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, July 31, 2012

Review: Orcs Must Die 2

Written by StefanB

Orcs must die! That's a rather mean statement, for sure. What have these kind and gentle creatures ever done to us? No one really knows and no one really cares. But never before has killing these greenish brutes been as fun as in Orcs Must Die! Until this Monday, when its sequel Orcs Must Die! 2, a third person tower defence shooter by Robot Entertainment, was released. The latest release features more traps, more weapons and more upgrades – and of course the highly-anticipated co-op multiplayer. But is it as good as its predecessor?

As there may be some of you who never played a tower defence game before, I'll give a a brief run-down of what to expect: your goal in every level is to not let a horde of enemies reach the exit. As these enemies spawn in waves at just a few fixed locations and move along a set path, you can build various traps to delay their advance or preferably stop it. These traps feature many “classic” ones, as arrow-shooting holes in the wall and spikes rising from the floor, to floor-plate catapults, giant wooden ceiling blenders and deadly wall blades. 

Contrary to other tower defence games, you do all this in a third person perspective, controlling either the War Mage or the Sorceress. This helps to immerse you in the gameplay and gives you the ability to actively take part in the killing. In addition to your traps you can equip yourself with many different weapons, and a secondary (mana consuming) fire option. You have to choose wisely though, as you only can take a small number of weapons and traps with you in every level. And considering that you have to choose from 28 traps, 11 weapons and 8 trinkets, the choice is not always easy. Depending on how few enemies you let escape, you earn up to five skulls per level plus additional skulls for kill streaks, combos and overall carnage. These skulls can then be used to upgrade you traps and weapons.

When you first look at an ingame screenshot or even a video, you won't find any obvious differences to the first OMD: The cartoony graphics are detailed, the lighting of the dungeons is atmospheric and the animation quality is varied and well done. The interface is quite simple, yet shows you everything you want to know: health, mana, minimap, money and your quickslot bar. Some of the 20+ foes you encounter are taken over from the previous game, and so are many of the traps you can build, but with a lot more variation. Every trap offers three upgrade levels and a choice of two unique upgrades, that grant additional carnage, as for example fire arrows, bleeding damage or stun.

The sound department will divide the audience, however. Some will like the frantic music and the cheesy banter, others will find it just a bit over the top (again, the same as in OMD). Personally, I enjoyed it quite a bit, as it fits the overall tongue-in-cheek theme of the game.

But enough about these superficialities! How does it all combine together? Is it any good? Well, if you don't like tower defence games – skip this one! If you don't like hurting people – skip this one! If you don't like hectic games where you mustn't lose sight of the big picture while inside a chaotic crowd of enemies, fighting for your live – skip this one! But if you like just one of the above, then go for it.

Grab a friend and play Orcs Must Die! 2. It's the hunt for new skulls, the need to complete a level with the maximum score and upgrade your arsenal that motivates you to spend hours upon hours in this game. And considering that there are three levels of difficulty and a tough endless mode for each level, there should be enough replay value to keep you busy for some time.

Maybe you already knew this because you played the first game, and were just wondering if the multiplayer is any good. Well, it does make the whole thing a lot easier, as both players earn their own money, have their own weapons and their own selection of traps. You have twice the firepower compared with the single player, and can oversee multiple paths at the same time. Although it dumbs down the challenge a bit, it's still is a very good way to spend time with a friend.

Either way, if you are interested at least a little in tower defence games, then this is for you. Fhose of you who own the original Orcs Must Die!, there are 10 levels from the first game accessible in this one for cooperative or survival mode too.

Reviewed on PC

Achievements: Max Payne 3 tipped

So, you’ve finished Max Payne 3’s gritty singleplayer campaign eh? Don’t go anywhere near the trade-in desk of your local game bazaar, you! The multiplayer greatness of Rockstar’s slow-motion shooter awaits – and here are a few tips to get you started...

Max Payne 3’s perks can completely shift the balance of any multiplayer battle, so make good use of them. I favour the ‘sneaky’ perk, which allows me to disguise myself as one of the enemy crew, but the intuition (reveal enemy locations) and big dog (extra health) are also fan favourites.

Sure, it leaves you immobile for a couple of seconds, but looting corpses can offer any number of useful items, from adrenaline to painkillers, as well as a nice little XP boost. Also, looting your own corpse offers a bigger XP boost – if a slightly creepy one.

The melee attack is deadly in Max Payne 3, and has the added bonus of not showing up on the minimap, unlike loud gunshots. Try sneaking behind the enemy crew and punching a few enemies to the ground – but be sure to time your button press correctly so you’re actually next to them...

Fed up of your poxy pistol? Grab the nearest discarded two-handed weapon from the floor and go nuts. I usually play lightly-armoured classes, and pick up my weapons on the fly. Why should I pay to unlock new in-game weapons when I can steal them instead?

Max Payne’s signature bullet-time effect is great fun in multiplayer, so put it to good use. Hurling yourself over a balcony railing while screeching and firing two pistols might seem a bit wasteful, but it can be very effective in terms of both kills and of distraction.

