ or ‘this is a GOTY’ so I’m going to be a bit more careful… This is the best Single Player campaign in a FPS game that I’ve played for a very long time. Yup, I include Half Life 2, Singularity, Metro, Resistance, Doom in that list.

I won’t spoil too much of the plot but if you’re a fan of these ‘alternative history’ type games, you will utterly love this, and if you don’t enjoy that kind of story, stick with it, it’s done very well. Not only that but the story is very well written, characters are well rounded and the voice acting is sublime.

But how does it play… Oh god it’s so much fun. If you like games where you can carry tons of weapons around with you, with weapons that each have a specific use, strengths weaknesses, not this modern ‘hey here’s a machine gun exactly like all the other ones’ foolishness. Weapons are a lot of fun, enemies react as expected to where you shoot them and what you shoot them with. It feels so satisfying shooting in this game, you feel like you’re really holding those weapons and each time you get a kill, you can almost feel the impact.

The fun factor is very high with this one, virtually every weapon can be dual wielded, including sniper rifles. Whilst it’s ridiculous and totally unrealistic, I fail to care when I’m having so much fun running around with dual shotguns. Level design is also a huge positive in this game, yes there’s objectives, but the game allows you to explore, you can go off course and you can get to your destination via different routes and methods.

Definitely recommend this one, one of the best FPS’ for years and possibly the best single player campaign for decades.

Version played: PS4.

BradAvaPokemon Colosseum (GC): I’ve been on a bit of a Pokemon extravaganza recently, and decided to go back and replay many titles in excitement for the upcoming generation three remakes. As part of this, I wanted to dig up my Gamecube and give the two Shadow Pokemon titles a go. As of this, I’ve just about finished Colosseum’s main campaign. Honestly? It’s nowhere as good as I remember, but that’s nostalgia for you.

First up is that the way I play Pokemon has changed a lot. Back in the day I used to just raise Espeon and Umbreon so they were overwhelmingly tough and could basically take on anyone. This time, I wanted to raise a team, and it became apparent quickly how overwhelmingly… unbalanced (?) the game feels. You could barely keep up with the common Pokemon trainers, Cipher Admins were overwhelmingly tough, there’s not enough variety in Pokemon to raise – and even beside that, it’s difficult to raise your Pokemon in the first place since trainers are your only income of EXP.

The visuals are nice enough for the day, but compared to Pokemon XD its severely outclassed. Everything looks and feels quite rough. The models themselves are alright, especially for the Pokemon and their animations for attacks, some of which I feel are superior to that seen in the recent Pokemon X/Y. I might be biased in this, but I feel the music is one of the stronger points. It’s very catchy and memorable, but since I grew up with this title that might be the only reason why. The story had a lot of potential too but it never really feels like it takes off. The concept of Shadow Pokemon is great but the game relies too much on battle after battle, complete with cheesy dialogue and two enemy teams who are never really used to the full. Team Snagem only appears briefly at the start of the game and then ends with a battle with the leader out of nowhere.

I still enjoyed (for the most part) playing through Colosseum despite the occasional frustration, but it definitely has nothing on its sequel. Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness took everything Colosseum built and made it so much more enjoyable in every way. That said, this is still a solid title and worth a Pokemon fan’s time. Just try not to get too mad at some of the double battle mechanics here.

checker

EVE Online (Windows/Mac): I was initially a bit skeptical about this game, partly because of it’s (somewhat deserved) reputation and partly due to a general aversion to pay-to-play MMOs, but I gave it a shot during the last Steam Summer Sale. Once downloaded, I began my trial planning to spend only a couple hours inside. The next thing I know, 16 hours elapsed, my stomach was grumbling massively, and I was figuring out which skill track I wanted to take while I made an ungodly sum of in-game currency from mining ore and refining it. There are many paths to take in the game, but there are a lot of dangers in it as well, including from other players, and very little in the way of policing from developers, but surprisingly it works.

