Remember Me reviewed

Capcom's game has many memorable moments!

7.1 Surround Sound for the masses

Want cinematic sound quality? Then Mad Catz 720+ may be for you

DayZ: a new approach to survival horror

DayZ, a mod for Arma 2, is unlike any other horror game that came before

Best of the worst bad habits in gaming

Megabits of Gaming takes a look at five of its favourite gaming characters who have bad or slightly seedy habits.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Head2Head: Metal Gear Solid vs Fifa 09


Konami's Metal Gear Solid (MGS) wowed everyone in 1998. It was the sequel to the 1987 Metal Gear game on the MSX home computer where the protagonist Solid Snake introduced the concept of stealth gameplay. Why send your character into a room all guns blazing, when you could skulk in the shadows and pounce when your foe was least expecting it? See this previous blog entry for more on the series.

MGS on Sony's Playstation was another landmark title for the little grey console and copies flew off the shelves. The move to 3D was a series first - but it wasn't its only highlight...not only could you dive for cover in shadows or behind a crate or two, but how about hiding under a crate? The infamous cardboard box tactic was not only comedic but hugely effective when confronted by a heavily-armed guard - and seeing Snake's legs poking out the bottom of the box as he waddled about the place added a real lighthearted feel to the game.

Ultimately, this game was fun.
The graphics looked great - the main character was well defined, the environments were detailed and far more interesting than their various shades of grey suggested.

One particular highlight for me was the infamous fight with Psycho Mantis - an end of level boss boasting mind control and psychic abilities. I spent ages trying to defeat him as he leapt about the room avoiding my every attack; he knew exactly what I was planning and took evasive action.

The trick was to unplug the game controller and stick it in a different port so he could no longer read your mind and was ripe for the taking. Ingenious - and good enough to be awarded the "Most Innovative Use of a Video Game Controller" in the gamers' edition of the Guinness Book of Records!


And then we come to Fifa. Where to begin? Who hasn't heard of Electronic Art's football series?

It all kicked off in 1993 as Fifa International Soccer and after numerous tweaks and name changes, it has become a regular contender for best-selling title each year.

Fifa 09 is its latest guise and is generally considered the best version to date - sending the likes of Pro Evolution Soccer (it's main rival for the past decade) off to sulk on the sidelines.


Fifa now features thousands of recognizable licensed players, lifelike motion-captured movement, accurate ball control, a plethora of stadia, teams and leagues across various divisions, unparalleled online play and an soundtrack from top bands.


Each and every year I insist I'm not going to pay for the latest edition only to find myself queuing in my local store, game in hand. Fifa has become as much an addition to my calendar as a car service, visit to the dentist or much-needed holiday!
  • Originality - While it boasts some great new features, Fifa 09 is far from original and is perhaps one of the most overexposed series in history. Metal Gear Solid, however, brought plenty of innovation and tricks to the table. Winner: MGS
  • Longevity - MGS maintains a cult status and has spawned several best-selling sequels... there's even mention that a version is to break free from Sony's clutches and find itself on the Xbox sometime soon. The Fifa series will never die - although once each year's update comes out, I never go back to the older version again! Draw
  • Graphics - MGS looked lovely and really showcased the Playstation. The game was littered with cut scenes, some great animation and effects. Fifa, meanwhile, has never looked so good and (at a distance, if you squint a little) does look mighty like watching the real thing on the television. Draw
  • Sound FX - MGS was hugely cinematic, making good use of sound effects to add to the atmosphere. Its voice acting was also pretty great and the background tunes were haunting. On the other hand, Fifa boasts a great soundtrack, crowd noise and chants - you could almost be sitting in the stands! Winner: MGS
  • Replayability - MGS is still great for a giggle if you have a few spare hours but Fifa has many different play modes and is great online. Winner: Fifa
...in a tightly-fought battle, it's Solid Snake who emerges victorious. Metal Gear Solid goes through to the next round!

See also:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New DLC ticks all the right boxes


Rockstar Games has announced the official release date for the next episode of DLC for GTA IV on the Xbox. October 29 will see the launch of the hotly-anticipated download: The Ballad of Gay Tony. After The Lost and The Damned DLC earlier this year, you can expect it to be well worth the money!

Thankfully, we won't be twiddling our thumbs until the release because Activision has also announced a third map pack for Call of Duty: World at War on the Xbox and PS3.

It's not that long since the last pack, but from August there will be another four maps - intriguingly titled Battery, Revolution, Breach and Der Riese - the Zombie offering!


