Upscaling Day Of The Tentacle with Scummvm

Following the announcement of Day Of The Tentacle 2016 Remastered plus the pleasant reminder of what a great point & click Day Of The Tentacle is/was, I thought it would be interesting to look at the current options for filtering / upscaling Day Of The Tentacle in ScummVM in its original state.

ScummVM offers many options for upscaling:

  • 2X
  • TV2x
  • AdvMAME2x
  • 2xSAI
  • Super2xSAI
  • SuperEagle
  • HQ2x
  • DotMatrix
  • 3X scalers
  • 3X
  • AdvMAME3x
  • HQ3x

In ScummVM you can select a different filter in real-time while playing, by pressing ctrl-alt-# and then a number between 1-9 which corresponds to one of the above filters.

After some real soul-searching, and deep contemplation – I decided that for me AdvMame 3x was the best filter as it would actually upscale to as slightly higher resolution than the others (which tended to stay at 640×480) which was 960×720.

Here are the screenshots for your own eyes:

I think 2xSAI yields probably the best scaling, and compared to the original – it’s a nice compromise if you want to play the game right now.   The 2016 Remaster looks superior, and will likely scale to much higher resolutions far better – but is it actually worth paying out for?


The ‘Original’ is charming enough, the slapstick whimsical art style, top notch voice acting and story trumps the resolution all day long.  Personally I think they should have left it alone and come up with a worthy sequel instead.

Half-Life has the best start to any video game.

HL1 - my god man what are you doing

It’s 1998, a friend of the family buys a new computer.  It’s a Time PC (remember them?).  I get a call to go round and help ‘set it up’ for them.  In the box with all the cables there’s the usual ‘Nero Burning Rom’ trial CD’s but with the graphics card came a free game.
It was Half Life.  I’d never heard of it – but as thanks (and because it was a PC for office use) I was given the CD to take home with me.

Fast forward 13 years.  I still think it has the best and most effective introduction to any video game to date.  Allow me to take you on my 16 minute journey as we plunge headfirst into the work of Black Mesa, Gordon Freeman and crowbars. Continue reading “Half-Life has the best start to any video game.”

PC Gaming 15 years ago


It’s difficult to put ones finger on what is exactly different between PC gaming now and 15 years ago. Aside from the obvious differences common to all platforms; the technology, graphics, sound and hardware etc were older – but there was something more exciting about gaming back then.

It felt like PC gaming was evolving monthly, compared to now when PC gaming is very much dorment thanks to the consoles taking over the world.

Between 1995-1998 we went through 6 different version of Directx, probably a hundred different models of soundblaster and various Voodoo / 3dfx graphics cards. The technology evolved so quickly, you couldn’t keep up.

I photographed some old PC gaming magazines for this article, and uploaded an advert (see photo in the gallery below article) to Reddit for a 1995 Apricot PC, costing £1,349, and the comment below it (while not the most eloquent) sums up the sentiment correctly.

PC gaming in the 90s reddit comment

Anyway on with the nostalgia!

Looking back through those magazine, it’s hard to believe how expensive PC games were. So much so, there were separate game charts – budget gaming, cdrom games, and full price titles!

In the mid-90’s we were well into the ropey FMV-based cdrom titles, because, afterall, filling a game with FMV was the only to really fill a CD-ROM back then. . check out this classy title ‘Voyeur’, and what a price. .

Point n’ click adventure games were very popular, too. If only we still saw titles of the same calibre as Full Throttle and Discworld:


Modding was still very popular, even before home internet was the norm. Check out this ‘elvis’ mod for Doom – these came on cover CD’s or floppy discs, depending on which version of the magazine your pocket money would stretch to. .

Crap games!

Tie Fighter – “Recommended price” of £49.99

Demo Disc!

The 1337 rig you need to play them on!

Is it worth getting into WoW after avoiding it for so long?

After a brief trial many years ago, I’ve decided to return to Azeroth and once again flirt with World of Warcraft.
This week I am mostly interested to see the Cataclysm and the end of days of Azeroth as we know it.

However it has been brought to my attention that my planned brief liaison with the gnomes, blood elves and dwarfs may develop into a full on relationship that could affect me back here in the real world.

Luckily I’m very strong at resisting these urges and am also pretty cheap so the monthly fee is already there as a barrier of entry that hasn’t been justified to me yet. Not to say that WoW is too expensive, if it was a game I really wanted to play lots and lots of then the updates, world events and community would be worth the expense. I played a lot of Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer and it that was only available on a subscription model but was supported like WoW then I’m pretty sure I could find a way to pay.

But for question of the day: Is it worth getting into WoW after avoiding it for so long?

Fallout New Vegas review

Fallout New Vegas PC review

“Always bet on black” – Wesley Snipes, Passenger 57

With the words of the tax dodging thespian never more pertinent and the adventures ahead of me in New Vegas there could be no other option – SDG_LM was all in.

Fallout New Vegas immediately strikes out to differentiate itself from Fallout 3 by starting you in what appears to be the exact opposite of how three started. Getting robbed, shot in the head and then buried in a shallow grave is never the nicest start to your adventures but luckily you survived and now you’re out for revenge. Which in the Mojave Desert will be served hot, sweaty and with sand in your shoes.

You start off in the backwater town of Goodsprings and after an especially contrived character creation sequence you emerge squinting into the Mojave Desert wasteland. This lacks the punch of the previous fallout games escape from the vault and Oblivion’s outdoor emergence but then we’ve been in this world before and wasteland, like war, never changes.

