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 5th February 2017.
LEGO Dimensions: Sonic The Hedgehog Level Pack (Multi-format, £29.99)
SONIC is a gaming icon but this is a LEGO first. The spikey blue legend brings his Speedster racer from Sonic All Star Racing and his biplane from Sonic 2 The Tornado. The toy side of pack is great — high quality and easy to build thanks to the on-screen instructions. But the game is where real Sonic fans will have a blast. It is classic Sonic but he’s made of LEGO. You’ll either love the gameplay or find it way too easy — but it is aimed at younger gamers. Sonic fans will love the in-jokes and the open world is where the fun really begins.
LEGO Dimensions: Mission Impossible Level Pack (Multi-format £29.99)
HOW can you not like having a LEGO Tom Cruise? He’s almost lifesize! LEGO Dimensions is almost totally a kids’ game, but Mission Impossible is that one where Dad joins in. The kit has Cruise’s IMF scrambler and car and it is all easy to build. The levels are set out over the first movie so you get to play through some classic screens. If you’re a fan of the movie you’ll have a huge smile on your face — this is a truly funny game that has that signature LEGO humour. Another key element are the character voices. They are not perfect but they are an extra layer to the fun.
Halo Wars Definitive Edition (Xbox One and PC)
THE original Halo Wars was such a classic that people are positively drooling about the sequel. But Microsoft have been a bit clever and have given the cult hit a quick nip and tuck to remind you just what it was all about. And the shiny new version of the old friend is simply stunning. What is less clever is the fact you can’t get the remastered game without getting the Ultimate Edition of Halo Wars 2. That is a definite “grrrr” moment and hopefully it will get a full release after Halo Wars 2 is launched. But, once we have got that out of the way, the smile is back on the face once you have loaded Halo Wars up on your Xbox One or PC.
Behaviour Interactive have added a few new tricks and given it a full graphics and audio overhaul. As this is the Definitive Edition, you also get all the DLC upgrades, including the two pre-order-only vehicle skins — Honour Guard Wraith and Fireball Warthog — and the game now supports 4K resolution on PC. So the thrill is the real-time strategy working on console pads. This was the trailblazer but was never really built on after Ensemble Games’ sad demise. Now we have the promise of Halo Wars 2 being the next stage in that development.
This game is a treat for newcomers as well as Halo fanatics. It follows the crew aboard the UNSC Spirit Of Fire which has been sent to planet Harvest to investigate Covenant alien activity. This is the way with the Covenant, things soon escalate and the crew has to stop the Covenant wiping out humanity. The story is built around three main characters — the captain of the Spirit, James Cutter, Professor Ellen Anders and all-round bad-ass, Sergeant John Forge, who is voiced by Nolan North. The gameplay is slick and polished. You spend most of your time building your base then your army and researching new abilities while managing your resources. It sounds tough but you soon get into the swing of it and you can mix things up with separate missions.
The multiplayer mode allows up to four players facing off to see who can build, command and destroy the fastest and prove who is the ultimate armchair general. But you can also play a full campaign in co-op as well. The upgraded game looks amazing — maps really pop and you can zoom right in on the action to watch a single marine fighting just by pushing the right stick. It’s also worth saying that the CGI cut scenes are some of the best I have seen. The audio is epic as well. There are a few small issues — it feels like it holds your hand too long and you sometimes don’t feel like you can attack missions the way you want. But, all in all, this is an old friend with a new haircut and you will love inviting them in.
Gear.Club (Apple and Android, Free)
YOU can browse the news pages on your daily train commute . . . or you can go RACING. Eden Games’ Gear.Club is a mobile game that lets you give it large on a selection of stunning tracks. Gear.Club doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it takes a solid racing game and polishes it to an almost mirror finish. There isn’t much of a story other than win races and unlock new cars but you do have a pit crew and a crew chief who is a bit chat happy. Most races are around a minute to 90 seconds — ideal if you are on that train.
The racing is enjoyable with the cars easy to control and you can tweak the controls to suit your skill level. There is a sort of management sim that you can unlock and build your own garage. If you want more cars, you need more space. You can tune or paint your ride but you’ll need a paint booth and a mechanic. The freemium element sees you having to wait for things to be built or get your car repaired if you crash although you can skip it with credits bought with real money.
The cars look awesome. You have everything from Bugattis to McLarens. We reviewed Gear.Club on the Sony Xperia XZ and sometimes a car loaded without its doors then righted itself. No biggie. It may be a mobile game but Eden Games have made sure it packs almost as big a punch as its console competition. A free upgrade pack has just been released — with a new rally mode. There is also a new tuning workshop where players can modify their cars to best suit the rough ‘n’ ready sand and dirt terrains.
On The Upload
ALISTAIR Cornwall — aka Corn Wolf — has revved up the YouTube scene. The avid racer reckoned there was a gap in the market for showing how to build and tune a race car as well as getting basic settings for controllers, so he set up a YouTube channel. Now, three years later, he hopes it’s not just the hardcore gamers who enjoy his videos.
Racing games are a big element of his channel, but he also attacks games like Battlefield 1 and Watch Dogs 2. Cornwall said:
“I feel I can help people get the most out of games they love to play but may not have time to read and understand every detail of the game.”
Search Corn Wolf on YouTube.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…