Tom Orry, Editor - XCOM Enemy Unknown, Xbox 360

XCOM: Enemy Unknown screenshot

XCOM seems so unfair at times. Of course, it's all down to the roll of a dice, but when odds are in your favour and you still fire wildly wide of your target, resulting in that soldier being eviscerated by an alien nasty, it's hard not to get worked up. I'm not proud of it, but I've hurled insults at the game on plenty of occasions, and, quite out of character, gave it the middle finger when one of my most senior squad members bit the dust.

It's this raw emotion that XCOM manages to elicit that makes it such a good game. You're not directly in control of your squad's actions, but you're not a complete bystander either, and reliance on stats to determine ultimate success or failure can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Neon Kelly, Video Production Editor - Frog Fractions, Online Browser Game

If you're of a certain age, you may have been exposed to educational video games when you were younger. I say, "if you're of a certain age" as I have no idea if they're still commonly used today. Even if they are, I highly doubt they're as batsh*t crazy as they were during the 80s. Back then, one of my favourites was a game called Podd on the BBC Micro. The aim here was to type instructions to an anthropomorphised tomato, and then see whether or not he would obey.

I'm going off on a slight tangent here, but seriously – what was the point of that? I spent endless hours testing that tomato's capabilities. I learned that he could laugh, dance and fly; with the right provocation, he could also explode. But as an adult, I've since learned that tomatoes do none of those things – not unless you've ingested a dangerous quantity of household chemical. SO WHERE WAS THE EDUCATIONAL VALUE IN THIS STUPID GAME?

Frog Fractions is a loving tribute to the inanity of educational software. In fact, that's barely an adequate description – but just trust me and click the link in the title above. It'll take you about 15 minutes to play through the whole thing (yes, there's an ending). It won't teach you anything, but it'll give you a good laugh.

Martin Gaston, Reviews Editor - Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo: Reach, Halo: ODST, Xbox

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary screenshot

Last weekend Matt Nellis and I played 27 hours of the Halo series for the Extra Life charity drive. It was great - you can watch the archived stream and you can still donate to us. I don't actually remember playing any of Halo 3, mind. I can watch myself playing it on the stream but in my memory I have absolutely zero recollection of any of the game being played other than watching Matt do the bit at the end. That's insane. Sleep deprivation is a real thing, people!

After all that, though, I haven't spent much time this week playing games. I hope you will understand. The idea of holding an Xbox controller at the moment makes my hands feel funny. Thank heavens I can take a long break before another Hal—oh, wait.

Though I must, once again, say thank you to everyone who joined in with the stream and to the valiant heroes that played along with us in co-op. We would have never finished without you because, seriously, we overran so much on the original Halo it was ridiculous.

David Scammell, Deputy News Editor - Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 2, Xbox 360

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II screenshot

I just can't believe how poor it is. I'd heard the chatter before playing, and I'd guffawed at the odd suggestion that it was somehow worse than Episode 1 - something I simply couldn't imagine being possible given that game's incompetence. But they're right. Sonic 4: Episode II is abysmal. I'm not confident in calling it the worst Sonic game yet (which may say a fair bit about SEGA's recent treatment of its icon), but it's certainly not far off.

At first glance, Episode II seems relatively fine. Sonic feels far more like Sonic than he did in the original. There's a sense of momentum, for one, and that 'sticking to walls' nonsense has been removed. Which is a start, I guess. But the ineptness of the level and boss design, and almost anything else for that matter, makes Episode II a shining example of how not to make a video game. The music is so bad that it's the only time I've had to purposely mute my TV while playing a video game, too.

I'm stuck on a part that I don't think I'll ever manage to beat. Most of you will probably find that quite funny, given my recent Extended Play performances, but I'm not sure it can be attributed to a lack of skill, rather awful design. If you've played it, you'll likely know the bit I mean. It's in one of the acts of the Oil Desert Zone, which sees Sonic and Tails climbing a cylindrical corridor that's (quickly) filling with sand. No matter what I try, there's a particular U-shaped section that I always get caught on, and am faced with watching Sonic and Tails croak it over and over again. After seeing the Game Over screen countless times, I gave up caring. The game isn't good enough to warrant the effort it supposedly requires. That Metal Sonic boss can get stuffed, too.

Sonic 4: Episode II isn't just bad, then, but it's also the first game in years that I've had to walk away from for its sheer cheapness - and I'm not sure I'll ever go back.