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The More Things Stay The Same

Goodsprings sets the Wild West tone of the game but once out in the Wasteland you’ll soon settle into the usual Fallout3/Oblivion wanderings. The main quest to find your would-be killer leads you on a tour around the Mojave and the varied side quests along the way provide the real meat to the desolate bones of civilization. From helping a cult of Ghouls to deciding the fate of some particularly unfortunate vault dwellers the side quests can provide both comic relief and sometime genuinely tough decisions.

The main quest is an improvement on the first game and there isn’t a ball-achingly absurd conclusion to spoil things. The New Vegas setting also allows Obsidian to jazz things up a bit with The Strip, here you’ll find casinos to waste away all your profits and also see another side to wasteland living.

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You Want to be in My Gang

New Vegas does have a few new cards up it’s sleeve and the introduction of factions is a welcome one.  Most actions you take on quests will affect one group in one way or another and now that will dictate how that group responds to you in the Mojave. Quests difficulty can be completely altered by how lovely a faction thinks you are and some quest will have multiple conclusions where the easiest path may be to avoid your enemies even if it doesn’t provide the resolution you would like.  While these factions do add to the game, the ability to don a disguise to infiltrate enemy camps or wander unobstructed through the wasteland is a bonus however on several occasions these disguises wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference so you quickly resort to shooting first whenever possible.

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Unfortunately you can’t talk about New Vegas without mentioning the myriad of bugs that the release version contained. By now we’ve all seen the numerous videos of invisible computers and bulging eyes but patches have been released and the game was very stable when I played it, only once did I have a game breaking issue that had me reloading a previous save game.

While it easy to overlook these issues when not affected by them, this is a major worry that more and more developers are releasing games that are effectively broken and is sure to cost the company sales in future releases.

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Luckily the PC is a few levels above the consoles and includes 2 perks that the console versions don’t have and that is the MOD tools and the community. Already there are numerous MODS and fixes released by the superb community that both improve performance and de-consilificationallyfy the user interface. A list of the best of these can be found over at PC Gamer.

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The End is Nigh

New Vegas hasn’t been billed as Fallout 4, however the team at Obsidian have taken us back for more adventures in the wasteland and bugs aside have done a very good job. The dark humour of previous Fallout games is preserved and Obsidian have been able to use their knack to spin a tale to create a game that while retreading a lot of the same ground is better than its predecessor which means it’s very good.

9 out of 10

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Starcraft 2 review


So how do you go about writing a review on a game that has received so much commercial success and community attention without repeating what everyone else has already said? It’s tricky, but there are still people out there looking for a slightly alternative view on things…..and so that’s what I’ll try to bring in this review.
I think the main concern of gamers is that Starcraft II would simply recycle what the developers previously made over a decade ago, all be it with a few new shaders, models and shiny bits here and there. Let me make it very clear from the start; it’s not.
What sets this game apart from the swathe of other releases in this genre is undoubtedly the campaigns ability to not only immerse you in the story- but to really give you a connection between the dialogue and the gameplay. Ok, so you can argue that the story of our centrepiece Jim Raynor is 100%, certifiably cliché. And it is, but then Starcraft II has never been so much about “Jimmy’s love story” and more about the entire universe, you know, the vibrance of the other characters and everything, which really shine through. Of course, Starcraft has also been about South Korean gamers being wildly overpaid to play the game for as inhumanly long as possible in any one sitting.

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Although an RTS at its core, Starcraft II manages to incorporate a massive variety of mini game-eqse elements in its missions. No two levels are quite the same and most missions have a totally unique mechanic associated with it. There are so many examples to chose from, some are perhaps non-controllable and more subtle elements…like the appearance of a space colony or dig site that was modelled specifically for that mission alone. You won’t ever see it again, but for that one mission Blizzard have made everything feel so completely unique. They’ve certainly dedicated a ridiculous amount of time in to making this feel very obvious. Some elements (and without spoiling too much), are the entire focus of the mission, like the Drakken sun-powered-protoss-melting laser drill. Not to mention the awesomely fun Odin war machine……

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You could definitely argue that the mini game feel was perhaps lifted somewhat from Blizzard’s other releases. Does the phrase “dodge the goddamn fire wall” ring any bells? There are certainly heavy WoW elements within Starcraft II itself, and why not? The stylistic approach to the artwork, the designs and aims of the mini games are definitely not new inside of Blizzard. It boils down to the same adage that Blizzard has been putting across from the start on this project….if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Of course all the extra stuff Blizzard has been working in World of Warcraft definitely doesn’t hurt- the introduction of achievements certainly game me a lot of drive to repeat missions before moving on. Luckily, it doesn’t quite feel like a system that rewards you for even the most ridiculously mundane of tasks…there were still some tough achievements that took me a fair few stabs to get right.

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I was definitely impressed by the variety of extra options that had a direct impact in-game as well. There’s a fully customizable armoury you can use to upgrade your units. There’s a research lab that allows you to collect points to gain new units and dramatically change up the way you can approach a situation in game. You can purchase mercenary teams which you can deploy in the field…super powerful versions of your own units that can turn around a difficult spot very quickly. Not only that, but it’s the smaller things that really make these features stand out. It’s not a case of mercenary units getting a different lick of paint on their unit model, for example. They’re completely new, highly augmented and fortified models of your own units on the field. Even minor upgrades, such as increasing the collection rate of your gatherer units changes the way their tools look next time you dive in to a mission.

