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, April 27, 2012

Bits and Bytes: Controller for the hardcore

Are you such a hardcore gamer that when you have to put your controller down your hands feel empty and naked? Well looks like we have found the perfect solution for you. If you get a tattoo like this you'll never have to feel like you're without your favourite object ever again!

Source: Dorkly

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Megabits' Ten Favourite Ninjas Part Two

In honour of the new Ninja Gaiden, we’re running through our favourite video game ninjas. In part two, we cover our top five digital shadow warriors.

If you missed the first five, click here.

5. Kage – Legend of Kage
This ninjitsu classic might technically have been a side-scroller, but the main character’s ability to high jump and climb trees gave the whole thing an added vertical dimension that made it more enjoyable than the average run-and-bash game of the era. As did the fact that the main character’s name translates as ‘Shadow’ and he could meditate his opponents to death.  How ninja is that? Pretty darn ninja, am I right?

4. Hiro - Mini Ninjas
Who’d have thought silent assassins could be so family friendly? Or so cute? The cartoony stylings of the Mini Ninjas world would be enough to recommend it, but as you explore further you’ll discover ninja skills displayed by no other Kagemusha on this list…the ability to turn into a chicken and fly over rivers. What? Well, we think it’s cool.

3. Raphael – Turtles In Time
Yes, there were four heroes in a half shell, but we always liked mardy bitch Raphael the best. The string of Turtles arcade games from Konami all featured cool character designs, lightning fast combat and great boss fights, but its appearance as an Xbox Live Arcade title means that Turtles in Time is the easiest version to have a crack at.

2. Snake Eyes – G I Joe
The coolest ninja of all time. The ultimate hero to boys who grew up in the eighties, and the central character of a staggering number of GI Joe and Action Force related video games. Perhaps the best games to feature Snake Eyes were the two Action Force games released for Spectrum and Commodore in the UK, but his appearance in the 1991 NES GI Joe game is where he gets the most prominence, as his underpowered but unlimited ammo makes him the most enjoyable character.

1. Ninja - Ninja Scooter Simulator
You know how we said ninjas were sneaky? That they’d show up were you least expected them? Well how’s this for unexpected: riding a child’s toy through a subway whilst performing stunts. In the 1980s you could sell anything if you stuck the word ninja on it, and we still love Silverbird’s dedication to that particular rule of marketing. Ninja Scooter Simulator is now so obscure it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, but there are emulators out there, so you can discover the surreal joy of being a stealthy 17th century spy doing aerial 360s on a piece of two-wheeled plastic tat.

Megabits' Ten Favourite Ninjas

Ninjas. Those shadowy infiltrators of feudal Japan, with their carefully honed deceptions and sneaky ways, they could be anywhere. Except in video games they tend not to be so subtle. A video game ninja is more likely to be found screaming a battle cry whilst washing his face with the guts of his enemies. In honour of the latest Ninja Gaiden, a strangely ropey yet deliciously enjoyable slash-em-up, we bring you Megabits ten favourite video game ninjas…

10. Ryu Hayabusa - Ninja Gaiden
We thought we’d start with Ryu Hayabusa, a killing machine dressed like a cross between Darth Vader, Shredder and Kevin Rowland (seriously, what’s with that sash?). You know how we said video game ninjas skipped the sneaky section in their training manual? Ryu is a case in point: give him enough grief and he’ll summon a four storey tall fire breathing dragon to devour his foes. Crafty.

9. Saboteur
Ah, Saboteur. A game so good we should probably have had it at number one on our list. A game so good we couldn’t wait that long to summarise it. A case of premature encapsulation, if you will. This dog-kicking, shuriken-throwing, dinghy-sailing polymath actually fits the ninja bill. He sneaks into a building, he dodges security cameras, ducks out of sight of security guards, he detonates an enormous bomb...wait, what?

8. Joe Musashi - Shinobi
The name Joe Musashi would suggest a samurai rather than a ninja, but we’re talking about a guy who can punch, kick, slash, shoot, shuriken and ‘ninja-magic’ his way through seemingly endless waves of opponents capable of one-hitting him. Make no mistake, this guy is hard. If he wants to call himself a ninja, we’re not going to argue. 

7. Gray Fox – Metal Gear Solid
Forget about his defection in MGS II, or his teenage appearances as Null, and just remember the first time you saw him in Metal Gear Solid. Gray Fox…Cyborg Ninja…Saibogu Ninja…three names, one extremely cool characters design. On the rare occasions when he’s not invisible or moving too fast to be seen, Gray Fox’s slender form and ominous red eye radiant calm, lethal capability. Shame he’s vulnerable to chaff grenades and being stamped on by fifty foot tall robotic death machines, really.

6. Hattori Iga – Total War: Shogun 2
You’ve read the site, you know we can be a bit spoddy at times. In gaming terms, the most often expresses itself in our love of stat-scrutinising, number-crunching strategy games. In recent years, our favourite more-work-than-play game has been Total War: Shogun 2, and our favourite units the uber-powerful Hattori Iga ninjas included in the game’s special edition.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: Street Fighter X Tekken

Some may grumble about yet another beat 'em up being released but for the 25th anniversary of Street Fighter, Capcom has decided to throw one hell of a party with the launch of one of the most-anticipated crossover games EVER. Street Fighter X (pronounced “cross”) Tekken is here.

