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, February 27, 2013

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review

There was a cutscene in Metal Gear Solid 4 where cyborg ninja Raiden turns up and saves his old friend and mentor Solid Snake by kicking so much ass it makes you want to cheer, easily slicing up five 'GEKKO' unmanned walkers without breaking a sweat. Gamers were somewhat surprised to see the wussy, girly hero of Metal Gear Solid 2 reborn as a badass cyborg – and I would guess that most had the same reaction as I did. "I want to do that."

Thankfully, Platinum Games has hit that nail completely on the head. Unlike other titles in the series, Rising (I refuse to call it 'Revengeance'. It's not a word, never was…) is an action-focussed hack-and-slasher which aims to give the player that feeling of being a badass cyborg ninja – and it pulls it off brilliantly.

Picking up four years after the last Metal Gear game, Rising opens with former child soldier and Solid Snake's protégé Raiden helping an African nation get back on its feet, with his private military company Maverick offering security and training. Beforelong both the country and Maverick are attacked by cyborg agents of rival PMC Desperado Enforcement, and Raiden and his team are drawn into a wider plot which ties the story together, but is nothing to write home about.

While there is some deeper exploration of the thematic conventions behind Raiden's dark past, it's mostly overshadowed by the action - and that's just fine, as the action is fantastic.

Platinum, the geniuses behind witch-em-up actioner Bayonetta and slide-em-up shooter Vanquish, have done a fantastic job bringing Rising to life, and the game's addictive action is backed up with sharp controls – which are then sadly let down with a tricksy camera.

Rising's focus on melee combat is its strength, and the control scheme combines fast combos with a precision strike called 'Blade Mode. In this mode the action slows to a crawl, and Raiden can carefully carve up his enemies with swings of his sword, selectively cutting off limbs to earn extra upgrade points or new weapons. Of course, you can also just go nuts and slice your foe into a red paste – cathartic, if slightly disturbing.

Generally, the combat revolves around using combination attacks to break through your target's armour, before using Blade Mode to finish them off. Using Blade Mode is also essential for keeping Raiden alive and fighting. The Zandatsu technique – or 'cut and take' – allows the ninja to slice open his enemies by striking at a specific point, before gruesomely removing their electrolyte-filled spines and taking their power for yourself. It's brutal, but satisfying.

Of course, human-sized enemies aren't the only foe Raiden has to face, and at many points in the game you find yourself taking on everything from tanks to helicopters to full-size Metal Gear, pulling off incredible stunts as you do – and all backed by high-energy rock which draws you into the bloodletting.

The main problem with the relentless pace of the action is its constant need to stop for Metal Gear-style introspection, especially as the storytelling can sometimes be rather clunky, and relies heavily on the player knowing something of the Metal Gear backstory. Equally, certain gameplay elements can stop things dead – such as the need to stand still while using missile launcher subweapons or to throw grenades. Similarly, using captured enemy boss weapons cuts the number of possible sword combos in half, and to deselect these special weapons you have to stand still and flick through Metal Gear-style menus.

But these are minor faults at best – the main issue is the camera, which is stubborn, frankly.
Prone to spinning out of your control, Rising's camera is obstinate, and unhelpful at times. When you're surrounded by enemies it can make it extremely difficult to see where you're being attacked from – and this is a big issue when your parry has to be aimed in that direction.

It also makes some of the optional sneaky bits very difficult, as trying to steer through a dark room and look to your left while the camera is desperate to get behind Raiden can be infuriating.
It's also an issue during some of the boss battles, as despite a handy lock-on for the camera, keeping up with what's going on through a screen full of missiles and gunfire can be a nightmare.

That said, the action itself is nice to look at, and there's very little issue with Rising's graphics. While the urban vistas on offer aren't exactly the lush jungles of MGS4, there's enough eye candy to keep you interested. The score and voice acting is a mixed bag, however, as constant high-energy rock can tire out the action pretty quickly. As for the cast, while most stand up OK, a couple – notably the man playing Boris, a Russian, and Raiden himself – can slip into B-Movie acting, which spoils the serious tone the storyline takes. Still, that's nothing new for Metal Gear games – or indeed any Japanese-created title.

All in all, Rising does not disappoint. Sure, it's not your traditional Metal Gear, but there's plenty of nods to the series (yes, including a cardboard box), and Platinum have done a fantastic job making the player actually feel like a badass cyborg ninja. It's not perfect, but I defy you not to enjoy the combination of breakneck pace and pinpoint sword strikes.

