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.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mastering Assassin's Creed 3 Mulitplayer (part two)

Andy Hemphill lists the final five tips to keep your blade sharp in Assassin's Creed 3's multiplayer.

Missed part one? Click here.

5: Like sheep
There's nothing more difficult for a pursuer to face than a big group of moving NPCs which are all wearing the same face – one of which is actually an assassin. So, always take an ability that can turn a group of roving NPCs into copycat doubles of your character, and hide amongst them like a wolf in sheep's clothing.Crucially, let go of your controller's sticks when you join the group – let the computer control your movements. Oddly, looking too smooth in your steering around obstacles and other groups while hiding in one can make you stand out, over the jerky movements of the NPCs.

4: Line of sight
The best way to identify your target when they're in hiding in a group of identical doubles is through the line of sight meter and your compass. If your target is hiding in a big group, as you casually saunter over, try to block your line of sight – the light-up of the compass should help to identify which of the seven pretty ladies is actually a minx.

3: What's your poison?
For the best scores, use poison. I like to combine a few of the above ideas to get the highest modifier – such as being in a group, not chasing your target, and – crucially – using your poison blade to get the kill. There's nothing more satisfying than casually stroking the blade over your opponent as they wander past, clueless, then leaving them to fall as you walk away, unnoticed.

2: Crafty devil
Use your upgrade points to improve your abilities first, before you spend the vital XP on buying your favourite character that bright yellow tri-corner hat. Improving the number of NPCs you can turn into doubles with 'morph' or shortening the amount of time it takes for the poison blade to kill a target can make all the difference in a close battle, so spend wisely.

1: Patience is a virtue
Take your time. Unlike the horde of players who run about like their playing Call of Duty (and indeed are probably the age of that game's usual clientele), the best assassins are those who scope out and carefully execute their targets, without ever being seen. Remember that the best scoring kills are those done right – so four really good ones will almost always beat 10 which ended with racing battles over rooftops.

Mastering Assassin's Creed 3 Mulitplayer (part one)

Been playing a lot of Assassin's Creed 3 multiplayer? Fancy some tips for making a killing online? Read on...

10: Ground-pounder
Running around on rooftops lights you up like a Christmas tree on your opponents' screens. Only the worst assassins resort to sprinting around, leaping from rooftop to rooftop and earning kills worth a pittance.Sure, a rooftop escape can be a boon when you're actively being chased, but otherwise, stick to the ground and keep low-key. Simple, but very effective.

9: One shot, one kill
It's always worth carrying a pistol in your ranged weapon slot. Sure, a poison dart can net you a big glut of points, but there's nothing more satisfying than knocking an escaping assassin off a rooftop with a well-placed shot, saving you the trouble of chasing them.

8: Chasebreaker cheese
NPCs never walk through the glowing doors of chasebreakers. If you see a character strolling slowly down the corridor between the two ends of a chasebreaker, it has to be a player-controlled character. Use this to your advantage to escape your pursuer or take out your target with certainty.

7: Prime real-estate
Most of the multiplayer maps tend to have some sort of marketplace, or grassy knoll, or clearing, and oftentimes these crossroads can become a hotbed of running battles. So, why not park your assassin in a group and simply wait – your target is bound to come sprinting through at some point, allowing you to casually stroll over and take them out for a points bonus.

6: Will o' the whisper
Ignore the whispers which signal the approach of an assassin hunting you at your peril – as soon as you hear them, duck into a group and hide. Look for odd movements, or characters abruptly standing still – if you can get the drop on your pursuer a healthy stun bonus can be yours. Also, learn to hear the noise signifying someone aiming at you, be it pistol or poison dart. Obviously, it might be worth running once you do…

For the final five tips, take the jump

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Resident Evil Revelations Review

After the lacklustre reception of Resident Evil 6 and Raccoon City - both of which I actually enjoyed - there were high hopes for Revelations, an HD remake of last year's 3DS game.

Not only were these games heaped with scorn but they divided fans of the series and highlighted just how far removed they were from the cult PlayStation original and unsurpassed Resident Evil 4. Neither felt like a true Resi game - for all the graphical improvements, control tweaks and new characters, locations and game modes, they left the majority of the gaming public cold. Fortunately, Capcom was listening and the new Revelations is not rotten like the undead that star in it. Far from it. This is arguably the best instalment for years.

I'd never played the 3DS version so came to Revelations fresh. This new edition not only boasts HD visuals but also crams in more lighting effects and sounds than the handheld version. Then there's the inclusion of an extra hard Infernal difficulty mode and the new Wall Blister beast to confront. For  the first time in years, this really does feel like a genuine Resident Evil title, capturing what made the first few games in the series so enjoyable. Saying that, it's still not particularly scary, the camera angles are irritating and the zombies are still bullet sponges... but that's kind of what we've come to expect from this long-running series, isn't it?

Revelations takes place between Resident Evil 4  and  Resident Evil 5, and continues the story of the T-Abyss infection and terrorist organisation, Il Veltro. Series stalwarts Chris and Jill make yet another return to our screens, along with a couple of other characters, Parker Luciani and Jessica Sherawat.

As you'd expect for a modern Resident Evil game, these two are the usual useless AI sidekicks who join you for the ride. To be fair, they're not nearly as inept as Sheva of Resident Evil 5 fame but nonetheless, they'll drive you mad with their inaccurate shooting and inane chatter.

They say that worse things happen at sea - and that's never been more true given the events taking place on the abandoned cruise liner, the Queen Zenobia. This is where all the action starts with Jill in search of Chris after he goes missing during a mission. Unsurprisingly, all is not as it seems onboard. You'd certainly feel hard done by if you've paid through the nose for a relaxing break on this ship...

Admittedly, Revelations is a tense affair with plenty of thrills and spills. There were several moments where I leapt in surprise when something burst onto the screen in front of me - although I'm not really talking Dead Space moments here. All the enemies you face are pretty tame and bordering on laughable caricatures - from giant sea slugs to rabid, half eaten dogs and lurching ooze creatures.

Personally, I think the ship concept is fantastically well employed - a really chilling environment, with its dark corners, eerie creaks and narrow corridors. And remember, don't trust the vents... and never linger by a door! Otherwise, the other locations fail to really hit the mark and you can't help but think you've seen them all before.