I’ll close this blurb by saying this: there are wags across the spectrum who say that Somalia is the embodiment of libertarianism. In my opinion, EVE Online makes Somalia look like a nanny state.

What games you guys been playing recently? Let us know in the comment box. Good or bad we don’t care, just tell us about games.

Games We’ve Been Playing Recently: Episode 2: Spectrum’s Are Go!

gamers

Well it’s been a while since the last one, so welcome to an instalment of Games We’ve Been Playing Recently.

This is where we comment on a particular game that we’ve been playing recently, be it bad, good, or just a bit ‘meh?’ Not going to be full reviews, but just might give you an idea as to if it’s a game you might like.

So lets get on with it shall we?

hogavatar

Payday 2 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC): For lack of a better description, Payday 2 is a single player/co-op heist simulator. And it’s amazing. You play as one of 4 expert bank robbers who are contracted to pull off daring and elaborate heists, rob the bank? Raid the jewellery store? Sneak into the museum and steal art? infiltrate a laboratory and steal a prototype jet engine? It’s all here!

Payday 2 is one hell of a game, if you have a group of friends with mics it’s one of the most rewarding co-op experiences, if you’re a fan of games like Left 4 Dead, you will love this.

Also, each time you replay, things change, the patrols of guards, locations of the goods, the type of goods (is it money or gold day at the bank)? The level up system is very engaging and it allows for instant re-specing of abilities without losing progress/money. Payday 2’s intensity comes from the fact that the longer the heist goes on for, the greater the reward and greater the threat from the police.

You and your friends will be yelling “BULLDOZER!” as you see the juganaught of policemen charging at you with a shotgun.

I strongly recommend you pick up and try this game, though it is played best with friends and mics, however I can’t deny how epic it feels to do a heist solo without being detected by security.

tumblr_mwyetcY3Ck1sxudx7o1_500The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition (Wii U): after the recent release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at the movies, my love for Spidey re-kindled and I decided to go back and try and pick up the game based on the first movie, hearing it wasn’t too bad and knowing it would go cheap now.

Honestly, the game wasn’t anything special for me. The open world was nice, but noticeable pop-in, dead looking streets and blocky buildings just bored me. The swinging was okay but felt floaty and weightless and it was difficult to be precise. Web rush helped that, but the concept itself felt a little broken and took away my need to wall crawl or navigate – just push web rush, and it’s done! The combat was ripped straight from the Arkham games, which isn’t bad in itself but it felt less flowing and refined, plus at times it was difficult to know when to dodge.

On top of all this, the story was a bit of a bore with some mediocre character models and voice acting that didn’t sound all that great. Spidey’s voice here just doesn’t fit for me and he obnoxiously yells the same yells and phrases over and over when swinging and fighting which only deepens that. If you can pick it up cheap it could be worth a play for Spidey fans, but if you can get Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions cheaper, that’s probably a better option, fan or casual.

doctormkSuper Mario 3D World (Wii U): What’s this? A staff writer for a Sonic fansite playing a Mario game… for FUN?! Blasphemy! I guess I’d better make my way to the bunker if I want to escape the inevitable angry mob hunting me down with their torches and pitchforks…! But really, on a more serious note, I’ve always been a huge fan of the Super Mario series, and this latest entry on the Wii U is undoubtedly one of the plumber’s finest. I beat the majority of what it has to offer last year upon its release but have only recently gone back to play through it all over again to get 100% completion – which essentially meant playing through the entire thing several more times with each of the unique characters on offer.

You’d think having to replay the same handful of stages time after time would grow tiresome, but no – Nintendo’s pulled out all the stops here to make sure 3D World consists of only the most creative Mario level designs, with plenty of ingenious moments as well as punishing platforming challenges. Those last couple of levels really pushed me to my limits… but I managed it in the end, and I feel all the more proud of my achievement as a result!

