Apr 17
Posted by Duane at 12:42

Sports Interactive have tried on several occassions to shift their hugely popular and ridiculously addictive Football Manager titles to systems other than the PC. They've seen some success in adapting the system to iDevices in recent years and now its the turn of Sony's PlayStation Vita. On the surface it really does seem like a great match, the system is respectably powered and features touch screen controls. The systems sizable screen should also lend itself well to the interactivity of the series, plus the ability to play where ever you want means addicts never have to leave their game ever again (especially if they also own Football Manager 2014 and play the Classic mode on that as you can switch your save file between the two almost seamlessly).

And to be fair, they've done a really great job of cramming the entire Football Manager experience onto the system, okay those of you who like to have dozens of leagues on the go and be able to scout the furthest reaches of the globe to gather talent for your teams may feel a tinge of disappointment at the number of leagues you can have running, but I'd say its a small sacrifice to pay for the portability of Football Manager Classic 2014.

Sports Interactive have built the entire game around the Classic Mode that they introduced with Football Manager 2013, here its titled Career Mode and is the core focus of the game, those of you who know the series will know what to expect, for those of you who haven't played Football Manager before, well, you take over a team of your choice and try to lead them to glory by playing around with formations, buying or loaning players and generally operating as you'd kind of expect a football manager to do. It's incredibly compulsive and I personally have been known to have notebooks and spreadsheet documents full of formations, squad line ups and all sorts of other things. Hell, at one point, with Football Manager 2009, I kept a blog of a rather topsy turvy career as manager of the French Ligue 1 team Bordeaux. It's pretty much every football fans dream, after all, we all know better than the man who is actually hired to run the football elements of the clubs we watch week in and week out every season.

The amount of detail and the number of options available in this handheld version of the game are absolutely astounding, and its very very difficult to find any differences between this and its "bigger" PC relative. The differences do start to emerge though, and its most noticeable in the games user interface. You see, Football Manager has a bit of a reputation for having menu's within menu's within menu's, its rather SRPG in its nature, you can change exactly where you want a player to start a game, but also give them tailored instructions for how much you want them to press, if you want them to play as (for example) a winger, inside forward, wide play maker or any number of different things, with additional inputs available for how much you want them to push forward, mark another player, the tempo of their passing the list goes on.

This all works great on PC, its ridiculously easy, even on the stripped back "Classic Mode" (the PC version full fat mode goes into further tactical depth), however, here, crammed onto the Vita's screen and with Sports Interactive seemingly neglecting to include the option of using the face controls as well as the touch screen, literally limiting you to the latter, filling the screen with tiny icons, text links and buttons with sluggish response times, well it all feels like a let down and turns an incredibly compulsive and addictive experience.

The thing is, this is Football Manager, to watch the game being played it looks like it should and everything is in there to make it into the experience it should be, but purely because of the design of the games various screens and interactivity options, plus the way the developer has neglected to take proper advantage of the controls on offer (one suggestion being to make the left analogue stick into a controller for a mouse pointer like the PSP releases) makes Football Manager Classic 2014 into a rather frustrating (for all the wrong reasons) experience, even if it is still as addictive as ever.

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Posted by Ben at 11:54
You might not remember the last good Silent Hill game but I do, it's Silent Hill Shattered Memories. It was a Wii game that put combat on the back burner, and ended up telling a pretty interesting story in a fairly clever way.

Joining Shattered Memories is the PSP game Silent Hill Origins, a game I haven't played but I seem to remember it being the best of the three Silent Hill games that all released within a month of each other a few years back.

There's no date yet, but both games will be available digitally for the Vita at £7.99 each
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Posted by Ben at 15:23
So goes the theory anyway.

ARC System Works, makes of Guilty Gear and BlazBlue are teasing a new game with the initials BRCS. BloodRayne would certainly fit both the initials and the teaser image

We'll find out next week, assuming it doesn't fully leak before then
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Posted by Ben at 05:04
I don't think we've already posted this, but upcoming horror game Daylight recently got itself delayed. Fortunately it's only for a week, and the game will now be out at the end of the months on the 29th April

It's currently 33% off on Steam, so if you are planning to pick it up at launch it might be better to get it before release day to save yourself £4 (It's currently £7.99 rather than £11.99)
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Posted by Ben at 04:54
I believe it's out in America this week, but it's coming to European 3DS' and Vitas in May.

