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The Weekly Playlist: the one where Rob doesn’t have a good time and Jeremy admits he’s a luddite


Sunday’s rolled around again, increasing your suspicions concerning its creepy regularity, and you’re finding it too cold and too dark to go outside. Luckily, you’ve discovered that the warmest part of the house it where you can straddle your PC stack with your feet. While there, why not play a few games?

Here’s what we’ve been playing while using our technologically impressive hot water bottles.

Paul Dean: E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy

Hold on, come back! I’m serious, I’m not trolling you here. Just calm down a moment. And put the gun down.

I appreciate that E.Y.E. is an imperfect game. It’s a very imperfect game and my first encounter with it left me baffled, but I’m starting to find it fascinating, fascinating as hell.

I’ve been playing E.Y.E. multiplayer with two other friends, after one of them convinced me to give it a second chance. While it’s a game that’s often a bit directionless, and one that includes a bunch of mechanics that aren’t fully realised or, quite often, even properly explained, it also displays excellent art and design and it tries its best to introduce a raft of different concepts. Sometimes, it succeeds.

It’s a mix of FPS and RPG running in the Source engine, clearly heavily influenced by the original Deus Ex and often giving you levels of a similar sort of size. I think that sometimes we forget how big some of our FPS titles used to get and how much we could pack into them. The music is wonderfully odd at times and there are some bizarre and even incredible moments when you play. Imagine my surprise when, while running through an enormous underground sewer complex, I was confronted by a helicopter gunship.

That said, E.Y.E. isn’t a game I’d particularly recommend to anyone and I’d probably not be playing it if I didn’t have two people with me who had taken quite different roles and who, when things got particularly weird, could laugh along with me. Still, I’m having a great time. Rob disagrees with my choice of game, but I’m not sure if he’s having that much fun with…

Rob Zacny: Mass Effect 3

This is difficult. From the first minutes of this game, I have been alternately disappointed or frustrated. I get a weird Prince of Persia: Warrior Within vibe from this game, and I don’t know why. Everything seems a bit uglier than I remember, a bit dumber. Has the engine really aged this poorly? The animations are uniformly awkward, textures look soiled, and the pacing and editing of key scenes is amateurish. Has the invasion of earth ever seemed duller and less threatening than in the opening sequence of Mass Effect 3?

Shepard seems sentimental, more than I ever remember. The deep grief and sadness as she watches some little Earthling-waif run for an evacuation shuttle, as though she, who has seen so much, would be so inconsolable over a prepubescent cliche. She can’t interact with Kaiden without casting some lingering glance over his features, mired in some love story that Bioware never bothered to write.

Actually, every encounter seems freighted with unearned significance. It’s like the last day of college or something: everything suddenly has to have meaning, you can’t just talk to someone, you have to talk to them For The Last Time. At this point I’m just praying for Wrex or Grunt to show up and puncture the game’s mawkishness, like the Krogans always do.

So why am I still playing it? I don’t know, I might give up soon. But dammit, I put like eighty or so hours into the first two games. I liked some of those characters, not least of which was my own dear Elena Shepard, renegade captain of the Normandy. I keep hoping we’ll have some good moments along the way to the denouement, and that I’ll have a few more good conversations with Mordin and Garrus. But every minute I play, the more I realize this is a game emphasizing the very things that were always weakest in this series: combat and the Reapers. If Mass Effect 3 didn’t have two games’ worth of history behind it, I’d already be finished with it. As it is, we’ll see if it can save itself.

Nick Wilson: Guild Wars 2

It may be a slight giveaway with all of my recent articles that I might of been playing a worrying amount of Guild Wars 2. I actually had a period after release where I didn’t touch the game, primarily because there were so many other games releasing. But I like to think it’s because it has no monthly fee and therefore doesn’t need to be to justify my time.

After the Halloween event I powered myself from level 35 all the way to 80 in a matter of days. Crafting was a huge help, each discipline giving me 10+ levels for maxing them out. Although it did prove to be a tad expensive.

Upon reaching level 80 I could venture into Orr, an area designed for high level players. What’s special about it is that the entire map is chock a bloc of dynamic events, making the island feel incredibly fluid. The events lead you around the map so you will explore everything without even trying.

Now It’s time to experience what ArenaNet have had us all excited for these last couple of weeks. The Lost Shores is their first content update and I have immersing myself in it this past week. I especially liked the new dungeon, the Fractal of the Mists which has answered the constant call of “things to do”.

Now excuse me, It looks like ArenaNet have released the Kraken Karka, and someone is going to have to deal with it.


Jeremy Peel: Neverwinter Nights 2

My reverse sojourn through Obsidian valley resumes this week on familiar roads, with the sequel to the game that defined my adolescence*. So far it’s been more stop than start, though. I took the junction off Dungeon Siege 3 with a full tank and a newfound love for the action RPG clicking away under the bonnet, but stalled trying to take the steep sliproad to Neverwinter in fifth gear.

For where Dungeon Siege shouts its premise and kicks you out the door (“The world is burning. Go!”), Neverwinter Nights 2 stammers and drops its prompt cards. The game begins apologetically with a village fete, as if not quite ready for visitors just yet. Thankfully, after keeping you busy for a couple of hours with cash-in-hand quests and leaden conversation, it eventually gets its affairs in order and sends you out into Faerun.

Ten hours in I’ve unticked enough camera-related boxes in the Options menu to have the thing playing like a facsimile of Baldur’s Gate. Nostalgic luddite I may be, but if that’s true then the luddites are running the lab. Obsidian have piled the game high with team-based combat mechanics, kitting out Neverwinter’s old engine with slots for four directly-controlled characters. Before long you’re joined by a Generation Game conveyer belt full of colourful companions, and two things happen as a result – the plot is drowned beneath in-party bickering, and the game flowers tactically. Both for the better.

NWN 2 is a true sequel, which means the main course won’t arrive until I get stuck into its two expansions. But there’s plenty to nibble on here too – I’ll be back next week with DnD all down my bib and plenty to talk about.

Noun: The difficult period which unfolds between reaching level 20 and picking a prestige class.