The Codec Moments’ Week Spot

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Codec Moments Week Spot

It’s the time that we show you what we’ve been playing over the Christmas and New Year Holidays, by exposing our Week Spot!

 

Andy:

Well it’s been a fun Christmas and New Year break which allowed me some time to catch up on some gaming for a change!

I’ve mostly been playing LEGO Marvel Super Heroes which has led to obsessive replaying of previously completed levels to collect an abundance of bricks and minikits.  The game is simplistic, but lovely to look at on the PS4 and the attention to detail is superb; it’s also nice to see that a Marvel game can poke fun at itself, meaning there is a lot of content for adults to enjoy.   The controller layout makes this game perfect to use with remote play on the PS Vita too, none of the fiddly back screen finger gymnastics that made Battlefield 4 a horrible remote play experience.

Speaking of Battlefield 4, I have continued to slowly rank up and enjoyed playing with some of the COMO team over the past few weeks.  Matt will talk about our shared experience in greater detail, but I have to say that Battlefield 4 impresses me more each time I join a Conquest session; an experience made even more memorable when you’re in a squad made up from friends, who make an effort to play the objectives!

Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, I made a point of playing ‘Papers, Please’ on the PC.  The game is a moving tale of a border guard from an insular and oppressive regime (think East and West Germany towards the end of the Cold War), who’s aim is to allow legitimate residents and visitors into your great nation whilst keeping out troublemakers.  The game has won many plaudits and garnered much praise for the novel gameplay; I have to agree that the story is gripping in a low key way, but the gameplay was too much like my day job to keep my interest.

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After this I caved and bought Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag on PS4.  This swashbuckling saga is a refreshing take on the series (so far), seeing a mere mortal wedged somewhere between the Assassins and the Templars as a defection attempt goes wrong.  I was dreading the seafaring sections, but these are great fun and the owning and upgrading my own brig has become quite addictive.

Highlights:  Boarding an enemy vessel by swinging across on a rope and performing an aerial assassination in the process!

Lowlights:  Cross referencing documents for a few hours before realizing that I was willingly doing this during my time off work.

 

Cevyn:

This week, my quest to get caught up with what I’ve missed in my absence has continued, which has lead me down a darker path of what Sony exclusives have had to offer in recent years.

Back when Infamous first came out in 2009, I remember thinking ‘What’s not to like?’  You’re like a high flying modern day Jedi (sans lightsaber) on top of that, you’re told to have finely tuned morality system.  Will you be the paragon of truth and justice for these people in their darkest hour, or will you chuckle with sparking pyramided fingers as their world crumbles around them?  The game looked fantastic and I spent the last five years eagerly wanting to get my hands on a copy…and every minute I spent playing it felt like an insult to the very concept of time.  The story is as unimpressive as it is predictable, the dialogue is almost as humiliating as the voice acting, the morality choices are laughable, both in what defines good from bad and how you go about choosing between the two.  Worst of all, the gameplay is clunky, awkward and designed, I’m pretty certain, to spark a rheumatic reaction in the index finger of my left hand.

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The parkour was lethal when it seemed like every ledge, beam and wire had it’s own personal centre of gravity; I was either being pushed away from something I wanted to land on or pull toward something I didn’t.  Walking towards a ladder never seemed to result in climbing it, I had to jump at them…and even then it was a crap shoot whether Ol’ Cole actually wanted to grab on or glide gleefully past and grind his face against the wall beside it.

In my opinion, the key to these open world metahuman games is that the travel must be fun.  Spiderman 2, for instance, would not have left a lasting impression on me had it not been for the fact that when I took to the skies, I’d be up there for hours.  Games like this are where movement is supposed to be reward in itself and you can’t bring yourself to leave your character just standing around.  Not with the exciting, athletic potential at your fingertips.  Unfortunately, in Infamous getting to rooftop level is a chore and staying at that altitude is a nightmare.  Had they just got this bit right, I may have been able to overlook everything else that is wrong with this game but truthfully, I count my lucky stars that I only paid £1.50 for it I can’t stress how much I really wanted and expected to love Infamous but somewhere along the line; maybe my elongated anticipation has set my standards too high, maybe the game simply hasn’t stood the test of time and I’m just late to the party but, whatever the reason, I can’t bring myself to say that I like it.  It felt like being punched in the dick.