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For those lucky enough to play the multiplayer beta most would probably agree that the game felt highly polished even at the testing stage. Blizzard’s notorious reputation for taking their time with a release is certainly justified in Starcraft II. You just don’t see any of those “little bugs” that most developers end up trying to patch out within days of the game’s release. As of yet the only significant patches have tweaked some balances in the multiplayer side of the game….which brings me nicely on to my next area.


What is arguably a stripped down version of the single player campaign, the multiplayer side of Starcraft II was definitely built with a single focus in mind; it’s tightly tuned and extremely well balanced to cater for the elite gaming market that most of us already know about in the RTS genre. Starcraft I was certainly the forefather of professional gaming and Blizzard have certainly made sure that its predecessor follows suit. South Koreans will rejoice at the new combinations of units and the update to their decade long national sport…with online matches bringing an unprecedented level of elite (and elitist) players from around the globe. The revamped network certainly brings a fresh ui and some good social networking features to the whole thing…although have a link to post a notification on facebook for every time I get absolutely battered by another player is really not my cup of tea. Overall you couldn’t ask much more of the online experience; however the removal of LAN functionality to encourage players to purchase their own individual licenses is definitely a bitter subject for many people.

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It’s a Blizzard product- and because of that you expect a certain standard in every aspect of the game. I think it’s fair to say that they’ve once again delivered on that expectation. Is the Starcraft franchise strong enough to justify the company making 3 separate, full price retail games? (For those who don’t know, Wing of Liberty is only the first of three planned instalments of Starcraft II) The answer is probably yes. Is the lack of a LAN function enough to discourage players from buying the game? Not really. At the end of the day, regardless of some of the more unpleasant strategies Blizzard have decided to enforce…you’d be very very wrong not buy this game. In fact, if you’ve not already bought it I’d empty the piggybank right now and grab yourself a copy.

9 out of 10

Minecraft: I don’t get it, what’s the big deal?

Minecraft - What's the point? I don't get it.

I was debating with fellow Sudogamer writer SDG_LM about Minecraft.  He downloaded it, and loved it.   I downloaded it (during the free weekend), and well. . didn’t.  Not yet, at least.

Here’s how it went:

– – – – –


Subject: Minecraft 1 hour in.

SDG_LM, I gave it a go, and was not impressed. Here’s some bullet points I made.

– No instructions, anywhere. Not on the website, or in the game menu.

– No introduction, nothing sets the scene or the tone or anything.   If it’s purely ‘open’ and ‘sandbox’ at least just say it is.

– No crafting table ‘recipe’ in the wiki. had to Google one.  No clues in the game menus that one even has to or should even ‘craft’.

– Night-time – WTf? What time?  Some kind of on-screen prompt, surely?

– So, I made a pick-axe, and I’ve collected loads of square blocks which represent materials. .  now what am I supposed to do?  And what’s my motivation for doing it. . ?

– – – – –


Re: Subject: Minecraft 1 hour in.

A – the website is pretty much down at the moment hence you getting to play the game for free. Secondly the game is in Alpha, it’s not even a beta yet! They are going to introduce a tutorial as can now be seen in the main menu.

B – Have you been stuck on a desert island for the last couple of weeks? Have you just arrived back after been rescued and been plonked in front of a computer with a game you have never heard of and just left to figure it out? No? You know what the game is.

3 – What? It’s in the name of the game. Could it be any simpler…Minecraft – both mining and crafting covered. The crafting of the table is in the wiki, it’s called a work bench.

D – As in life, look to the sun – it rises and sets in the same way that our own sun does.

E –  Build/Craft/Mine

You appear to be approaching this in a very obtuse manner. For years now I have heard you complain about the dumbing down of games on the PC because of consoles but now it seems that the dumbing down hasn’t been caused by consoles but just gamers have got dumber e.g. you. Games used to come with manuals thicker than the average xbox owner but now it’s all built in in tutorials and the scene is set not by a bit of text written by the most creative programmer but by cut scenes render in gorgeous Technicolor that cost more to make than the games themselves. What happened to the gamer who would throw the manual to one side and crack straight into the game to learn as he/she went along. What happened to the gamer who played point and click adventures and would link rubber chickens to pulleys? Where are you now? Complaining that the game doesn’t set the scene for you, that there are no instructions, demanding to know how the day and night cycle is represented!!!! What you need is achievements, hand holding tutorials and a win button.

We could ask that in the beta they add an elf to guide you round the world explaining crafting and that the sun rises in the east, he could have a funny accent and trip on the scenery. They can put a countdown clock in the corner and rather than having a random world have it set and provide a map. You can give you objectives and you slowly build up your skills as not to overwhelm you with too much information at once…or…we could treat you like and adult, a pc gamer, present you with the world and say have at it. Unfortunately you’ve turned around and said ‘Have at what?’, ‘tell me what to do?’ and ‘What is that blazing ball of gas in the sky?…..’

– – – – –


Re:Re: Subject: Minecraft 1 hour in.

I wouldn’t say obtuse is the correct word.
‘Cynical’ or ‘shallow’ would be more fitting 🙂

I think you’ve bought the hype, hook line and sinker.  I can’t believe all I’m reading about this game (not just from you) it seems that people have ‘fallen for’ Minecraft, declaring it an ‘important’ game.  It looks like a level one might find in a half-arsed HL1 mod. To be downloaded and cast aside like that one with the ridiculous fishing game.