And let’s not forget just how impressive the game’s presentation is – gorgeous visuals, vibrant designs, and one of the best soundtracks my ears have ever had the pleasure of hearing (and one I now listen to on constant repeat, thanks to Club Nintendo!). It’s a game that’s a sheer joy to play through, be it for the first, second, third, fourth, or even fifth time! Wahoo!

tumblr_mwyetcY3Ck1sxudx7o1_500 The Pinball Arcade (Playstation 3): If you were to ask me what my absolute favorite game in the arcades was when growing up, it would undoubtedly be pinball. The game has mesmerised me for many, many years. So it’s probably without surprise that The Pinball Arcade is probably the game that I have open the most whenever I’m not tearing through Sonic stages.

The game essentially is one massive collection of pinball tables from all the great pinball manufacturers of the day. Bally, Stern, Gottlieb and Williams are all accounted for in this collection, which aims on recreating their games down to the smallest of details, all the way down to perfect ROM emulation of each table’s solid state data. With Farsight Technologies (the devs behind the game) continually releasing new table packs for the game, there’s more than enough pinball to go around for everyone.

Most recently, The PS3 version of The Pinball Arcade received the long-awaited ‘Mega-Patch’. With this update, all the tables look a lot prettier, the physics have been tidied up and a lot of the tables play a helluva lot better than they used to. I implore ANYONE who’s gotten the smallest bit of enjoyment from a round of pinball to at least try this game. It made me fall in love with the silver ball all over again, and for someone who already loved the game to begin with, is saying an awful lot.

Now… let’s work on beating that 1.6 billion high score on Terminator 2 I set late last week…

vizardjeffhog_iconKirby: Triple Deluxe (Nintendo 3DS): It’s more than you think, it’s got maximum pink! Following on from its January release in Japan, the latest efforts from Nintendo subsidiary HAL Laboratory has finally begun to grace the West, and I was more than eager to get my hands on this game the moment May 2nd swung by. The game’s eponymous hero wakes up one morning, only to find that his home had been transported way above the clouds! What darkness lurks within the pristine sky kingdom of Floralia? What does that manipulating magician, Taranza, hope to accomplish by kidnapping Dream Land’s own King Dedede? What adorable little hats will Kirby don through his unique copy ability this time around!? WAS THIS GAME WORTH THE WAIT?

Triple Deluxe is a spring breeze of a game (and hey, there’s no wrong in easy so long as it’s quality!), although those who seek greater challenges might want to look elsewhere, lest they are willing to take on the significantly greater challenges the post-game has in store. Nonetheless, the latest Kirby is simple, cute, and quality fun with a ton of things to keep you busy! If Story Mode isn’t enough to suit your fancy, there’s also the rhythm game madness that is Dedede Drum Rush, and the Smash Bros.-inspired Kirby Fighters!

Gameplay-wise, it’s about the exact same as Return to Dream Land on the Wii, so those who loved the former definitely oughta get a kick out of this — easy to pick up controls paired with a wide arsenal of powers to spice up your own playthrough (like the all new Beetle and Archer abilities!). Hypernova Kirby is another pretty satisfying ability to unleash, where the Star Warrior’s already voracious appetite gets amplified to environmentally unfriendly degrees.

Topped off with yet another gorgeous soundtrack put together by Jun Ishikawa and Hirokazu Ando (if there’s anything I play more than a game, it’s that game’s OST), an Extra Mode fit for a king among other fun distractions, collectable and Streetpass-able keychains based off of the franchise’s history, and a wonderfully woven world to explore as thoroughly as possible, Kirby: Triple Deluxe is a complete and utter joy of a game. To folks who aren’t put off by easy vidya, who’ve been fans of the series for a while, or who’ve been waiting for an entry point into another of Nintendo’s biggest names, this is a must-have for your 3DS library!

vedj-f

Fur Fighters: Viggo’s Revenge (Playstation 2): Going way back in my gaming collection for this one. An updated port of the Dreamcast game simply called Fur Fighters, I bought this from the local Comet store in 2002 (when it had a small video game section) for £10. And it was a tenner well spent for me.