We know many of you won't really care about the plot... you just want to dive straight in and crack some skulls, right? Nevertheless, there is a story packed in there, which revolves around the appearance of a strange object after a meteorite crashes to Earth. The projectile, Pandora's Box, turns out to be all kinds of powerful and everyone wants a piece of it.

The latest game sees the Tekken characters transferred to the 2D world dominated by the Street Fighter games since 1987. Some of the biggest and baddest combatants from each franchise finally come face to face - 19 from each in fact, making it the largest roster in any Street Fighter game!

The likes of Zangief, Dhalsim, Guile and the chunky-thighed Chun-Li are all there, ready to take on an equally strong lineup from Tekken. Kuma makes an appearance, along with King, Paul, Law and Heihachi. For fans of either franchise, you'll no doubt feel like a kid in a candy store.

And it's a good thing there are so many characters on offer as you get to pick two of them at a time for 2 vs 2 fights. During a bout you can switch between fighters for a fresh health bar and a new repertoire of moves. However, bear in mind that it only takes one of your characters to be KO'd for the battle to be lost. The tag element works really well and allows some stunning combos to be pulled off. Also inspired by Tekken, the juggle system allows characters to be hit several times in the air.

Obviously, everything feels very familiar, and it all looks similar to Street Fighter IV. As ever, the action fills every pixel on the screen and as you fight, those renowned background animations really enhance the varied - and often slightly surreal - environments. Pulling off a spectacular combo or one of those trademark moves and looks absolutely awesome. There's nothing more satisfying than chaining together a ridiculous number of hits before your opponent even lands a punch, and that throbbing "KO" indicator appears, declaring you victorious!

Get to grips with the six-button controls, and the three-part bar - the Cross Gauge - at the bottom of the screen fills as you attack or get hit, eventually allowing you to pull off some devastating special moves. Another cool addition is the Pandora move, which allows you to sacrifice one of your characters when they have less than 25% of their energy left, to give your remaining fighter a 10-second power boost and a full Cross Gauge.

The other innovation of note is the Gem System, which allows customisation and lets you strategise. There have been some murmurings of discontent from diehard fighting fans but these gems don't impede the game too much and actually make it far more accessible for newbies. It's great for the less experienced player, and means that they won't necessarily get absolutely pummelled during each fight. There are 57 Gems in total, 5 Assists and 52 Boosts - so various combinations can be assigned to strengthen your fighters and make them even tougher to beat. Some fans may snub their nose at them but it certainly makes the fights much more even.

The Assist Gems are there to enhance your skills. Not too great at defending yourself or pulling off a special move? Assign a gem or two and you'll suddenly become more than capable. It's a great addition as it allows you to learn new skills and not be penalised if you can't get to grips with certain aspects of the game. Boost Gems, meanwhile, offer power ups for a limited time depending on certain criteria being met during a match - meaning they activate should a specific attack be unleashed, for example.

The tutorials have been beefed up considerably too - and now there are loads of screens and guidance to help you get to grips with your preferred fighters.

Besides the usual Arcade mode - which centres around the discovery of Pandora's Box, several other options are on offer too. There's the classic Versus mode as you'd expect, Scramble mode - a kind of free-for-all where both members of the tag team battle at the same time – and Challenge, which requires you to complete certain objectives. Then there's the Online mode and we had no problem finding new challengers. The new Briefing Room feature allows players to train together online so they can form a cohesive partnership.

Street Fighter fans will no doubt relish the new challenges and all the new characters on offer. It's a fitting release for the 25th anniversary of one of the greatest ever beat 'em ups. Tekken aficionados may be a little less enthusiastic about the crossover, largely because the 2D setting does feel quite different to what they may be used to.

Whatever your preference, this is a solid title - and offers something suitably different from all those other updates and DLC that we've been seeing of late that simply adds a few characters to the roster. The Gems and tutorials mean it's easier to grasp for beginners, while there's plenty to grab the attention for the more capable player.

Namco is said to be planning its own crossover, Tekken X Street Fighter, so it will be interesting to see which comes out on top. For now though, this is a great addition to anyone’s collection.

Reviewed on Xbox 360
  • This review was first published on Check out more news, reviews and articles after the jump.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The origin of Valve's grisly logo

The Megabits team loves Valve games - in fact, Left 4 Dead still whirs constantly in our disc drives. But for those of you who wondered how they came by their pretty gruesome logo, this video may make things a little clearer...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Past & Present: ZX Spectrum hits 30, Pi ships

Many of you older gamers out there may remember the day you first played about with the rubberised keyboard of arguably one of the most important hardware launches ever... Well, today, that keyboard - and the computer that it was attached to reaches a milestone. It's the 30th anniversary of the ZX Spectrum.

This wasn't just any old home computer; this was the machine that encouraged droves of spotty youngsters to learn how to program and pursue a career developing games and creating software. Today's 250GB hard disks and HDMI ports are something we all take for granted... us ageing gamers were pleased if we could see the display in colour! Just like the 360s and PS3s of today, back then a couple of options were available - although the 16K and 48K versions do sound slightly underwhelming nowadays. Nevertheless, it didn't deter us buying them and making this one of the iconic computers of the 1980s.

It seems almost poetic then, that three decades after that little black machine surfaced, the first batch of Raspberry Pi computers has been shipped. The tiny device uses a chip like those used in mobile phones, a memory card for memory and is the LINUX operating system - but comes in at a very respectible £16. The aim? To get people programming! Some things never change.

