Features & News

What are we playing? (June 2014)

July 1, 2014, Author: Andy Corrigan

Welcome to the first of a new regular feature we’re running called ‘What are we playing?’ It pretty much does what it says on the… well… not the tin exactly, but on that fancy featured image above.

Keep reading to discover exactly what the staff team are playing at the moment, plus their quick and dirty thoughts on what they’ve experienced so far.

Andy Buick (Staff Writer) – Infamous: Second Son

“I’ve just finished Infamous: Second Son. I held back from buying it until after my Sony Wireless Headset 2.0 had arrived so I could put the accompanying app to the test. It’s fair to say that, technically, it’s a stunning achievement with astounding graphics and excellent audio, including some decent voice acting.

The action is more an evolution of previous games than a revolution, and it’s great that moving around the open world is much easier with the new suite of powers, while having four different abilities is a welcome change in itself. The lack of variety in these powers is disappointing though, being good or bad is a bit too black and white, and I can’t escape the feeling that Sucker Punch could have done a lot more with the formula.

Overall I have enjoyed it, though, and having played through the good karma path, I will probably tackle the evil karma path soon as well.”

Josué Cardona (Staff Writer) – Mass Effect 3

“I recently got into Mass Effect 3 on PS3. I always wanted to go back and play the third instalment and, with the urge to play a lengthy RPG, a $15 sale for the entire trilogy on PSN sealed the deal. There are a lot of things that just feel right in Mass Effect and it’s been great to import my ME2 save and get ol’ Jane Shepard back into battle.

The gameplay is so satisfying; I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of blasting enemies with a combo of powers and weapons. I also love that I told Diana Allers to take a hike thirty minutes in and I apparently will never again get the chance to have her join my crew. It’s okay, though, because I currently have my sights set on rekindling the romance I had with Liara in ME1. Yes, things are heating up quite nicely.

Oh how I missed you, Mass Effect.”

James Sheppard (Sub-Editor) – Persona 4: Golden

“The game I’ve been playing plenty this month is one I’ve been playing regularly for about six months now: Persona 4: Golden on Vita. I’ve been gradually chipping away at it on my short commutes to work and I’ve just hit the 50-hour mark, thanks to some extra sessions I’ve squeezed in here and there this last month. Believe it or not, I’m still only around halfway through.

It’s kinda hard to stop myself from gushing over Persona 4. In fact, I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to say it’s one of the best games I’ve ever played. The Pokémon-style creature collecting and rock-paper-scissors combat is super absorbing, although what you do outside of dungeons and battles is just as entertaining, if not more. Every character goes through substantial development throughout, and just getting to know them – their secrets, foibles and their touching backstories – is rewarding in itself.

I can’t help but be drawn in by its charm and astonishing depth of content, and I think I’ll probably be quite sad when I finally reach the end. For now though, here’s to many more months still ahead of me.”

Matt Parker (News Editor) – Threes

“Aside from Sniper Elite 3 I’m still playing a lot of Threes. You all know what Threes is, right? What seems like a simple game about combining numbers is actually a devilish piece of software designed to suck your time away.

Swiping away on my phone has now become an involuntary response to being left alone for any period of time. I often find myself playing Threes without even thinking about. Like breathing in and out, Threes is now part of everyday life.

You may have seen plenty of pretenders (anything called 2048) but the original and still the best is Threes.”

Alistair Cowan (Podcast Co-Host) – Assassin’s Creed III

“This month, most of my gaming time has gone into Assassin’s Creed III which, despite coming out in 2012, I’ve managed to approach relatively spoiler free. I’ve enjoyed every one of the previous games, and despite the general negativity, this feels like another fine entry in the series. Perhaps it’s that my expectations were lowered so much that I have no issue with it?

The focus on fluid combat that was iterated on throughout the ACII trilogy continues to make you kill with reckless abandon, and the addition of musket fire manages to mix up the counter-kill streaks that Revelations turned into.