I reckon had you stumbled on this game yourself, with no prior reading you’d probably have sent me a screenshot, laughed, and deleted it.

“Gamers have got dumber e.g. you” – not so.
Good games don’t need a manual.  I don’t need a manual to start playing an RTS (starcraft), an FPS, or a point and click.  There’s got to be a ‘point’ to a game, though (if there’s no manual).  There’s got to be motivation, a cause and effect.  Some kind of reward?

What you’ve got here (with Minecraft) appears to be as much fun as ‘playing’ with MS Paint.

The rubber chicken / pulley example is poor, because a point n click is essentially a linear game, with a fixed start and fixed end point.  The fun (the point) of that is figuring out how to get from A – B.

“What you need is achievements” – I think we both know, that’s not true. (I should link to your Xbox live profile here, but I won’t. . )

“We could ask that in the beta they add an elf to guide you round the world explaining crafting and that the sun rises in the east, he could have a funny accent and trip on the scenery.” – This is good idea, you should suggest it to the developer 🙂 Here’s his email address:

– – – – –


Re:Re:Re: Subject: Minecraft 1 hour in.

Cynical or shallow – they both explain it and yet while you are admitting to them you still fail to overcome you’re personal issues. You say I’ve bought the hype yet you’ve personally avoided it, you’ve not read the articles, the only opinion you have of the game is your own but you’d already formed that before you even tried it. Buying the hype is one thing. Buying the game and then playing it a lot is entirely another. Fair enough if I had bought the game, played for a couple of hours and then raved about it for all to hear but I didn’t, I bought it and then it was the only thing I played all weekend. I’m certainly enjoying the hype as it’s good to play a game that everyone is discussing and most are enjoying. Your HL1 mod comparisons hold no grounds and shows how truly out of touch with what this game is, a HL1 mod would be a level, designed by a guy in his pants and played the same as everyone else plays it. Minecraft puts you in a world generated randomly, nothing is the same as every other persons game, there are no world maps, no go here to find the treasure. It gives you a freedom to do and build what you want.

When was the last time you played a game without any hype? And surely you have to admit that there must be a reason for all the hype. Is everyone wrong while you are right? Did you play a HL1 mod years ago that did all this, laugh and then delete it?

You don’t need a manual to start playing Minecraft. I never said you did. There is a point to Minecraft – survival. When night comes if you have not built a shelter then you may die. Then it’s all human instinct from there:

1st Day: What do I do?

1st Night: Argh, hide from the bad guys

2nd Day: I’d best build a shelter to protect from the bad guys

2nd night: Safe now, what now? I would like a nicer shelter.

3rd Day: Build a bigger shelter, maybe with a wooden floor. Windows would be nice.

3rd Night: That’s better, I can move around and see the enemies outside. A nicer view would be nice.

4th Day: Explore my surroundings, check out that waterfall. I would like that outside my house.

4th Night: I’m going to move house.

5th Day: Start contruction of my new house, need materials. There is a cave over there, I wonder whats down it….

That’s why the game is so good. You do what you would do naturally if you were in such a situation and yet everything you do is your own. I’ve explored a myriad of caves beneath my home in Minecraft. I’ve built staircases into the depths and know the different nooks and crannies (despite the basic graphics) on sight alone. I’m the only one who has ever been down there and nobody has seen them before. I’ve built my own home above them, with a viewing deck and windows wrapping around giving me a view of the sea and the beacon I placed on the hill behind my house. This is a game but it’s also a world I have created, that I have put my personal stamp on and reflects my personality. The pool of lava on the beach near my house was placed their by me testing my first bucket. To the west there are islands a couple of days travel away with torches in caves where I ventured on my first attempt to travel round the world. I may never return to them but if I do there will be there, the evidence of my travels. What other game can do this? FPS – retreading the same level as everyone, GTA – Liberty City is a realised as any in game city but nothing you do matters or counts for anything, SC2 – the same storyline everyones sees, the same tactics that have been used before, nothing indiviual just familiar.

The link to MS paint is pretty good. If you found a painting you’d spent hours on when you were 15 or a website or a scrapbook – you would have fond memories of it and enjoy the creativity you had when you were younger whereas thoughts of doom or starcraft would make you smile you’d have nothing to show for them. I could not play minecraft for another 10 years but if in 10 years time I found my save game and loaded it up again – the joy of running around my house and my caves would beat playing MW2 or SC2 anyday.

– – – – –


Re:Re:Re:Re: Subject: Minecraft 1 hour in.

You have a fairly romanticised view of this game, and in many ways I admire that.  Its almost a childlike naivity (in a good way) which I haven’t experienced in quite some time.  It’s when I first played Monkey island 1 in VGA 320×240, I remember thinking it was photorealistic.   This was because imagination and a sort of passion for the game was filling in the blanks.

Perhaps I’m lacking in this passion or imagination for Minecraft, but I’m at least closer to understanding what its about.  It sounds awfully like a tamagotchi of the mining/crafting world. . ?

By saying you bought the hype, I’m implying that the ‘hype’ coerced you into having these overwhelmingly positive feelings for the game, and having the ultimately rose-tinted views of the game.  Again, not a criticism.

