Most anticipated games of 2013 | Act 1

Goodbye 2012, it’s been emotional. You brought us a solid year of AAA releases and the explosion of the indie/downloadable title. So we thought we’d take a look at what you can get your hands on in 2013. Due to the sheer number of stunning games due for release in 2013 we’ve made a two parter. This is supposed to be the last big year for the console behemoths, and boy what a year this promises to be. So let’s begin, Act 1…

Bioshock Infinite BoxartBioshock Infinite – In “Bioshock Infinite,” indebted to the wrong people and with his life on the line, veteran of the U.S. Cavalry and now hired gun Booker De-Witt has only one opportunity to wipe his slate clean. He must rescue Elizabeth, a mysterious girl imprisoned since childhood and locked up in the flying city of Columbia. Together, they learn to harness an expanding arsenal of weapons and abilities, as they fight on zeppelins in the clouds, along high-speed Sky-Lines, and down in the streets of Columbia, all while surviving the threats of the air-city and uncovering its dark secret. Available 26th March, 2013.

 

Dead Space 3Dead Space 3 – Winner of more than 15 critic awards at E3 2012 including Best of Show from Game Informer Magazine, “Dead Space 3” cuts to the heart of deep space terror. The game is recognised by game critics worldwide for its incredible craftsmanship in horror, action, suspense and sound design. Players will embark on a thrilling ride through space that takes them to a hostile new planet, Tau Volantis. Fortunately, they are not alone this time around. The fully integrated drop-in/ drop-out co-op feature gives players the option to play alone or team-up with a friend anytime. Players that choose to take down the terror together will experience additional story details, side missions and gameplay mechanics only found when playing as John Carver. Available 5th February, 2013

 

Gears Of War JudgmentGears of War: Judgment – “Gears of War: Judgment” delivers the most intense and challenging “Gears of War” game yet, with a campaign that takes you back to the immediate aftermath of Emergence Day — the defining event of the “Gears of War” universe — for the very first time, and tests your mettle in highly competitive new multiplayer modes. The battle begins on 19th March, 2013.

 

 

GTA V BoxartGrand Theft Auto V – Developed by series creator Rockstar North, “Grand Theft Auto V” is the largest and most ambitious title in the series to date. Set in the sprawling city of Los Santos and the surrounding area, “Grand Theft Auto V” delivers a world of unprecedented scale and detail bursting with life, from mountaintops to the depths of the ocean. Available this Spring.

 

 

South Park The Stick of TruthSouth Park Stick of Truth – From the perilous battlefields of the fourth-grade playground, a young hero will rise, destined to be South Park’s savior. From the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, comes an epic quest to become… cool. Introducing “South Park™: The Stick of Truth™.” Discover the lost Stick of Truth and earn your place at the side of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny as their new friend. Succeed, and you shall be South Park’s savior, cementing your social status in South Park Elementary. Fail, and you will forever be known… as a loser. Available this Spring.

 

Tomb RaiderTomb Raider – “Tomb Raider” explores the intense and gritty origin story of Lara Croft and her ascent from a frightened young woman to a hardened survivor. Armed only with raw instincts and the ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Lara must fight to unravel the dark history of a forgotten island to escape its relentless hold. The adventure begins on 5th March, 2013.

 

 

Aliens Colonial MarinesAliens: Colonial Marines – The Aliens are perfect killing machines, the nightmares of the galaxy. Our only hope for survival is the ultimate in military force. Are you ready to sign up with the Colonial Marines? 17 weeks after losing contact with Hadley’s Hope, a new team of Colonial Marines returns to LV-426. The rescue mission becomes a battle for survival against new dangers, new enemies and new species of Xenomorphs. Developed by Gearbox, the critically acclaimed developers of Borderlands and Brothers In Arms, Aliens: Colonial Marines is the ultimate action/horror first-person shooter. Lethal. Bloodthirsty. RELENTLESS. The fight for survival begins on 12th February, 2013.

 

Metal Gear Rising RevengeanceMetal Gear Rising: Revengeance – Players assume control of Raiden, protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and supporting character in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. A key gameplay feature for the game is titled zan-datsu, which involves “cutting” through enemies and “taking” parts from the bodies of dismembered cyborgs and robots. Rising’s stealth elements will emphasize Raiden’s considerable speed and agility through what Matsuyama describes as “hunting stealth.” Unlike the “waiting stealth” of previous titles, in which players remained hidden and avoided combat, players in Rising will instead quickly stalk their enemies and use acrobatic maneuvers to stay out of sight while closing in. Assume control on 28th February 2013

 

SimCity BoxartSimCity – The defining city simulation is back! Create the city you desire and make the choices that shape your city and power the Sims within it. Every decision, big or small, has real consequences. Invest in heavy industry and your economy will soar—but at the expense of your Sims’ health as pollution spreads. Implement green technology and improve your Sims’ lives while risking higher taxes and unemployment. Team up with your friends to solve global challenges: launch a space shuttle, reduce carbon emissions, or build magnificent wonders. Compete on global and regional leaderboards to be the richest, the dirtiest, the happiest or the best place to visit! Become god on 05th March, 2013.

