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.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Update: 20,000 gamerscore challenge

So, it's exactly a month since I set myself the ambitious challenge of attaining 20,000G by the end of May... and here's my progress report...

I'm not doing too bad
ly. As you can see I've been racking up some points and gaming-wise, it's been a varied few weeks...

After mopping up the final few accolades on Modern Warfare 2
and completing Stranglehold and Halo Wars, I had a dabble with Dead Space (briefly!), Kameo and Fight Night Round 4.

To round off the month, I've found myself investing every spare hour in completing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on Veteran difficulty. No mean feat... but I'm almost there now with only a few missions to go.

Hopefully by the next exciting installment this time ne
xt month, I'll be even closer to achieving my challenge. Must admit, I'm rather enjoying it!

It's my birthday in a couple of weeks so hopefully I'll have some fresh new games to focus on...

(Photo credit: Bojeeva)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review: Stranglehold

There's an old adage that the old ones are the best ones and judging by the amount of time I've invested in Stranglehold of late, I'd be inclined to agree.

A much-appreciated Christmas present, John Woo's Xbox-based offering is starting to look a little dated but still offers plenty of thrills.

Duck behind cover, swing from a chandelier, throw yourself upon a trolley or scramble upon the back of dinosaurs and slide down their tails; there's plenty of nicely animated destruction to be had. Just to put the dinosaur thing in to context, time travel plays no part in this game... the dinosaurs (a Brachiosaurus and T-Rex, to be exact) are rather prominent artefacts in the Chicago History Museum level - there's even an achievement to be had for destroying them!

The story is typical Woo and the plot typically convoluted (read it in great detail here), involving the police, triads and the occasional kidnapping. Saying that though, there's plenty to keep you gripped and encourage you to keep playing. Even though games have advanced so much aesthetically since Stranglehold's launch in 2007, the cutscenes and ingame graphics still look pretty impressive - especially on the Slums of Kowloon stage, with its great rain effects. Who needs Heavy Rain, eh?

The levels are occasionally taxing and you should expect to be riddled with bullets and restart some of them countless times on the harder difficulties. Some of the earlier stages seem far tougher than the later ones, and the pace and length of them varies wildly.

To help you on your quest, however, you're blessed with an array of special moves... Precision Aim briefly slows everything down and gives you control over a single killer shot, Barrage temporarily provides unlimited ammo to pump into your enemies, and the Spin Attack does exactly what it says on the tin.

As you progress, you'll also rack up style points and stray upon collectible origami cranes that provide you with some of the special moves above.

Once you've completed the solo campaign, there's a fairly basic multiplayer mode that pales in comparsion with the likes of Halo 3 and Gears of War. You'll be hard-pushed nowadays to find many opponents online to rack up some of the multiplayer achievements... but there are some out there. And the maps are many and varied, so it's still a good laugh.

All in all, Stranglehold is a decent enough game and an enjoyable one at that. As it's getting on a bit now, it's available ridiculously cheaply from most stores... you'd be a fool to miss it.

(Photo credits: Bojeeva, BlogDeManu)

I've just joined the Mile High Club!

I finally did it! I jumped to safety on Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare...
on Veteran (wait for applause). Only took me about 80 attempts - well worth it for 20G!

Now I've just got to complete the other levels on Veteran and collect all the bloomin' intel!

Golden era of gaming: Amiga CD32 - Part II

Here are the remaining titles to make it into my Top 10 Amiga CD32 games. It's a bit of an eclectic mix but that just goes to show the variety of content that was available on Amiga's fledgling console way back in the early 1990s.

Most of the titles were ported over from its more established cousins, the Amiga 500, 600 and 1200 - and the general consensus across many of the forums I've visited of late were that the translation worked exceedingly well.

Check out this article on Wikipedia for a full history of the Amiga.
And don't forget to check out the first part of my gaming favourites here.

I was actually given a copy of Pinball Fantasies as reward for being published in a now defunct Amiga magazine - I'd provided some hints and tips on another favourite of mine, Alien Breed. Anyways, Pinball Fantasies was well received upon its release and perfectly emulated the real life machines. The variety of the tables was impressive, the graphics were suitably bright and garish and the sound effects cheery and well captured.

I used to love racing games like Super Skidmarks, which snatched the reigns of the traditional top down racers like Pole Position and gave them a 90s makeover. Loads of cars were available and the tracks were great. Reckon this would be a cool game to relaunch on the Playstation Network or Xbox Live - online races would be fantastic!