Head2Head: Gran Turismo vs Streetfighter 2


Gran Turismo versus Streetfighter 2 - the creme de la creme of each respective genre.

The game that dubbed itself "The driving simulator" roared onto the scene in 1997 - and Gran Turismo looked gorgeous, quite unlike any of its predecessors. There were no cartoony graphics here, everything was accurate down to the smallest detail thanks to the support of the major motor manufacturers. Sadly, this also meant a lack of in-game crash damage, but this was quickly forgiven by its legion of fans.

Aside from the crisp, realistic graphics and 170+ licensed vehicles, it also boasted attractive vista
s, carefully thought out tracks and a superb soundtrack. After passing numerous tests to gain the appropriate driving licenses, you picked one of the varied tracks to pit your wits against some pretty unforgiving computer-controlled opponents. After winning races, cars could be bought, sold or tweaked to enhance their performance.

This was the game that made everyone sit up and take notice of Sony's Playstation.

But what better game to try and give Gran Turismo a good kicking than Streetfighter II? According to Wikipedia, it
"was the first one-on-one fighting game to give players a choice from a variety of player characters with different moves". I can't for the life of me think any examples of this that predated Capcom's gaming legend so I'll go along with this.

This was also one of the pioneers of the combo move - where a myriad of button presses launches your chosen character's trademark attack.

Sadly, being rather inept at fighting games, mastering all the moves was never my strong point and I was at somewhat of a disadvantage against all but the most feeble of competitors! I imagine many a gamer has succumbed to a bad case of repetitive strain injury with this offering.

Ken and Ryu had their dragon punch, while Guile had his equally impressive Sonic Boom. Chunky-thighed Chun Li was an old favourite,
unashamedly showing off her pins with what my wife PhotoPuddle has dubbed the "kicky leg" move (I think she liked it because it was mighty easy to repeat over and over again with a few simple button presses!)

A mere four years after the original emerged in 1987, Streetfighter II shifted huge numbers of Nintendo's Super NES and gained a cult following. It spawned numerous sequels, culminating in the recently launched - and highly acclaimed - Streetfighter IV on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
  • Originality - Gran Turismo added realism and detail to the mix, whereas Streetfighter II was responsible for a major shift in the genre. Winner: Draw
  • Longevity - Although it could be argued that both stand the test of time, the original Gran Turismo looks a little rough around the edges nowadays. Streetfighter looks dated too but its old-skool graphics still have a certain charm. Winner: Streetfighter
  • Graphics - Streetfighter was big and bold, while Gran Turismo at the time was quite simply breathtaking. Winner: Gran Turismo
  • Sound FX - Some guy with a flat top yelling "Sonic Boom" versus accurate engine noises and a fantastic CD-quality soundtrack with some decent bands. Mmmm. Winner: Gran Turismo
  • Replayability - You can easily pick up either game today and have a great laugh. However, even though a newer, funkier version has just been released, I'd bet that more of you would still prefer a night in with Streetfighter II than Gran Turismo! Winner: Streetfighter
...Two a piece and a draw...it's got to come down to the gameplay...Gran Turismo takes a beating and limps off to the garage...Streetfighter II wins.

See also:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Review: Terminator Salvation



There's nothing more satisfying than that end sequence scrolling up the screen accompanied by a raft of achievement points.

I'd spent the last few nights controlling John Connor in a bid to rid an apocalyptic world of evil robots. Despite the extremely mixed reviews, I thoroughly enjoyed my Terminator Salvation experience.

Don't get me wrong, it's by no means a classic but it was fun while it lasted. Critics have blasted it for being a typical film tie-in; a run of the mill shooter with okay graphics, mediocre gameplay and a difficulty level that flatters to deceive. I'd have to agree with them - but that doesn't make it an bad game.

I'd decided to ramp it up to the hardest difficulty setting, thinking it would last me at least a week's worth of action. Ultimately it fell a few days short of that but I still had a blast nonetheless - and managed to save the world in the process.

Not having seen the film I can't say how closely the game resembles the script but it seemed a pretty typical yarn - beleaguered r
esistance fighters making their way past numerous robotic killers in a bid to scupper Skynet and rescue lost comrades.

The Terminator models were limited. There were the wasp-like flying robots (easily dispatched with a shotgun), spider versions (with an Achilles heel on their backs), biker machines (speedy but easily taken out) and the infamous Schwarzenegger types (who needed a few hits with a rocket launcher or several magazines of machine gun fire to the breast plate!). For most confrontations, a simple flanking manoeuvre proved effective and added a bit of variety.