The gameplay is pretty unique, and I don’t think there’s another game with quite the genre mash-up. Primarily it’s a third person shooter, but it also has platformer and puzzle game elements thrown in there so acing the game isn’t done through brute force alone. Part of this involves switching between six characters to rescue babies using their individual skills. You have Roofus who can dig in holes (basically a teleport), Juliette who can climb scratched walls, Bungalow who can jump higher, Chang who can fit into small gaps, Rico who can swim underwater, and Tweek who can glide ala Spyro (and is my favourite of the bunch). Depending on your skill level, the control configuration can be altered to your preference, with advanced being the default (I am not an advanced shooter player so I go with beginner 1).

But what makes this game stick with me so fondly isn’t simply that it plays good, it’s how lovingly crafted every other detail in this game is. Each world is strongly stylised and fun to explore, packed with memorable set pieces and references (some of which add otherwise unsaid traits to your own characters). The main cast are strongly characterised and quickly endear themselves to you, which makes their plight of rescuing their children and mutated spouses (mother in one case) resonate that much more. Even the minor cast get some funny lines in. Each world only has one music track in it, but the music team made it work by having six versions of that one track so that it ends up dynamic and different when you’re busy switching between characters (for example, Roofus’ version of New Quack City and Juliette’s version of New Quack City have numerous differences in instrumentation and melody).

All this combined makes for a game I love to come back and play to completion. It’s pretty hard to find nowadays, but it should at least be cheap. Viggo’s Revenge, compared to the original, has an extra level, slightly different collectible locations, cel-shaded graphics and and full voice work (and honestly, it’s funny to hear Roofus deliver serious rousing speeches with a thick Scottish accent). Still a strange one!

checker

Dust: An Elysian Tail (Windows/Mac/Linux/XBLA): This is a game with a development time of four years, with the visual design and coding done by one person. You start out without any memory responding to a talking sword and aided by a winged furry… thing, and begin your epic quest through the beautiful landscape, setting all right with the world. The developer behind the the game spent four years coding and doing the art for this game by himself, and when you start it up, you know that is time well spent. The art is extremely beautiful, the characters are well-designed, and the controls flow well whether you use a keyboard and mouse or a game pad. At under $15, it’s a great game and has good replay value, so get it already.

So what games have you been playing recently? Any recommendations, let us know in the comments.

Games we’ve been playing this week

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9McGKrxOnB8

Welcome to a new feature on TSS “Games we’ve been playing this week.” Despite us being rather big fans of Sonic & Sega, we do actually play and love other games! I know! Shocking right?

So we figured we’d like to tell you about the games we’ve been playing recently which might help you expand your horizons or give you some ideas as to what games we’re playing/enjoying/hating etc. That and we wanna talk about video games have had an impact.

These won’t be reviews or major looks at them, just a few comments as to how we feel about said games.

hogavatar

Tearaway (PS Vita): If you asked me a month ago what my favourite games are, I’d say “I can’t decide between ICO & Shadow of the Colossus.” I can now add Tearaway to that. Tearaway is absolutely wonderful,

If you love video games for their ability to give you a sense of joy and escapism, you utterly need to get this. You NEED this. The world it creates, the story it tells and how it interacts with you, by far the best use of touch controls ever, wonderful music, gorgeous level design and a wonderful atmosphere. If you’ve become invested in the game, that ending is going to hit you with the same emotional fist that Toy Story 3 hits you with. Tearaway is simply marvellous.