Reviewed on Xbox 360

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ten Games That Need A Reboot (Part Two)

There are plenty of games from yesteryear that we'd love to make a comeback. Here's the second part of our wishlist for ten games that could use a next/current gen reboot. If you missed the first part, click here.

5) Flashback/Another World
Games so difficult they made you want to hurl your controller through a window, Flashback and Another World did a fantastic job of creating the tension and danger of strange planets in the far future. The smooth motion of the rotoscoped graphics made these two come to life for a generation of gamers, and I'd love to see a modern adventure game along the same lines. Let's just forget about 'Fade to Black', though.

4) G-Police/Colony Wars
Where did all the good shooters go? Whether on PC or consoles, the Colony Wars/G-Police titles were great looking, fun and intense shooters which deserve a new lease of life. Even played today, the game design that made them so special back in the 90s still shines through - even if the clunky control scheme isn't so hot. RIP, Psygnosis.

3) Space Invaders

Imagine, if you will, a super HD space battler against legions of enemy invaders, but with your squadron of friends beside you, using the buildings of some vast space-bound city to hide from alien attacks. Am I the only one who thinks a HD-remake would be great fun? Three generations of gamers can't be wrong.

2) X-Wing/TIE Fighter
Despite my constant begging that Lucasarts stop cocking about with things like Star Wars Kinect and release TIE Fighter on Steam, they're consistently ignoring me. So, perhaps a heartfelt plea for a remake of the seminal space shooters X-Wing and TIE Fighter might get through to them. Please, Disney/George, don't squander one of the best universes in science fiction by not releasing a new X-Wing vs TIE Fighter. It'll go down a storm.

1) Final Fantasy 7
Best RPG ever? Probably. Remake it. That's an order. Enough said.


Honourable mentions:

Space Hulk
Rick Dangerous

Ten Games That Need A Reboot (Part One)

Remember these? I do, and I think it's high time developers gave these brilliant titles a new lease of life. Necromancy isn't illegal, right…?

10) Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
Midway, a now defunct developer, did a really good job with Psi-Ops – it's just a shame the game was released alongside competitor psychic-fest Second Sight (which wasn't as good).
Nope, what's needed here is a new version of the HAVOK-powered mental shooter, with better graphics, but just as much crazy mind-possessing nonsense.


9) Urban Chaos
Way before Grand Theft Auto 3, Urban Chaos was running around the streets, shooting bad guys, climbing high towers and carjacking innocent pedestrians – and that was playing as a police officer. Dripping with attitude, this little-known title was great fun to play, offering both an open world and a crazy story which goes from gang-wars to the occult and back.

8) Road Rash
If you've played this Megadrive gem, then you know exactly why Road Rash could use a next-gen reboot. There's nothing like roaring up beside your best mate and thwacking him in the face with a metal pole, or a fistful of chains, before speeding off and over the finish line.

7) Streets of Rage

Like Road Rash, if the sound of this song makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, then you remember the sheer joy a few runs through Streets of Rage could bring on a cold winter evening in the 90s. Sure, the games were short and made little sense, but boy were they fun. Now excuse me while I go teabag this turkey leg to get my heath bar back to full.

6) The 'Strike' series
Fast-paced, addictive and endlessly replayable, Desert, Jungle and Urban strike were great titles. I'd love to get back behind the joystick of a Super Commanche helicopter again – just with proper graphics and a decent campaign length. That said, you can keep the crappy on-foot sections that plagued Urban Strike. No I don't want to go wandering around a Las Vegas casino with nothing but a pistol and a cricket box for protection…

Check out Part Two

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Rick's Due A Reboot... Bring Him Back

A friend asked me yesterday which games deserved a chance of a reboot what with the new generation of consoles on the horizon. It got me thinking and, of course, I rifled off a list of favourites that ate into my youth (Road Rash, Populous, Herzog Zwei, Battle Isle and so on). One of them that I thought would really be worthy of an update was Rick Dangerous.

Developed by Core Design and unleashed in 1989, a time typified by big hair, bad dress sense and 8-bit computing, it had everything the discerning gamer could have wished for. There was a suave spy for our protagonist, caverns and treasures, spear-wielding tribesmen, guns, explosives and - in the sequel - aliens and UFOs! While the original received positive scores, it was the futuristic second game, aptly-named Rick Dangerous 2, that won the plaudits. 

