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 21st May 2017.
Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels (Xbox One and PC, £16.74)
WHOEVER had the idea of mixing Forza Horizon 3 with Hot Wheels deserves a gaming Oscar. Throwing your favourite die-cast mini motors down the virtual tracks is just genius. It is everything you wanted to do when you were a kid — but couldn’t because you only had one self-built bit of orange track. Now Playground Games’ last expansion pack in the Horizon 3 series brings it all to life in stunning detail.
It follows the same path as the Blizzard Mountain pack in that you get an area away from the main game. That means more than 140 roads for everything from supercars to Hot Wheels dream cars. Your new playground is made up of that iconic orange track and includes half-pipes, loop-the-loops and speed boost pads. There is a campaign of more than 25 races — all with a medal system so you need to finish as well as do set challenges like setting lap times or drifting like a loony. It all throws you out of your racing comfort zone if you’re after all three medals to unlock more races and events. There is also a mix of stunts to tackle — from speed traps to super jumps — but as you are in the Hot Wheels world they are all ramped up to the max. And there is a bucket list. There may only be five events, which is a little but disappointing, but they are fun. I would still have liked a few more challenges.
The expansion comes with nine new rides to drift to within an inch of their lives. They include the Pagani Zonda R and the classic Chrysler VH Valiant Charger. But, being Hot Wheels, you also get a handful of iconic cars based of the toy line like the BoneShaker. That is a bad-ass hot rod. Then there is the monster that is the Twin Mill because everyone needs a car with two engines at some point in their lives. A neat addition is that once you have unlocked them you get to use them in the full game.
It all works because the graphics are sensational. It keeps the stunning Aussie back drop from the main game but adds a truck-load of colour with everything popping in orange and blue. The soundtrack is the same as the original game — which means no new tracks. After pumping 121-odd hours of my life into this game I think I deserved some new sounds. Playground Games should take a bow for crafting one of the best arcade racers of all time. Adding a winter wonderland in Blizzard Mountain was inspired. But Hot Wheels has raised the bar yet again. This is one of the most fun and enjoyable DLC packs every made for ANY game. It is the perfect finale for Forza Horizon 3.
I Want To Paint It Black
SEE Forza DLC and see painters. Eliot Poulter has designed a steam punk- inspired livery for the Boneshaker by blending flames and cogs. You can find it by searching PTG fox in the Hot wheels boneshaker.
FELLOW paint ace Stuart Baird has come up with a Star Wars livery for the Twin Mill. It is inspired by the movies and the Star Wars Hot Wheels cars. Search PTG Stuzib85 in the 1969 Hot Wheels Twin Mill.
Firefighters – The Simulation (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £23.99)
WHO didn’t want to be firefighter when they were growing up? And simulation games — from driving tractors to flying planes — are the real deal at the moment. So, a simulator letting you fight the flames was always going to be hot stuff, right? Wrong. Firefighters: The Simulation should be a blast, but it never really gets above lukewarm.
The theory is a treat. You are the newbie at the fire station and you have to lead your team through blazing buildings or car fires at the same time as you get to grips with the tools of the trade — fire engines, hoses and high-tech robots. So how does it pan out that you find yourself in a point-to-point game where some of the biggest challenges are fires in cardboard boxes? And all in a world that looks like it is made out of cardboard and where the laws of physics have gone mad. One minute you can drive through a car, but a small bush is suddenly like a brick wall that stops you in your tracks. The framerate yo-yos all over the place and the look is pre-2000. The station has huge empty rooms which simply dwarf you and all the characters are basically the same person with different jumpers on.
When I wanted to be a fireman, I thought it would be more exciting than checking kit and washing the engines. This game does more washing than a Zanussi Simulator. You do fight fires but it is by the numbers stuff — rinse and repeat. It does get one thing right — you can get very bored at work.
On The Stream
KIERAN Aitken is best known as Kiwi thanks to his Youtube channel, Bonnie Kiwi. He started it last July as a way to keep himself busy while being out of work but it has quickly attracted a big following.
“I had wanted to give it a try for a while after watching the likes of Pewdiepie and JackSepticEye. I instantly fell in love with it and have been uploading daily videos ever since.”
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…