The games we've been playing this week.
Tom Orry, Editor - Max Payne 3, Xbox 360
So I finished Sleeping Dogs and actually enjoyed the ending a lot more than the missions leading up to it. I'd definitely say it's worth a go, but it was a very wise move to release it before the onslaught of big titles coming in the months ahead.
Before that onslaught fully kicks off, though, I'm trying to work through Max Payne 3, which I snapped up for £20 last week. I've heard a fair bit of negativity about the game, but I have to say that I'm really enjoying it. I've still got a long way to go, but the action is top-drawer and it's a gorgeous game that reeks of the attention to detail Rockstar is known for.
Seriously, if this is what those guys can do on a console that is now an OAP, I can't wait to see what they do on the next generation of consoles. There's definitely some technical wizardry going on, but there's also the sense that nothing in the game was thrown in as filler or in a hurry. Each and every object, room, and location has been meticulously planned and modelled. No doubt this costs a lot more money than recycling assets and churning out identikit rooms, but it pays off.
Neon Kelly, Video Production Editor – Borderlands 2, Xbox 360
So come on then, who did you plump for? I'm playing as Zer0, he of the flashy sword, ghost tricks, and gimpy ninja getup. To me, Zer0 always seemed like the most interesting of the four candidates, though I'll admit that I almost opted for Maya at the last minute. I've no doubt that Salvador and Axton will be more powerful characters, but the cyber-ninja and the siren look to offer more interesting playstyles. I reckon Maya may be the least popular choice this time around, as initially her class power doesn't appear to be that potent; having seen what she's capable of at high levels, I can tell you that's not the case.
Anyway, Borderlands 2. I'm only a few hours in, but I already love it to bits. I think I'll be spending a good deal of time on Pandora over the coming weeks and months, so hit me up on Xbox LIVE if you fancy some co-op hijinks.
Martin Gaston, Reviews Editor - Dota 2, PC
Haven't written about Dota 2 in a while I don't think - maybe two weeks? - so it's time to dote over Dota. Had a game this week and I was excellent and the team was excellent and we all had an excellent time. See you next week!
It'll be really interesting to see whether Valve's game can hold up to the coming holiday onslaught, as the past few weeks have unearthed some actually good games for a change. Just look at all this: Joe Danger 2, Guild Wars 2, Borderlands 2, Torchlight II, Tekken Tag Tournament 2. If you're a fan of games with '2' in them then 2012 (which has two 2's!) is definitely the best year for you. Dota 2! Black Ops 2! Medal of Hono(u)r: Warfighter (it's the second one)! Assassin's Creed Thr—oh, balls. Thanks for ruining it, Ubisoft!
Also, I played Forza Horizon this week and I think that game might be pretty good.
David Scammell, Staff Writer - Borderlands 2, Xbox 360
Tiny Tina is a slightly insane thirteen-year old explosives expert - and she's basically my girlfriend. Not that I've developed a weird obsession with the pint-sized crazy, of course, or that I'm dating a thirteen-year old. But looking beyond the odd little girl's obsession with arson, Tina acts, talks, and even looks a bit like my nearest and dearest. "O hai!", she shouts, before introducing me to Mushy Snugglebites and asking me to bring some crumpets back for tea. Just like real life. I'm so confused.
Anyway, my point isn't to highlight how weird or crumpet-obsessed my lady friend is - I've done that plenty of times on the podcast. No, it's to stress how much Borderlands 2 has character. My greatest criticism of the original Borderlands was in how subdued the overall game felt. Even in spite of the game's art direction and script, I could never shake the feeling that Gearbox was pussyfooting around the idea of silliness rather than going all-out mental, and the omission of any truly memorable characters - besides Claptrap and those introduced via DLC - meant I loved it a little less than most others.
But the personalities you meet in Borderlands 2 are great. Even some of the game's lesser stars contain far more personality than the majority of major characters in the first. Even though I'd only been carrying him around in my pocket for 10 minutes, I really did feel for that little midget I burned at the stake. It also makes playing through the game solo a lot more appealing. If you've been put off the idea of Borderlands by the idea of it being a social game, don't be. Embrace the stupidity and soak up the story. Borderlands 2 is Fallout gone cuckoo - and I'm loving every mad minute of it.