Read Stuart’s column every week in The Scottish Sun, where he shares his reviews, news and podcasts with the 99.3% of the World’s population not fortunate enough to be able to buy a physical copy of the paper. The following appeared originally in The Scottish Sun on Sunday 9th July 2017.
Get Even (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £29.99)
IT is always a risk for a game developer to move from what they do best and go in a different direction. So, let’s hear it for Polish studio, The Farm 51. The run-and-gun shooter firm has taken on a walk SIM and added its classic shooter touch. The result is one of the most interesting games I have played so far this year. Get Even takes a lot of elements from games like Outlast and Gone Home, but throws in the ability to shoot. But this is way more than just a first-person shooter. It has a heavy story element but I won’t spoil that for you.
You are military-trained Cole Black as he tries to rescue a kidnapped girl but it goes wrong and he wakes up in an asylum and has to relive memories to find out what happened and why. Think Inception with a dash of Minority Report over a gripping seven-hour tale. In among the memories you have to fight enemies. You get the coolest weapon I have seen in ages — a corner gun. Yes, you can shoot round corners. Get in. But the game does favour a stealth approach as you collect clues and kill enemies.
The graphics are a mixed bag. The dream-like areas are superb but most of the textures could have done with some extra polish. But the soundtrack really builds the tension. The voice acting needs to be solid because the story is so heavy and Cole is played by an outstanding Sean Bean soundalike. He carries the tale well while handler Red is also a great performance. There are a few negatives. The shooting isn’t tight enough and, halfway through the game, there is a switch. It just seems a bit of a cheap cheat by the developers. Get Even brings some new and interesting ideas to the table in story-telling and gameplay, but it just falls short on the ending and the lack of polish. But it is still a thriller.
MXGP3 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £39.99)
MILESTONE have fired up a biking double act with the official Motocross series game MXGP 3. It is just over a year since the last game but Milestone insist this is a fresh take on the series because you get all the official MXGP and MX2 riders like Scots ace Shaun Simpson from the 2016 championship as well as the 18 tracks. You start by picking your rider’s suit, helmet and goggles from the main brands. Then you’re set for the career mode. That is a bit light on features and lacks any depth to sink your teeth into. Motocross is a thrilling sport that blends the speed of track racing with huge jumps and banked corners so it shouldn’t be hard to make a game about it. And that’s where the questions start. It doesn’t feel like a complete game. It feels like this should be bonus content in another game — which is a real shame.
Also, the races lack atmosphere — there is no commentary or fans roaring. In the track game, the crowds are very close to the action but you get no roar which feels a bit strange. That said, take this online and that competitive vibe kicks in as you and your mates tear it up. It becomes a ton of fun but I am not sure whether that is down to the friends rather than the game. The game plays well and has more arcade handles than you might expect. A lot of people will like that but there are also a number of settings to tweak to get you to the sweet spot where is it is not too hard as you scrub your way to victory. And you can’t beat fighting your way through a pack of 20-odd bikes at the first corner and hoping to make it out the other side in one piece.
The game has a deep customisation feature which lets you fiddle with almost every element on your bike. It’s a mechanic’s wet dream. There is also a cool photo mode which lets you snap-shot your epic action and there are a few filters for you to play around with and add to the fun factor. The graphics are OK without being super-special. The packed tracks with campsites in the distance are good and there is a decent skybox and weather system. The highlight is the mud, which looks great as your bike ploughs through. That said, it does feel like it is only a visual effect and does nothing to affect how your bike controls and that is what will disappoint the more hardcore racer gamers. The bikes sound the part and the soundtrack is standard Milestone fare. That means it is OK without blowing your mind. MXGP 3 should be a thrilling taste of a great sport, but it falls short. It is fun at times, especially with a group of mates, but lacks real soul.
MotoGP 17 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £44.99)
MOTOGP is one of the most gripping sports in the world with a fanbase across the globe. So it has to be a money-making machine for Milestone, the masters of two-wheel gaming. The Italians come into this one off the back of the awesome Valentino Rossi game last year which featured MotoGP as well as other motorsport disciplines. It set the bar high — especially as we gave it a rip-roaring 4.5 out of five. So I couldn’t get this one fired up quickly enough.
MotoGP 17 features the official series with all the riders and all the teams around all 18 tracks. Climb aboard for Silverstone and Motegi as you play Rossi or home- grown talent like Bradley Smith and Scott Redding. It doesn’t change the formula from previous Milestone MotoGP games too much. You’ll be able to pick from any of the series classes — from full-fat GP bikes to the pocket-rocket Moto 2’s. The career mode sees you work you way up the ranks over a few series as you bid to be crowned the best. Then there are a number of other modes — like online and straight-up racing — to flesh out the experience.
There is a new manager-style mode where you must push your team on-track and keep them happy away from the circuit. It adds a real depth to the game and I can see a lot of fans immersing themselves in a neat addition. The game plays a lot like Milestone’s Ride 2, which also came out last year. That’s no bad thing. You can also tweak the settings to make it as easy or as challenging as you like but that still won’t stop you ending up in the kitty litter on your first few rides. The graphic gremlins are standard racer problems. The bikes and riders look great but the track looks a bit dull especially if you stop to look at it. However, keep the throttle open and it whizzes past quite well.
The soundtrack does a job where it is used and the bikes sound good although the whine might drive you nuts over time. It seems strange after the Rossi game, but MotoGP 17 lacks a little polish, especially on the menus, and I found a few bug and glitch niggles. This is a challenging game with a fun factor built in. The downside is that Milestone are so good I expected a little more.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…