What we've been playing this week.
Tom Orry, Editor - Epic Mickey 2, Xbox 360
I had hoped Epic Mickey 2 would at least match its predecessor - a game that I'm fond of despite its flaws - but sadly I'm about a third in and the game is missing something. The original Wii game had a wonderful atmosphere and a sense that Mickey's quest was indeed epic - the sequel feels emotionless by comparison and the gameplay dull and repetitive. I'd hoped the series would live on long enough for a sequel to arrive on the next-gen platforms, with the designers finally able to make a game with visuals to match the wonderful concept art of the original, but given the state of Epic Mickey 2 I have my doubts.
Neon Kelly, Video Production Editor – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Xbox 360
I guess the hype for GTA 5 must have gotten under my skin, because the other day I suddenly found myself downloading San Andreas from Xbox LIVE. Given that I rarely cough up for Games On Demand stuff, this caught me by surprise.
The first thing that caught my attention was that old-school GTA look. I'd forgotten how distinctive the HUD is in the last-gen games, that slightly blocky design with its ever-so-slightly cartoonish overtones. At the time, I remember being blown away by how realistic everything seemed; with hindsight, the PS2-era GTAs were hugely stylised, which is partly why it was so easy for them to be referenced or parodied in other media. When you compare San Andreas to GTA IV, the contrast could barely be starker... but maybe one day GTA IV, which now seems so committed to realism, will look equally distinct.
In other news, the characters are just as unsympathetic as I remember them. CJ isn't too bad, but his brother and the crew are very hard to like. Still, this is a game with an awfully long build-up – and I know the best bits are still a long way off.
Martin Gaston, Reviews Editor - Far Cry 3, Xbox 360
Far Cry 3 is an interesting game, but mostly at this point it reminds me of the things I loved from Assassin's Creed II which I felt were lost in Assassin's Creed III - running, jumping, climbing things and getting horribly distracted along the way. When it comes to the game's actual missions, well, I have a bit of a lukewarm reaction to those; they just feel like typical open-world missions, and I've never been a great lover of those, thank you very much. Go here. Collect that. Listen to somebody say some stuff about things. It's like being at school or, even worse, work. But, oh my, the freedom and wonder conjured up by the rest of it – and all the chasing, hunting and skinning things such freedom entails. Few things on my version of Rook Island haven't been skinned. I'd skin people if I could. Heck, does this support mods? I want to be able to make a necklace out of human ears. Ear necklace DLC please, Ubisoft.
David Scammell, Deputy News Editor - Wii U
And by Wii U, I mean the infamous Wii U System Update. Nothing drains the excitement out of a new console faster than the realisation that you have to leave it alone for hours to let it update, watching the download bar slowly fill and wondering whether it's crashed after it doesn't move for five minutes. Imagine an over-excitable youngster waking up on Christmas Day to find Santa's brought them a Wii U, only to be told that they can't touch it until it's completed its precarious - and terrifying - update process. A process, of course, that can reportedly take up to four hours.
It's a little like when you bought a phone in 'the olden days' and had to leave it charging overnight. Only this time, your new piece of kit could become an expensive doorstop if there's a power cut or intoxicated uncle Joe trips over the power cord.
Given how long Nintendo has had to get this right - the Wii U was publicly revealed 18 months ago, after all - I find it difficult to believe quite how ridiculous an oversight it is. Hardware launches are never without their teething problems, of course, but when the president of the company apologises for the mistake before the console has even gone on sale in his own backyard, you know something somewhere has gone badly wrong.