 

Stay tuned for part two, we’ve only just got warmed up.

SimCity | Release your inner god

It’s been nearly 10 years since the release of SimCity 4 and thankfully, Maxis has been busy reinventing their hugely successful city building simulator from the ground up complete with a new engine. This will be the sixth major release of the SimCity series and is due for release on PC and Mac on the 05th March 2013. So what can us eager mayors expect from “The most anticipated game of 2013″?

[quote]This is a new SimCity that delivers unprecedented depth of simulation. The model-like world and detail of the simulation make this the most responsive and personal SimCity ever.[/quote]

SimCity

Powering your beautifully crafted or crime ridden hell holes, will be a brand new engine called GlassBox. This engine works differently from previous simulation games which first simulate high-level statistics, then create graphic animations to represent this date. GlassBox replaces those statistics with agents, simulation units that represent objects like coal, power, and workers; each graphic animation is directly linked to an agent’s activity.

Every Sim, every car, every building has a purpose in SimCity. Sims go to work, purchase items, consume goods and live in a home (unless they’re homeless). GlassBox simulates real city behavior: Cars exhibit authentic traffic patterns, water actually travels down pipes, and fire spreads in realistic radiuses.

SimCity UFO

Hasn’t everything got multiplayer these days? Well SimCity is no different although you won’t be playing any angry 13 year old’s just yet as it’s limited to your friends. Depending on how much you like on your friends, you can chose to be good and lend them some of your resources or specialize in industries which create a lot of pollution and watch as the toxic smog makes your neighbours city ill.

The new SimCity features an advanced global market that simulates true supply and demand prices based on the decisions of players around the world! If you decide to specialize your cities in big business, you can buy and sell raw materials and manufactured goods over the global market. If water is a record high in prices, will you still buy on the global market or claim another city in your region and import? Each city has finite resources, so you may start with a clean wind farm, but have to import oil to power your growing city. The Global Market provides another way to play!

Sim City Global Market

The Sims in your city are an intelligent but vocal bunch who aren’t shy about letting you know how your doing as a Mayor. Fail to meet their demands and you’ll have empty, graffiti-riddled slums and protests outside your office. Your able to customise your buildings with what their calling ‘Ploppables’. Detailed 3d buildings you can upgrade and extend the functionality of your city, everything from police stations, health clinics and college dorms can be upgraded dependent on your success.

Maxis really aren’t kidding when they say that this SimCity will deliver an unprecedented depth of simulation. This is also the most expansive city management game yet where you can control a region that delivers true multi-city scale and play a single city or up to 16 cities at once each with different specializations.

What are your thoughts on the latest instalment of SimCity? Will you be picking it up on day 1? I can’t wait to get my hands on this game and it’s no surprise that it’s picking up the most anticipated game of 2013 title.

Content courtesy of EA | Maxis

Hitman Absolution | A Silent Assassin’s Guide

Misguided PR campaigns aside, Hitman Absolution has proved to be one of 2012’s biggest surprises. With a new in-game score system and some punishing level designs we thought we’d put together some top tips to help you become the ultimate bald-headed assassin…

Patience is a virtue

Unless you’re playing the game in guns-blazing mode, Hitman Absolution is all about studying the area you’re in. If you’re playing on a lower difficulty various points of interest will appear as small ripples in Instinct mode, but to those playing on the three higher ‘Professional’ difficulties you’ll need to rely on your sense of curiosity & creativity.

Be sure to study the paths of potentially hostile NPCs; windows of opportunity are there, so be sure to choose your moments wisely. Like so many games all guard patrols are always the same & will loop back after a certain amount of time, so don’t be afraid to wait for the best time to slip by.

The Chicago Library level will be a true test of your stealth timing

Low body count, high score

Almost every level of the game can be played with ZERO casualties bar your target. It’s not easy, but the right path, disguise & timing is there to be used. If you do need to take out a guard or NPC to move past unnoticed or to gain a particular disguise, be sure to press down on the d-pad to un-equip whatever weapon or object you’re carrying. This way you can press X or square to subdue a character unconscious. You’ll be penalised for non-target casualties so pacification is the key.