Check out articles on the BBC website, commemorating the ZX Spectrum's 30 years and the advent of the Strawberry Pi.

Falling foul of FIFA 12's impact engine

As our regular readers will know, we at Megabits are partial to the occasional game of FIFA 12. In fact, we absolutely love the latest edition of EA's long running series - particularly the player animation and collision detection... which works most of the time.

There are plenty of You Tube clips out there showing some of the more ludicrous clashes between players and their humourous falls.

This one has to be among our favourites. It's a lovely through ball, leaving the player in front of goal, with the keeper willing to do whatever it takes(!) to stop him from scoring. That's definitely a foul... he's all over him.

And here are a few of those collisions we were talking about:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Megabits Of News: Weekly Roundup

Megabits of Gaming trawls the web for the tastiest morsels of news, so you don't have to...

SEGA: time to limber up those thumbs
On your marks. Get set. (starting pistol fires….Bang) Go! SEGA has announced it will release London 2012: The Official Videogame of the Olympic Games in June. For those who want to move more than just there fingers, the game can be played with Move controllers on the PS3 and with Kinect on theXbox 360.

The Gods of Olympus be warned
According to Joystiq, Sony has listened to our prayers and finally, and officially, revealed the next title in the God of War franchise. Not much is still known about God of War: Ascension, but the new quest will see us discovering the origins of Kratos.

Prey 2: It's not that I’m not coming, I’m just late
CVG says that Bethesda has rubbished reports that its sci-fi shooter Prey 2 has been cancelled, announcing that in fact the game been delayed beyond 2012 because of concerns over the quality. Good things come to those who wait, they say.

Gamers to pay less for PSP titles online
Everybody loves a bargain and PSP fans in Australia and the UK have something to smile about after Sony cut the price on a number of the PSP titles currently available in the PlayStation store. Some of the titles include God of War: Ghost of Sparta, and Killzone: Liberation.

Bond is back
Britain’s most famous martini-drinking spy James Bond returns to the gaming world this autumn in 007 Legends. The game, to be available on both the Xbox 360 and PS3, marks James Bond’s 50th Anniversary - and tie together six films, says MCV.

Bits and Bytes: Wii Fit parody

There's not much to say about this clip to be honest other than to say it's scarily true when you think about it. Still, many millions of people round the world have bought Wii Fit so they must think "Sticking Out Your Leg" is quite fun!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Megabits Pick of zombie games (Part 2)

It's nearly 30 years since the undead first appeared on our computer screens but things have changed quite a lot since Zombie Zombie on the ZX Spectrum. There's plenty to look forward to as well, with Lollipop Chainsaw and The Walking Dead among those soon to be released.

Megabits decided to stagger down memory lane and pick our ten favourites from the past decade. Here are the final five.

If you missed the first part, click here.

5) OMG-Z
This little gem on PSN took me a little by surprise. Laughing Jackal's PlayStation Minis game is simple and looks basic - but it's absolutely brilliant. It's a chain reaction game where you have to free the city of Redfield from the evil clutches of the undead. There are 81 levels, 32 different settings and loads of different types or zombie can explode or leave a pool of acid when shot, thus causing others nearby to explode and so on... Well worth checking out as it will keep you occupied for ages.

4) Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare (2010)
You thought the Wild West deserved its name when John Marston was running round at the start of the original game, collecting pelts and hogtying women... but the fifth DLC pack, Undead Nightmare, made things even more dangerous.

3) Call of Duty: World at War (2008)
It may not be the only time zombies have appeared in a Call of Duty game, or the best example - but it was the first. And who in all honesty would have thought it would work as well as it did? Tired of shooting living bad guys? Why not take on the undead too? Take on wave after wave of the undead, unlocking different weapons along the way. Great fun with a friend and massively popular.

2) Resident Evil series (1996-2012)
In 1996, the original Resident Evil captured the imagination of PlayStation owners - who still fondly remember those dogs leaping through windows and the cadaver on the floor grabbing you as you walked by. Since then, Capcom have breathed new life into the long-running series - we recently reviewed Capcom's Operation Raccoon City, which made a departure from what Resident Evil fans are used to! Arguably, however, it was Resident Evil 4 that was the pinacle of the survival horror genre. Let's see if the upcoming Resident Evil 6 is any better.

1) Left 4 Dead 2 (2009)
AI director, sublime co-op gameplay, varied guns and melee weapons, the Special Infected including the Witch, Hunter and Tank. The sequel addressed all the issues we had with the original - and remains an absolute classic.

Missed Part One (numbers 10-6)? Click here

Megabits' Pick of zombie games

Zombies are big business in gaming right now; it's like a pandemic with the shuffling hordes seemingly taking over every title. Even the likes of Call of Duty and Red Dead Redemption have succumbed to the craze, with zombie-based missions, map packs and DLC.

And the reason for the undead taking over the world? It's simple really - it's damn satisfying blasting the limbs off a flesh eater without a modicum of guilt.

Here we pick our ten favourite zombie games from the past decade...

10) All Zombies Must Die (2011)
Another twin stick shooter makes it on to our list, and offers some multiplayer hijinks. All Zombies Must Die, with its cartoony graphics and over the top action became a little samey after a while but as we said in our review... "Treat it like a casual game for short, beery bursts with your mates, however, and it will keep you entertained". The recent follow up, Scorepocalypse, proved fun too (reviewed here) - but was tough as hell.

