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, October 19, 2012

Dishonored Review

Written by StefanB

What’s the best thing about video games? It’s the chance to escape your boring everyday life where your only excitement comes from deciding what pair of shoes to wear to work or from reading the newspaper obituaries. It’s the chance to do things you always dreamt of... things that are (for good reason) not allowed in our real-life society such as sneaky assassinations, pick pocketing, trespassing and burglary. Welcome to the world of Dishonored!

The first thing you’ll notice about this first-person stealth/action game is its beautiful graphics. It’s the developers' attention to detail, that delivers a believable, somewhat realistic medieval/fantasy steam punk world. Although you are restricted to individual levels, they are rather big (with very, very short loading times) and are complemented by detailed background scenery and tons of props, be they useable or just for decoration. Take a closer look, however, and the texture resolution does actually seem to be rather low. But this never bothered me.

 

The animation of both the player (or rather the hands/arms) and the various enemies is a bit cartoony but close to perfect. Idle animations, whether they're strolling or wall leaning, peeing, puking or smoking, are believable and well integrated into the flow of the game. The fighting animations are even more beautiful and offer exciting first person combat. One might argue that the variation in enemies is rather low though. The regular guards, which come in about three to four different appearances, are the most common foe you’ll face, together with the zombie-like plague-infested weepers. Special enemies like overseers, tall boys or hideous guard dogs are quite rare.

In a game about stealth, sound is unquestionably one of the most important elements. So it’s a relief that it’s done rather well; you'll most likely hear (and recognize) an enemy before you will see him, which is a good thing. The voice acting, in general, is also top notch. All characters are believable and offer quite a lot of (background) story. The idle chatter of guards might become a bit repetitive though.


 

If you have played other stealth games like Thief, Splinter Cell or even Hitman and Deus Ex, you will be immediately familiar with Dishonored. From the mission hub you’ll embark on a linear quest of assassinating different people around the city - but the really great thing about Dishonored is that you actually don’t have to be that sneaky. You could walk around in broad daylight, rambo-ing through your enemies like a steam train and still have a ton of fun. The game offers many, many ways of approaching your targets or achieving your goals. Go over rooftops, swim through sewers, sneak through windows or just wander through  doors. It’s all up to you. Even the way you deal with your targets is up to you, although I won’t go into details here as I don’t want to spoil anything. And depending on how stealthy or aggressive you are, the very level design will change along with the finale of the game.

Along with your small arsenal of weapons (a blade, a pistol and a crossbow, both with various ammunition types, grenades and trip mines) you have access to some magical/mystical powers. The most interesting (and most frequently used) is the Blink ability that lets you teleport across short distances unnoticed. You can also gain abilities like enemy possession, time stop or rat swarm summoning. All these skills have to be unlocked with relics that are scattered throughout the levels or are awarded for completing side quests, along with bone charms that offer some minor passive bonuses.


 

Whenever I play a stealth game I am compelled to complete it as silently as possible. And although Dishonored lets you do that perfectly (you can complete the game without ever killing a single person), it very much restricts your actions. About 90% of your arsenal will never be used. In fact the only thing you might ever use is the crossbow and its sleeping darts. Everyone else gets choked unconscious with your bare hands. Also you’ll miss a lot of the excellent combat and the hide-and-seek game once the guards are aware of your presence. But as I’ve mentioned before, it’s all up to you!

Another great aspect of the game is the exploration. As much as I am inclined to be stealthy, I am forced to look in every nook to find every piece of loot or hidden story fragment. Although this greatly extends the game, it also cuts on the replay value as you usually find all the alternate routes and ways of fulfilling your goals.
I completed my first all-stealth walkthrough within 24 hours, although if you skip the exploration stuff, it might be completed in a third of that time. I will play it a second time though, just to se the alternate ending.

Besides all that nit picking, this game is just plain fun! It’s a very good and well crafted game and the only one of its kind on the market at the moment. If you’re into stealth games you should give it a try - I don’t think you'll be disappointed. And on a side note, even though I can’t really see what it might be, there will be some DLC in the future...


Reviewed on PC

Megabits of News: Weekly Roundup (w/e 19 Oct)


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.


Foxconn admits to using child labour
Not good news to start. News agency Reuters reported that China-based technology manufacturer Foxconn has admitted that some interns working at its plant in Yantai were aged between 14-16, a violation of China’s labour laws and Foxconn policy. Foxconn said that immediate steps have been taken to resolve the issue. MCV

Cult horror video game coming to the PS3
Psychological horror video game Deadly Premonition will soon be scaring the pants off PS3 owners after the title removes its Xbox 360 exclusivity. A Director's Cut of the cult game, which received mixed reviews from critics, will be released for PS3 in 2013. MCV

Third-party Wii U games to be given hefty price tags
Nintendo Wii U console owners will need deep pockets if they want to buy third-party games. Titles such as Black Ops 2 and Assassin's Creed 3 could be sold for as much as £55 by some retailers. It is understood some outlets will sell Wii U editions of multiplatform games at prices much higher than their PS3 and Xbox 360 counterparts. CVG