The guys at Core went on to design Lara Croft and she's still going strong. In fact, in a matter of weeks, we'll see her new self-named game appear on store shelves. And she looks a little different, having had a bit of a face lift and refresh too. So why not Rick? As a cross between Lara and Nathan Drake and more than a nod towards fedora-wearing Indiana Jones from the movies, there would surely be a market for his return. Imagine what could be done with Crysis-style graphics, a jungle environment like Far Cry 3 and awesome audio and voice acting... Come on someone, bring him back!!!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Top Tips For 2013 - Part Two

Here we are again, picking our most anticipated games of the year, with £20 riding on the highest aggregated Metacritic score come December. Bojeeva won by a country mile in 2012, but the battle to see which of us has the best taste in games continues in 2013...

Check out his five selected games for 2013 here.

Grand Theft Auto V
Pretty much a gimme, this one. Rockstar haven’t put a foot wrong with Grand Theft Auto, ever. Yes, some people complain that the fourth installment was too grim, and had too much emphasis on social aspects, but next time you hear someone moaning about that, ask them if they’d honestly rather not have played it? 

With GTA V, it looks like we’ll get a return to the over the top, planes-and-rockets style action of the earlier games, whilst retaining the detailed, realistic world of GTA IV. Only bigger. Much, much bigger. It seems clear that Rockstar are attempting to take everything that’s ever been praised about GTA and serve it all up on one plate, with an interesting new multi-character side dish.

Bioshock Infinite
The interesting thing about these lists is how much they force you to question what you look for in a game. I may spend all year lamenting the lack of originality on display in gaming, and wishing for interesting new worlds to explore, but come list time in January, I suddenly find I’m really just looking forward to familiarity. Take Bioshock Infinite. It’s not set in the undersea city of Rapture that hosted the first two games, and that bothered me. I was genuinely disappointed to be going somewhere new rather than returning to the same old environment. At least, I was until I saw the flying city of Columbia. Now, I’m champing at the bit for some plasmid and projectile action. 

Dark Souls II
If there’s a gamble on this list, it’s Dark Souls II. Some reports say we'll have it before 2014, some say in 2014. If the latter are correct (and with no official release date announced, they might well be) then my score will take a hit in this years Top 5 comp. I don’t care.

Dark Souls was so good, I’m damn well going to start being excited about it now, and stay that way till I play it. Dark Souls might just be the best game ever. Not actually my favourite, mind you-there might be two, maybe three games I’ve enjoyed more. But certainly the most compelling, the cleverest, most perfectly pitched balance of challenge and reward I’ve ever encountered. And let me be clear-I don’t play difficult games. I play games for the environments. I play games so that I can sit on my sofa yet immerse myself in alien worlds or historical settings. If a game is too difficult, I won’t get to see  those environments. By my standards, Dark Souls should have been the absolute antithesis of what I want from a game, but it wasn’t. It was a beautiful, frustrating, challenging and addictive set of detailed environments, assembled with breathtaking genius. I only wish there was a no-baddies mode so you could explore the entirety of the twisted yet near seamless map without being killed every three and a half seconds. Roll on the sequel.

As a massive nerd, either Deadpool or Injustice: Gods Among Us was going to make the list. Seeing as how I hate all fighting games with the exception of the Fight Night series, my choice was clear. 

Poor old Deadpool hasn’t been well treated by movies or games, but his starring role in High Moon’s 3rd person hack-and-shoot extravaganza will hopefully change all that. An unkillable mercenary who combines childlike exuberance, a desperate need to be liked and absolutely no grasp of social boundaries will make a delightful change from all those grunting super-soldiers that usually populate action games. It’s a comedy premise that will stand or fall on the dialogue, and early videos lean too heavily on the obnoxious, but I’m hoping the game itself will pull it off.

The Last Of Us
Long time Megabits readers will know how much I love a bit of post-Apocalyptic action. If exploring new environments is my favourite part of gaming, then exploring familiar worlds turned upside down by catastrophe is just the flipside of that coin. The Last Of Us offers action and exploration in a convincingly destroyed world, and it’s from Naughty Dog, so you know that it will be as watchable as it is playable.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Console Wars: Xbox 720, PS4 or Steam Box and Project Shield?

