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 12th November 2017.
Gunning for Success
THINK about any event in history then change the result and see where the journey takes you. That was the philosophy adopted by the MachineGames team over Wolfenstein 2. Senior game designer Andreas Öjerfors told me:
“Maybe the best idea MachineGames ever had is when we started out with The New Order we set it during the 60s. We have this history where the Nazis won the Second World War and so many rich ideas came out of that. Moving the game to America gave the team even more ideas. The 60s was also so rich in terms of popular culture and civil rights movement. So, from those ideas, a thousand other ideas have come from it.”
But they weren’t content with that — they really wanted to ramp up the action. Öjerfors added:
“When we started working on the New Colossus we looked at the New Order as the foundations. We felt that was the right way to do things and it was definitely who we are as a games studio. We decided to take the core mechanics from The New Order and dial them up to 11 and ramp up the intensity as well as the quality of all of the standout moments.”
The Nazis rule in the game, but Öjerfors refuses to say if there is a twist in the tale. He said:
“It would be a spoiler to talk about is awaiting you before you play the game but a very important part is the action adventures. Part of that is trying to surprise the player and make it an interesting journey for them. So we take them to a few wild places, although the main part of the game is in an America that is being oppressed by a Nazi regime and for them to try to stop a revolution there.”
Öjerfors believes the team have taken the best bits from the first game and then moved on. He added:
“We try to have really tight gameplay experiences. Compared to The New Order the levels are a bit more open because we have focused on trying to let players play the game the way they want. We can allow for a mix of play styles — you can stealth or shoot your way through — and most of the time there are a number of options to complete a level. The HUB level was a feature we liked from The New Order, so we made it a more important element — it is the submarine you stole in the first game. From there you can do side missions as well as return there for new missions where you revisit locations but at different times of day or with new areas.”
But Öjerfors admits the gunplay was so important they had their own gun team. He said:
“We have had one team since pre-production. The ‘through the gun’ team focuses on making the weapons feel as great as possible to fire. They also make them feel right in the overall world — from running and jumping to sliding with them.”
You can hear more from Andreas in the interview from EGX2017.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Xbox One, PS4 , Switch and PC, £44.99)
START any conversation about America 2017 and you can bet “Nazi punching” will be mentioned. Well, MachineGames have taken that line and stretched, pulled and pummelled it into an epic game with Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. This is the sequel to The New Order which was a surprise hit in 2014. The Nazis have taken over America and it’s your job to save the day. There is plenty of Nazi punching in a first-rate first person shooter.
At first sight, it is just point and shoot, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find a touching story that mixes some outstanding moments with the F bombs and Nazi bits flying everywhere. The tale picks up after the first game and you are back as B.J. Blazkowicz, the one-man army out to stop Nazi rule. The game bounces from laugh-out-loud moments to dark and heavy subjects like racism, abuse and cruelty. But the game handles these sensitive moments so well that you actually become attached to the ragtag band of heroes and hating their Nazi overlords throughout the 14-hour journey.
It is a simple dynamic — find room and clear room. You can stealth your way in, throwing hatchets and snapping necks, or you could grab two auto shotguns and re-decorate the area in a lovely shade of Third Reich red. Or you can use a mixture of both. The gunplay is king — it’s fast, frantic and smooth. There is a Doom-like feel as you tackle everything from armoured super-soldiers to attack dogs. You have assault rifles and SMGs but there are a few heavy weapons which are great fun. You can also dual-wield every gun apart from the heavy ones. That causes magical mayhem.
The graphics are stunning — a mix between real-world 60s America and a classic retro sci-fi, all backed by Aussie composer Mick Gordon’s epic soundtrack. The voice acting adds another level — each character feels so grounded and real that you’ll believe you know them. Fergus, the hardened Scottish bomber pilot, has some of the best lines I’ve ever heard in a video game. He’s possibly my top Scot ever in digital media. You can get lost in the heat of battle and get stuck trying to jump over some objects, but it’s no deal-breaker. This takes everything that was great about The New Order and makes it stronger, faster and better. This is a Game of the Year contender.
Super Lucky’s Tale (Xbox One and PC, £19.99)
THIS was the surprise title of the Xbox X launch. There has been a renaissance in 3D platform games — with the likes Super Mario Odyssey and Crash Bandicoot. So it seemed certain that Microsoft would want a slice of the pie. But not many people predicted Lucky. The fox has to fight his way through four themed worlds trying to rescue his sister from the evil cat Jinx and his band of fiendish felines.
It’s simple stuff — there is a fairy tale vibe to attract the younger gamers but there are a few funny lines to make the grown ups smile. The gameplay is mostly a 2D side-scroller that echoes classic games like Sonic and a full 3D platformer as you collect as many of the 99 four-leafed clovers as you can. You can’t avoid them because that is the only way to get to the boss fights. There are a few side missions to mix things up and they are a welcome break from the main action.
Your biggest gripe will be the camera. You are constantly fighting to get into the right spot to see where you’re going and the controls are a bit hit and miss. The cartoon look has a real charm and the worlds have a chunky feel. The soundtrack adds to the fun vibe. The Xbox One X doesn’t add that much to the visual experience — it is more of a power boost in the loading times and frame rate. This is a kids’ game and they will love it. Expect a few to have it on their Santa list — and I feel this could be the first step in an engaging series.
It’s In Every Game
WE know Star Wars Battlefront 2 is on the way, but EA want to make sure NO ONE can forget it. For starters, you can get Inferno Squad kit in FIFA Ultimate Team in FIFA 18. The home top is pure Tie pilot suit while the away kit has a more Imperial admiral feel. NHL 2018 and NBA Live 18 get the same treatment.
Then we have the Totokia War Club in Battlefield 1. Get it through a Star Wars Battlefront 2 celebration pack.
What’s next? An X-wing and Tie Fighter in Need For Speed Payback?
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…