Keep an eye on your adrenaline meter – collecting complete blocks of adrenaline will unlock more powerful perks, as well as giving you a decent amount of time in slow motion. However, using it at the right time can be key, so watch what you’re doing and employ the effects wisely.

Whether you have the adrenaline or not, hurling yourself down on the floor while unleashing hell can be deadly in multiplayer – but try to stay down. If you keep your thumb on the direction buttons after landing on your back/face, your character will stumble to get back up, stopping your shooting and leaving you open to attack.

Running gives away your location on the mini-map, unless you’re wearing the ‘sneakers’ perk. So, when approaching a building full of enemies, just keep on jogging, and keep your thumb off the run button – it makes you far less likely to be spotted as you start meleeing foes like a ninja.

Carry a sidearm at all times. They don’t weigh a whole lot, and when you suddenly find yourself carrying a bag of drugs, and nothing to shoot with in your free hand, it can leave you looking pretty silly.

Like many other shooters, Max Payne 3 delights in offering class-based multiplayer gameplay. After a little while playing you’ll find yourself with five custom slots – so make use of them! I have a heavy class, a ‘Linford’ light class, an infiltrator class and a ‘shotgun whore’ class, all of which have different perks, allowing me to adapt to the battlefield. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Stan Lee’s arachno-human hybrid has been a mainstay of the comic book world since the early 1960s – but the old boy is still spritely enough to star in yet another video game adaptation. The question is, does The Amazing Spider-Man get your senses tingling?

With The Amazing Spider-Man, Activision and developer Beenox have done a solid job of  bringing Spidey to the small screen, his latest outing arguably one of his best for many years. Plotwise it picks up immediately after the events of the movie so it’s therefore probably advisable to watch the film first to avoid spoilers!

You play as Peter Parker's alter ego Spider-Man and Manhattan is your playground in this open world adventure. Taking place a matter of months after Dr Curt Connors metamorphosed into The Lizard and wreaked havoc, Peter is being shown round the headquarters of Oscorp Industries – the company at the centre of the whole affair. His guide, Gwen Stacy, doubts the intentions of the head honcho Alistaire Smythe with his cross-species experiments, and inevitably all hell soon breaks loose. As the creatures escape, and equally-threatening robots are unleashed on the city’s unsuspecting inhabitants, it’s down to Peter to don his trademark suit and swing into action.

Besides the main storyline, this is a game that will leave comic book fans drooling thanks to the prospect of exploring every inch of New York to uncover alternative costumes and other collectibles including some 700 comic book pages(!). Find them and they combine to form some classic comic books that can be accessed through the Extras menu. You can even scroll through the pages, zoom in and read every word – certainly an incentive to buy a copy of the game if you’re that way inclined.

It’s really quite a buzz to fly through the air with the greatest of ease. The controls are instantly accessible with buttons assigned to swinging, firing webs from your wrists, “Web Rush” – which slows time and allows you to pick various places to leap, and “Web Retreat” allowing you to quickly leap away out of danger.

The city offers a vast play space and it’s great fun to swing around. Besides some occasionally low-res buildings, it all looks and feels fantastic. You’ll have to forgive the fact the illusion is shattered a little by your webs seemingly attaching themselves to nothing when outside though. Glide gracefully through an expanse of parkland, for example, with no skyscrapers or buildings about and you can still swing to your heart's content despite the fact your webs must be attaching themselves only to the skies above. That aside, Beenox has done a great job of replicating the key characteristic of one of our favourite superheroes. It’s not quite as great when you’re roaming around in sewers or in the tightly-confined corridors of Oscorp’s HQ mind you. These segments tend to rely a little too heavily on stealthy movement – scurrying about the walls and ceilings before waiting to pounce on some unsuspecting guard (reminiscent of a certain bat-related game released not too long back!)

The presentation overall is top notch; the graphics are clear and crisp and really look the part, although there are some glaring low res textures across the Manhattan skyline, which is a bit of a shame. The pedestrians also feel a little one dimensional and you never truly feel this is a living, breathing city like you did with Grand Theft Auto IV or even Prototype 2. Nonetheless, Spidey’s suit looks top notch, as do his webs and animations. I particularly liked the way his Spidey costume became more shredded the more of a beating he takes. The voice acting is nicely done and helps the story evolve nicely.

Besides the stealth aspects mentioned above, the game borrows a lot of the core combat mechanics from the hugely successful Batman games – with the combos, counters and chain attacks all feeling a little too familiar. Unfortunately, the last two Batman games set the stall quite high and Spidey never quite manages to match them. Towards the latter stages of the game’s 12 main levels, it all gets a little button mashey too – the use of QTE and relentless tapping of buttons starts to grate a bit, particularly during some of the boss battles (which are all too easy and repetitive – and feel like a bit of a missed opportunity).

