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The Gamebrit Podcast by
published Tuesday, Mar 17th

#028 — Gaming & Britain

Britain’s soon-to-be-favourite gaming podcast, The Gamebrit Podcast returns for a 28th episode, and this week we talk gaming and Britain.

We continue to break down the cultural divide between England and Scotland, before getting down to business to talk videogame: Baftas, Lego Rock Band puns, awful segues, franchise sequels and the BBC’s weird upcoming Grand Theft Auto TV thing.

Games discussed this week: GTA5’s heists update, Valiant Hearts, Counterspy, Transistor, Apotheon.

Enjoy it? Make sure you never miss an episode of The Gamebrit Podcast by subscribing via RSS, on Stitcher or in iTunes.

Got any comments? Get in touch via Twitter, Facebook or by emailing podcast@gamebrit.com.

Enjoy the show!


The Gamebrit Podcast by
published Sunday, Feb 15th

#027 — Valentine’s Day Date

Feeling loved up? Then get ready to snuggle with episode 27 of Britain’s soon-to-be-favourite gaming podcast, The Gamebrit Podcast!

In this Valentine’s Day Special, the two single members of the podcast team, Mike and Colin, go on an audio date and quickly get through the video game discussion to get to the important topics of the moment, including but not limited to: gambling habits, the heyday of arcades, essential alarm clock discussion, dream jobs, thrill seeking and biggest regrets.


The Gamebrit Podcast by
published Wednesday, Feb 04th

#026 — Weezer on Deezer

The Gamebrit Podcast episode 26 is ready for your ears!

This week Britain’s soon-to-be-favourite gaming podcast talks about Spotify coming to the PS3 and PS4, the recent Windows 10 / Xbox event, and the new Lego games announced.

Games discussed include Grim Fandango Remastered, Framed, Alien Isolation,‪#‎IDARB‬, and backtrackathon Metroid Prime Trilogy.


The Gamebrit Podcast by
published Wednesday, Dec 17th

#021 — Pizza Scientists

Britain’s soon-to-be-favourite gaming podcast, The Gamebrit Podcast, turns 21!

With Chris and Leo away, it’s down to Mike and Colin to discuss Bayonetta’s magical hair, Hearthstone’s new rage-inducing cards, the possibility of a Mario animated film, retro bananas, and the wonderful world of fast food.

Games discussed this week include Bayonetta 2, Hearthstone Goblins vs Gnomes, Threes, Papers Please, Worms Battlegrounds, and our usual Master Chief Collection functionality check-in.


by
published Saturday, Nov 24th

WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2008 Review

Now in its 9th iteration, THQ’s Smackdown series has been going almost as long as the show it takes its name from. Every year they add more and more features and refine various mechanics – some of these work well, some of them don’t. This year boasts some major gameplay changes as well as a revamped single player mode, so let’s find out just how good (or not) they are…

First and foremost, the game’s single most major change is in its “fighting styles”. These work in giving each wrestler a little bit more individuality and serve in making fighting with them more realistic. Each wrestler has a primary and a secondary style, which match with their real-life fighting methods, and each one give the wrestler specific special moves and characteristics. For example powerhouses, like Triple H or Lashley, are able to power up and make all of their grapple attacks irreversible and can use a more powerful Irish Whip, amongst other specialties. High flyers like Jeff Hardy or Rey Mysterio generally move quicker, can pull off surprise pins, and so on. There are 8 styles altogether, and these are a big improvement on the actual gameplay, even if some of the styles just aren’t as good as the others.Unfortunately this is really the only change that affects the gameplay in any meaningful way.

The submission system has changed, and now relies solely on the right analog stick (you can rotate it to add pressure, similarly you rotate it to escape), however this doesn’t really make much difference in its effect. There are also some minor changes such as a simpler grapple system – pushing the right stick performs a simple grapple move as before, however holding the right bumper and pushing up or down performs a strong grapple, and pushing left or right performs an ultimate control move. Again, this is a slight improvement but nothing major. You can also run in any direction now by holding the left bumper and moving, but then this is something that should have been introduced years ago.The other major addition this year is the introduction of ECW, which includes several of the wrestlers from the brand, as well as the new ECW Extreme Rules Match.

That works pretty much the same as a Hardcore match, however now you can pick whatever weapon you want from under the ring from a choice of 8, including chairs, tables, ladders, sledgehammer, etc. You can also set some of the weapons (and the table) on fire now, which is a nice touch that any old-school ECW fan will appreciate. Tournament mode has returned (now with the new Beat The Clock Sprint), as well as a new “Hall of Fame” mode which tasks you with recreating legendary moments in WWE programming (beating Bret Hart as Shawn Michaels in an Ironman match, for example) which is really nothing more than a renamed challenge mode from last year. All of the usual creation modes have also returned with very little added to them –create a wrestler, create a championship, etc. Create an entrance, though, does now allow the option of using custom music which works well enough and is a nice added feature. Next up is the new 24/7 mode, which is an amalgamation of last year’s Season and GM modes.