Nintendo's Pikmin 3 to hit Wii U in spring 2013
Real-time strategy game Pikmin 3, which will be an exclusive title for Nintendo's Wii U titles, is expected to arrive in spring 2013. The little plant-like creatures are being tipped to be one of the Wii U’s best titles. Joystiq

Gamers made to wait for Infinity Blade: Dungeons
Developer Epic Games has announced that Infinity Blade: Dungeons will not be out until 2013. The iOS sequel has grown too much in scope to meet its 2012 deadline. Joystiq

Just Dance 4 Review

The problem with the music and dance-themed games that have become so commonplace these past few years is that they seriously mislead gamers. Hit a few “Perfect” scores after a well-timed move or button press and you’ll mistakenly think you’ve actually got some skills. By the time I’d played Just Dance 4 and was left in a heap on the sofa sweating from every pore, I was convinced I was actually pretty nifty on the dancefloor and possessed some truly staggering moves.



Sadly, despite my exertions, it seems that I’m still destined to never impress the fairer sex with my moves in a nightclub… the truth of the matter is that I am just as mal-coordinated as I was before I’d turned my hand to a bit of Rock Lobster by The B-52’s.

But for that brief period while the scores were wracking up onscreen and I was winning the plaudits, I felt good and had a great time.

Just Dance 4 is the latest edition to the series that made its debut in 2009. With over 40 tracks – some old, some new – it’s available for the Wii, Xbox 360 (using Kinect) and the PS3 with the help of its Move motion controller. We playtested the Kinect version here and roped in a couple of friends too.



This is a true party game, supporting up to four players at once – and the cool bit is that it doesn’t rely on an obscene amount of floorspace either. Standing side by side, there’s ample room to gesticulate wildly and bob in time with the music without causing injury.

Bright, brash and over the top, the cartoony look is attractive and clear, with animated backgrounds and the dancer(s) onscreen moving in time with the music. You’re required to mirror them. Simple. At the bottom of the screen, the upcoming gestures and movements appear, although all too often you’ll be transfixed on the main part of the screen. Right at the top there’s the player’s moniker, an indicator highlighting how many of five stars you’ve earned and text that tells you whether your moves are “OK”, “GOOD” or “PERFECT”. To the left, there’s a coloured blob representing each player that climbs a gauge to show who is winning.

Movement via Kinect works well although the accuracy is debatable. One of our party gave up half way through a dance to have a break yet it still judged that many of the moves were being achieved. Flawed perhaps, but it does mean it’s far more forgiving than titles such as Dance Central, making it well suited to younger players and novices. It’s not about having to learn the moves and pull them off perfectly, but more about giving your all. Match the gestures as best you can, and huge scores will still come.



Perhaps the biggest gripe with the control system is on the menu screen. A hovering hand is used to select the various options and swipe through the tracks but it’s hugely frustrating in practice. It just doesn’t seem to echo what you’re doing in real life – the hand getting stuck at the extremities of the screen or refusing to click a button. It’s a very hit and miss affair, and not nearly as effective as the swiping used in Dance Central.

Importantly, the music playlist is fairly diverse and includes dance tracks, pop, Hip-Hop, rock, R&B, country and funk. Despite them not all being my preferred tunes, I recognised nearly all of them. Clearly this is a game that’s supposed to appeal to young and old – and there truly is something for everyone.

The selection includes the likes of Rihanna (Disturbia), Flo Rida (Good Feeling), Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera (Moves Like Jagger), Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull – (On The Floor), Nicki Minaj – (Super Bass) and One Direction – (What Makes You Beautiful) to name but a few. And for the slightly older audience, there’s also some Barry White (You're The First, The Last, My Everything), Stevie Wonder (Superstition) and Elvis Presley (Jailhouse Rock).



Once you’ve completed a few dances, you’ll gain points based on your performance, level up and unlock special bonus features. Besides new songs, there are various game modes available including alternative dance routines that offer a bit more of a challenge.

The Just Sweat mode makes a return, aimed at those of you a little more concerned about losing pounds than playing. There are various workouts on offer, with calorie counters and different intensities.

For sheer laughs, the new Battle Mode is a worthy addition. Here, you go head to head with your opponent in a fighting game reminiscent of the likes of Tekken. If you both achieve the moves and get the same rating, you’re safe. Should your opponent get a Perfect, for example, and you can only muster a Good then you take a hit and lose some energy from your health bar at the top of the screen. It’s a nice twist on the conventional dance modes and really pretty funny. Some of the moves are stupidly elaborate involving twists, turns, leaps and changing positions with your rivals.  Guaranteed to provide a few laughs and plenty of sweating.

If you need some downtime and manage to navigate the menus, you can lose some time watching the Just Dance TV channel and videos of other gamers who have lost their inhibitions and opted to share their efforts online. Like all such things nowadays, you can Like your favourites and so on.

