The game’s the thing, especially when there’s 2 of you playing.

This replaces January’s App of the Month with “Game of the Month” instead.  This will be a very, very, irregular feature!

Got some new games for Christmas – PS3 games – that were chosen very carefully for their 2-player-ability (if that’s a word).  The family all really enjoy 2-player computer games – or games that can be played by 2 players even though they’re only supposed to be single-player.

Quick flashback to the late 90s.  Playing “Wheel of Time” on the PC.  Single player game but one of us would take the mouse and control character looking around and hitting things, the other would take the keyboard and control spell and weapon selection, how fast we were moving/strafing/ducking/etc.  Made for far more fun than just one of us sat playing the game on the computer and the other watching TV.  More puzzle-based games like Broken Sword are natural multiplayer as everyone bounces ideas and suggestions off everyone else.

Recently, though, the multiplayer gaming in the house has been limited to either (a) Guitar Hero/Singstar or (b) Lego games.  This is not to put any of these down – the 2-player nature of the Lego games, with their drop in/drop out play and adaptive difficulty are superb, and who doesn’t like hitting 100% on Smoke on the Water?  All this changed this Christmas with the following 3 titles:

1.  de Blob 2.

Presumably there was a “de Blob” once upon a time, but I’ve not seen it.  This is a real brain-off-the-hook game for kids and adults.  Enough quests, puzzles and hard-to-reach items to keep the collector in me happy (I won’t leave a level unless I’ve got as close to 100% as I can without spending days searching for that last Inspiration Point or Brush).  Problem is, it’s not really a 2-player game.  You can go split-screen head-to-head on levels that have been unlocked, but the main story game is primarily single player.  Player 2 gets to control a cursor-like thing that can shoot and not much more.  It is very, very, useful for grabbing those hard-to-reach collectables, though, and for painting those hard-to-reach posters.

The game itself reminds me a lot of Spyro (including the background music).  8/10, great fun, 6/10 as a 2-player.

2.  Aragorn’s Quest

Hacking and slashing your way through locations and stories from the Lord of the Rings movies – stories that have definitely been embellished to add to the action.  I’m using the Playstation Move controller here and man, does my arm ache!  Player 2 comes on-board as Gandalf (which leads to a rather amusing scene in Fangorn forest when Gandalf the White returns – despite having been with you all the way to that point).  Gandalf, in this game, is what every Dungeons and Dragons wizard aspires to be – fireball-slinging, sword-wielding, killing machine.

So far, after several days of play, we’ve gone through Bree and the surroundings up to Weathertop, Rivendell and it’s surroundings, the Mines of Moria (including running away from a Balrog) and Fangorn forest.  At the moment we’re on the plains around Edoras, cleaning up the final quests in that area.  Each area has main quests and side-quests along with 3 power-ups for each party member (Aragorn, Gandalf, Gimli and Legolas).  Gimli and Legolas are actually very useful, killing their share of creatures – but those kills provide neither health boosts for Aragorn nor magic top-ups for Gandalf.  Artefacts and the Palantir (which reveals the entire map along with collectable locations) round off the pick-ups.  Excellent game, even if their is a fair bit of back-and-forthing as you pick up side-quests.

A solid 8/10 for both single- and 2-player.

3.  Borderlands.  Rated 18

Another world, another post-apocalyptic environment to kill things in.  And the 18-rating is for gore and, quite possibly, language.  I’m not sure.

I’ll state for the record that I suck at this game.  Fortunately, the New-U system in the game regenerates your character, along with weapons and armour, at strategic points around the huge maps.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve died in this game, but we’re getting better.  It might be easier as a single-player game as apparently the number and strength of the opponents is increased in the multiplayer game (2 on a console, 4 over the network – a friend of mine is looking to pick up a copy so we can try this out).  But is it fun?  Hell, yes!

9/10.  Didn’t think I was going to enjoy this one, now my fingers itch because I’ve not killed Skags for a few days.

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