Unfortunately this is a pretty major step back from last year – gone are the days of just wrestling the shows every week, earning EXP from your match and getting involved with a decent story – it’s now been replaced with a calendar where you need to specify what you do on every single day, including training up your wrestler in a variety of disciplines, earning popularity by signing autographs, starring in a movie, etc. This sounds great on paper; unfortunately the execution is pretty flawed. The constant training needed to raise your stats is a real chore (for example, you need to perform as many strong grapples as you can in 2 minutes to raise your strength – yawn), and the other activities such as starring in a pay-per-view commercial, signing autographs etc don’t actually do anything except to tell you that you “gained 2 popularity” and “gained 20% fatigue” right after selecting it.

That’s right, fatigue. As well as worrying about your stats, you also need to worry about how much fatigue you have. Overexert yourself too much and you’re prone to injury, which causes one of your limb meters to be automatically damaged when you start a match (you can’t skip a match even if you’re injured). To combat this you need to rest up, however selecting a day of rest causes your popularity to plummet (because apparently taking a day off makes all the fans hate you). To combat this you need to reach a fine balance of how much work you do during the week with how much rest you take. Ultimately it’s a real pain and last year’s story was simply a lot more fun.

Speaking of the story, the days where you’re actually scheduled to compete on your respective brand (Mondays for RAW, Tuesdays for ECW and Fridays for Smackdown) are similar to season mode last year – you enter storylines, wrestle matches, chase the title, etc. Again these are a step back, with the story becoming pretty much non-existent outside of voicemails and magazine articles that appear, and half the time they don’t even make any sense. On more than one occasion I’ve received voicemails telling me my next match is against myself, and in cut scenes before matches (there seems to be only a few of these and they just constantly loop throughout your career) my wrestler was often seen shaking the hand of my arch nemesis. One time I was scheduled to wrestle my rival MVP, who ended up being Kane when I actually got into the match, who then seemed to transform back into MVP in the post-match cut scene. It all seems incredibly rushed.

The GM mode side is pretty much identical to last year – you draft a roster of superstars, create feuds, specify the matches to appear on your weekly shows, etc. Unlike real WWE programming however, you can’t set the outcome of the match, which is a real pain in the ass when you’re trying to arrange your champion to compete in a squash match only to have him lose the belt.

The roster of superstars you can pick this year is actually smaller than last year. At first glance you think this is probably due to the fact that WWE in general has fewer superstars right now than it did one year ago, but then you realise that the game has missed out a whole slew of worthy candidates for inclusion – London/Kendrick, Highlanders, Cody Rhodes, Hardcore Holly, Beth Phoenix etc. Not even the current Tag Team Champions Cade and Murdoch are there when they were included last year, which frankly boggles the mind. The roster of superstars that are there are somewhat out of date as well, with wrestlers such as Cryme Tyme, King Booker, Marcus Cor Von etc not even a part of WWE anymore. Triple H doesn’t have his current music or Titantron video (seriously, how much effort would it take to quickly update a video?), John Morrison still has his Nitro gimmick – this all adds up to making the game feel a tad outdated.

Online is identical to last year, which means that it still feels rushed and tacked-on. Why can’t you team up with a friend and then search for another tag-team to fight? Why does it boot you out of the lobby when you finish the game, forcing us to remake a lobby just to play again? This is an ever-important area that is in desperate need of attention. The graphics, thankfully, are as good as ever. Most superstars look uncannily like their real-life counterparts, and most of the entrances are spot-on. The hair still looks terrible though, and this is something that THQ really need to work on. The animation is also starting to look a little dated.The game’s commentary is downright terrible, just as it was last year. Delivered lines are badly timed, are said over and over again, and by the time you’re playing your tenth match you’ll just want to turn it off. I know that Umaga is an unstoppable machine; I don’t need to hear that again and again. The entrance announcing is just as bad this year as well. These are things that really need to be sorted out, because it’s been going on for a good few years now.

It’s a shame that this year’s iteration of wrestling goodness is lacking in decent new content, because it only serves to highlight how flawed some of the existing areas of the game are. Saying that, this is by no means a “bad game” – the core gameplay is still fun to play and wrestling fans will get a kick out of it, but at the end of the day what’s there is just too similar to last year with some of it being a step back.