Written by David Bowen

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen consoles outside of Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony enter the market. Nintendo has been in the fight since the 1980s - initially, competing against Sega. Sony rose and stuck around and later, so did Microsoft. At this year’s CES 2013, Valve brought a lot of attention to themselves when they revealed, the much rumoured, Steam Box and, at the same event, NVidia caught audiences off guard with their portable console, Project Shield. Valve and NVidia are jumping directly into the mix and taking on the major consoles. Thus, are four consoles and three portable devices too much for the market, especially with Next-Gen consoles on the way?

The Steam Box - a PC that connects to the TV that supports Steam…Valve, along with several third-party companies, will develop their own style of Steam Box’s ranging from “Good”, “Better” and “Best” with a difference in performance quality. The interface, unsurprisingly, will be Steam’s Big Picture mode that Valve released earlier this year before CES. It can’t help being compared to the Big Three since it will be a home console for the living room and keep in mind Microsoft and PlayStation are gearing up for their next-gen consoles. Yep, gamers will contemplate buying the Steam Box over a next-gen console.

NVidia’s Project Shield - an android gaming device - was more of a surprise at CES and it received a lot of positivity after hands-on previews. Project Shield can play any android game or app but it stands out from the rest because it has an HDMI port so you can play it on HDTVs and it can stream PC games, as long as the PC has the latest NVidia graphics card. The controller resembles the Xbox style, with a screen attached to the top and is lighter than expected. Also, NVidia is stating that the Tegra 4 chip is the “world’s fastest processor” and thus will be able to play today’s high-end PC games smoothly (we’ll see how Battlefield 4 turns out).

So we have a new home console and a portable console hitting the scene. Most likely Valve will turn to their PC audience for the Steam Box. However, if their fans already have a heavily modified PC, will they shell out the same or more amounts of cash just to play their games on a TV? Project Shield will look towards android gamers - a different audience than Sony’s and Nintendo’s - but its ability to stream PC games might make it more prominent than the usual Android. Instead of playing portable spin-offs, such as Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty, gamers will be able to choose to play the real deal themselves.

Everyone was already questioning the next-gen consoles. Now with Valve and NVidia coming along, this may shake things up. Even though PC streaming isn’t Project Shield's main feature, it is putting PC gaming into a more prominent role in the industry. Or then again, they might not make a dent and things will remain the same with Microsoft, Nintendo, and PlayStation!

Monday, February 04, 2013

30 Minute Playtest- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

I admit to some trepidation when I first heard of Metal Gear Rising. Like many long-time MG fans, I found the idea of a hack-and-slash game featuring the Metal Gear name and very little in the way of stealth or sneaking to be somewhat… Odd.

Thankfully, with the release of a playable demo of Rising (I refuse to call it 'Revengeance', what a stupid title), my fears have almost completely dispelled.

Starring the once wussy but now badass cyborg ninja known as Raiden, Rising is another title from Platinum Games, the team behind the excellent but largely unknown Vanquish and the boobtacular Bayonetta. This time, unlike the magical combat of Bayonetta, or the gun-based mayhem of Vanquish, the action is all about the blades.

As a cyborg ninja, Raiden is superhumanly fast and capable of feats of strength denied to us mere mortals. He can move like the wind, climb walls with his claws, collate and extrapolate information like a computer and – delightfully – slice almost anything into tiny little pieces. This central tenet of Rising, the theory of 'Zan-datsu' - or 'cut and take' - is what makes the game so enjoyable.

The gameplay - instantly familiar to Platinum Games fans, or anyone whose ever played Devil May Cry - mostly seems to centre around using a flurry of acrobatic melee attacks, blocks and some sub–weapons, such as RPGs, to weaken your opponent, before closing for the kill.

Once the enemy is weak enough, Raiden can enter 'blade mode', slowing the action around him and giving him time to selectively slice his enemies apart. Slice in the right spot, and the ninja can rip out and absorb the enemy cyborg's vital fluids, so replenishing his own body. Alternatively, you can selectively dismember and then dice almost anything into hundreds of little bits in a melee of chops. 

For example, as a challenge, I attempted to turn a palm tree into pulp. While in blade mode I managed to turn it into 342 bits – helpfully recorded by the game's head-up-display. That said, Raiden's superhuman reflexes are far from the match of a feline's – upon attempting to blade mode slice a wandering feral cat in the street, I was pleased to see the feline backflip over the blade – nice one Platinum.