Level design, howeve
r, was otherwise linear with no chance of exploration and the range of weaponry was minimal - but it was still a great laugh. I particularly liked the pace of the whole thing...some stages were lengthy, others strangely short...some involved shoot outs with a cover system vaguely reminiscent of Gears of War, others were timed sections where you had to protect your colleagues or take out some armaments.

Saying that though, the balance of the level difficulty was a little uneven: for some reason, the sixth level was hugely frustrating and I died many a time trying to protect someone while he planted a few bombs - whereas the final stage with wa
s an absolute breeze!

Certainly if I'd forked out £40 for this I'd be mightily disappointed. After only around 4-5 hours gameplay, even on the harshest difficulty setting, I didn't feel I'd worked too hard for my achievement points. As a rental, however, it's well worth a punt!




(Video credit:
playrhqtermintor)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Head2Head: GTA IV vs Fallout 3


It’s no surprise that some of the match-ups in the Head2Head feel almost impossible to settle. Having spent weeks debating the shortlist of entrants, every game in the list was of top quality. Even randomising the draw with some hat-picking wasn’t going to rule out some crunching match ups, but GTA IV vs Fallout 3? This is a clash of the titans.

So, on the one hand you’ve got an innovative addition to a long running series that brings new levels of depth and a staggering amount of player choice and emotional investment to a much loved series, and on the other hand you’ve got…oh…hold on.

You can’t separate them by their commendations either - both are equally laden down with Game of the Year awards from reputable sources.

Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series has a history of flooring gamers, be it with the top-down series original, the move to 3D in GTA III and accompanying increase in both grimness and black humour, through to the sheer enormity of the gameworld in GTA: San Andreas.

GTA IV refined and distilled the high points of the series. Liberty City isn’t anywhere near as large as San Andreas, but it’s probably the richest, deepest game world you’ve
ever come across, a realistic, lived-in city in which you can track your own notoriety at the internet cafe, see Ricky Gervais doing stand up at a comedy club, or simply cruise the streets in a stolen car, noting the differences between the posh houses on the heights and the pockmarked tarmac of the Bohan district.

Fallout 3’s Capital Wasteland can’t quite match Liberty City’s veracity. There are times when you can’t help but question the placement of buildings and settlements the further out of the city centre you get. On the other hand, not all of Liberty City’s buildings can be entered, and the inclusion of maps and GPS mean that GTA IV falls short of offering the sense of unbridled exploration and forging into the unknown found in Fallout.

Both games have gripping stories, and while GTA IV’s wrings far greater depth and emotional involvement out of it’s characters than the more wooden Fallout 3 can manage, it then loses a few points for it’s slightly less responsive controls, needless cover system and it’s boringly grown up decision to ditch its predecessor's manic, cartoonish driving in favour of realistic car physics.

If you were to look at my Gamertag, you’d see a definite, sizeable bias towards Fallout 3. If you were to look at my gaming history, you’d see a definite leaning towards Grand Theft Auto…it seems the only way to really separate these two is to wield our selection criteria the way an angry Niko Bellic wields a baseball bat, although at far lesser cost to our soul…

  • Originality - Well, even excluding the likes of Fallout Tactics and GTA London , neither game can be considered box fresh, and neither driving, shooting, crime sprees or post-apocalyptic wastelands are breaking new ground in videogames. However, the switch away from top-down play and the inclusion VATS means that Fallout 3 takes this category by a whisker. Winner: Fallout
  • Longevity - At present, Fallout 3 has four chunks of DLC compared to GTA IV’s one, but it has to be said, the greatness of Point Lookout and Broken Steel are counterbalanced by the fact that Operation Anchorage stinks, while The Lost and the Damned could practically have won a Game of the Year award in it’s own right. DLC isn’t the only factor that will help a game stand the test of time, but it is the main one these days. Winner: GTA
  • Graphics - Is it what you’ve got, or what you do with it? GTA might be more fluid than it’s ever been, and doesn’t suffer Fallout’s occasional texture pop-in, but Fallout 3 has the edge in detail, even if it is primarily used to bring out varying shades of ash grey, gunmetal grey and granite grey. It looks like Fallout’s going to take it, until you stop and think just how uninspired some of the models and animations are. Winner: GTA
  • Sound FX - Less is more in Fallout. Where GTA IV offers 200 tracks on the radio and voice acting that has you genuinely engaging with the characters, Fallout 3 contents itself with a few some mournful themes, a few poignant golden oldies and the unexpected sound of a carnival bell every time you fire one of your many guns. Winner: GTA
  • Replayability - The vast, realisitic city, the ability to stand atop buildings or chase pigeons, or find the hidden, beating heart of Liberty City are all part of the depth that GTA IV offers. But while you won’t want to leave Liberty City, we’re not sure that once you do, it won’t excercise the same siren call to return that the Capital Wasteland does. Fallout offers so many different ways to resolve the quests, from diplomacy to trickery to outright violence, and the array of different perks on offer combined with the choices between good and evil that signpost clear story divergences mean that you’ll be looking forward to your second and third play through before you’ve even finished your first. Winner: Fallout
...Grand Theft Auto's deeper characters and more convincing environment trump Fallout 3’s replayability, so it’s GTA IV that emerges the winner of a hard fought contest.