As with previous games, the controls are pretty standard and easy to pick up. Accurately shooting and manoeuvring, however, is as frustrating as ever. You'd have thought our heroes would have learnt how to run away from these creatures by now, right? Instead you'll find yourself colliding with obstacles as you try to avoid being eaten and saunter away from their salivating jaws at a snail's pace.


Ultimately, dealing with ammo scarcity is once again the name of the game and all too often you'll find yourself relying on the dodge move to avoid some slathering beastie. Guns and ammo are hard to come by, which makes the fact that zombies are impervious to fewer than ten direct hits fairly frustrating.

You've got a new scanner gizmo this time round too, which you can flash about the place in search of hidden objects such as those magical green herbs and ammo. It's a pretty nifty device mind, also able to uncover handprints and clues that will aid you in your mission. Oh, and there are a couple of basic puzzles to solve along the way.

Despite Revelations' HD facelift, I really don't think it looks nearly as good as Resident Evil 6 - and in fact looks fairly bland in places. And once again, the positioning of your character and the poor camera angles take a bit of getting used to, often obscuring your vision and making the game a lot trickier than it needs to be.

Overall, despite these gripes, Revelations is a great game and makes amends for the last few titles that have borne the Resident Evil name. Admittedly there are no real surprises on this shiny disc: you'll find the usual complex and occasionally unfathomable plot, plenty of twists and turns, untrustworthy characters, as well as loads of infected creatures baying for your blood.

When you're done with the standard campaign, you can turn your hand to the Raid mode, playing either online co-op or solo and seeing how long you can survive. With upgrades galore, new weapons and characters, I imagine this is where many gamers will keep coming back for more.

Reviewed on the Xbox 360

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

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Xbox One is a Day One purchase... but the PS4 can wait

It's exciting all this next gen nonsense, isn't it? We all wait with baited breath for details about the Xbox One and PS4, finally sit through the reveal shows and then the world is flooded with a torrent of fanboyism, hatred and envy.

I'm an advocate of Sony but must admit that all the people jumping on the PS4 bandwagon have surprised me a little these past few weeks. Granted, Microsoft has been guilty of fanning the proverbial flames with its dumbass DRM PR strategy and the misjudged promotion of its shiny new console as an entertainment hub. Turns out gamers don't want an expensive machine that offers services we already use everyday through our smart phones and televisions. Who'd have thought, eh?

And the latest twist is the tail is Micro$oft caving in to all the criticism and mockery and renouncing its lofty ambitions for a digital future. Must admit, I'm a little disappointed about the change of heart; access to your entire games library wherever you are and the Family Sharing facility sounded like a real trump card in the console war. Ah well, my preorder is already placed and I'm still psyched about it. Here's why:

Kinect is mandatory
This point is guaranteed to divide the masses but I actually think this will be a good thing! And before the haters start, there's a privacy feature to stop Microsoft snooping 24/7 - and if you're uber paranoid about being watched, why not just switch your Xbone off at the mains when you're done gaming... (or you can now just disconnect your internet connection if you're that bothered). Anyways, the fact that everyone will own the souped up motion controller means it might finally be able to reach its full potential; developers will be able to invest time and money into harnessing its power in the knowledge that everyone has access to one. Conversely, PS4 owners will be buying controllers with integrated sensors that can't be fully used unless they own the optional EyeToy camera. How many software houses are going to work that into their games if the user base is so small? The first Kinect was clever but mediocre, whereas this new version can capture six players at once, work in a smaller play area and even see you in the dark!

The controller is king
This is clearly personal preference but the Xbox controller is arguably one of the best ever. It's comfortable to hold during even the longest gaming sessions, nicely weighted, and all the buttons and triggers are nicely positioned... could it get any better? Hell yeah. There are a raft of improvements in the new version - 40+ improvements in fact - including impulse triggers, tweaked analogue sticks and a better D-Pad.

Moving forward not standing still. That's what many of us came away with after Microsoft's May reveal. Not only was this a machine capable of better-looking graphics and had a bit more grunt under the hood, but there were plenty of other notable features. A Blu-Ray player is included, Kinect is significantly enhanced, the controller improved and more servers have been set aside for Xbox Live. The cloud means game worlds can be dynamic and constantly updated, and that a lot of that boring old processing can be done remotely and in the background, giving your Xbox some extra capacity to do more important calculations and technical stuff. Although it's now canned, the DRM meant that discs weren't needed after the initial install and all your games could be played on another Xbox. Not only that but the (also defunct) Family Share feature would have slashed costs for households and allowed you to nominate 10 "family members" to access your library. It shows, at least, that Microsoft is trying to innovate and drag us into the digital era. Some of its plans could have been thought out more so as not to screw over us consumers quite so much - but in principle, the ideas were quite interesting. Hopefully, some of these functions will come back eventually (the fact a simple patch is all that's required to switch them off means that they may eventually be reintroduced when the plans are ironed out a bit).

This is a pretty cool feature despite the naysayers. Connecting your satellite receiver and having an integrated box, with voice and gesture control sounds kind of good to me. And screen in screen will be a boon too - watching the televised football while hacking zombies to death would be great.Major Nelson even suggested your 360 could be plugged in too - making use of the interface and providing instant backwards compatibility, kind of.

Xbox Live still trumps PS+
PlayStation Plus is now mandatory to play online so the whole argument about the exorbitant cost of Live has been watered down somewhat. Of course, you get free games and other benefits with PS+ but at least Microsoft is starting to introduce that too now (albeit with older titles right now) with Fable III, Halo 3 and Assassin's Creed II the first ones available. Add in the promise of all those thousands of servers, the cloud and all the other things that make Live such a successful online system and it's just another reason to snap up the Xbone. Oh, and all your achievements, gamerscore and profile details carry over too! Addiction guaranteed for another few years at least - beats the hell out of those Sony Trophies!

The games look great
Who can argue that the E3 conference didn't contain a decent selection of great new games? The likes of Dead Rising 3, Ryse, Forza 5, Quantum Break and Halo (all exclusives) look awesome. And I really liked the look of Insomniac's mental new shooter and of course, Respawn's TitanFall. It's personal choice sure but few of the PS4 titles really grabbed me - graphically they looked great but Sony's exclusives didn't show such a great leap forward from current gen titles for me.

The next few months will sure be interesting. Expect many more announcements, arguments and controversy. Right now, this far exceeds the vitriol seen in those halcyon days of the 8-bit rivalry between the Master System and NES, or the head to head bewteen the Megadrive and SNES a while later. 

