The Sandbox: July 14th 2012

Spec Ops

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 took a trip down memory lane (Final Fantasy IV), spent some time with online gaming (Guild Wars, Halo: Reach), and still let Spelunky abuse us.

Charles Battersby

Again I failed to actually sit down and play Metal Gear Solid 3D for the 3DS! I did repeatedly listen to the theme song on iTunes, though. My 3DS time this week ended up going to March of the Minis and Metroid Fusion (I’m in the Ambassador Program, and thus hip-deep in classic games on the 3DS).

I managed to avoid dumping my wallet into my PC the last few days that the Steam Sale ran, but I doubt I’ll make it through the weekend without throwing a few dollars at them. Even as I type this, the complete Alan Wake franchise calls to me like a dark siren deep within a lake on a moonless night. However, before I play through Wake’s adventures on my PC, I have to finish up the new content for Hard Reset, which was just released (Oh yes, Steam has that on sale too for a fraction of a pittance).

Dan Crabtree

This is Steel Battalion

Mike Deas

Last weekend I played through the Kingdoms of Amalur demo, and while I wasn’t blown away, I immediately ordered it on Gamefly. I love the aesthetics and the whole thing had a WoW feel that I totally dig. I started playing on Wednesday and look forward to getting lost in Amalur. I’m not usually the kind of guy who looks forward to spending 50+ hours in a game, but I have a different feeling about this one. I also started up Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. It’s nice to be back in Midgar, but the combat seems to be a little out of my range. I’m getting through battles fine, but I just don’t feel like I fully grasp it yet. I’m also reeling because my PSP died after about an hour of straight Mission play the other night, so I’m not looking forward to replaying all that, but the game is definitely pretty fun.

Greg Galiffa

To cleanse my palate of my recent shooter onslaught, I started up Final Fantasy IV DS for a second go around. New game plus. First time ever. FFIV is my favorite Final Fantasy for purely nostalgic reasons. It was my first Final Fantasy, so when the DS version was released with its pretty CGI and updated graphics, I devoured it. Replaying on the DS, arguably the purest version (i.e. most difficult), has not lost its touch. The faux-Olde English dialogue does not detract from the game, even after several years. I enjoy its A+B=C narrative and its cinematic style. Also, the Redwings are and forever will be boss.

Also, because shooters, I’ve begun Spec Ops: The Line this week. As someone who hopes military shooters will elevate to more than just “military shooters,” the game has been at the top of my list for some time. My interview with lead writer Walt Williams also helped sow a deep fascination with the concept. We’ll see how it plays out. Hopefully, it’ll end on a higher note than Inversion, which I also beat and reviewed this week. It had a great concept, but fumbled the delivery.

I also got Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes for review. So keep an eye out for that in the coming week.

Eddie Inzauto

This weekend I aim to test out my newly-learned fly-fishing techniques (never did it before Thursday). Some might consider that a game, but since I’m not one of those people, my actual gaming will hopefully consist of finally diving deep into Resonance and Spelunky.

I haven’t touched anything else since Rogue and NetHack, and that’s somewhat disappointing, as I was looking forward to running quickly through episodes one and two of The Walking Dead, as well. Perhaps next week I’ll be telling you all about my zombie encounters and just how many survivors I’ve pissed off.

Anthony LaBella

I started the week off playing Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad, which I also reviewed. There’s not a whole lot of compelling content in that game, but it’s decent for a $10 downloadable release. On the plus side, the actual driving feels satisfying and responsive – that’s always a big plus in racing games.

After finishing up the career mode in Offroad, I went back to Spelunky. Though I caught a cold in the middle of the week, I still managed to have some good runs on Monday and Tuesday. I made it to the fourth world (the Temple) three different times and it was incredibly satisfying. But after that I started getting impatient in the mines and jungle, so the death count started racking up. Spelunky makes me think of a relationship that just isn’t going in the right direction. I love ya Spelunky, I really do, but I may have to move on soon – I can only take so much abuse. The desire to actual beat the game still lingers, though. Knowing me that means I’ll be back at it in the next day or two.

I do need to resume my campaign in Max Payne 3, so I may do that instead.


Dan McKenney

I have stormed haunted castles. I’ve been eaten by giant worms. I have challenged Olmec countless times, only to walk away with victory twice. Until I have explored every area, defeated every enemy, and earned every achievement, I will not leave Spelunky‘s ruins.

I love games like Spelunky. It reminds me of other challenging 2D platformers like Mega Man 9 or Super Meat Boy. You have a set goal (reach the end), you have limited actions (jump, whip, and if you’re resourceful, bomb), and you can easily predict enemy/obstacle movements. Spelunky‘s challenge derives from the player’s overconfidence and recklessness. If you get in the right mindset and play cautiously, you can beat Spelunky without checkpoints. I did.

Once Spelunky is done having its way with me, I’m going to start up Penny Arcade Adventures 3 on Xbox LIVE Indie Games. I loved Zeboyd’s previous games, Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death VII, but with Penny Arcade’s Jerry Holkins handling the writing, this could be Zeboyd’s best. Only one way to find out, I guess!

Aled Morgan

I used to swim around in the waters of Halo: Reach daily. I kept an eye on my kill/death ratio (yes, I was one of those guys,) debated game updates with gusto, and regularly spent the evening just kicking back and enjoying the thrill of competition. Then my friends and I just kind of stopped playing Halo: Reach.

Recently, with Halo 4 looming on the horizon, Ive been getting all nostalgic. Remember that time you were on for a perfection medal, but then I accidentally ran you over in my ghost? Hilarious.

Well now I’m back to Halo: Reach, and the waters have never been warmer.

I picked up the anniversary map pack for the game this week, and I’ve been having a blast learning the new maps, most of which I remember from their respective entries in the series. Particularly Timberland, because I am a big fan of the spartan lazer. Just call me the red menace.

The rat-a-tat of the DMR… the fizz and hiss of a plasma grenade… the manic enthusiasm of the game commentator when I hear “Killing FRENZY!!” Man, I’ve missed this.

Halo: Reach

Mike Murphy

For a third week in a row I’m working on Assassin’s Creed Revelations. Haven’t gotten much farther from the week before, but I have played a couple of Desmond’s memory segments. It’s really cool to actually learn about his past since, you know, he’s the main character. I’ve also been buying all the shops, finding all Animus fragments, and taking care of all the view points in the first district before moving forward because I’m a bit of a completionist when it comes to the series.

Aside from that I’m starting to put time back into Guild Wars. With Guild Wars 2 just over a month away from release, I’m realizing that I’ve hit crunch time for my Hall of Monuments leveling. For those who don’t know, players who dedicate a lot of stuff to their Hall of Monuments in Guild Wars and link the account to Guild Wars 2 will receive special items and titles for all of their characters in the latter game. You get one item for each level up to 30, with a title coming every five levels up to 50. I’m currently sitting at 28 and closing in on 30. I’m also trying to fulfill a goal I set out for myself: Max out the Tyrian Guardian, Tryian Vanquisher, and Tyrian Cartographer title tracks before the sequel’s release. For anyone who knows the game, that’s no easy task, so wish me luck!

This weekend I’ll be sticking to the same two titles, but may not get a ton of time to do so as I’ll be out of town for the majority of time.


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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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