Scotch Corner – Stepping Back In Time

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 January 2018.

 

L.A. Noire Remastered (Xbox One, PS4, PC and Switch, £34.99)

IT’S time to get back out on the mean streets and solve a few crimes.  LA Noire became a cult title when it was first released in 2011.  Now it is the latest game to get the High Definition treatment.  We told a few months ago how the HD revolution would shape 2018 and Rockstar have shown they have caught the bug.  To many Rockstar are gaming gods — with the epic Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead series in their locker.  But they have made an interesting choice in giving LA Noire an HD makeover.  Many would have thought they’d have looked at Bully first, but the new version — with a few tweaks — shows how good the original was.

You play as returning war veteran Cole Phelps.  He is back home in 1940s Los Angeles and he joins the police force.  The game tracks the ups and downs of his life on the force as he becomes a detective and the challenges he faces with the powers he gets.  The core is a detective game which sees you having to solve a number of different crime scenes — there are 21 in total and that adds up to around 22-plus hours until you see the credits.  You have to collect evidence and question suspects — and that’s where the game really comes to life.  The Rockstar guys have developed the best facial animation technology in the industry and it is built for LA Noire.  It has some excellent artwork, but it’s for a reason.   You have to learn how to read people to see if they are telling the truth or hiding information.  It is key to solving any crimes.  Then, as the case develops, you’ll probably find yourself in a high-speed chase or a shoot-out to bring the perp in.  It is a highly satisfying loop that adds to the buzz when you nail the bad guy.  But there’s more.  You can choose between Good Cop, Bad Cop and Accuse during interrogations.  Bad Cop can be heavy-handed.  It feels a bit weird as he goes from nice guy to maniac in seconds.

When you’re not crime solving you get a good-sized LA to roam around.  But, here’s the killer.  Back in 2011 one of the main grumbles was that there was very little to do in the open world — bar collect a few bits and pieces.  Now it’s had a nip and tuck, but those grumbles are still there.  That is a real shame when you consider that Rockstar is the king of open-world gaming.  It would have been nice if they had added a few challenges.  The other gripe is that there are a few bumps in the graphics.  They still look good but they have not gone overboard.  There is no over-powering splash of colours — it is more mundane and grimy.  That is actually quite refreshing although the HD treatment works well shadows and lighting.  The soundtrack is outstanding.  The music perfectly matches the 40s timeframe and the voice-acting is superb and adds depth to the tale.

A lot of games have now had an HD boost but LA Noire will bring back some excellent gaming memories.  It’s at its best when you are knee-deep in a case or chasing through the back alleys.  It was a top game when it first came out.  It is now a must buy if you have not played before and a treat if you’re revisiting.

Score: 4.5/5

Wolfenstein II: The Adventures Of Gunslinger Joe (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £7.99)

YOU can’t help but get excited when your game of the year gets a DLC pack.  Surely it will be even better.  Well, no.  Actually the first of the Freedom Chronicles, Adventures of Gunslinger Joe, adds very little and is a massive let-down.  Each tale gives you a different character adventure and they look to be linked by a new Nazi super weapon called the Sun Gun.  In the first one, you blast through three chapters that clock in around 90 minutes.

You are Joseph Stallion, an all-star professional quarterback.  Then the Nazis come to town and his life is turned upside down.  He is out for revenge and has set his sights on Roderick Metze — an Ubercommander who has made your life a living hell.  If Metze being a Nazi wasn’t enough to make you want to hunt him down, he’s also a racist dentist.  It all sounds exciting but you actually just get more of the original game.  That is not entirely bad because the gunplay is a tight as ever as you blast hordes of Nazis with two shotguns.

Each tale focuses on a different ability that you can pick from the main game.  Gunslinger Joe lets you use the armoured shoulder barge which can knock down walls and thunder enemies into thousands of pieces if they get in your way.  The down side is that it’s just too much like the core game — the levels are built for about 90 per cent of the same assets.  The fully rendered cut scenes have been ditched in favour of animated storyboards.  That is cool but it lacks the depth and general storytelling of the main game.

To be fair, it does try to tackle some heavyweight subjects, especially the racism, but it is feels more forced than in the main game.  It is a shame because we had very high expectations.  It seems to have been rushed out and, given that the main game was so good, they could have waited and given the DLC a polish.  The next chapter is out on January 30 and takes more of a stealth approach so hopefully it’ll bring something new to the table.

Score: 2.5/5

On The Stream

IT worker Sophie “Cadaea” Keen is a 25- year-old who streams games from MOBA, FPS and MMO genres.  She has been pretty full on since starting in 2014 — with at least three streams a week.  Most open with an “IRL” chat before she gets stuck into some gaming action.  She seems to be in Rainbow Six Siege mode at the moment and she hopes to complete The Witcher 3 and Rise Of The Tomb Raider in the next few months.

She said:

“I have a strong focus on interaction and a real passion for my community and love have a good laugh.”

Find her at twitch.tv/cadaea or following @sophiekeen.

eSports

THE 2018 Race of Champions is in Saudi Arabia next month — and it will feature an eRace team taking on the pros in real cars.  McLaren’s World’s fastest Gamer, Rudy van Buren, is one of the two ROC racers.  But F1 eSports champ Brendon Leigh, triple Project CARS world champ Kevin Leaune, iRacing Blancpain GT3 Sprint champ Enzo Bonito and 2017 eWTCC champ Alexander Dornieden will fight it out on the new ROC track in Assetto Corsa before a skills test — with the winner joining van Buren.

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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