Scotch Corner – Riding Dirty

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 9th February 2020.

 

Creed: Rise to Glory (PSVR, £24.16)

MANY New Year resolutions may have included hitting the gym — but if you have PSVR then there is a way of building up a good sweat without leaving your living room.  Creed: Rise To Glory has just had a box release and the US firm Survios’ boxing creation is more than just a simple movie tie-in.  The story mode is based in the Rocky universe as you fill the striped shorts of Adonis Creed as he starts at the bottom and works his way to the top.  Note: it will take a while to get your head round the game controls as it isn’t as intuitive as you might expect.  Managing your stamina is the key to victory but the fun begins once it all clicks.  You will have fun mini-training games in-between the main event fights where you’ll battle seven challenging brawlers.

Nail the story mode and you can take your skills online for the ultimate test as you duke it out with the best in the world one round at a time.  But a word to the wise — make sure your move controllers are well secured to your wrists.  If they slip out while you are flinging lefts and rights then your TV screen could pay the price.  Graphically, the game looks good for the most part, but does have a few rough textures at times, but when the fists start flying it won’t matter at all.  The sound side has a good few nods to the movies and, although none of the stars voice their characters, the replacements do a great job.  It is a tough workout that will get you breathing hard after a few rounds.  It’s also great fun and a must for Rocky fans.  Just remember — it’s not about how hard you hit, it’s how hard you can get hit.

Score: 4/5

Sennheiser GSP 370 (£169)

WIRELESS headsets can be a real battleground — some are great but others miss the mark.  And the top firms are queuing up with the next big thing.  Sennheiser aren’t mixing their words or ambition.  They want the GSP 370 to be the ultimate wireless gaming headset.  Fair play.  After all, Sennheiser are the audio action men and they wear the prestige crown well.  The first impression is that the 370 fit and finish is to an impressively high standard.  They are very comfortable and have a good weight.  So far so good, but we weren’t so impressed with the ear cups — they are too small for big-lugged gamers.  It is a fiddly job to get them right.  We also tried them with a set of Gunnar glasses and they work together seamlessly.

The set-up is all run by a wireless dongle that is super easy to sort out and the headset is loaded with the controls to let you change volume and the like but it does take time to learn where each dial is situated.  The battery life is seriously impressive.  We used them for well over a week before we even had to think about recharging them and that is a huge plus.  The sound is nice and rounded with a good bass trapping as we tested them on Death Stranding, God Of War, Blood And Truth and Creed: Rise To Glory — and the headset is extra special when using the PSVR.

However, the mic is a mixed bag.  You can’t remove it.  Big boo.  It is muted in the upright position.  Small cheer.  The audio is OK but not the best.  Big hiss.  It does the job in chat parties but is a bit compressed.  Small boo.  The studio software also isn’t the best.  It’s a bit limited in allowing you to dial it into your personal tastes.  It does hit most of the requirements you’ll have in a wireless headset, but the mic is a sore point.  It’s a solid headset that does a great job — but you might avoid talking to your mates.

Score: 4/5

Rhymes and Rides

ADAM Enticknap is living the California dream — he races in the AMA Supercross Championship and is a hit rapper who has penned a track to celebrate the release of Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 3.  He admitted:

“I first got involved with the game by playing it.  I’ve loved playing Motocross and Supercross video games since I was a young kid.  As I grew older and became a professional Supercross racer I made it into the game and it’s all history from there.  Milestone called me and said, ‘Hey Adam, do you want to make some music for Supercross 3?’.  I said, ‘Heck yeah, let’s do this.’.  I am a gamer.  I have loved video games since a young age, and still play to this day.  I really like Resident Evil, I played that a lot.  I mostly play sports games like NBA 2K and Supercross  . . . oh, and Call Of Duty.”

Adam admitted it was a real buzz to be included in the game, but revealed it had been one of the strangest experiences he’d ever had.  He said:

“Getting scanned for the first time was weird.  These two dudes walk around you and try to be as steady as humanly possible.  They’re telling you to stay as still as possible and you’re holding your breath.  It’s definitely a trip.  To see the end result is amazing.  These guys do a fantastic job on replicating us in real life.  I mean it would be cool if I won every single race, but I don’t know if everybody would like that.”

But when it came to writing his track Adam admitted penning the lyrics threw up a few challenges.  He added:

“It was very hard writing a song about video game features.  The inspiration really came from playing the past games and living the life of a real Supercross racer.  I actually took two or three days and played nothing but Supercross 1 and Supercross 2 — just to make sure that I knew everything I needed to know and felt what it’s like to be a player.”

That wasn’t the end of the thrill ride.  Adam revealed he also got to create a music video to promote the game — and he got to perform on top of a moving JCB.  He admitted:

“It was an experience I will never forget.  We had a lot of fun making the video.  At some points it got a little sketchy, but all in all it was unforgettable.”