This game is certainly an enjoyable romp and kept me engrossed until the very end... The problem is the credits started rolling up the screen all too soon. Even on the hardest Super Hero setting I completed the game in a little over six and a half hours, and that included plenty of messing about trying to pick up a few comic book pages and other collectibles. Once the main missions are out of the way, you can always mop up the rest of these hidden items or wander the city a little more to help the infected, save mugging victims, or help the police foil robberies and so on. But it’s really too little to justify the price tag in my mind.

So is The Amazing Spider-Man “amazing”? Not quite – but calling it The Fairly-Decent Spider-Man wouldn’t have had the same ring to it, would it? A great game that’s real fun while it lasts – perhaps given the short play time, however, it’s better suited to a rental unless you’re a real fan of the webslinger.

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

Sunday, July 29, 2012

OnLive joins the OUYA console revolution

Cloud-based gaming service OnLive has confirmed it will be available on the crowd-sourced console OUYA at launch. There's a real buzz around the arrival of the Rubiks Cube-sized device. OUYA (pronounced OOO-Yah) aims to revolutionise gaming... with OnLive onboard too, Megabits of Gaming is hoping for great things ahead!

OUYA: "A new kind of video game console"
We've been impressed by OnLive's cloud-based gaming offering for some time and OUYA, a device that's open to all and trying to rival the big guns of the console world, is an exciting prospect. By unleashing developers and freeing them the shackles of programming for more established systems, combined with top quality titles from OnLive, this could truly bring gaming to the masses.

A statement from OnLive’s General Manager, Bruce Grove said: 
When OnLive first heard about OUYA, we were excited to see console gaming becoming more available and open. Like OUYA, we came to gaming with a new vision for making top-quality gaming accessible to more people, and we continue to look for ways to expand on that vision. OUYA is rethinking the console business, making waves by using standard technology to make gaming for your living room accessible, affordable and more innovative than ever. In OnLive's case, we pioneered a groundbreaking, cloud-based system that instantly delivers games to any device on demand. 

OnLive says it will bring hundreds of top-tier games from more than 80 publishers to the new platform. OUYA owners will be able to jump in and play any of these games both at home on their OUYA console, and on the go on PCs, Macs, tablets and phones. Gamers will be able to try before they buy with instant demos lasting up to 30 minutes for free.

The OUYA Kickstarter project had an ambitious $950,000 target when it was launched in early July. I doubt even those behind the concept of a compact, hackable Android-based gaming system would have dreamed that with only a few days to go, that goal had been smashed. With ten days left, the total stands at $5.7m with a staggering 44,000 backers. 

OUYA launches next year. Take a look at the official Kickstarter project page or visit the OnLive Blog for more details.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bits and Bytes: The retro Olympic Games

How's this for topical? The Olympics has officially started after last night's impressive - and lengthy - opening ceremony that included rolling green fields, giant chimneys emerging from the ground as if by magic, a massive Lord Voldemort vanquished by Mary Poppins, Mr Bean and a skydiving Queen! Just a normal Friday night over here in Great Britain.

To commemorate the event, the Guardian website has created this retro-styled video game that allows you to try your hand at a few events. Take a look after the jump.

See how your personal best in the 100m, 10km, 100m freestyle swim and bicycle road race compares against the all-time greats - and whether your time would have ever earned you a place on the podium. You can also share your results with your friends on Facebook, become a keyboard warrior, unlock secret codes and much more.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Megabits of News: Weekly Roundup (w/e 27 Jul)

Megabits of Gaming trawls the web for the tastiest morsels of news, so you don't have to... Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and subscribe to Megabits' newsfeed to receive all our latest articles.

Shed the lbs in time for Christmas dinner
Microsoft has announced a pre-Christmas release date for Nike+ Kinect Training, hitting shelves on 2 November. This should give you a good month to lose all the pounds you will of course again gain over the Christmas period.

The worm turns … up in October
Turn-based sequel battle game Worms Revolution will arrive on the EU PlayStation Store on 10 October. Lets hope the Holy hand grenade is still in the armoury.

Sega cult classic to be re-released
ToeJam and Earl are crash-landing back onto our consoles. Gamers will be reunited with the popular alien rappers by downloading their 1991 Mega Drive title ToeJam & Earl and 1993 sequel ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron on the Playstation Network. A re-release date has not been given.

Global 3DS sales almost hit 20 million
Around 19 million units of the 3DS have been sold worldwide since its launch, which will be good new for Nintendo, which has seen its own expectations beaten. Even better news for Nintendo is that this figure is rising.

Overheating Vitas to be assessed
According to VG24/7, the Japanese National Institute of Technology and Evaluation has been sent 31 cases of damaged Playstation Vita consoles by Sony for investigation. Sony said the Vitas overheated and were damaged during charging, although a company representative has said the problem is not down to a manufacturing fault.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ten sequels we REALLY want to see (Part Two)

The gaming world is awash with sequels right now - but who are we to moan about it. In fact, we should see a few more in our opinion. And here are our suggestions of the games we want to return.

If you missed the first part of our Ten sequels we REALLY want to see, click here... otherwise, read on.