No one likes a litterer

As with all games with a stealth option, leaving a body lying around is a sure fire way to blow your cover. So, just like 2006’s Hitman Blood Money, you can stash bodies in various containers littered around each area. These rectangular containers glow in Instinct mode but it pays to look out for bins, freezers & crates that look big enough to stash a body. Hiding a body successfully also gains you some points back on pacification or kill.

Wardrobes & lockers are also a great way to conceal bodies

Use Instinct wisely

The new Instinct ability in Absolution has caused something of a divide in critics & fans of the series, but it all depends on your difficulty of choice. The ‘Enhanced’ settings (Easy & Normal) lets you use Instinct mode indefinitely, making it feel like Detective Mode in Batman Arkham Asylum. It’s a bit of a cheat but a great way to learn the ins-&-outs of an area. One higher difficulties just entering Instinct mode will reduce it so be sure to preserve it for those all-important blends or some Splinter Cell Conviction style ‘Point Shooting’ that lets you take out multiple enemies in seconds. Use it wisely.

Belle of the ball

If you’re going for a Silent Assassin rating then picking the right threads for the job is a must. Some parts of an area can be crossed in your suit with no suspicion from guards, but some parts are deemed ‘Hostile Territory’. If you’re spotted in one of these areas then you’ll be automatically spotted. Disguises can be found in little white bags or taken from dead/subdued NPCs so recon what threads are being worn in each area. Wearing a different disguise to a guard will let you slip by un-noticed, whilst wearing the same uniform (which is usually key to entering a hostile area) will cause a guard to become suspicious so be sure to use Instinct mode to fool them (i.e blend in).

 

Disguises are useful but come with their risks

Use that line of site

Just like Metal Gear Solid & Splinter Cell of old, Absolution’s guards & NPCs main means of detection is all based on sight & sound. If you drop into low profile (sneak mode) in front of a guard in any area they’ll become suspicious, so be sure to sneak when it’s most beneficial. If you’re moving without a disguise or in a heavily guarded area be sure to move silently once a guard has moved away or has turned their back. Watch out of the yellow warnings that sharpen depending on how suspicious a guard is of you, if it turns red you’re busted.

Using distractions is also a great way to carve out a window of opportunity. If you see a random object lying around, from a radio to a screwdriver, be sure to pick it up. These can be thrown to draw a guard’s attention away from an objective or door. Keep in mind that some objects like radios & busts will break after one use so use them wisely.

Each level is full of things to use to your advantage. Go explore!

Be bold when it’s called for

Ultimately, you’ll never get anything done if you sit behind cover or in the safety of a crate the whole time. Don’t be afraid to go into an area & scope out the challenges ahead of you, if you’re spotted you can just restart the checkpoint and use what you’ve learned in your next go. Some situations will need you to act on a moment’s impulse, slipping through the tiniest of gaps in a patrol to make it through. Be bold, bite your nails and have fun!  Perfection never comes easy.

Let us know your top tips for taking on the many challenges of Hitman Absolution in the comments below!

Which Windows Phone 8 should I Buy?

Microsoft has been busy this winter. We’ve had the release of Windows 8, arguably Microsoft’s biggest change in its portfolio of software since Windows 95. They’ve taken a note out of Apple’s book and entered the hardware market with the recently released Microsoft Surface. Now, to top off what I’m calling the ‘Winter of Windows’, comes the biggest and possibly last push to get the carriers, manufacturers, developers and most importantly, customers on board to it’s shiny new range of phones.

From the line up we have below, Microsoft has been doing its homework and has given itself every chance in catching up to the behemoths that are Apple and Android.  We’ve now got the latest hardware with big HD screens, dual-core processors, NFC and LTE. Along with a beautifully iconic OS, surely the sky’s the limit. So what Windows Phone should you buy?

Samsung ATIV S

ATIV S  ATIV S

Samsung’s first foray into the world of Windows Phone and a big coup for Microsoft seeing as Samsung are now the biggest smart phone seller in the world and boy do they start with a bang.

The ATIV S brings much of the successes of the S3 to the Windows world and shows a lot of the manufacturers how a phone should be made. We have a Super AMOLED HD display wrapped in a sleek metallic body and although we don’t have LTE, we have HSDPA+ which has comparable speeds to LTE but at a fraction of the price.

The ATIV S has the biggest screen size of all three at 4.8-inch, removable storage and a bigger battery but we can’t help but feel we’re seeing the Galaxy S3-2.

HTC 8X

HTC 8XHTC 8X

Both owners of this here site still have their HTC HD7s, it’s done us proud and although showing signs of age, we feel we made the right choice when we dove into Mr Ballmer’s arms for the first time. The folks over at, One & Co who designed the 8X and 8S have said that HTC and other manufacturers haven’t done the Windows Phone justice by slapping Microsoft’s metro OS into an Android phone and even comparing the Lumia 920 as an N9.