Who'd have thought that yet another racer would creep into my CD32 Top 10... Roadkill was a refreshing change from all those other games where you just raced round a track competing for first place; this added death and destruction to the mix. Another top-down racer, you had to pick up power-ups and guns, and shoot or ram your opponents off the track.

From the comedic opening credits and soundtrack (which caused uproar in the tabloids, I recall) Sensible Software's Cannon Fodder was a brilliant little game. Using similar sprites to those in Sensible Soccer, it was not only instantly recognizable style-wise but also accessible and great fun. More than a little reminiscent of Commando and Ikari Warriors from previous generations.

Asteroids-clone Super Stardust brought brash graphics and an awesome array of weaponry to the fray. I remember this receiving some excellent reviews from the gaming press at the time too. Asteroids never looked so good.

Agree/disagree? Let us know...

(Photo credit: liftarn)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Liverpool footballer is gaming addict

Football - England v Ukraine 2010 World Cup Qualifying European Zone
Glen Johnson, Liverpool and England footballer, has confessed about his addiction to gaming, the UK newspaper the Daily Mail reported today.

While the right back is recuperating after injuring his knee, he's taken to dabbling with virtual soccer management... and, according to him, he's pretty good at it. As Liverpool boss in Championship Manager, he claims he's won a glut of trophies and competitions.

His bold claims lead me to form two conclusions:

1) As I suggested upon its launch some time ago, Championship Manager is a pretty poor game. Clearly, if Liverpool can go on to win everything, there's something seriously wrong with the game's realism and accuracy...

2) Glen Johnson may be able to read a real game of football intelligently but his ability to judge a good video game is sorely lacking. Why on earth did he settle for Championship Manager? For years, Sports Interactive's Football Manager has been far superior and the latest edition is no different.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Retro sites list Commodore classics

While taking a trip down memory lane for the previous blog entry about the Amiga CD32, I came across the Lemon Amiga and Lemon 64 retro sites - great for all you Commodore fans out there!

Among all the screenshots and nostalgia, the sites list the most popular games for the respective systems. Remember any of these gems?

Top-rated Amiga games @ Lemon Amiga
  1. Secret of Monkey Island
  2. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
  3. Sensible World of Soccer
  4. Lemmings
  5. The Settlers
Top-rated Commodore 64 games @ Lemon 64
  1. Maniac Mansion
  2. Pirates!
  3. Last Ninja 2
  4. Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders
  5. IK+

Monday, February 15, 2010

Golden era of gaming: Amiga CD32

For all the dodginess of Dangerous Streets, Oscar and Rise of the Robots, the Amiga CD32 will always have a place in my heart. Time spent looking at You Tube to refresh my memories of what the CD32 had to offer has made me realise just how many classic titles were available. Effectively a CD-based console version of the popular Amiga 1200 (the souped-up version of my A600), it was dubbed "the World's first 32-bit CD games console".

It boasted a colourful, funky-looking angular controller, but was upgradeable with all manner of peripherals to turn it into a full-blown computer system. Sure, it was a clunky looking beast with a cheap plastic finish that made it look like a kid's toy... but it was a damn good effort by Amiga. Shame it sold so pitifully and arrived towards the end Commodore's reign!

Here's the first part of my top ten picks...

Diggers came bundled with the console, and was a kind of cross between Dig Dug, Boulderdash and Lemmings. Pick a tribe, choose a location and get digging to rack up your cash... It was damn hard - and occasionally monotonous - but that didn't stop me coming back for more. Watching this clip and hearing its haunting soundtrack takes me back to 1993!

Back in the day I used to love playing Flying Shark in the Arcades and later, on my beloved Amstrad CPC 464. Sadly, as the years past, the vertical shooter drifted into obscurity... until Banshee flew onto the CD32! A futuristic shooter, it looked fantastic, played well and served up a decent two player co-op mode too.

Cutesy platformer Flink was a lovely-looking 2D side scrolling game. Nah, it didn't offer a massive leap forward over previous games from the genre, and it wasn't particularly taxing... but it did have a certain Nordic charm about it.

Remember R-Type? Well, Team 17 brought this type of shoot 'em up into the '90s with aplomb. Project-X was a fast and furious side scroller, confirming Team 17 as my favourite developer. They'd already conquered various genres with Alien Breed, Superfrog and Worms - Project-X continued this trend. Fantastic but incredibly tough.

Although my first experience of this was on my Amiga 600, Super Putty transferred really well to Commodore's console. Take control of a little blue blob and stretch, flatten of inflate him to progress through the various levels. Crisp graphics, brilliant sound effects and a unique concept. Always used to make me think of Berk from the Trap Door cartoon too!

