Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Eurogamer Expo 2012 Preview

Time, it seems, flys when you're having an abundance of fun and this year has been no different for me. Frivolities include writing a car off, buying a new car, buying a house (you heard right, I'm all growed up) and generally working for a living. The culmination of such leaves the author with little time or desire for authoring.

As any regular reader to this blog will note, my writings have gone from rare to virtually non-existent over the last 12 month and now I find myself faced with Eurogamer Expo in what seems like a blink of an eye. So I guess it's time to dust off Writing For Dummies and attempt a few paragraphs detailing which queues you might find me in at Earls Court on the 28th and 29th September

Let's get some negative out of the way first. One major queue you won't find me in is Black Ops 2. So far, I've seen nothing that makes me believe this title will do anything different from previous iterations. Add to this the fact that everyone will cover it to death and you've got zero reason to stand in a hefty line. There's absolutely no way I'll be checking out Borderlands 2 either, but that's mainly because I bought it!

This years 18+ zone looks like it might steal the show. Aside from the previous two titles I've mentioned there are some real giants including Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution and Aliens: Colonial Marines, all of which have been shown at length at other events but I still can't wait to see if they play as good as they look! Possibly my most anticipated title of the 18+ zone (and maybe the whole event) has to be Assassin's Creed 3. None of the recent iterations managed to top AC2 in my opinion so it'll be great see if turning the game on its head makes everything feel fresh. I just hope there's a single player demo!

For the youngers at the show, I'd have to recommend checking out the F1 2012 booth. I'm a massive fan of the sport and Codies have made a real gem out of the series so far. They'd have to do something pretty major to screw this title up! I'm also keen to find out what all the fuss about Rocksmith is, after all it can't make me any worse at guitar!

That's my main picks this year! Where will you be?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

NFL Flick Quarterback & NFL Kicker iOS5 Review*

*Originally posted on

British people are an odd bunch. Our sense of humour rarely translates beyond our borders. Our inability to adapt to weather patterns leads us to be perceived as a bunch of moaners – and lord help anyone who tries to use one of our words incorrectly.

The latter point there, amongst others, is the chief cause of American Football’s failure to penetrate our sport loving nation. “It’s not football if you use your hands” we cry, along with “blast”, “crickey” and “cup of cha old chap?”

That is until Superbowl time. All of a sudden its okay to show an interest in this great American tradition of taking your enemies territory by force, one yard at a time. Piggy backing on the boom of interest in NFL is Full Fat Games, developer of such hits as Flick Golf!, and Flick Soccer!

NFL Flick Quarterback and NFL Kicker! are essentially physics based mini games themed around each of the player positions in the team. Absolutely no knowledge of the sport is required on either front. Plus one point already. If you are looking for reasonable comparison, look no further than Paper Toss.

Where these games differ from the aforementioned paper throwing simulator is the variation of mini games and simple XP system. For example, Flick QB has you throwing balls into buckets at increasing yardage, whilst ramping up wind speed. On a similar note, Kicker! has a great mode where the aim is to actually hit the upright bars at the field goal. XP builds after each game is completed and each rank unlocks a new mini game to get your teeth into.

Control wise, flicking is the action of the day. Flick to throw/kick, then flick again to affect the after-touch, all the while compensating for the severity of wind. The simplicity lends itself greatly to Kicker! as power isn’t much of an issue. I did find it hamper Flick QB on several occasions where a millimetre or so extra flick-age can result in throw so far away from your team mate you’ll wonder if Superman chucked it.

The only real shame of these games is they could have quite easily banded them together under one package for 99p instead of two separate games for 69p each. Out of the two, I most enjoyed NFL Kicker! as I felt it penalised you much less for a slightly inaccurate initial flick and with a decent spread of mini games, it is slightly more entertaining overall. But they both score the same in the big picture. Well worth a look.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Battlefield 3 Review*

*Originally posted on

Consoles have been in the multiplayer spotlight for some years now but it wasn’t always so. Before Xbox Live and PSN the only way to get a console online was to buy a Network adapter for your PS2, configure it for four hours then try to find a game that the other ten people in the world who completed the former were playing. Go back even further and the only device capable of such a feat was your trusty Personal Computer. It’s in this sector of history we discover the origins of Battlefield.

