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 11th June 2017.
Injustice 2 (Xbox One and PS4, £44.99)
WHEN I was at school we were always told it was a battle between good and evil. But now it is not that simple — everything has different shades. Even the DC Comics’ superheroes have dark sides and murky secrets. Oooh my head. How can I deal with all this? Well, a sharp dose of Injustice 2 could sort everything. It is certainly no PC parlour game. This is DC raw.
It follows on five years after the events in the original game where Superman went a bit off-piste and Batman was forced to jail him. The world is in a bad way. Bruce Wayne is trying to rebuild it while stopping the forces of evil from taking over. Then Brainiac turns up and everything goes sideways. The story is still dark. That won’t sit well with some fans but it does add a new layer to the game. The storyline is actually very good and encourages you to see what happens next. It also gives a taster to the 30-plus roster of characters because you play someone new in each chapter.
NetherRealm Studios have decided the original worked so well that there was little need of changing the formula, but there are plenty of new bits like Clash battles or being able to block environmental attacks. And the core gameplay seems to have had a speed boost. It’s very smooth. The game has a solid fighting system which is good for newcomers and more casual fighting fans. But there are hidden depths that hard-core fighting fans will enjoy mastering, especially the combo system. There are your usual fighting modes then there is multiverse which is an interesting take on daily challenges. You have a set time to complete sets of fights with twists that can help you or hang you out to dry.
There is also a huge role-playing side. You can build loadouts for your heroes from gear you win or find in loot boxes. You can buy stuff with real money but you do get a fair bit by playing the game. Beware, any boost you may get is removed when you go online to keep things fair but you do keep the gear. The graphics are stunning, especially the facial animation which will blow your mind and put other games to shame — looking at you, Mass Effect Andromeda. The soundtrack frames each brawl and is all backed up by some outstanding voice acting. The game will teach you what you need to know to survive in the game but if you want to pull off 20-plus epic combos then you’ll have to put in the hours. But if you want to see whether good still triumphs over evil then check it out.
Outlast 2 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £23.99)
IF I was in a real-life horror story I would want more help than a video camera. But them were the rules for Outlast when it launched in 2013. You got a camera and your wits. Now we have Outlast 2 and Red Barrel Games are sticking to the same theory. You are journalist Blake Langermann and you and your wife are in a helicopter crash over Arizona. You recover consciousness to find the missus is missing — cue a 13 to 14-hour tale that is not exactly happy days. You have to find your wife and uncover the truth behind what has happened amid a backdrop of religious cults and zealots. It is all very unsettling and tense with a number of really scary moments, especially as you only have that camera.
It now has a directional mic to help you hear nearby enemies and it can help you flesh out the story by recording things which unlock extra audio. But you need to hunt for batteries to keep it running. Those hunts also uncover notes and fragments that help piece you solve the mystery but it’s all a risky business. The game has a more open feel than the first, with fields and cave systems to avoid the locals though it’s easy to get lost. You must work your way around a mix of enemies but there’s a handful who never stop chasing. That ramps up the fear factor.
The game is dark in more than looks but the character development is outstanding and the stuff of real nightmares, especially when the sound effects kick in. There are issues — you can jump over some things but not others and some of escape points are hit and miss. But, as a horror story, it’s a scream.
BUTCHER (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £7.99)
THE Butcher is a meaty challenge that tests your skills and your nerve. It is the brainchild of Polish developers Transhuman Design and it is gruesome, tough . . . and sweet, sweet satisfaction to play. It takes the standard sci-fi story and flips it on its head — you aren’t the space hero sent to save the day. No, you are a cyborg who is out for revenge on a space station. There is not much story. This is all about 22 levels of a blast bonanza. It’s Doom meets Super Meat Boy as you work your way through each level blasting anything that moves.
The controls are super tight as you dodge enemy fire. You can get virtually any weapon from a chainsaw to flame-throwers but the shotgun is the star of the show. You know you’re in for a rough ride when the tag line is “the easiest mode is hard” and it’s true, you will die a lot. But Butcher pushes you to get better and faster and it is super-additive. The graphics embody the retro look and there are some insane death animations. The gore is heavy duty — it’s not youngster-friendly.
The soundtrack does a top job in setting the mood with a Doom-inspired metal vibe and the screaming audio adds to the terror. The game needs a couple of minor tweaks — collectables let you unlock even tougher levels but you can’t grab them until you finish the level. And if you die every four seconds then that soon becomes a hassle. This is a retro blast from the past from start to finish — but it is tough and it is gory.
On The Stream
RYAN Ellingham started his YouTube channel last October to beat his shyness. Ryan, from Ayrshire, is known as The Dukez and he specialises in Gaming Let’s Plays videos for games like Party Hard and The Culling.
“I have always been a really shy person but making these videos has enabled me to come out my shell. The YouTube community is so supportive, which has been a massive confidence boost.”
He wants to create a like-minded community, and some charity fundraising livestream events. Search The Dukez on YouTube.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…