Scotch Corner – No Sleep Til Finnieston

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 July 2017.

 

THE gaming community in Scotland gave its own indie vote at the weekend.  The crowds turned out in force for Insomnia x Resonate at the SECC . . . and the big winner was the indie games market.  It was the first time Insomnia and Resonate have teamed up after having separate events last year.  And the indie scene grasped the opportunity to show off their talent and hint at some titles in the pipeline.  It was the first opportunity for fans to check out Kanshi City.  It is being developed by small Glasgow team Midnight Pacific.  It’s in the very early stages of development but looks really promising with a hide-and-seek mechanic in a futuristic world, right.

Ruffian Games showed off the latest build of Fragmental.  There was also a chance to check out Hexterion’s Rebound.  Alexander MacDiarmid said:

“We are excited to see that public gaming conventions such as Insomnia x Resonate are getting bigger and better each year. We’re back for the second year showing off Rebound and the event gives us a way to gain truly meaningful feedback on the game.”

Martin Grant, from Midnight Pacific, added:

“Resonate was our first time showing the game to people outside our friend circle and we had a fantastic response.  A wide audience — from kids to adults — enjoyed the game and we had between 350-400 people try it.  Lots of people gave us great feedback and ideas to develop the game further.”

Away from the indie scene, there was a clamour to get hands-on time in the VR zone.  There was Fruit Ninja on the HTC Vive, but the fun factor was surrounding a beefed-up version of Serious Sam from Razer.  It used full motion tracking as you fought waves of enemies.  There was plenty of hardware on show — game chair specialists GT Omega sparked a lot of interest, while Lime were kitting out budding eSports players with all sorts of kit from headsets to mics.

The main stage was bossed by the YouTubers.  They faced off against each other in games like Rocket League and Gang Beasts then had chats with fans and signing sessions.  YouTube superstars Syndicate and Terroriser were joined by local talents like Marley Thirteen and Silent Core.   Fellow Scot Ryan Ellingham — aka The Dukes — said:

“It was great to see the Scottish gaming community out in force support local YouTubers.”

And Kieran Aitken — aka the Bonnie Kiwi — added:

“Having so many people that share your passion in the same place creates an atmosphere that’s great to be in.  By far the best part of it all is getting to meet new friends and fans of your work.  If you’re a content creator like me then it’s magical to feel that kind of love for your hard work.”

So that was the present and the future, but there was also a blast from the past.  There was also a very strong Minecraft presence — proof positive that the iconic game is showing no signs of losing its popularity.  Old and young gamers got their hands on arcade cabinets to play some of the all-time classic games consoles.  There had been a big buzz about how the two events would merge and what the outcome would be.  The result was a family-friendly gaming fun fest.  The issues from previous years were still there.  You needed new mega titles on show and you needed developers talking about future games.  If they learn the lessons then there is every chance Scotland could have its own answer to EGX.  That would be an independent view.

The Golf Club 2 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £39.99)

THERE was plenty of drama as Jordan Spieth won The Open last weekend — now you can get your own golfing thrills on the virtual fairways.  HB Studios has brought out The Golf Club 2 — the sequel to the surprise hit back in 2014.  It has more of a sim vibe than arcade.  That is the first time anyone has tried that since the fall of EA’s Tiger Woods series a few years back.  You get a host of modes but the core appeal will be the online and offline careers.  The game doesn’t have the official licence but that doesn’t stop it having some legendary courses . . . sort of.

You can build your own courses with an easy-to-learn editor.  You can also import any courses you may have built from the first game.  But the big buzz is that you can use courses that the community have built and that’s where the legendary courses come in.  Without the licence, there are no official courses but clever gamers have recreated them as tributes.  There is a wealth of options and settings to get lost in and this will be a hit long after the title launch.  You can also build a customised golfer but that is more run-of-the-mill, with a few pre-set heads and an endless number of pastel polo shirts.  There is a lot to learn especially if you want to be a golfing master, but push through the tutorials and you get to the real meat of the game.  You can build your own tours or even a club.  Online pals can join it, but they are replaced by bots when you are offline.

The graphics are a bit hit and miss at times.  There is a nice look but you get a lot of texture popping especially on longer shots and there are a few rough edges.  The soundtrack fits the sport but the in- game commentators are just a little too laid-back for my liking.  My other gripe was the loading times — they are way too long especially in the course designer which is a bit of a pain.  If you are a budding Jordan Spieth then The Golf Club 2 is almost perfect.  It has a lot of promise but it all hangs on whether the gaming community picks it up.  If you have a passing interest in golf then there is more than a weekend’s fun to be had if you can get past the technicalities.

Score: 3/5

GT Omega are best known for their high-end gaming chairs and racing rigs, but they have just launched BAGS.  The stylish backpacks are aimed at the eSports crowd as they can hold a 17.3in laptop and come with an adjustable shock-proof panel.

There are three designs although each is trademark GT Omega red and black.  They hold up to 40kg and are waterproof.  They also have loads of cubbyholes and pockets.  See gtomegaracing.com.  Priced from £49.95.

Iron Crypticle (PC, Xbox One, PS4, £7.19)

FANCY a bit of 90s nostalgia with a modern twist?  Then strap yourself in for some Iron Crypticle.  The Tikipod production is a dungeon crawler role-player — a roguelike — with a pretty simple storyline.  The King’s knights have got out of shape because they have had no enemies to fight.  But that all changes when the big baddie nicks the King’s gold and kidnaps the princess.  You have to get them back.

There is a host of sprawling levels with loads of rooms and their own challenges and boss.  You’ll find plenty of loot and coins to help your cause.  But some of the rooms are a bit samey and beware the roguelike rules — die and you have to go all the way back to the beginning.  Spoiler alert: you die a lot until you start levelling up.  There is a classic vibe running though the game from its Smash TV gameplay to the Bobble Bobble-style combo system and the Ghost and Goblins style at times.  It is a blast from the past with a modern feel.

The game has a fun side- scrolling mini-game which mixes up the gameplay and is a welcome break to the edge-of-your-seat main game.  But I am not sure why you have to pay 10 coins to play it.  There is no guarantee you’ll win back your coins by playing it.  There is a four- player local co-op option which works well and that boosts the fun factor.  But there is no online option yet.  If you’re looking for a roguelike to get lost in for hours then Iron Crypticle is an Iron-cast success.

Score: 4.5/5

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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