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 17th December 2017.
Star Wars Battlefront II (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £49.99)
STAR Wars fever is gripping the country with the launch of The Last Jedi. But game fans are also getting their fix with DICE and EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II. This time you can sink your teeth into a campaign as well lock and load for some full-blown online battles. The campaign is a short affair — between four and five hours — but that is pretty much all you need. It kicks off well with you as Iden Versio, the leader of elite Imperial Special Commando Unit, the Inferno Squad. The game aims to fill in the some of the story blanks between Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens as you watch the fall of the Empire, but it doesn’t quite hold your interest or imagination.
There are a few missions that will excite you — you can play as fan-favourite characters which is quite good fun. The biggest selling point for Battlefront II is online where you’ll fight it out over a mix of classic Star Wars locations from all the films. You can be a Clone and fight droids, take on AT-AT walkers on Hoth or take to the sky for epic dogfights in fighter squadrons. The core gameplay is built around a system where you can pick from different classes, getting the right man for the mission in hand. There are plenty of challenges across a handful of modes, including having to escort transport and having to blast your way to victory in a team deathmatch.
Brownie points go to the developers for the look — it is simply stunning. It is a real visual treat although it has to be said that the faces on some of the more famous characters face are a little odd. I am not sure what happened to Luke Skywalker, but it is just not right. The sound is much better. If you close your eyes you’d think you were watching the movies as lasers whirl and explosions erupt around you, plus the voice acting is solid.
Now we come to the elephant in the room — the loot system. There has been plenty of headlines and none of them have been good. You can’t have a system where you have to play for hours and hours in a bid to get a major character, or worse, shell out for a loot box that may, or may not, unlock that figure. It is a massive mistake from EA and they will have their work cut out to recover from it. They are working hard to fix things, but they are not there yet. If you are a fan then Battlefront II is an epic firefight. The big question is how long it will take to sort the poor choices made at launch.
Need for Speed Payback (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £49.99)
THERE are a lot of career racing games on the market, but sometimes you just to go fast in a hot-looking motor. Step forward Need For Speed. Payback is wrapped in a Fast And The Furious-type tale which focuses on betrayal and vengeance. It tries hard to make you care about the characters, but it is really just the glue that holds the over-the-top high-speed attack scenes together. You face off a mix of race crews while working your way to the top and getting revenge. It’s standard stuff but it is not helped by some dreadful dialogue. It tries to be cool but often falls flat and is just naff.
The gameplay tries to save the day. You are let loose in an open world which has more than a hint of real life as you race through a mix of cities, deserts and forests.
The Fast And The Furious vibe is strong in the missions — you do OTT tasks but, instead of playing them to their conclusion, you race until a cutscene of a character being a hero. That’s all well and good but I want to climb on a truck at high speed, not watch it. The driving is pure arcade stuff. You can pull off epic drifts and smash cop cars off the road and then try to escape. Racing games are all about the cars and this is no different. There is a good garage with everything from American muscle to drift monsters and you can tweak and mechanic them to your heart’s content. You get six speed card slots on each car and you can tool them with of host of perks.
But there is an issue in that this system gives you a feeling that you are grinding your way through the game. Even worse, there are microtransactions, but the developers are patching and improving things. The game looks OK, but it is not as smart as other racers out there, the soundtrack left me wanting more and I can’t accept the voice acting. Need For Speed Payback is a bit like a blockbuster — it’s in your face and over the top. It’s at its best when you just play it and try to go as fast as you can. Enjoy the show.
Oh My Godheads (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £11.99)
TAKE a break from the Christmas movies by firing up Oh My Godheads and having a blast with some pals. The Titutitech game is a fast and frenetic multiplayer affair which sees up to four players fight in different arenas in a bid to be crowned champion. There are five modes — from capture the head to king of the head — and a series of trials where you can polish up your skills. Or you can add AI bots to the other modes if you want some “me” time.
You pick the Godhead to fight in the match and winning the head will give you different powers. However, some powers are good and others are not so welcome. It all spices up the overall gameplay, especially as you also have other players trying to stop you. There are ten arenas — from Egypt to Cambodia. There is even a Scotland map. You also get a good mix of characters — from for an explorer to a penguin with a monocle but they all play the same.
There is a cute colourful art style which actually mixes well with the OTT violence. The soundtrack adds a neat beat that is inspired by the location of the arena. And the Mortal Kombat- style announcer is a nice touch. It is more of a group game than a bit of solo fun, so roll on Christmas.
De Blob (Xbox One, PS4, PC, £15.99)
HERE’S a kid’s game with ink that won’t damage the wallpaper and the carpets. De Blob is a platform puzzler where you bounce your way around soaking up coloured inks. There is every chance you missed this when it was first released on the Wii in 2008. The sequel was slightly more successful on other platforms, but the original has been given a breath of fresh air by THQ Nordic. And we are pretty glad they did.
You are De Blob and you must liberate your Chroma City from the evil Monochromatic INKT Corporation, which has outlawed all colour. You have to splatter buildings, landmarks and people with ink to restore the colour. On top of that there are a few challenges to tackle and a speed run feature will keep you coming back for more. The kids will love the fact that it’s not too tough and has a Saturday morning cartoon vibe full of charm and humour.
There is single player and a number of four-player multiplayer modes. The deathmatch-style battle is a winner. You have to paint as much of an area as fast as possible and beat your friends. The soundtrack is also an interesting mix of tunes which adds instruments to the background track as you paint. The controls are a little stiff and the camera gets stuck at times. And there is little added to the 2008 title — but it is a fun family game.
A Supporting Act
ASSASSIN’S Creed Origins is set for a beefy 3GB of updates, tweaks and goodies. It will improve textures and loading times as well increase the terrain memory budgets on Xbox One X versions. It also includes a free Horde mode as well as a new Nightmare difficulty and an option to scale easier enemies up to your level if you think things are too simple. The free update is out now on consoles and PC.
THE hunt is on. Ubisoft have launched Predator themed DLC for Ghost Recon Wildlands. It is a special challenge where solo players or groups of four have to survive and try to take down the Predator. It runs through to the beginning of January. If you succeed, you not only get bragging rights, but also some sweet kit like a Predator mask. There is also a new multiplayer class with 15 new bits of gear to get.
For za Players
TURN 10 and 343 Industries are teaming up to bring Halo-themed race suits to Forza 7. This first one can be unlocked if you’d played Halo 5: Guardians, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and/or Halo Wars 2 before November 30. A Master Chief and Vale suits are up for grabs if you complete the December Car Pack Challenge, December Bounty Hunter, Make A Run or Cold Runner over December.
Sadly, no word if the Warthog will be added to the game, but it does come after a Gears Of War suit was released so expect more.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…