Because I’m not a hateful guy, I will admit in defense of Sucker Punch that Infamous 2 is good.  It’s far from perfect but when compared to its predecessor, not too far.  Infamous 2 should have been the starting point. I’m crossing my fingers that Second Son is the Infamous I have wanted all this time.

Lowlights: Knowing my brain will force me to go back for the trophies.

Highlights: Becoming the newest member of the Codec Moments team, of course!

 

Matt:

Taking full advantage of some time off work, I’ve been racking up the hours over the last week.  Gran Turismo 6 has had some serious mileage clocked up, mainly because of the review, but also in no small part due to the fact it’s rather good.  Look past the clunky collision sounds and superficial damage modelling, and (literally) past the 2D crowd character models, and you’ve got yourself an out-and-out racing game that’s a joy to drive.

The Codec Moments team managed to synchronise watches and get in a few games of Battlefield 4 together, most of the time on the same team and in the same squad too!  We learnt several things:

1.            Graham was consistently the top scorer.

2.            I was consistently the bottom scorer.

3.            Andy can’t decide what his favourite map is.

4.            Roger can’t fly helicopters (and if the 15 minute capture had actually worked I could have added the spectacular crash to this Week Spot).

There was also a nice surprise in the form of being shot in the face by one of our Tech Fixation buddies as the game randomly threw us into a TDM together, thanks Rich!

Writing this late on Wednesday night means I’ve been able to get a few hours of Don’t Starve in too.  How can I describe this game?  It’s like a cross between the mobile app Alchemy, and Command & Conquer, but set in randomly generated worlds with a distinct pencil drawn style.  It’s fiendishly tricky, and horrifyingly addictive.  So far I’ve not managed to survive past day ten, but it’s only a matter of practice and figuring out how to capture live food!

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However, the majority of gaming time over the last week has been sucked up by that time vacuum that is Assassin’s Creed IV.  If I’m not on the PS4 I’m managing my fleet via the app, and it’s well worth doing because I’ve earned about 50 times more from that than I have in the actual game.  When I’ve made it to the oceans of the digital Caribbean it’s been more fun capturing massive ships to send to my virtual fleet than following up on the story.  I can safely say that Ubisoft have done for sailing what Rockstar did for horse riding: what should be a tedious and ball-ache of a game mechanic is a joy and thrill to take part in.  That’s not to say I want EA to give a real time blood mopping simulator a try in the next Dead Space instalment, but it gives you pause for thought on how semi-passive interactions can be quite satisfying.

Highlights – hunting for and capturing three 80 cargo capacity Spanish “Man ‘O Wars”, watching Roger nosedive a helicopter into the ground 10 feet in front of me (I can’t repeat the language here).

Lowlights – getting chased and attacked by a tree because I chopped its buddies down.

 

Graham:

Unfortunately I don’t think I was a good boy this year as Father Christmas didn’t bring me any PS4 games on Christmas morning, but I think this was more due to the fact there are not that many worth investing in at the moment.  Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag seems to be a good bet for my next purchase as many of my colleagues are saying nice things about it.  Anyway enough about what I didn’t play and let’s see what I did manage to spend some time on over Christmas.

I have slowly been continuing to increase my rank in Battlefield 4, getting to the point now where I have a good grasp of most of the maps which is seriously helping, but as I mentioned in the last Weak Spot I really suffer at the hands of the 8 hours a day guys.

With it being Christmas I had more people round than normal, both friends and family alike so it was a chance to demo some of the PS4’s features.  Adults and children loved The Playroom, I still think its appeal is quite short lived but for casual visitors it’s a hit.  Kicking robots around the carpet and then sucking them into the control pad had everyone cooing in wonder (my family are easily impressed).  The camera even picked up my dog wandering through the robots and then sitting on them, The Playroom adjusted the position of the robots to make it look like they were sitting on the dog.