Here’s another angle – If I’d read your description (below) of a game that had not come out yet, I’d think it was a cool idea. Genuinely.
I just think the execution is poor.   Imagine the same game but rendered through the (very good, even now) Unreal 3 engine (but keeping the simplistic ‘block’ design)?  I know you think I’m missing the point, but it would be more absorbing if it was fullscreen with proper light mapping, a nice sound track and good looking UI.

Similarly (you laugh), but a polished tutorial level would be a treat to get people ‘on-board’ with the idea.

Anyways, I think we can safely conclude (with the usual conclusion)  you’re right, I’m wrong.

– – – – –


Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Subject: Minecraft 1 hour in.


This is my crib:
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I got Worms…Review.

Worms Reloaded Sudogamer Review

Since the dawn of computers (well … 1995) worms have been popping up on each and every platform known to mankind, locked in an endless war. However it’s been many years since they popped their squidgy but helmeted heads onto the PC and now, obviously under the advice of Sarah Palin, they’ve not retreated but reloaded set to wage their spineless battles again on the desktop computer.  The last Worms PC game was released in a pre-Steam world and the gaming scene has changed so much, so will they emerge victoriously? Read on to find out…

Continue reading “I got Worms…Review.”

Armada 2526 review

armada 2526 review

Armada 2526 is a turn based strategy game and upon first view this appears to be ‘Civilization IV in space’. The premise being to colonize different planets whilst managing research and diplomacy before engaging in warfare against other races.

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There are seventeen different races that can be played each with their own slight differences giving different strengths and weaknesses which gives it an ongoing playability factor with each game having a slightly different feel. However unlike Civilization the number of scenarios that you can play in is quite limited, there are only 4 one of which is the tutorial, which reduces the scope for different tactics to be employed which damages the re playability of the game.

As with Civilization the game starts with a bit of a gold rush where players attempt to grab as many of the free star systems as possible to give them better opportunity for resource. Unlike Civilization the resources available at each system are limited in their scope which reduces the tactical element of which systems to go for first. Some are more hostile than others making things more expensive and some have asteroid belts that can be mined but there is none of the complexity that Civilization delivers. For example which resources you have managed to obtain as no effect on the tech tree and what units you can use or technologies you can research.

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In the same way as in Civilization there is a trade off between routes through the game depending on choice of buildings and research options. For example you could place emphasis on mining to generate cash or technology that speed up growth, or you could research weapons and build ships with a view to warfare against your neighbors. This choice matters and has a marked effect on the game as concentrating on one area to the exclusion of the others will come back and bite you as you start to run of cash of planetary populations start rioting.

The game is quite absorbing whilst not being up to the standard of Civilization however there are a number of things that less this game down of which the primary one is the interface. The various pop up screens that are activated by selecting radial buttons for research and construction are not movable on the screen and only one can be opened at a time. Which means there is a lot of opening and closing as you move backward and forward from the research screen to the map screen and back and similarly with the system view where buildings and ships can be created. These screens are all interlinked and the game can get quite complex in the same way that Civilization can and not being able to compare the contents of these screens at the same time means that you’re constantly having to try and remember the content of one screen whilst flicking to the next. There were also some graphical glitches on some of the buttons when you hovered them which made the game feel a little unpolished. the other issue with the interface is that whilst it is functional it is not particularly pretty and fails to make you want to play the game. Due to the nature of the game you spend a lot of time staring at this interface and it could do with being cleaner and better designed.

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Another issue is the tutorial, this is quite a difficult game to just pick up and play out of the box and as a result needs a good tutorial to lead you into it. Whilst the tutorial does cover all the major areas of the game mechanics it doesn’t allow you to do things as you read often a tutorial box pops up which can be several pages which gives you a lot of information. You have to remember quite a lot of content before you can get back to the game-play and try out what you have just read which means that you are constantly have to refer back to the in-game advice as you have forgotten something in the three pages of tutorial blurb you have to just had to try and remember.

Lastly the warfare mechanism is a bit pointless. The game loads a separate battle arena around a planet in the same way that the total war series does but unfortunately the comparison ends there. This could have been used to give the game a different dimension to make it something special. Unfortunately the tactics are limited to what formations you have you ships in (a choice of 3) and how you group your ships, other than that it is purely a matter of which types of units you bring to the party and how many. There is little opportunity for clever play resulting in you beating a more numerous opponent. It would have been nice if the system you were fighting in had some sort of effect on the battle itself, possibly the planets magnetic field effecting different ships in different ways. This area of the game seems pointless and I quickly resorted to just auto completing the battles I fought as to do otherwise just results in additional load times as the battel arena is switched to. The other thing which lets this area down is it is quite poor graphically, again if this was better then you may enter the battle scenes purely for the spectacle but this is just another factor contributing to the pointlessness of this area of the game.

Overall the game is quite absorbing and once you mastered the tutorial, started auto completing the battles, and have got to grips with the interface is enjoyable. However the down sides to this game hinder the enjoyment. Never the less if you enjoyed the Civilization series and are looking for something a little different then you will probably get some mileage out of this game. However if you are new to genre then I recommend waiting for Civilization V due out next month as it is likely to be a much better game given that Civ IV which is now quite an old game managed to better in may areas than Armada 2526.

Sudogamer scores it  6/10.