Xbox and PlayStation owners can rest assured, however, that whichever system they opt for, this generation is shaping up nicely. For me, it's the Xbone that's going to be first out the box - purely because its promise and potential seems far greater. The PS4 can wait.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Counting the cost of the PS4 and Xbox One

E3 finally revealed the prices of Sony and Microsoft's next gen consoles - with many declaring the latest battle in the console war already over. The Xbox One comes in a little steeper - which has only fanned the flames of the haters already up in arms about the DRM and online connectivity issues. With prices at £429, €499 and $499, it's clearly a big investment - something which Sony has cleverly countered by undercutting it significantly. The super sleek PS4 comes in at a slightly less eyewatering £349, €399 and $399 depending on region. 

So Sony wins the console war, right?

Not so fast. As you no doubt know, the Xbox One comes packaged with Kinect - largely explaining the price difference... conversely, Sony's slanty new console doesn't come with the updated version of its camera,the EyeToy. Knock off £80 for Kinect (still considerably less than the launch price of the original a few years back) and the console prices are equal. 

I'm not a motion control fanboy but the new Kinect gizmo looks pretty awesome - and a huge improvement on its predecessor. In fact, I'm actually quite psyched about its launch. Imagine the potential of something that is so accurate, and so flexible, and the possibilities for upcoming games are huge. It's also a strategic move by Microsoft to ensure one of these cameras is in every box. That means developers can target addons, services and gameplay that every single user can enjoy. 

Not so with the PS4. Leaving the EyeToy optional will be an interesting move and probably mean it will fall by the wayside down the line. Will people really choose to buy one rather than a game (it will retail for around $50-60 apparently)? And what really takes the biscuit is the fact that the new dual shock controllers will include a motion sensor - bumping up the price of the peripheral for everyone but being useless unless you own the camera. That will surely grate a little?

Factor in the fact that online gaming is no longer a free service either, requiring a PlayStation Plus subscription and the price differential between the two systems closes up further still.

Yes, Xbox One is expensive... but the PS4 isn't dramatically cheaper. Factor in these other issues too and it's perhaps not as clear cut as you'd think. The war will rage on!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Megabits' pick of E3 stories

Too busy to watch the live E3 coverage flowing from LA? Here are our top ten news snippets you need to know.

10) OUYA!
Independent console Ouya faced some unwanted attention from the LAPD, after the Entertainment Software Association called the cops on their small stall outside the expo centre.
Ouya fought back, like David and Goliath, and somehow managed to avoid laughing their arses off at the Segway Police.

9) Nintendo kept it quiet
With the WiiU flopping like a fish out of water, Nintendo keep things on the down-low at E3 this year, announcing very little except a line up for its doomed console:

    Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
    Batman: Arkham Origins
    Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate
    Deux Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut
    Disney Infinity
    Just Dance 2014
    Rayman Legends
    Scribblenauts: Unmasked
    Disney’s Planes
    Shin Megami Tensei IV
    Skylanders Swap Force
    Splinter Cell: Blacklist
    Sonic: Lost World
    Watch Dogs

That’s all folks!

8) Old series, new games
Quietly sneaking in at the back were Call of Duty Dog. Whoops…sorry… Ghosts.
Also in attendance were Splinter Cell: Blacklist – now with the much-missed Spies vs Mercs multiplayer firmly on the disk, and a new Halo – little of this was actually seen however.

7) Watch Dogs is looking ace
E3 2012 surprise winner Watch Dogs put in another strong showing, with some astonishing gameplay. I’m certainly very excited for this one, and I hope developer Ubisoft don’t screw it up at the last minute, or with silly gameplay decisions. Ghost Recon Future Soldier’s no matchmaking multiplayer… I’m looking at you.

6) Final Fantasy XV
There’s a new Final Fantasy! And it’s not another clone of the abysmal Final Fantasy 13! (Although there is one of those in the works… again.) XV looks pretty good, though I will miss the old style active time battle format perfected in Final Fantasy 7.

5) The Xbox One (Xbone)
It’s big, it’s black, it’s powerful – and Microsoft have fumbled the ball time and time again.
The future of the console hangs on whether Microsoft remember that they only make money if their products sell, and slapping your customers in the face with restrictions and always online nonsense is not the way to do it.

4) The PS4
I’ll let this video explain:

3) Battlefield 4 is just…stupid
In a hugely scripted but nevertheless entertaining stage demo, DICE showed off the sheer, terrifying depth of Battlefield 4. Far less than being the re-skin of Battlefield 3 I expected, this one is going to be huge, judging by what DICE had to show us.

2) Sony kicked Microsoft in the nuts
In an opening blow which will surely go down in the annals of the console wars, Sony casually strolled out in their conference and repeatedly kicked Microsoft right in the goolies, promising no always-online, no online check-in and as much game sharing as you want. Smooth moves. Well played Sony, well played – but will the corporation actually stick to its guns? Time will tell.

1) Battlefront Returns

Check out Andy Hemphill's blog, which you can find after the jump

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

E3: Stop bullying Kinect... It's not its fault it's different

As the dust settles on Microsoft's E3 event, media outlets and gamers alike are seemingly aghast at the price announcement. Certainly it places the Xbox One in the realms of a premium bit of kit and every bit as much of an investment as the PS3 when it launched. Many critics point directly to the new look Kinect as the culprit - the elephant in the room that they suggest is single highhandedly responsible for the high price point.

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 argument 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.

Even now, several years since its launch, 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 weak games lineup.

Granted it was a big beast to have sitting atop your TV, and the room space required was a little limiting. And not to mention the fact it cost a small fortune - almost as much as the console itself! There are also issues with its sensitivity, lag and how can be successfully integrated into mainstream games...

But take a step back good people and consider this - it's a damn clever bit of kit and has huge potential. So much so that Microsoft has placed it firmly at the centre of its new console and painstakingly addressed each and every one of the issues that dogged the original.

Why do we always hate things that try something new? Why are we so scared of change? If you're a Kinect hater, it shouldn't detract from your love of gaming - why would it?

The newer version needs a smaller playspace, can pick up more players at once, identifies you and signs you in, boasts better voice control... it can even see you in the dark and calculate your heart rate for God's sake! Sure, it's always got to be on - a little worrying even for the less privacy conscious among us - and nothing will function without it but why such uproar?

