Thunderbolt logo

What We’re Playing – July 1st

The weekend is upon us and it’s time to play some video games. Here are a few games that we’ll be playing away from the office this weekend. What’s on your agenda? Share what you’re playing!

Solar 2
Calvin Kemph

screenshot

I knew Solar 2 meant business when it opened with a Carl Sagan quote, but never anticipated what a time sink it would soon become. It’s the antithesis of the mechanics found in a game like Asteroids. Rather than fighting off waves of asteroids, you’re in control of the space matter, pulling in chunks that are smaller in size and following a neat evolutionary chain. You’ll be starting as a small asteroid, building up to a black hole. In-between these steps, you’ll get chances to build your own solar system, collecting adrift planets, which follow the same evolutionary chain. It’s aimless fun, wandering around and building up a large number of orbiting stars and planets, but there’s also an optional story attached, complete with missions for several of the evolutionary stages. While not trying to emulate actual space, Solar 2’s a fun Indie strategy game, and is available for relatively cheap on Steam.

Red Faction: Armageddon
Matt Wadleigh

screenshot

I’ve really stuck with the Red Faction franchise. I don’t think anyone can make the argument that any of the games in the series have been great, but the series has consistently delivered solid, above-average entries. Armageddon, for better or worse, doesn’t break this trend. It is thankfully a much more focused entry than Guerrilla, but at the expense of the environmental destruction that made that title entertaining. While you can still break down structures in Armageddon, the game is much more of a shooter first this time around. It reminds me a bit more of Red Faction 2, the other entry that put Geo-Mod in the backseat. The shooting in the game is absolutely rock-solid and it feels like it’s very well designed. But strangely, I find the single player campaign to be uninspiring. I’m just not terribly drawn into the world that Volition has created and I’ve spent more time trying to use the new Magnet Gun to abuse the few NPCs scattered in the world. I’ve gotten halfway through the campaign and I’ll certainly finish it up, but more of my attention has been drawn to the multiplayer components.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
Oliver Banham

screenshot

After what I thought was an underwhelming demo, if ever there was a case for not judging a full game on a small taster, this is it. Demonstrating exactly why Criterion are the kings of arcade racing, Hot Pursuit is a speed crazy dose of adrenaline, served with a tablespoon of nicotine. The amount of times I have played into the early hours because of wanting to beat times and egos is astonishing. The speedwall is pure genius, with its focus on your rank within your friends, and pushing you to achieve numero uno. Career wise, there’s nothing better than racing five supercars while dozens of police try and wreck your ride, dropping spikes, road blocks and calling on choppers. Similarly, being on the cop end of a street race is just as exciting, arguably more so, as your shunts and takedowns bring back a whiff of classic Burnout. While the timed events for both Racer and Cop threaten to ruin your fun, these are over fast before it’s back to the real fun in the races and pursuits.

Riding down the motorway at 200 miles an hour in a Porshe GT, while the sun blares down on the great plains, and Night of the Hunter blares out the speakers – it’s the culmination of all these elements that make Need for Speed:Hot Pursuit such a finely crafted game.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in April 2008. Get in touch on Twitter @_seankelley.

Gentle persuasion

You should like us on Facebook.