The one spoiler I did know of, how Assassin’s Creed III opened, is surprisingly long. I had to play through it twice as I zombie-played through it initially, expecting it to wrap up rather quickly. Nonetheless, I’m failing to see where the negativity came from. I’m roughly halfway through so, unless there is a serious downturn, it looks as the AC franchise will remain unspoiled for me going in to Black Flag.

I could do without those stupid pages floating off and mocking me though…”

Andy Corrigan (Editor in Chief) – Sniper Elite 3

“I seem to have been on a bit of stealth kick this year, reviewing both Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and Thief, while also managing to strike Splinter Cell: Blacklist off my pile of shame. It’s probably no real surprise, then, that I’m currently elbows deep in Rebellion’s Sniper Elite 3.

Without breaking major ground, Rebellion’s latest stealth effort is truly a lot of fun.  You’re given wide-open maps, branching goals, a multitude of optional objectives to further sabotage the German war effort, and it’s entirely up to you how you go about your business.

My only real complaint is that I’m finding the dynamic kill-cam a little too gruesome thanks to its x-ray vision showing you the intricate, internal damage you’re causing. Yup, I bagged a sweet headshot from miles away, but do I really need to know that I also exploded an eyeball and shattered a jaw with it? I’m genuinely undecided and conflicted on this point; a guilty pleasure, maybe?

Still, there’s an undeniable and tense thrill from the core mechanics of staying hidden where possible, lining up your shot, accounting for bullet drop, and using environmental noise to mask the tell-tale crack of your rifle. I’m having a good time!”

Jade Sayers (Staff Writer) – Valiant Hearts

“This week I’ve started playing Valiant Hearts, which is a puzzle game set during the first World War. So far I’m loving every second; the puzzles are challenging without being frustrating, the animation style is the cutesy sort of thing I love, and the characters themselves are really endearing. You also have little facts about the war pop up from time to time, so I’m learning a lot too.

I’ve sunk about three hours in so far, and the only negative thing I can say is that the chapters are quite long and it’s fairly slow-paced, but this is only a very slight criticism of an overall charming and fantastic game.”

Simon Weatherall (Site Manager) – Watch_Dogs

“At present I am undertaking the behemoth that is Watch_dogs. I have already completed one playthrough and was lost in the story so much that I missed all the side-quests and extras. There are some elements of that I didn’t like, for example the driving is not brilliant, but I have to say it’s the first time for a while that I have started a game again immediately after I finished it. Watch_Dogs did that for me.

Although I found it very easy to miss the side-missions, there is a lot more to Watch_dogs that I want to experience. Expect more from me as I progress!”

Jonn Blanchard (Staff Writer) – Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

“Currently I’m playing Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney on the iPhone. I missed this when it was originally released on the DS so Capcom’s re-release on mobile platforms has given me a good excuse to correct that.

It’s an interesting game and it has a lot of quirky humour, but eventually it comes down to the fact that you are, largely, just guessing from either a selection of responses or evidence to solve a puzzle. The dialogue can also be very irritating as it takes a long time to get through all the text (it uses a faux typewriter style), which can’t be skipped. Every time you fail a section, you have to go through the same text again.

The storyline, although pretty nuts, has worked well enough to keep me interested in seeing where it leads.”

Stephen King (Podcast Co-Host) – Mario Kart 8

“At the moment I find myself spending a lot of time playing Mario Kart 8. Having been disappointed by Double Dash and Mario Kart Wii, I was hoping something would have changed. Fortunately it has!

Mario Kart 8 may even be the best in the series yet; a feat not easily achieved. The new tracks are excellently designed and even manage to make what should be an all too familiar experience seem entirely new. Couple this with an excellent selection of classic tracks and you have yourself a comprehensive racing package.

In what I can only describe as a bizarre twist, however, Nintendo have managed to lose sight of what made the Battle mode so special and fun, although they have made up for it with Mario Kart 8 reviving local multiplayer fun. I have had people over to my house on several occasions since it released just to get their MK on.

Frankly, it has exceeded my expectations in almost every way.”

That’s enough about us. What about you? What are you playing? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!