What we've been playing this week.
Tom Orry, Editor - James Cameron's Avatar: The Game, Xbox 360
It's not often I like a game after thinking its rubbish for the first 30 minutes, but that's exactly what happened with Avatar. Now, this isn't a proper triple-A release, but give it time (the section that leads up to the choice isn't very good at all) and it really is a very good movie licensed title. Being something of a wordsworth, constantly dazzling the guys in the office with my eloquent ways, something I said about Avatar on Monday really sums up how I feel about it. "It's really quite rubbish in some ways, but I actually quite like it." I'm not someone who dishes out praise that often, so to declare that I like something despite its glaring faults is a rather rare occurrence.
Wesley Yin-Poole, Deputy Editor – Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Xbox 360
It's quieter now. All the year's big releases are out the door, in the shops, and, if they're any good, spinning in disc trays across the land (hopefully). Christmas is coming to save me, like Gandalf turning up on the first light of the third day to save the race of men. This means I have some time. Time to play games because I want to. A chance to catch up. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is my first port of call. I missed out on the DLC - the five new characters and four new simulator missions - when it was released, so I've been taking it for a spin. For me, Cable is the best of the bunch - his high damage weapons fire makes a mockery of anything stupid enough to stand in his way. Magneto's not bad, although he feels half as powerful as he should (but if he felt as powerful as he should, he would be overpowered). Psychic ninja Psylocke is fun for a bit, but weak, Carnage looks the part but I've never been a fan, and Blank Panther, well... meh. I'm disappointed in the four new simulator missions, too. None posed much of a challenge for my maxed out super group of Thor, Thing, Hulk and Wolverine - I have golds on all of them already. But, what's this? The new Achievements require the new sims be completed under rock hard conditions. Now this is what I'm talking about...
Neon Kelly, Previews Editor - The Saboteur, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
Originally I was going to use this spot to tell you about my failed attempts to scale the Eiffel Tower - how I got about two thirds of the way up before slipping to my screaming, street-pizza doom. However, about ten minutes after this fall I discovered something even more entertaining: It turns out that The Saboteur has cows... fully destructible cows, to be precise. After soaking up a few rounds from my MP40 machine gun, my first bovine victim collapsed into five or six surprisingly neat chunks. There was no blood, just lots of different cow pieces - like some kind of bizarre puzzle made by Damien Hirst. I immediately summoned the entire team, and the next quarter of an hour was spent murdering cows in a variety of stupid ways- including death by dynamite, sniper rifle, and swerving car. The Saboteur is one of those games that takes you by surprise, offering more fun than you'd initially expect from its admittedly flawed components - but it's hard not to enjoy the spectacle of a sweary Irishman punching a cow into chunks.
Sebastian Ford, Video Producer - Tony Hawk: RIDE, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
I really want to like this game, truly I do, but it just keeps doing little things to get on your nerves if you so much as hint you're starting to enjoy yourself. You can't help but feel this game needed to be designed for absolutely everyone to be able to pick up; slowly encouraging you to play more, get better, and attempt a new difficulty level. It achieves nothing of the sort. Steering is probably the hardest; deliberately leaning and losing your balance is anything but intuitive, and on hardcore mode you will really struggle to just go in a straight line. The camera is truly awful, with your skater frequently vanishing from the screen altogether, and even when you thought they couldn't have any more they manage to shoehorn in another bit of advertising.
James Orry, News Editor - Not much
Since the announcement that Sports Interactive are to reset the Football Manager Live gameworlds in March I've found the pull of the once brilliant management MMO getting weaker with each passing day. So non-fussed am I by the state of the game today that a win over a rival means nothing. Likewise, a loss leaves behind no lasting disappoinment; it'll all be gone next year so what does it matter? Such has been the exodus of FM Live players that the Juicy Danglers have shot up the rankings, but there's an empty feeling to this success.