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 12th August 2018.
PRO Evolution Soccer bosses are banking on Old Firm fans across the globe to cash in on their ULTIMATE football game. The PES franchise has agreed a deal with the Scottish Premier League and will feature all the top-flight clubs. But they will be concentrating on Celtic and Rangers — with special Old Firm editions of the game coming soon. PES developers were at both clubs last week, scanning the players in preparation for the game’s launch on August 28. European PES band manager Lennart Bobzien, inset below, reckons the move is a winner. He said:
“One of the biggest additions is the new league licences. We have signed an agreement with the Scottish league and also signed up two new partner clubs in Rangers and Celtic. We are looking to offer a wider audience the chance to play as their club in the game. Rangers and Celtic were the first logical step after signing the deal with the league as that is where the big players are — that’s just a fact. But it is not a case of then saying we are done after signing the two clubs. We are always looking for new opportunities on how we can work together with clubs.”
Regular PES players will also see changes. Bobzien said:
“Hardcore fans will see the game has improved massively. We have brought in a new system that lets you create lighting in the game in a more realistic way. It makes the game look totally different to 2018. We have reworked features that we added last year, especially the ball physics so the way it behaves is more realistic. We know fans have been asking for a story mode, but the team are focused on making MyClub and the Masters League the best that they can be for PES 2019. But we have announced a new eSports competition, called eFootball Pro. It is a club competition and, so far, Barcelona and Schalke have announced that they are taking part and will source players to represent their clubs. The competition is in its early days and we are just getting things to kick off but we are looking at getting more clubs involved.”
Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £29.99)
WHAT’S better than one game? Three games, of course. And that’s what you get with Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy — guess the clue was in the name. They have thrown three classic titles into the HD treatment machine and produced a blast of 3D platforming fun. There are even a few new levels to satisfy the hardcore fans who are back for a second shot of happiness. The three classics are Crash Bandicoot, from 1996, Crash Bandicoot Cortex Strikes Back, from the following year, and Crash Bandicoot Warped, from 1998.
The festival of excitement is now on the Xbox One, Switch and PC a year after it was released as a timed exclusive on the PS4. The aim is simple — you run through a mix of levels busily collecting a host of items and generally doing your best not to get hit by your enemies. The over-riding tale. Crash — a mutated Bandicoot — is out to stop the evil Dr Cortex making an army of mutated animals . . . but each game has a separate sub-plot. The first sees Crash trying to save his girlfriend Tawna from the evil doctor’s experiments. Game two sees Cortex team up with Dr N. Gin, who builds a machine that can harness the power of a solar flux. But it needs 25 crystals to make it work so Cortex devises a plot to manipulate Crash into retrieving them for him. Warped is about the Time-Twisting Machine as you visit the Middle Ages and Egypt or into the future to Neo York. So how have the 90s stars transferred to modern-day gaming?
CRASH BANDICOOT: This is probably the weakest. There is a limited move set and some bits are devilishly difficult. In many ways the game is a victim of time, especially as the other two titles show how far the game has progressed. The developers have added a few items like a time-trial mode and a box counter.
CORTEX STRIKES BACK: This is the strongest game. It has got the balance right between the difficulty and the challenge. It raises the bar with the pace and blends in secret areas and extra objectives to boost the overall experience.
WARPED: The easiest game in the set by far. That is not a bad point but if you cut your teeth on the first two games then this will be a walk in the park. That difficulty balance is a bit off. There are a number of motor missions — from flying a plane to riding a chopper but the controls are either “floaty” or just too stiff.
A big plus point is the new content. The Stormy Ascent and Future Tense is a chance for old-school fans to try something new. The old games looked good but that is ramped up a number of levels with the HD treatment. They have a really modern look but without losing any of the original charm. The soundtrack has also been upgraded — and the voice acting is well done. It is a neat Bandicoot package for new fans to enjoy a series of 3D platforming thrills. Fans of the original game will also enjoy the chance to get back in tune with some old favourites. If you want some fun, then this is a must-buy game. It is a blast from start to finish.
Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron (Xbox One, Switch and PC, £11.99)
SWITCH on your console and let the fun begin. Aces Of The Luftwaffe Squadron is a slice of retro action that is classic shoot ’em up enjoyment. The Handy Games production is a cracker with a fairly beefy plot. It is set after World War II in a “what if” universe where the Nazis have sent an elite squad of pilots to invade America. But, fear not, the Americans have their own squad of aces ready to save the day. It’s totally over the top, but it is a fun way to link the 25 levels and add character to the game.
The gameplay is shmup heaven — you attack waves of enemy planes and blast everything in your way while beefing up your firepower with the likes of flame-throwers and lasers. But there are a few twists to keep things fresh — your squad can have issues, like tiredness or air sickness and basic rage, and you have to use your man-management skills. It is an interesting move, but it still all boils down to you defending the plane. The boss battles are the highlights as you fight everything from UFOs to huge flying trains. You will need tactics — smashing the fire button won’t cut it. There is also a skill tree of abilities to unlock by collecting medals during missions. Each pilot has a different focus so you can add stealth powers, healing or firepower.
The cartoon style adds to the fun, with loads of colour, but the weapons trails are occasionally hard to follow. The soundtrack is sparse, but rises to epic when the need arises and voice acting adds to the game. Our only major gripe is that any issue your team has in single player also affects your team if you’re playing co-op with friends. But even that doesn’t stop this being a fun game that has a few new takes on a tried-and-tested formula. It has plenty of replay value as well.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…