So they’ve come up with arguably the best looking Windows Phone 8 out there. The body is a polycarbonate unibody that wraps around to a curved 4.3-inch Gorilla Glass display. The 8X has the best pixel density of the three but that comes at a price with the smallest screen of only 4.3-inchs. We’ve got Beats audio, NFC and an 8MP camera with a BSI sensor which helps shooting in low light.

HTC’s built in applications aren’t worth the amount of data they chew through and with a bad track record of customer support the company has, some customers may have already been burned with their cheap Android devices this company has been known for.

Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia Lumia 920

The big daddy, The Nokia Lumia 920 was the phone with the biggest buzz in the industry and rightly so. Nokia has seemingly thrown every bit of technology it has into this phone which helps it win the versus battles spec wise, but we end up with a slightly larger and  heavier product (were talking about grams here).

The 920 has a host of exclusives trying to tempt you to it’s phones, the wireless charging is definitely a crowd pleaser. We also have Nokia’s PureView camera technology which means you’ll have the best camera on a Windows Phone device. Nokia is also working hard on the application front, giving you offline maps and exclusives in the marketplace such as Mirror’s Edge for free.

Enough, what am I buying?

We love that Samsung has joined our corner of the world and we hope to see more of them in the future. They’ve brought a perfectly acceptable phone, but we’ve seen it all before with the S3 and Microsoft needs a phone to differentiate itself. As One & Co said, the Windows OS doesn’t deserve to be slapped into an Android handset.

So that leaves us with the HTC 8X and the Nokia Lumia 920. The easy option would be to suggest both handsets as there really isn’t much different statistically, you can get an array of colours and all it really boils down to is personal opinion and how it feels in your hand. We’ll try and provide a quick go to guide for all you to long, didn’t reads out there:

Photographer: Lumia 920

Browser: Lumia 920

Watcher: 8X

Listener: 8X

Applications: Lumia 920

 

Infinite Robots choice: HTC 8X no, Lumia 920… urm wait 8X.. oh we don’t know either.

Square Enix Takes a Hit Out on Good Taste

We all know how the PR machine works: a marketing campaign is there to get people talking about a game or app. Whether people are praising it or lampooning it, people are still talking. But the PR department of publisher Square Enix may have just misjudged the tone of their latest campaign for IO Interactive’ Hitman Absolution.

Today saw the launch of a Hitman Facebook app that let users send offensive & threatening videos to their friends that ridiculed their apparent “ginger hair”, “small tits” & “small penis”. Within minutes of the app going live critics & gamers alike condemned the app for its simulated bullying & distasteful “virtual hits”.

Following a universally negative reaction Square Enix has since pulled the app & have apologised, stating the aim for the app was “wide of the mark”.

The app let you place a ‘hit’ on a friend for various unsettling reasons

“Earlier today we launched an app based around Hitman: Absolution that allowed you to place virtual hits on your Facebook friends,” said the publisher in a recent statement to CVG. “Those hits would only be viewable by the recipient and could only be sent to people who were confirmed friends.

“We were wide of the mark with the app and following feedback from the community we decided the best thing to do was remove it completely and quickly. This we’ve now done.

“We’re sorry for any offence caused by this.”

This isn’t the first time Square Enix & Agent 47 have had their names tied to controversy either. Back in May this year the publisher was criticised for an animated trailer that showed 47 violently dispatching a group of bondage-clad nuns in consistently graphic ways.

Our controversy-free review of Hitman Absolution, the game behind all the fuss, will be going live this week.

[Sources: CVG & Joystiq]

Far Cry 3 | A Survivors Guide

The tropical locales of Rook Island may look beautiful, but Ubisoft have made sure there’s more than enough danger lurking within its colourful forests. But fear ye not, for infinite robots has stalked the islands of Far Cry 3 (yes, we said islands) and faced the insanity of Vaas and his cheerful band of pirates. So before you delve into this FPS playground, be sure to pack the Infinite Robots guide to Survival in Far Cry the Third…

Use Your Surroundings to Your Advantage

Whilst built around an FPS template, there’s a surprisingly deep level of stealth written into the game play. The islands of Far Cry 3 are a dangerous place so understanding the lay of the land is key to becoming a master hunter. All enemies, from pirates & mercs to predators have AI based on line of sight – so if you break that line then you can escape or turn a one sided man-hunt into some deadly guerrilla warfare. Use the long grass, foliage, trees, rocks & huts of Rook Island & you’ll soon be the deadliest thing around.