We don't have a more specific date yet, but given it's potentially less than a month away I'm sure it wont be long. There's a launch trailer below to get you in the mood

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Apr 15
Posted by Ben at 17:30

Iím in the unusual position where Iím about to defend the game press. It wont last, in fact it wont even last until the end of this post, but I think it needs doing all the same.

You may have heard today about Ubisoftís press event for Watch_Dogs that took place last night. You likely wouldnít have heard of it, Iím not even sure how much coverage it would generate at this point, were it not for what Ubisoft were handing out. Attendees were given nice new Nexus 7 tablets to take home with them, to keep, and to use however they wanted.

Itís shady, insidious, and suggests that absolutely nothing has been learnt in the 2 years since Doritosgate. It confirms what we all knew, the press and the publishers have a symbiotic relationship, thereís back-scratching aplenty, the PR want to buy the press and the press are more than happy to be bought. Nothing has changed.

Only thatís not true. The reason youíve heard about this latest gaming ethics controversy is because Steve Hogarty, a member of the game press, brought it to everyoneís attention. Since then youíve had Dan Pearson of Gamesindustry.biz saying theirs is going to charity, the same for Eurogamer. Edwin Evans-Thirlwell wrote a blog over at Totalxbox, which includes a reply from Ubisoft UK that the Nexusí contained press stuff (pictures, videos, notes, information etc, the sort of stuff we get via email), and not something they make a habit of. Itís also worth noting, and you can see it in the replies to Hogarty, not everyone who attended got a tablet.

So itís only fair that when youíre lambasting the press for how willing they are to sell out you remember that this time it was them who blew the whistle. Sure you can question whether it would have been mentioned had Hogarty not posted about it, and whether thereís people out there who have indeed kept the tablet, but itís clearly not all the press on the take.

However, contrast that with the past weeks other big gaming event, PAX. Out in America, Boston I believe, a decent sized gaming convention with lots of panels. It was worrying to me how close the press were to the publishers and developers. Itís not something I want to dwell on as some of the people involved I mentioned in a God Mode On post a few weeks back, but itís something that really sits uncomfortable with me. You had an IGN editor hosting a panel for Murdered: Soul Suspect, and Giant Bombís incest with the rest of the industry was rampant, and entertaining to be fair.

Iíd like to think lessons have been learnt, at least with regards to Ďswagí. The press really need to sort out their distancing though, particularly the Americans. Maybe next year
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Apr 15
Posted by Ben at 07:11

Before I realised what a an idiot it made me sound I was going to begin this review by saying I felt a bit sorry for Burial At Sea Episode 2, the 2nd part of Bioshock Infiniteís story dlc. Having to end a 2 part story dlc is hard to do, especially one for a game as examined as Bioshock Infinite, but itís got to do it whilst tying up the Bioshock franchise, and with the added pressure of being Irrationalís last ever project.

As a review itís also pretty difficult, youíre inevitably going to pull in what went before, but at least on that note Burial At Sea episode 2 is in good standing, as what went immediately before, the ending of Burial At Sea episode 1, was pretty good. I obviously canít go in to detail as to the plot, itíd not only spoil the early sections of episode 2 but also ruin episode 1 for anyone who hasnít played it. However, I will say that both the prelude and the initial set up rate amongst the best moments of Bioshock. Thereís a shock in store early on and it causes a torrent of possible explanations to run through your mind. Unfortunately it doesnít quite deliver on that potential, focussing instead on tying up the Bioshock story.

Like Minervaís Den and Burial At Sea episode 1; episode 2 encourages you to play the game in a different way. Elizabeth canít play as aggressively as Booker, she can still fire weapons but her potential arsenal is limited, and she can use plasmids but those available to her are more defensive. Generally youíll be sneaking around in the shadows and smacking people on the back of the head. One of her weapons is a crossbow that can fire tranquiliser darts, knockout gas, or noise makers to divert attention.

