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 September 2017.
Mario and Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch, £47.99)
NINTENDO normally keep their core games in-house but they have broken ranks and teamed up with Ubisoft for Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. This is a pure-blood turn-based tactical strategy game that is as hard as nails but comes wrapped up in a cute Nintendo skin. The story is just nonsense. It features a machine that can join two objects together, the cast of Mario, a truck-load of Rabbids and a magical washing machine. Get our drift? However, to its credit, the game runs with it to the end and will easily clock in at more than 20 hours of hard-fought action.
The gameplay is the star of the show — there is a mix of light puzzle solving, the chance to explore different themed worlds and fast, frantic battling. The combat is really tough to start with but spend some time in the game and you can unlock bits and pieces that help to turn the tables in your favour. You play with a team of three characters made up from Mario and friends with odd Rabbid tributes and you can unlock new characters as you work your way through the story. Half the challenge is finding out which characters work best together because each of them has special moves and abilities. Get them to gel together in the heat of a fight and you can be a winner.
You will need them to gel because the game is tough. Even the easy mode — which gives you more health — is no push over. There are also some truly challenging boss fights that need planning if you are to be successful, but if you want something different then Nintendo and Ubisoft have the perfect Switch gem.
Destiny 2 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC on Oct 24, £49.99)
THE gaming world has been eagerly waiting for Destiny 2 . . . now the suspense is over. But it is true to say that many were keen to see whether the mistakes of the original were mirrored in the new version. The first game needed a big DLC expansions to fix many of the issues and add a story to the mix. Well, Bungie have learned that lesson. Destiny 2 starts with a monster called Ghaul destroying everything you knew from Destiny. It is like a clean slate. It’s a strong opening which sets the stage for what is to come. This is all about revenge.
One minute you are fighting Cabal and hoping for payback, the next you’re a million miles away fighting the Vex or the Fallen and shooting everything that moves. The cut scenes after most mission flesh out what’s going on, but it never really feels like you are part of it. That seems a real missed opportunity to create a great tale — especially when you think Bungie were behind Halo and its deep storyline — and, bizarrely, the game decides what missions you can replay.
That said, most people who play this will just want to blast things and get yellow and purple loot. That is where the game shines. Land on a planet and it throws everything at you — from public events and side missions to finding hidden secrets. But the random assault approach makes it easy to get lost or distracted even though it is all super-slick. Years ago Bungie said a great game just needed a fun 30-second loop. They used that theory on Destiny. It has highly addictive gunplay gameplay and the array of weapons is impressive.
When not saving the universe you can take a break and slug it out in the new 4v4 firefights, take on a Strike with friends or tackle the Raid. There are some stunning locations and great special effects, but you are still left wanting more. However, the soundtrack does an epic job of framing the story and carrying the big moments. Some of it seems like a time-filler rather than a blockbuster game. I am not sure why you don’t get a Sparrow air bike right from the start. But I’ll be in the minority in wanting more depth. Most people will want to shoot, bash and loot. And they will be in love with Destiny 2 from the second they load it up.
THE Bungie Foundation have released a special pack which bags you some new game content as well as a limited edition enamel pin and every purchase helps those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. All the profits will go to Direct Relief, who are helping those affected by Harvey. The pack will cost around £20 and is available to pre-order at Bungiestore.com.
Tacoma (Xbox One and PC, £14.99)
GONE Home’s compelling storyline made the game one of the surprise hits of 2013 and now the team behind it, Fullbright, are hoping for more success with Tacoma. You play as Amy, an Augmented Reality recovery specialist who retraces the footsteps of six strangers aboard a huge space station called the Tacoma. You have to explore how they all loved and worked to find out what disaster befell the station. There is more to this tale than meets the eye, but we don’t want to spoil it for you.
The game is a floating, walking sim where you can move around the ship and interact with crew members through a high-tech ear piece that lets you scan a room then bring the events to life as holograms. They are the clues as to what happened on the station. The most striking thing about the game is that you have no alien foe. It is more of a puzzle than a fighter. You have to solve the mystery at your own pace — and that is quite a refreshing change. It is also quite brief — the credits roll after around three hours —and once it’s done, you can put it down.
As the game is a walking sim, the graphic detail is king and Tacoma has a style of its own. The station looks really realistic but the hologram crew have a surreal wireframe look. Each member has their own colour, making it easy to keep track of them as you move from area to area. The story is carried by the voice acting. It adds a real depth and belief to the crew. That is quite a feat given that the crew are faceless holograms. The soundtrack also does a good job at setting the tone as you drift through the hulking station.
If you’re looking for a short and compelling tale to lose yourself in and one that will stay with you long after playing it then Tacoma is worth a look. The short length and price tag may put some people off but this space opera has enough character and style to make it worth the trip.
A WOMEN-only eSports car racing competition called Women And Wheels has been announced by SimBin Studios, the team behind GTR 3 which due out next year. It will start on Stream this autumn and aims to provide a supportive, female-friendly environment for women in eSports. The winners could bag top prizes like a top-level racing simulator chair, two Fanatec Racing Wheel and Pedal Sets and . . . life coaching.
Follow @SimBinStudios for more details on how to get involved.
On The Stream
EMMA — aka Emmatrix — is an Aussie powerhouse on Twitch. She has been a gaming fan for years but it really kicked off after her husband took her to a gaming convention in 2012. He introduced her to a variety of games like FPS, MMOs, and RPGs. She made the jump into streaming in 2016 after building up a strong YouTube channel around gameplay videos. Now she has now forged a community called the “Trixters”.
It’s fair to say she has had a testing time as a female gamer with a Twitch channel but she said:
“I hope to be the person who changes their assumptions.”
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…