See also:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Is WET a Tomb Raider beater?


Considering I really wasn't looking forward to many upcoming releases, this blog currently seems to be home to a hell of a lot of stories about games that are looming temptingly on the horizon.

My latest craving is for the game fronted by a rather agile, leather-clad lovely. WET is yet another Bethesda creation - an over the top, third person shooter featuring Rubi Malone, a female protagonist cut from the same cloth as Tomb Raider's Lara Croft, who will do almost anything for money. Of course, I mean she's a mercenary, willing to do others' dirty work with minimal fuss. She's not only handy with guns and swords but is also great at jumping about the place to evade enemies.

I caught the trailer last year and it looked amazing; the in-game graphics don't look half bad either. Take a look at some screenshots here.

Videogamer has also blessed us with some first impressions. Hopefully, it won't be too long before it hits the PS3 and Xbox 360.



(Video credit: SBARTSTV)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Head2Head: Tetris vs Sonic the Hedgehog

Here we have two heavyweights battling it out - both console-defining titles. Tetris had been around for a few years before it earned a mass following when packaged with Nintendo's Gameboy back in 1989.

Patterned blocks drifting down from the top of your screen and being manipulated to form lines may not sound like anything special now, but back then it was revolutionary. It became an overnight sensation and even today is synonymous with the little grey handheld gadget.

I can still hear that Russian melody repeating itself over and over and over and over - perhaps one of the most famous (and irritating) tunes in gaming!

Sonic the Hedgehog, on the other hand, burst onto the scene in 1991 on the Sega Megadrive (or Genesis to our friends across the pond). The little blue hedgehog propelled Sega's 16-bit system into the stratosphere - combining brash colours and lightening-fast gameplay.

I was lucky enough to own both consoles and remember feeling the same sense of anticipation when I got my hands on them for the first time. There have been few times since that a game has sent a shiver down my spine and I've been blown away by its brilliance. These were pick-up-and-play games, simple controls with no complex manoeuvres to get your head around.

Compared with monochrome linearity of Tetris, Sonic was graphically miles ahead and was embraced by the game-buying public as Sega's answer to Mario.

Ultimately, they were both fantastic fun with huge amounts of replayability. Even now, all these years on, Sonic (and its various sequels) is still on our screens having been re-released on various formats. In fact - much to my shame - I was playing Sonic Unleashed on the Xbox last night... it just goes to show how the little fella is even now firmly embedded in our gaming culture. Its latest incarnation game was shocking, mind - but proved just how fantastic the original was.

Tetris, on the other hand, never really needed to be funadmentally changed - it was that good to start with!
  • Originality - Sonic added a few new elements to the platformer - speed and fantastic, colourful graphics. However, Tetris redefined puzzle games and is still probably the best example of its genre. Winner: Tetris
  • Longevity - You could wile away the hours with either game and both have stood the test of time admirably. Tetris though is 25 years old and still fantastic! Winner: Tetris
  • Graphics - Easy. A kaleidoscope of colour versus grey... Winner: Sonic
  • Sound FX - Tough one this. Tetris' soundtrack is really iconic but, irritatingly, lingers in your head and while the tunes make a mark, the sound effects themselves are few and far between. Sonic has plenty of bells, whistles and chimes that perfectly suit the gameplay. Winner: Sonic
  • Replayability - Even though I just can't help but go back to Sega's spiky icon and all its sequels, Tetris can still eat up the hours. Winner: Tetris

...Sonic runs out of steam at the final hurdle and is overtaken by Tetris.