I say calm down and stop the complaining. The majority of hardware systems have their teething problems and duff games - but you've got to admit that the capabilities of this new gizmo are pretty astounding.

This would be a very boring world without change and innovation. Think how boring it would be if popular games were just rehashed and repackaged each year (oh, wait!). And where would we be without innovations like the NES Power Glove, eh?

Hardware is just as important as a new gaming franchise... the chances are it won't live up to expectations at first but those problems will no doubt be ironed out pretty fast. Chill out people and embrace the motion-controlled future! Kinect is here to stay.

Rant over.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Remember Me Review

It's not often you get a shiny new IP towards the end of a console's life but Capcom's latest effort is most welcome. Boasting graphics you wouldn't expect to see until later this year on a next gen machine, and a concept that's both fresh and innovative, Remember Me is not quite unforgettable - but it is damn good.

Remember Me is a new third person adventure from new French studio, DONTNOD, and is a kind of amalgam of all kinds of great gaming moments. Shimmying up drainpipes and leaping across ledges is more than a little reminiscent of the Uncharted series or Enslaved, while combat seems as though lifted from Rocksteady's Batman titles - with a little Devil May Cry thrown in for good measure. The cyberpunk undertone echoes that of Deus Ex and even the graphics and depth of field makes me think back to the days of Beneath a Steel Sky. It's a game with many influences that also manages to be completely unique.

Set in Neo-Paris 2084, we're introduced to an age where memories are a valuable commodity, uploaded and shared among the masses - a kind of Facebook for the mind! All this is made possible thanks to brain implants developed by all-powerful mega corporation, Memorize. Among its minions is Nilin - a "memory hunter" capable of manipulating minds and stealing those all important memories.

Thing is, we meet her shortly after she's been betrayed by her employer and has had her own thoughts erased. The irony.  It's therefore up to us to take control of the feisty female protagonist and - with a little help from underground rebel group, the Errorists - liberate her memories while getting some revenge in the process.

We join her as she's awoken in a laboratory, confused, alone and knowing little more than her name. It's up to you to help her escape. Thus begins a decent tutorial showingcasing her basic skills, the various controls and giving a taste of the gorgeous graphics that permeate each and every level.

Besides the basics of movement, the introduction to the Combo Lab explains how the player can customise attack moves. By collecting XP (PMP points) and unlocking "Pressens", we're able to tailor streams of combos, making them as complex and as powerful as we choose; the longer the combo, the stronger it becomes.

Initially, these feel fairly tricky to pull off and button mashing proves ineffective. It's all about getting the timings right and soon you'll find your rhythm, striking and dodging like a pro. Even the background music reacts and helps you gauge your strikes. It's a great system - if seemingly a little over complicated at first.

You'll quickly unlock access to all four Pressen types: health regeneration, increased damage, chain attacks and a cooldown add on which means your special S-Pressen powers regenerate a little faster. These S-Pressens temporarily provide additional abilities, such as unleashing a powerful chain of attacks, stunning enemies or turning them against one another.

Handily you can access this Lab menu at any time to make changes, and improve your odds against your foes. Surrounded by loads of Leapers and need to despatch them quickly? Then assign loads of strike moves to your pad. Need some additional health while fighting a Skinner - apply the health Pressens. It's a simple but effective mechanic that certainly adds a skill element to the proceedings.

Besides Pressens and S-Pressen moves, other abilities will be unlocked during your playthrough too. One particular highlight is the ability to steal memories and replay them. In practice this means you see a ghost image of your victim and how they navigate a minefield, or how they avoid robot drones. And then there's the Spammer - a pulse-like weapon acquired after beating one of the early bosses. As you progress, this is upgraded so you can perform more powerful strikes or manipulate objects.

Stealing the show, however, is Nilin's ability to change the future.Effectively a series of mini-games, the aim is to replay your target's recent memories and then manipulate them to change the outcome in your favour. An early example revolves around an assassin who's after you for a hefty bounty; the only way to prevent her from finishing you off is to infiltrate her mind. Turns out she's only in it for the money... she needs to bump you off to pay for medical care for her husband. Aw. All you have to do - through thumbstick twiddling - is watch out for memory glitches and interact with objects that will coerce his doctor to kill him, thus ending the would-be assassin's need for money! Clever, eh? 

Sadly, there are only a few of these memory games - and they're all pretty simple to complete. It would have been great if they'd had multiple outcomes that could alter your playthrough. As it stands, should you fail you just try again - manipulating other objects until you get the right solution. It's an underused gem of an idea.

Remember Me is clearly a bit of a looker and the atmosphere is fantastic throughout. If you really want to experience the delights of a futuristic Paris, you can even head into the options menu, turn on the subtitles and change the audio to French! The lush colours and detail of the city, from the beautiful architecture to the water effects in the slums and sewers, are lovely to look at. A minor gripe perhaps is that the character models do seem a little less accomplished compared with the amazing backgrounds. It's also a real shame that you can't actually interact with much... no discussions with passing robots, you can't purchase items from stalls and you can't properly explore.

This was perhaps the biggest disappointment. There's a rather strict predefined - and clearly highlighted - path, punctuated by set piece attacks by groups of bad guys. It's no bad thing - and the story is strong - but I'd question the replayability factor if you're not particularly bothered about mopping up all the collectibles for achievement purposes.

Camera angles can also be a sense of frustration, restricting your vision during fights and proving a little disorienting when leaping between platforms.

Some parts of the game are particularly tricky on the toughest difficulty setting and deaths and restarts become commonplace. Annoyingly, the load times take a little longer than I'd like - and this starts to grate after a while. Saying that, the combat is enjoyable - if a little repetitive - although most enemies can be beaten simply by running in circles around them and occasionally firing off your Spammer or leaping in for a quick strike or two. A bit of a cop out but highly effective.

There's no denying that Remember Me is a great game with a strong plot. Visually, it's very impressive and the soundtrack and dialogue is really well done. It's certainly a game that oozes finesse. The lack of multiplayer and limited replayability perhaps works against it a little, and I can't help but be a little disappointed that there are so few of the memory glitch mini games - especially as they were touted as one of Remember Me's main selling points. Nevertheless, Nilin's plight is entertaining and well worth experiencing. Don't forget to pick up a copy

Reviewed on Xbox 360

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Galactic Phantasy Review

While searching for a game with enough depth to keep myself amused on long journeys, I was pleasantly surprised to find a group of games that I never considered might make it onto the iPad – Space Simulators. Imagine the X series, or EVE Online, but in your sweaty hands instead of at your desk for weeks on end. Galactic Phantasy takes some of the best aspects of larger games, distills them into a brew of its own and polishes it to a high sheen – even though it sometimes lacks in depth.

