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 30th April 2017.
LEGO City Undercover (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and Wii U, £39.99)
LEGO is building a gaming dynasty — literally. The ever-growing range of games will keep young kids and not-so-young kids enthralled. Now you can add LEGO City Undercover to the list — it is a fun-filled adventure. LEGO City Undercover was developed by TT Fusion — the offspring of TT Games, the LEGO gaming gatekeepers. They have the rights for the Wii U exclusive and have given it a nip and tuck for all the other platforms. And the best bit is that this is an original tale based on LEGO’s kit sets.
You play as Chase McCain, a happy- go-lucky cop who returns to LEGO City to find it is the target of a crime wave carried out by big baddie Rex Fury. The story fully embraces the spirit of the past LEGO games, with bags of humour and the odd cheeky parody of classic flicks such as Die Hard, Starsky And Hutch and James Bond films. For the most part, this is a LEGO version of Grand Theft Auto. You have a huge city to explore and a host of side missions spread out over the 20 or so districts. Each one holds little secrets — new vehicles and gold bricks — and they are a neat way to keep you busy when you are not on the main missions.
LEGO don’t break the tried and tested formula — this one may be a little easier than some but that will just make it a bigger hit with younger players. It also has drop in, drop out co-op. The graphics look really good and a huge amount of detail has been built into the world. The soundtrack adds to the fun, but really shines when it starts riffing classic themes from movies and TV shows. The voice acting is also solid. Although the game has been remastered, we did get quite a bit of framerate drop, which is a shame. More power than the original system should have led to a smooth run. This is also a full retail release which means full price. It would have been nice if it was available at a discounted rate because it’s more of a re-release really.
LEGO City Undercover is a fun and enjoyable romp with more standout moments that I could count. It shows that you don’t need a Hollywood licence to make a good LEGO game and, hopefully, this is just the start of things to come. This game is perfect for playing with younger fans. They can enjoy the thrills of open-world gaming without any theme issues.
Aaero (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £11.99)
SOMETIMES you don’t need a story to hook you into a game. Sometimes you just need action. Aaero mixes a twin stick shooter with a rhythm action game and the result is something truly special. If there is a story, I forgot all about it as I gorged myself on a shooter that needed lightning quick moves and all to the background of an outstanding electronic dance soundtrack.
Your ship has limited movement but you have to follow the track Guitar Hero-style. But in this fun fest, you also have to fight waves of enemies if you want a high score. This is a high-speed battle of wills and playing to the EDM beat is key to getting the scores needed to unlock stars and then opening the next stage. There are also some epic boss fights which mix up the gameplay, but why are there only three? Come on, we want more.
The soundtrack is actually the star of the show — a fistload of tracks by artists like Flux Pavilion, Katy B and Neosignal and each one opens up a different challenge. The backgrounds are a mix of muted colours while the important details are a rainbow of neon flashes which all makes for a striking visual impact as you fly over destroyed cities or deserts. At times Aareo is a little TOO hard. To unlock the harder difficulties you need a 90 per cent-plus rating on the lower levels. That means a lot of replays to get the figures you need. The shooting can also be a little hit and miss. But if you want a fun, fast-paced game that is highly addictive and is perfect for score-chasing with friends then Aaero is a must and Mad Fellows have a real winner on their hands.
Talent Not Included (Xbox One and PC, £11.99)
WE love a challenge and Talent Not Included ticks that box — but this Frima Studios production scores heavily because it does not take itself too seriously. The single-screen platformer features three monsters who are bored and put on a play. Three mediocre actors are hired and this is how it all works out. The story does get lost a little at times and it could have done with some comedy-style voice acting. But the fun starts very quickly. There is a Super Meat Boy feel as you play through three acts, each with 15 scenes and you play one of the heroes.
Each hero has its own strengths and weaknesses — there is Bonnie the rogue, Gundelf the wizard and Cecile the knight — and learning the unique moves is key to clearing the level. The stage constantly changes as you work through the gears. You have to entertain the audience if you want a high score. Acts can change themes as you play — starting in a forest then going to a desert and ending up on ice. There is a range of enemies which thrive on mashing your score. The co-op mode adds an interesting dynamic as you and a pal have to work together.
There is a charming feel to a game that is bursting with cartoon colour. But it does set a high bar on difficulty. The controls are super tight and 98 per cent of the time if you die it’s down to you being too slow. But that won’t stop you coming back for more.
On The Stream
SOUNDTRACKS are a huge part of your gaming experience and DorkTunes loves the music behind the top titles. Pete Boyle and co-host Andy Overfield spotlight the best tracks as well as featuring interviews where composers chat about their work, influences and favourite pieces.
They have featured the likes of Austin Wintory, Garry Schyman and Jessica Curry and Boyle admitted:
“I never thought that it would be so popular. I started it because of my huge love of the music in games, and knowing others do too really spurs me.”
You can find the show by searching dorktunes on iTunes or heading over to dorktunes.com/feed/podcast.
On The Track
TOP racing sim drivers could win the chance to take on real DTM racers — including Scottish former title winner Paul di Resta. Mercedes-AMG has revamped its e-racing competition to run alongside the DTM. The best 17 e-racers will qualify for a race at each round — with the top six being invited to the final round of the championship in front of a full house at Hockenheim.
They will take on Mercedes’ six DTM drivers with the top three winning an exclusive ticket to an AMG Driving Academy event. All the races will be shown live on Facebook and YouTube, and you can find more info here.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…