5) Prototype 3
James Heller was infinitely more likeable than the original protagonist Mercer, although he had his moments of nastiness - largely through his nonchalance at killing civilians or causing all hell to break loose around New York City. But we couldn't help but love the sequel, which again showed a vast improvement on its predecessor in pretty much every way. So much so, that we soon found ourselves working towards that 1,000G and hoping for more tendril action in a future edition...

4) Army of Two 3
The first game wasn't particularly liked, and was almost as brainless as the Gears of War series - lots of fist bumping, oo-rahing and senseless violence didn't equate to great review scores. Fortunately, EA ploughed on and released The 40th Day, which was infinitely better and built on what turned out to be a great co-op game. Covering one another, hoisting your partner up a wall or reviving downed allies was the order of the day and it worked well. Pimping your guns to grab the bad guys' attention was great fun and worked well. Expect more of the same in the third game.

3) Deus Ex
Besides Portal 2, no other game kept us glued to the screen more than the return of Deus Ex after years in the wilderness. Whether you opted to sneak about the place or punch your augmented fist through walls to progress, freedom of choice took central stage in this wonderful futuristic romp. We want more of the same please!

2) Bulletstorm 2
It kind of flew under the radar a bit last year, but Bulletstorm was a new IP that really captured our imagination. Discovering the most brutal ways to kill people and unlocking elaborate kill combos kept us coming back for more. Just imagine what the next game could do.

1) Portal 3
Games based on science don't usually appeal to the masses but there was something about the simplicity of the games yet the equally devlish puzzles that really worked. Adding two player to the sequel was brilliant and it make the whole experience even more enjoyable. Saying that though, the single player mode was just as addictive. Valve needs to follow the path of other developers and milk some of its franchises until they're dry... sequel please!!!

Ten sequels we REALLY want to see (Part One)

Look at your pile of games... go on. I'll wager there are some there that you've absolutely loved, have played right to the very end and bristled with anticipation until the announcement that they'd be a sequel. Problem is, the majority of those announcements just don't happen these days, with developers opting instead to go for the low-hanging fruit and just work on annual updates and games that are guaranteed to sell by the million. 

So, in all their glory and in no particular order, here are ten sequels we REALLY want to see...

10) Left for Dead 3
We're bored rigid of waiting for updates and Xboxers are increasingly jealous of their PC counterparts with all those mods and maps that are still being churned out. The first game was ace, the second game  grabbed it by its infected neck, held a shotgun to its forehead and blew it away. What on earth could be better than that escape across the bridge? Maybe we could have even more zombie types, loads more maps and some new game modes? What about two teams of heroes fighting it out against zombies at the same time over Xbox Live? Come on Valve...

9) Vanquish 2
Vanquish never seemed to take the world by storm and I only bought it after a friend recommended it, but I absolutely loved this game. What's not to love? You slide about on your backside at high speed and shoot people, face huuuuuge robots and get to play with some awesome firepower! I doubt a sequel is likely but if it ever appeared, I'm sure there would be plenty in the queue to pick up a copy so we could get back into that ARS suit!

8) Syndicate 2
Sure, this was largely regarded as a flop and many of us still can't forgive the departure from the original feel of Syndicate circa 1993, but it wasn't a bad game at all. Even better was when you roped in a couple of friends and played co-op. Lots of guns, lots of shooting and a decent challenge made this a series we'd really like to see developed.

7) Blur 2, Split\Second 2
We've lumped these two together as the studios are dufunct and the chances of a follow up are obviously minimal. They both sped onto our screens at about the same time and both blew us away. Addictive, explosive and brilliant racers, they were both liked by the critics. Blur was Mario Kart for grown ups whereas Split\Second was Need for Speed for those hellbent on destruction. Sadly, with the developers no longer with us, we can only hope someone else picks up where they left off.

6) Crackdown 3
The first time round we faced gangs, the second time it was gangs and zombies... what next? We found ourselves finding the sequel just as addictive as the first game - especially when we found ourselves addicted to looking for all those bloody orbs! A third game could have more players online at any one time, rival agents, better vehicles and maybe a different city???

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: The Walking Dead - A New Day

Ever since Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes first left that besieged hospital, I’ve been hooked to the Walking Dead TV series. So news that Telltale Games was planning a video game version of the cult comic book had me positively salivating at the prospect. The game takes place in the same zombie-ravaged world but introduces a new cast of characters, environments and storylines to get your teeth into. There are some familiar faces packed in there too!

The Walking Dead: A New Day is the first of five episodes and introduces us to our protagonist Lee Everett, a felon who’s cuffed in the back of a police car and being whisked along the highway on his way to jail. The journey acts as a brief tutorial to the point and click control mechanic that proliferates the game. It’s a welcome throwback to the good old days and works remarkably well, providing an all together more sedate and thoughtful approach to the proceedings. Selecting certain areas of the screen allows interaction with objects or people, while dialogue options (set to a timer, so you’ve got to make decisions fast) mean you can affect the way the story unravels. People react to your responses, remember your lies or honesty, and judge your actions.