Starting you off – as so many games of this ilk do – with a small ship, Phantasy's storyline sees the player character battle through a number of star systems, unravelling a mystery that stays entertaining – despite the badly spelled and poorly constructed sentences. For the record, Moonfish Software, if you're looking for somebody to sub-edit your copy into a semblance of English far less likely to embarrass you, let me know…

The game itself revolves around gathering cash by completing a number of different style of missions – mercenary jobs that see you taking on fleets of ships, thievery (or 'robbing', as the game's pigeon English would have it: ' Items robbed', it lists at the end of the mission) or smuggling. You can also make money through trade, and by discovering 'golden routes' of supply and demand – but let's face it, that's boring, and blowing up enemy ships is far more fun.Thankfully the combat is intense, if simplistic stuff.

Working within a fleet of up to three ships, the player can use a combination of missiles and laserfire to destroy enemy vessels, being careful to manage power levels and shields, which need to be raised manually. It's tense stuff at first, but it quickly becomes obvious that the game's AI is poor, and it's easy to outwit the enemy ship captains by making them raise their shields over and over with single missile strikes, then broadsiding them when they recharge.

Also, enemy capital ships are unlikely to take any notice of your other fleet elements, instead hounding the player relentlessly, and leaving themselves open to attack. Poor AI aside, however, the battles are thrilling and addictive.

Aside from battles and missions, you can also spend credits buying new ships, weapons and parts, and micromanaging your fleet of three ships. It's just a shame you can never have more than one fleet, and they can't be set to trade automatically. There's also no scope to build yourself space stations or orbital factories – aspects that would of made a big different to the depth on offer. There is, however, a lot of waiting around to be done.

Galactic Phantasy's galaxy is pretty big, and travelling from system to system can take a long time – especially when you've got slow transports in tow. It wasn't unheard for me to go make a cup of tea or tidy my flat as my fleet crawled across the screen.

Graphically the game looks great on iPad, though the buttons can be unresponsive, and are a little too small for my fat fingers. The music, however, is repetitive and dull, and its midi-inspired tracks can really drive you nuts after a while – even after you warp to a new system and the background elevator muzak changes. However, odd AI and poor grammar aside, Galactic Phantasy is a decent space simulator with a well-imagined battle system and more than enough depth to keep your hands busy on a train into London.

Good stuff:
Lots to do and see – at first
Looks fantastic
Addictive battles and resource gathering

Not so good stuff:
Repetitive missions and grinding required
Dumb AI
Horrible grammar

Reviewed on iOS

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Top Ten things you need to know about the Xbox One

So Microsoft has unveiled its new console, the ‘Xbox One’. It looks like a late 80s VHS player, and has ambitions of being the centre of your living room – and it might just do it too – if it works. I’m betting right now it won’t. So, here’s a sarcastic bluffer’s guide to the launch if you missed it

10) There’s a new Call of Duty (Naturally)
What an enormous shock, the new console will ship with a new Call of Duty- Call of Duty: Ghosts, this one featuring slightly shinier men to shoot at, and a dog you’ll build a ‘close bond’ with – so say goodnight Fido… It will no doubt feature a Pavlov’s Dogs-style drip-feed multiplayer and be largely identical to its forebears.

9) It responds to your voice
“Xbox on” turns it on, and the rest is pretty straightforward after that. It can switch back and forth between games and the console’s many other functions on command – so you’ll be able to look doubly stupid in front of your friends. (Am I the only one who’ll stick to a controller, thank-you?)

8) It’s got Blu-Ray Blu-ray! 
In your Xbox! It’d be even better had the PS3 not already got that feather in its cap.

7) It can do Skype, and picture-in-picture
In its drive to make its games console into a multi-media computer-you-like, Microsoft have teamed up with outside developers to feature their programmes. This means you’ll be able to Skype using the Xbox One, and keep on gaming or watching a film at the same time, which is cool, I admit – especially for those of us who can multitask (so not me…)

6) It’s a powerful beast (about the same as the PS4…)
I won’t go into the details – it’s plenty powerful, and will be able to make games even shinier than before. It’s got plenty of RAM, so it should run smoothly, and more chips than the East End on a Saturday night.

5) Kinect comes in the box (and it might work this time)
Wave-your-arms-a-lot peripheral Kinect is an integral part of the system this time around (not a half-arsed attempt to capitalise on the Wii’s casual gamer market). Hopefully this will mean it actually works properly – and Microsoft believe it should work in the dark, recognise individual users and have good games for it. Of course, the fact that it’s always on when the Xbox is on might freak us out a little…

4) 15 new games in year one, eight exclusives
I bet you this shiny sixpence the number of exclusives drops once the PS4 rolls up its sleeves and really kicks off this latest generation of the console war.

3) It thinks it’s a TV
You can plug your Xbox into your digital boxes, and stream live TV from the net. Microsoft have also entered into deals with big sports names to stream live matches.Of course, you could always just turn over manually using your TV remote. Rather shortsighted, that, Microsoft…

2) Microsoft has ignored its core audience
If there’s one thing the launch showed, its that Bill Gates’ former empire has forgotten what the Xbox is – a games console. While I can see the sense in such a move to push the console as the ‘heart of the living room’, launching without a roster of new titles was always likely to put gamers’ noses out of joint – and it’s gamers who will buy this beast (at a massively inflated price, no doubt).

1) It’s going to be tricky to play preowned titles
What was more telling by its lack was talk of pre-owned titles, and backwards compatibility. Microsoft have been deliberately vague about all that, but I wouldn’t hold out hope. There was also talk about digital rights management, and not being able to swap games with friends, as they’ll need to be installed on the console, and may well link themselves only to that unit. Time will tell if these fearful rumours come to pass…

So that’s my quick look at the Xbox One – expect a more insightful (and hopefully less sarcastic) examination of the facts at E3 later this year.

Questions Microsoft didn’t answer:
How much will it cost?
When will it be released exactly? (Later this year is the best they can do so far)
Why didn’t you make it look less like a big, black brick?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bioshock Infinite Review

From the very moment I booted Bioshock Infinite in my Xbox, I was hooked – here is a game which delights in spectacle, but backs it up with a solid story, addictive gameplay and powerful message beneath its skin.