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User Comments

dav2612's Avatar


On the PS3 it has been nothing but Doom 3. Finished the campaign and very much enjoyed it. I made a start on the Resurrection of Evil part but not finding it quite as good.

On the Vita it has mostly been Zen Pinball 2 which I appear to be developing a little addiction for. And a bit of Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7.

The iPod got some game time too. I picked up Football Manager 2012 in the sale along with Burnout Crash. Only played FM so far and managed to qualify for the Champions League group stage over breakfast this morning.
Posted 09:10 on 29 October 2012


Forza Horizon has been my go-to game since Friday's release. But also been finishing Spy Hunter on Vita and a few bits of other games here and there.

This coming week will be focused on more Forza and some Borderlands, but not on consoles...
Posted 22:17 on 28 October 2012
FantasyMeister's Avatar


I started the week with a little Borderlands 2, slightly aggrieved that whereas previoiusly I could wade through anything easily I'm now getting eviscerated by everything during playthrough 2.

Halo Combat Evolved: Anniversary finally got pulled off the 'to get to' pile mainly due to Matt and Martin's inspiring charity event and managed to last a good 23 hours because, despite the 7 or so hours on campaign (I didn't have Wes guiding me so probably saved a couple of hours) I was skull/terminal/cheevo hunting as well.

Daughter Number One forgot to take Test Drive Unlimited 2 out of the tray following her last visit, so I added another win to my Poker Tournament tally. I also learned what "Wagwan" meant and made up the phrase "Slussh blud" to add to my list of hip and crazy things to say when gaming, but that's just how I roll, who I game with, and not really a reflection of TDU2.

Whilst trying to find excuses not to buy Forza Horizon, I dug out Shift 2: Unleashed and gave it a whirl. My love of the Forza series stems from the fact it has so many RPG elements in it (level things up, collect things, upgrade things) but this is an area where Shift really excels. Unfortunately it's also a huge grind which, whilst loving huge grinds, I'm just not in the mood for currently.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown also got a whirl, for about 3 hours. I hate cheap statistically-based deaths, and my XCOM was full of them. It's on the to get to pile again.

So I ultimately caved in and bought Forza Horizon. To my delight it's almost like a fully-featured (no tuning though) Forza title so will eventually get lots of time invested into it.

And finally, coming full circle, Gearbox Software were liberally distributing codes for Golden Keys this weekend, so I grabbed a few, used a couple, got a couple of nice purples but most importantly discovered that the Captain Scarlett DLC in playthrough 2 was the way to go. I'm levelling up again, grabbing more powerful weapons and loving the game again.

But for now it's Forza Horizon in the tray.
Posted 18:57 on 28 October 2012
Clockpunk's Avatar


Hah, I can echo Tom's XCom: Enemy Unknown sentiments. Sworn at the computer's cheatingness a fair few times this past week. Think I'm getting on towards the end, though, as I have apparently encountered all the different types of enemy. A little sad, as I think they could have included more of... well... everything! Weapons, aliens, skill tree paths, and so on.

Forza: Horizon has also see a fair bit of play. My thoughts are laid out in a little more depth in the review thread, but n the whole: very impressed. Also, the community club (with affiliated vinyl decos) has now been created, and is open to all! :D

Finally, after stumbling across a board game described as a spiritual successor to Dungeon Keeper, I couldn't resist firing that title up again. Just goes to show, that good games - no matter how old a may be (1997... I remember the day it came into my local shop, very well... was most excited to come home from school and see it standing on the table, after asking my mother if I might possibly be allowed to have it) - never die. Really enjoying rediscovering it again, and have reordered a disc of DK2 off eBay.
Posted 13:27 on 28 October 2012
rbevanx's Avatar


I have been mainly playing Deus Ex: HR again on my second account doing the main game and DLC again. I think after playing the game for the...well it's been more than once this year lol I have now started to get fed up of it.
Can see myself playing it again in the future still but it will be a long time.

Also did some (well only an hour and a half) Football Manager 2013 which I have barely scratched but did give the challenge mode a whirl and love that feature.

Also played a few hours of Spec Ops on PC and for a fiver total bargain, really good fun and will finish it very soon.

Also played an internet game called Budget Zero which I thought was a good laugh.
Posted 13:06 on 28 October 2012
reynoldio's Avatar


PODD! *memories*
Posted 12:12 on 28 October 2012

Game Stats

Release Date: 12/10/2012
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: Turn-based strategy
Rating: TBC
Site Rank: 1,540 179
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