Tom Orry, Editorial Director - Mass Effect/Mass Effect 2, Xbox 360
So, I wish I'd played Mass Effect a lot earlier. It's brilliant, and the fact that it still stands out as different to most games almost six years after its release is incredible. Forcing people in the office to talk to me about it despite them finishing the game eons ago probably felt a bit like torture, but it's amazing to hear other people's tales about what happened and who survived. I'd been so blinkered to the Mass Effect series that I knew next to nothing about it going in, so it was a genuine surprise when major events took place.
The day after finishing Mass Effect I jumped straight into the sequel, and boy is that a very different game. It's undeniably a sleeker product, with a massive jump in production quality, but the shift to Gears of War controls took some getting used to. The mechanics are smoother, but it just doesn't feel very Mass Effect. I'm sure this feeling will pass (Mass Effect 2 is widely considered the best of the trilogy) once I meet up with some of the old crew.
Simon Miller, Editor-In-Chief - Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Xbox 360
If I were a game - I'm not, by the way - I would never choose to be released when Splinter Cell: Blacklist is currently scheduled for. Stuck between the end of this generation and the next, it also has to contend with all the other last hurrahs of this console cycle including Batman. Lovely, wonderful Batman...
While it can easily hold its own, it's just a shame that everyone focuses on this aspect because Blacklist is pretty good. There's a definite sense that it's more stealth-orientated than Conviction, and the returning Spys vs. Mercs is just excellent. I'd buy it just for that. The fact it's been broken into pieces - so you'll be rewarded more for hiding in the shadows and less for playing it like COD - means some concessions have been made, but it's definitely entertaining.
The days of Chaos Theory may never return, but I still do like what Splinter Cell is this year.
David Scammell, Deputy News Editor - Pure Football, Xbox 360
I know, I know. It's a rubbish football game, right? Well, as much as everybody else on the team disagrees with me, not entirely. I've owned Pure Football for a number of years now, but other than getting the impression that it's a little bit shite, I've never really known what it's all about. I mean, I've had an idea: I've always expected it to be a spiritual successor to the no-nonsense PS2 footie-fouler Red Card. And in a way it is. You can still blast in with bone-crunching slide tackles and get away scot-free. But it isn't a 'proper' football game. It's a fast-paced, five-a-side, third-person arcade footie 'em up, a little like FIFA Street crossed with Libero Grande.
The box makes no mention of this. In fact, there's no way of knowing that Pure Football isn't actually about pure football until you load it up. But - and this is where it starts to get a little more interesting - it should never have been released in a box in the first place.
Pure Football strikes me as one of the first casualties of 2010's emerging digital distribution market, when publishers still weren't entirely sure how best to split their product ranges between retail and digital. Had this launched as an 800 point download rather than a £40 disc, it could have been accepted as a cheap and cheerful arcade kickabout rather than a deeply flawed big box release. Misunderstood gem? Certainly not. Mishandled throwaway fun? Absolutely.
Steve Burns, Reviews and Features Editor - Dark Souls, PC
It's Steam sale time, and so far I've bought... nothing. There are two reasons for this: one is that I seem to own a lot of the games on offer. Two: I missed out on Football Manager 2013's sale. So I've had to resort to downloading the demo - a sad state of affairs, but one that's probably for the best. Because even from this small chunk of the game I can see myself becoming hopelessly addicted, and there's only room for one time-sink at the moment: Dark Souls. Sorry, Manchester United.