Just Dance 4 is clearly not going to be for everyone – and I certainly didn’t think it would be for me. While my preferred games are generally a lot less energetic, I found myself having a great time dancing away to the tunes. With a few like-minded friends by your side, it’s easy to lose yourself and play until your heart is palpating wildly and your legs refuse to hold your weight. It’s great fun and often very funny, and will almost definitely be wheeled out when we next have friends over.

Reviewed on Xbox 360



  • This review was first published on Gamingbolt.com. Check out more news, reviews and articles after the jump.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

30 Minute Playtest: Dishonored

The first time I saw Dishonored’s visual style, I double-checked that my HDMI cable was still in the back of my TV. This game doesn’t look ‘good’, in the traditional sense, but boy does it make up for that quickly. Sitting comfortably between Deus Ex’s free-roaming, multi-path gameplay, Bioshock’s visual style and Bethesda’s trademark RPG titles, Dishonored somehow manages to meld aspects from all three precursors into one whole, and my goodness I love it.

 

Aside from the initial shock at the harsh visual style – which nonetheless manages to bring the grimy, whale-oil driven world of the city of Dunwall to life with great aplomb – the first 30 minutes of Dishonored do a great job introducing the motley cast of characters that player character and supernatural assassin Corvo Atano either has to save, return to the throne of the world’s ruling empire – or quietly bump off from the shadows.

Beforelong you find yourself locked up in a grimy jail cell, awaiting execution for the murder of the Empress – a crime for which you’re innocent – and have to battle your way out with the help of a mysterious benefactor. Finally, the player gets to play Dishonored as it’s meant to be played.


As soon as you step out of the cell, any number of paths are open to you. You could assassinate the guard and grab his sword, or choke him quietly and hide the body.
Do you climb to the rafters and sneak past the checkpoint, or charge in and get slashing?
I opted for the former, quietly moving through the prison complex, knocking out guards when I can, and leading with my sword when I got spotted.


 

The combat is surprisingly good fun – and visceral too. Corvo can block sword thrusts and parry them like a master swordsman, as well as looking for opportunities to use his (rather noisy) black powder pistol  – he gets a nice quiet crossbow later on.
 

Letters and books left around provide a pleasing depth to the action, helping to flesh ou Dishonored’s world without being too obviously pressing. The voice acting all sounds great, although I heard the same phrase from three different prison guards – could this be the beginning of another “arrow to the knee?” Time will tell.
 
After a good 15 minutes of sneaking and stabbing I finally escaped the prison, and – outrunning a hungry pack of Dunwall’s diseased plague rats – I leaped into a boat piloted by a fellow called  Samuel, who greeted me with a slightly concerned smile, and offered to take me to the mysterious benefactor who helped me escape the gallows.

Should you play on? Hell yes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

DayZ: A new approach to survival horror





Written by David Bowen
 

Horror games have always attempted to invoke fear in various ways - a sudden something that appears from the shadows catching you off guard, footsteps or noises eminating from an empty room, and the ever present blood and gore. A large aspect of Doom 3 is demons lurking in the shadows - the main character is forced to switch from his flashlight to one of his many weapons in order to fight demons. Silent Hill focused on the auditory aspect of fear coupled with gloomy atmosphere. Blood and gore is prevalant in a lot of horror games but Dead Space capitalizes on it (think of Isaac Clarke’s creepiest deaths).

DayZ, a mod for Arma 2, is unlike any other horror game that came before. It's an open-world, zombie-infested, survival-horror that is currently in alpha. The zombies are a threat with keen sight and hearing. And they can chase you renlentlessly. However, what really makes the pulse pound are the other human players that you will come across. Items are scarce and people will kill you for them.

Helplessness is the first eerie feeling that the game tries to evoke. You spawn in the middle of nowhere in the fictional country of Chernarus. It has mountains, forests, cabins, farms, docks, apartments, military barracks and so on but it always seems empty. You begin randomly on the coast, far from any shelter, with only a few medical supplies and a flashlight. If you’re attacked, you can’t defend yourself and that’s one thing that makes DayZ standout from other titles. The events unfold randomly and you have no control over what happens. You’re simply along for the ride and you can die from a lack of food and water. Once you start acquiring items, you get attached to your loot and immerse yourself in the gameplay because if you die you will lose everything that you found and restart the game with nothing but those few medical supplies and that darn flashlight.


 
Paranoia is a large aspect of the game. Let alone you realize you’re playing to survive in a spontaneous environment filled with zombies and people and you need to gather as much loot as you can to continue, but once you see or hear events such as explosions and  flares, your level of fear increases. If gun shots are fired in the distance, you will become more cautious. In other games where you already have your gun drawn and you brace for action or as in Amnesia where you don’t have a weapon at all but a lantern that keeps the mysterious forces away as long as it’s lit, there is always a sense of security and control. DayZ doesn’t have that. Even if you have a weapon, you have to hide in the middle of nowhere and still find food and water where danger is all around you. Danger might appear from anywhere.