Agree/disagree? Let us know...
Part II to follow

(Photo credit: Monkwhy)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fable III to be another gaming legend

If there's one game I've play to death these past few years, it's Fable II. It's not often I get so immersed in a virtual world and then when I get to the end of the story, restart it and play all over again to discover all the hidden bits I'd missed the first time round. And I normally detest frolicking with goblins and orcs.

It's for that very reason that I'm simply salivating at the prospect of the third in the series, which is scheduled for release sometime towards the end of this year. The blog has already aired its opinions on what should be added to the new version, and there have been plenty of teasers and tidbits emerging in recent months but little about the game's actual content. It appears, however, that those lucky fellows over at Gamespot were able to grab a few moments with Mr Molyneux and see first hand what the new version will have to offer...

It certainly sounds as though its full of new ideas and stands a pretty decent chance of improving upon its predecessors - for once, a Molyneux game may not all be hyperbole and could live up to its expectations. He's still suggesting that the intriguingly named motion controller Natal will play a part in the game too but for those who don't want to stump up the cash, it's good to see that the tried and tested controller will remain the core input device!

It's also nice to hear that the rather weak co-operative element in the second game will be improved upon... no longer will you take on the role of a random character you couldn't give a monkeys about. Instead, you and a friend will be able to play as your own character, allowing you to develop your skills and personalities further. Well done, Molyneux!

Check out these new videos for more insight...

(Photo credit:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Review: Mini Ninjas

While wars are raging, economies are floundering and the weather is miserable, it's nice to escape from the real world occasionally and immerse yourself in gaming. And for that reason, it makes a nice change to find a release that isn't focused on blowing stuff up, surviving a nuclear holocaust or beating someone senseless with a perfectly timed 20-part combo move...

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mini Ninjas.
Any game with a warning label of "crude humour, cartoon violence" on the box is clearly going to be worth a go, isn't it!?!

You'd be mistaken for labeling this as a game aimed solely at kiddies, although its cutesy graphics, sound effects and penchant for cuddly woodland creatures
do suggest as much. In fact, this is a pretty involving adventure game that should appeal to all ages. Despite its release towards the end of last year, I've only just got my hands on a copy and, so far, have enjoyed every moment.

Roam a colourful world, hone your ninja skills and save the world from the aptly-named Evil Samurai Warlord. There's plenty to explore, many diverse environments to traverse and a decent array of ninja moves to develop.

Upon your quest, you'll be charged with rescuing a few of your compatriots - other ninjas who each have unique moves and powers. As you free them from their shackles, they too become a playable character for you to take control of when the need arises. I particularly like the ability to possess nearby wildlife; taking on the role of a chicken or bear and sneaking past a group of enemies without raising suspicion is inspired!

All in all it's a fun, albeit, short experience. The graphics are simple but effective, the sound effects likewise. But there's little replay value to be had - although now it's a few months since its launch, you should be able to pick up a copy fairly cheaply. I'd certainly recommend a playthrough - but unless you can find it in the bargain bins, perhaps it's only worth a rental...

(Photo credit: Colony of Gamers)

Take a trip down memory lane...

Check out this rather nice gaming timeline. Takes a while to load but worth the wait... click the coloured tabs at the top to select which items you want to view.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Scrap Metal is a blast from the past

It's about time! A new top-down racer is soon gonna be speeding its way onto Xbox Live Arcade.

Not so long ago I was moaning about the fact that these old skool racers had been replaced by uber-realistic driving games, the sort that require an exhaustive (geddit?) knowledge of car maintenance. For those of us getting increasingly impatient before the launch of Split/Second, Scrap Metal dispels these concerns somewhat and should keep me happy for a while.

A driving-based shooter, the combination of guns and gears is more than a little reminiscent of the likes of classic games from yesteryear such as Carmageddon, Roadkill and Twisted Metal.

Take a look at Gamespot's sneak peak at the title.

(Photo credit: Slick Entertainment)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Sonic soon speeding back to our screens

Thanks again to LovelyLara for yet another contribution... (She seems to be getting hooked on this blogging malarkey!?!)

I've just read that Sega has revealed Sonic The Hedgehog 4 and it got me thinking about how back in the 1990’s I'd felt a little cheated that I never owned the original - first released on 23 June 1991 - on the Sega Mega Drive. The reason? I already owned an NES and a Super Nintendo, and was too cash strapped to fork out for another console, especially as all I really wanted it for was to play Sonic.