A collision during transit sends the car offroad and gives a dazed Lee the opportunity to shed those cuffs and escape. And he better be quick because it turns out he’s surrounded by the undead… and they sure look ravenous.

Brilliantly, you’re quickly drawn into the well-written story;  don’t for a second think that the slower pace of the gameplay is dull or removes the tension and fear that fuelled the TV show. Any serenity is quickly shattered when a zombie grabs you and you’re forced to react by kicking it away or shooting it in the head. There are some real leap out of your skin moments, and this helps create a fantastically believable world. The emotional pull of having to look after young parent-less Clementine or explaining your secret past to new-found friends reels you in and makes you care about their future.

The graphical style of The Walking Dead is equally superb – the cartoony, cel-shaded style looks great and the characters are detailed and well drawn. The lack of any real HUD helps to draw you in, as does the sublime voice acting which is thoroughly convincing and helps you develop opinions about the characters you fight, help or lose to the zombie pandemic. You only need to play for a short time before you completely forget you’re not watching the television!

The controls are simple – the mouse pointer used to highlight objects with the WASD keys moving Lee about the place. Occasional QTE pops up on screen when you need to free yourself from the grasp of the undead, for example. Besides various dialogue options, the game also poses a few moral choices as you progress and your decision then has a bearing on how the rest of the game plays out. These decisions carry over to subsequent episodes too so it’s important you always think out your actions and don’t act too hastily!

Although it's shortlived – shuffling in at only a couple of hours – The Walking Dead: A New Day is thoroughly compelling and keeps you gripped throughout. In fact, you’ll be so engrossed in the storyline and the plight of the characters that I’ll wager the majority of you will immediately choose to invest in the next episode to find out what happens. It’s certainly left me hungry for more. At such a reasonable price point, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t snap this up immediately. Stay tuned for a review of Episode 2…

Reviewed on PC

Megabits column: DiRT Showdown

Megabits of Gaming contributes a monthly column in Charged Middle East – a leading Dubai-based gadgets and games magazine that provides news, reviews and features on the latest home and consumer electronics.

Each month, Megabits takes a look at a new release in a gaming franchise and considers how its evolved over the years and what makes it great!
Here’s the latest of the articles from the July 2012 issue. For more about the magazine, check out its Facebook page after the jump.

Okay, hands up who likes smashing fast cars into each other? It’s a travesty that for all the racing games that have found their way onto our consoles in recent years, so few have managed to capture the thrills of the demolition derby.

Fortunately, the new label Codemasters Racing is giving us gamers what we want… DiRT Showdown is vehicular mayhem at its finest.

It’s somewhat refreshing that a driving game sees the light of day that doesn’t just rely on you crossing the finishing line first, but emphasises the importance of destroying your rivals while doing so. It’s a long time since Destruction Derby and its sequel appeared on the original PlayStation… a void that’s well and truly filled by the newest slant on the DiRT series.

Pulling together some of the winning elements from its predecessors, the developers have combined seat-of-your-pants racing with full on demolition derby carnage and skill-heavy Hoonigan events – based on the Gymkhana modes in DiRT 3. There’s even the Joyride mode, which allows you to skid and slalom your way around huge arenas to pull off tricks and sharpen your skills.

Amid thumping music, the menus and overall presentation is typically in your face and sets the scene nicely. There are fireworks, a loud-mouthed commentator and loads of cars on offer with brightly coloured paintjobs. Throw some crisp graphics into the mix and it’s a veritable feast to the senses.

Certainly, it’s all good clean mischievous fun. Common in games of this type is the pick up and play appeal; there are no complex control systems here, no heady scoring system or meaty tech trees and upgrades to fathom. Just grab your controller, hold down that accelerator button and go hell for leather to rear end an opponent. It’s sublime – and perfect for booting up for a quick race or two.

It was perhaps Reflection’s Destruction Derby (1995) that set the benchmark, with its sequel a year later offering improved visuals and a few more game modes. Points were earned by wrecking your opponents before they could consign you to the scrapheap. The damage engine in the HUD highlighted how much more punishment your car could take, with parts snapping off your car to emphasise each slam and shunt. The games were highly rated by the critics, the crumpled bonnets and blown out tyres offering a welcome sojourn from the traditional arcade style racers and driving simulators.

Speeding onto the PlayStation and PC a few years later, Demolition Racer (1999) was another notable foray into the genre. Various game modes were on offer including the self explanatory “Last Man Standing”, point scoring races in “Demolition” and the tense “Chicken” mode, where you drove around a track with all your rivals racing towards you.

Building on these inventive game modes, Test Drive: Eve of Destruction (2004) – also known as Driven to Destruction on European shores – looked the business. Its influences are clear in Codemaster’s latest effort too; DiRT Showdown borrowing some of the events such as Figure-8 races, Demolition Derby, Push-Off – wrecking opponents and shoving them off an elevated platform, and Survival.

A graphical overhaul and the multitude of stunt modes meant that FlatOut (2004-2011) also became a firm favourite. FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage (2007) was the first to appear on this generation of consoles, Xbox 360 fans salivating at the prospect of thousands of destructible objects in every race. Even the vehicles were made up of 40 destructible components, meaning the track was soon littered with debris. What’s not to love?

