What We’re Playing – January 13th
The weekend is upon us and it’s time to play some videogames. Here are a few games we’ve been playing away from the office this week. What’s on your agenda? Share what you’re playing!
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
This was my first introduction to the roguish good looks and charm of Nathan Drake, but I have to question its level of popularity in the gaming community. I’d speculate that it has a lot more to do with its graphical horsepower and the coin thrown behind marketing, but it’s by and large a decent game. There’s no argument that the game is a beauty to behold, it’s just that Uncharted 2 doesn’t really have a ‘thing’ to call its own.
There’s nothing the game can claim to hold over other titles besides looking terrific, and to some that might be enough. It’s also very easy to pick up on the patterns throughout the game. Is there a daring jump to be made? You can bet whatever Drake lands on is going to crumble or break leaving him barely hanging on by his fingertips.
Admittedly, I haven’t delved into the multiplayer portion of Uncharted 2 and am merely knee-deep in the main campaign. While it might sound like I’m being a bit harsh, I still find it an overall enjoyable experience. However, it just hasn’t won me over or convinced me that it really deserves to be at the top of the heap.
Sonic 4: Episode I
I purchased my first iPad back in November with the intention of using it solely for work purposes. I had heard about the Apple-led revolution of the casual gaming market and invested in the likes of Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and DoodleJump as my brief way of entering this brave new world.
It actually wasn’t until I read this article by Thunderbolt’s very own Calvin Kemph that my interest in gaming on the iPad began to peak. I purchased a few more puzzle games but I made a point of purchasing one which I had previously owned on console to see how the iPad gaming experience truly fared.
After a prolonged download period, Sonic 4: Episode I was ready to be played on my handheld device and I have to say, I was impressed. The game looked as beautiful and as smooth as it did on my PlayStation 3 and played just as well. There are two methods of control, a touchpad system with simulated analogue stick and button or by tilting the iPad left and right. Either option is easy to use although the “tilt” system can make viewing the screen a little awkward as you have to rotate your device quite far to actually run at acceptable Sonic levels of speed.
The game itself is well designed and remains true to the original Mega Drive series with some truly stunning set pieces and a number of possible routes to reach your goal. The boss fights contain tributes and flashbacks to those glory days of Sonic lore and the final boss of the game brings a new challenge to an old favourite.
The game is relatively short (four relatively small zones with three acts and a boss fight in each) and at times when it tries to present a new challenge or a puzzle it trips up over itself and breaks the flow of the game. But overall, Sonic 4: Episode I is a thoroughly enjoyable experience and one which is actually enhanced on the beautiful display and feel of the iPad.
Killzone has always been… troubled. Having never really achieved the standard worthy of the hype which surrounds it, fans of the series would be forgiven for feeling rather despondent over the whole affair. There is one title, however, which many believe to be the crowning achievement of both the PSP and the Killzone franchise. Liberation is played with a top down, almost isometric viewpoint as opposed to the 1st person camera which the series is known for. Its tight gameplay and original approach to level design garnered Liberation with a very positive reaction and is one of my favorite games on the PSP.
The approach to game design for the PSP was always limited by the technology, and this lead to major PlayStation franchises being scaled down and squeezed to fit onto the machine. Liberation was a fresh approach and a worthwhile risk that showed how great games could be produced using currently existing IP that didn’t involve slicing chunks off unsuitably complex franchises.