The year is 1912, you are Booker DeWitt – a former soldier turned private investigator – who gambled, and got in deep with the sharks. Desperate to clear his slate, Booker is offered a deal – find a girl called Elizabeth and bring her to New York, and all debts are paid. The only problem is that this girl isn't even on Earth – she's in the clouds floating by above it. She's in the floating city of Columbia – a paradise of man-made technologies and religious enlightenment. Or is it?


After a dark, dramatic opening, Booker finds himself being shot into the sky, eventually docking with the floating city, and entering a dark world which will leave you questioning everything – be it religion, faith, technology, the law, morals or race issues.

Ruled over by self-proclaimed prophet Father Comstock, Columbia is a rogue nation which outwardly looks idyllic, but scratch beneath its veneer of steampunk American power and you quickly find just how rotten the soul of humanity is – and what it will take to finish the job.

Anyone familiar with the previous Bioshock titles – or even System Shock before them – will be instantly at home with the world of Bioshock Infinite. The game follows the conventions laid down by its predecessors – combining shooting with various 'vigors' that offer special powers, such as the ability to summon a swarm of crows, throw fire or suspend your enemies in the air.

A powerful melee attack is also available in the form of the 'skyhook' - a mechanical device which allows the people of Columbia to zip around the city's many floating environments via 'skylines', like personal monorails. It also allows Booker to decapitate his enemies with a meaty 'crunch'.


This triumvirate of weapons, vigors and skyhook makes the meat of the game very enjoyable, and offers a considerable challenge on the harder difficulties – it is, however, let down by a slightly awkward radial menu, which can make switching between vigors tricky while a 'fireman' is belching flames over your bare arms.

The game's lengthy campaign takes pains to place the player in a series of stunning, complicated environments, and keeps throwing objectives at you which make sense – but often come from left-field. However, unlike the previous titles Infinite indulges in wide-open spaces and rewards exploration.

Whereas the underwater world of Rapture featured in the previous Bioshock titles would often become a corridor-shooter, Infinite indulges in swooping battles on skylines, duels against hovering zeppelins and complicated puzzles which leave you scratching your head if you move off the beaten path. Add to this the abilities offered by Bookers' erstwhile companion – the mysterious Elizabeth – and the action ramps up a notch.

Once rescued (or was she?) Elizabeth's abilities quickly come to light. She can open 'tears' in reality, and pull things through to aid Booker in the fighting – such as ammo or health, cover, weapons or robot warriors. Exactly how she can do this is a source of deep concern for both Booker and the people of Columbia, but he isn't going to overlook her mysterious powers when they can keep him from being smashed into red paste by a chaingun-toting robotic George Washington…

The world of Columbia is a masterpiece of art design, both graphically and musically. It's clear that 2K have put their all into creating a world for the player to inhabit, and the environments you have to cross, be it a floating city or a gargantuan, military-themed theme park (complete with impossible waterfall and its own beach) never fail to amaze, and looking into the distance to watch the buildings of the city rise and fall on the clouds is simply stunning.


The score and voice acting is also excellent, pulling off both creepy atmosphere and uplifting melody at the same time – all backed up by both recorded and live conversations between Columbia's many NPCs, which offer an insight into just how broken the heart of the city is, beneath the shining exterior of progress.

Exploring the city via the skylines is a delight in itself – especially as Columbia feels alive in a way that Rapture never did – bustling with people – people who always have their own agenda. You're only passing through to clear your debt, but expect to be drawn into a wider plot, a revolution and many other unexpected twists along the way.

My one sticking point, however, is that despite the great art design, Columbia's beauty is often let down by the Xbox 360's ageing hardware. Up close the textures are often poor, and if you look too closely at the distant floating buildings you can see them for the 2D cutouts they really are. It's rather disappointing to come through an opening replete with flowing water, uplifting hymns, candlelight and mist in the air, then spot a poster for a robotic toy that is out of focus and grainy – it's jarring to the eye, and can spoil the immersion somewhere.

However, despite this, Bioshock: Infinite aimed high – and hit its target right in the clouds. In a sweeping, intense, lengthy campaign, the player is brought face-to-face with the darker side of human nature, even as the beauty and modernity of Columbia floats by serenely. There's so much to do and see here that replay value is assured, and you won't be disappointed.

Reviewed on Xbox 360

Check out Andy Hemphill's blog, which you can find after the jump

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Riffing On: The Demise Of Lucasarts

In a shocking turn of events, various industry news sources are reporting that Disney – the new owners of the Star Wars brand after beardy-wierdy George Lucas decided to take his money and run – have decided to close down Lucasarts, creators of such great titles as Dark Forces, Grim Fandango and Star Wars: Battlefront.

In some ways, I find such a bold move to be a shocking development in the long history of the developer, but when you consider the games most recently launched by Skywalker Ranch, is it any surprise that Mickey and co have decided to farm the licence out?

With the likes of the awful Kinect Star Wars and dull Force Unleashed 2 tarnishing the venerable developer's reputation, perhaps it was actually time to put the old dog down and let new life flow into what is arguably one of the biggest-selling franchises the world has ever known (except for Harry Potter, naturally…).

If I'm honest with myself, I'm not really surprised by the news – shocked, but not surprised. I had already discussed the falling quality of games at Lucasarts, and offering the licence to other developers could finally be the shot in the arm the Star Wars universe needs.

However, I would be loath to acknowledge the number of staff who will lose their jobs over this move – people who brought great games, from point-and-click adventures to space combat simulators – to millions of computers and consoles across the world. Here's hoping they find a place in the new order – perhaps some will be picked up by developers now freed to bid on the Star Wars franchise now that internal production is to come to an end.

Another downside is that the promising Star Wars 1313 has reportedly been cancelled, for now – but if a new developer could be found, it could turn out to be a great swansong for the fallen giant that was Lucasarts.

So, farewell Lucasarts, thanks for Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle, TIE Fighter, Rogue Squadron, Dark Forces and so many other brilliant titles. I can't help feeling that if you'd actually bloody made Star Wars Battlefront 3 this wouldn't of happened… May the Force be with you.

