The Sandbox: December 8th 2012

Dikembe Mutombo

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 learned the dangers of tropical islands, stepped inside the Animus, and saved the world with former NBA player Dikembe Mutombo, among other things.

Kem Alily

Nothing much has changed in my gaming sphere. I am still enamored with Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed, and I’m trying to finish it up for review as quickly as I can. Beyond that, the Pokémon bug has bitten me once again. I jumped back into Pokémon Black on my 3DS.

The new 150 are quirkier than I remember which is astonishing because on my first playthrough, I was often puzzled by the strange but ultimately funny design choices for the new 150 (I’m looking at you Trubbish and Garbodor). Speaking of astonishment, I also forgot how hummable Black’s soundtrack is, it has been stuck in my head all week.

I am seriously considering acquiring Pokémon Conquest. I’m a sucker for strategy RPGs and with Fire Emblem officially coming out on the February 4, I need something to take care of that handheld itch. Besides, a crossover with Nobunaga’s Ambition sounded cool at the time, and I would like to see if it works in practice.

Dan Crabtree

While most folks are taking this momentary release lull to catch up on the backlog, I jumped headfirst into Far Cry 3. So far, it’s been more of a survival horror shooter/RPG than I expected, which is fantastic. Because the animals are actually dangerous, the ambient growling heard across the island can be as nerve-wracking as the Ishimura’s creepy crawly corridors in Dead Space. Or, sort of. The relative silence of the underwater segments is no relief, either, because SHARKS ARE SILENT HUNTERS. What a wonderfully imagined world.

Far Cry 3

Mike Deas

I’m knee deep in work, but the little time I get has been devoted to Paper Mario: Sticker Star. I’ve been a fan of the Paper Mario series from the beginning (and here, we’ll say Super Mario RPG is the beginning) and this one is not disappointing. While I’m not loving all of the new gameplay choices, I can’t seem to put the game down. I’ve got a few gripes about the difficulty (difficulty meaning “What the heck do I do now?” and not “This game is Metal Gear hard”) but every time I say “I’m done with this game” I keep on chugging.

Jason Fanelli

I finished Halo 4‘s campaign just today! Big fan of it, I thought it was an excellent beginning of a new trilogy. There were a lot of elements from the original trilogy that were turned upside down, and while some may dislike it, I’m on board. My only gripe is that it ended rather suddenly, didn’t it?

Since I finished Halo, and before I immediately jump into Black Ops II‘s campaign, I sat down with WWE 13. Holy bajeebus, does this game have a lot to take in. The roster is insanely robust, even more so with two full DLC packs that waited for me. I can’t even wager a guess how many different match types are available, and the amount of title belts that can be given out is simply jaw dropping. The old AWA heavyweight championship? Really?

Above all else, I want to bring a free flash game to everyone’s attention: Dikembe Mutombo’s 4 1/2 Weeks to Save the World. There are five stages, three of which are available now and the other two unlocking the next two Mondays. Each stage is simple 2D fun: some platforming, some shmup, etc. There’s a boss battle at the end of each stage, and then it’s over…but the story is so out there I can’t help but laugh.

For example, Dikembe’s best friend is a grizzly bear with an English accent, wearing a Cosby sweater, named Science the Bear. Really.

What’s more, by people playing the game, they add time to another ring on the Mayan calendar, and you can watch the time being added via the live video feed that appears at the end of the stage. No joke. is where Dikembe can be found. Give it a shot. It’s free!

Greg Galiffa

Wow, so, like, games everywhere. The majority my time has been spent convincing myself to finish Assassin’s Creed III. I’ve been enjoying it, but lordy did it take time (re: multiple sequences) to get fully engaged. The ambiguity with the Templars Mike mentioned is something fresh, but getting there is a test of patience. Here’s hoping it wraps up nicely (which I’ve heard is not the case).

With my newly acquired PS3 Snap-Into-A-Slim-Jim and PlayStation Plus account — which is required to transfer certain game save data — I’ve been downloading free games like a warrior poet. Sideways NY, Quantum Conundrum, FF Tactics: The War of the Lions and many more. Clearly I have time for all this.

