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, 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?