See also:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Head2Head: Gears of War vs Monkey Island 2


Somewhat of a mismatch here methinks! The ultimate shooter featuring macho gun toting types versus the serene yet often humorous point-and-click adventure from yesteryear.

In case you weren't sure which was which, Gears of War is the frag fest that pits hardened marines against the [as evil as they sound] Locust Horde.

Heralded as one of the biggest and best games ever to grace the Xbox 360 when it emerged in 2006, GoW has since been superceded by an equally successful sequel. Nevertheless, the original deservedly earns a place on this shortlist because it took a popular genre by the scruff of the neck and gave it a sound beating...GoW breathed new life into the third-person shooter!

It featured sumptuous graphics, bad-ass sounds and a fancy new cover system that was destined to be copied by a multitude of games. Diving for cover behind a wall, burnt out car or well-placed boulder is now commonplace in all manner of new releases including The Bourne Conspiracy and the James Bond offering, Quantum of Solace. None manage to capture the essence of diving behind something quite as effectively as GoW, however.

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is an all together different kettle of fish. Dating way back to 1991, it was praised for its aesthetics and made use of the fantastic SCUMM control system - a list of verbs at the bottom of the screen that the player clicked to interact with objects...looking back, it had an almost educational slant to it. Unlike the text-based adventures that had come before it, the whole thing actually proved pretty effective.

Strange though it sounds in these days of funky controllers, SCUMM and a comfortable mouse were all you needed to get fully immersed in a game back then.

You took control of Guybrush Threepwood, leading him in search of treasure and love. It was
arguably the best example of an adventure game back then, and was both original and fun to play. From Lure of the Temptress to Simon the Sorcerer, Monkey Island is still one of the best. It's still a giggle even today and was lovingly re-released only a few weeks ago on Xbox Live Arcade. You could do a lot worse than splash out a few credits to relive some gaming history.

But brilliant though it is, there can only be one winner. Gears of War is a hit; almost single-handedly it tempted millions of gamers to stray from Sony's grasp and make the Xbox their preferred home console.

  • Originality -both take tried and tested formulae and give them a shake. Nothing too revolutionary though. Draw
  • Longevity - Monkey Island has stood the test of time and hit the headlines again in recent weeks. However, who would bet against GoW spawning countless more mega-selling sequels and map packs? Draw
  • Graphics - Gears takes the crown. Large, defined and detailed. Winner: GoW
  • Sound FX - Grunts and gunshots win hands down. Winner: GoW
  • Replayability - A new version of Monkey Island is bound to attract some new fans, but there's no sign of interest flagging for in Gears' online play. Winner: GoW
...it's pretty clear that Gears of War is through to the quarter finals!

See also:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On the Brink...of greatness


You may have seen me wax lyrical about sure-fire sandbox hit All Points Bulletin (APB), which is due out sometime next year...well, here's another tasty morsel to whet your appetite.

Brink is yet another first person shooter for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC...but this one is looking a little bit special.

Brought to us by Bethesda and Splash Damage, Brink looks set to blend on- and offline play and add some welcome changes to the genre. Apparently, you can start a game (which, by the way, looks amazing judging by these early screenshots), and your mates can jump in at any time to join you in the actual story without any waiting screens or delays.

The plot is a typical run of the mill sci-fi affair: a futuristic city (dubbed the Ark) built as a home for 5,000 is bulging at the seams as the population has grown to 50,000. Inevitably, problems ensue with resources stretched and tensions fraught. Sure enough, it all kicks off - taking the city to the "Brink" of war... Here's the
trailer.

Like Team Fortress 2, players can decide on their role, whether it's a hard nut with a massive gun or a medic running about patching up those caught in the crossfire. Players will be able to personalize their characters too!

Bethesda has a great record in the world of gaming - Fallout 3 being a case in point - and loves its downloadable content add-ons too...watch this space, Brink
could be massive!

Check out this clip from
Machinima.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Sonic Shame

I had never been any good at platform games but then I played Sonic the Hedgehog for the first time. I'd obviously cracked it and was brilliant.... or so I thought.

My friend had it on her Sega and I decided to pick up the control pad and have a go. It was much easier than I thought. It was only after a few minutes of racing around collecting rings that I realised that I hadn't been playing at all. I'd just been pressing buttons randomly while the demo was running. Oh the shame! I didn't admit it to the others in the room but I am not entirely sure I got away with it.

