Tom Orry, Editor - Start the Party, PS3
Most of this week I've been playing Disney: Epic Mickey on the Wii, but seeing as I'm not allowed to talk about that until next week that leaves me with Start the Party - the PlayStation Move launch title from Sony. I didn't give this a hugely favourable review on release, and I stand by that, but it's still good fun for a few hours now and again. There's just not enough content here to keep you coming back time and time again, and many of the most entertaining mini-games are simply tiny little snippets that occur during party play and aren't selectable from the menu.
Neon Kelly, Deputy Editor - Call of Duty: Black Ops, PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Fine, so I've finally caught up with the rest of the world and played Black Ops. Seeing as I'm the last person on the planet (apart from Tom Orry) to give it a pop, my opinions are probably a bit redundant, but here it goes anyway: the single-player has a quite a few good sparkly moments, but falls short of MW2. For me, the time-hopping thing is a nice idea that doesn't quite work, as the plot lacks the inter-dependency thing that worked so well last year. Remember the nuke launch, the space bit, and then the choppers falling out of the sky in the next level? That was amazing. Still, I'm really enjoying BLOPS' multiplayer. The wager matches are great, I like the maps a lot, and it generally seems a bit more welcoming than MW2, where I struggled to make any headway. Fine, so most of my kills come from randomly sneaking up on people - but at least I can pretend I'm taking part.
Martin Gaston, Staff Writer - Trainyard, iPhone
Waggle is dead: it's locomotion controls where gaming's future lies. I'm not sure if sitting on a train, wondering why the stupid trains never run on time, while I'm playing a game where I absolutely cannot get the trains to work properly is me participating in a damning microcosm of society or not - besides, I'm too busy playing Trainyard to care. While my stumpy fat fingers make actually drawing the track on the screen a continuing source of frustration, and my lifeless brain ensures the ingenious puzzles are near-impossible, actually watching the little choo-choos drive around to their destination is utterly captivating. Did I mention it's better than Game Dev Story? Yes, I went there.
Jamin Smith, Staff Writer – Red Dead Redemption, Xbox 360 and PS3
I've been displaying agoraphobic tendencies when playing games recently. When Red Dead Redemption first came out, I played it for half an hour, realised how overwhelmingly big it was, and banished it to the depths of my games cabinet. With GOTY conversations starting to take up more and more time in the office, however, I've decided I need to overcome this irrational fear. After all, it seems Red Dead could find itself pretty high up many lists at the end of the year. I'm about 8 hours in now, and can totally see why a double figure score was lavished on the game. The sprawling landscapes, the red skies, the sunrises, the horses, the herds of cattle, the tumbleweed, the swinging doors on a saloon – it all combines to create a world that is utterly convincing. Of all the open world titles that I've played, the world of Red Dead feels the most cohesive; the most absorbing. I'm starting to build a good mental picture of my own GOTY year list, and I'm pretty sure this will be pretty near the top.
Tom Pearson, Video Producer - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Xbox 360 and PS3
Why is it that the starting villa is named so that most non-Italians can't pronounce it without sounding like they're identifying pasta dishes? They may as well have called it ravioli or something. But in all seriousness this game is awesome. I'm a huge fan of the original (although somewhat repetitive) but unfortunately I haven't played the second one. Luckily they bring you up to speed within the first 10 minutes; something about apples, stabbing and Templars. I've also had a crack at multiplayer. Extremely enjoyable to say the least, but most importantly, it's different. I'm just chilling out on a bench with my courtesan buddies when up turns my target. A quick slice with my fan-knife contraption secures my lead as the number one assassin. But what's this? My chum I was previously sitting with has just plunged a dagger through my shoulder. Ooooooooh the deception, how is this fair?! Great, now I'm dead, you can't kill people when you're dead, this is so rubbi.... Oh yay, respawn.
Emily Gera, Staff Writer - Deadly Premonition, Xbox 360
Yeah, I have no idea what's going on. A girl's been murdered and there are messages hidden in my coffee cup - At least I think that's what's happening. And it's got ghosts that walk backwards. Deadly Premonition is the equivalent of listening to David Lynch describe Twin Peaks after a nine hour drinking session: It's a bit sloppy but it's still basically Twin Peaks so I'll keep listening.