9) Dead Island (2011)
It promised so much - a kind of large scale Left 4 Dead, with co-op players and loads of infected wandering about a luxury beach resort. Granted it didn't quite match our expectations but it was still a cracking zombie game. We said in our review that it "plays like a cross between Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead and Fallout 3 – on steroids"

8) Plants Vs Zombies (2009)
This awesome tower defense game has become one of the most downloaded iOS titles, and was an equally huge hit on PSN, XBLA, PC and just about every other system you can imagine. PopCap Games certainly know a thing or two about making games that keep you hooked, eh? Keep those pesky zombies at bay using... plants! A unique idea that's really quite fun to play.

7) I Made A Game With Zombies In It! (2009)
This just goes to prove that Indie games on XBLA can a) be bags of fun, and b) make the guys behind it loads of money! And it only cost 80 Microsoft Points! This proved to be one of the most popular Indie games on the 360 in 2009. This shooter for up to four players was firmly tongue in cheek and praised for its brilliant - albeit irritating - theme tune.

6) Dead Rising series (2006-2011)
The original Dead Rising was one of the reasons I bought a 360 in the first place. Effectively capturing George A Romero's 1978 movie classic Dawn of the Dead in game form and putting me in the middle of that shopping mall, surrounded by zombies and with all kinds of cool tools and weapons at hand was inspired! The sequel left the mall but meant a new setting and new weapons - and was a decent follow up.

Mulling over the Mass Effect 3 ending

As a long-time Mass Effect fan, I thought I would do the game justice before I wrote my review, so I played it in its entirety, all the way to the ending – an ending which had the fans in uproar, led to a campaign which raised thousands of dollars for good causes - and demonstrated the power of social media.

Now, after Bioware announced an updated version of the ending – one which preserves the developer’s supposed ‘artistic’ intent, while providing disappointed fans with the closure they need – I thought I’d spill my two cents on the topic onto the pages of the web, like intellectual space-saliva.

Naturally, make sure your mass-effect drives are functional, as we approach the SPOILERS.

I’m one of the camp of Mass Effect fans who ultimately was left feeling pretty hollow by the ending. Unlike the legion of pissed-off fanboys who called “bullshit” on the ‘artistic’ slant the developers claimed to be going for - I can see what they were hoping to achieve.

Ultimately, I think Bioware were trying to end the game with a moral choice, one which would leave you thinking about your actions. Unfortunately, this backfired completely, for three reasons:
  1. The gamer’s actions mean precisely... nothing. Everything you did over the three games has no impact on the ending of the game – it’s just a multiple choice question.
  2. The massive plotholes left by the ending are not addressed – more on this later.
  3. Bioware lifted the ending wholesale from the original Deus Ex – seriously, it’s practically identical!
What Bioware seemed to have forgotten was how groundbreaking the Mass Effect series is - they deliberately designed the games to run concurrently, so choices made in the first game are still having an impact of the events of the third.

It’s a very, very clever idea – and until the ending of ME3, it worked perfectly. My game was very different to those of my friends, our differing choices allowing the game’s storyline to play out a little differently for each gamer.

So, to boil that huge innovation down to an A,B or C choice – and ignore everything the gamer has done in the six-or-seven year adventure he’s been playing through – feels like a huge middle finger to the gamer. Plus, the ending makes the entirety of Mass Effect 3’s storyline feel cheap.

I went to the trouble of securing alliances between the galaxy’s warring races, I gathered a massive fleet to fight the Reapers, I was ready to fight with everything I had, my friends beside me... And it means nothing – because everyone’s ending is exactly the same. A blue, red or green explosion. That’s it. Weak.

Whether Bioware were rushed by EA or not – and rumours abound that they were – the ending was a big anticlimax, which killed the game for me. That’s without even going into the gaping plotholes the ending throws up – like why the Normandy was in jump space, instead of the battle for Earth. And where the Citadel’s AI – the ‘Star Child’, came from. And how the Illusive Man got there. And how the destruction of the Mass Effect relays would result in turning a hundred thousand star systems into atomised gas instantly. I could list all the plotholes, but that’s practically an article in itself.

Also, after such a huge, galaxy-spanning story, I generally found the ending to be unusually weak, writing-wise. Shepherd has the power to change everything, because he can? No. No, no, no. Let me give you just two better plot twists, Bioware. Two I came up with in 15 minutes of thought.
  1. The Crucible is a Reaper weapon – not a a tool to kill them – and to activate it will indoctrinate the galaxy’s inhabitants in an instant. Plus, Shepherd is an unwitting agent of the Reapers, and has been from the start – he or she is indoctrinated, and has been doing the Reapers’ bidding since Eden Prime.
  2. Moving the Citadel to Earth was a Reaper ploy to get the galaxy’s races to unite against them – it’s been done before, time and time again – and the Crucible itself won’t work anyway – unless Shepherd and EDI can hotwire it. But even then the power it needs to fire will consume and destroys Earth’s resources – and the lives of half the starfleet surrounding it. Do you fire it anyway - and pick up the pieces afterwards - or not fire it, and hope your war assets are good enough?
Two ideas that both eclipse Bioware’s weak ending, in my opinion.

