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 18th March 2018.
Burnout Paradise Remastered (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £34.99)
THE world can never have too much Burnout frenzy — fast and fun crashing. Criterion Games had an arcade masterclass so it was all a bit sad when EA parked it up by the roadside. OK, Burnout elements have sneaked into games like Need For Speed but there has not been a full-on epic since Burnout Paradise came out in 2008. It was the pinnacle of the series and now EA have seen the light and given it the remaster treatment.
You get a good-sized city to race around in and you need to complete a series of events from races to surviving being the marked man. Succeed and you add points to your licence. You can keep upgrading your licence with more wins and that unlocks better cars and tougher events. If you are not racing you can do super-jumps or billboard smashing, or find shortcuts. Then there is the crash challenge and time limit where you have to be the quickest or cause the most damage.
This edition also comes with ALL the game’s DLC content so you can play with, bikes, movie-inspired motors. cop cars and tiny toy car editions of fans’ favourites. You also get Big Surf Island — a new area filled with its own fun. EA have tweaked the engine and added some polish. The textures are good but are still short of your perfect look. The soundtrack has successfully made the jump from the original with a playlist including the likes of Adam And The Ants to Killswitch Engage. The remastering has given the game a fresh look but it has not sorted all the original’s problems. The loading time when you are picking a car is mind-numbingly long and it misses some new-game tech like waypoints on the map.
The big question is whether Burnout Paradise Remastered is worth the cash. If this is your first taste, then there is a wealth of fun to be had. Hardcore fans may feel there is little extra in the pot. It is a classic racer. It is fun and addictive but the biggest thrill may be the online mayhem you can enjoy.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £49.99)
JAPANESE role-playing games look stunning but they can take HOURS to get anywhere. Fans love them, but newcomers can feel a bit bewildered. Fatal Bullet is the fourth Sword Art Online game to be released in the west. If you played the rest you will know what to expect and you’ll be happy. But, if you are new to the anime then be prepared for the long haul because it takes time to find your feet. You have to build a custom character who enters a VR world and meets a powerful AI. The first few hours are heavy on the set-up so you do more talking than fighting. But the game comes to life when the combat starts as you unleash an arsenal of weaponry.
It starts as you playing a massively multiplayer online game within a game, but Fatal Bullet never actually becomes an MMO itself. It stays as a third-person shooter as you take on a host of enemies with your team. However, there is an RPG twist because not every bullet will do the same damage. You fight over four main areas, from a forest to a city. While each has its own feel, it does all get a bit boring and samey as you run around killing the 100th wasp or 300th assault robot. The boss fights help freshen things up. The anime is stunning and the soundtrack backs it all up, but you can’t get over the need to improve gear so you have to keep the fight, kill, repeat mode. The two online modes are good fun, but you may struggle to make it past the first 15 hours of the main tale.
Spice Up Your Life… is Strange Experience
The Limited Edition includes an art book wih pics from Life Is Strange: Before The Storm, the game’s soundtrack on CD and a Mixtape Mode so you can build a playlist. You also get some DLC and the first episode of the original game free. The Vinyl Edition is exclusive to the Square Enix store. It is the Limited Edition PLUS four records featuring tracks from Daughter, Koda, Ben Howard, Lanterns on the Lake, Speedy Ortiz and more. The Limited Edition is £34.99. The Vinyl Edition is £59.99 from store.eu.square-enix.com.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Limited Edition (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £34.99)
THE original Life Is Strange was an emotional rollercoaster. Gamers loved teenager Max’s ability to rewind time and her path through life. Then Dontnod handed the development reins to Deck Nine, and they produced Before The Storm — a prequel that focuses on the budding relationship between teenagers Chloe Price and Rachel Amber. It showed how people change and was just as emotional as the first game as you follow the girls’ adventures around Arcadia Bay.
Now Before The Storm has had a full retail release that includes a new farewell chapter which aims to bring the first two games even closer together. The tale is more story focused, but your choices shape the direction you will go in. But it is very black and white — there are no half measures as you take this seven-hour journey to the credits. The new chapter focuses on Chloe and a young Max, which is a neat way to blend the two games. It is a perfect hour-long adventure which fans will love. They will also be a bit teary by the end. There are a number of chat battles where you’ll have to pay attention and talk your way into or out of a situation. The game walks a fine line between an adventure game where you can search areas for clues and get more backstory and a full-on interactive story where you pick options.
Fans will recognise the look from the first game. It has the same art style — a soft lighting and a real-world melancholic feel. The voice acting and soundtrack are excellent, but bizarre fact time: there was an industrial dispute at the time the game was made so Chloe was voiced by Rhianna DeVries instead of Ashly Burch who did the job in the original. If there is a grumble, it is how harsh some decisions can work out. You can be all cool one second then reading the riot act the next. It’s a bit LA Noire at times. The overall pace is also a little patchy.
But that doesn’t stop this being a delightful slice of teenage angst. It is a treat for fans because it shows Arcadia Bay before the events of the first game and it is a tale worth watching. Just keep the tissues handy for the weepy moments.
In the Dirt
IF you were a rally fan back in the days of the original PlayStation then the chances are that you’ll know V-Rally. Now, thanks to BigBen Interactive and developers Kylotonn Games, it’s set to return after 15 years.
You’ll get more than 50 cars to race in rallies, gymkhana, rallycross and Hillclimbs. It’s safe to say Kylotonn are a safe pair of hands — they are behind the official WRC games. Games director Alain Jarniou also worked on V-Rally 3. V-Rally 4 will be on Xbox One, PS4, PC and Switch later this year.
On The Stream
KARL Palmer has been playing video games for longer than he can remember. That spurred him into writing gaming articles in 2013 and trying his hand at podcasting. He then progressed into streaming because he loves the interaction with an audience as well as taking on new challenges.
“I work full-time and I find that streaming is a great way to relax.”
His aim is to create a friendly place to hang out and chat about games on PC, Xbox and PlayStation. You can find his stream over at twitch.tv/Strathem and follow @Srathem.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…