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 found new appreciation for Catwoman, traversed a dark and eerie forest, and took a nostalgic multiplayer trip through the Star Wars universe, among other things.
The Steam Summer sale is gone, but the damage is done. With the entire Batman franchise on sale, I have spent the past week patrolling the streets of fair Gotham City as the caped crusader and his feline friend Catwoman. Arkham City has consumed my life and single-handedly justified the purchase of a PC adapter for my Xbox 360 gamepad. I’ve played most of the recent Batman games on my 360 but it’s still fun to go through them again on the PC with all of the DLC packs that I never bothered to buy individually.
I particularly enjoy the Catwoman levels and am officially offering Warner Brothers my money now if they’ll make an all Catwoman game using the Arkham City style of play. The Dark Knight’s war on crime is cool, but I wanna be the goddamned Catwoman!
With work bearing down on me I’ve had little time to play the TON of games I got from Steam. Whenever I find a quick second at the ol’ 9-5, I’ve been replaying Plants vs. Zombies, and having my first foray into Psychonauts during lunch breaks. I am LOVING that game. At home I’ve been plowing through Pikmin, which is equally frustrating and amazing. I also tried to crack into the beta of LittleBigPlanet Karting, but the servers were having major issues, and once I got into races there would be two of us and a bunch of AI. Hoping to give that a second chance this weekend.
I was sidelined by a bad ankle injury last weekend, so a lot of my energy went to recovery and not a ton went to gaming. Not being able to walk for the first time in my life was interesting, though, and it was a real triumph when I finally did put one foot in front of the other again.
So this week, I’m going to continue Resonance. I want to see where this multi-character (read: annoying swapping) play and intriguing plot takes me. I also checked out Spelunky, and was not hooked at all. Oh well. I’m not saying there’s anything WRONG with it; it just didn’t activate that compulsive play response that it has with other players. Maybe it will some other time.
Slender, on the other hand, had the effect I believe its creators were going for:
I can’t even count the number of times my hair stood on end while playing this game. Now if I can just get Jason to play on webcam.
Much of my time this week was spent outside enjoying the beautiful weather, but I did finally beat Max Payne 3. I think Rockstar did a commendable job of putting their own spin on the franchise formula while still retaining that slick narrative style that Remedy Entertainment established with the first two games. I have to say, though, I found this game to be quite difficult. I’m not talking notoriously so like Spelunky, but there were some tough sections – especially in the last few chapters where I felt like each enemy required two or three headshots to go down. But hey, I’m not one to complain about a nice challenge every now and then.
I plan on trying out Max Payne 3‘s multiplayer this weekend before moving on to The Witcher 2. I was having a blast playing that on my 360 but I got busy all of a sudden and put it down. If I remember correctly, I’ll be picking back up at the beginning of chapter 2 where I left off.
I haven’t played anything new this week. I’ve been surfeiting on a familiar cocktail of Mass Effect 3 and Spelunky (still haven’t finished the thing…) but you know all about that. So this week I’m going to talk about the game I’ve played, on and off, for an entire year now.
When Pokémon Black and Pokémon White hit stores last year, I decided I’d try and get back into the series. So did all of my housemates. What followed was an arms race of strategy, as each of us attempted to out-play the other. It quickly evolved (zing) into a genetic arms race. We began researching natures, egg moves, and all those fiddly meta-game stats that could make or break a battle. It was great fun, but with one drawback. Having to meticulously breed and raise a competitive Pokemon took time, so it became difficult to experiment with strategy and surprise my opponents.
Then I found an online battle simulator called Pokémon Online, and the great migration began.
In Pokémon Online you create your team with a few swift keystrokes, plugging in perfect stats, and any legal combination of moves from each creature’s potential moves. After that you jump online and begin battling, and I’ve been screwing around with teams for over a year now.
I’ve come a long way since the days when I gave my prized Charizard four powerful fire moves. In retrospect, I’d get walled to oblivion by anything with a water type. I have to plan checks and counters for common offensive threats, as well as make sure I’ve got an answer to the game’s typical walls. It’s a game that keeps evolving, with new strategies emerging in answer to constantly shifting threats.
I can’t see myself letting up on this any time soon, and the impending Pokémon White 2 and Pokémon Black 2 will only keep my mania rolling.
I took time this week to work in a fair number of games.
After coming back for the first time since beating the “Extended Cut,” I jumped into some more Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. There are some new characters and maps in the “Earth” DLC I wanted to play and unlock, and I got to do a little of that while building up some credits. London is pretty cool; basically the final shootout section of the single-player campaign. I also unlocked the N7 Fury, the new adept class with some interesting new powers. Despite my feelings on Mass Effect 3‘s ending, I still find the game’s multiplayer to be incredibly addictive and satisfying, and I can’t get enough.
But fighting the Geth, Reapers, and Cerberus isn’t all I did this week. Being a New York Rangers fan, my excitement over the team’s acquisition of Rick Nash led me to throw my copy of NHL 12 back into my 360 and play with the rosters. After updating the rosters from most of the major offseason transactions, I took my new-look Rangers into battle against Mr. Fanelli’s Philadelphia Flyers. I was able to stomp the Broad Street Bruisers 4-1, with Mr. Nash contributing with a goal of his own.
As I mentioned last week, I acquired the Jedi Knight pack from the Steam Summer Sale last week. This week, I embraced that purchase once again by returning after several years to the multiplayer for Jedi Outcast, where I spent many afternoons, evenings, and nights perfecting my saber techniques. Needless to say, the time away made me a bit rusty, but I still remembered how to pull off some of my tactics and pull out some wins over other players in one of the game’s surviving servers. It was a great session that allowed me to relax and feel the nostalgia wash over me like a current.
Finally, I got a bit of time back in with Halo: Reach, playing a few rounds of SWAT with some of my buddies. It was interesting trying to get used to Halo’s very different control scheme from other current first-person shooters, but fun to get back into the swing of things for just a little while.
This weekend I plan to play very little as I’ll be quite busy. Maybe I’ll sneak a game or two of Mass Effect 3 in again if I’m lucky.