Superman by
published Tuesday, Dec 05th

Superman Returns: The Videogame Review

It’s a tough job making a convincing Superman game, with his seemingly endless amount of superpowers. Just ask Titus Software, the company that unleashed Superman 64 upon the world and which now regularly tops the “worst game of all time” polls. With the announcement that EA Tiburon were to develop a tie-in to 2006’s summer blockbuster Superman Returns, everyone hoped that the trend of bad Superman games would finally come to an end, and Superman would finally be the man-of-steel that we all wish he would be in a videogame. Unfortunately it seems as if it’s been hastily rushed out of the door to coincide with the movie’s DVD release. This game isn’t finished.

You start the game having to save Metropolis from a meteor storm, and you are then captured by a villain named Mongul and forced to fight in an arena against an array of bad guys. These essentially serve as the game’s tutorial. From there it’s back to Metropolis as the real game starts. Like previous comic-book/movie adaptations such as Spiderman 2 and The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Superman Returns is set in a free roaming environment which allows you to fly wherever you want, whenever you want. Unfortunately for the game, there is just nothing to do inside it.

The game is set up into chapters, with each chapter being dedicated to a different villain from the comic books. These are broken up with cutscenes that recount the events of the movie; however these serve as nothing except ways to tie the game into it. You don’t get to battle Lex, or do any movie-related missions, which seems like an incredible oversight (or lack of development time) for a game that is proudly named the same as the movie.

Instead, to progress through each chapter you need to roam the city and complete any missions you may find – completing missions earns you experience, and when you have enough you face the boss of the chapter. The first problem with this is that the missions do not start until you get near enough to its location, at which point an arrow appears directing you to it. This leads to a lot of flying aimlessly around the city trying in vain to find a mission. The next problem with the game’s mission system is that every single one of them, bar the boss fights, is the same. You are tasked with defeating various robots and mutants who are causing havoc to the city – and that’s it. At first it’s initially fun, but once you’re beating up the same generic robots for the 20th time, it starts to get extremely tedious. If you’re lucky, you may be tasked with putting out a fire to add a little variety. The missions would be somewhat more enjoyable if there were at least a wide variety of enemies to beat up, but there aren’t. It’s the same robots and lizards over, and over, and over again. Boss fights aren’t really much better, and in some cases are exercises in pure frustration. As Superman is invulnerable, he has no life bar – this is solved by giving the health bar to the city itself instead, and as the city is damaged, it goes down. Completing these missions and carrying injured civilians to an ambulance boosts this back up. There are some distractions to the missions in the form of a few races, but these are easy and each can be beaten first time in about a minute. You can also scour the city for 100 cats, but it offers no reward other than a few measly gamerpoints. The game doesn’t last very long either, with the entire game able to be wrapped up in 6 or 7 hours.

This is a shame, because Superman’s control mechanics – bar the camera – are actually well implemented. Flying at a high speed from the stratosphere straight down into the streets of the 80 sq. mile Metropolis is fun, and is one of the gameplay features that stand this Superman game above the rest. Holding down the right bumper whilst flying allows a form of “super speed” that is faster than the speed of sound (you hear a satisfying sonic boom once you break the sound barrier) and is initially impressive when flying through the streets, dodging buildings. Along with this, Superman also has 3 different powers available at his disposal – super breath, heat vision and ice breath. They work well enough except for the super breath power, which is pretty much useless except for putting out fires. Changing these powers is done via the D-pad, which can be pretty awkward in the middle of a fight as your left thumb is on the left analog stick. These powers are governed by a stamina bar, which depletes as you use them. Unfortunately the camera isn’t as well implemented and it can get pretty confusing when fighting lots of enemies on the ground. The lock-on system is also pretty awkward, with no way to switch to a different enemy without letting go of the left trigger, moving your aim to a different enemy, and pressing it again.

The city is pretty well realised with plenty of cars and civilians roaming the streets, and even though the city is plenty big enough, it all seems the same with the exception of a few landmarks such as The Daily Planet building. You can’t go inside any buildings, either. Graphics are tolerable at a distance (the textures become extremely blurry up close), however this is let down by the frame rate which tends to stutter when there are lots of enemies on the screen and the textures that pop in when flying at high speeds.

Fortunately the music is one of the high points of the game, and although it lacks the traditional Superman theme, in its place is a well executed orchestral soundtrack. The 3 main actors from the movie (Routh, Spacey and Bosworth) also reprise their roles, however with the exception of Brandon Routh, the voice acting is all delegated to the short cutscenes. Routh’s one-liners are heard constantly throughout Superman’s battles with the game’s bosses – one-liners that are repeated over and over again. It gets pretty irritating.

It’s a shame that this latest effort to revive the Superman franchise ends up falling flat, as clearly the potential was there for it to become something special. Flying around as Superman and using his powers is pretty fun. Unfortunately EA Tiburon forgot to build a game around it. So long, Superman.


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Mike Fudge