The pick of the plasmids is without doubt the new ĎPeeping Tomí power, an ability that lets you see enemy positions, useful enough, but also lets you turn invisible. Itís not as game breaking as it might sound, largely because Elizabeth is so vulnerable once spotted. Thereís also the ability to control people, and later freeze people and absorb bullets. You can go on the front foot more later in the game, in fact thereís moments where you have to, and by that point youíre feeling much more empowered.

Of course it wouldnít be a Bioshock game if there wasnít complaints about the combat. Thereís moments in Burial At Sea episode 2 where Elizabeth can use the environment to her advantage, namely Big Daddies, but weíre talking maybe once or twice, given that youíre supposed to be playing more cerebral Iíd have liked more than that. You can, in theory, fire a noise maker then switch to the knock out gas to take out a group of enemies, but too often it doesnít work, with enemies not getting close enough to the noise maker and the gas not spreading far enough. Iíd have liked more opportunity to exploit enemies, rather than just crouch my way through the game

A small complaint, probably more of a problem for the PCís more complicated controls that those of a controller, but a reminder of how to do some of the more nuanced stuff wouldnít have gone amiss, I was halfway through the game before I learnt I could use a health pack. Similarly it took a bit to remember that I wasnít dropping weapons when I picked up a 3rd, my others were hidden away on a scroll wheel.

The combat is at least good enough, itís probably better than Bioshock Infiniteís, and episode 2 is much longer and fuller than episode 1. One of its strengths is that it presents you with variety, I maybe didnít need the game to touch base with all the aspects of Bioshockís universe as it does, but the shifts in tone and design are welcomed. Burial at Sea Episode 2 maybe isnít all it could have been as a stand alone story, but given that its aim it to wrap up the Bioshock universe it doesnít do a bad job. I have a couple of reservations, that for obvious reasons I canít go in to here, but I donít feel like thereís some huge story left to tell, so I guess thatís job done.
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Posted by Duane at 15:25
I think its safe to say that at least two of us here at bitparade thoroughly enjoyed the original Hotline Miami, me being one of those two, so I'm really rather looking forward to its sequel due out later this year on PC, PS4, PS3 and Vita. I mean, just check out this trailer!

Show/hide video

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Apr 08
Posted by Duane at 05:30

Theres some kind of romance attached to the dog fighting pilots of the Second World War, lines are drawn in sand, the British were brave, tea drinking sorts who piloted their Spitfires with great skill, the Americans were incredibly patriotic and gung-ho, the Germans evil calculating and incredibly accurate whilst the Japanese would do anything to win, even if it meant losing their life. Watch any World War II movie featuring aerial dogfights and those stereotypes will make an appearance. Luftrausers kind of ties itself into that entire world, a world where men would take to the skies to protect their lands in displays of aerial ballet, albeit with a lethal edge (and in the case of Luftrausers specifically, without most of those tropes mentioned above).

In fact the game feels like it places you as part of the German Luftwaffe as a kind of test pilot for a wide range of weird and wonderful death machines, and a big part of the gameplay is reigning death upon other craft including planes, battleships and even blimps, you'll also find yourself exploding an awful lot yourself, which suggests this particular group of German military types have managed to clone a large number of test pilots (or at least have an endless supply of willing volunteers). Theres no motive attached to any of this, and the above is purely how it all works out in my mind.

The hugely surprising thing about Luftrausers is how quickly it throws you into the action, almost immediately after launching the game from your Vita's home screen you're encouraged to "Press Up to Raus", from there you find yourself zipping around the skies in a plane that handles a little like the ship from Asteroids. However, its not as simple as unleashing a hellfire of bullets upon the skies, because by shooting at things you risk taking damage yourself, this can only be repaired by taking a break from firing your guns to accelerate around the screen until your health has been replenished. Rather than filling the screen with all kinds of bars and other HUD style displays though, Luftrausers uses audio cues to tell you when you're in any kind of danger or even when you're out of said danger.

