The Sandbox: July 7th 2012


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 spent time with some older releases, The Walking Dead, and the XBLA release of Spelunky.

Charles Battersby

The Walking Dead: Episode 2 took up a good chunk of my weekend. Us adventure game fans like to boast about how this genre has the best storytelling, but even I was surprised by how strongly I was affected by this game. The first episode in the series was about getting players acclimated to the world and mechanics of the game, but Episode 2 was about exploring how the characters deal with the emotional consequences of a fallen civilization. We’ve seen these issues dealt with before (The Road, anyone?), but having direct choice over the matter was a psychologically powerful experience. I’m more excited about the series than ever and can’t wait to get my paws on the next episode.

Because I’m making a mod for Fallout: New Vegas at the moment, and producing a play inspired by the Fallout games, I’ve spent some time puttering around the various wastelands for the last week, and I’ll be doing so all weekend as I make my own little post-apocalyptic adventure (Shameless plug here

As for my intention to finally play Snake Eater 3D on my 3DS, it turns out that it takes a very long time to hit the first save point in that game, so I’m still at the beginning. However, I sincerely intend to eat some 3D snakes over the coming weekend.

Mike Deas

Knocked out The Walking Dead: Episode 2 on Tuesday night in one sitting. I cannot stress how unbelievably awesome that game is shaping up. The Walking Dead as a media entity (comics, show, games) is one of my favorite things to follow right now. On the 4th I defeated Magus in Chrono Trigger, which I think puts me a little over the halfway point. I’m really enjoying the heck out of that game. I also picked up a cheap copy of The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection from Gamefly last week. I’ve tried SotC twice before and quit within eight or so colossi. I’m trying really hard to fall in love with the game, and I think the third time might be the charm (I just defeated the fifth colossi). If I get through all that, this weekend I’ll either restart The Walking Dead or move on to Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.

Oh! I also Bootcamped my Mac (for you non-Mac people – that means I partitioned my HD so it can run Windows now), so I’ve got some serious Roller Coaster Tycoon to tackle.

Shadow of the Colossus

Jason Fanelli

This week I kept up my Amalur playthrough, finishing the “Teeth of Naros” DLC and moving right into the “Legend of Dead Kel.” “Teeth of Naros” was an awesome addition; I was really impressed with the story and with the new Kollosae race.

This weekend I’m all portable all the time, as I’ll be down the shore. I might go get Theatrhythm Final Fantasy for the weekend jaunt, but if not I still have Kid Icarus: Uprising, Mario Kart 7, UMvC3 Vita, and Mortal Kombat Vita to keep me busy.

Eddie Inzauto

So I recently joined this site, TaskRabbit, which let’s people post jobs they need done. I’m one of the people who does stuff rather than asking for things to be done. It’s essentially like playing GTA or any other open-world sandbox game… IN REAL LIFE. I choose a task (mission), get the details, go to the location (on my mini map), do the task, and get money – like, real money (and experience points). It’s a little addicting.

Aside from that, I might finally jump in and try out Resonance, which is one of those newfangled point-and-click adventures the kids are playing these days (or perhaps should be playing). It’s got Logan Cunningham (Rucks {The Narrator [duh]} from Bastion) doing voice work, so… uh… why WOULDN’T I play it?

I’m also having Dark Souls withdrawal, so I think it’s time I fire that bad boy up and remember the importance of treading carefully in a hostile game world. That is, if my fresh new copies of Rogue (1980) and Nethack (1987) don’t give me a crash course, first.

And Matching with Friends. Did you know that such a thing exists?! Do it!

Anthony LaBella

I started the week off playing Max Payne 3. Nine years later and using bullet time is still a ton of fun. There’s nothing quite like getting a perfect headshot while in slow motion. It doesn’t take too much gunfire to bring Max down, but I like the challenge. The plot took a while to really get going, but after playing eight chapters I can safely say I’m invested in the narrative now. Also, Rockstar is the king of fake TV programming. I’d totally watch The Adventures of Captain Baseball Bat Boy.

I also spent a lot of time playing Gravity Rush for the Vita, which I purchased at the beginning of the week. The rush of flying through the city with no consideration for the laws of gravity is a great feeling, especially when Kat’s powers are maxed out. Unfortunately, that really cool mechanic is surrounded by some unimpressive missions – the combat proves especially disappointing. I’m just about done with the game, though, so I should be finished with it by this weekend.

In between those two games I squeezed in a bit of playtime with Spelunky. I’m no masochist, but there’s something oddly satisfying about the punishing difficulty of this indie release. It makes the feeling of accomplishment that much greater. The furthest I got in one sitting was a few levels into world 3 (the ice caves). I also unlocked a shortcut to the jungle, so I can always start from there.

Max Payne 3

Aled Morgan

So this week I played The Walking Dead – both episodes. Yeah, I know I’m late to the party, so when I say I was really impressed, it probably isn’t going to sway any opinions. Kudos to Telltale for keeping tension at the heart of the game by putting in those timed decisions, many of which were pretty awful to have to make. The second installment in the series was, by far, the better one, simply because what was going on was so awful. I couldn’t sit easy the entire time, and now I’m well and truly hooked and cannot wait to see where this story is going, and how all the horrible decisions I made will leak into future scenarios.

I’ve also plowed roughly two entire days of playtime into Spelunky, the Xbox LIVE edition of the freeware hit of the same name. If difficult games are your thing, then check it out. If difficult games aren’t your thing… check it out, anyway. Spelunky is procedurally generated, so it’s never quite the same thing twice, allaying much of the frustration of your typically difficult game. I would fully recommend picking up the trial version and giving it a whirl, because the trial portion will take several hours to see the end of.

Consider it a personal challenge.

Mike Murphy

After eight long months I’ve finally been able to start playing Assassin’s Creed Revelations. I haven’t gotten too far just yet – I’m only in DNA Sequence 2 as of this writing – but it feels good to be back in the universe. It’s sad that this will be my final romp with Ezio, but I’m glad to see how his story will end and where Desmond’s is going. Besides, I’m always down for running around recreated ancient cities, taking out guards, and, this time around, gliding across ziplines with my cool new hook blade. Not looking forward to playing more of those tower defense minigames, though. Ugh.

Aside from ACR, I spent a couple of hours Thursday night giving my awesome PC some good use by returning to Battlefield 3. I haven’t played the game in months and it’s always a blast to come back for just a few matches, especially for a look at its beautiful graphics. Had myself a very successful first game in a 1,000-kill Team Deathmatch contest where I found a nice location to lay prone, keep myself hidden, and take down enemies as they ran furiously through the crates of Noshahr Canals. Don’t give me that look. It’s a legitimate strategy!

This weekend I don’t look to change things up too much. Most likely I’ll be spending whatever time I have free for gaming pounding through more of ACR, with perhaps a couple of games in either BF3 or Mass Effect 3. A couple of my good friends have even gone back to Halo: Reach, which I never tire of, so I may jump in for a game or two with them.

Assassin's Creed Revelations


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