Scotch Corner – Giant Slaying

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 22nd April 2018.

 

Attack on Titan 2 (Xbox One, PS4, PC and Switch, £49.99)

WE love sequels because we love comparing them to the original title.  We gave Attack On Titan a strong 4/5 back in 2016 so we were looking forward to Omega Force’s attempt at Attack On Titan 2.  The first thing to say is that it is more Attack On Titan 1.5 thanks to the amount of ground repeated from the first game but played from a different perspective.  That makes up for about 80 per cent of the core tale — or about eight hours of play before you’ll get to the new stuff.  The big difference is that instead of playing as one of the main show cast on missions, you are your own character as a young trainee.  There is a system which unlocks skills based on how friendly you are but it’s a bit hit and miss.

The combat is the highlight — it was good in the first game but is now more polished, exciting and faster with more fluid movement.  You can hunt down the Titans with a series of over- the-top moves.  There is also a new sneak attack system which lets you dish out the damage if you catch it off guard, but don’t get it wrong or you will pay a heavy price.  This time you can build small battlefield bases which can give you the upper hand in a fight.

We enjoyed the co-op mode where you and your pals can team up, but the online mode challenges two teams of four to kill as many Titans as possible.  It all feels like you’re playing an episode of the show and the soundtrack is like it a direct lift from the programme but the voices are Japanese and there are a few frame rate issues when the action kicks off.  It is bigger and better, but the lack of a new tale will put people off.

Score: 3.5/5

Impact Winter (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £15.99)

JUST when you think winter might be over along comes Impact Winter.  But we reckon you will enjoy this effort from British developers Mojo Bones.  We have had plenty of post- apocalyptic survival projects, but this offers a new take in that we are all buried in snow after a meteor hits Earth and causes a prolonged winter — and you have a time target to manage.

The main tale focuses on five survivors who are holed up in a church in a town called Nelson.  You play as Jacob — the “leader” of the makeshift group.  He gets a message that help will reach you in 30 days . . . if you can live that long.  The core gameplay involves managing the group and making sure they have enough energy, warmth and food.  Each member has their own crafting skills and personality and that leads to a host of different missions, from cooking to improving the base and upgrading you helper drone so it can find better supplies or check out the surrounding area.  If you want to survive then you will need to pick the supplies that will best help the group.  You can also unlock special tokens or complete certain missions to shave time off the 30-day counter.  That management emphasis might be a bit heavy for some, but it is a neat-looking game.

The isometric overhead view contains plenty of detail, but it all comes to life when you are running around in the snow.  The soundtrack fits the tone of the game, with a flavour of John Carpenter’s cult snowfest movie The Thing at times.  We had a grumble at some of the lengthy loading times, but we were still impressed.  The time target makes a neat change from the usual survival game — it allows you to hope for the future.  That is enough to keep you going when it gets tough and it makes you care about your whole group.  It’s one for all — and all for one.

Score: 4/5 

God of War (PS4, £47.99)

THE original God Of War was full of anger like a troubled teenager.  But Sony have let their flagship title mature and grow into a spectacular piece of gaming theatre.  The move to PS4 is more of a soft reboot then a remastering, but you will become wrapped in the tale of Kratos and his son Atreus, rather than rail against an angry Kratos carving his way through the Gods and legends.  Santa Monica Studio has built in a relationship between father and son that is a powerful way to carry the 25-hour adventure.

The cinematic style is typical of Sony’s exclusive AAA titles, but you quickly feel the pain as Kratos mourns the loss of his wife and Atreus misses his mother.  Both vow to fulfil her dying wish — to spread her ashes on the highest mountain peak in the land.  This is the eighth instalment of the series, but it is the first time that you see this quieter sort of Kratos.  It’s a gripping and compelling tale that has a lot of emotional moments between father and son.  Many will stay with you after the credits roll because they will mirror moments you have had with your dad.  It’s brave and it raises the game to a new level.

The core background has moved from Greek to Norse and Kratos’s chain blades have been replaced with a Thor-like axe which you can throw and summon back.  That is the key for the legendary combat to kick off.  You wield your axe and Atreus is armed with a bow as you fight off a mix of mythical nasties as well as the more standard God of War fare.  The dynamic battlefields add a real depth to the experience.  You can level up your gear along the journey — from armour to unlocking buffs and new attacks — and Atreus has skills that can open up new areas.

The story may carry the game, but it is helped by the look.  The snow-covered forest and the wide tropical views are sensational.  They are packed with detail then polished until they shine brightly.  If those are highlights, then prepare yourself for a sound explosion.  It starts at epic and builds from there — it knows when to kick in and the battle scenes are outstanding.  The voice acting is also brilliant, Christopher Judge adding real weight to Kratos and Sunny Suljic giving Atreus a real human feel.  It also has to be said that the sound of the axe is awesome — from the swish of a throw to the chink as it hits stone or the thud of it connecting with a human target.

There are few minor grumbles — a bit of back-tracking at times or the odd framerate dip on the standard PS4.  That won’t stop you being captivated by God Of War.  It has matured and added a depth to the storytelling.  The relationship between father and son works and it all plays out on a magical landscape.  This has to be a real contender for Game of the Year and is must buy for PS4 owners.

Score: 5/5

TESLA vs LOVECRAFT (Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC, £11.99)

EVER wondered who’d win in a fight between Tesla coil inventor Nikola Tesla, and famous horror writer HL Lovecraft?  Well, now you can.
Lovecraft has burned down Tesla’s lab, unleashed a world of monsters and nicked his investments.  Tesla fights back so cue a twin-shooter fight fest.

You start with a pistol and work your way through up to a dual-wielding mini-gun mech suit.  There are some perks along the way which add to the fun as you clear out monsters from horde-rushing cannon fodder to more beefed-up beasties.  Once you’ve done the core levels you can jump into another realm where you play the same level but with new enemies and objectives.

The graphics are a great mix of electrical effects and the just about backs it up.  However, the levels are a bit too small.  It’s over far too quickly and that is a shame because it is a bit slow at the start.  But get to the meaty bits and you will have a blast.

Score: 4/5

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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