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 28th April.
Borderlands: Game of the Year (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £24.99)
IT’S safe to say that gamers have been hit by a case of Borderlands 3 fever since the reveal event at PAX a few weeks back. So while the wait for the latest instalment continues for a few more weeks, to whet the appetite Gearbox have released a few upgrades for the rest of the Borderlands series with the first game getting a full re-release as Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition. The 2009 co-op looter shooter is a hard one to remaster as the game’s striking cell-shade look is ageless. It looks as crisp today as it did 10 years so this re-release is more of a touch up than a full-blown remaster. The core of the game sees you picking from one of four different vault hunters on the planet of Pandora, a wild and harsh land with a touch of Mad Max to it.
You are there to basically make a fortune from trying to find the Vault. It’s an alien artefact full of untold treasure and riches so basically you’re like a space bank robber. Gameplay sees you blasting everything that moves with an endless array of forever-changing and yet-more-powerful guns. From SMG to snipers and LMG, each has its own flavour. Every gun you find has a different skill. It may shoot faster or have a quick reload but you can also find ones that fire rockets that explode into acid clouds. If that wasn’t enough, when you reload you can throw the gun like a grenade and it then regenerates in your hand ready to go again. It’s one of the most compelling loops in gaming — blast bad guys, open chests, get new gun and do it all over again. Simple but fun.
As for the remaster side, things now run at 4K and a solid 60fps. The visuals have had a touch-up but it’s not really noticeable, if am honest. You’ll also get all the DLC that is available for the game, which ranges from brilliant to meh. You can play the game in 4-player co-op in split screen, which is a rare feature these days, but you’ll see a drop in fps if your running four hunters at once. Gameplay gets a tweak too as the HUD now has the Borderlands 2 mini-map. That helps keep the action flowing instead of having to open the map every five seconds to check you are going the right way. The loot management has been streamlines too. A small tweak but a big improvement is that you now auto pick up ammo and cash on the ground instead of having to press a button to get it.
Beyond that, Gearboxes’ Shift Key System has been added. Long-time fans will get a treat if they have a saved game in the same system and you can now customise your character a little more. There are a few new legendary weapons to be found too. Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition is as fun and enjoyable as it was 10 years ago. With three mates it’s still a blast and is sure to keep the Borderlands 3 wolves at bay for now.
God’s Trigger (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £11.99)
SOMETIMES all you want to do is blast your way from the start of a level to the end without stopping to catch breath and looking super-cool while doing it. Polish developer One More Level feel the same as their new game Gods Trigger lets you do just that. This is a twin-stick shooter in the style of Hotline Miami and Mr Shifty where you’re tacked with getting from one side of the level to the other in one one piece while taking out as many bad guys as you can. What could have been a mindless blaster has a fun comic-book tale which sees the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse attempt to bring an end to the world with only fallen angel Harry and banished demon Judy standing in their way.
Both characters are playable and key to the gameplay as each on has different styles of attacks. Throw in a fun arsenal of weapons — from pistols to shotguns — and you’ll never have a lack of options as to what to do. But it’s not a walk in the park. If you’re hit, you die and have to start over again — and you’ll die a lot in this one. But you’re not alone as a mate can jump in to attack the game in co-op, allowing Harry and Judy to team up. That adds new spin to the gameplay as you can double up attacks while stealth becomes a lot more key.
Graphically the game has a nice cell-shaded style which captures the tone and vibe of the tale as well as the overall brutal combat. If you’re looking for an over-the-top game that is fun and challenging, Gods Trigger is a bloody blast from start to finish.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £29.99)
WHEN you think of all the exciting things you can do in gaming, odds are being a lawyer isn’t even in your top 100 picks. But Capcom have built a series around just that — and it IS loved by many for its off-the-wall Japanese style. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy brings together the first three games in the visual novel series. It is the perfect entry point for newcomers as the story it tells is also the easiest to follow in the series, though long-time fans may feel let down by the lack of new content. The trilogy is broken into different trials where you have to spend time at crime scenes as well in the court room trying to get to the bottom of what’s happened. Expect to spend about 60-plus hours on the case.
The core of the game sees you playing as a rookie defence lawyer who is thrown in the deep end. Most of your clients are up on murder charges so it’s up to you to clear their name. You’ll look for new evidence at the scene of the crime, which plays a bit like a classic point-and-click game, as well as trying to find faults in witness testimonies by cross-examing them in court. Just be wary that too many challenges can see the case end in a guilty verdict.
The trilogy is just a bundling of the first three games so if you are looking for new cases or content you’ll be disappointed. The only really new thing is the change to the visuals, which have been given a nice HD overhaul. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is an odd title but it becomes really compelling as you spend time with the cast and the overall quality of the writing starts to shine through.
Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £34.99)
IT’S no secret that Assassin’s Creed 3 was not everyone’s cup of tea when it launched in 2012. There were a number of issues — from the story to it just being a bit dull — but Ubisoft has given the game the remaster treatment complete with all its DLC plus a shiny new version of Liberation. Assassin’s Creed 3 is set during the American Revolution from 1754 to 1783 and you fill the boots of Connor as he fights the forces of the Templar who are trying to take control of the colonies. As stories go, it hasn’t changed since the original launch. It’s a bit of a slow-burner and a little too long-winded for its own good at times but it does have some standout moments. The remaster has seen most of the work done to the gameplay and visual side of things — with mixed results.
Most of the textures have been reworked to give a greater level of detail to bricks on buildings and bark on trees, while the lighting system has been given an upgrade too. But the work that has been done to the characters and their faces isn’t so hot. The core game has been given a few tweaks. The biggest change is the HUD, which is a lot more readable and usable. As for the combat upgrade you can now do double assassinations from low profile, which was not possible in the original game.
All of these improvements are in the remastered Liberation, which is a full slice of Creed fun. As for the DLC for 3, it’s crazy and tries to rewrite history as well as throwing in superpowers. Well worth a look. Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered breathes life into a title that was letting the side down a little. If you haven’t played it yet, this is the version to get hold of.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…