Scotch Corner – Fright Night

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 29th January 2017.

 

Resident Evil 7 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC £44.99)

RESIDENT Evil may have been around for a while, but the makers have got the latest version fright on the night.  They have looked at what worked in the past then cranked up the tension.  The result is a scream fest that will have you on the edge of your seat and coming very close to calling for Mummy.

You fill the boots of Ethan Winters, an average Joe who gets a message from his wife to meet her in Dulvey, a fictional city in Louisiana.  But missus Mia has been missing for three years and has been presumed dead.  Once in Dulvey, there is a huge mansion but the hairs on the back of your neck tell you things will not go well.  What follows is 10 hours of sweat-inducing battle to get Mia back and find out what happened to her family — the in-laws from hell.  They are the stars of the show — each one is creepier than the last and hunts you down in their own inimitable way.  There’s lumbering dad Jack and his wife, Marguerite.  She will become one of THE truly great terror characters in gaming.  But it is not just the family that’s out to get you.  My tip?  Stay away from the basement.  I will say no more because that would need a spoiler alert.

The game is a first-person view like Outlast and the Amnesia games.  You need puzzle pieces to unlock your path to the next area.  They are all inspired by classic scenes in the previous games and you will enjoy the arsenal of weapons at your disposal.  On top of the main story, there are VHS tapes which one can be played to unlock a playable chapter of another character.  It all fleshes out the back-story and gives you a break from the constant pressure of Ethan’s tale.  The developers have done a stunning job in creating a horrific look — everything is covered in dirt and gunk.  It causes chills.  The characters all have a look that makes them seem sinister.  But it is the sound that will get you jumping like a rabbit on speed — from the banging doors to the screams.

The only issue I found was that the puzzles could be a little bit on the easy side.  And I cannot stress enough how much tension this game evokes — there are echoes of Alien Isolation.  It might get so much that it actually forces you to stop playing.  But that is a minor gripe is a game that hits all its targets.  It is a return to form for the grandfather of scares and is a non-stop thrill from start to finish.  However, if you’re like me you’ll have to play with the lights on after the first 10 minutes.

Score 5/5

Yooka Laylee Interview with Gavin Price from Playtonic Games

FAN power has helped to create one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2017.  Gamers put their hands in their pockets to get Yooka Laylee off the ground then they played a major part in developing the story and characters.  Creative director Gavin Price reckons they have blazed a trail for games in the future.

He said:

“It was after we said that we were going to do a 3D platform that we noticed a lot of fans saying this would be perfect for Kickstarter.  I’ve backed a few Kickstarters myself, the fans wanted it and the customer is always right so we decided to try it. We didn’t have to ask for a crazy amount as we had other lines of funding in place.  We always had a plans for what we wanted in the game then Kickstarter let us have a very close feedback loop with all the fans who are backers and lets them see features we want to include.”

“We knew what we wanted in the game — but we could just make sure the backers were happy too. Kickstarter was new ground for us.  Instead of having a few managers we now have 80,000 and they keep us in check and help guide us.”

Even the name had a bit of help from the fans.  Price admitted:

“It’s a funny story. We were called Project Ukulele as a working title then someone on the team said what if we just split it into two different words and we saw that on the forums as well.  We thought that’s kind of cool because we had gone through a tonne of terrible names — and I mean really bad ones — early on.  We thought about it and it just clicked.”

Yooka Laylee has a two-story theme with a number of different games.  It tells the tale of two unlikely heroes who are forced to work together to take down their evil neighbours.  But Price loves the character designs by Steve Mayles.  He laughed:

“We had a handful of animals but Steve Mayles sketched out a few designs and we saw he was going very brave. We felt we needed the animals to define the gameplay more than in the past.”

Another big part is the comedy.  Price insisted:

“That starts in the office and grows from there.  We’re constantly bouncing jokes off each other and if it’s really funny it goes in the game, but we make sure everyone gets it.”

A50 Wireless Headset  (Xbox One, PS4 and PC £250)

ASTRO make the Ferrari of gaming headsets but they have raised the bar with their A50 Wireless cans.  There are two versions — one with green piping for Xbox One and PC and blue piping for PS4 and PC.  The headset and charging dock have a good solid finish.  It will take around 24 hours to charge up then you will get about 15 hours worth of gaming fun and the lack of wires gives you a 30ft wander-zone.  Stop for a cuppa and you can pop them on the charger for a top up.

The mic is built in and is tournament spec.  If you want to mute yourself, you just push the mic up.  The headset is equipped with Dolby 7.1 surround so you get a great range of sound.  We tested them on Forza Horizon 3, Titanfall 2 and Resident Evil 7 and they all had a great depth to the sound.  In fact, Resident Evil 7 was so scary we had to put the light on just to check there were no beasties in the room.  The headset is weighty but comfortable and all the controls are built into the headset.  Once you are used to them you can dial in your settings to get the perfect balance between game and online chat.  You can also load pre-set and custom settings if you connect it to you PC and head to Astro’s website, and if you want to use them with your PC simply flip the switch on the charging base, below, to PC and you are good to go.

There are two downsides.  You don’t get noise isolation ear cups as standard.  They are a £40 extra which is a bit cheeky when you are forking out £250 in the first place.  And the instructions are rubbish — one A3 poster with 1,000 languages.  It took us ages to get them set up and even involved watching a couple of videos online.  The fact that they are on the Astro website at all suggests we were not the first people to struggle.  However that is not enough to stop you loving your new bit of kit.

Score 4.5/5

On The Upload

CHARLIE Hoare’s Jum Jum’s YouTube channel aims to inform and entertain.  He’ll give you the lowdown on games and leave you in no doubt as to whether he likes or hates a particular title.  His channel has been running for nearly two years and focuses on reviewing a wide range of games while making you laugh in the process.  He uploads at least one video per week and his viewer base is growing nicely.

He said:

“If you’re ever bored, and want to hear a sarcastic idiot ramble on about video games, stop by my YouTube channel”

He also does a pretty good review.  Search Jum Jum on YouTube.

e-Sports

AUDI may have walked away from the World Endurance Championship but they have set their sights on dominating the eSports world.  Professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team Astralis has landed a mega sponsorship deal.  The German firm has sponsored events in the past, like 24 Hours Of Le Forza but this is their first big investment in eSports which as an industry has seen a surge of mainstream attention in the last year.

Audi will join the ranks of Visa, Adidas and number of traditional sports teams with their investment.  According to Dot Esports, the deal maybe worth around £605,000.  Ooft.

I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…

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Stuart Cullen

Scotland’s very own thorn in the side of the London gaming scene bringing all the hottest action straight from The Sun… well… The Scottish Sun at least, every week!

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