There’s sadly been little demolition derby goodness since, with publishers opting instead to move into the realms of vehicular combat like Blood Drive, Carmageddon and Twisted Metal.

DiRT Showdown with its 50 events, decent AI, multiplayer options and addictive personality is a welcome return to the gameplay many of us first fell in love with almost two decades ago.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Achievements: Syndicate multiplayer tipped

There were some people out there (ourselves included) who baulked at the idea of a Syndicate reboot with so much having changed from the classic 1993 original. While it retains much of the styling and atmosphere of the first isometric game, many just couldn't forgive the wholesale changes that saw the new Syndicate emerge as a first person shooter. Sacrilege. 

But wait, after an extensive playthrough and countless hours spent glued to the screen, even the Luddites will admit that Starbreeze's offering is actually pretty awesome - especially in multiplayer.

Although enjoyable, the single-player campaign pales in comparison to the co-op mode, which allows up to four players to run and gun through nine lengthy missions. This game is stingy as hell with achievements - even after completing the solo levels, you'll only have earned about a third of them - so multiplayer at least gives the opportunity to collect a few more accolades!

After much trial and error, Megabits team decided to pen a quick survival guide that may help you conquer this Machiavellian world.

Make no bones about it, this game is tough as anything on the harder difficulties. The enemies are brutal, their weapons are powerful and the missions are long and tricky. We therefore can’t stress the importance of getting as many like-minded friends onboard for the challenge. The game supports four players in the multiplayer missions, which may make life a little easier.

Sure you can dive into the various maps and opt to set the difficulty at the highest three-star rating… but you will die… very quickly and very often. Start slow. Play each mission on the one-star rating, and by the end of the nine maps you’ll have accrued a fair bit of XP, tech chips and weapon research. You’ll also have a decent knowledge of the layout, paths and cover – essential as the enemies get A LOT tougher on each setting. Good luck!

Within the weapons research menu, concentrate on maxing out only your two preferred guns at first. It makes no sense to research each weapon a little and it won’t help you much either. You start each mission with a primary weapon and a sidearm. We favoured the sniper rifle as our main gun (great range and also pretty handy close up) so worked to upgrade this first. We’d suggest you also max out your preferred handgun and then perhaps a shotgun or assault rifle too as these are always dotted around the map, which means ammo is always available.

Not only is this nifty device capable of highlighting enemies through walls but, upgrade your agents appropriately, and it can also provide a much-needed health boost and make your guns inflict more damage.

One shot kills are lifesavers when surrounded by bad guys bearing gauss guns! A well-placed shot to the head is an instant kill on normal difficulty and will go some way to seeing off even Sergeants on the higher settings too. Not only that but it rewards you with some decent XP and looks cool when their limp, lifeless bodies slump to the floor.

We may have warned you off the tougher difficulties (see number 9) but it’s worth knowing that you get loads more points with everything from kills to completing missions, than you would in a one-star game. And what do points make? Super agents!

Just like games like Megabits favourite Left 4 Dead, never leave your colleagues and run on too far ahead. All too quickly you can be swamped with enemies and shot to hell. If you stay close to your allies, you can easily revive them when they need a reboot. And, believe me, you will need reviving them a lot! Hopefully, they can return the favour.

Use your applications to get extra points. Damage link is probably the best app for XP because it boosts damage and awards you for every kill you "assist" with. Pop that on just before a busy section and you'll get stacks of points. It's worth trying out a variety of applications to see which ones suit you best. The shield is always handy too!

The co-op mode will consume many hours thanks to the decent-sized maps and difficulty settings. A one star mission generally seems to last 30-60 minutes depending on whether you know what you're doing. Two stars can easily add an hour to that... and three stars? Just try it! Remember though, you can't save mid mission, so if you run out of time and have a life to lead, you'll have to shut down and start all over again the next time.

The respawn points in Syndicate are really generous, meaning you never have to restart too far away from where you died. Handy really, as you'll see that death screen over and over again. But having so many checkpoints means it's worth trying out different tactics when you get stuck; perhaps running in all guns blazing is a good technique, or picking off the bad guys from distance? Try different paths and different weapons and loadouts - and eventually you'll find the right formula.

*Thanks to NeoSanchez75 for helping with this guide - and rebooting me time and time again!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review - Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor

It seems that all those calls for hardcore Kinect games have finally been answered in Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor. With this futuristic tank sim, Capcom is providing a game that not only redefines the meaning of "hard" but one that certainly isn't targeting families, children or casual gamers. Surely, this is everything the Kinect critics could have wished for..?

The action takes place in 2082, an era altogether less reliant on computers and technology. Apart from, that is, the giant bipedal robot tank you're put in charge of to see off rival superpowers threatening the world. You take the role of Lt Powers, in control of your very own vertical tank - or VT - and the myriad buttons and levers that reside within.

