This month we’ve got GI’s called Joe, bats called Bruce, an American institution…and Jack Black!
2009’s been lousy to gamers, but it’s getting better. Madden 10 is so packed with features you’ve got no excuse to miss out due to your ignorance of the rules (unless, you know, you hate American football). We love the dynamic difficulty adjusting to your performances and the sneaky rewind button that lets you Bernard’s-Watch your way out of bad plays. And, for the hardcore, Be a Superstar mode returns, letting you coach a player through years of pig-skin-fumbling fun.
We like: So comprehensive it should simply be called Madden: For Now and Ever.
If you’re less lycra and studs and more, well, lycra and studs, Jack Blacks heavy metal rock-em-up, Brutal Legend, will have your lighters in the air. You play as Black, a roadie transported to a world torn straight from an rock and roll album cover where shredding solos ignites demons, swinging axes gores up fantasy creatures real nice, and decades of non-stop head banging has bulked up the neck muscles of indigenous peoples to the size of tree trunks. Though phoned-in dialogue from rock royalty like Motorhead’s Lemmy or Judas Priest’s Rob Halford sometimes take the punch out of Schafer’s inventive dialogue, Ozzy Osbourne’s expletive-laden cameo is a particular highlight. Add a soundtrack that’ll make you throw up the devil horns and this is a must for those partial to a spot of thrashing.
We like: You’ve never played a game this brimming with ideas, imagination, and insanity.
GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra
The devil horns won’t be the hand gesture you’ll think of when you play game-of-the-movie GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra. We’re all for brainless co-op shooting but this is Gears of War with a lobotomy, minus a controllable camera, logical cover system, or dialogue that won’t make whatever’s in your mouth unintentionally shoot out your nose. You’ll circle stupid enemies and press shoot for three hours before questioning your sanity. Avoid.
We hate: ‘SHUTUPSHUTUP! SHUT! UP!’ – Actual line of dialogue.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Combining Splinter Cell stealth and Bioshock brutality, you take control of Bruce Wayne in his pointy-eared get-up as he attempts to escape the titular madhouse – as well as lock the Joker behind its bars. This is the best superhero game ever made, Batman’s penchant for pummelling thugs, his talent for detective work, and his sneaky bataranging from the rafters all masterfully represented. Initially, the claustrophobic setting seems a poor choice given the iconic Gotham City, but venture into its bowels and you’ll fight Killer Crocs, find cheeky nods towards Batman lore, and the kind of disturbing imagery you’d associate with an asylum for the criminally insane (head in a jar, anyone?). Stopping short of geeky indulgence by drawing inspiration – and some contemporary cool – from the Dark Knight films, we particularly love Mark ‘Skywalker’ Hamill’s Joker, who flits between comic relief bad guy and threatening, psychotic presence.
We love: Silently dispatching enemies, watching the heart rate of the last left alive go through the roof.
We chat to Brutal Legend producer Tim Schafer at the London launch.
What was your criteria for the game?
To unify music and games. These days music always seems separate from the game, but Brutal Legend really brings them together. Oh, and it had to be awesome.
Would you consider working with Black again?
I was nervous at first but he’s a gamer. I see him at 2am playing online sometimes. His character Eddie is like if he and Glen Danzig had a baby.
Were you intimidated working with rock royalty?
Definitely nervous working with (Motorhead’s) Lemmy, but their manager said: ‘Get them Jack Daniels and cheese and they’ll be fine’. Rob Halford’s voice is amazing. Most guys can only scream a short while because their voice runs out, but he just kept screaming all day long. In the game he has an 80’s hairstyle he can fly with.
How pleased are you with the final product?
Very . My last game, Psychonauts, took five years. This took four, so we’re getting faster!
What’s your next project?
It’s a secret!