That is why I remember so clearly the day I first saw, and eventually played, as the little blue hedgehog. I was at a friend’s house and they were all sat around playing this unbelievably amazing game. As soon as I was finally allowed to have a go, I was blown away by the speed of it all and the bright colours. It made my all-time favourite Mario look like an OAP in comparison.

I always laugh to myself now when I think back to the days when
I was so gutted that Sonic wasn’t on the Nintendo – although ironically they now both star together in games on the Nintendo Wii, DS and other formats.

So will Sonic The Hedgehog 4 be any better than the good old 90's original? Let's hope so!!! Maybe this time around I will get a copy of my own?

According to Sega, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I (previously known as Project Needlemouse) will be available exclusively via download this summer, in an all-new 2D adventure...
It will offer the classic Sonic moves that fans love including Spin Dash and Rolling Attack and will also feature Homing Attack, all in beautiful CG rendered environments. Packed with special stages, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I will take players through a variety of different Zones, inspired by the Genesis-era style. Longtime fans will not be disappointed as they face some intense boss battles against everyone's favorite villain - the always devious and evil - Dr Eggman.
It will be available on the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii. Let us know what you think of the old and new Sonic The Hedgehog game...

(Photo credit: Zanthia)

Dead Space proved dead scary

With all the recent news and excitement surrounding the upcoming release of Dead Space 2 I figured I'd better see what all the fuss was about and get hold of the original. It seemed like a pretty good idea considering my self-imposed challenge to rack up another 8,000 Gamerscore by the end of May too. The accolades sounded interesting and fun, particularly with frequent reference to high-tech weaponry and the dismemberment of various limbs!

So last night I gave it a go. But try though I might, I quickly came to the conclusion that this much-praised game just wasn't for me. Call me a big girl's blouse but I hate horror games. It's akin to going out for a meal and chomping upon a steaming hot curry that destroys your sense of taste - not a very enjoyable experience.

I don't mind the occasional scare in gaming or an eerie atmosphere; Resident Evil I can take, Left 4 Dead is fine and Dead Rising... not a problem. But the intense creepiness of Dead Space and its emphasis on sudden shocks and attacks from alien beasties proved too much for my nervous disposition. No Gamerscore for me then!

Maybe I'll give Bioshock a go tonight... with the lights on!

(Photo credit: kairin)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Arcade to console: a fond look at the past

Thanks to LovelyLara for this contribution...

Picture the scene, it’s a breezy Saturday afternoon back in the 1980s and most teenagers are out shopping or going to the cinema, but not me! I was one of those teenagers that loved coin-operated arcade games.

Looking back, I think I was always destined to be into gaming. For me, arcade machines were technically just a training ground for what was yet to come: NES, SNES, Playstation, PS2 and so on. Here I take a look back at some of my favourite arcade coin ops and how they made the leap from arcade to console...

(1) PacMan/Ms PacMan (1980/1981)

This has got to be the be-all and end-all of pure arcade game heaven for me; I spent an absolute fortune trying to beat my score each week. I remember my joy when I found a PacMan machine on a day out to the beach with my family (even now I remember they weren't too pleased that I preferred spending half the day in a dingy games centre rather than getting some fresh sea air).

In all honesty I don’t think I've ever found a great version of this on any games console! The Playstation game, Pac-Man World, was okay but didn’t beat the original arcade version, while Ms PacMan on Nintendo's GameBoy was just plain silly - unlike the arcade version it was slow and wasn't remotely fun.

(2) The Simpsons (1991)

I loved this game. I mean really loved it. The arcade version featured Bart on the skateboard, Homer in his car – and all the sound effects too. It was a classic Simpsons fighting game. It also had Bart's Do the Bartman’ song - which I found hilarious as a teenager (I’m far too sensible to get a chuckle from that sort of thing now, alas!!).

Sadly, I never managed to find a console conversion that was as good. I had The Simpsons game on the PS2 and although it played well and had decent graphics, it felt too "clunky" and couldn't match the arcades. The version on the Nintendo DS really didn’t work for me either; it was extremely annoying to play and surprisingly hard to get through (or is that just me being rubbish?).

(3) Space Invaders (1978)

Another arcade classic... but again, the versions that followed have not been great. They were all a bit dull and slightly nondescript. Lets face it, after a couple of games you learnt pretty quick that nothing could come close to the arcade version - playing it on a TV screen at home wasn't quite the same.

All this nostalgia has left me wondering if there were in fact any games that successfully crossed over from arcade to console ?
Then it came to me...

