What we've been playing this week.
Tom Orry, Editor - Skate 2, Xbox 360
As I mentioned in my review, Skate 2 is one of those games that looks really easy, meaning cocky people will slam you for being rubbish and insist they could do better. This sort of happened in the office this week, with our resident Skateboarding expert Seb (a title given to him simply because he looks like he could skate) trying to complete a challenge I'd been failing miserably at for about an hour. Plenty of bails and broken bones later he'd managed to scrape through, although with scores lower than I had achieved and failed with. Play Skate 2 in front of a group of friends and they'll almost always insist on having a go, claiming "it can't be as hard as you're making it out to be". They will almost always be proven wrong.
Wesley Yin-Poole, Deputy Editor - Killzone 2, PS3
JOURNOWARS! This week I gave Killzone 2's online game mode, Warzone, a whirl in a mammoth session with loads of other gaming journalists across Europe. In fact, the pre-arranged session was actually called JOURNOWARS, which was a nice touch on the part of Guerrilla Games, I thought. I'm under orders to keep the big opinions for the review of course, but what I will say here is that there's no free-for-all deathmatch lone wolf style mode. It's all team-based ISA versus Helghast stuff. For me, this is a disappointing move. FFA is one of my favourite game modes in first-person shooters. That won't be the case for everyone, but there were moments during my time spent playing Killzone 2 online where I thought, you know what, I'd love to have to skulk around and kill ABSOLUTELY EVERYBODY! What do you think, dear readers?
James Orry, News Editor - Football Manager Live, PC
I'm still on FM Live, in fact I've been playing nothing else. I've been focusing on building a youth squad - predominantly 16-year olds or younger - although I do have a couple of older lads in there for U21 matches. Pace and Acceleration have been key attributes in my scouting process, prioritising these over more position specific skills such as finishing, tackling, passing etc - although they too are important. My manager training is also progressing nicely and I'm now only a few hours away from Coaching Level 4. The first season since the retail game world went live has also begun, but things didn't get off to a great start: my talented and highly versatile left-sided attacker Fabio Felicio picked up a torn calf injury which is set to keep him on the sidelines for seven days. That doesn't sound like a lot in the real world, but in FM Live that's a quarter of the season. For those challenging me to a league match, that's the reason I'm rejecting - he should be back for my next scheduled league match on January 28.
Neon Kelly, Previews Editor - Castle Crashers, XBLA
I have no idea why it's taken me so long to play Castle Crashers. I was vaguely aware of it when it came out, and I knew it was the work of Tom Fulp, the founder of the wonderful Newgrounds.com. I've long been a fan of Fulp's Flash games - particularly Chainsaw the Children and the unbelievably-offensive Disorderly - but for some reason I never got around to buying it. Well, we all make mistakes... I tried the demo earlier this week, and I bought the full game on the same night. Castle Crashers is simply a perfectly-formed nugget of fun. There are subtle nods to everything from Double Dragon to the Ninja Turtles arcade games, and the weird humour is a constant delight. It's also the only game I can think of where you get to beat up a giant Cat-Fish hybrid that behaves like a submarine. Awesome stuff.
Sebastian Ford, Video Producer - Skate 2, Xbox 360
You know what, I'm actually not completely useless on a skateboard. It took me a while but I eventually learned how to ollie - and to me, that was quite the achievement. The original Skate paid kind homage to this, making simple tricks like kickflips and grinds feel like they required at least a shred of skill. Skate 2 is more of the same, and to that end I thoroughly enjoy it. I love cruising around the open world they provide, progressing through events purely at my own pace. I'm also finally beginning to enjoy the endless amounts of falling because nine times out of ten, it's utterly hilarious. This is frequently down to the fact that as soon as you come off the board, you completely rag doll. It doesn't matter if you hit a massive boulder, or just a strong gust of wind, the skater is doomed to a slow motion tumble. Ultimately I just enjoyed seeing how many bones I could break in one fall. I can't believe my skater is still alive.
For more on what we've been up to this week check out the brand-new VideoGamer.com Podcast.