Farcry 3

Your Best Weapon…Is Your Camera

It might sound a little crazy (which would suit this game down to the ground) but protagonist Jason’s digital camera is by far his most useful piece of kit. By selecting the camera you can highlight any living thing on the island from pirates to pigs. Once tagged you can track each target with a live image that shows their movement straight through any scenery.  Once tagged you can flip back to your weapons & pick of an outpost of mercs or hunt a tiger for its pelt. It’s an invaluable tool & one that’s godlike in the right hands.

It’s all about Recon

Even for the most experienced of Far Cry 3 players, the guns-blazing course of action will likely get you needlessly killed. Just like in Skyrim or any other open-world/RPG mash-up, scouting out an area is key to building a strategy for success. The island is littered with pirate outposts & packs of predators. Using your camera & the cover provided by the islands scenery will give you the chance to find the best route to surviving the dangers of Rook Island.

Farcry 3

Master Craftsman

And, just like the dragon-obsessed Skyrim, there’s a fun & addictive crafting element to Far Cry 3. Whilst it’s neither as deep or complicated as many RPG crafting systems, the crafting element in Far Cry 3 is just as integral to your characters progression. Collecting the multi-coloured fauna located around the islands can be used to make syringes that replenish health & give you a burst adrenaline. By killing & skinning certain animals (be they herbivores or carnivores, the island has plenty of both) you can craft extra space for more syringes, more weapons & more space for the loot & plants you collect across your adventure. All this can be accessed in a few clicks from the pause menu so be sure to check each packs requirements.

Indulge Your Inner Magpie, Collect Everything

Everything has a value in Far Cry 3. You’ll need cash to buy new weapons & replenish your ammo so be sure to loot the body of every pirate or merc you take down. You’ll always find some cash & every now & then you’ll recover an item that can be sold on at one of the local gun-shops around the islands. Looting crates (which appear as diamonds on your minimap) will also net you ammo, cash & sellable trinkets. Be sure to scale the many radio towers across the island too as these will open up more items & weapons for sale at the handful of stores you’ll discover on your bloody travels.

Farcry 3

Who needs Agent 47?

Take our advice, invest in a silenced weapon.  A silenced MP5 or pistol as well as the curved bow are a must for successfully surviving Vaas’s tropical nightmare. Un-silenced weapons will almost always bring a ton of pirates on your six. Using your blade-centric takedowns with a silenced weapon will ensure you won’t have to battle any uneven hordes on your travels. Having such an arsenal will also help you take out enemies around outposts & missions areas with minimal fuss & attention.

Count Those Bullets

This is not Bulletstorm or Call of Duty. Pop your Dishonored head on & you’ll be heading in the right direction. Open fire fights will burn up ammo like fuse paper so line up your headshots or go on a hunt for goat or deerskins which are perfect for crafting into extra bullet pouches. One shot weapons like sniper rifles, pistols & the curved bow are perfect for tracking those all-important headshots.

Farcry 3

Beware the Beasts of Rook Island

Remember, you’re just a man. And whilst carrying a gun may be as commonplace in gaming as jumping on platforms, it doesn’t make you the biggest threat on the island – at least not for a while anyhow.  The islands are brimming with nasties just waiting to steal your health bars, from tigers & wild dogs to bull sharks, vipers & alligators. As you dive into the many rivers, lakes & estuaries on the islands the tell-tale growl of an alligator as it breaks the surface is a sound you’ll never grow comfortable with. Break out the camera, keep low & check your map for areas tagged as predator hotspots.

And finally…Know your Skill Tree

Like so many modern games, Far Cry 3 comes complete with its own XP system and it’s one that will shape your journey through the games single-player experience. As you gain more XP you’ll unlock skill points which can be used to purchase new abilities – these then appear as tattoos on Jason’s arms. Be sure to pick the skills that suit your burgeoning play style – play to your strengths not what’s conventional for others. Upgrading your health will help you survive longer whilst abilities such as Takedown & Drag & Grenade Takedown are perfect for silent hunters & insane pranksters alike.

So pick up a copy of Far Cry 3 & remember, keep it infinite!

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Far Cry 3 is available now for PlayStation 3, PC & Xbox 360. Check out our Amazon links for more info. Our review for Far Cry 3 will be dropping soon.

Keep It Infinite & Win an Arkham City Steelbook Edition

Fancy winning a free game? ‘Course you do! Well we at infinite robots are getting that warm Christmas feeling a few weeks early, so we thought we’d give one of you lucky people an early Xmas present from us. And because we like to reward readers with such good taste in games websites, of course.

So, we’re giving away a steelbook edition (for Xbox 360) of arguably the best game of 2011 - Batman Arkham City (yes you read that right STEEL. No flimsy plastic cases here). It wowed critics & gamers alike when it did the impossible in producing a Batman experience far superior to 2009’s epic Arkham Asylum. Until Rocksteady release their Silver Age inspired prequel in the next year or two, Arkham City remains THE greatest superhero game on any console or platform. And it’s yours, for free on Xbox 360. Gratis.