In conclusion, am I saying you should you avoid Mass Effect 3 because of the ending? Hell no. It’s an amazing game, as I said in my review. But I would wait until Bioware’s new version of the ending is released. Sure, it won’t be as wide-ranging as many – myself included – would like, but if the additions offers a little more closure to a legion of fans who have been left in the cold by the Star Child and his gobbledegook plans, then it’s an improvement.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Achievements: What's in a Game?

Barring catastrophic hard drive failure or an unforgiveable bug, I am just a few more hours play from getting the full 1000GS from Skyrim. Naturally, I’m pretty chuffed about that-it’s not many games I get the full 1000 from, so discovering that Skyrim is going to give me top whack as well as being very entertaining makes me think of it as a very generous game. Except of course, it isn't. Not even close. A reasonable estimate is that it will have taken me 140 hours of gameplay to get that 1000GS.

When it comes to being generous with points, there are many different types, and like some sort of crazed gaming taxonomist, we thought we'd try to define them.

The Banker
Have you ever had one of those calls from your bank offering you a guaranteed chunk of free money if only you’ll let them tie up a chunk of the cash you already have for the next six to eighteen months? Well that’s the likes of Skyrim and Oblivion. A guaranteed sizeable return on your investment, as long as you’re willing to  put the time in. There are no grinding feather-collections, no viral achievements, no points that are at the mercy of fate. If you want 1000GS, all you have to do is play. Lots.

The Transcendent
Then there are those games that are almost the opposite-they transcend your love of Gamerscore and reassure you that you still play games for the right reason. Just when you’d started to wonder if you were playing only for the points, along comes something like Dark Souls, a game so excruciatingly difficult that even though the array of points on offer are perfectly fair and free from caprice, it’s still hugely unlikely that you’ll ever get them all. Yet you keep on playing. And playing. And playing.

The Harvester
Then there are those games that offer a full 1000GS as long as you’re willing to put a modest amount of work in. The games that you play primarily for score-whoring purposes, but which don’t give up their points quite so easily that you’re ashamed of playing them. You know the ones, Fight Night Round 3, King Kong, games that won’t give up their points until you finish them, but won’t make finishing them at all hard for you.

The Low Hanging Fruit
During the annual Megabits Gamerscore Challenge when I really want my score to fly up, low-hanging fruit is where it’s at. Good games that only dish out a serious wedge if you work at it, but which can be relied upon to dish out a not inconsiderable fillip for minimal investment. During the last Gamerscore Challenge I played through CoDBlOps, CoDWaW and Medal of Honor for a total of 785 points from three games. Doesn’t sound like much, until you consider that each was played as a speedrun, and that 785 came from just a day and a half’s gaming. Tasty.

The Unexpectedly Generous
With these points, you’re really spoiling us. No, really, if there’s one thing that’s better than low hanging fruit, it’s a genuinely generous game. Bioshock and Bioshock 2 are the classic examples-a day’s worth of play for well over 700 points. That’s an even better use of time than speedrunning Call of Duty. Less likely to turn you into a moron as well.

The Easy G
Yeah yeah, we saw you, playing Avatar and Just Cause, harvesting the full 1000 with a few cheap tricks, then playing 30 seconds of a dozen good games in order to shove your shame further down your games played list so your score would be seen but not its source. This is score whoring for 12 year olds, but we’ll admit, it’s effective.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: Mass Effect 3

OK, I’ll start by addressing the elephant in the room – yes, the ending sucks. Yes, it’s a massive error on Bioware’s part – and yes, they’ve promised to do something about it. With that out of the way, I want to assuage all of you skeptics that Mass Effect 3 is 100% worth buying and playing, as it’s not always the destination that makes a game, it’s the journey.

Picking up shortly after the events of Mass Effect 2, ME3 sees Shepherd under investigation for working with (and possibly aiding) the organization known as Cerberus. However, before long an ancient race of sentient, battleship-sized robots known as ‘Reapers’ show up and invade the Earth - as Shepherd’s been warning for six years...

After narrowly escaping the Reapers on his ship, Shepherd has to travel the galaxy, begging, borrowing and cajoling the many races into providing their military strength and technology to the fight to reclaim Earth and end the war against the Reapers once and for all.

And, with the Reapers’ mandate being to destroy the galaxy’s races, there’s no time to lose.
Much like its predecessors, ME3 is a third-person action/adventure title which combines ground-pounding combat with an excellent overarching story and a deep, detailed universe to explore.

Tasking Shepherd with uniting the many races of the galaxy sees the intrepid explorer once again jetting around, but this time – with the Reapers on the loose – getting from A to B is a tricky proposition.

Generally speaking, the game feels very similar to Mass Effect 2’s gameplay, just with a few tweaks to improve the gamer’s enjoyment.

This time around Shepherd is a far more nimble soldier, able to vault obstacles with the push of a button, sprint all over the place and punch or stab enemies away with a cool melee attack. The cover system is also a lot more accurate, with Gears of War’s influence being fairly obvious – although it can at times be a little oversensitive, making you stick to everything when you want to outrun a horde of human ‘husks’.

Old faces, including rebel Turian Garrus and sultry Asari Liara rejoin Shepherd’s squad this time around, and are deadlier than ever in combat. Their AI has had a much-needed tweak – although they do have a habit of walking into your line of fire now and then.