The game is riddled with suspense. If you stumble across someone who isn’t violent, how do you know they won’t attack you later for your loot? But, to survive throughout the game, teamwork is a key factor. You are forced to work with other people in cases of major injuries or trade. So, you’ll have to go on and create a fragile alliance for suppiles and equipment. Mix up those aspects and put them in a unique environemnt dashed with some all-or-nothing gameplay and you have a new type of panic for your game.

DayZ is still in the alpha stages. Because it is a mod, Arma II is required to play it. It will release as a stand-alone alpha game before the end of this year. 


TRITTON 720+ Headset Review

It’s testament to the sheer quality of the TRITTON 720+ headset (retailing for £129.99 in the UK and $149.99 in the US) that my wife, a self-proclaimed non gamer reluctantly donned the headphones but refused to return them after listening to the campaign intro for Modern Warfare 3. After her jaw had visibly dropped, she instead demanded that I replay it and then proceeded to negotiate the debris-strewn streets of New York. Like her, I was quite taken aback by the sheer cinematic quality that oozed from each earpiece, the recent launch from Mad Catz offering 3D Directional Audio and 7.1 Surround Sound.

Clearly, the 720+ is by no means inexpensive or a purchase that can be taken lightly but for those of us keen on experiencing games to the full, it could prove a very shrewd investment.

   

Having undergone a radical overhaul from its previous incarnation, it looks absolutely fantastic and appears to be a sturdy bit of kit. Blinding white, with TRITTON emblazoned across the headband, it all looks stunning.

Inside the tightly-packed box lurks a collection of cabling long enough to reach across a larger-than-average room, an optical cable, USB lead and controller connector should you be using this with your 360. You don’t have to, mind – this nifty peripheral is also compatible with your PS3 (and PC/MAC in Europe), which certainly helps to justify its price tag.

Central to the functioning of this technical wizardry is the inclusion of the discreet decoder box, with its master volume button and raft of LED lights. This is where the magic happens. Even more impressive is the fact that no power supply is needed, meaning the box of tricks gains all necessary power through the USB from the back of your console.



A separate flexible microphone can be plugged into the headset and contorted any which way you like. When you’re done, a simple twist and pull removes it. Friends tell me that my speech is nice and clear – although they did mention a little too much background noise on occasion.

The in-line remote offers a mute switch, volume control and the rather cool Selectable Voice Monitoring (SVM), which gives me the option to hear my own voice while speaking. It’s a great feature that means you’ll know how loud you’re talking to friends and opponents, and won’t bother people around you – especially useful for late-night gaming sessions!

We’ve tried countless headsets over the years, all promising the most amazing audio experience and many failing to live up to the hype…The 720+ certainly doesn’t fall into that category and performs well. No matter what game you opt to play, it truly feels like you’re sat in a movie theatre. The bass is deep and reverberates through your skull, while the subtle sound effects are clear and sharp. Cut scenes are crisp although some voices seem a little more distant than I’d like – it was exactly like those emitted from the speakers in a several-hundred seater cinema.

A few missions of Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 had us convinced; all the explosions, gunfire and the mayhem left us buzzing. The 720+ truly adds to the atmosphere and presents an altogether different experience from simply being sat in front of the screen and relying on the integrated TV speakers. If you want the feel and sense of an expensive speaker set up, then these are definitely for you.



But while we expected your typical FPS to produce those results, it also transformed games like FIFA 13. No longer was the commentary central to each match but we could now make out crowd chants in certain areas of the ground as well as the frustrating thud of the crossbar with a miscued shot and the gentle ripple of the net after scoring a wondergoal.

Resident Evil 6 was transformed too. The cut scenes (of which there are plenty) were of cinematic quality and really drew me in, while the ingame sounds were suitably eerie and well defined. From the boom of a shotgun to the groans of the undead, the headset accentuated my playthrough.

The 720+ headset is perfect for capturing the atmospheres and environments of your favourite games. I’d definitely say it’s well suited to big, cinematic affairs – explosions, crowd noise. Where it’s perhaps overshadowed by other headsets – such as the new TRITTON Pro+ reviewed here – is in its ability to gauge distance and where sound is coming from. Playing online in Modern Warfare 3, the gunfire and destruction is captured perfectly… but listening out for the delicate footprints as you progress through enemy-occupied buildings is a little trickier to make out. Sure, you can hear them but it’s pretty difficult in the heat of battle to determine where they’re coming from.

There is also no real way of customizing your aural experience – no knobs to turn, or switches to switch that can really alter the acoustics (unlike the Pro+). This headset gives the user great sound with depth and oomph but little option of tailoring it for your needs. For most, this won’t be an issue at all; many people afterall, won’t care whether they can tweak the subwoofer or change the sounds coming from front and rear… but it may be a factor that helps to determine your purchase.

It feels lighter than its bigger brother and is really comfortable for lengthy gaming sessions. From the cushioned headband to the swivel feature of the earcups, this is a well designed beast of a headset.

