Scotch Corner – Gamescom From A Distance

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 25th August.

 

The Sky’s On Fire

COLOUR us a Rainbow — the new Six Siege session, Operation Ember Rise, has broken cover.  You get attacker Amaru from Peru.  She has a grappling hook launcher which is great for taking out careless enemies in windows.  Then Mexican defender Goyo has a shield that can block pathways and he can attach a bomb to it — making a great trap or last line of defence.  The Kanal map is being reworked to make it easier to navigate and two new staircases make it more vertical.  The game also looks to be adding Fortnite-style Battle Passes — where you can earn bonuses and a paid-for pass where you can earn more goodies more quickly.  There is also a Mini Battle Pass called Call Me Harry.

Metal Wolf Chaos XD (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £20.99)

REMASTERS are as much a way of giving games a facelift as a chance for forgotten hidden gems to shine once again.  FromSoftware’s (yes, the team behind Dark Souls) Metal Wolf Chaos XD — which has been an exclusive to Japan for the past 15 years — is just that.  And there lies the pros and cons of the game.  The whole saga clocks in at round seven hours as you play as the 47th President of the United States, Michael Wilson, who has to take back the country from his Vice-President.  Oh, and you also pilot a mech suit that is so armed to the teeth it would make Arnie blush.

As tales go it’s cheesy, over the top and well…total nonsense.  Some truly dreadful B movie voice acting just adds to the whole feel.  Beyond the visuals getting a bump, Metal Wolf Chaos XD has a lot of the hangovers you’d expect from a 15-year-old game, such as dull mission structure and poor checkpoint placement.  That said, in the heat of battle it is fun blasting enemies and clearing the streets with all the toys at your disposal.  Metal Wolf Chaos XD is an odd beast, as it is a true dinosaur in gaming terms and was a real myth of a title, but it now has a second wind beyond its home shores.

Score: 3/5

We Happy Few: Lightbearer (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £6.47)

IT may only be rock and roll but We Happy Few likes it — as it returns with its second DLC tale, Lightbearer.  You are thrust into the groovy shoes of Nick Lightbearer — the series’ rock star.  Imagine The Beatles and you’ll have a good idea of what’s in store.  The tale evolves around you waking up after a bit of a “rough” drug-and-drink-fuelled night to find you have no memory of the night before.  You must retrace your path to find out what happened — and it all evolves into a murder mystery.

Fans will feel at home straight away, but Nick does have a few new attacks with his trusty guitar.  He can also throw a gold record or two.  There are a number of unlocks to grab along the way as well as golden statues which help guide you along the right path.  Like the first DLC, They Came From Below, this is a very condensed return.  It clocks in at just under two hours and isn’t as tight in some areas as you would hope given the time since the game’s launch.  However, if you’re hungry for more We Happy Few thrills, then this encore is a hit.

Score: 3/5

Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch, £39.49)

NINTENDO has never been a company that follows the crowd.  They are trailblazers in motion controllers, and even cardboard fun with Labo.  So it was no surprise when Super Mario Maker hit the Wii U.  It lets you build your own Mario levels from across the 2D series, but history tells us only SIX actually bought that system, so the game is greatly forgotten.  Well, that was until now. Super Mario Maker 2 has just hit the Switch.  It takes the core idea of the first games but adds some tweaks and twists to create something a little bit special.

The game now comes with a story mode where you have to rebuild Princess Peaches by completing 100 pre-built levels.  And, in typical Mario fashion, they get harder the higher you go.  It’s the perfect taster because the levels take what you know and love but flip it on its head and let you see just what is possible across the different game styles.  Once you’re done with the campaign it’s time to pick up your tools and get stuck into building your own levels using the very in-depth level editor.  It sounds more complicated than it is — it is easy to pick up and really lets you create your wildest dreams.

But, before you get going, it’s best to head to Yamamura’s Dojo.  That is a sort of game design boot camp that will show you the ropes as well as more in-depth revelations about what makes a good level and details like that.  If you do find it tough to build your dream level on your own, then team up with a friend on the couch and co-op build.  You can also play levels in co-op.  That is a great addition, especially if youngsters are dipping their toes in the game development waters.  You can guide them and keep things fresh and exciting.  However, if you’re a more-seasoned campaigner then the design area is a bit small for two skilled builders to go full speed.

Once you’ve built that perfect level you can upload it and challenge the world to see how it stands against everyone else’s efforts.  You can also download other players’ levels.  It all adds up, technically, to an infinite Mario game with a constant flow of content as the community’s hottest talents craft ever more fun and devilishly challenging levels.  It was a criminal waste for this title to be ignored the way it was.  Now it has been given the power-up it deserves.  Fans can live out their wildest Mario dreams and this is a real portal to game development.  That could lead to bigger things in the future.

