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 20th August 2017.
Fortnite (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £49.99)
CALL your friends, it is party time. Gaming is at its best when you take on your pals, but Fortnite raises the bar. The co-op sandbox survival game lets you fight hordes of enemies as well as find the materials to build forts with your friends. It’s a People Can Fly/Epic Games collaboration and they know their stuff. People Can Fly were behind Bulletstorm and Epic Games did Gears Of War. It feels like they cherry-picked the best bits for Fortnite — there’s a Minecraft-style of resource gathering, management and shooting elements from Gears Of War, a dash of Left 4 Dead team play and a squeeze of MMO-style quests. It all adds up to a blast of a game.
The back-story sees you having to fight off a zombie invasion, but that takes a backseat in favour of all-out attack. However, it does throw out a few genuinely funny jokes that are worth waiting for. That sense of humour runs through the whole game — from the cartoon-like visuals to the over-the-top characters. The game holds your hand for a few mission as you learn how to play and how to work the building mechanics. Then you’re on your own as you join three other players to fight for survival. It is all about teamwork. Lone wolves do not last long.
This will be a free-to-play game in a few months so, if you pick it up now, you’re technically paying for early access. There is also a world of management behind the gunning and building fun, from levelling up states to building support teams or managing your resources. The cartoon-esque look works a treat but the sounds are nothing more than OK although the voices are good. Fortnite is still a work in progress so it is hard to know what the real issues are, but it is fun to play with your pals. I am also sure it will be cleaned up before the real launch. Once the free-to-play version lands, we may get even more fun . . . but it is still a blast with friends.
What’s the Crack?
CRACKDOWN is a Scottish success story and Sumo Digital design director Gareth Wilson is determined to keep it a tartan triumph. It started life in Dundee, but some of the production work has moved south. But Gareth insisted:
“The single player side of the game is made down in Sheffield and the multiplayer side is made in Dundee and we are sharing duties on that. There is loads of stuff that Dave Jones, who is the original creator, is working on and he is very much involved with the multiplayer side. A lot of the team who worked on the original are working on 3 so there is still a lot of the DNA in the new game.”
The third instalment is the first on Xbox and has a host of new features. This week Microsoft announced that Crackdown 3 will be delayed until spring 2018 to give the development teams extra time to polish the title. But this also means that it will miss the launch of the Xbox One X. Gareth added:
“The big thing is the idea of the gangs fighting back. The original games were awesome but it was the same each time you played. Now the gangs react to where you are in the world and what you are doing. They reinforce and retaliate based on which parts of the city you attack. We have a system which allows each play-though to be different. You can play offline in single player and also online in co-op and multiplayer modes. That’s where the Cloud-powered destruction will excite everyone.”
One move that will make fans happy is that the zombies who stalked Crackdown 2 have gone — gangs are king. Wilson laughed:
“The mutants are not in Crackdown 3 and there are no zombies. We think there are enough zombies in videogames right now.”
It was announced at E3 that actor Terry Crews was going to be part of the game, and Wilson said:
“Terry Crews is going to be in the game, so he is part of the story as well as a playable character. He will be fully rendered in-game, so no live cut scenes. It’s funny, he asked to get involved as he is a huge gamer and plays a lot with his kids. When he went to the shoot for the live action trailer we made him a special agent’s suit, but when he started showing off he burst the arms. People were running around trying to patch it up. That is crazy as he’s 50.”
“The announcer from the first game is returning and the fans are loving that news.”
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £39.99)
WOW. This was a blast from the past with a modern twist. Think Commandos or Desperados. This is a real-time tactics tornado. German studio Mimimi Productions give you control of a squad of deadly warriors in feudal Japan. There is a story of honour, family, duty, betrayal and redemption as a new Shogun takes control and is using your squad. There are five different characters with their own skill set. They include Mugen, who can dispatch a group of enemies with a wicked samurai strike, and Yuki can distract the foe.
Some of the best gameplay comes from teaming up attacks after studying the layout and movement of those against you. The later missions are good fun but incredibly difficult. The game has a striking visual style harking back to games of yesteryear. You fight your way through highly detailed areas with only the ability to move the camera through 360 degrees but you’re in forests, busy markets and snow-covered countryside. But the camera is an issue because there are times when you can’t see where you are. That forced a retry or two. The soundtrack adds to the drama with a mix of Japanese tones backed up by some solid voice acting.
Overall, it is a welcome change to the fast-paced games out just now. You have the chance to think out tactics and attacks. It is a true warrior challenge.
On The Download
SOMETIMES after a hard day all you want to do is vent your views and that’s just what the Salt Report Podcast does. What started as a group of friends ranting about their latest frustrations in video games and life in general is now turned into a full-fledged podcast with Jake Lionheart, who makes video game themed hip hop songs, K, the resident cosplay master, Niki who is determined to be the best tank in Final Fantasy 14 and Jessi, the comic book expert and the current NSFW story teller.
THE For Honor community is in uproar after an official Ubisoft tournament to launch season three of the game was won by a player using a known bug. Jakub Palen, aka SB.Alernakin, scooped $10,000 after winning on PC using a Nobushi fighter without dropping a set. The bug is “unlock tech” which makes an attack unparryable and certain attacks faster.
Many reckon an eSport stage is the wrong place to use this. As For Honor creative director Roman Campos Oriola, he told Galen:
“Good job, buddy, soon you might have to change your playstyle.”
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…