Rather than forcing you to level up your character from square one once again, ME3’s difficulty is graded depending on how powerful your imported character is and comes with a ready suite of powers – which is damn helpful, as the enemies are far tougher and more canny this time around.

Outside of the combat, the game’s paragon/renegade system is back in full force, as is the conversation wheel. Once again you can interrupt talk with a well placed bullet or hug – and yes, you can punch that journalist in the face, again.

Instead of gathering ore this time, however, the game is far more focused on gathering military strength, in order to retake Earth and end the Reaper threat. To do this, the Normandy has to scour the galaxy, scanning planets and systems, completing a multitude of side-quests and avoiding the Reapers, which chase the frigate around, blaring war sirens like something from War of the Worlds.

All of this is presented in the game’s fantastic graphics engine, which shows off the brilliant lighting effects and drags you into the combat. This is backed up with a brilliant musical score, winding the Mass Effect theme through the entire adventure and bringing the universe to life. The cast are also excellent, both old voices and new, and make the whole experience more believable.

In a first for the series, ME3 also has a co-operative multiplayer section, which is an enjoyable blast with three friends along.

Playing like a cross between Gears of War’s Horde mode and a co-operative mission, the multiplayer offers a selection of warriors, technicians, engineers and biotic (psychic) soldiers and tasks them with fighting off waves of various enemy types, while completing a series of simple objectives.

While the link between the multiplayer and the singleplayer campaign is tenuous – playing the multiplayer has an effect on the campaign’s ‘galactic readiness’ level – on the whole it’s an enjoyable experience, although initially a certain level of grinding is required to level up your respective soldier.

Overall, Mass Effect 3 is a cut above its predecessors, offering better combat, better gameplay and less of the scanning and mining drudgery that dragged ME2 down. Sure, it’s let down by its ending (in a big way), but the journey more than makes up for it, minor bugs and all. Mass Effect 3 is well worth putting on your N7 armour for.

Reviewed on Xbox 360

Check out Andy Hemphill's blog after the jump.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City

Capcom and Slant Six Games join forces in a “reinterpretation of the events” in Resident Evil 2 and 3. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a third-person team-based shooter where you take on the role of a member of the secretive Umbrella Security Service. Your mission? To destroy any evidence of Umbrella’s involvement in the outbreak of the deadly t-Virus.

The action unfolds in September 1998 with Umbrella’s dodgy scientist Dr William Birkin planning to sell the experimental G-Virus to the US Government. While trying to stop him and retrieve the last surviving sample of the virus, all hell breaks lose and Birkin decides to inject himself, transforming him into a giant beast with a bulging eye protruding from his bicep! And just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, during a skirmish with the good doctor the t-Virus leaks into the sewers, infecting the populace of Raccoon City.

As you’d expect, it’s your job to clear up the mess. You get to pick one of six Umbrella Security characters, each with special abilities in a three-way battle between the undead and the trigger-happy Special Ops teams. Their unique abilities vary in usefulness from invisibility to temporarily taking control of the infected. Along the way, you’ll come across a familiar cast from the Resident Evil series including Lickers, Tyrants, Hunters, Nemesis, zombie dogs and even Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield.

Flying in the face of some other reviews, I actually quite enjoyed Operation Raccoon City. But make no bones about it, play this solo and you’ll soon switch off, thanks to a multitude of problems.

The single player game is beset by ridiculously idiotic AI with your team mates proving more of a hindrance than help. By way of example, there are countless moments when you’re besieged by rotting corpses and desperately in need of some health… only for one of your squad to run in the opposite direction with that vital medication. Not only that, but they’ll often give you an energy boost when you’re at full health. Utterly pointless! Add that to their affinity for running into your line of fire, shooting you in the back or standing in front of an exit, making you a sitting duck for the incoming zombies, and it’s all very frustrating.

And what about when you do get infected? You stand there helpless as your health depletes before you turn into a zombie, knowing full well that your AI colleagues have the anti viral spray that could save you. But they just stand there, ignorant to your plight and instead opting to run headlong into a nearby wall repeatedly!

In fact, it’s almost a relief when you see the symbol onscreen indicating that they’re lying dead in the distance somewhere, waiting to be revived. Whether you bother bringing them back to life is completely up to you but it’s often preferable not to bother and just to go it alone. If you’re taken down in the heat of battle and they don’t save you, why the hell should you help them???

It’s a bit of a missed opportunity when you become infected. Fail to find a serum and you turn. Funny thing is that when you do, you lose complete control of your character and are powerless to do anything until you’re killed – it could have been a bit of fun being a zombie, right? Anyways, when you do respawn you appear with your health, grenades and weapon replenished. The question is… what’s the incentive in healing yourself? As far as I can see, there isn’t one. If there are no ammo or health packs around just wait for a zombie to get you, die and respawn rejuvenated. It’s plain daft.

The over-used cover system that appears in pretty much every modern game makes another appearance here and isn’t particularly great. It’s like your character is wearing one of those Velcro suits and as soon as you stray too close to a wall, you stick fast to it. What’s more, it’s really annoying in the heat of battle to find yourself hugging a crate or wall with your butt or head sticking out, allowing the enemies to shoot/eat you.

Oh, and the zombies, bosses and soldiers are all bullet sponges! Even the lowly walker zombie takes most of an ammo clip to dispatch – and it’s even worse on the higher difficulty settings. It doesn’t matter which of the weapons you use, they’re all much the same. Slabs of meat haven’t taken such a beating since Stallone’s Rocky movies! Our advice, take your time, wait until you see the whites of their undead eyes and blow their head off or shoot them in the legs. Otherwise, their bullet-riddled bodies will keep on shuffling towards you.