So there's my gaming confession. I am sure there are more, for example the fact that I turn the control pad like a steering wheel when I play driving games. Or that when I am playing fighting games I press the control so hard my thumbs hurt. I would open the floor to other confessions but I fear my Sonic shame is possibly the worst there could be.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Head2Head: Call of Duty 4 vs Football Manager 2009


I must admit I winced at this matchup. As the names were plucked out of the hat, I rued the hands of fate; two of my favourite and most-played titles meet in the first knockout round. Bummer.

At first glance, my decision appeared fairly clear cut.
I'm a self-confessed Football Manager addict, and placed Sports Interactive's gem at the summit of my Top 10 all-time games listing a few weeks ago in this very blog...

However, based on the criteria of this Head2Head battle - originality, longevity, graphics, sound FX and replayability - it's an incredibly tough call.

A first person shooter versus what is effectively a glorified - albeit entertaining - database. Mmmmm.

Where COD boasts graphics that arguably push the latest generation of consoles to their limits and require PC owners to invest in a pretty meaty graphics card, FM 2009 presents an altogether less attractive option. Bizarrely, it still requires a behemoth of a machine to run properly, but looks-wise it doesn't really cut the mustard, does it?

For the most part, FM 2009 offers a largely static screen - a news or team tactics page - with all manner of clickable buttons and banners to negotiate. The newly-introduced 3D match engine certainly adds to the exper
ience but again, anyone with a poorly-specced computer may have to sacrifice this option. I guess the programmers thought appearance wasn't of the utmost importance and that the tens of thousands of players hidden within its bulging database deserved the computer processor's full attention!

Conversely, COD 4 is a fully immer
sive beauty of a game. From the moment you're thrust into the action aboard a sinking ship, controls vibrating and lightening flashing upon your screen, it simply oozes class. The variety of missions is a sensory delight: dusty Middle Eastern streets, lush countryside, airborne challenges and as mentioned, nautical fare, are all gorgeous-looking and accompanied by fantastic sound effects.

On the originality scale, neither is a new genre and much of the content has been seen before. FM has been all but an annual stats update for years with the occasional feature thrown in for good measure. Sports management games have been about for decades - Premier Manager, Championship Manager and LMA Manager to name but three - but none have really been revolutionary.

You could argue that COD 4 also heavily borrows from its predecessors...taking many of the best bits from Operation Wolf, Wolfenstein 3D, Quake and Doom, for example.

Lifespan is another toughy. I've played both games to death since they were launched and have tired of neither, regularly coming back for just one more go as my wife can testify.
  • Originality - both improve on previous incarnations but rely heavily on the glories of other games from the genre. Draw
  • Longevity - equally addictive and both have stood the test of time. Draw
  • Graphics - no contest. Next gen graphics, varied beautiful environments. Winner: COD 4
  • Sound FX - with just crowd noise on offer, Football Manager falls foul of COD's awesome aural offerings. Winner: COD 4
  • Replayability - COD shades this thanks to the fantastic online element; no two games are ever the same. Winner: COD 4

...with heavy heart, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare goes through to the quarter finals!

See also:

Head2Head: the draw - first round knockout


Drum roll please... here are the randomly-chosen match-ups for the first knockout round of the Megabits Head2Head contest.

Over the coming weeks, half of these final 16 will be eliminated. Those remaining will deservedly earn a place in the quarter finals.

Only the best will survive. Watch this space, it could get messy.
  • Call of Duty 4 vs Football Manager 2009
  • Gears of War vs Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
  • Tetris vs Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Grand Theft Auto IV vs Fallout 3
  • Gran Turismo vs Streetfighter 2
  • Metal Gear Solid vs Fifa 09
  • Syndicate Wars vs Halo
  • Medieval II: Total War vs Fantasy World Dizzy
Bring it on...

See also:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Head2Head: gaming greats face off

There's no World Cup football this summer. There are no Olympic Games. Even the greatest video gaming event, the Electronic Sports World Cup, has been postponed because of the credit crunch...

Consider the void now filled.

You've no doubt already seen the Top 10 and the Must-Play List(!) but now comes a moment to savour: some of the greatest ever games pitted against one another in
Megabits' very own Head2Head Gaming Contest.

After much discussion and deliberation, literally hundreds of classic titles have been whittled down to just 30 - some of which you may recognize below (click on the picture to enlarge).

Having chucked those lucky few into a hat, the final 16 have now been picked at random and o
ver the coming weeks, they will battle it out before eight go through to the quarter finals.

Based on originality, longevity, graphics, sound FX and replayability, only the best will m
ake it through.