For me, the TRITTON 720+ is an awesome headset that enhanced my gaming experience. I’ve been blessed with a large screen TV for years but only now do I feel I’m the full potential of the games I’ve been playing; 7.1 Surround Sound is incredible and Mad Catz has made it accessible to the masses!

Reviewed on Xbox 360 and PS3

Resident Evil 6 Review

Much like the zombies and creatures you’re trying to blow away, the Resident Evil series has mutated in recent years and is now an altogether different beast from the 1996 original. Diehard fans are already bemoaning the changes and stomping their feet after playing the latest edition… Saying that though, Capcom has shipped 4.5 million copies of Resident Evil 6 since its launch a few days ago – and I must admit I think its detractors are being a little hasty.

Resident Evil, its remake, prequel, sequels and all the others that have borne the name have been known for their expansive environments, varied cast of characters and wild plots. While this edition is no different in that respect, it has polarized opinion.

Gone are the days of tension and horror that permeated the early titles, something which producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi admits was a conscious decision this time round.



With Resident Evil 6, the gameplay has very much switched from survival horror to a more action-oriented affair. Personally, I didn’t mind it so much – the tempo far more to my tastes – but naysayers are understandably disgruntled by the new direction.

To satiate our hunger for all things zombie, Capcom has crammed the disc with content and made this the biggest game in the series yet. Spanning four separate campaigns and giving you the option to control seven characters, the campaigns will probably keep you occupied for around 30 hours. Each level is huge – albeit linear – and spans numerous environments.  The time-based challenge of Mercenaries mode also makes a welcome return and adds even more play time. Not only that but there’s also the introduction of Agent Hunt, which puts you in the rotting shoes of a zombie and plunges you into someone else’s game.

Back to the campaign and you can play as Leon S Kennedy, Chris Redfield. Helena Harper, BSAA member Piers Nivans and Sherry Birkin. Then there’s the introduction of new boy Jake Muller – son of Albert Wesker – and even Ada Wong makes an appearance. At certain points the paths of some of these characters cross and the story unfolds further. It’s a pretty impressive mechanic and shows how the various campaigns are interlinked.



Apart from Ada’s solo campaign, the others are tackled with either an AI partner or another player – either online or split screen. Thankfully, this time round your partner isn’t plain stupid; those memories of Sheva running about in Resident Evil 5 and swiping all the ammo and health can be put to bed. Now, your colleague’s AI is up to the task and they do come to your aid. The downside of all this co-op action is that having an ally along for the ride removes some of the fear factor that you had when you had to do everything solo – you never really feel isolated or outnumbered.

Even the fear of running low on ammo isn’t really there as there’s loads to pick up and more often than not you can just use the fairly effective melee combo attack if you run low on shells. Add the fact that you rarely find yourself in really confined spaces and you can simply jog past a horde of ravenous zombies makes them feel a little less threatening.

Still, it’s nice having a wide array of enemies. There are plenty of the well-drawn creatures spread through these campaigns. Most of the undead are a little trickier this time round, and not so profoundly stupid as before – some shuffle, some sprint, some wield weapons, while others crawl and leap. There’s a nice variety of beasts determined to make your playthrough trickier – although a well-placed shot to the cranium still instantly puts them out of action and turns their rotting corpse to a nice collectible bonus or ammo clip. Perhaps most notable are the J’avo – human at first sight but able to regenerate health when injured and mutate into weird and wonderful creatures, with limbs multiplying in size and becoming dangerous weapons themselves. These are intelligent and trickier to fight than your typical infected.



The prologue is big and brash, with flames, frantic gunfire and plenty of those infernal QTEs – setting the stall for the rest of the game. Accompanied by haunting score, and lots of fire and explosions, the opening section introduces you to the redesigned controls. Melee combos can put the boot in nearby zombies, you can take cover, dive over obstacles, and you can even move and shoot at the same time!

Then it’s up to you to select your campaign, controllable character, opt for solo or split screen and whether you’re happy for other players to jump in and out of your game to help/hinder your adventure. You can even stipulate if you’re playing entirely for fun, a serious player seeking medals, or you’re in it for the story – just so you don’t get mismatched with an inappropriate co-op partner.
By far the most enjoyable missions belong to Leon Kennedy and his trusty sidekick Helena Harper who start their adventure roaming the gloomy halls of Ivy University. Graphically, it all looks sharp and detailed – with the shadows and lighting really adding to the atmosphere. It feels very old school – like Spencer Mansion from the original game… even zombie dogs make an appearance. Then there are other impressively eerie settings such as the underground stations with their runaway instant-death trains or the Cathedral with its imposing gothic belltowers and hidden underground lair. This is a real nod to the days of old when Resident Evil was about zombies, managing ammo and solving a few rudimentary puzzles.



Alternatively you can follow the escapades of Chris Redfield, destined for the Orient with his compadre Piers Nivans. Their adventures see them taking on the infected J’avo in China in missions which are more shooter-based and make use of a fairly shaky cover system. This is perhaps the weakest of the campaigns.