This grace of action, tightness of control and sheer cool factor is a hallmark of Platinum Games' work – and I was quickly hooked on its intense pleasures of combat and precision bladework. The game looks great, plays great, and is familiar in voice acting and tone to any MG fan – and the great Hideo Kojima himself is executive producer. I can't wait to get my robotic hands on it.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

My Hardest - And Proudest - Xbox Achievement!

I've finally bloody done it! After months and months of trying, I'm a champion. A FIFA 13 cup winner! I've lost count of how many games I've played, of how many times I've thrown the controller to the floor in disgust, or how many obscenities I've yelled at the screen. But I've done it - and am finally content!

I've loved to hate FIFA these past few months. Waiting patiently every 11 days for that cup window to open and cramming in as much playtime as possible. I'd tried a number of teams - from Crawley Town to Man Utd, Italy to Real Madrid, Anderlect to Sao Paulo - but I failed with each and every one of them. Brazil finally took me to the final - and I'll forever love them for it!

I've collected that infernal Mile High Club achievo in Modern Warfare 3. And I've played The Impossible Game and Super Meat Boy... I know what stress is like! But "Filling Cabinets" has caused me more pain and misery than anything I've EVER played before.Some members of my family claim they've NEVER heard me swear before. Now they think I'm completely potty-mouthed.

Now it's over. I've done it. And I can start to enjoy FIFA again. My heart was beating throughout that final match, trying to hold my slender one-nil lead... until I turned in an exquisite cross with a glancing header... and then threaded an intricate through ball into the path of my pacey striker to tuck away another. 

I'll go to bed now... completely satisfied. This is me, Bojeeva - EA Shield champion - signing off. Night!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

EVE Online - The Battle of Askai

Written by Dave Bowen

Last weekend was hectic for EVE Online players. The game is known for large scale space battles but the latest, called Battle of Asakai, was one of the biggest to go down in EVE’s history and it all happened over a simple mis-click. This abrupt conflict involved nearly 3,000 players and it cost both sides 470,000,000,000 ISK (the in-game currency which would convert to $17,000). So how did such a knock-out-drag-down fight begin? What were the stakes and what’s the aftermath?

The Cluster F*** Coalition (CFC) and HoneyBadger Coalition (HBC) are the two largest coalitions in EVE. CFC is led by the corporation, GoonSwarm Federation Alliance and HBC is led by Test Alliance.

GoonSwarm has had shaky relations with Test Alliance ever since their enemy, Pandemic Legion, joined Test and helped form the HBC. The two coalitions created the “No Infrastructure Pact” - an agreement that the two sides could attack each other but not their structures since mining and trading resources keep corporations thriving. A war between the two collations nearly began when HBC targeted lesser corporations in CFC and almost broke the pact. Diplomats had to intervene and brought the escalating situation down from Defcon 2.

Last week, GoonSwarm was planning to attack a moon that was held by a small pirate alliance. They caught wind of the threat and informed Pandemic Legion; ambushes were set in case anything happened. A GoonSwarm member, Dabigredboat, was piloting a Titan, the biggest of all ship classes and the most expensive. Boat had one job to do: create a bridge for his fleet to jump to their destination, Asakai VI. However, he mis-cliked and sent his ship alone to the location. There, he met a fleet from Pandemic Legion and Test Alliance and following the “No Infrastructure Pact” they attacked Boat. Boat called in for support and super carriers arrived. However, they were still getting hammered and instead of letting things end there, Boat called for the CFC to bring every ship they had at their disposal. After all that Hell broke loose, reinforcements poured in from both coalitions. All ships of all classes arrived and the battle lasted for hours as both sides fought it out. In addition to the high traffic, another large scale but prearranged battle, was happening at the same time. The game lagged heavily however, the server never crashed. 

As mentioned earlier, the total cost of all of the ships destroyed was approximately $17,000. The HBC lost 1 Supercarrier, 6 Dreadnoughts and 11 Carriers. CFC lost 3 Titans, 5 Supercarriers, 44 Dreadnoughts and 29 Carriers. The CFC suffered a substantial defeat.

Now that the dust has settled and everything has calmed down, the diplomatic settings haven’t changed for either side. CFC actually admitted that the fight spiraled out of control and that they are looking into preventing this in the future with stricter rules over the use of capital ships.