Tom Orry, Editor - Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows - Part 2, Xbox 360 and PS3
I wasn't a huge fan of the Potter games before Deathly Hallows, but looking back they at least had a certain charm - Half-Blood Prince and Order of the Phoenix even had a fully recreated virtual Hogwarts, which was great for fans to explore. Deathly Hallows - Part 2 is a straight up third-person shooter in the same vein as Gears of War and feels as though EA simply ran out of ideas. The gameplay is so tiresome that it's questionable whether diehard fans will even get anything out of the experience. For all the money and talent available to EA, it's somewhat insulting that this is the best it can produce for what is likely one of the biggest licenses going. Perhaps expecting more from a movie tie-in is foolish to begin with, but I'm not sure any fans will be satisfied with this effortless cash-in completely devoid of originality.
Disney might not have a great recent track record when it comes to delivering games to the hardcore, but you can't deny that its Pixar titles (the 8/10 scoring Toy Story 3 and Cars 2) have set a new bar for family movie-licensed gaming. Both took the raw materials and spun genuinely fun games out of it, while going to town on production values at the same time. While titles like Split/Second 2 are dead in the water, other publishers could learn a thing or two from the effort and resources ploughed into a subset of the video game industry that is usually left to ride on the license alone.
Neon Kelly, Deputy Editor - Frozen Synapse, PC
Another week passes, and slowly but surely I feel like I'm making progress with Frozen Synapse. Granted, my advance hasn't been graded by the traditional signs - pesky things like victories, or even successful kills - but as I slowly manoeuvre my fluorescent chaps around the gloomy mazes, I take a certain pride in their considered, precise movements. Granted, the sense of achievement does dissipate somewhat when one of my troops (or vatforms, to use the correct term) get shot from halfway across the map, blood sploshing across the floor. I'm in a match against CheekyLee as we speak, so no doubt I'll soon have yet another woeful tale of tactics gone awry.
Martin Gaston, Previews Editor - Demon's Souls, PS3
I was going to regale you all with a tale about my progress in Sonic & Knuckles, but I didn't actually finish that this week so instead I'll talk about something else: Demon's Souls.
I had a chance to play Dark Souls last week, and in doing so plonked myself then-first in Namco Bandai's inter-publication UK games journalist league. I won't pretend that it didn't go to my head - I'm sure most of you know me better than that by now. Giddy with victory, I decided to start a new character in Demon's Souls, and with a swagger in my step I ventured back into Boletaria.
I died seven times on the first level. The first bloody level.
My definitive verdict? Demon's Souls can f****** **** off, the stupid **** ******* **** ****. ******* *******. ****.
Jamin Smith, Staff Writer - SpaceChem, PC
SpaceChem is a bastard. An absolute bastard. I'm glad Martin convinced me to get into it, but at the same time, I hate him for what he's done. I've been playing it all week, and it's started to feel more like a second job than a game. I get home from work only to start another profession - except this time I'm a scientist, using symbols and logic to create (or break) specific compounds from (or into) single atoms. Puzzles work on multiple levels, requiring you to process multiple functions at the same time. When your head's not screwed on properly, it can be very, very confusing. It literally hurts my brain.
And yet it's immensely satisfying. Watching the solution to a problem you've been working on for three hours unfold on the screen is an incredible moment. This is a solution I'm particularly proud of. It's not particularly elegant, but it works. And that's all that matters. Watch it and tell me how clever I am.
Emily Gera, Staff Writer - Machinarium, PC
In the last decade and a half we've had a proper increase in the market worth of nostalgic gamers. The guys who grew up playing Day of the Tentacle and Gobliiins are now paying actual money for point-and-click genre throwbacks, and Machinarium caters to that quadrant of their hearts.
But it goes slightly further than that, too: it's cute and quaint but it's a legitimately good game in its own merit, which goes above and beyond the usual "combine these" gameplay tradition of the old genre thanks to the addition of decent, inventive little meta-games thrown into the mix. Highly recommend picking it up. Also it has robots.