As if two completely different styles of gameplay weren’t enough, the third shifts the action to the war-torn Eastern European state of Edonia and sees Jake Muller – himself a potential antedote to the virus - and Sherry Berkin trying to escape the relentless pursuit of the deadly bio-organic weapon, the Ustanak. Their tale eventually sees them run into some of our other heroes in China.
Ada Wong even makes an appearance and stars in her very own solo campaign, unlocked once you’ve completed the other three. She’s more stealthy than the others and partakes in a fair bit of puzzle solving.

Among the cadavers that litter the screen after a skirmish, you’ll find rewards in the form of skill points that allow you to upgrade your character. Initially you’re only able to afford basic upgrades and apply only a few of them. As you progress, however, more slots become available and as more points are accrued you can customise and improve your protagonist to your heart’s content. These perks include extra health, faster reloads, and improved combat skills.

The abundance of QTE does start to grate after a while; there’s only so many times stick wiggling, a well-timed press of the trigger or mashing the A button can be remotely enjoyable. Some of the set pieces are also a little cringeworthy – for example, early in Leon’s opening chapter when he dives into a car and you have to drive forward and back through prompts onscreen. It’s kind of pointless and breaks the flow of the gameplay.

Besides the rather irksome QTE, there are plenty of unskippable cutscenes – which look lovely and go some way to explaining the story – but do slow things somewhat. Then there are those infernal doors - loads of them. Besides the short animation that accompanies the opening of every single one, some require help from your colleague. Problem is, I often found my AI partner took their time to catch up and there was plenty of waiting around – leaving me a sitting target for any stray flesheaters.



Deaths on the higher difficulties can come fairly frequently but the checkpoints are generous. One annoyance, however, is occasionally being in the wrong place at the wrong time or not being quick enough to avoid your untimely demise when an action sequence kicks in. All too often I was smooshed by an ambulance, whacked by a car, thwacked by a train or blown up by an exploding barrel, only to restart in much the same position and see it happen all over again.

Finally, something has to be said about the over the shoulder camera, which does prove to be a little frustrating – the positioning of the character taking up nearly half the screen and often affecting your vision quite badly. The camera also has a nasty habit of adjusting itself, which can prove disorientating during a fight.

It’s not really a surprise that Resident Evil 6 has divided opinion. There really is something for everyone in this game – which ultimately means there will be plenty not everyone likes. Bear in mind, however, that there is a lot of content here - four lengthy campaigns and loads of other things to get your teeth into as well – and much of it is enjoyable. There are flaws but it does have some great ideas too.

Reviewed on Xbox 360


  • This review was first published on Gamingbolt.com. Check out more news, reviews and articles after the jump.

TRITTON Pro+ Headset Review

Pluck the sleek white TRITTON Pro+ multi-format headset from the packaging and its build quality is instantly recognizable. Sturdy while lightweight, this True 5.1 Surround Sound headset looks lovely. Included in the box is a wealth of cabling, connectors and the important decoder box through which everything is connected. Bear in mind, you’ll need a spare plug socket to give it the necessary juice to blow your ears off though.
   

Set up can take a while, but is relatively painless thanks to the included instructions, which outline how your 360 and PS3 (as well as PC/MAC in Europe) can be connected. There are a lot of ports to navigate, however, with optical lead, USB cable, power supply and another couple of leads to connect to the Xbox controller (they even bundle a cable for use with non-standard controllers). Unlike some rival headsets, it’s great that every conceivable cable is included in the box - even the older Xbox 360 model is catered for. The 12ft cable that runs from the decoder box to the headset means you can comfortably sit back a fair distance from your console too.

The successor to the AX Pro, the new Pro+ headset crams four Neodynium drivers into each ear (30mm Front & Rear, 23mm Center, 40mm Sub) to provide thumping base and decent midrange. It looks and feels lovely – with nicely positioned over-ear cups and plush leatherette cushioning. Even the outer portion of the headsets lights up with the trademark double-T logo glowing orange when it’s up and running. All external sounds are nicely isolated so you’ll be hard pushed to hear anything beyond the confines of those earcups too. A nice touch is the Selectable Voice Monitoring (SVM) feature, which lets you hear your own voice when you speak so you’ll never need to shout and disturb those around you!


Despite the very rigid appearance of the Pro+, it’s supremely comfortable and quickly becomes more supple after use. Your ears are nicely encapsulated and won’t feel squashed, while sweating is less of an issue than some rival headsets. There’s also a thick cushioned strip that lines the band that sits atop your head. For those of you with larger heads, the headrail is also extendable so you can ensure a decent fit. Thanks to the various speakers packed within the headset, it can feel a little weighty during long gaming sessions, however. But those guys at Mad Catz have again made removing them for a quick break as easy as possible by incorporating the trademark Tritton swivel on each earcup so they rest nicely around your neck.