This isn't the only way that it uses sound in a rather intelligent way. The game focuses around constructing different planes, so as you progress you unlock more parts, with there being three catergories in total. So thats guns, body and propulsion, each has their own positives and negatives and its all about finding what works for you, just because you unlock something a bit later on, it doesnt always mean its a better option. In order to unlock more parts you have to meet different goals for the parts you are using, which can be hitting a certain high score or taking down a set number of a particular enemy. Each time you change a part or create a new combination, your new creation gains its own name and to fit with that it also has its own soundtrack. Thus the game encourages experimentation and generally toying around, and its this element, plus the aspect of it having that "just one more go" feeling thats great for any arcadey handheld game that will keep you coming back.

Coming back to that mention of Luftrausers being "arcadey" for a moment, this isn't meant in the way you would describe an arcade racer, what I mean by this is that with a set of earphones in and the volume turned up, the game really drags the player into the mindset of being in an old Games Arcade, as mentioned it has that "Just one more go" feel, which, tied in with its visuals and the audio, really digs into a sense of nostalgia that quite often feels like is missing from modern gaming, and its all of this tied together that makes Luftrausers a brilliantly compelling little title.

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Apr 07
Posted by Ben at 11:36

When you get a short amount of game as a preview, itís sometimes hard to gauge exactly what the game will be, and thatís the case for The Last Tinker: City of Colors. The preview we were sent is essentially the gameís tutorial, as such itís easy and relatively limited, not that thatís a criticism, itís just the nature of the beast, you arenít going to see everything the game can offer in the first hour. We also have a video of the most of the demo, so you can take a look for yourself.

The Last Tinker is a fairly simple story, everyone in itís world are made up of paper, glue and paint, whereas once everyone lived peacefully together, now people are dividing themselves in to colours. Itís at this point I should probably say that The Last Tinker is aimed at a younger market, this isnít going to be a deep examination of multi-culturalism, but at the same time itís no more shallow than Bioshock Infiniteís examination of racism.

The first thing that struck me about The Last Tinker is how good it looks. Sure Iím playing it on a decent pc and itís not doing anything too complicated or flashy, but it has a great look to it. It kind of looks like a Rare game, all bright and colourful, with some great Rabbids style animations, and Tearawayís dedication to arts & crafts. Some of the character designs are wonderfully endearing, particularly when theyíll exaggerating fear, and speech bubbles being cardboard physically existing in the environment is a nice touch.

In terms of gameplay The Last Tinker starts off with some simple platforming. Thereís no jump button as such, rather you sprint towards a gap and the game does the work for you. Whatís there is a little simplistic, hopefully the full game does a bit more with the platforming, even if itís just to have more tests of timing. I did have a few issues with the platforming controls in one area, there wasnít really the space to get enough speed for the run up, and using dodge to roll off the ledge never seemed reliable, thereís still time for that to be tweaked though.

The next part of the game is to go and perform a couple of jobs, these are just a way to more fully teach you some more of the mechanics. While Iím reluctant to explain just by comparison, The Last Tinkerís combat does share some similarities with the Batman Arkham games. Itís not as tight or as impactful, but you can bounce between targets easily. Thereís no counter system as such, at least in this preview, but there is a dodge button you can attack from. Again itís not present in the preview I played, but it seems there will be different coloured enemies and different coloured attacks later in the game, it seems the combat will get more involved.

The other job you perform has you doing some problem solving. Itís nothing too complicated, you have to guide a giant mushroom to mushroom patches, opening the path as you go. I touch on this in the video, and maybe itís me as an adult having too much experience and baggage for a kids game, but the characterisation of Biggs the giant mushroom is troubling. His design is great though, and in terms of gameplay at least it potentially opens up The Last Tinker to more than just combat and simple platforming.

The striking thing about this preview of The Last Tinker is how well put together it is. Thereís a couple of rough edges that will hopefully be sorted before the game releases in the summer, but itís clearly had some care put in to it. Too often childrens games feel like theyíve had less time and money spent making them, like Ďtheyíll doí, The Last Tinker runs well, looks great, and has clearly had some thought put in to it, hopefully the full game builds on this
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