Check out Andy Hemphill's blog, which you can find after the jump


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tomb Raider Review

Written by Matt Tudball 

Back in my life, and back in my heart. For a long time she has been absent, and her void was filled by a certain cheeky American treasure hunter going by the name of Nathan Drake. But now Lara has burst back in, guns blazing (well, arrows first, guns come later) and has since happily reclaimed her place as one of my favourite gaming characters.

The Tomb Raider reboot is an excellent game, and I’m enjoying it far more than I thought I would. I last dabbled with Lara in Tomb Raider: Underworld, and while that game was OK, it wasn’t a patch on any of the Uncharted series. I didn’t really care for the characters, and not knowing much of the previous games’ backstory (my last lot of tomb raiding came in the shape of Chronicles on the PC), I just couldn’t get as involved with it as I had with Drake.

But with Tomb Raider, I’m hooked. Hooked, attached, involved and engaged. I’m rooting for Lara, I care for her, and I want her to survive and conquer this Lost-like island that’s she’s found herself stranded on in her latest outing. I think what really works for this game is the open world element. You certainly do get the feeling of being stranded out there, and I’m enjoying being able to look around and re-visit areas before moving on to the next section of the story – something you’re not able to do in Uncharted.

But the game also doesn’t leave you totally out there on your own. The story moves along at a good pace, and guides you through the terrain with gentle encouragement. It keeps you wanting to know what exactly is happening on that crazy island – although, not wanting to blow my own trumpet or anything, I think I’ve already figured that out a quarter of the way through the game. There are also some good ‘shock’ elements to the storyline, such as unexpected deaths and the like, in the beautifully rendered cutscenes.


The gameplay also ‘feels’ good. Lara’s animation is a lot more fluid, and feels ‘lighter’ than previous incarnations. She’s fast and agile, and responds well to the controls. She’s got some new moves too (new to me at least), like throwing dirt in an enemy’s eye to temporarily blind them, or using her axe to scale rocky walls.

And then there’s her weapons. Her bow is surprisingly great, and can be used for a variety of functions. The guns also feel more sturdy, and seem to offer a higher degree of control than I’ve experienced in other Tomb Raider games (and kind of reminds me of Uncharted a little). Having the ability to upgrade Lara’s weapons and skills gives the game a more inclusive feel as well – something you don’t get with Uncharted.

The graphics are pretty damn amazing, and while I was initially shocked to see what they’d done to my beloved Lara (giving her a facelift and a breast reduction – this new Lara is only 21, after all, and so they had to de-age her somewhat), this newer, younger Lara has certainly grown on me. The violence and gore is satisfyingly realistic, and the environments are of cinematic quality.


My only gripe about the game (so far) is the voice acting. The new Lara sounds a little bit too un-posh for me, and *gasp*, slightly American? And also, she’s lacking any real drama in her voice. She’s being knocked out by pirates, tied up and dropped onto spikes, falling down cliff faces and being almost devoured by wolves, and all she can muster after these pant-wetting and death-defying stunts is a feeble ‘God, that was close’.
It just doesn’t quite do her justice.

Overall I was massively impressed with this game, and can’t wait to see where it goes. It really is an excellent origin story, and it does an excellent job of understanding what shapes Lara and made her into the kick-ass Tomb Raider she was when we first met her. I can’t wait to get to the end of this adventure, and hope the developers carry it on in such fine style soon. Watch out Drake, you’ve got some competition.

(For the record, there is a multiplayer offering included with the lengthy singleplayer campaign, but it’s not very good anyway.)

*First published on Andy Hemphill's blog, which you can find after the jump

Thursday, March 21, 2013

History Legends of War Review

Turn based strategy games seem to be coming back into vogue right now, thanks largely to the upsurge in iOS releases and 2K Games’ recent sleeper hit XCOM Enemy Unknown. This latest offering for Xbox 360, PS3, PC and PS Vita comes from Slitherine – well known for its portfolio of war games such as HISTORY Great Battles Medieval – and shoves you firmly into the boots of the legendary US General George S. Patton, commander of the Third U.S. Army during World War II.


The single player campaign takes place circa 1944 and tasks you with braving the beaches of Normandy and progressing through Nazi-infested Europe towards Berlin. It’s quite a journey too, with four separate operations and a total of 21 missions that require you to attack, defend or sabotage targets. Don’t be fooled – this is not your typical war game; it’s rather sedate with you and the enemy alternating turns until you either complete your objective or your squad of soldiers is killed.

There’s very little gloss presentation wise and after a couple of static menu screens you’re able to opt for the single player campaign or a pretty limited multiplayer mode. The solo campaign is the core focus and can certainly be challenging on higher difficulty settings, guaranteed to eat up a fair few hours of gameplay – and potentially keep you coming back for more.

A short tutorial outlines the basics of movement, shooting and camera control, as well as a brief overview about recruiting, healing and upgrading your army. Each mission is fairly self-explanatory; your travails across France, Belgium and Germany requiring enemy soldiers to be tracked and killed, while other objectives could consist of sabotage, rescue or reconnaissance missions.

You’ll quickly be rewarded with new units and unlock upgrades to enhance your soldiers’ abilities. There are 36 different types of units on offer including regular infantry, paratroopers, snipers and commandos. You can even get your hands on tanks and aircraft – although limited fuel is available so even their selection requires some thought and tactical nous.

Every unit has a finite number of moves and shots per turn, meaning each turn needs to be carefully considered to prevent you being left a sitting duck with no cover nearby. There are plenty of decisions to factor in, from the importance of remaining outside an enemy’s line of sight to the type of weapon you’re carrying and the distance to your target when firing. If you’re further away, the likelihood of a hit is reduced – and bear in mind, you only get so many shots per turn so finding yourself surrounded by enemy forces and only able to shoot a couple of them will no doubt result in your untimely demise.

Graphically, everything looks decent enough and despite slightly “meh” title screens and mission briefings, war-torn Europe looks suitably detailed. From the cobbled streets and clusters of trees to the old farmhouses and watchtowers, it all looks very pleasant and serviceable with reasonable lighting effects and textures. Saying that, there’s certainly nothing to write home about and you wouldn’t grab the disc to show off your console’s graphical prowess. The same goes for the sound effects, which largely consist of a brief acknowledgment of “Yes, sir” when you make an order.

The game does feel slightly text heavy in places with plenty to read between missions, although this is alleviated during some sections thanks to a narrator reading everything aloud. I can’t help but feel that some movie clips or official History Channel content should have been peppered throughout and accessible from the outset (like it was in HISTORY Great Battles Medieval – although I did moan about this being low quality during that review), but it’s not a major oversight in the grand scheme of things.

