It’s time for another edition of The Sandbox, the weekly feature in which the GamerNode team members reveal what we’ve been playing over the past few days and what we’ve got on our plates for the weekend. This week we made morally tough decisions in a land of zombies, wreaked havoc on the streets of Hong Kong, and spent some time on the ice, among other things.
Last week I tried my hand at the hot new Arma II mod, DayZ, but I hadn’t actually played much of Arma II. This week I spent a few hours learning to crash helicopters in this very realistic military sim. The good news is that I successfully mastered how to walk and shoot, so I managed to kill a bunch of Russian terrorists without the use of them newfangled flying machines. Flying a helicopter is hard…
I also got in a few more hours with the Xbox LIVE shooter Hybrid. It gives players neat special powers like teleportation, and nothing is more fun than equipping teleport AND a shotgun, then going up against a team of snipers. SURPRISE, you campin’ bastard!
I spent a little time with the demos for Transformers and Sleeping Dogs. The demo for Sleeping Dogs didn’t tell me that I was playing a cop undercover as a street thug until halfway through, so I brutalized plenty of innocent people in Hong Kong before I found out that I was supposed to be upholding the law. While I don’t have the fond nostalgia for Transformers that many gamers do, I did enjoy the option to play as a couple of different transforming robots. Grimlock the robot T-Rex wasn’t in the demo, but there was a helicopter guy. Apparently it’s much easier to fly a helicopter on Cybertron than it is in Russia.
I picked up Rock Band 2 for a third time this week (I’m pretty weird about music titles) in preparation for my review of Rock Band Blitz. I’ve been shredding frets since the disc hit the Xbox 360′s disc tray and it feels so right. Rock Band 2 contains some cracking tunes and like the box says, it really feels like the ultimate music-game experience.
Over on iOS this week, I’ve been plowing hours into Leonard St. Vile’s Cruel Jewels, which is a superbly themed Bejeweled clone that, in my opinion, is much more addicting than the original. I think the main things keeping me going are the on-screen cheers when you string together a combo of power jewels, with comments such as “Inconceivable!” and “Scintillating!” The game is free and definitely worth picking up if you’re a Bejeweled fan.
After polishing off Death’s lesser journey in Darksiders 2, I cracked into the emotional nutshell of Papo & Yo. The moments of panic from the enraged monster are meaningful, to be sure, but even more convincing is the sense of play and wonder as embodied by Quico’s transforming favela. Can’t wait for the ending.
Also been rocking out to the Humble Bundle 3 for Android on my new Galaxy S 3. Spirits is like LIMBO meets Lemmings, which is great, and Bit.Trip.Beat is greaaaat for wasting time. And, as ever, the new Angry Birds Space levels (Red Planet) and new Angry Birds Seasons levels are INCREDIBLE. I mean, yes, it’s pretty much the same crap with like one new mechanic, but MAN do I hate those pigs so much. So. Much.
It’s all adventure, all the time in Inzautoland this week. I finally polished off my review of Resonance, a point-and-click coming out of Wadjet Eye Games’ house. It was definitely an ambitious, super-small-team effort, and I dug the idea of its memory system, which finally lets players talk about objects in the environment. However, the implementation of the concept left me wanting, as it became pretty cumbersome in practice, especially with four main characters to control asynchronously. Still, the story was pretty interesting, even if it was told fairly slowly. It ain’t no Gemini Rue, but I’m definitely glad I played it through.
More exciting was my first foray into the world of The Walking Dead. Yes. Give me more of this RIGHT NOW. Actually, I’m only in the middle of the second episode, but I’ll be finishing it up very soon. The only thing I’m pissed about is that I couldn’t let that asshole die from his heart condition; I HAD TO find medication for him, no matter how hard I tried not to. Damn. Maybe in the next episode I can cap his ass.
That’s all I’ve got for ya, GamerNodians. I expect to ramp up playtime in the coming weeks, though. Fall could be an EXCELLENT time for gaming.
With Darksiders 2 finally wrapped up and my review posted, I decided to move on to Dust: An Elysian Tale. Yet another fantastic downloadable game has wowed me, which seems to be the case every year at this point. What’s rather amazing is that Dust is essentially a labor of love from one designer, Dean Dodrill. It’s hard to tell judging by the simple yet satisfying combat and eye-catching art style. I find myself disinterested in the story, and the voice-acting is a bit hit-and-miss, but other than that I’m loving my time with Dust. Dodrill must have known my ultimate videogame preference while creating this game – branching paths (Metroid-style) and RPG mechanics. I mean, I was bound to love this game before I even started playing it.
I’ll likely be splitting my time this weekend between Dust and Sleeping Dogs, which I purchased on Friday. Only played a little bit so far but I’m digging the melee combat in an open-world setting. Gives the game its own distinct feel, and Honk Kong is a pretty cool place to explore.
Populated by cocktail sippers with cube heads, combustible birds, and clandestine spies, Gravity Bone isn’t quite like anything I’ve played. It’s a free download from BLENDO games, and it only takes around fifteen minutes to play.
So go play it! Perhaps its the art style, the peculiar, indistinguishable mutterings of its characters, or that lucid-as-hell-but-hilarious ending, but Gravity Bone is something special indeed.
On the flip side of reality’s coin I’ve been toying around in Hong Kong, courtesy of Sleeping Dogs. I’m an undercover cop, and sometimes the stress of playing this double life just gets to me, y’know? The suits back at HQ keep telling me I should drive on the correct side of the road, that I should be considerate of innocents when I’m in the middle of a car chase, and that shoving a man’s face into a high-powered fan doesn’t count as due process. They just don’t know what it’s like to be on the street, in with the enemy. They don’t know what it takes. When the entire triad operation is banged up behind bars, they’ll thank me, and say it was all worth it.
Sometimes justice is a finely fanned-off face, and it takes a man with the subtlety and moral fibre of Wei Shen to show us this.
Coming home from my vacation, I needed a game that would help me relax. Of course being me, that game ended up being NHL 12. I put quite a few hours this week into the EASHL (EA Sports Hockey League) with one of my friends, and though we did horribly I was able to win a game via a hat trick of deflections. During this time I also decided to experiment by taking on different roles for my online avatar. As I wasn’t generating enough offense for our team as a grinder, I switched to power forward and did even worse. However, after tweaking around stats and roles, I believe I’ve finally found the role that best suits me and will help my friend and I win games as a playmaker. I’ll definitely be carrying that knowledge with me into NHL 13 when I pick it up in just a few weeks.
This week also saw what may very well be my last jump into the original Guild Wars. With Guild Wars 2 early access starting on Saturday, I wanted to make sure I got the last two items for my Hall of Monuments calculator. As a result I didn’t really play, but sold some of my extra items that other players wanted to fill their HoM, and picked up the very expensive weapon I needed to fill the two slots in mine. Once that was done and my mission accomplished, I logged off. It may not be the end as I love the game so, but I feel as if a chapter in my life is ending and a new one is beginning.
That new chapter will actually get started this weekend, as my gaming time will be all about the Guild Wars 2 early access. Having pre-purchased the title, I’ll have full access to the official build of the game starting on Saturday. I intend to jump straight in by rolling my first character, a human guardian, and exploring the world as much as possible. If there’s anything I’m mostly excited for, though, it’s that awesome feeling you get when an MMO first launches and the servers are flooded with people. It’s something that should be extra special in Guild Wars 2, given its co-op friendly environment and dynamic events. If anyone wants to join me, you’ll find me on the Henge of Denravi server.