The key to the Battlefield heritage, whether set in the past or present, has been its heavy emphasis on vehicular combat. Rather than facing off in the direct firing line of idiots dual wielding AA12’s, players could jump into tanks, jeeps, APCs, fighters, bombers, water craft, anti-aircraft guns and mounted machine-guns. It took computerised warfare away from the simple man v man aspect seen previously and turned it into, well, a battlefield.

Recently, DICE and EA have been playing around with the Battlefield formula and trying to get the consoles users onboard, starting out with the extremely poor Battlefield 2: Modern Combat and then moving onto two story driven games. I, personally, didn’t enjoy Bad Company. It’s single player campaign felt a bit out of sorts and almost entirely unrealistic and, at the time, I wasn’t even hooked up to Xbox Live (for shame) so the multiplayer aspect passed me by completely. So when Bad Company 2 was released and I was initially put off by my experiences of its predecessor. How wrong I was is a story for another time.

Here we are then, Battlefield 3. A direct sequel to the PC only Battlefield 2, the aim is take everything learned from the previous games and produce the ultimate Battlefield experience across all platforms whilst appealing to as broad a demographic as possible. By and large, this is exactly what DICE have achieved (although some eagle-eyed readers noting my score will know its not exactly perfect). The new Frostbite 2 engine looks superb, even on the consoles, creating excellent lighting effects and shadows that actually change the gamplay.

Although, on the 360 at least, disc one is multiplayer, I feel I should first tackle the single player campaign relegated to disc two. Moving away from the rag-tag crew of B Company, we are given an entirely new plot arc centred around Staff Sergeant Blackburn’s efforts to prevent nuclear attacks on US and French soil. The majority of the story cutscenes are played out in a ‘present day’ fashion with all the action taking place in flashbacks while Blackburn attempts to explain himself to the CIA. It’s not exactly the most original story going, having only just been similarly tackled by Black Ops only last year. However, the resulting gameplay is mostly engaging and fun to play through.

I did manage to break the gameplay on several occasions. At one stage, my AI comrades were waiting for me by a closed door only to stand in silence for a good 15 seconds before they finally tripped into action and opened the door for me. At another point, just before a certain fight involving some Russians, I was idly standing next to my squad while they were talking about the mission when I literally died on the spot. I had been run over by the trucks on my own side! Add to this some truly horrendous quick time events that have absolutely no place in an FPS and you begin to understand why the campaign was relegated to Disc 2! The moments are easy to anticipate though as they are the only sections where your squadmates make you go in first. The real bread and butter of Battlefield will be found in the multiplayer.

Before the final release of Battlefield 3, there existed an air of discontent from the fanboys aided quite heavily by the Beta which I covered in a previous article. DICE released a statement soon after listing all the things they were going to fix by the time we would be unwrapping the cellophane on our shiny new obsessions, albeit in a day one patch *shudder*. From the first minute you play in-game it’s clear they have fixed the majority of problems, even if there are a few others rearing their heads.

Fans of the series will not be disappointed. The majority of the maps are gargantuan (maybe even a little too big). All the expected vehicular sexiness is present and correct (including the jet fighter!). And we now have the ability to go prone. There are a few close quarters maps that are more akin to similar shooters, but these shake up the gameplay adequately enough to alleviate any ‘mapathy’ you might other wise incur. It has the same mode set as Bad Company 2 (with the inclusion of the frankly pointless Team Deathmatch option) which will see you attacking/defending MCOM stations, fighting over control of flags and competing in 4v4v4v4 squad deathmatches. Everything feels very Battlefield.

Let me be clear, this game is NOT Call of Duty. If you try to play it like CoD then you WILL die and die frequently. Any keen players of other shooters will first have to adjust not only their play style but also their fundamental way of thinking. Acting like a lone wolf will only hurt your team in the long run, and so will caring about your K/D ratio. On one match I died 10 times and didn’t kill a single opposing soldier but still ended the highest scoring player of the round. I dedicated myself to capturing and defending objectives whilst healing and reviving squadmates. Team actions are paramount to achieving Battlefield greatness. Addionally, the squad member with the highest score is appointed Squad Leader and can dish out objectives to gain more points. It’s a shame as the old Commanders in BF2 could bring a world of hurt onto the enemy.