While the game’s title suggests it is an accurate reflection of the times and carries the History Channel moniker, it does explain that some details of the war have been adjusted slightly to help the narrative move along. While this doesn’t detract from the feel of the game, these “Hollywood” tweaks may irk history buffs. In fact, realism isn’t really the main selling point of Legends. After a few times witnessing someone under your command still standing after countless direct hits at close range, or having survived an onslaught of tank shells or grenades thanks to the smallest bit of cover, the realism factor quickly fades.

Rewarded with XP - or Prestige Points - after each mission, survivors can be upgraded – their offensive, defensive or tactical abilities enhanced to make them more effective in the war effort. After a few soldiers have their accuracy ramped up, and have accrued more health or a larger ammo clip, you really start to feel like a bit of a badass – and you can’t help but develop a bond with the tiny fellas. On the downside, their eventual demise really does hurt that little bit more.

Just like the old days of Sensible Software’s Cannon Fodder, there’s a real emphasis on your squad and before long you’ll find yourself growing quite fond of soldiers who have been by your side through thick and thin. You select your squaddies before each mission, lead them through the varied terrain, complete the myriad objectives and wince as when they fall to enemy gunfire. As you progress you’ll take pride in the XP and medals they earn, and the abilities that they develop. It makes it all the more painful when they fall in battle and you can’t help but mourn their loss. There may not be a hill dotted with tiny tombstones as there was in Sensible’s day but the overall effect is pretty similar.

Once you’re done with the solo campaign and have tried the various difficulty settings, the offline multiplayer option allows you to pit your wits against a more formidable opponent. The so-called “Hot-Seat System” means two players take on the roles of American and German armies and can do battle on the same console, taking turns as they would in the main game. It’s a nice addition but unlikely to add too much longevity once the main single player portion of the game is complete. It is a shame that online play isn’t included, although I wonder whether there would be many opportunities to regularly find a willing participant waiting in the lobbies.

After some decent play time, I really enjoyed Legends. It successfully combines turn based strategy with RPG elements. It’s slow paced but occasionally frenetic, and the various difficulty levels mean there is a fair bit of replayability. For the achievement hunters out there, attaining maximum Gamerscore is perfectly possible too. While it lacks the polish of XCOM, Legends is an engrossing and fun game that will certainly appeal to gamers who have tired of first person shooters and fancy a slightly more sedate and thoughtful experience.

Reviewed on Xbox 360

Monday, March 18, 2013

Crysis 3 Review

Having been a long-time fan of the Crysis series, my initial reaction to the news that Crysis 3 would be set once more in New York City ran along the lines of 'what…again?' My second comment was 'they gave him a….a bow?'. However, despite the action once again being set in the most invaded city in the world, Crysis 3 is a fitting end (for now) to the series, taking the open-world action of Crysis and the story-driven campaign of Crysis 2 and forging both into an alloy all of its own.

Picking up a number of years after the explosive conclusion of Crysis 2, the game opens with nanosuit-wearing supersoldier Prophet being rescued by a team of freedom fighters. In the time since the apparent defeat of the alien 'Ceph', evil corporate empire CELL has expanded to become the world government in all but name, holding a monopoly on power from its New York headquarters.

As for the city, it's been covered in a gargantuan 'nanodome', and has regressed to an 'I Am Legend'-style urban wilderness, complete with bogs and roaming herds of deer. 

Prophet – now an entity made of alien technology, a dead man's body and a disembodied soul – is convinced the Ceph are still a threat, but consents to help the freedom fighters fight the power. Naturally, it all goes to hell. Thankfully, however, you're still the nanosuit-wearing badass you always were.

The action will feel instantly familiar to anyone who's played Crysis before. Prophet's alien suit allows him to turn invisible, run an stupidly fast speeds, jump like a cat, punch through walls and deflect bullets like chaff. How you use these abilities is up to you, but most players will likely find it best to mix and match the nanosuit's powers for the task at hand.

However, the inclusion of Prophet's new toy – a compound bow with a selection of different arrowheads – demonstrates the game's heavy slant towards using the nanosuit for stealth and hit-and-run attacks. Thankfully, that’s the kind of play I like best. The bow can be used while cloaked, allowing the player to take out a room full of bad guys like Rambo, leaving the last remaining enemy to panic about being hunted and fire desperately in every direction.

There are, of course, a selection of other weapons on offer, but you're likely to find yourself coming back to the bow more than most, unless you prefer to hit the armour and rip that heavy machine gun off its mounting. Hacking enemy turrets and drones is another option now available, and one which can come in very useful as a distraction.

While the game's levels are fewer in number this time around, the arenas Prophet must negotiate are far bigger and offer a number of ways to approach your target, be it through stealth or force. This plays to the gamers who experienced the freedom and sandbox nature of the original Crysis – but sadly includes the awkward-to-drive vehicles and occasional poor AI.

Thankfully, this time the enemy won't wade into shallow water and drown trying to find you…
Graphically the game looks amazing as usual. While I was initially irritated at the setting, seeing New York transformed into a wilderness can be a fascinating experience – such as finding an overturned, rusted taxi being used as a bird's nest. 

The character animation and AI are a lot better this time around as well – good thing too, as the brilliant voice acting makes the cast so much more three-dimentional than in previous titles. My personal favourite is former series protagonist Michael 'Psycho' Sykes, an ex-nanosuit soldier who was tortured almost to death and 'skinned' of his symbiotic suit. It's intriguing to see how he adjusts to being 'only human' once again. In two words: not well. 

The sound effects and score are top-notch, as usual, and maintain the illusion that the excellent graphics create.

As for the multiplayer, which was pretty shoddy in Crysis 2, only minor improvements have been made in the series' final instalment. While the matchmaking is a little faster, the game still suffers from occasional but debilitating lag issues, resulting in players ignoring headshots until five seconds after you pulled the trigger. That said, the new 'hunter' mode – which sets two nanosuited agents against unaugmented human soldiers – is great fun.

Overall, Crysis 3 is an excellent conclusion to a brilliant series. While it doesn't get everything right, there's more than enough to keep both longtime series fans and newcomers alike happy.

Reviewed on Xbox 360

Check out Andy Hemphill's blog after the jump