Oh yeah, then there’s the Steam Autumn Sale which lovingly delivered a $2.50 Cave Story into my lap. In the hunt: Transcripted and Mark of the Ninja. Steam Winter Sale and sale and sale.

OH! and I discovered a charming (bloody) free-to-play indie called Red Rogue y’all should check out over at Dungeon-action-RPG-roguelike-like-2D-pixel-art-bliss-face-sandwich. So yeah, games everywhere.

Assassin's Creed III

Eddie Inzauto

All I’ve been able to sink my teeth into (or perhaps it’s sunken its many different types of teeth into me) this week is Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3. Basically the game is like Dead Island, but better, with more functional weapons, smoother combat mechanics, a more fully realized world, far more dangerous human enemies, and… well… we’re losing the analogy, aren’t we? In any event, my Remington 700 rifle and I are having a good time, but I wonder if the process wears thin like so many other open-world games tend to do. We shall see.

I really dig the fact that the game borrows “high points” from the Assassin’s Creed series to open up the world map. That was one of my favorite elements of the earlier games… when it was important to use those towers to make progress. It’s like that in Far Cry 3. Woo!

Anthony LaBella

I’ve spent all week exploring Far Cry 3‘s equally beautiful and dangerous tropical island environment. I love the fact that you have to be on your toes at all times in case a tiger mauls your face off or something similar. In fact, the very first time I went into the water resulted in a crocodile chomping down on my arm. At least I get my revenge in the end by hunting down animals in order to craft more useful pouches. Provides some much needed stress relief.

The amount of stuff to do in the game is staggering just like Ubisoft’s other big name release this year, Assassin’s Creed III. Heck, it even has the same kind of platforming mini-game in order to reveal parts of the map. I’m usually not one who feels as though they must do every activity in a game, but Far Cry 3 is proving to be an exception. Luckily the mission variety prevents tedium from setting in and some of those weapons are damn fun to use. I’m sorry, but setting fields on fire with the flamethrower never gets old.

Aled Morgan

This week has been a desperate bid to play some of the year’s standout titles. I’m never going to get every semi-precious gem that 2012 has thrown us, but I’m doing my best to try and dabble in as many as possible.

First up was Mark of the Ninja. The game is excellent and you should all at least download the trial. Thought stealth was dead? It isn’t, it’s just in two dimensions now. Check it out. It’s also the first game that comes to mind in which I actually feel like a ninja. Crawling through vents, shooting out lights, making distractions, hiding bodies…Mark of the Ninja is a ninja simulator!

Next was Hotline Miami. I got a bit of hands on time with this back at Eurogamer, and its blend of neon-coated hyper violence and retro 80’s aesthetic had me hooked back then too. It’s essentially like 2D Grand Theft Auto, mixed with some Hitman, and processed through the ethos of Super Meat Boy, which is to say…”C’mon man, just one more try and then you can have a go.” It’s sleazy, grimy, self-aware fun.

Finally, today (at the time of writing) the postal service got their act together and got Spec Ops: The Line to my doorstep…finally. At about a third of the way through, the trademark hard-hitting narrative elements haven’t made an appearance yet, but I can feel them looming on the horizon. Plan on having this completed today.

Hotline Miami

Mike Murphy

I’m still chugging along in Assassin’s Creed III this week. I’m currently in Sequence 9, having just completed all naval and privateer missions. The homestead is growing, my membership with the hunters is complete, and I’m now running about New York to complete collections and make its districts free from British tyranny.

The humanizing of the Templars throughout this narrative really has me by engaged, especially because it reflects many if not all conflicts in life. We demonize those we oppose, when in reality they are mostly just like you or I. As the old proverb goes: the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. That’s the vibe I get now with the Templars.

With the weekend completely open, I aim to finally finish ACIII and get my hands on some Black Ops II or Far Cry 3 before I make my nominations for the Nodies (Hint, hint. They’re close!).


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Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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