We did find that for the best results, you really need to take some time to configure all the settings at the start, with each driver tweakable via the inline control. Additional buttons on the decoder box feature nifty features such as “Time Delay” – to adjust the front and rear channels and the time it takes the sounds to emerge – and “Dynamic Range Control” to change balance and ensure you can pick up both soft and loud sounds.


Playing Black Ops or Modern Warfare 3 was a joy with these on your head. You’re given complete control over the front, central and rear speakers as well as the subwoofer and can change the settings to ensure even the most subtle footsteps are detectable. We played many matches online and it really did appear to improve our performance; being able to gauge which direction gunfire was coming from certainly improved my position in the leaderboards. Try spinning around on the spot while stationary too and you’ll hear the positioning of the explosions and shots change. Magic.

We also put it through its paces with a few other popular titles and were very impressed with the results. FIFA 12 was hugely atmospheric with the Pro+ headset – every tap of the ball, blow of the whistle and roar of the crowd resonates through your ears as though you’re there. Get a win and the cheers and celebrations blow you away. And wait until the soundtrack kicks in… the tunes thumping away in the background sound fantastic.

Similarly, a playtest of Resident Evil 6 certainly added to the atmosphere as we negotiated the gothic cathedral, Chinese streets and snowy mountain ranges. As you’d expect, zombie games are perfectly suited to this kind of setup with all those groans of the shuffling undead creeping up behind you. The sound effects are nicely amplified too – and it was quite impressive that you could pick up every minute detail. Wandering round the halls of the university campus, for example, the squeak of the floorboards was otherwise missed through my TV speakers. Add the cinematic background music to the mix and the experience is fantastic.



Against friends, voice chat is crystal clear, helped by the removable and highly-flexible microphone that connects to the left earcup and can be positioned wherever you please. The only real downside seemed to be that it picks up a little too much… some friends mentioned they could hear every little sound in the background of my room as well as my voice.

Sure, it would have been cool if they were wireless, there’s loads of cabling and they’re not cheap (£149.99 in the UK, $199.99 in the US) but whether you’re gaming, playing music or watching movies, the Pro+ performs well whatever. The retail price may be high but for the build quality, performance and the amount of use you’ll no doubt get out of them, they’re well worth the investment. You’ll never listen to games in the same way again!

Reviewed on Xbox 360 and PS3

Friday, October 12, 2012

Megabits of News: Weekly Roundup (w/e 12 Oct)


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.

ToeJam & Earl are coming back to earth
After years of absence, alien rappers ToeJam & Earl are crash-landing back to Earth on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network in November. As part of the SEGA vintage collection, both ToeJam & Earl and ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron will be available for players who remember the early 90’s to reminisce once more.
Via VG247

UK now homes more than 5m PS3 owners
Sony has announced that more than 5m PlayStation 3 consoles have been sold in the UK. The group reached the milestone on 28 September following the launch of the newly designed 500GB PS3.
Via MCV

Downloadable street racing comes to Sleeping Dogs
Sleeping Dogs fans are being given the opportunity to compete in extra races on road and across the sea with new downloadable content (DLC). Square Enix announced that on 16 October, the 'Street Racer' DLC pack will be available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC via Steam.
Via Joystiq

PES for PS2, PSP an Wii gets release date
Release dates for PES 2013 have been announced by Konami. The football title will be available on PS2 and PSP on 25 October  in Europe, while Wii owners will be able to start playing from 15 November in Europe. The 3DS launch date for PES 2013 is yet to be confirmed.
Via CVG

Rayman Legends misses the Wii U bus
Rayman Legends will not be released with the launch of the Wii U on 30 November with the title earmarked to hit the shelves in the in the first quarter of the New Year.
Via MCV

Borderlands 2 Review

I loved the first Borderlands. Despite its flaws, it was still a brilliant title. Sure, it suffered from a number of faults (primarily being far too repetitive) but on the whole, it was still a heck of a lot of blasty fun. Thankfully, Borderlands 2, while sticking to its predecessor's method, manages to correct most of the errors thrown up by the first game - but at the expense of any real innovation. 


 
Borderlands 2 is an RPG-like shoot 'em up with a cel-shaded, cartoon-like feel, decent four-player online multiplayer and a risk-reward system familiar to most gamers.

The action is set on the blighted planet of Pandora, and stars another four-man band of misfits stranded on the planet by yet another corporate evildoer - this time a very comic villain known as 'Handsome Jack'.

Beforelong the four find themselves swept up into a resistance movement taking on Handsome Jack, while also searching for another of Pandora's legendary 'vaults' - priceless collections of artifacts, and - more importantly - loot. 



 
What follows is a sturdy, enjoyable shooter with a heavy focus on stats-building and loot-grabbing, which combines a comedic outlook with simple shooty fun.

Some of the tasks are run-of-the-mill objectives like 'go here, collect this', while others prove quite a challenge, requiring teamwork and careful planning. The game never takes itself too seriously, however, and one of the missions demonstrates this in its title: "Go shoot this guy in the face".