On New Year’s Eve the PS4 had a part to play in our small gathering to see in 2014, Just Dance was downloaded in readiness for many drunken people thinking they have the moves.  I did embarrassingly win about 9 trophies which I think is a sign of how easy it is to score big.  On single player the camera works well but when you have two people shambling around in front of it one person often was not picked up at all.  Good for a laugh but for me doesn’t have any sober interest.

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I have owned Disney Infinity for a few months now, got it for the kids and if you don’t mind the faff of setting up the power plate and figures it’s a good little game.  My 3 and 6 year old often play in the toy box together, which is an open world type level where they can do what they want.  More levels can be downloaded when the small number that come with the game get boring, these can also be levels built by other players which is nice.  The actual game can be a little linear but most kids don’t really care, why would you when you are Mr Incredible?  Additions to the Infinity family this Christmas included Mike Wazowski, Dash and Francesco Bernoulli.

I managed to pick up LEGO Batman 2 for the Vita on the cheap, following the huge success of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and the playable nature of the game I thought it would be a nice addition for both my son and I to play when the main TV was showing 7 hours of Peppa Pig.  It is not as slick as the latest offering from the LEGO franchise but it has the same magic and allure for young and old.  I wasn’t sure it would keep my son entertained as Batman is not as ‘cool’ as Iron Man and the latest films in the Batman series are not really aimed at children, but it has.  It doesn’t have the same longevity once the missions are complete but that’s a small side note.

Highlight – I am a dancing God!

Lowlight – I am a dancing God…

 

Roger:

It has been an exciting last couple of weeks.  I spent time with my friends and family celebrating Christmas and the New Year, and it was really well needed and enjoyable.  But here we are in 2014 and we have a whole new year of exciting games to play on our new gen of hardware!  Despite the abundant family and friend time, I did manage to play quite a few different games.

I’ll start off the roster with Demon Souls.  Most modern games pose little challenge compared to some of their classic counterparts, but From Software decided to create a game that brought back gaming challenge with a vengeance.  After much incentive from a friend, I sat down and powered through Demon Souls, death after death and some much needed advice, I found myself successfully defeating the first boss.  What a rewarding experience.  Once that was completed I moved on to Dark Souls and teamed up with two other friends in my living room.  We then stayed up till 4am playing coop defeating the Gargoyle bosses.  I have a real love/hate relationship for this game.  It is exciting and super rewarding once you finally learn from your mistakes and proceed to the next area, but it also eats at me with its unforgiving nature and somber tone.  Truly not a game for the faint of heart, but Dark Souls poises a real satisfying challenge for any soul brave enough to venture into its world.

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To move on to a lighter note, I joined up with some others from the COMO team and played some good old Battlefield 4 Multiplayer.  I know Xbox players may have taken the cross game chat/party system for granted, but it is such a nice feature.  Being able to talk with your friends regardless the game or campaign or multiplayer is wonderful and I can’t stop talking about it.  My pal and I started the same level of Battlefield 4 campaign at the same time and talked each other through it as we basically played the game coop.  Good times indeed.

Those things consumed most of my gaming time but there are a few other things I played off and on so I will just mention them in no particular order.  I ventured back to the wonderful world of Skyrim and sunk in even more time in a seemingly never ending game.  I played a little bit of Castlevania SotN, Terraria, Tearaway and tried Urban Trial freestyle on Vita.  I was almost able to play Don’t Starve, but I feel that it will have to wait until next week.

Highlights:  Experiencing the pure adrenaline fuelled satisfaction of defeating the first boss in Dark Souls after so many deaths and failures.

Lowlights:  Running out of room on my Vita memory card and desperately trying to figure out how to free space. Should have bought the 32gb version.

Written by Andy

Andy

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

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