On your way to attaining glory, you will level up and level up frequently. It seems like you are forever unlocking something new, whether it be a simple upgrade to your weapon or game changing gadgets. There is always something to be working towards, adding to the desire of ‘I’m only 500 points from level 10, I’ll just play the next round’. Each weapon, gadget and vehicle has its own unlock tree, requiring a certain amount of XP to unlock the next item. Then each kit has its own unlocks when you reach XP milestones using that specific kit. Finally, all of the previous plus ribbons and medals are collated into your total XP used to level up, each level giving more unlocks!

The funny thing about this game is it may well have been a perfect 10/10 if Dice would have just completely sacked off single player and spent the extra time refining the multiplayer from the excellence that it is to the supreme greatness it could have been. Let’s face it, not a single person bought BF3 for the campaign and most of us only completed it when EA’s servers were down. It’s highly unlikely that Battlefield 3 will knock MW3 off its throne this year, which is a shame on global scale as its more than capable of it and better in almost every way.

Warner Bros Blogger Event*

*Originally posted on

Entertainment giants Warner Brothers recently opened their London studio doors to a select group of bloggers and budding gaming journalists to showcase their latest games, movies and apps. 7Bit sent me down from the lofty heights of our Midlands Division to have a peek and report back on my findings.


Brought to you via Apple's AppStore, Warner have produced several apps based on their recent and upcoming films. Showcased on an iPad 2, I was shown the app for the Harry Potter films. Essentially, the freemium app is a bunch of bonus content with the likes of behind-the-scenes videos and photos as well as some trivia. There was also extra paid-for-content that, rather surprisingly, wasn’t unlocked for me to view.

I was allowed to play about with the app for a bit, but I found loading times on the videos and even photos quite lengthy and the content quite lacklustre. It’s the kind of stuff I would expect to see on a special features disc. There were some other branded apps on show, but these were carbon copies of the Harry Potter app and very little extra to talk about.


I think the most surprising element of the event was the selection of films on show, of which there was only one of note, Yogi Bear. We were allowed to watch a segment approximately five minutes long from the start of the film. It seemed your typical child friendly affair, lots of slapstick humour and some good CGI-FMV integration. I didn’t see enough of the film to review it, but adult fans of the original cartoon will probably want to give it a miss. The actors don’t seem to be have been trained on acting with characters who aren’t really there and deliver quite a poor experience, while the humour is aimed directly at kids with little or no adult fun included. On the plus side, the active 3D glasses and TV it was shown on looked fantastic.


On show for the gaming side of things we had Batman: Arkham City, Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 and Lord of the Rings War in the North (all of which are now in shops and ready for purchase)

Batman: Arkham City

Rocksteady’s sequel to the massive success that was Batman: Arkham Asylum, B:AC sees the B-Man entering a newly cordoned off section of Gotham. The premise is simple, all the supervillians and their idiot cronies (plus a few political prisoners) have been banged up and Batman has to keep the peace. Fans of the first game, and Batman in general, are going to LOVE this game. Absolutely everything you liked about B:AA has been improved upon in some way or another.

Top of that list is the Riddler trophies, of which there are now 400. Each one could be simple to solve or require some pinpoint control to obtain the reward. There’s also a reason to finish them this time (bar gamerscore) as Nigma has kidnapped civilians and will kill them unless Bats gets his detective on.

Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7

I have been a fan of the Lego games since Lego Star Wars and have played almost every iteration released since then. It’s fair to say I know my way around the Travellers Tales franchise quite well. So much so that I managed to sneak the preview code into ‘free play’ mode (rather than the story mode everyone else was getting shown) without alarm bells being triggered. All the regular functions return with the same button set up that is tried and true. There are a few new powers introduced to show the progression in the young students skills and a few new characters from the books but the rest is largely unchanged. Indeed, even the old problems still exist. One major downfall of the series has been the inability of player two being able to unlock progression achievements/trophies with player one. Fans of the series will like it, everyone else won’t. But I think Warner Bros and Travellers Tales know that already.

Lord of the Rings: War in the North

Previous LotR games have been fairly poor. While setting an interactive experience in a world as rich as Tolkiens’ Middle Earth is always an attractive proposition - in reality its been quite difficult for the developers that have had the cojones to try.