The 16 are:
Grand Theft Auto IV, Tetris, Fallout 3, Call of Duty 4, Sonic the Hedgehog, Syndicate Wars, Halo, Football Manager 2009, Gears of War, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, Gran Turismo, Streetfighter 2, Metal Gear Solid, Fifa 09, Medieval II: Total War, Fantasy World Dizzy.

But which of these will emerge battered and bloodied to be crowned overall champion? Keep checking the blog...


Saturday, July 11, 2009

A nice Friday night in...


I downloaded the beta for 1 vs 100 on the Xbox last night with a bit of trepidation. It had been advertised on my dashboard for some time and I'd seen countless websites hyping it up over the past few weeks. I'd also been unlucky enough to si
t through a few episodes on the BBC before so I wasn't expecting too much.

...Except that my Xbox experience was actually quite enjoyable.

After the beta downloaded, I was whizzed off to the lobby of the virtual studio awaiting a game to become available.


After my avatar was shown to his seat up on the fifth row by a rather attractive blonde, I gesticulated wildly as the audience cheered and the rules were explained.


There I was, sat as one of the 100-strong "Mob", bracing myself for the randomly generated questions. Round one...


...Before I knew it, I was no longer a fresh-faced virgin contestant. Before I knew it, I'd been sat there for the best part of an hour, pressing "X", "A" and "B" in response to the
answers that flashed up on my screen. I'd accrued a pretty high score too and been awarded many a bonus for my well-honed general knowledge. Who doesn't know that Rosebud was Citizen Kane's last word for goodness sake? Well, about half the contestants actually - all of whom were promptly eliminated, and deservedly so!

Sure I love my driving games and the shoot-em-ups that whisk you off to some foreign land and allow you to vent your pent up aggression but 1 vs 100 brought another welcome element to the world of console gaming.


It's still a beta version - and free - so I wasn't too surprised to be cruelly ejected from my seat a few times as I was chucked out of the session but asides from that and the sometimes arduous waiting times, I really
enjoyed the experience.

It oozed family fun and having already witnessed the programme on TV, managed to blur the virtual world with reality. It almost felt like I could have been sitting in a BBC TV studio last night, rather than alone with a bowl of crisps and a beer, thumb poised to strike the relevant button.


Thankfully you can invite any of your Xbox mates to join you for a game or two so next time perhaps I won't feel like such a loner. I imagine that getting some friends and family to share the experience from your own sofa could also add to a fun experience - and help you with some of the tougher questions.


I reckon I might dip my toe in the water again sometime...and next time, I'm
definitely going to win something!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Alien Breed evolves...


Happy days are here again; a chance look at the Videogamer website has really cheered me up on this dreary summer morning... a new edition of Team 17's fantastic Alien Breed series is coming .

Unfortunately, it seems to be early days - there's no news about the storyline, game features or launch date...but there are three great looking screengrabs to tickle the tastebuds! Check out the sneak peek for Alien Breed Evolution here.

Eurogamer suggests it will be available in downloadable format for Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network.


Regular visitors to this blog - there are some out there - will remember that Alien Breed '92 is sitting comfortably in my all-time Top 10 list in sixth place.

Hopefully, this long-awaited update will capture all the brilliance of the previous versions but without the ridiculously tough to escape meteor showers that wrecked my Alien Breed 2 experience.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Live Arcade wishlist - revive these gaming greats!


Worms2 made a welcome return to Xbox Live Arcade last week, Monkey Island this week, and Bubble Bobble is coming soon...


It's great to see that my gaming past is no longer consigned to history. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside that all these years later, you can relive some of your favourite moments - the same old gameplay but with swanky new graphics and sound.

It got me thinking though...If I were Jamie and I had a Magic Torch (some more nostalgia creeping in here), what gaming adventures would I want to relive?