Score: 5/5

A.O.T.2 Final Battle (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £49.99)

THE first two games in the Attack On Titan series were faithful to the original tale.  Now Omega Force have served up a beefy update for the mass manga and anime hit with Final Battle.  It’s worth noting that this can be bought as a full standout title or as a DLC upgrade for the second game.  But however you cut it, if you’re a fan there is a lot to get stuck into.  Final Battle adds action from the third series of the anime or, if you’re reading the manga, it’s approximately up to chapter 90.  Our review of the core AOT 2 game earned it three-and- a-half stars — and we reckoned it was as close to being in the show as you can get.

Now you can play the third series content as set characters instead of your custom hero.  That opens up a number of new paths on the timeline, but it can feel rushed and bogged down as you swap about.  The gameplay has had a few tweaks and feels a bit more accessible to newcomers, plus there are new attacks such as the Gatling gun and thunder spear.  There is also a new mode — Territory — which is a bit of a “what if” mode where you build a base and team.  It is a real time sink.  AOT 2 Final Battle is a strong addition to a great foundation.  Fans will lap it up.  Newcomers should give it a go.

Score: 4.5/5

There are Gamescom-ing…

GAMING legend Hideo Kojima stole the show when he took to the stage at Gamescom.  The cult hero was in Cologne, Germany, to show off his new creation, Death Stranding.  He revealed some action scenes and revealed some new details like deep dive trailers on characters played by Margaret Qualley and movie-making icon Guillermo del Toro.  Hideo also showed gameplay where Sam — played by Walking Dead Star Norman Reedus — had to deliver a package to Geoff Keighley who even has a cameo in the game.  It was all weird but stunning — there was a huge open world but you could pull a ladder out your back pocket.  Oh, and you can PEE and it can be weaponised.  You also have to soothe a baby.  And there is breastfeeding.  See, we said weird.

It is all part of the Gamescom showdown — where the biggest names spill the beans on what’s hot in the industry.  More than half a million gamers wanted news and those who couldn’t get over to Germany feverishly tuned into a series of E3-style conferences that where streamed.  The Opening Night show was hosted by Keighley and his team — who are also behind The Game Awards each year.  It was a slick showcase of trailers and first sights.  The headlines . . .

  • CALL OF DUTY will feature 100 player matches as well as being truly a cross- platform effort.  If you are quick you can try the alpha test running on the PS4 this weekend.

  • MICROSOFT dropped a lot of GEARS 5 news ahead of next month’s launch.  There was a story mode trailer and a look at the reworked horde.  It is now very character-focused with each member having a special skill.  You can play as Jack in horde, with brave little bot playing more of a support role than a frontline hero although he can highjack enemies and fight them.
  • To celebrate Halo Reach joining the MCC bout, Noble members Emile and Kat, are in the COG as an unlockable treat with the ultimate edition.
  • The new Gears 5 hardware range includes a themed Xbox One and external hard drive and a frosty looking Razer Turret.
  • GEARS POP, the Funko themed Gears of War free-to-download real-time multiplayer mobile title, launched this week on both Android and iOS.
  • MICROSOFT shared details about their X019 event in London this November 14.  Tickets are £19 and all takings will go to charity.

  • NINTENDO used their Indie World show to break the news that both the Hotline Miami Collection, left, and Superhot are now out on the Switch.
  • THE first DLC for METRO EXODUS was made available.  The Two Colonels is a linear mission that takes you back in time to experience the city of Novosibirsk during its downfall.  It also adds a new flamethrower to turn up the heat in the proceedings.
  • FREE-to-play Battle Royale title VIGOR has come out of earlier than expected.
  • SONY shadow launched ERICA, a sort of interactive movie where you shape the tale.

  • CYBERPUNK 2077 will be heading to Google stadia.  A brief gameplay trailer showed hacking in action as well as riding a motorcycle.
  • NBA 2K20 will feature a star-studded roster in its new career mode.  Expect performances from Idris Elba, Rosario Dawson, Thomas Middleditch, Ernie Hudson and LeBron James.
  • NEED For Speed Heat has an app which lets you build and design your own wraps then transfer then to the game.  Out now.

I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…

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Stuart Cullen

Scotland’s very own thorn in the side of the London gaming scene bringing all the hottest action straight from The Sun… well… The Scottish Sun at least, every week!

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