It’s a first controlwise; Steel Battalion requires both a standard pad and Microsoft's Kinect, and uniquely allows you to spend the majority of your time seated rather than prancing about the room - an added bonus for those of us sick of working up a sweat with all those dancing and exercise titles.

Somehow though I figured there may be problems with the control method when I thumbed through the instruction manual and read that the gesture to flip a light switch on and off was almost identical to that of pushing the self destruct button. Kinect isn't renowned for its accuracy afterall...

That aside, the whole premise is insanely clever considering the original Steel Battalion on the Xbox required a purpose-built 40-plus button controller and cost the earth. On paper, at least, Kinect makes games like this possible for the masses and opens up a whole new genre to those who bought the sensor.

In reality, however, it's a bit of a different story. The game opens with a decent-length tutorial that helpfully explains the basics. The control pad moves the lumbering mech, adjusts your camera angle and fires the guns, whereas the innards of the tank are manipulated using good old Kinect. It's billed as a marriage made in heaven... and at first, it all seems to be an inspired idea.

First impressions were fairly positive. You really do feel like you're in an enclosed space, surrounded by nothing but metal, buttons and your three crew members. Every step of the two-legged VT is felt thanks to the vibrations from the controller and - apart from those slightly dodgy sensitivity issues all of us Kinect owners are familiar with - it kind of does feel like you are physically pulling a lever or reaching for the periscope.

After mastering the basics of movement, you're given the lowdown on how to make the VT move faster, switch guns, turn to address your colleagues and extract harmful smoke from the cabin. Reaching both arms straight ahead lets you stare through a small window through which most of the action takes place. With that shutter closed, the only real alternative to see what's going on is to use the periscope or pop your head out of the canopy and have a good look around - although in the heat of battle that isn't really advisable.

Your vision therefore, is heavily restricted most of the time and, although it adds to the sense of confinement, it adds to the game's trickiness. That’s especially true given the likelihood that soon as soon as you come under enemy gunfire, smoke will fill the driver's compartment and cracks will appear on the visor limiting your vision further.

In the heat of battle, with missiles raining down on you and the VT being peppered with small arms fire, it's clear that Kinect is often more of a hindrance than a help. Under pressure, while extracting smoke from the metallic beast and hearing the groans of your fallen comrades, it's often a task in itself to gesticulate in the correct manner to operate the necessary lever to get the hell out of there, or to raise the aforementioned periscope to see what the hell is shooting at you!

Even when you do figure out what's going on, hitting the target with your cannons is a trial in itself. In fact, it's far more likely you'll be encased in a smouldering mound of mangled metal long before you fathom how to shoot accurately.

Some missions are hard as nails and require countless restarts, relying as much on trial and error as skill and ability. Others are a walk in the park and pose few problems. With the slightly broken controls, however, the game is far harder than it should be.

Graphically, it's okay. There's nothing here that puts any real strain on the system and most of the time all you see is the world through a tiny rectangular window, or the inner workings of your VT and your profanity-spewing comrades.

Nevertheless, the overall concept is very impressive at first and you can't help but get a buzz out of physically controlling a tank, feeling every rumble and gunshot. It's just a shame that Kinect isn't really up to the task – and this is noticeable even in the opening mission, a kind of Saving Private Ryan beach assault... with giant robots. No sooner have you set metallic foot on the beach, then you get riddled with bullets and have little idea of what’s going on or where to go. Reacting to the situation using hand movements to pull levers or glance at the map is often frustrating. It certainly adds to the tension… but for slightly the wrong reasons.

Kinect haters will no doubt lap up the criticism aimed at Steel Battalion but Capcom  and From Software should earn some kudos for trying something new. It was an ambitious take on revitalising a cult game and using new motion control technology rather than relying on an unwieldy 40-button control pad.

The plot is interesting and the input method is innovative and unique...sadly, it just doesn't quite live up to expectations. Nevertheless, I can't help but feel this is a game Kinect owners should at least try. It highlight's some of Kinect's limitations but also some of its promise.

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

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bits and Bytes: Bored of games, try board games

We know it's unlikely but have you ever considered how you'd spend your time if you weren't playing video games??? Nah, us neither. But if you're a little tired of staring at the screen and relentlessly mashing those controller buttons, then why not try something a little different.

We stumbled across this take on classic board game, Monopoly... and it's full of all things Nintendo! Instead of properties, you'll be collecting classic characters such as Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Metroid, Kirby, Star Fox, and Wario... Who needs an expensive console, eh? 

See for more.

Megabits of News: Weekly Roundup (w/e 20 Jul)

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

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and subscribe to Megabits' newsfeed to receive all our latest articles.

Fans given PES 2013 demo release date
MCV says the first playable demo of PES 2013 will be available on 25 July. Konami said the demo will showcase new key features of the next title in its massive footballing franchise. The real thing will hit our shelves later this year.

Gears of War prequel on our screens in March 2013

Gears of War: Judgment, the prequel to the original Gears of War trilogy will go on sale in March 2013. Although it’s a long way off, it’s good to know we will have it one day.