Can a handheld be a GOTY? Tearaway bloody well should be. Get a Vita and get this now. Just wish it were a little longer, though there is tons of replay value here, really hope Media Molecule will return to this world one day.

tumblr_mwyetcY3Ck1sxudx7o1_500InFAMOUS: Second Son (PS4): A sequel to the existing two games on the Playstation 3, Second Son is an ambitious title that is mostly successful. First off, let’s be frank that the visuals in this game are incredible. Seriously one of the best looking games I’ve seen. The powers you gain give subtle enough differences for them to feel unique to master but easy enough to switch around with, my personal favourite being Neon. The gameplay is extremely fun which keeps making me go back to do side missions and push the D.U.P. out of Seattle, or just dash around causing mayhem. I also enjoy the differences in how you approach combat based on the karma path you choose. Good is more about accuracy and subduing, while evil is chaotic and destructive.

The game’s story, however, isn’t the best or very involving. I never felt the push to keep wanting to find out what happens next, or really connect with any of the characters. This goes especially the other conduits that Delson meets who are extremely underdeveloped. I also felt that the karma system still wasn’t capitalised on enough and that even though Delson was a decent main character, his evil side felt… misplaced? Which is another issue with the story and character development of the game. Overall a strong title and the best you can pick up on Playstation 4 right now, but considering the current line up of titles that’s not exactly difficult.

JonoDAvatar

Ace Attorney Vs. Professor Layton (3DS): When this title was first unveiled way back when, I declared it my reason for wanting a 3DS system. For the longest of times, I’ve adored playing all of the Ace Attorney games for its cast of brilliantly conceived characters and absurd, but gripping stories. When I heard that the legendary lawyer was teaming up with the legendary puzzle solver, my body was naturally ready (especially considering that I hadn’t really dabbled much with the Layton side of things, and was eager to try it out).

Upon receiving the game, I found that things initially started really quite slowly. With two different games coming together, I was worried that it would be like two watered down games running side by side. Thankfully, I found that things didn’t take long to really get up to speed after I passed the initial couple of chapters. Now that the intro is out of the way, I’m not only enjoying the clever courtroom battles with Phoenix and Maya, but I’m also getting a stimulating brain work out from the Professor and Luke’s puzzles, which are honestly a lot more enjoyable to solve than I thought they would be.

The story is really shaping up nicely, I’m in love with the character design and the art style, and most of all the game has me spending more time with my 3DS open than shut. I’ve currently sunk just over 14 hours into this collaboration game, and I cannot wait to see and play more!

vedj-fStreetPass Mii Plaza (3DS): The setup for this one is simple; all 3DSs come with the app built into them. The basic layout contains a main ‘menu’ where all the Miis you have encountered are collected, and two additional minigames in the form of StreetPass Puzzle and StreetPass Quest I&II. The former is extremely bare bones, but it’s not as if it hurts either. The latter is more fun when you can actually traverse the paths it lays for you and battle the monsters stopping you from rescuing the king, but it also has moments where your progress is forcibly halted because certain Miis are required to get past specific room obstacles which can be frustrating. I finished with this one a long time ago.

If you update the Plaza software, things change slightly. You can now purchase at least one of the added games (either each for about £5, or all four for £15). To summarise; StreetPass Squad is a top-down shoot ’em up that’s a real blast but can be limited in progress based on how many Miis you find and what colours they are (as they determine weapon type), and I finished this one a while back. StreetPass Garden requires the most patience but is arguably the most complex of the four, integrating actual breeding mechanics with some luck (if you have a friend or two you regularly exchange with, they will prove useful here), and I currently have 78 out of 80 possible breeds. StreetPass Battle seems like it should be action-packed on the surface, but is really just a rock-paper-scissors game where more number can still negate this aspect, and it’s the game I’ve spent the least investment in. Finally, StreetPass Mansion is a puzzle game made by Yuji Naka’s Prope, and it’s probably the best balance of fun and tactical even though I’ve also done with this one.

While StreetPass Mii Plaza certainly does not set the world alight, it’s a fun little time waster, and one I definitely will be back on whenever there’s a bus trip on the horizon.

What games have you been playing recently? Any recommendations?