What we've been playing this week.
Tom Orry, Editor - Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
I can't seem to play this for hours on end, but when I'm at a loose end and have a few minutes to burn, Hot Pursuit fits the bill. The rubber-banding annoys from time to time and the Autolog features haven't grabbed me like they have many others, but the aggressive racing is still great fun. It looks marvellous too, with the snowy mountain locations being my favourite. I can't play it when I'm tired though; the insane speed reached in the top-end cars makes seeing oncoming vehicles nigh-on impossible, and with some events lasting upwards of five minutes a refreshing eye-blink can cause a pile-up disaster.
Neon Kelly, Deputy Editor - B.U.T.T.O.N, Xbox LIVE Indie game
B.U.T.T.O.N stands for Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now. It's a remarkably fun (and endearingly dangerous) little gem from the Copenhagen Game Collective, released at the end of last year on Xbox LIVE's indie market. Rather than being a "proper" video game, B.U.T.T.O.N finds two to four players competing in brief-but-violent real life challenges, with the 360 pad simply used as a way to determine who wins. Every game begins with the controller being placed on the floor, and the participants then taking a number of steps backward, as per the instructions relayed on screen. A typical round might then ask the players to spin on the spot six times, or to sing Happy Birthday at the top of their voice. At this point the victory condition will be revealed - usually it'll be along the lines of "the first person to push their button 10 times wins".
It's a very simple affair, but there's something about the game's wry sense of humour that encourages immediate physical anarchy. The first time you load the game you'll be presented with three lengthy warning screens, and it's not hard to see why: I almost broke my arm while playing with the guys this week. It's only 80 points if you fancy giving it a whirl - but the resulting medical bills may prove far more costly.
Martin Gaston, Staff Writer - Splatterhouse, 360, PS3
Dude! Did you see that bit where, like, I totally punched that dude so hard his head exploded? Duuuude. Splatterhouse is, like, extreme to the MAX. Right, you play as like, this guy, right, and he's all about hulking up and smacking demons to death, and they're screaming and he's totally laughing - because he doesn't care about their pain because they're demons! Haha, demons are stupid. And you've got this girlfriend, yeah, and she's well fit - yeah, she's not real as in, actually real, but she's kind of like a really hot Princess Peach who gets her melons out loads and gets kidnapped. SPLATTERHOOOOOOUSE.
Jamin Smith, Staff Writer – Nier Xbox 360, PS3
I was getting JRPG withdrawal symptoms over Crimbo, so I popped out to my local video game merchant and handed over fourteen pounds and ninety eight pence in exchange for a copy of Nier. Bargain. Even though the game is rooted in JRPG sensibilities – you kill enemies with swords, you level up, you synthesise stronger weapons – it also encompasses a bevy of other mechanics from different genres. There are platforming sections, fixed camera survival horror-esque sections and even old-school 'shmup' sections. The narrative is just as peculiar as the amalgamation of genres, with potty-mouthed hermaphrodites and talking books. It doesn't surprise me that the game has so many haters, but it's interesting, damn it, and I'll play it to the end regardless of how "utterly crap" they keep on telling me it is.
Emily Gera, Staff Writer - Mass Effect 2, Xbox 360, PC
The only thing that's torn me away from WoW in the last three weeks is my desire to try and get the cinematic in Mass Effect 2 where Miranda Lawson beds Shepherd, out of principle, because if you finish a BioWare game without seeing at least one bra then you're not being a completionist gamer. I say "out of principle" because I'm that person who managed to not do it with an alien in Mass Effect 1 - the game that sent Yankee moralists and perturbed conservative mothers into a frenzy when they confused a bit of alien snogging with "virtual orgasmic rape" that would push "our next generation of young men through the gates of hell as fast as is humanly possible". Since that happened I've been an outsider in the community of gamers who at least got to experience the anti-climax of Mass Effect's alien-bedding first hand. Ah well, I'll always have my memories of being moderately unimpressed with Lawson. That's something.
Tom Pearson, Video Producer - Infinity Blade, iPhone
The God King; what an asshat! This all powerful baron is allegedly a bad influence to the people of my impoverished village, or so I'm told. My small time hamlet only contains one family who have been stricken by a deadly plague of infertility. This causes much upset (as you can imagine) since a sole child is born every two decades, and as history repeats itself, the kid will unavoidably die on his 23rd birthday. As with all outlandish rumours, the only person we can blame for this is, of course, the Ass King… sorry, God King. Now, it will take the average gamer about five or six bloodlines to snuff the omnipotent toff. I fall into this category, defeating him with nothing but a 2x4 plank on my arm and a marshmallow flump in the other on my sixth run through. Ha, take that! Now I have his precious Infinity Blade, but what do I do once I've killed him? My whole life has been leading to this moment and I don't even have some form of speech ready, not even a one-liner... "God King? More like... Loser King..."