But the racer feels that no matter what happens in his music career he’ll never hang up his goggles and leave the track.  He added:

“I won’t stop racing no matter what happens.  If my music career were to take off, it would be pretty freaking awesome.  To make a lot of money at music is definitely a little easier than making a lot of money at Supercross.  Getting to do both at the same time is something that people only dream of and to some people that’s TWO dreams.  I think some of them don’t necessarily think I’m the best rapper alive but I do think twice as many people like it.  I never really did music for other people — it was always for myself.  So, I’m going to keep making music that I think is great and put it out so hopefully some people can enjoy it as much as I do.”

Rhythm and Flow

DOMENICO Celenza is a bike gaming veteran but he reckons the new Supercross creation is an epic title.  The Milestone producer has worked on the likes of Ride and the Moto GP series, but he feels his latest project has revved things up a bit.  He said:

“We have added some cool features and improved several.  If I must pick just one, I say in-air physics. In a sport like Supercross, the bikes spend a lot of time in the air.  After considering what was done in the past and what we wanted for the future, we worked on delivering a new kind of in-air physics that give players more freedom and control of what happens during jumps to give them a more fun feel in the game.”

Domenico insists the fans are so knowledgeable that it would be daft not to take their input and let that shape the game.  He added:

“For the first time in the series Official Team has been added to the game.  Having the chance to use a player’s custom rider and join some of the biggest names in the Supercross world has always been one of the most-demanded features.  This year this request has been satisfied, giving the game a new layer of depth in terms of realism.  Another request was in online performance and overall experience.  By adding dedicated servers for the game, we are finally offering the players what they have been asking for — an online experience with less latency and disconnections.  This new technology allowed us to experiment with new modes, such as the new co-op — players can join the compound area and freely roam with their friends.”

But Domenico reckons the winner was the sport’s open-door policy.  He said:

“We have full access to the tracks during race days in order to perform laser and drone-scanning processes.  We can recreate the tracks with all the details they have in real life.  The same goes for the riders — before a racing session we ask them to step into our scanning room that is set in the different championship venues in order to be scanned and being imported into the game.  This process allows us to recreate their faces, their complete outfit and bikes with high fidelity.”

The riders also played their part in the development process.  Domenico added:

“The main area they helped us in was the bike handling.  Our physics designers are really passionate about the cross world and some of them ride a bike but having the help of a professional athlete gave us a big opportunity.”

The final piece of the jigsaw to make Supercross a hit in its own Milestone right was, ironically, to share some DNA with the other titles.  Domenico said:

“The basic physics model is shared with our other motocross game.  However, Supercross has developed a different kind of implementation in many areas such as the bike handling.  As a sport, Supercross is very different from motocross in terms of skills.  We have tried to replicate this by paying more attention to aspects like rhythm sections and flow.”

Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 3 (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £49.99)

MILESTONE Studios are the kings of biker gaming.  The latest title from the Italian maestros is an absolute beast, offering an arena-based racer that follows the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series.  It is a given that this will be stylish, slick and highly entertaining, but the real question is whether they have moved things on enough from the last game.  Is there a big enough difference between it and the firm’s other off-road title, MXGP 2019?  Because the view from the outside is very similar.  The answer lies in the knowledge of the bikes.  A lot of the differences can be found in the handling and how the bikes behave.

This is an official taste of the AMA Supercross championship and, overall, it delivers as you blast around crowd-filled arenas with fireworks popping and flags fluttering.  The official licence means a healthy selection of bikes, riders and gear which always adds sparkle to a game, but this is a US sport so the attraction may be a little more muted here in the UK.  You can create your own rider and, for the first time, that includes female riders and you can pile into the campaign mode with an impressive level of customisation from eye colour to back numbers and even your butt patch.  It’s tweak nirvana.  Then it’s time to go racing.  You have to travel across America to take part in a number of arenas in different cities as you fight it out to be No 1.

This is where the game starts to stand out from it mud-soaked family.  The handling has be tweaked — it all feels really grounded and the way your rider’s weight moves on the bike plays a big part in the game.  If you go into a corner too hot, you’ll be heading over the handlebars and eating dirt.  The same applies if take a jump too slowly.  More dirt in the diet.  It does take a good few races to work out how best to attack the racing.  If you hit another rider or piece of the track then you’ll be launched sideways.  Something well worth remembering is the unlimited rewind feature.  You will use it.  A lot.  Newcomers will find this is a real “suck it and see” affair.  The tutorial race is just a standard outing with the buttons shown on the screen.  It is NO way of preparing you for the proper action.  It does not teach you anything or tell you why you would move your rider’s weight about.  That’s a real error because you really need to learn the core ideas of motocross and it isn’t as easy as just dropping the throttle and just hoping for success against 20 other riders.

Beyond the career online lets you race your mates until the sun goes down.  The track creator is back, so you can craft your perfect dust-filled arenas and share them with the world.  The open world compound is also back giving you a test area to polish those skills and set up races.  Monster Energy Supercoss — The Official Videogame 3 is a monster of a name, but it is solid and well-polished.  It does just enough to keep things fresh, especially if you have any of Milestone’s other titles, but newcomers may take a while to grow the love.  Milestone aim to take a FIFA-style year instalment approach for these racers so they will need to raise the bar next year.

Score: 4/5

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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