Feast ‘yer eyes…

 

All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning this epic slice of Batman awesomeness is follow the following instructions:

  1. Follow us on Twitter @infiniterobots.
  2. Retweet our upcoming Arkham City competition tweet. So watch that feed!
  3. Cross your fingers.

We’ll be announcing the winner on Twitter next Sunday (9th December) so keep your eyes peeled for the chance to take Gotham by storm. So, what are you waiting for?

Keep it infinite!

Eurocom | Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Last month veteran British developer Eurocom was sadly forced to lay of 75% of its staff due to poor sales & a largely negative reaction to its latest offering 007 Legends.  So how did one of the UK’s oldest independent studios go from working on so many global licences to a lean outfit focused on purely mobile gaming? infinite robots takes a look at the storied history of one of gaming’s most wayward developers…

Back in the Day

Back in 1988 when everyone was walking the dinosaur & John McClane was shooting his away around the Nakatomi Plaza, a group of British games developers came together with the aim of making games that would stand out in an industry on the brink of mainstream breakthrough. Two years later and with the nineties in full swing they released Magician (NES, 1991), a side-scrolling adventure with many of the hallmarks of RPG gaming such as item management & spell-casting. And whilst it was no A Link to the Past, for such a small team it showed a desire to tread new ground in an industry ruled by the mighty platformer.

Disney’s Hercules managed to be faithful to its source material and offer hours of intuitive platforming shenanigans.

By the mid to late nineties the Derby-based studio had established itself as a jack-of-all-trades with everything from a ports of Sensible Soccer (Game Gear, 1993) & Dino Dini’s Soccer (SNES, 1994) to straight-up tie-ins such as James Bond Jr. (NES/SNES, 1991) & quiz game Family Feud (PC/3DO/Mega Drive/Genesis, 1994). By never really focusing on one genre or style for more than a single release everything from their arcade ports of Mortal Kombat 3 (PlayStation One/Saturn, 1996) to their version of Duke Nukem on the N64 (1997) all felt devoid of any true sense of self.

Diamonds in the Rough

And whilst it’s sadly churned its fair share of forgettable duds over the last twenty five years, Eurocom has also given us some of gaming’s most balanced & well remembered contributions. Disney’s Action Game Featuring Hercules (PlayStation One/PC, 1997) may have one of the worst titles you’ve ever heard but it’s still a fine homage to 2D scrolling platformers at a time where Tomb Raider & Spyro were riding high in 3D. Embracing the beautiful 2D animation that Disney has sadly forgotten in recent years, Hercules managed to be faithful to its source material and offer hours of intuitive platforming shenanigans.

Even their arcade port of Mortal Kombat 4 to the N64 (1998) was faithfully identical to the coin-up version (no mean feat considering the amount of raw data squeezed into 16 megabytes of cartridge).

When the millennium swung round it gave us the third Pierce Brosnan Bond outing The World Is Not Enough and with it the latest video game tie-in. Eurocom were given development duties on Nintendo’s powerful N64 console whilst the development of the PS1 version fell to the now defunct Black Ops Entertainment. And whilst the PlayStation version ended up as a bug-ridden mess that took a critical mauling, Eurocom gave us a well-rounded shooter that took full advantage of the N64s extra horsepower. It didn’t quite have Goldeneye 007’s sense of character but it boasted competent enemy AI & a decent multiplayer mode. It impressed enough in sales & scores to bag Eurocom an affiliation with the franchise for another twelve years. Even their arcade port of Mortal Kombat 4 to the N64 (1998) was faithfully identical to the coin-up version (no mean feat considering the amount of raw data squeezed into 16 megabytes of cartridge).

New IP vs. Established Franchise

Arguably one of Eurocoms biggest failings has been its lack of original IPs. Over the sixty odd games it’s produced on twenty separate platforms staggeringly only three have been IPs originally developed by Eurocom itself. Everything else has been a franchise tie-in or a console/handheld port of an existing game code. From Earthworm Jim (Game Boy/Game Gear, 1995) & Super Street Fighter II Turbo (PC, 1995) to Predator: Concrete Jungle (PlayStation 2/Xbox, 2005) & Dead Space: Extraction (Wii, 2009), Eurocom hardly endeared itself to critics by rarely breaking new ground or risking a new IP.  Eurocom simply became the go-to developer for licenced titles turned around in enough time to dual launch with another medium. Unlike other British developers/publishers such as Rare or Eidos, Eurocom has never managed to create a style or level of quality that was ever uniquely their own.