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Review – Alien Breed: Impact

alien breed impact review

I was 10 when Alien Breed came out for the PC (2 years after the Amiga release), and I can just about remember playing it at a friends house. It was great. Hugely playable, ‘arcadey’ and satisfying. Alien Breed was release to critical acclaim, it was an important release. One can clearly see its influence in ID Software’s Doom (1994).
I believe a big problem with Team 17’s re-release; “Alien Breed: Impact” lies in our expectations. In the early nineties we didn’t care much for cohesive, compelling story-lines, ‘next-gen’ graphics etc, it was playable fun titles that utilised the meager horsepower of our PC’s (or Amigas) that drew crowds.

So to release a remake of a top-down mindless Aliens-themed shooter in 2010 and for it to be relevant and popular with today’s gamers is a difficult task, and for me it falls short.

Presentation-wise the Unreal 3 engine looks nice, really nice. The environments are appropriately strewn with space debris, and there’s are plenty of nice looking ‘triggered’ explosions and “cave-ins” occurring throughout.

The graphics aren’t a million miles from a top-down Doom 3.  The light-mapping is great, when you shine your torch down a corridor or through a broken window its casts a great eerie shadow of the objects blocking the light.   Its a nice touch that often overlooked in big-budget titles.

In fact a Doom 3 comparison is an apt place to talk about some of the short-comings of Alien Breed: Impact.

It feels like lots of work was put into a tidy looking game engine, the controls (and on the controls; bonus points for having the 360 controller work ‘out of the box’ including rumble), and the sound.  Which all exceeded my expectations.  But they forgot about the game.

The game play just wasn’t fun for me, or satisfying. The only intro to the game you get is a couple of (pretty poor) comic slides, then you’re straight into the action. And by ‘action’, I mean collecting diary logs (like Doom 3), and looking for key-cards. It isn’t edge-of-your-seat stuff. At least in Doom 3 (which was also key-card and diary collecting) it had the genuinely creepy / jumpy moments that kept your pressing on.

While writing this review, I actually got a couple of hours into the game and had to restart because I got stuck. How infuriating? I’d be happy to take the blame for simply being shit at the game, but I wasn’t stuck because of a tough boss or from running out of ammo. It was because I had missed a key-card, a faintly illuminated object on one of the samey rooms in level.  The in-game map is no help at all; it implies some rooms are joined that aren’t joined and vice-versa.

You can search the various human corpses littered throughout the levels to collect money, and there’s also random ‘piles’ of cash dotted around too.  Annoyingly you have to press and hold on each corpse / locker for a few seconds to ‘search’, which gets tiresome pretty quickly.  Money allows you to buy upgrades and ammo for your weapons.  This feels like a missed opportunity, because the upgrades just weren’t imaginative or significant enough to make you want to bother.  I ended up just buying ammo and saving the game, which led to a small rejoice as a save-point was an excuse to quit out and take a break.

I didn’t get the opportunity to play any co-op during my time playing Alien Breed: Impact, but I guess the potential might be there with some more imaginative level designs and puzzle-based bosses.

This re-release of Alien Breed is episodic. I guess we should hope for better from the following iterations, or perhaps a re-think at the pricing, at £12.99 on steam its definitely one people will put off buying until a Steam Sale.

I first saw Alien Breed: Impact demoed at the Eurogamer roadshow in Leeds, a guy from Team 17 came along and showed some footage, and spoke of why the game was so important to them. I recall him saying some pilot ideas had been thrown around in the years leading up to this release but were disregarded for various reasons. I wish this had been worked on a little longer, as its repetition and unimaginative game-play forces me to mark it down somewhat.

Verdict: Polished use of the Unreal 3 engine, good presentation – poor game-play, and level design.

5 out of 10.

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Doctor Who: Blood of the Cybermen Review

doctor who blood of the cybermen review

Previously in my review of episode 1: I was forgiving of the rudimentary game-play in the hope that the next episode would build on the first one and expand its bag of tricks….
Unfortunately it hasn’t, instead this episode repeats the issues of the first game and makes no efforts to improve on the previous episode. Sadly, our guess is that the remaining set of episodes will probably be rehashes of the poor stealth action and several perfunctory puzzles with no over-arching storyline running through the episodes.  DEW DEW DOO…..

For  ‘Blood of the Cybermen’ they have replaced the Daleks with the Cybermen and, well, that’s about it.

The game sets you up with an actual cliff-hanger before the iconic intro kicks in and from there we are left to control the Doctor and his lovely assistant Amy Pond through a pretty mindless adventure. This time to stop the Cybermen.

An Arctic dig has uncovered a frozen Cybermen Ship and the dig team have been assimilated into Cyberslaves who are working hard to dig out the ship to restore it to its former glory. Luckily the Doctor is on hand to save the day. Unluckily you have to play through this sub-standard adventure game to do so.

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This episode plays like swimming through treacle. Rather than introduce interesting puzzles and game-play mechanics the makers have decided to place generic puzzles, a basic overused stealth mechanic and sprinklings of random platforming to slow down your progress and flesh out the game. There is a real lack of quality to the design of this game. In the first episode and at the start of this one you cannot walk off ledges however at one point in this game you can fall off as they include some slow moving platforms for you to travel between. This sort of fundamental change to the game-play mechanics introduced randomly makes no sense and does not fit – Mario this ain’t.

The game still contains the voices of the two main actors from the show however there are some sections where the Doctor’s thoughts are not spoken just presented in text which feel out of place. The story is not up to much either. They’ve really dropped the ball releasing an episodic game based on a television show and yet not tying the episodes together with any sort of storyline arc.