The melee attack isn’t much better. The continued mashing of the melee button sees various knife-swiping animations but they seem to do little damage either.

All these gripes aside, if you take the problematic AI out of the equation and enlist a few friends to become your team mates, things are infinitely better. Sure Operation Raccoon City is never going to rival Gears or Halo, or come close to replicating the brilliant co-op experience that is Left 4 Dead 2, but it can be an enjoyable romp.

As you progress, XP is awarded allowing weapons to be unlocked and special abilities to be enhanced, although it’s perhaps not enough of an incentive to keep on playing once the brief campaign mode is completed.

Failing that, there’s always the online multiplayer option where you can partake in eight player team versus battles should you desire. There are four different online modes available, where you can reprise the role of Umbrella or the Special Ops to fight one another and the zombie horde.

Fans of Resident Evil will no doubt be up in arms about the new direction and gameplay, and many are scathing about the issues mentioned above. Personally, I quite enjoyed the experience as a standalone game – but only once I’d got a few friends involved. It’s a flawed but fun game (at least in co-op) - and probably one that’s most suited to rental or picking up when it comes down in price. Mediocre.

Reviewed on Xbox 360
  • This review was first published on Check out more news, reviews and articles after the jump.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review: AZMD Scorepocalypse

Run. Shoot. Die. Repeat. These four words should summarize your experience in All Zombies Must Die: Scorepocalypse. The new stand-alone spinoff from Doublesix has evolved into an even more -if that's even possible - arcade-based game. Focusing on obtaining a better score than your friends - or the developers, if you plan on getting all the achievements, you'll go through five different levels to face the reckless hordes of the undead.

Just like its predecessor, AZMD:S has an interesting technique to make your gaming experience interesting, to say the list. The use of a cartoonish-like style makes the game less serious, and honestly, that's the way it should be. This fast-paced, ridiculously hard game will keep you coming for more again and again. Not to get score, but to actually win. As McJagger, a fearless zombie-killing machine, you'll have a single objective. Killing zombies, you say? Don't be ridiculous. It's all about Score... Which you'll obtain through killing zombies. Okay, you were right, but don't let it go to your head.

Scorepocalypse does include some new stuff, too. New zombies, two new weapons, and a few new maps will put you on the brink of survival. Don't worry, though. There are still missions and side-missions to complete, but to get the best of this game, you have to complete the Challenges.

Challenges are small tests that you can complete throughout the run. Be it killing X zombies with X weapon/element, or finding random items, the more you complete, the higher score multiplier you'll get. This expands the array of gameplay possibilities, and makes this game richer and more fulfilling. Trust me, some of those are quite hard. Pointing to a minor characteristic which I think requires some attention, the music for this game is quite good, by the way. It's a mixture of goof and smooth, which is exactly how the rest of the game is.

In all honesty, hard is the perfect word to describe this title. If you're new to the game, you'll be literally thrown into a crowd of zombies. It can get confusing and frustrating, and it takes quite a bit to get a hang of it. That's one of the problems. You'll die many times. Which will make the game a bit repetitive, until you manage to level up to the point you can punch those wicked creatures to death, if you wish to do so. Luckily for you, there is absolutely no penalty for dying, so just keep giving it your best, and you'll be fine.

In conclusion, If you actually care about dying, this adrenaline-pumping madness is not for you. On the other hand, if you're looking for some quick and challenging fun, give AZMD:S a try. You can even play with your friends, to boost the scoring, and make the best of your experience. Now get there and bash some empty heads open, McJagger!

Reviewed on PC

By Carles Soler

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bits and Bytes: Tetris Building Blocks

A week ago we featured a real life version of Tetris, which looked just as addictive as the computer version. Well if that whet your appetite for large scale retro gaming then check this out.

Sadly it's just a video put together for a university project but imagine a world where this was actually a reality - how cool would that be?

Berlin Block Tetris from Sergej Hein on Vimeo.

Megabits of News: Weekly Roundup

Megabits of Gaming trawls the web for the tastiest morsels of news, so you don't have to...

Indian games industry to explode
According to MCV, the Indian games industry is set for huge expansion in 2012, with steep growth forecasts of 38% to around $359 in 2012. By 2016, the industry is expected to grow to around $917m, offering much opportunity for games developers.

Crysis, what crisis?
Crysis 3 is in development, according to EA. An official statement is due very soon for the popular shooter series, which can only be good news. Rumours, via Joystiq, suggest the game will be out sometime in Spring 2013. Bring it on!

Driving manically to a big screen near you
“I feel the need, the need for speed” – surely that has be one of the lines in the reported film adaptation for Need for Speed. According to VG247, EA has been pushing for a film based on the street-racing driving series. I’m hoping for a cross between Fast and the Furious and Internal Affairs.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 to hit US in September
Pull up your sleeves as Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will be flying off US shelves in September. Namco’s favourite fighting franchise is expected to carry a massive 50 characters, including all your Tekken favourites.