(4) Donkey Kong (1981)

What can I say other than this was totally, totally addictive and actually one game that works well on probably every games console I've ever played it on. I even had a small handheld game device that only played Donkey Kong!

I drove my family mad with my constant beep beep beeping. I was so addicted that at one point my rechargeable battery even died on me. A true classic and still great fun to this day!

(5) PaperBoy (1984)

Finally, out of the many games that have made the transition from arcade to console I think my favourite has got to be Paperboy; it was completely innovative and totally before its time.

Not only is it a perfect game on so many levels, but it made the jump to console perfectly. At the end of the day, I can’t say I missed not having the arcade handlebars – a normal controller was just as good.

It all reminds me of this with the classic scene from the 1980s film Back to the Future II, when Marty McFly was trying to show off in front of a couple of kids. As he completes a shoot 'em up arcade game with a top score, the kid looks at Marty and says, "You use your hands, that’s a babies toy".

Photo credits:
davidfg, Brainless Angel, Lost Tulsa, Owl Reigns Logico, ChicagoGeek, Kimli

Bringing you back from the Brink

To continue the Blog's recent focus on previews and upcoming games, I thought I'd post a few teaser videos for Splash Damage and Bethesda Softworks' Brink.

More than a little reminiscent of Team Fortress 2 and recent release Borderlands, this looks like it could be a nice replacement for those of you who've squeezed the lifeblood out of Modern Warfare 2 and want a decent co-op shooter to fill their time. Personally, I think it looks fantastic - big, bold and brash - but it's the drop in/drop out facility that sounds really great... as you're playing, up to seven friends can jump in to offer some support...

Not sure what all the fuss is about? Here's some background from Wikipedia:
In Brink, two sides, "Resistance" and "Security", fight in the outskirts of a utopian city known as The Ark, a floating city surrounded by the waters of a flooded Earth. The Ark was designed as a prototype of a perfect city, with renewable resources and no pollution, large enough to support 5,000 residents. Its population has grown to 50,000 however, leading it to the brink (hence the name of the game) of a civil war.

This is what online play was made for! Roll on October...

Gameplay trailer, part one:

Gameplay trailer, part two:

Gameplay trailer, part three:

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Heavy Rain whets my appetite for a PS3

If ever I needed another reason to get a Playstation 3 (PS3), then Heavy Rain must surely be it! It's now only a matter of weeks until its much anticipated launch - and it's certainly not looking like the damp squib so many hyped games turn out to be!

Looking more like a Hollywood epic with a vast budget than a video game, everything from the motion capture, voice acting and plot has been sculpted to intricate detail. Check out these videos...

...and here's a little taste of the gameplay. I particularly love the swirling option choices you get at certain points and the way the game seamlessly blends scripted scenes with interaction with objects. Other developers should take note!

I admit I've been slightly underwhelmed by Sony's PS3 since its 2006 launch. The early titles weren't the leap forward I'd been expecting from the last gen PS2, some games weren't ported too well from other formats and even the heavily-hyped exclusive titles didn't really do it for me. That is, until Unchartered: Drake's Fortune hit the headlines! Since then, with the likes of Killzone 2 and Unchartered 2, things have been looking a little rosier for the sleek black beast.

Add to this the relaunch of the PS3 as a cheaper, slimmer version, and Sony is certainly giving Microsoft and the Xbox 360 a run for its money... Now, where can I get hold of a few hundred quid to grab myself one?

(Photo credit: action_1971)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Whatever happened to greedy footballers?

I've just taken the mantle as manager of Manchester City - the richest club in the world by some stretch - in Football Manager 2010 on the PC and nobody wants to sign for me! I've offered untold wealth, perks, bonuses and even contracts that allow them to slope off if they don't settle... but still I only manage to sign the bog standard, run of the mill types... I'm even pretty confident that I'm going to take the Premiership title this year and get a good run in the European cup! But I still keep getting rejected.

I tell a lie. I did actually sign Franck Ribery last night from Bayern Munich - but I had to offer over £90m for the privilege and an astronomical salary, wiping out my entire budget. My scouts had congratulated me on a shrewd purchase, as did the fans. By mid-season though, everyone - including my Board - thought better of it and starting haranguing me about my decision making! How was I to know Ribery wouldn't settle in the area? How could I possibly have foreseen that he would disgruntle teammates, who in turn would demand equally ludicrous salaries and playing bonuses???

I may be rubbish at the latest outing of Football Manager - but it ain't half realistic! Should really get searching on the internet for some good buys in time for the new season...

(Photo credit: Socceraholic)