The Occasional Risk

When Eurocom did step out of the shadows with something new it showed us glimpses of brilliance that was sadly mired by poor sales or negative reviews. Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy (GameCube/PlayStation 2/Xbox, 2003) was a release that clearly showed Eurocom had learnt from its mistakes with 40 Winks (PlayStation One/N64, 1999). Embracing the principles that had seen the platformer take something of a revival on the sixth generation of consoles, Sphinx was a brand new character with original environments, interesting characters and a solid core of gameplay.

On the GameCube Mario was always destined to remain king & Sphinx, like so many other ‘mascots’, failed to find a proper fit on Mircosoft’s Halo-centric first console.

The Egyptian setting & detailed textures made for a genuinely great platformer. Even critically it faired positively with scores ranging from high-80s to low-90s. But even with Crash Bandicoot & Spyro relegated to a bygone era, other franchises such as Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter had already rooted themselves into the PlayStation 2 brand. On the GameCube Mario was always destined to remain king & Sphinx, like so many other ‘mascots’, failed to find a proper fit on Mircosoft’s Halo-centric first console. Sphinx, for all its quality, was simply buried alive in a crowd of louder competitors.  And with its “sluggish sales” it put paid to any future plans Eurocom had outside established franchises.

The Future for Eurocom

So what does the future now hold for Eurocom as it heads through its third decade? Well with 75% of its staff forced into redundancy it seems a focus on the mobile market will be Eurocom’s new battleground. With considerably smaller budgets, shorter development cycles & the ease of digital downloads, moving into this lucrative market will be their smartest option bar folding completely. In a recent statement Director Hugh Binns expressed his frustration at the downsizing and his new direction for the company: “We’ve fought to try & save as many jobs as possible, but the steep decline in demand for console games, culminating in a number of console projects falling through in the last week, left us with no option.”

He added “Eurocom has retained a core staff of just under 50 employees and will be focusing mainly on mobile opportunities going forward”. With the shadow of 007 Legends’ spectacular failure – a game we mercilessly reviewed back in October – firmly behind them, perhaps the time is nigh for Eurocom to find its true voice & rise from its own ashes triumphant.

[Sources: Games Industry International, IGN]

Dom Reseigh-Lincoln is the Content Editor for infinite robots. You can find him muttering in his own little corner of Twitter @furianreseigh.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City comes to mobile

The date was October 29th 2002 and building on the huge success of Grand Theft Auto 3, Rockstar release Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Pushing the ground breaking sandbox world into the vibrant and much loved 80’s. It was a match made in heaven and it was the closet you could come to being Tony Montana.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary, Rockstar will be releasing the game on a wide range of  iOS and Android devices on December 6th. (Complete list below) It will set you back £2.99 on iOS and £3.72 on Android and in my opinion that is a steal for a very underrated version of the franchise.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Love Fist

This 10th Anniversary Edition brings the full experience of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to mobile devices, with native high-resolution graphics and several enhancements unique to the iOS and Android platforms including updated character models and lighting effects, new and more precise firing and targeting options, a fully customizable control layout and native support for Retina display devices.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Sonny

Apple iOS Devices: iPad, iPhone 4, 4S & 5, iPod touch 4th & 5th Generation

Android Phones: Motorola Razr, Razr Maxx, Razr Maxx HD, Motorola Atrix, Motorola Photon, Motorola Droid Bionic, HTC Rezound, HTC One X, HTC One S, HTC Evo 3D, HTC Sensation, HTC Droid Incredible 2, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Nexus S, Samsung Galaxy Note 1 & 2, Samsung S2, Samsung Galaxy R, Sony Xperia Play, Sony Xperia S, P, T & TL, Sony Walkman Z Series Media Player, Samsung Galaxy S2, Samsung Galaxy S3, Google Nexus 4

Android Tablets: Acer Iconia, Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, LG Optimus Pad, Medion Lifetab, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 / 10.1, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, Sony Tablet S, Sony Tablet P, Toshiba Thrive, HTC Flyer, Google Nexus 7, Google Nexus 10

Ten Reasons Why You Should Be Playing Hitman Absolution

In a month where both Call of Duty & Halo return to record-breaking sales, Square Enix & developer IO Interactive bravely released the first Hitman in six years. And despite some heavy-hitting competition Hitman Absolution has proved to be a slick piece of contracted fun.  So we’ve got ten reasons why should already be playing Agent 47’s latest kill-frenzy…

Stealth is the new black

There’s nothing wrong with a little mindless mayhem (and Hitman Absolution has plenty of it if you’re that way inclined) but nothing smacks of true predatory values like a silent kill. Whether it’s stalking your target in a crowd or watching from the shadows Absolution gives you the weapons, disguises & distractions to get the job done clean. Trust us, nothing says psychotic finesse like a little fibre-wire.