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So unless you’re a die hard fan of the show or you enjoy poorly designed licensed games I wouldn’t recommend this game. While I can understand the need to make the game accessible to all, poor design has made playing the game a slog and shoddy implementation like on television will turn people off.
You can download the latest episode of Doctor Who here, or watch this video of the Matt Smith on stage at Glastonbury with Orbital – we promise, you will enjoy it more.

3 out of 10


Doctor Who: City of the Daleks Review

Doctor Who City Of Daleks PC Review

Doctor Who: City of the Daleks is free to all in the UK and as a free game there can be few complaints directed at it. However it does fall quiet short of the high standards set by the Television series which would be hard to match without a big budget.
The game starts you off like the TV series setting the scene before the famous Doctor Who intro music kicks in and pulls you into an adventure where you will be hiding from Daleks, collecting thingamebobs, solving the odd puzzle and asking the odd question or two.
Continue reading “Doctor Who: City of the Daleks Review”

Pure Football Xbox 360 Review

Pure Football review

The PC version of Pure Football was cancelled, and (despite being a PC-gaming based website) we were sent a review copy of Pure Football on the Xbox 360, so what the hell – here’s my review of it.

Pure Football looked utterly terrible in the gameplay videos doing the rounds on YouTube, the players looked plastic, the animation wooden and it all looked rather laughable. I didn’t know anything else about the game before playing it; but I’m coming at as a big Fifa 10 fan.

Pure Football was pleasantly surprising; the game play is a cross between Fifa Street and Sensible Soccer. The default camera from the up/down perspective (rather than side-on, but this is an option), and it suits the stlye of the game very well. Pure Football feels brilliantly ‘arcadey’ (for want of a better term), with a solid consistent frame-rate and responsive controls.

The actual football ‘mechanics’ aren’t as refined as the latest Fifa games; through-ball for example feels totally random, but passing and shooting are great.

Ubisoft have employed a golf-game-style power-up meter for shooting, with a red zone (shank / miss) green (good shot) and white (‘pure’ shot).  “Pure” shot, brilliant? The last time I played a football game with a specific shot-type based on the name of the game was Addidas Power Soccer (on the Snes, I think) where certain players had an Addidas Predator Strike button (as well as shoot). It was ridiculous.

In Pure Football it works well – a pure shot gives you a rather entertaining ‘bullet time’ version of your shot where the camera follows the ball was it bends and dips around (or into) the keeper.  Crossing the ball is also great, you run down the wing and assuming another of your players are in or around the box, the camera shifts to that player and you have to tussle with a defender (press and hold ‘X’ on the golf-style-power-up meter) and a green means you beat them and get a shot on goal and white (pure) means you do with some style.

[singlepic id=127 w=320 h=240 mode=web20 float=center]When you create a profile in Pure Football you create your Captain (you), then choose his position, dominant foot and appearance etc. The matches are 5-a-side (your Captain plus 4 others) and over in 3 minutes usually – so it has the Trials HD “one more game” addictive property.   It beats Fifa in this department as well, as it constantly sets you challenges to unlock players, and to gain stat points to improve your captain.

Presentation is generally good; the graphics are only adequate but smooth, and the replays look good.  As mentioned above, the occasional ‘bullet-time’ matrix-style camera is thrown in there every now and then but doesn’t ever feel overkill. There is one one oversight where the level select map is stretched dreadfully out of aspect-ratio (short and fat), although I’m nitpicking, I’m sure this wouldn’t bother another sane human being.

There’s an argument this game should have been an XBLA title, or at least cheaper than £24.99 on release, and to some extent I agree.  But one shouldn’t write this off as a truly cheap / simplistic football game; there’s a lot of play-time here.  Loads of achievements, players to unlock, scope for adding to my Captain’s stats etc.

Additionally, I haven’t even tried the multiplayer (as there was nobody online with it this week).

Pure Football will suit the casual football gamer, who doesn’t want to plough hours into learning the intricacies / art-form that is Fifa; and just want some instant gratification.  Pure Football doesn’t take itself too seriously, neither should you.

Pure Football review score:  7.5 out of 10

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Please leave any questions or comments below!

Wings Of Prey Review

wings of prey review sudogamer

Here is another simulator game that can trace its lineage to the famous IL-2 series. Gaijin studios who developed IL-2: Birds of Prey for consoles have entered the hardcore PC market with Wings of Prey. With Wings Of Prey they promise a new graphics engine, better game play and many new aircraft, amongst other things.

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Wings of Prey offers different levels of difficulty – from arcade-style to simulator so that everyone can play it. Although the game can be played using the keyboard, I highly recommend you get a joystick or some other controller (not sure whether an Xbox controller is compatible with the game) since it will be easier to play (anyone who has tried landing an airplane in Flight Simulator ’98 using keyboard knows what I’m talking about).

The main menu offers several single player modes: tutorial, campaign, single missions and training. They are pretty self-explanatory – the tutorial section is a very good place for every beginner to start from. The first tutorial starts with you at the controls of a Spitfire Mk II fighter and teaches you the basics of flying – turning, climbing, descending and landing. As you progress, the tutorials get more challenging with the last ones teaching you the basics of air to air and air to ground combat (the fun stuff).

[singlepic id=93 w=320 h=240 float=center]The campaign mode offers you six theatres of war to engage in. They follow historical order – starting with The Battle of Britain, Stalingrad, Sicily, the Ardennes offensive and finally Berlin. Each campaign starts with a documentary video. Campaigns consist of several missions which you have to play in historical order. To progress to the next campaign you have to complete all missions from the previous one.

