The Codec Moments’ Week Spot

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Codec Moments Week Spot

Once again the team have gathered to share stories of what we’ve been playing in the past week, as we expose our Codec Moments’ Week Spot!

 

Andy:  Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (PS4) and Tearaway (PS Vita)

This week I have spent far too much time on Assassin’s Creed! Matt and I played Wolfpack Mode cooperatively on Friday and found it to be an interesting and challenging experience.  It started off easily enough, even though the instructions seemed a little lacklustre, but we soon found that the difficulty ramped up as time got tighter and targets got trickier.  We soon realised the key was to be quick but inconspicuous, to avoid arousing the target’s suspicions and it’s important to get the bonuses for focus and multi-kills.  After that I unlocked the Kenway’s Fleet minigame at the end of sequence three and I must admit, I’m addicted!  It’s a great way to earn cash in game whilst you’re out and about, by using the companion app; it’s also spurred me to do up the Jackdaw and take on some bigger ships so I can capture an Man-O-War for my fleet (I have four now and captured a few forts in the process).  I’ve done so much seafaring that I’ve completely forgotten about the story, so that’s the plan for the next week of gaming I guess!

Kenway's Fleet

When I’ve not been sailing the seven seas, I’ve spent some time navigating the globe (well, West Sussex) for real with my PS Vita.  I was given Tearaway for Christmas but not played it until this week and I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised.  The LittleBig Planet creators have crafted (quite literally, but more on that in a bit) a wonderful world with a simple yet compelling story that kept me up playing far later than I should have been.  The game world is made up of paper and the objects in it are origami models; as you progress you can unlock the instructions to make real life paper models of the characters and scenery in the game.  I’ve not had a chance to make any of these yet, but perhaps I’ll give it a go if I can tear myself away from the actual game!

Tearaway

Highlights:  Boarding my first Man-O-War and adding it to my fleet

Lowlights:  There’s something about James Kidd that makes me feel confused…

 

Cevyn:  The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief (PS3) and Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)

This week I have been dividing my time equally between two titles. The Raven – Legacy Of A Master Thief and Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch. As the review for the former is also being worked on, I’ll talk about the latter.

Ni No Kuni

Ni No Kuni is a title I’ve been back and forth with. I am fond of JRPG’s, to some degree, but I’m not what some might say fanatical on overly cutesy, generally not game related, stuff.  Studio Ghibli has always given me the impression that I’m not going to like it’s particular concoction of whacky and fantasy and in my mind I didn’t see that being any different just because they went ahead and presented me My Neighbour Totoro mixed with Final Fantasy. As always I was wrong. Wrong about the integrity of the game, that being a hamfisted attempt of cashgrabbing, and I was, I can only assume, wrong about the production of Studio Ghibli’s stuff as a whole.

The game itself is fun (in that Marmite ‘Love it or hate it’ kind of way) the combat system is unique, there’s a buttload of variety and what is essentially an entire feckin’ book in it! Which is half game manual, half lore hound compendium (complete with complimentary short stories ala Lost Odyssey). I initially thought that what I had got myself in for was little more than an up-scaled pokemon rip off with a different story and while that may in fact seem like an accurate, though unfairly loose, description of the game. It is so much more beyond that.

The story is deceptively nuanced. When one of the early cues went off, shortly after Mr Drippy stepped on the stage, I thought I had it all figured out and that they weren’t going to go down a considerably dark path with a game so vibrant and colourful and…intended for kids. But they did Not only do they tread that path but they remind you about it throughout the story, without belabouring the point. And doing it in such a way that it is still not grim and unacceptable for child viewing. Whatever age you are, if you were, for whatever reason, on the fence about this game, I strongly recommend giving it a shot. It’s unique enough from its genre to not just be ‘Another turn based combat system’, It’s very endearing without being gutwrenchingly cute, the story is grand (In both scale and style) and the premise, though painfully simple, over time becomes just as magical as the game professes to be. I should probably rethink all Studio Ghibli productions.

Highlights:  JMS starts a new Twilight Zone comic!

Lowlights:  Busier than a one armed bricklayer in Baghdad.

 

Matt:  Don’t Starve (PS4) and Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (PS4)

I’ve gone back to work this week so gaming time has been replaced with sitting in a car hurling abuse at those infuriatingly incompetent drivers that only come out between 8 and 9 am each weekday morning.  If only there were some sort of game involving cars and rockets that I could use to vent my frustration… but I digress.

This week it’s been two games only: Don’t Starve and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.  Don’t Starve is excellent and once I discovered the map function survival got a bit easier.  Not much, but a bit.  I’m torn slightly because I get lost in the game when I’m playing it, time gets sucked up faster than dust in front of a Dyson, but when I go away I don’t really think about it.  For me this is the feeling I get with casual games, I really like them when they’re doing their thing and they get dropped when something else comes along, and I feel a bit sad because Don’t Starve is definitely not casual.

Don't Starve 01

However, Assassin’s Creed has been that something else I’ve been thinking about.  Or more specifically, the mobile app.  I’ve have spent more time managing my fleet from the office than I have exploring the oceans at home.  I’ve seen the benefits too, my Jackdaw is now fully upgraded and I’m slowly working my way up the wealthiest pirate rankings (just broke in to the top 2,000).  I’m aiming for the top ten, but the guy with over 1,000,000,000 Reales is unreachable, and makes me wonder if it’s a glitch or cheat.  Still, the time in game has been about 100% completion before I move into the last missions and I’ve only got a few chests, animus fragments and Templar Hunts to finish off.  I’m not too sad about coming to the end though, I’ve had a crack at the Wolfpack multiplayer mode which is quite fun, and I can see the potential with more than two players.  I’ll dip my toes into the aggressive team based matches soon too, they were always good fun in the Rome based games, hopefully they’ll be refined here.