A smorgasbord of choice

Each mission of Absolution is split up into separate areas, with each one designed to cater to even the craziest of gaming tastes. Sure, you can move like a silent shadow & take your target with grace or you can rig their car with explosives & blow their atoms sky-high. By splitting each mission to bite-size portions might seem to fly in the face of some classic stealth games but even the smallest of areas can be a brutal killing ground for the inexperienced nube. Poison or gas explosion, the sick choice is yours!

The scores on the killing floor

Adding a little arcade flavour to the mix is the new in-game score system. Jettisoning the knock-on effect Notoriety system from 2006’s Blood Money was a good move on the part of IO Interactive as it finally lets players focus on each section of the mission to bag the best score. If you choose to go blundering in wielding you signature silenced Silverballers then your gung-ho technique will dock you points, whilst avoiding detection & killing your target in a creative or silent manner will build towards a final score that rises & falls with every action.

Killer instinct

Some fans have decreed the new Instinct system as a franchise killer but it adds a new level of situation management to the game. In the six years since Hitman Blood Money both Assassin’s Creed & Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham series have redefined what true hunters can do, so it’s no surprise IO Interactive took some slightly blatant cues from its new comrades. Instinct Mode is essentially Batman’s Detective Mode, letting you track NPCs through scenery & see their intended route with flaming trails. Silent kills & hiding bodies will replenish your Instinct which can then be used to fool enemies or take out multiple enemies a la Splinter Cell Conviction’s Mark & Execute system. Copied yes, but done with class.

A personal contract

The Hitman games have never been acclaimed for their narratives but Absolution manages to give enough exposition to justify each setting whilst not over-egging the story. The cut-scenes are beautifully animated & the voice-acting is decent enough to make a mockery of the dire Hitman movie a few years ago. And having veteran VO artist David Bateson reprise his role as 47 gives the oddly emotive story & gravitas other actors might have overdone.

Multiplayer (but not, but kind of)

Thankfully Hitman Absolution hasn’t taken a leaf out of Ubisoft’s book & shoehorned in an unbalanced set of multiplayer death matches. Instead Absolution presents Contracts. Taking its cues from the ‘Autolog’ style systems that are making the rounds across video games at the moment, Contracts lets you compete for the highest score on missions based on the different sections of the single-player campaign. You can even create your own missions to challenge your friends & foes with. Rather than asking you to build a map ‘Forge’ style, Contracts drops you into a location & lets you build the difficulty. You pick the targets, set the parameters & twist the rules. By completing the mission you prove it can be done with players from across the world taking on your record to earn cash for new weapons & disguises. Simple but so addictive it could claim you life.

“Hitman Absolution feels more like a Tarantino movie than a video game, dripping with style, class & bravado”

Higher difficulty done right

Some developers still struggle to get the distinction between difficulty levels, but Absolution proves that it’s not just about tougher enemies & less armour. As you progress from Easy to the brutal Purist setting, Absolution increases the reaction times of enemies, removes hints & removes Instinct regeneration. Normal & Hard become nothing more than training levels as you prepare for the onslaught of Professional & Purist. Legendary is for chumps.

Contract killing has never looked so good

The Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3 may be well into their twilight years but games like Absolution are determined to squeeze each consoles processor for all its worth. Absolution is easily one of the best looking games on either console to date. Amber sunsets bathe penthouses in a warm glow whilst neon signs sizzle in night-time rain fall, Absolution has that slick art style that makes it feel more like a Tarantino movie than a video game. The variation between traditional architecture of an orphanage with the neon playground of a strip club gives you just some idea of how stylistically confident this game is.

Hitman Absolution is all about giving players the tools to embrace the dark arts & become a sublime dealer of death”

Balanced achievements

Whilst achievements & trophies aren’t the be all and end of all of gaming, it doesn’t hurt to play a game that doesn’t short change you for ten hours of campaign dedication – Perfect Dark Zero this is not. Achievements are mostly based on certain milestones reached over the singe-player campaign whilst some tougher trophies will push you to complete replay the game with different playstyles to bag the full score. Complete the campaign & have a little ditty in Contracts & you’ll bag a well-earned 650g/70% of the Gamerscore on offer.

Who needs a white hood?

The exploits of Altair, Ezio & Connor may have become as synonymous with stealth gameplay as Solid Snake but Agent 47 has managed to strip back its experience to the truest principles of the genre. Whilst Assassin’s Creed 3 focused more on melee combat & aggressive actions, Hitman Absolution is all about giving players the tools to embrace the dark arts & become a sublime dealer of death. Fibre wire is the new hidden blade.

Picked up the new Hitman yet? If you’re not convinced keep an eye out for our upcoming review from Content Editor Dom Reseigh-Lincoln. Keep it infinite!