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 4th March 2018.
Fe (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £16.19)
EA and indie developers may sound like an unlikely pairing but the mega publisher does help the little guys out at times. Swedish developer Zoink are the latest to prosper from the EA Originals programme — with Fe. He is a small creature who lives in a forest that is being invaded by robot-like monsters called The Silent Ones. They are kidnapping animals and Fe wants to save the day. The tale has bags of charm and will take around three and a half hours but it is a bit open-ended so you may be left with some unanswered questions.
Fe has to bond with the animals by learning to sing their language and there are six tunes to find. But when you’re not singing, you’ll be exploring the forest — climbing from tree to tree and using any songs you have to get a helping hand. They can help open special coloured seeds so you can jump higher or arm you with a bomb to clear a route. There is also a stealth element which adds an interesting twist as you battle the Silent Ones.
Zoink have given the game a striking art style, with a black world interspersed with splashes of vivid colour. The soundtrack is the star though — from the background track to the songs you sing. It has plenty of emotion and carried the tale brilliantly. The soundtrack can’t save the game from being short of detail. It is a slow drawn-out affair when it could have been much more. It is different, but it is ultimately a forgettable tale.
Dynasty Warriors 9 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £49.99)
DYNASTY Warriors turned 21 this year so you have to be brave to go with a new game rather than let it fade into the gaming annals of time. Virtually everything has been done in the main series or the spin-offs, but Omega Force and Koei Tecmo reckon the world needs DW9. The truth is that it doesn’t veer too far from the tried-and-tested hack-and-slash format. The fun factor was always the one versus 100 gameplay, but it has now gone open-world.
The campaign follows an epic war as the three kingdoms of China face up to invading forces but it’s all a bit bonkers. In a normal game, you would play one or two characters as the story develops. In DW9, you have EIGHTY characters who form four clans. Each chapter unlocks more characters and the ones you choose decide the journey the game takes. It’s an interesting idea, but you have to work hard to get your head around it all. You will need to replay a few missions over and over.
The move to open-world gives you a new scale of what’s going on. You have your core missions then some side quests. They can give you the advantage in the main event so it is worth taking your time. The hunting and fishing quests are quite simple, but won’t scratch that competitive itch. The gameplay sticks close to the forerunners in that one versus 100 button mash. It makes you feel like a super-cool warrior as you dish out epic combos like unleashing a lightning storm from your sword that kills a screenful of enemies. It’s simple, but satisfying. This is not the toughest game at times. You can cut through waves of nameless infantry but it gets harder when you take on the named characters.
We found the graphics to be a mixed bag. The scale of battles is awesome but the textures just don’t want to pop in especially when you are exploring towns and cities. The soundtrack frames the action well but here is a tip: do not play this with the English voice-over. It is dreadful. Use the Chinese one and read your way to victory. The open-world is the new twist but it is a very empty world at times. You just roam with very little to do. So here’s the birthday report card. DW9 has the gameplay that it does best. But it lacks any depth beyond frantically mashing buttons during fights. If you’re a Dynasty Warrior fan then you’ll love this. If you’re a newcomer, then it’ll give you a taste of what it’s all about.
Rad Rodgers (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £15.99)
ROLL back the years and have a 90s blast with Rad Rogers. The platformer has been given a new look for 2018 and there are plenty of laughs along the four-hour journey — or even longer if you want to collect everything. You are super-cool Rad, a young kid who doesn’t ever want to stop gaming. One night he falls asleep and is woken by the TV and finds he can’t switch either that or his console off. Cue a battle to free himself.
The jokes come from wise-cracking Dust, who gives you the powers to get home. Interestingly, THQ Nordic have two versions of the game — one for kids and a more adult affair. That has a Conkers Bad Fur Day vibe and the one-liners are closer to the knuckle. This is a platformer with a heavy dash of shooting in the jungle as you blast everything that moves, collect gems and find hidden areas. You also get to play as Dust where you enter a digital world to solve a puzzle to help Rad. But that’s more a chore than fun.
The look is the winner — the cartoon colours have a neat depth and the soundtrack is packed with 90s vibes. The problem is that you have to find stuff to progress but there are no directions on where to go. It is so easy to get lost. It’s fun, but flawed.
Start Your Engines
A NEW Assetto Corsa is out this summer. The latest instalment will also be the official game of the Blancpain GT series. Assetto Corsa Competizione will have variable weather and day/night cycles for the first time. The Blancpain series is the top tier of GT racing with Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren duking it out for glory.
Having the licence should make for some thrilling online racing, and open the series up to eSports. Assetto Corsa Competizione will be out on PC in summer.
On The Stream
TASHA loves gaming and TALKING. The Northamptonshire streamer realised Twitch meant she could do all of her favourite things live. She is still finding her feet on the scene as she is best known as a Cosplayer but she hopes to build her viewership and subscribers with at least three streams a week and a couple of community chats a month.
“I enjoy interacting with people while I play and I am now an affiliate with Twitch which means people can now choose to subscribe to my channel and get the perks.”
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…