For this iteration, Snowblind Studios have the reins (which is quite exciting for me as I was a massive Baldurs Gate Dark Alliance fan)and have decided to opt for a completely non-canon story. The first thing you notice is the age rating, receiving a 15 from the BBFC. That makes it the most adult themed LotR game to date, a fact that is translated to the screen from the off with bloody battle effects.

Gameplay sees you controlling one of three protagonists (a human, a dwarf or an elf) either offline with AI or online with two others. I think this will be the key to the enjoyment of a game that is otherwise another one button hack em up. The combination of skills across the roles should provide some tactical elements against particular foes.

The problem with the latter two games is they won’t be able to hold their own against the mass of heavyweight titles being released in the run up to Christmas. Still, at least they’ll be cheap in the January sales.

The drop in event came to an end for me around two after arrival, as by then I felt I had seen everything on offer. It’s a shame there wasn’t more there. Even so - in the gaming world anyway - there is some great stuff coming out of Warner in Q4 this year.

Civiballs iOS Review*

*Originally posted on

Civiballs HD is the latest in a long line of iPhone remakes of classic browser flash games. The premise of this particular app is to cut chains in sequence to drop coloured balls into their respective pots with an increasing amount of obstacles in your way. If it sounds a little familiar it’s because it plays quite similarly to another Chillingo title (*cough* Cut The Rope *cough*). In addition to getting the balls in the right place, there are also two stars per level to collect to add some replay value.

As the title may (not) suggest, the game takes place in four themed level collections based on different civilisations. These backgrounds serve to keep things fresh but with only 20 levels in each setting I hardly found myself getting bored with the back drop and gasping for more.

The gameplay is definitely a distinctive update from the old web-based version. It runs smoothly and looks slightly better, but calling ‘HD’ is a bit far fetched. The only real complaint is the same with many of these games, as its often wearisome to see the specific chain you are trying to cut underneath your opaque fingers.

All in all, it’s difficult to bark at 69p for an evenings entertainment but that is exactly what you get for your pennies. Even the more taxing levels can be solved in a few minutes of trial and error. Once you’re done there is very little to keep you coming back for more. As such it’s not easy to recommend next to all the other apps available at the same price. Perhaps the most Herculean aspect of reviewing this game was avoiding puns about the rather unfortunate, slightly too literal, title.

Rage Review*

*Originally posted on

Always at the forefront of graphical prowess, id Software have some frankly amazing heritage. With the likes of Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein 3D under their developer belts it’s difficult to have anything but awe for their works. Difficult, but not impossible. id Tech, id’s engine family, is also responsible for such games as the first Call of Duty, Half Life, Prey and the recent Brink. The big question is whether their latest title, Rage, can live up to the pedigree or not.

Before booting up, I had no real knowledge of the game so was immediately struck but just how beautiful Rage is - stunning in fact. Get it running on a big TV in full 1080p HD and you’ll see what I mean. Everything feels incredibly crafted from the landscapes right up to the diversity of characters you’ll meet across the campaign. It’s a shame that frequent texture pop ups ruin the up close experience.

We pick up the campaign following a rather nice intro sequence depicting the apocalypse avec asteroid and our character going into cryo to one day return and kick the shit out of whatever inhabits the world. It’s ironic really, as this is pretty much as far as the story goes. My first few hours with game were literally nothing more than running a series of odd jobs for a few folk that I had zero attachment to. It’s somewhat disconnects the player from the game when there’s no real explanation as to why you are agreeing to go into a random hideout and kill everything. Even the ‘twist’ at the end wasn’t enough for me to want to call it a ‘story’.

Thankfully, killing everything is mighty fun. While the weapon count isn’t quite as high as other post-apocalyptic games - like Borderlands and Fallout - each weapon has a selection of ammo types. These can be used to combat harder enemies or different situations but can also be used for your pleasure (pop rocket shells + standard enemy = red goo messy joy). There are only four slots for your quick select, but I found this didn’t bother me as I quickly discovered my four weapons of choice and sacked everything else off. Of course, it’s impossible to talk about weapons without mentioning the Wingsticks. Think of them like smart, brutal boomerangs. Chuck one just right and it’ll lop the head of a weaker opponent or embed itself neatly in the cranium of a tougher foe. Using them takes a bit of practice, but it’s highly rewarding!