Here are five that I'd really love to make a comeback.
  • Populous (1989) - one of the original God games and still among the finest examples of the genre. Charged with protecting your nomadic followers, you adapt the landscape to ensure your settlers can build bigger and better dwellings. Succeed and they prosper, fail and your little fellas get wiped out by neighbouring enemies. (likelihood of standing the test of time: 4/5)
  • North and South (1989) - based on the Les Tuniques Bleues comic books by Belgian Jean Depuis, North and South consisted of a series of mini games centred around the American Civil War. The same comedy that featured in the popular comics was perfectly transferred to the game, livening up the dry-sounding subject matter. Take over forts, commandeer trains and then take to the battlefield, armed with infantry, cavalry and cannons! (3.5/5)
  • Boulderdash (1984) - Taking on the role of explorer Rockford, dig your way through hundreds of caves to gather lost jewels while avoiding the various beasties. Crushing baddies with boulders has never been so much fun. The level editor also added hours of gameplay. Simple yet effective gaming. (4/5)
  • Rick Dangerous 2 (1990) - unsurprisingly, this was the sequel to sleeper hit Rick Dangerous. Again, you control Rick and his heavily coiffured hair and funky hat, leading him through a series of Indiana Jones-style adventures. This time there's a twist...rather than our protagonist facing tribesmen and soldiers, aliens have invaded and he must do their best to fend them off! (3/5)
  • Spy vs Spy (1984) - based on MAD magazine's cartoon strip, Spy vs Spy was a split screen gem. A black and white spy, both blessed with all manner of weapons, roam a house laying booby traps for the other to find. It spawned a couple of sequels, but the original boasted real pick up and play brilliance. A modern version with online play would be awesome. (3.5/5)
Come on Microsoft...bring these back!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Don't wait for Battlefield, try Battlefield


Can't wait for
Battlefield 1943 to hit the "shelves" next week?



Then check out Electronic Arts' other offering...Battlefield Heroes on the PC looks absolutely cracking - a cartoon-based shooter along the same lines as Valve's brilliant Team Fortress 2. And best of all? It's free!

Head to the website, register your details and then open fire. The basic game costs nothing but additional content is available to buy if you so desire.

Check out this review from Kotaku.

(Video credit: gamingbits)

To DLC or not to DLC...that is the question


Here's a topic that will divide the room...downloadable content (DLC) is a waste of money. Discuss.


I must admit that I can't help but feel a little hard done by with DLC.
Aside from the obvious fact that those canny developers are making me fork out yet more of my hard-earned cash just to extend the life of my game for a few hours, I kind of object to
the fact that I've not really got anything physical to show for my outlay.

Call me old fashioned but when I'm done playing I like the idea of being able to put the shiny disc safely back in its box and bung it on my shelf alongside all my other software. I'm not just a gamer but a collector. Having some DLC floating about som
ewhere on my already crammed hard drive just doesn't seem to cut the mustard with me.

And there's another thing... what if I ever decide to sell my beloved console? The DLC that I've purchased is as good a useless as it's not transferable to the new owner (unless I hand over my gamertag details too!). What's more I can't take it it to my local computer store and swap it for something else when I'm done either. To me, it just feels a little bit like I'm being swindled.

I do believe that t
he GTA and Fallout offerings are appearing in box form in the High Street sometime soon but as this option isn't available until months after the launch, it's more than likely that many of us would have succumbed and bought the add-ons online anyhow.

Then there's the quality issue. To be honest, most of the DLC I've come across flatters to deceive and is massively overpriced! Granted, there are the epic updates out there that have been lovingly crafted by developers to really accentuate a game - I'm thinking GTA IV's Lost and the Damned or one of the many Fable II or Fallout 3 offerings - but these are sadly few and far between. Some of the map packs (Call of Duty 4 & 5) are also superb.


Most of the time, however, you're left with some overhyped and ridiculously small new levels, additional characters, colourful costumes or ultimately useless weaponry. Horse armour in Oblivion, anybody?

I guess it's just something I'm going to have to get used to. Xbox Live and the Playstation Network both seem to be growing incredibly fast, and Microsoft recently announced plans to make entire games downloadable.

Looks like I'm destined to have a very full hard drive and bare shelves from now on!

(Photo credit: Matt Brett)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A good year for gaming so far?


It's July already...and I can't say I've been overly enamoured with the quality of the big releases so far this year.

Over at Kotaku, they've come up with some of the best bits seen in the world of gaming to date.

There's nothing that really stands out, is there?

See also:

Incoming...Arm-a-geddon worms today

Xbox Live Arcade finally seems to be getting some quality games! As of today, what looks like the best Worms game ever is available: Worms 2: Armageddon.

Great fun on- and offline for up to 4 players in all its HD-glory. Not only has it had a graphical overhaul but it will also feature all new landscapes and a new arsenal of weaponry to experiment with.

The first incarnation gained a cult following when it was launched on the Amiga in 1995...and this new edition is no doubt going to be a big hit on the Xbox (the 2007 original is still one of Live Arcades best sellers!).

Available now for 800 Microsoft Points!