Scotch Corner – There Are Other Worlds Than These

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 26th March 2017.

 

LEGO Worlds (Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC, £19.99)

BUILDING your own fun is surely the ultimate game.  At least that is what Travellers Tales are hoping.  They have brought out LEGO Worlds — a brickathon of entertainment for kids young and old.  The developers have gone for a mix of Minecraft and No Man’s Sky and thrown in a tub of LEGO bricks.  Your role in this frenzy of fun?  Get in there and find the gold bricks that will elevate you to the role of master builder in the LEGO galaxy.

You start by crashing your ship on a planet and you need to get it fixed before you can move on.  It is a neat way to introduce the tools of the game because you can change the world around you at the press of a button.  You can copy any object, build something brick by brick, move the ground up and down or just paint the world pink.  You have the power.  Sort that and you can travel anywhere because LEGO Worlds is procedurally generated and no two will ever be alike although they are based on LEGO core series kits.  That means knight and pirate worlds but, sadly, no licensed kits like Batman.

As you jump from world to world you meet locals who ask you to do jobs to help them through missions and your reward is a gold brick.  It is simple and charming with that trademark LEGO game feel.  You could even build your own world but it is locked and you’ll need a lot of gold bricks.  Some people may never get that number and that is a missed trick.  That said, the ability just to start building is great fun though you have to leave your creation behind when you go to the next world.  It’s no surprise that the LEGO world is very colourful.  It is traditional Travellers Tales LEGO fare.  It’s like the plastic bricks have come to life.

The soundtrack is OK but I found it faded into the background.  The narration is by Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun Of The Dead and Guardians Of The Galaxy) and he steals the show.  LEGO Worlds isn’t perfect.  The frame rate becomes a crawl more often than I’d like to admit and the camera is all over the place in edit mode.  The procedurally generated nature sometimes means you find misshapen things like barns built into hills.  If you’re a LEGO fan or you have young gamers then LEGO Worlds will be a hit especially at its budget entry price.  But it could have done with a polish.

Score: 3/5

Farming Simulator 17 Interview

YOU know you have a hit on your hands when more people are playing your game than the new Call Of Duty.  But that is the success story that is Farming Simulator 17.  You just can’t beat a spot of ploughing, cow feeding and tractor driving.  Martin Rabl is marketing manager for Farming Simulator 17 makers, Giant Software.  He told me about the phenomenon.

He laughed:

“The players found it out.  We weren’t even looking at the stats but when we saw it we were really proud that we have so many fans who love playing the game.”

The series has certainly gone from strength to strength.  Rabl added:

“The series has grown over time. In the beginning people laughed at the idea, but then word of mouth spread.  People realised it isn’t just for farmers or people who are interested in that sort of thing and now they play to relax or with their family.  It isn’t just about driving up and down fields — it has a lot of hidden depth to it like thinking about how to invest your money and what sort of career you want.  The game doesn’t stress you out — you just plan what you want to do, like feeding your cows, but the multiplayer is also a big draw.”

But the success story for 17 was no surprise to the developers.  Rabl insisted:

“We sort of expected it to do well as each instalment of the game sells better than the last and we sold over five million copies of 15 and we know 17 was a solid game.  We held a Farmcon last year in Germany where we met with the community and we showed them the first few ideas in 17.  When they realised we had done a lot of work to make it more realistic they were blown away.  We showed some new tractors and tools but when we showed that the tyre pressure changes when you attach a load we got applause.  That was when it hit us that we were on the right path.  If the core community is happy with the way we are going then that’s what we want.”

NEWS TIME: You can now boost your garage with 18 new implements from KUHN in a new DLC pack which is available on all platforms starting from £11.99.

Flatout 4: Total Insanity (Xbox One, PS4, £39.99)

IT is a simple rule of law — good arcade racer equals smiley face.  So when a new title from one of the masters of arcade racing, Kylotonn, hits the streets you need to get your paws on it.  But Flatout 4: Total Insanity might not be just what you were expecting.  It isn’t a super-realistic racer where hitting the apex on each corner is key to a fast lap.  This is pure arcade fun in a smash-em-up form.

There are a number of modes — but the main two are career and the stunt arena.  Career is a three-tiered surge through a number of stages over a mix of events in a bid to be crowned champion.  It is fun for the most part as you tackle debris-filled tracks in factories and lumber yards but it does get a bit samey after a while.  The stunt arena is where the laws of physics are thrown out of the window as you try to throw yourself out of your car as well as score points in games such as pool, beers pong and curling.  It is all for laughs and works well as a couch co-op.  There is flatout mode, but it is a strange mix of the career and stunt arena.  You do individual events but you keep the same car and it is long.

The overall look is quite smart, especially the flames and snow powder as you bash your way to victory.  The soundtrack has a good mix, including tracks by Glasgow band Twin Atlantic.  That said, I found rubber banding to be a big problem.  In some races the AI would be all over me on the last lap or were miles ahead no matter how hard I pushed.  And you’re never really told the best way to unlock or upgrade your car in career mode which may explain why it became such a slog.

Score: 3.5/5

Halo World Championships

STAY close to your Twitch channel if you want to see who will be crowned Halo world champion.  The finals are taking place today in California and 12 of the best Halo 5 eSports teams will be fighting it out for a share of the $1m prize pot.  There are plenty of odds on offer.  The bookies favour OpTic and they seem to be the team to beat as they have dominated this year’s heats and want their second world title.

Fab Games is leading the Euro charge after winning the qualifier at Wembley last month.  They are joined by Supremacy and London Conspiracy.  You can watch tonight (Sunday 26th March) at twitch.tv/Halo or beam.pro/halo, or follow @HCS.

WILL Murray used the skills he learned producing tips and hint shows for PlayStation Home Community Theater to set up his Twitch offering.  The BootUpGaming stream aims to take viewers on a journey through a vast number of games while Murray learns and discusses the best strategies for defeating them.

He has attracted a fast-growing community called #BUGSquad and they enjoy a good laugh with Murray as well as getting some highly competitive gaming.  Murray said:

“It’s not all serious business. There is plenty of goofing around.”

The BootUpGaming community runs a number of events to benefit children’s hospital charities.  Check out BootUpGaming on Twitch.

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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