It’s not all a murderous jolly though. A couple of minor elements spoil the experience for me. First is the quick menu. Holding your right trigger brings up two wheels in real time allowing you select a weapon with the right stick and its ammo with the left. The point of this is to be able to swap in a pinch to deal with a particular enemy type. In reality, the fact the game doesn’t pause during this action means too much pressure is placed on quick fingers, often resulting in you drawing the wrong item and wasting even more time in a tense fire fight.

My other gripe is the completely broken stealth mechanics. You are given a crossbow quite early on and told that it is often easier to sneak up on enemies rather than engage them. If you make a kill with said crossbow you will indeed be silent, but it will still alert everyone to your exact location. Similarly, moving silently is completely impossible and a massive waste of time. Given the incredibly confined setting of the shooting sections, it is often easier to get your quarries attention then back track to a choke point and mow everything that comes to find you down with a shotgun.

In addition to all the other tacked on elements, you have the multiplayer. You’d be forgiven for assuming I mean ‘tacked on’ due to it being an FPS and therefore must have all the standard FPS modes. In fact there are NO shooter modes at all. Instead, we are presented with the weakest gameplay mechanic, vehicular combat. Yawn. It works well enough but it won’t be the defining aspect of the game and, frankly, it could have done without it.

Unfortunately, it has all been done before. I’m about as tired of the typical wasteland as I am with zombie DLC. As fun as the shooting bits can be, the sheer lack of tangible plot made the experience to a very pretty but entirely forgettable one. In the presence of blockbusters like Deus Ex and, the soon to be released, Skyrim, I find it simply unacceptable to allow weak writing to be slapped onto such a beautiful game. In addition to this, the game is extremely linear. Very rarely will you have side missions of any importance to complete, and the ones you do get are just revisiting a previous location for some other object that wasn’t there before.

Are you a fan of the pretty but brainless shooter? Or do you prefer strong narratives? Comment it up!

Battlefield 3 BETA Views*

*Originally posted on

After all the excitement, the Battlefield 3 Beta is now over. No doubt most gamers with an online connection would have jumped on to give it a go and formed their own opinions. Indeed, a fair amount of chatter has passed my screen on the many downfalls of the beta. Personally, I had been looking forward to getting my grubby mitts on the multiplayer. Previously, I had only played the campaign at EuroGamer Expo(an experience marred by the lack of a Y axis invert option but that’s a debate for another time) for fear of losing my sanity in the queue for the rush gameplay.

After the hefty 1.3gb download (sadly confirming the consoles would not get access to the Caspian Border map), I boot up and attempt to get into a game. To start with everything is great, I’m straight into the sole map of the beta, Operation Metro, and everything feels very Battlefield, albeit more close quarters than the Bad Company 2 fan-boys wanted. There were several times when the servers simply couldn’t cope anymore, usually when I want to play, but this shouldn't be beyond the expectations of a beta code.

From the outset, its clear that this is old code. Unfortunately, the map is full of bugs, prone can be a bit twitchy and the bullet hit detection seems a little off at times (I assure you it is not my terrible aim!). This tells me that EA do not consider this to be ‘demo’ of the game but a server code test. It confuses me that they made it such an open beta as the masses are clearly hinging their preorders on this code and judging, somewhat unfairly, the final game on this outdated build.

Visually, the Frostbite 2 is a big step up from its predecessor used in BFBC2 and I fully expect the final product to further showcase the updated graphics. Smoke billows out of burning cars and carriages, your screen blurs up nicely when you are under fire and shadows spread across everything realistically. In fact, lighting has never been so critical in a Battlefield game before. Lie in the shadows and you’re almost impossible to see if your quarry is ambling about in the sunshine. Moving around the environment feel a lot smoother too. One of my big issues with BFBC2 was that I would forever find myself stuck on scenery. Now, one click of the jump button and you vault cleanly over whatever obstructs your progress and away you go.

I’ll avoid going too in-depth into the different classes and the various unlocks that comes with them as I should imagine anyone with even slightest interest has either played the beta for themselves or is hiding away from information like a hedgehog in danger. Suffice to say, the changes to the classes are welcome in my book. Support feels exactly as it should, a mobile turret, and the assault/medic feels powerful enough without going into points overkill (much like the LMG-revive machine that was the medic in BFBC2). I especially like the bi-pod attachment for completely reducing recoil and suppressing the enemy.