Blizzard confirms reasons to be cheerful
Work is underway to produce max-level content for Diablo 3, says CVG. Blizzard confirmed it wants to give gamers with high-powered characters a reason to stay engaged in the title. The people have spoken... and have been heard.

A new novel way to enjoy Assassin's Creed
Joystiq reports that a new novel will be released for Assassin’s Creed fans to become engrossed in. Ubisoft said Assassin's Creed: Forsaken will be released in December, a month after hotly anticipated Assassin’s Creed 3.

Splinter Cell gives gamers a moral choice
Time to decide, you have what you want from the suspect – now - are you going to shoot the guy or let him go, the choice is yours. The new Splinter Cell: Blacklist will force players to make moral decisions and choose between right and wrong, a Ubisoft chief has said. It’s not now what you think Sam Fisher will do, its what you think he should do. Expect to make your decision in the spring. See VG24/7 for more.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: Max Payne 3

“When you’re stuck in a foreign country, don’t know the words for “reverse charges” and you’re in some lonely skin joint in the middle of some poor slum and just had every last cent robbed from you and you call yourself a bodyguard... then you know you’re a loser.”

Yes, everyone’s favourite alcoholic, addicted, depressed ex-cop Max Payne has blasted his way back onto the console scene, and has done so in style.

Max Payne 3 is a well-balanced, enjoyable shooter with a fantastic multiplayer offering, truly enjoyable shooter gameplay and a cutting sarcastic wit. Sure, the singleplayer plot is pretty weak and predictable, but it more than makes up for it with sheer cinematic fun.

Longtime fans of the series will be glad to see that the core dynamic of the gameplay – hurling yourself through a window while shooting two guns in slow motion – is all present and accounted for. As in previous Max Payne games, Max is somehow capable of pulling off bullet time-slowed action leaps while mercilessly blowing away bad guys without breaking a sweat. He’s a veritable walking arsenal as well, able to go gung-ho with a gun in each hand, and a rifle or shotgun if he fancies a change of pace.

The bullet-time dynamic is still great fun, even after all this time, and in its current iteration even moreso. The only difficulty arises when you accidentally jump into a filing cabinet, or water, or a stripper’s breasts, and Max is left flopping like a fish as his foes pump bullets into him. The wise gamer, then, picks off a few enemies before hurling yourself forwards like Jackie Chan in a John Woo movie.

The game offers two modes for the shooting – free aim and assisted. While I initially went with free aim, expecting my gaming skill to shine through, I quickly discovered how difficult it is aiming a reticule while hurtling over a balcony railing, and quickly swapped to assisted.

The main problem with this is that the assisted aim has a habit of going for the enemies’ chest, so you kind of have to ‘flick’ the reticule up in order to put them down quicker, which is a bit irritating. Another annoying trait is the way Max always draws a one-handed weapon for every cutscene, forcing you to have to reselect the assault rifle you pulled off a dead drug runner every...bloody...time.

These minor annoyances aside, on a whole Max Payne 3 is a very enjoyable romp, which sees the gritty New Yorker transplanted to Sao Paolo, Brazil, working security for a rich family in a city of gangs, drugs and slums.

Beforelong things to to Hell in a handbasket, and Max has to shoot his way through a number of set-piece moments, stadiums, hospitals, police stations and favelas, all the while dispensing his own brand of crude, depressing commentary: “It was Monday afternoon and I’d already been thrown out of a party, been to a strip club and got into a bar fight. This latest mid-life crisis was certainly ticking all the boxes.”

Max’s characterisation is excellent, and though all he does is sprout sadness, he’s still a very likeable anti-hero. That said, I did occasionally want him to cheer up a bit. The whole dead wife and kid thing was years and years ago...

After you’ve finished the campaign, which comes in at a comfortable seven hours or so, the game’s multiplayer suite is there to keep you busy. Following the same style as the singleplayer, the multiplayer sees two gangs fighting for dominance in a variety of well-designed maps, in modes including stalwart ‘domination’ and team deathmatch. Also included are a mode called ‘Payne Killer’, which offers gamers a chance to play as Max and his sidekick Passos, and ‘Gang Wars’ - the standout mode for me.

Gang Wars pits two groups against each other in a series of smaller games, such as bombing a site, team deathmatch or assassination, with the victors in each game adding points to their total. These are tied together with a small storyline, usually a bar story or a documentary voice-over, which is a nice touch.

The multiplayer offers the usual suite of weapons, perks, unlocks and skins, so there’s plenty to work for. Max Payne’s bullet time is also cleverly included in the multiplayer, as when you enter the slow-motion state, only people who can see you slow down in sync – it’s a very clever addition, which adds the game’s cinematic flair to an already enjoyable, intense blast.
As Max himself puts it: “The way I see it there’s two types of people, those who spend their lives trying to build a future and those who spend their lives trying to rebuild the past. For too long I’d be stuck in between, hidden in the dark. What was I really doing walking in there with my bad haircut and ridiculous shirt?”

Hopefully buying a copy of Max Payne 3.
Reviewed on Xbox 360