The games we've been playing this week.
Tom Orry, Editor - Sound Shapes, PS Vita, PS3
I think my addiction to New Star Soccer is over. I'm still playing it now and again, but my player is entering his late 20s, I've won most the big competitions, and don't feel as motivated any more. Still, that means I've got time to play other games.
This week I've mostly been dabbling with Sound Shapes on PS Vita. I can't say I was especially looking forward to it, even though I was aware of the praise it had received from press at numerous trade shows. The platforming mixed with music-led level design just seemed a bit gimmicky and, to be blunt, a bit dull.
After finishing the game's first Album (a series of levels contained within), my opinion hadn't changed much. It was a decent audio visual experience, but it felt a bit flat despite the clearly excellent work that had gone into the game's presentation. This changed when I skipped forward to the Album "Cities", containing three songs written by Beck.
So far I've only played the first track of three, but it's already become one of my favourite levels of any game I've played this year. The way the music has been brought to life by the visuals is simply brilliant, and it demonstrates how good Sound Shapes can be.
Neon Kelly, Video Production Editor – London 2012, PC, PS3, Xbox 360
The bonafide event may have won over critics, but the official London 2012 game didn't exactly nab the gold when it came to our critical appraisal. And to be honest, I'm not that surprised. There are plenty of holes to pick here, especially if you're playing alone. The commentary is very limited and often fairly annoying, and some of the games are hilariously repetitive in their models and animation: it turns out every Olympic diver celebrates their effort in the exact same way... even if you've just limped in with scores of 4 and 5 from the judges.
But you know what? If there are four of you gathered around a TV, half-cut on White Russians, screaming and shouting and taking the piss, it's really quite fun. Whether you're hopelessly cocking up a discus throw, diving under the high jump bar, or bouncing on your neck on the trampoline, this is a game that offers endless opportunities for matey banter. And really, that's all I want from an Olympics simulation. Something tells me if it was twice as competent, it wouldn't be half as enjoyable.
Martin Gaston, Reviews Editor - Dota 2, PC
It's been absolutely boiling this week, and if you mix our island's blistering temperature with the Olympic fever currently sweeping the nation it's only natural that I spent most of this week sitting indoors playing Dota 2.
Well, that's a big fat lie: I've played six games of Dota 2 this week, which doesn't really sound like much, but then you realise that's basically enough time to complete Battlefield 3's campaign twice over. I'm currently sitting on 59 hours played, and that's excluding all the time I've spent watching archive videos of The Defense.
Still, our easiest game was on Wednesday. We'd gone with Zeus, Lion, Juggernaut, Axe and Lich and our rivals were sporting Night Stalker, Templar Assassin, Ursa, Drow Ranger and Brewmaster. It was always going to be a good match up for us if we controlled the early game, because their team was stuffed full of juicy carries – their only solid initiator came on the form of Night Stalker, basically, which meant their entire game plan relied on them farming up enough experience to become deadly beasts.
They didn't farm up enough experience to become deadly beasts. We played too well for too long, and thumped the enemy team too many times. We all moved in harmonious synchronicity, as if each of us was piloting their respective component of the Power Rangers' Megazord. No, that's wrong: we were the Megazord. Lich's frost blast would slow down fleeing clumps of enemies, Lion would blast them open with his finger of death, Juggernaut and Axe would absorb damage and hold the front lines, leaving Zeus' thunder to tear enemy health bars to ribbons. The elegance of our destruction will become the bedrock of myriad urban legends for years to come.
It was always going to be our game, and a late-game resurgence of Drow Ranger (we left her alone for too long to level up, and after 40 minutes none of us stood a chance against her 1v1) could do little to halt our satisfying victory. GG.
David Scammell, Staff Writer - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 - Chaos Collection, Xbox 360
After a few months away from Modern Warfare 3, I decided that I wanted to try out the content included in this week's Chaos Collection. The content sounded terrific; Sledgehammer's Michael Condrey appeared genuinely enthusiastic about the new Spec Ops missions when I discussed them with him last month, and the new Chaos mode seemed like a decent spin on Spec Ops Survival's score-chasing. But boy, they sure don't make it easy.
I'm a Premium Elite subscriber so technically I should be able to hit a button, confirm the transaction, and get the whole shebang downloaded directly to my console.
I say technically, because that's not actually what happens. Instead, in Microsoft, Activision, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer or Raven's infinite wisdom (I can't decide which company in this corporative tangle is to blame here), you have to jump through hoops to get at it. If, like me, you're an Elite subscriber, and if, like me, you haven't played MW3 for a while, be prepared to put up with one of the most frustrating distribution headaches I've stumbled across in this entire digital era.
First of all, you have to head to the in-game 'DLC Depot' and choose to download the Elite content. That's fine, but you can't specifically select which content to download. Instead, the game will automatically download all of the content in chronological order from the date it was released. That's not too much of a big deal either you might think, but here's the catch: the Xbox will only queue six content drops for download at a time and, for some inexplicable reason, my console wouldn't even attempt to download them while the game was running. Hence I was forced to quit back to the dashboard, wait for the content to download, reboot the game, and do it all again three more times. That's absurd.
On the third or fourth cycle the content randomly decided to start downloading while still in-game, negating the fuss of having to quit back to the dashboard. But nonetheless, it still took me a good 45 minutes before I'd managed to download the one Spec Ops mission I wanted to play in the first place. I was so put off by the palaver that a part of me even considered loading up Battlefield instead.
If this is what we have to look forward to with the future of digital distribution then there could be troubling times ahead. Chaos Collection is reasonably good fun once you finally manage to get a hold of it, particularly the explosive anarchy of Special Delivery. But, depending on how long you've been away from MW3, there's a certain irony to the name that you may not have been anticipating.