The game itself can be played in singleplayer, but the nature of Borderlands lies in its multiplayer offering. You can play offline and online split-screen with a friend, or log on with up to three other online gamers and work together to complete a variety of story and side-quests. 



 
So, the majority of the game sees the four players battling waves of monsters and gun-toting loonys to advance the plot, with each player character using his or her special skill for the good of the group - the assassin can turn invisible and snipe from afar, while the psychic siren can trap enemies in a force bubble, for example.

As for the loot you rapidly accrue, you can now tag it as 'junk' - making the frequent stops at vendors and shops a little easier to stomach, and saving more time for the shooting.
The upgrade screen for your characters works a lot smoother this time around, with each new guns (of which there are billions of possible combinations) showing clearly whether or not it is an improvement on the one you're currently wielding.

Other minor changes - such as picking up ammo off the floor automatically, and a vastly streamlined user interface - make the game play better on a whole, even if the title itself doesn't really offer anything particularly 'new.' 



 
The game's graphics engine takes advantage of the cel-shading when crafting the environments you battle through, making texture pop-up pretty rare, although some rough mapping is an occasional niggle. On the whole Pandora's varied environments are displayed well, with snow, industrial and jungle environments looking good.

Overall, Borderlands 2 is a brilliant game. While it doesn't really break from its predecessor's routine, it more than makes up for this with innumerable little tweaks and additions that improve the game as a whole.


Friday, October 05, 2012

Stop bullying Kinect... It's not its fault it's different

Welcome to the first article from Megabits' enlightened gaming guru and resident grinch, Cursor. This week, the hooded one chews over the impact of Kinect and asks whether its critics are unjust...


Ever since Kinect's inception in June 2009, there have been so-called hardcore gamers baying for blood. At the heart of all that vitriol, their central arguement is the behemoth that is Microsoft is dumbing down their beloved console by daring to suggest that families,youngsters or a  'casual' audience might dare to enjoy gaming too.

It's now nearly two years since its launch in November 2010, and still Kinect - the peripheral formerly known as Natal - gets its fair share of criticism. Much of it may be justified... we all know about the accuracy issues, lag and the weak games lineup. But take a step back good people and consider this - it's a damn clever bit of kit and still has huge potential. I'd wager it will eventually be an invaluable element of gaming, although I reckon only when it's evolved and a few more designs and models have arrived in the coming years.

Granted, it's a big beast to have sitting atop your TV, and the room space required is a little limiting. And not to mention the fact it costs a small fortune - almost as much as the console itself! There are also issues with its sensitivity and how it's integrated into mainstream games. But give it a break.

Why do we always hate things that try something new? Why are we so scared of change? Kinect shouldn't detract from your love of gaming - why would it? It's not like you're not able to still buy software requiring a conventional controller is it?

And surely it shouldn't take those clever Microsoft techies too long to develop a newer version with a smaller footprint (modern TVs are starting to integrate the technology, afterall) and more reasonable floorspace requirements (Nyko has released its Zoom gadget that clips on the camera and apparently does this quite effectively)?

I say, 'calm down and stop the complaining'. The majority of hardware launches have their teething problems and duff games. If you don't like Kinect, don't buy Kinect. If you have already parted with your cash and you're disheartened, suck it up and sell it. This would be a very boring world without change and innovation. Think how miserable the world would be if popular games were just rehashed and repackaged each year (oh, wait!).

Hardware is just as important as a new IP for a game... the chances are it won't live up to expectations at first but subsequent versions will iron out those problems. Stop your bitching people and embrace a motion-controlled future!

Rant over.

Yours,

Megabits of News: Weekly Roundup (w/e 5 Oct)


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.

Mickey to launch alongside Wii U
Sequel Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two has been confirmed as a UK launch title alongside the Wii U. Gamers will be able to get there massive white gloves on the title and console on 30 November. VG247

Resi 6 ships a scary amount of copies worldwide
Capcom announced it has shipped over 4.5 million copies of Resident Evil 6 worldwide for the title’s launch. The group also reported that as of June 2012 it reached a total of 50 million sales for the Resident Evil franchise. Now all that needs to be done is turn those shipments into sales. Joystiq

The world is football crazy
EA reported that is has sold 4.5 million copies of FIFA 13 worldwide in five days. EA were able to sell over 1.2 million copies within its first 48 hours in the UK alone - that is a lot of kids now not playing footy for real in parks. EA has declared its the "biggest sports video game launch of all-time”, and on these numbers it’s hard to argue. CVG

One billion users like facebook
With so many people using social networking sites now to get in a bit of cheeky gaming while at work, it’s no wonder that founder Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that facebook has reached a 1 billion user milestone since its launch in February 2004. CVG

Don’t Speak, just pay
Videogame publisher Activision have settled with No Doubt out of court over the band’s lawsuit concerning Band Hero. No Doubt disputed that their playable characters should only be used with their own in-game tracks, not with Band Hero’s entire catalog. MCV