Outside games, it’s becoming a tech week.  My girlfriends (though it was supposed to be ours!) belated Xmas present arrived today: a Bose Soundlink Mini, so there’s been lots of loud noise to upset the cat with.  I did sneak a Sony Smartwatch 2 on to the order as well, so I’m not without a gadget to play with for myself.  Keep an eye out for reviews over the coming week.

Highlights: Double timed assassinations on Wolfpack mode, 100% clearing every location in the Caribbean.

Lowlights: Sleeping to restore my sanity, but dying of starvation a few minutes after waking up.

 

Graham:  Carmageddon (Android), Champ Manager Handheld 14 (Android) and BlazBlue (PS Vita)

At the end of January I will be homeless, as such I and my family of 5 will be moving in with the in-laws for 2 weeks before our new house is ready to move into.  What I should be doing between now and then is to be playing as much PS3 and PS4 games as possible.  These will be safely packed away until such time as the new house is ready for project Man Den (more to follow on that soon!)  Instead what I seem to be doing is finding games that I can play for small periods in between work, packing and other mundane tasks.  It has allowed me to concentrate on my task of playing games that I would not normally entertain, in fact 2 this week alone.  They have been BlazBlue on the PS Vita and Football Manager Handheld 14 on Android.

BlazBlue is a manga style 2D fighting game, it doesn’t seem to have progressed a lot since StreetFighter but it has had me hooked since I first played it.  Graphics are ok and the bouncy lady breasts are a treat even on the small Vita screen.  The characters go from the strange to the very strange and of course each have their own special moves, some are easier to pull off than others but all insanely ridiculous.  It has many options and games modes; arcade being the easiest to drop into and I have got to level 8 out of 10 in a short space of time so it is not that hard.  Online vs mode was something I was looking forward to but it only allowed me to pick a character I had not played with, needless to say I got my ass kicked.

Blazblue

Football Manager 14 is the most expensive App/Game I have every bought for my phone – it was a whopping £6.99!  I have not played a manager game since 2002 so I can class this as a game I don’t normally play.  Being a football fan it is great, it has slightly taken over my life but as my phone is always in my pocket I can have a couple of minutes changing my squad, fettling tactics etc without anyone complaining too much.  However I almost missed my stop yesterday on the tube as I was in a titanic top of the table struggle and toilet breaks are now measured in tens of minutes it would seem.  It is quite easy to play and you don’t need to be the next Mourinho to get use to the format but has enough challenges to be worth its price.

Carmageddon

Carmageddon is a game I first played on my Dads old laptop in our sleepy village, getting into trouble or running down zombies (they were zombies back then!) on the PC were the choices.  As it turned out I was no good at getting into trouble so Carmageddon it was.  Imagine my joy when I saw you could get it on your phone.  I have only just got round to playing it and it has all the tracks and cars I remember.  It seems quite sad that I get all nostalgic over a game like this but I do, these days it has limited appeal and progression is slow but it is great to regress back to the days when life was so much simpler!

Highlight – Beating Arsenal

Lowlight – Carmageddon was first launched in 1997 – God I feel old!

 

Roger:  Urban Trial Freestyle (PS Vita), The Wolf Among Us (PS Vita) and Lone Survivor (PS Vita)

You know that feeling when you go to reach for your Dual Shock 4 controller without looking and inadvertently grab your Dual Shock 3?  Yeah, that really sucks.  There is really no other way I want to start this article so with that behind us it is time to move onto the games that I’ve been playing!  PS Vita has once again dominated my gaming time, and I have found Urban Trial Freestyle to be a fun arcade motorcycle racer.  It’s a fun game on the go and with clever 3D levels it is pretty to look at.

Runner up for next most played would be The Wolf Among Us.  Having never read the comics, I took a Fables history lesson from my friend, and then decided to purchase the season pass thanks to a great PSN sale.  Comparing the game to other Telltale experiences I found this to be very smooth.  From what I have played from Telltale, Poker Night 2 was by far their most unstable games I have ever played and The Wolf Among Us is their best.  That caught me by surprise and so did the bright, neon color palette.  The story is gritty and the writing is clever. I feel like I know these characters even though I just met them.  The interaction between the characters is intriguing and believable.  The in game character cards are great for new comers such as myself and really helped to solidify me new knowledge of this universe.  I love the concept of a world of common fairy tale characters brought to life in gritty world, full of fleshed out stories and lives.

Wolf Among Us

Honorable mention this week would be Lone Survivor on Vita.  It is a side scrolling survival horror game that reminds me of Silent Hill at every corner.  I have not gotten far, but I look forward to finishing it up. I really like the sound design.  It is immersive and tense, and really helps to set the mood for this type of game.  So that’s about it for my weekly gaming diary.  See you all next week!

Highlights: Knowing that Telltale still has amazing writing talent and that The Walking Dead was not a one hit wonder.

Lowlights: Not having time to play some more Skyrim.  Getting my hopes up with a possible PS4 release of Skyrim which will probably never happen.

 

Thanks everyone!  Why don’t you let us know in the comments below what you think of the games we’ve been playing, or what you’ve played in the past week?

Written by Andy

Andy

Former DJ, now a freelance scientist, writer, gamer and father-to-be.

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