The most interesting part of the single player is the Training mode. Here you can set up instant action missions. You can choose your airplane, part of Europe where the battle takes place, number of computer enemies and weather.

[singlepic id=105 w=320 h=240 float=centerI found this mode the best if you don’t have time to go through the campaigns or the long single player missions.

At first I didn’t expect to get high frame rates since I was testing Wings of Prey on a laptop (a good one, but a laptop nevertheless) and chose medium graphics settings. Even at those settings, I have to say the visuals are very impressive. The ground, water and sky look very realistic. The details modeled on the ground are simply stunning – the green fields, roads and trees almost make you feel you are flying in the real world. When flying low over the trees I noticed that their branches swing in the wind. I can only imagine what this game will look and feel like at max level of detail. But enough about the scenery, let’s now look at what airplanes the player can get his (her) hands on.

Wings of Prey offers a wide variety of airplanes to choose from. Basically, you get to fly the most famous Russian, British, American and German airplanes of WW2 – from the old Russian I-153 biplane to the Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane and the P-51 Mustang. You can even fly the German WW2 rocket plane Me-163 ‘Komet’ which can go up to 600 km/h (considered fast those days). For those of you who are fans of flying heavy metal you can also fly bombers like the Junkers Ju-88, Heinkel He-111, Vickers Wellington and the B-17 Flying Fortress and hone your area bombing skills.

When it comes to game realism I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. If you are (like me) one of those hardcore simulator fans [singlepic id=99 w=320 h=240 float=center]and choose the realistic mode, then you have to follow all the procedures like the real WW2 pilots did. If you leave your engine too long operating at maximum RPM, then don’t wonder why after a while your speed gradually starts to drop and then your engine quits. If, during combat your speed gets too low and you keep pulling back on the stick to reach the bad guy don’t be surprised if suddenly the airplane enters a flat spin and starts going down uncontrollably. By the way, when the airplane goes into a spin, the ground around you blurs because of the motion – a pleasant camera effect that adds an almost movie-like dimension to the game.

The damage model in the sim is also realistic. When playing against a computer He-111 bomber, I damaged one of its engines and black smoke started to come out of it. When moving in for the kill I flew in the black smoke and my canopy suddenly became black. Later I realised that this was because of the leaking oil from the bomber’s engine.

For those of you who would rather fight against human opponents the game offers several multiplayer modes – from simple cooperative mission with two players on VoIP to large multiplayer lobbies and missions. You get access to the latter once you register your game online.

Well, that’s all the time I had to review. Overall, I am very impressed with Wings of Prey. If you are interested in airplanes, the game can offer you hours of fun as it takes you back in time and teaches you some of the tricks that the realpilots of those days used. It also offers you the opportunity to take part in the major air battles of WW2 – all from the safety of your own home.

[written by Nikolay Stoychev]

Sudogamer score: 8 out of 10

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What happened to EAX?

Games used to boast about supporting Creative’s Environmental Audio Extensions, circa 2000 games like Thief, Hitman and Mafia would have distinct support for EAX and the difference was certainly there.

The most recent time I saw EAX even mentioned in a PC game was in Bioshock and before that Battlefield 2 & Doom 3.

I seem to recall it wasn’t particularly impressive with Bioshock, enabling EAX actually disabled the 5.1; so you were left with reasonable (but dry) surround sounds, or stereo sound with appropriately simulated environmental audio processing. With Doom 3 EAX came in as a patch, that ID software were forced to implement;

The patent situation well and truly sucks.

We were prepared to use a two-pass algorithm that gave equivalent results at a speed hit, but we negotiated the deal with Creative so that we were able to use the zfail method without having to actually pay any cash. It was tempting to take a stand and say that our products were never going to use any advanced Creative/3dlabs products because of their position on patenting gaming software algorithms, but that would only have hurt the users.

John Carmack ”

In English, this meant you needed a soundcard that met a certain EAX version or standard, in order to use 5.1 and environmental effects.

Since then, I haven’t seen EAX advertised in PC games at all, for example the system specs for Modern Warfare 2 mention one only requires a Directx 9.0c compatible sound card, and I struggle to find one that isn’t, even the cheapest I could find supports DirectX.

So (as a gamer), what is my motivation for purchasing a high-end sound card? A recent title; “Dragon Age” doesn’t even mention a sound card in its minimum or recommended system specs. . – These “high-end” cards offer hardware processing of “EAX-HD 5.0”, which appears to be a more or less dead / abandoned technology.

So, other than an improved signal noise ratio (and presumably a better DAC / ADC); is there any point in these latest cards, for gamers? Am I likely to experience better sound quality? The latest ‘X-Fi’ cards offer all sorts of pseudo-enhancements for both your games as music.

The truth is, all they really provide are fake “surround sound” (CMSS-3D), and “improved clarity” (X-Fi Crystalizer). In reality, the former simply pushes different frequencies to your 5.1 setup from a stereo source to attempt to ‘guess’ a good 5.1 mix and the latter is simply a fancy term for an EQ setting that Creative think make your dud old mp3’s sound better.

As you have probably gathered, I’ve been unimpressed with the care given to the sound in PC games in recent years. The only exception to this was the excellent Dead Space.

The only features that really interest me in a sound card these days is being able to pass a 5.1 digital feed to a surround receiver, if it wasn’t for that I’m sure I’d be happy enough with my on-board sound card.