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 29th July 2018.
THE Spa 24-Hour race finishes today – and Forza painter Kerry Hayes was a more than interested spectator. The talented designer from Richwood in Kentucky won a competition to produce a livery for one of the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Hurracans. Kerry – better known in the Forza painting community at PTG Wildcat – said:
“I found out that I’d won the contest by email several weeks ago at work. It actually surprised me because they made the decision fairly quickly. I was so excited that I almost shouted at my co-workers. It was a really mind-blowing experience as I was hopeful but didn’t really expect to be chosen. I was and am very satisfied with how my entry turned out and can’t really think of anything specific that I’d change on it in retrospect.”
The car was driven by Adrian Amstutz, Leo Machitski, Richard Abra and Patrick Kujala — and qualified third in class — while the sister car’s line-up included Forfar flier Sandy Mitchell. The stunning livery marked the 70th anniversary of the race and the iconic corners at the famous Belgian track. Kerry added:
“I probably worked on the design on and off for three to four weeks. I have a fairly busy work schedule and have to fit in painting when I can. When I start a design, I usually like to have a direction in mind. I like to be as detailed and authentic as possible when I create a paint … so that usually involves research into histories of the car I’m painting, details about the racing series that it would be in, researching liveries of cars in that series and the regulations of decal placement. When doing that research I found that the race that was the 70th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Spa. Spa has a special logo for the race and that got me to thinking about a livery that celebrated the anniversary theme. Spa is one of the most historic and celebrated tracks in the world and some of the turns and straights are famous enough to be known by name, like Eau Rouge. That was the birth of the idea. From there it was just a matter of creating the individual sections of the track and placing them on the car.”
A Barwell spokesman added:
“Kerry’s brilliant design really embraced everything that we wanted to see in the design.”
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Switch & 3DS, £34.99)
TREASURE Tracker is the latest gem on the Switch. The fun console has provided the perfect opportunity to breathe new life into games you may have missed on the Wii U. Treasure Tracker actually started life as a bonus level in the 2013 game Super Mario 3D, but the bite-size challenges were so good that they got their own game. Now it has been given a quick nip and tuck to make it perfect Switch fare. It is full of isometric puzzling fun with bags of charm.
You play as Captain Toad and you have to save your partner in crime — the wonderfully named Toadette — while also bagging as much treasure as you can. Yes, it is story-lite but it frames the game perfectly. The challenges are like a Best Of Mario Games collection. The developers have nicked a mix of well-known Mario hooks, from characters to power-ups, and blended them together within the Captain Toad core gameplay. The goal on each level is simple: to make it to a star. You have to walk and move the camera around and that is key. More often than not, success lies in how you work the camera rather than controlling Toad.
You can’t jump so you have to work out the path to the star through your moves and timing, but there are bonuses along the way. Being a treasure tracker, it seems only right that you should have to find three hidden gems in each stage. Bag them and you can unlock more levels. As a little extra, after you have completed the level and found the gems you can try to find pixel Toad, who is also hiding somewhere in the level. The nip and tuck allows the game to make full use of the Switch’s abilities. You can use the touch screen to turn wheels or to find pixel Toad. The tweak has also got rid of the platforms that you had to move by blowing on the Wii U mic.
The original Super Mario 3D World levels have also gone, which is a shame, but there are four new Super Mario Odyssey-themed levels. You would expect the game to have that classic Nintendo look — and it doesn’t disappoint. There are tons of cute visuals, bags of colour and great scenes. The soundtrack is the perfect match and the whole game oozes a high-production feel. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any gremlins — the touch controls on the wheel are a bit of a pain in hand-held mode because they cover the screen so your view is obscured. Co-op mode should also be far more fun that it is — the second player really doesn’t get to affect the game beyond throwing an endless number of turnips. That also makes the levels a bit too simple. But it isn’t a deal-breaker. It won’t stop you loving this game from the second you switch it on to the minute you find the final gem. It sits just on the right side of challenging without ever getting too hard. If you caught this on the Wii U you might question whether there is enough new content, but if you have never played the game then you must right that wrong.
Mothergunship (Xbox One, PS4 & PC, £19.99)
LOCK and load, people, this is a shooter sensation. Think FPS with an RPG loot system set in procedural dungeons with a dash of Doom and a pinch of Borderlands. Think bags of fun. You have to fight to the heart of an alien fleet that has invaded Earth and destroy the beast that controls them — the Mothergunship.
The story is a bit light, but this is all about action. You have to fight an army of robots and, instead of picking up guns, you have to build them before each mission. It’s a cool new idea and the gun creator system is easy to learn. The levels are procedurally generated and you have to go a fair distance before you start seeing repetition in the layouts. The art style works well with the soundtrack to carry the sci-fi vibe. And there is a neat line of gags in the voice acting.
But beware, if you build a huge gun then everything slows down. You are firing 40 rockets at enemies that are firing 40 back and the framerate pays the price. Hopefully, rumours of multiplayer and co-op modes will come true because this is fun. Getting your pals involved would make it even better.
Far Cry 5: Lost On Mars (Xbox One, PS4 & PC, £7.99)
THE first DLC pack for Far Cry 5 set the bar high. Hours Of Darkness was very serious and very good, but Lost On Mars swaps the heavy Vietnam theme for some over-the-top Far Cry mischief. You play as Nick Rye, who is teleported to Mars to help his friend Hurk stop aliens invading Earth. It’s a 10-hour adventure that raises a few smiles with OTT gags from Hurk the show-stealer.
You have to climb towers to unlock details about the map and you soon wish you could have a jetpack. You also shoot aliens then shoot more aliens in a bid to get power to help the AI system. Then you have to find Hurk body parts because he gets ripped up and you have to fix him. But, fear not, his mind has been put into a little redneck robot buddy that has your back and doubles as a jukebox. There is a neat selection of space gear and the crab-like aliens can burst up through the sand and get you. Overall, this is a bit limited in looks and tasks, but Hurk saves the day.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…