My absolute favorite addition is the new social and stat tracking feature Battlelog. Using your web browser and, eventually, smart phone, you’ll be able to see exactly where you stand with your mates, when and what your next unlocks will be and a multitude of other statistical goodness. Some won’t care about this, but stat fiends like myself will love delving into it before and after matches. The best thing about it? It’s free in its entirety.

The major complaints I have come across are the prone campers and the COD-like gameplay. From my experience in the beta, the prone campers are a pain, but also easy to combat. Thanks to the killcam, locating and flanking these folk is a breeze and lets not forget, digging in and defending a choke point is a tactically sound method that shouldn’t be grumbled at (after all, the attackers are now given 100 tickets per MCOM set). And yes, this map does feel somewhat COD-like when you clear the first set of objectives, but then it is an infantry map. I’ve seen Caspian Border in action and I can tell you it’s 100% the Battlefield of old.

My biggest fears after the Beta is that too many people treated it like a demo for a finished product that it simply isn’t. It’s entirely possible that by allowing completely open access to the code that EA and DICE have shot themselves in the foot and convinced way too many people to opt for MW3 instead as its a safe bet. I truly hope that isn’t the case and BF3 will still maintain the level of buzz which has been present for many months now. My preorder is still very much intact (and so is my days annual leave!). See you on the field soldier!

F1 2011 Review*

*Originally posted on

Last year, racing developer legends Codemasters, treated us to the first ‘proper’ F1 game for a long time. Interest, which had once dwindled, was gaining within the masses, so much so that copies were sold out across the board. The success of the title meant a yearly update was to be inevitable. And here we are one year later with F1 2011 in our yellow and black 7Bit hands.

The first real question anyone will ask you about a direct sequel to any yearly update game is inevitably “will it be significantly better than last years iteration that I forked out nigh on 40 notes for?” The good news for these folks is that F1 2011 surpasses its predecessor in almost every conceivable way.

Graphically, 2011 has been given a noticeable overhaul. Every car has now been refined to the smallest details so you can actually see the suspension and front wing flexing should you care to pause and watch a slow-mo replay of your last chicane. Eagle eyed enthusiasts will also notice different levels of wear on tyres depending on your driving. Last year suffered badly from first corner mayhem frame rate issues, this time around all these problems are corrected making the whole experience a much smoother one. In addition to this, each team now gets a custom steering wheel and unique animations to cope with the different button locations.

In terms of gameplay, several new features have been added. To keep up with the rule changes this year, we now have to cope with KERS (Kinetic Energy Recover System) and DRS (Drag Reduction System) buttons. Luckily, these set to L1/Triangle and LB/Y for the different systems mean they are logically in the button map for a boost button anyway. There is also the addition of a safety car to control the race pace should a major incident occur on track. This is a great addition but does take some control away from the player allowing them to only swerve from side to side to heat the tyres a la real life. Handling has been significantly tweeked making it somewhat easier to keep the car on the track, although you can change a few setting to make it harder again if you are so inclined. The AI has also been updated to allow them to utilise advanced defensive techniques

The career mode is largely unchanged, your first career is still in the eyes of a rookie driver for a lower team. However this year you will have Force India and Williams to play about with as well as HRT, Virgin and Lotus. You can still change each weekend’s settings to suit your available time for play and all the strategy elements have remained in place. Before each session you receive emails regarding the weather of the upcoming weekend, but this information is easily obtainable through your race monitor anyway.

Multiplayer has been dramatically altered to include up to 16 human cars with an additional 8 AI cars in the usual game modes and host options. Typically, these races are a mixed bag depending on the other players ability to not crash. The major addition is a coop career in which you and a buddy race a full season under the same team. This mode is great as you must work together to obtain the Construction Championship but you must also strive to out pace, out qualify and out race your team mate at every opportunity. The person who performs better will be the number one driver and, therefore, get all the upgrades first.

By now, any non-F1 fans will probably be wondering what I’ve been guffing on about. The truth is this is still the major flaw in the franchise. Normal racing game fans will be able to somewhat guide their car through a career, but you do need quite a substantial knowledge of Formula 1 to be able to get anywhere in the higher difficulties. Functions like the afore mentioned KERS and DRS are just race changing devices that used improperly they can actually impede your chances of success. For such an in depth sport there really should be a few tutorials to explain such advance mechanics as the extremely late breaking zones, making effect use of KERS and DRS and managing your fuel and tyres.

