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 19th February 2017.
Sniper Elite 4 (PC, PS4, Xbox One, £39.99)
A BIG part of gaming is about being able to shoot well. It is not something you would probably put on a job CV, but it is hugely satisfying when you master the art of pulling the trigger and nailing a hit. The guys and girls at Rebellion Studios have long been the masters at creating the tools for the perfect shooting masterclass in the Sniper Elite series.
So you would expect version 4 to have some new tricks. The highlight is the best kill cam I’ve ever seen in a game. When you fire a killer shot the game goes into slow-mo and you follow the bullet through the air and into the target. Add in X-ray mode and it gets spectacularly gory very quickly. Gruesome? Maybe, but it is a fine art as each kill is a beautiful ballet of death. There are also melee take downs and you can spark off X-ray cam by shooting ammo boxes or fuel barrels. That is a sight to behold as you watch the consequences of a shrapnel blast on a Nazi soldier.
The game is set in Italy in 1943 — about a year on from version 3. Again, you are Office of Strategic Services hot shot Karl Fairburne and you are hunting down a number of high-ranking Nazi officers and helping the Italian resistance.
The campaign is spread out over 10 HUGE levels — from woody forests to coastal villages. Each will take around an hour to clear. But as much as I tried to get behind the story it fades into the background as you get stuck into the action. The gameplay is super-slick and will draw you in.
You start each mission with a target and get your next job as you explore the map. You must scout an area, spot targets, find the perfect sniper spot . . . then it’s trigger time. You could just run-and-gun your way through the lower-difficulty levels but the harder ones need real skill. You can’t achieve the effects without decent graphics, but some of the textures and character models are a little rough. As you spend 97 percent of your time looking through a scope it is hard to miss at times. But the soundtrack does a booming job to match the action. The co-op mode adds a new element and a four-player horde-style option is frantic but fun. Lock and load, people, it’s time to move out and perfect that kill.
Interview with Ilya Zakharov, QA Manager at Rebellion
ILYA Zakharov has an impossible job. The Quality Assurance manager at Rebellion wants you to think the story in Sniper Elite 4 is the big draw. But then he can’t stop smiling when he told STUART CULLEN about the epic new KILL CAM. We put Ilya in the crosshairs over Sniper Elite 4 and he did his best on the story front. He said:
“The story follows on from the tale we started in V2 and V3. It is set a year after 3 and you are done with Africa. The allies are starting to attack Italy to get into Germany. The story is more immersive than 3 — it brings in a bunch of interesting characters who add some intrigue to the story.”
And we almost believed him. Sniper Elite 4 is built by fans… for fans. Ilya added:
“Everyone who works at Rebellion is a Sniper fan so a lot of our ideas overlap with the fans and the lines can get blurred. It’s possible that some ideas were fan driven but we’re all fans so all the new features are fan driven really. The new feature I love the most is the kill cam on traps. In 3 I didn’t really play with traps at all. I was more a snipe-and-run sort of player because they didn’t really feel that satisfying. OK, you saw the text saying you got the kill and that was cool, but now when your trap is triggered you get a really cool kill cam that shows it going off. That is satisfying.”
He went on:
“You can now do environmental kills where you can find different objects to shoot and trigger off explosions. The kill cam has also had graphics work done — there are a few extra layers in X-ray mode. It is a clear improvement over the system we used in 3, especially when you see them side by side.”
If that wasn’t enough excitement, the developers have added a traversal system — or the ability to climb to you and me. Ilya said:
“It adds a new element of verticality to the combat that was missing in V2. We now have a lot of vistas and it lets us make it more sniper-friendly in that we could create a more natural feeling to the flow of the levels. It lets the open levels breathe. It all feels more natural — the best spots are everywhere so you can make your own way to them instead of having them sign-posted.”
So that’s all good but what about the Zombie Army spin-off that has become such a hit in previous games? Ilya laughed:
“We will be doing content updates as well as DLC. We will be adding multiplayer maps in much the same way as we did with 3. But we haven’t made final plans so anything is still possible.”
I Am Bread (iOS, PC, PS4, Xbox One, £10.39)
WELL, here’s a first — a game where you are a slice of bread. Bossa Studio’s cult classic I Am Bread is finally on the Xbox One. The game has one mission objective — make it to the toaster and cook. No, really, it is. There is a story in the background — you get little notes as the home owner tries to convince his doctor that the bread has come to life, but ends up being told it is all in his head.
So there you are as a brave slice of white bread trying to get through a week — with each day being a new level for you to discover the best way to become toast. The real challenge is the game controls. Master them and you stand a chance because you control each corner of the slice of bread as you move, climb and throw yourself across the room. You can also grip objects but it is easy to fall and no one likes dirty bread. And that difficulty will be your major bugbear.
There are a number of side modes — like bagel racing or a race to destroy as many objects as you can with a baguette. They are great fun and an ideal breather from the main game. The game is colourful and chunky — you go from the kitchen to garden and even a space station. And it’s all backed up with an upbeat and enjoyable soundtrack. I Am Bread is challenging. It will test your mood. You will see red but you will also have a laugh.
LEGO Dimensions Fun Pack: Knight Rider (Multi-format, £14.99)
IT’S retro time with Lego Dimensions — the latest Fun Pack is Michael Knight and K.I.T.T from Knight Rider. The kit comes with a mini fig of Knight though sadly he isn’t voiced by the Hoff, David Hasselhoff. You also get a model of the coolest car on TV. K.I.T.T can be transformed into other vehicles so you can tear through the skies as the K.I.T.T Jet or on the road in the Goliath Armoured Semi. You can unlock the Knight Rider adventure world and battle arena which has a very Las Vegas theme and has some really interesting driving challenges.
This is uber cool.
On The Upload
DANIEL Ibbertson is the brains behind Slope’s Game Room. He goes in hardcore about the inspiration, development and people behind such classics as Streets Of Rage, Splatterhouse, Crazy Taxi and Double Dragon to name a few.
He knows stunning facts like the inspiration for Ecco the Dolphin was a drug-taking, NASA-funded scientist! He said:
“I plan to create the ultimate video about the franchises you loved! Through documentary-style videos… about video games. I plan to keep the show going with weekly videos that help fill your brains with useless information that for whatever reason you can’t live without.”
Search Slope’s Game Room on YouTube.
AS ROMA are the latest football team to get into eSports. They have joined forces with Fnatic with a team to play FIFA on the world eSports stage. Their first players are “Poacher” Carmody, Aman “Aman” Seddiqi and Nicoló “Insa” Mirra, and they will be managed by Colin Johnson. They are following the model by top French side PSG, but it’s worth noting this deal is both Fnatic and Roma’s first entry into the FIFA eSports scene.
German side VfL Wolfsburg also announced that Turtle Beach has become their official eSports audio partner. The deal means Wolfsburg’s players will use Turtle Beach’s Elite Pro headsets.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…