Sony it will focus on gaming

As part of a huge restructuring campaign to reverse its poor financial performance last year, Sony said its digital imaging, game and mobile segments will be the three main focus areas of its electronics business, where it will concentrate its investment and technology development resources. CVG says Sony announced a loss of 6.4bn loss for the financial year of 2011 and announced plans to axe 10,000 jobs.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Megabits' Pick: Ten Sweetest Rides Part Two

There are plenty of lists of the craziest vehicle in games, but we at Megabits thought it was time for a list of the most enjoyable: these aren’t the super-speedy beasts from the likes of Forza and Gran Turismo, these are the runners and riders that appeared in non-driving games and handled in ways that enhanced the whole experience. Part one is here. Our only caveat was that they had to be vehicles you drive yourself-Saints Row 2s slurry wagons were fun, but we want to be at the wheel.

5. Comet
Grand Theft Auto IV

There are more exotic cars in GTA IV, and significantly faster ones as well, but nothing matches the Comets blend of monstrous acceleration, high top speed and sure-footed controllability. If you’re planning to show off then the Infernus or Yusuf’s Super Drop Diamond are for you, but if you want to win races, it’s gotta be the Comet.

4. Horse

Ah, Gun. Like a less polished, more enjoyable version of Red Dead Redemption from an earlier age. What a great game, and what a funny approach to equestrianism-the look like galloping horses, they sound like galloping horses, but they have a nitrous style speed boost and they steer like motorbikes, a factor that makes even cow-herding fun.

3. The Deuce
Brutal Legend

Brutal Legend’s strange mix of adventure and RTS elements may have had its detractors, but the games uber-customisable hot-rod, The Deuce, draws no criticism from us whatsoever. Hanging out with Ozzy and adding performance and weaponry enhancements is amusing, racing is fun, but turning on the stereo and discovering the likes of Motorhead, Anthrax, Budgie and Judas Priest? That’s just awesome. Throw up the horns and pretend it’s the early-eighties.

2. Pell Silverbolt 6
Just Cause 2

In a game devoted to spectacular vehicles and spectacular mayhem, the Pell Silverbolt provides the purest distillation of both. Tiny, agile and just about the fastest thing in the game, the Silverbolt is a joy to play with, but it’s also the most fragile and apparently the most flammable. It’s like flying a rocket made out of styrofoam and napalm, so every landing is squeaky bum time.

1. Monkey’s Cloud

When I was a kid, thanks to 2000AD, all I wanted was a flying surfboard. Science has chosen to disappoint me by concentrating on vaccine’s and windfarms and stuff like that, but Enslaved gave me the next best thing-a flying skateboard or ‘cloud’. Nippy, whippy and agile, we’d happily have spent the whole game on this thing. Might have made the minefields a bit tricky though.

Megabits' Pick: Ten Sweetest Rides

This time next week your humble scribe hopes to be let loose on the roads. Legally, I mean. Some 17 years after all my friends, I’ll be taking my driving test in little Citroen Saxo. I’m nervous, excited, and strangely underwhelmed by the Saxo. Where everyone else I know has been driving real cars for the last two decades, I’ve been driving videogame vehicles, all of which are much more entertaining and much easier to manage.

There are plenty of lists of the craziest vehicle in games, but we at Megabits thought it was time for a list of the most enjoyable: these aren’t the super-speedy beasts from the likes of Forza and Gran Turismo, these are the runners and riders that appeared in non-driving games and handled in ways that enhanced the whole experience. They’re also the vehicles I’d most like to drive away from Isleworth Test Centre.

10. Zombie
Grand Theft Auto IV

There’s no getting past the fact that the bikes in GTA are more fun than the cars, and make you feel like more of a bad-ass. Sadly, they’re also more likely to hurl you thirty feet along the pavement and headfirst into a hotdog cart. Which is where the Zombie comes in. Not only do its fat tires and ape-hanger handlebars make it the best looking bike in the game, but its handling and acceleration sit neatly on the line between aggressive and deathtrap. Perfect.

9. Warthog

Come on, we’d be lying if we tried to pretend the Warthog didn’t belong on this list. Halo made it pretty much de rigeur for shooting games to have a driving component, and the Warthog is the main reason why. Its mix of ridiculously bouncy suspension, high speed and bonkers physics combined with incredibly sharp steering makes every drive in the Warthog a wildly unpredictable yet controllable ride.

8. Airboat
Half Life 2

Indestructible, unflippable, fast and capable of travelling over land and water, what’s not love about the Airboat? Its early incarnation may have caused travel sickness in beta-testers, but the boat in the finished game is a delight as it swoops along in a series of controlled skids, knocking helicopters out of the sky and generally being awesome.

7. Armoured Personnel Carrier
Red Faction Guerrilla

It may not look like it at first glance, but what we like to think of as the RFG-EDF-APC is the most enjoyable vehicle in Volition’s sandbox of destruction. The civilian vehicles are barely more than milkfloats, Jenkin’s Jetter is great but you only get to ride shotgun, and the armed walkers and tanks are too distant and impersonal in their damage dealing. The APC, however, is tough enough the be driven through fences, walls, pylons, houses, offices and everything else, allowing you to wreak your demolishing havoc up close and personal.

6. Sabre
Halo Reach

The Sabre is a wonderful mixture of realism and fantasy. It needs a booster to get it out of the atmosphere, and once in zero G it has permanent momentum and no concept of up, down, left or right-after all, such things are meaningless in space. On the other hand, it does have a selection of cannons and energy weapons to let you fight off the incoming Banshees. Handy, that.