The only other issue I have with the game is it can be impossibly long. Of course you can reduce your time investment at every opportunity by skipping sessions and shortening race length but, as a true F1 fan, I want the full experience. This can mean up to 8 hours of gameplay for a single race weekend, which equates to a gargantuan 150 hours across a full season. Unfortunately, this leads to becoming uninterested in the vast season ahead of you and, after one race, most will only play a short race weekend.

Overall, F1 2011 is everything F1 2010 should and could have been. Looking back on both games, it’s clear the extra year of development was much needed. There just simply wasn’t anything to compare last years game to and now 2010 seems remarkably unfinished in comparison. I’m mildly disappointed that I didn’t have this game last year as it is truly fantastic and the most complete F1 interactive experience to date. Let’s hope next year will include some minor tutorials in the guise of pre-season testing.

Eurogamer Expo 2011 Preview*

*Originally posted on

Look anywhere in the gaming media and you’ll see talk of sequels saturating the market. People will argue to the death about how there is a distinct lack of original IP and that the sequel is killing the industry. Pah, I say to these people. PAH!

This years Eurogamer Expo is rife full of massive Triple A sequels. The likes of Gears of War 3, Assassins Creed: Revelations, Forza 4 and Uncharted 3 will all be rearing their beautiful heads to wow us and empty our wallets before the year is done.

In preparation for the massive titles on show, I’ve gathered my top 3 anticipated games at EGX this year.

#3. Batman: Arkham City

I picked up Arkham Asylum on release after being lucky enough to attend a closed event with Rocksteady. I was immediately stunned by the presentation that oozed from the screen as after a stream of terrible Batman titles, AA was finally an adventure worthy of the worlds greatest detective. Now, Rocksteady have a heap of expectation piled on them to make AC surpass AA in every way and, from what I’ve seen, it does.

Moving from the confines of an island to the mainland, Arkham is now a sprawling network of dilapidated buildings and villainous activity. It’s almost as if it has been designed as Batmans’ playground.

All the villains will be there: Joker, Two-Face, Riddler, Penguin, Hugo Strange, Zsasz, Bane, Mr Freeze, Harley Quinn, Deadshot and, of course, the playable Catwoman.

If you are not excited about this at all, then find some excitement within the deep dark recesses of your brain. Batman Arkham City is going to rock the Expo this year.

#2. Mass Effect 3

ME2 was easily the game of 2010. Aside from Assassin’s Creed 2, there has been no better sequel in recent years.

ME3 sees a continuation of Shepherds’ story directly after the events of The Arrival DLC, and whilst I don’t want to give away spoilers to people who may not have played ME2 yet (why?!) the title pretty much speaks for itself. Expect the usual full story arcs (or not, depending on who died) from all the main characters and an expansive set of side missions to distract you from the galactic apocalypse.

As for the massively toned-down RPG elements in ME2, well they are back! Expect something inbetween ME1 & ME2 with the inclusion of full customisable weapon loadouts. While finer details are a little thin at the moment, BioWare are masters of their craft. This will be immense. Fact.

#1. Battlefield 3

My top slot, and more than likely my game of the year, is saved for the warfare giant of BF3. Call of Duty fans may get a tiny facelift and a few new features once a year, but good things come to those who wait.

Battlefield has long been the staple of PC online multiplayer action. The massive maps and gigantic teams gave an overwhelming sense of your tiny part in a much larger sequence of events.

The series had a shaky start on the consoles. I wasn’t a fan of either Modern Combat or Bad Company 1 so much so that it took a friend to introduce me to Battlefield: Bad Company 2 before I really gave it a chance. Thank your respective deities that he did otherwise I would be stuck admiring the graphical changes in COD (sarcasm people!).

From the trailers I’ve seen, BF3 has some of the prettiest looking destructible environments around. They’ve built the Frostbite 2 engine up from scratch this time and it shows. The lighting and particle effects are unparalleled. Of course, these previews are always shown on a high end PC so I’ll look forward to getting my hands on a console version, but I highly doubt DICE will let it be released with anything less than perfection.

With three giants like these hitting the markets in coming months who can possibly argue that sequels are killing the gaming world?