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 February 2018.
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] (PS4, PS3 and PS Vita, £44.99)
GAMES seem to run in packs and we are in fighting season — so, you have to be good to stand out from the crowd. Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] certainly stands out on the name front, but it is also a solid 2D fighter. The game is a updated version of a 2012 arcade game Under Night In Birth. That came late in the life of the PS3 and wasn’t as good as it should have been. Now Ecole Software, French-Bread and Arc System Works have given it a work-out and beefed it out with a host of new features.
It is an anime fight so there is a Japanese feel to the look and style. It is a four-button fighter which makes it easy to pick up and learn the killer combos. It also helps the newcomers with a sort of auto combo system and a good tutorial mode which teaches you everything you’d ever need to know. There is a mixed roster of 20 fighters. There are four new ones for this game — ranging from bat monsters to Harry Potter wannabes. Each character has its own skills and the game runs very smoothly. We also liked the story mode that fills you in on most of the fighter backstories. That said, it can be a little text heavy at times although the online mode is a big hit.
The game has a lovely art style, mixing the 2D fighting action with 3D backgrounds and the soundtrack really hits the mark as it switches from rock to jazz and everything in-between. There are a couple of translation errors that will confuse you and a few typos, but given the amount of text that is no deal-breaker as they will get sorted in a patch. We also found an issue when trying to fight online with a legacy fight stick. The game doesn’t work after you join the fight. It’s a strange one, but hopefully it will get sorted because it’s a great fighter and a top choice if you want to dive straight into a game. We are just not sure about the name.
EA Sports: UFC 3 (Xbox One and PS4, £49.99)
CONOR McGregor’s fight with Floyd Mayweather brought UFC to the masses. Now they can join in the fun with EA Games’ battle of the octagon. Hardcore fans will already be familiar with the series, and they may question what has actually changed in the third instalment, or whether this is another sports game with an annual update. To be fair, UFC has taken advantage of having official licence status. The detail is phenomenal — from the fighters to the crowd and even the sponsorship logos on the mat. And all the stars are there.
This is no button masher — each brawl is all about timing, knowing when to attack and mixing up your punch and kick combos to get your opponent on the ground. That experience has to be earned. There are no quick yards, so you have to learn how to fight and how to read the other fighters’ moves. It is heavy-duty stuff as you also need to preserve your strength and stamina. That is where UFC3 stands out. It is very much a thinking man’s fighter that will take time to understand and even longer to master, but it is very satisfying once you get to grips with it.
This solid fighting core is the base for a host of modes. There is all the standard fare both on and off-line, but then there are some neat new twists. There is an in-depth fighter creator where can build your perfect grappler from the ground up then work your way to the top of the tree through the different weight classes. There is an ultimate team mode which is really an EA being EA mode. Ask any FIFA player. You have to buy packets of cards in-game in a bid to find the best fighters. It’s good if you have the time and money.
The look is bang on. At times you can even forget that you are playing a game. It feels like you are watching a real fight on TV. That is also helped by the sound — the commentary is solid and even Snoop Dogg gets in on the action. There is a gripe though. After a while in career mode the game raises the difficulty bar and the fights seem unwinnable. Also, a grapple on the ground is a bit messy because you can’t actually read what’s going on. But it is a solid fighter with more than a little polish. Fans will love it.
Venom Arcade Fight Stick (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Mac, £59.99)
SOME games are just great on consoles — but some need the add-ons. Racing games have a completely different feel with a wheel and pedals. Fighting games need sticks that land a blow for arcade gaming. But not just any stick — some can be expensive and are aimed at hardcore players. Now we have the Arcade Stick — a sensibly priced add-on that lifts your enjoyment through the roof.
The Venom Arcade Stick is an entry-level £59.99 but it punches well above its weight. It is a big unit, with an eight-button layout, but has a nice, solid fit and finish that can handle the heat of battle. The stick comes with a 3m cable which is plenty for most living rooms. But the Venom stick has an ace up its sleeve — you can use it on Xbox One and PS4 as well as Xbox 360 and PS3. That is a winner in the sales battle. You just plug link the control with a USB cable to the back of the stick, flip a mode switch and you’re in business.
We tested the stick across Xbox One and PS4 with games like Street Fighter V, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st], Dragon Ball FighterZ and Killer Instinct and it never missed a beat. It is perfect for pulling off combos and felt really good in the hand. One wee suggestion: it would have been nice to have a storage unit for the cable, but this stick is a winner in the fighting stakes.
On The Stream
STEALELVES is a Welsh YouTuber/Streamer who loves Let’s Play-style videos for games like Half-life, Garry’s Mod and various indie games. He originally aimed to share his experiences, have a laugh and show some gameplay, but things have grown so he now focuses on live streaming on Twitch. But he still makes highlight, skit and parody gaming videos for his YouTube channel.
“I wanted to bring an air of positivity to the gaming world and create a community of positive and friendly players.”
See twitch.tv/stealelves or follow @StealelvesGame for updates.
DiRT is joining eSports, according to Codemasters. A world championships will begin on February 19. It will give gamers the chance to win a test drive at Silverstone in a RX2 rallycross car. The finale of the series will be live-streamed on Motorsport.tv on May 26 at the Speedmachine festival, which will also host the British round of the World Rallycross Championships.
Wulverblade (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £11.99)
HIT show Britannia is everywhere at the moment . . . now gaming is joining in the fun with Wulverblade. The Sky Atlantic show has had rave reviews, and this game is just as good. It pays tribute to the likes of Streets Of Rage and Golden Axe, but, at its heart, it is a good old-fashioned tale of Roman hordes trying to tame Scotland in 120AD. New York-based Darkwind Media have dished up a serious side scrolling beat ’em up. The Romans are on the march but a clan of warriors, led by Caradoc, will fight to defend their land and their lives. It is a great tale with enough depth to hold your interest until the end credits.
But the star is the old-school beat ’em up gameplay. It start with you picking one of three warriors — big Brennus, quick and nimble Guinevere or all-round bad ass Caradoc. Then you fight and fight and fight over eight stages. Fans of classic side-scrollers will click with the controls. There are no gimmicks — just mash the button. There is some strategy — knowing when to attack or defend is key. Away from the story, the arcade mode keeps things going and there is a healthy stash of collectables. You could join a pal, but it is only couch co-op rather than online which is a shame. However, unlocking mini videos as you progress is a neat touch as they show the inspiration for the game.
The look is a stunning comic-book style with plenty of highlights in the enemy camps and dark forests. The soundtrack carries the epic battles and the voice acting is solid. Even the Scottish accents are good. It is based on a yesteryear mode and it has inherited the problems — kill, kill, kill. It can get repetitive, but it is still a Brit special.
Merch? Merch?? Merch!?!
FAR Cry 5 excitement is building — now Numskull has launched an official range of merchandise based on Ubisoft open world shooter. You can pick from pin badges, key chains, magnets, hats and snapbacks if you’re too cool to wear a normal hat. The standout piece has to be the Cult Bible pin badge set — eight glossy metallic pins inspired by cult symbols and logos from the game. And it comes in a Cult Bible gift box.
Info at yellowbulldog.co.uk. Far Cry 5 is out on March 27 on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
HOT gossip time. The gaming rumour mill had bargain hunters all in a frenzy — Poundland is to sell refurbished Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4 and PS3 games for . . . no, not a pound but a fiver. The company have struck a deal with Music Magpie to get the unwanted Games, DVD and CD they buy.
At the moment 350 Poundland shops are selling a mix of old games and newer titles that have been professionally refurbished with another 50 stores set to join in March.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…