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 24th May 2020.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £19.99)
EVERYONE loves a good action flick — a popcorn movie that blows them away in the cinema. It could live long in the memory for a killer scene or witty one-liner. Call Of Duty hits that spot in the gaming world. Nothing gets more bombastic than the CoD series. And, just like revisiting an old movie at home years later, Activision are giving the past hits a new lick of paint and sending them back into the fray. Enter Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered. It follows the first game down the remaster route. It is only right to say that it is just the campaign that has the treatment — not the multiplayer side. That has been a deal-breaker for a lot of fans but, if you hang in there, this is still one hell of a ride.
It comes from the top of the CoD Empire where things were very Michael Bay and the only way to top the last explosion was with an even bigger explosion while riding a snowmobile. As this is the second instalment of the Modern Warfare trilogy — and before last year’s sort-of reboot — the action picks up in a world on the brink of war. It’s up to you to save the day as you fill the boots of a number of characters fighting the good fight around the world. Yes, it does take itself a little too seriously at times but, from storming the Gulag to fighting on the White House lawn and taking back oil rigs, the levels showcase CoD at its best. The controversial No Russian mission is back, but you can still skip it or just walk through it — although you’ll have to fight the cops. However, it still packs a punch that is arguably harder now than it was then — as is an undercover CIA agent who is part of a terrorist attack on a Russian airport.
As a remaster, the game shines and looks like a modern title. It glosses over the 11-year gap — although there are a few moments where it slips, especially on wide-open levels. But, overall, it is very well-handled. The game also packs some truly grade-A voice talent from the likes of Lance Henriksen and Keith David to Billy Murray, who reprised his role as Cpt Price, while Kevin McKidd is the hardest Scot in gaming as ‘Soap’ MacTavish. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered looks the part and is still a blast from start to finish. If you have never played the game then now is the perfect time to get stuck in. If you are a fan then it is still worth revisiting the scenes, enjoying some of the best moments in CoD history and admiring the new polish. After that the real question is how long will it be before Modern Warfare 3 Remastered completes the trilogy?
Moving Out (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £19.99)
FEW things are as stressful or painful as having to move house — from endless boxes to trying to manoeuvre the couch through a doorframe that’s just too small even though you measured it twice. So it’s just got to be a winner to build a game around the whole experience…right Well, that’s what the guys and girls at Australia SMG Studio reckoned. They have created a new co-op moving game where teamwork is easier said than done. From the outside this has a strong Overcooked vibe — to the point where it could have been from the same team. The feel and look is so similar and they are both published by Team 17.
As this is a couch co-op game about . . . err . . . moving couches, you have to work together with up to four of your mates to get a list of items onto the back of your van. As you go from job to job the challenge gets more interesting — with the introduction of lava floors or moving livestock. You work for the Smooth Moves removal firm and you are only as good as your last job over the 30 different levels. There is also a number of side goals to activate which are really challenging. They range from not breaking any windows to getting extra items loaded — and all while battling the clock to score gold, silver or bronze awards for the job.
You also never know what is around the next corner. The controls are easy — run, grab and throw — but some tasks are not one-man jobs. You might have to move a fridge and need a buddy. That opens up a new can of worms because you have to work together to get to the van and keep the pace up, so you’ll soon be throwing boxes of fragile things out the window and catching them like pros. This is a burst of colour and character with an 80s feel. There are loads of lovely little details like the toaster popping mid-job or your character having a cheeky fart after lifting a heavy load. This is digital joy with mates but still a laugh on your own.
John Wick Hex (PS4 and PC, £15.99)
RETIRED hitman John Wick is the perfect subject for a first-person shooter or an open-world epic. The possibilities are endless as Wick gets drawn back into the gun-for-hire game. But UK firm Bithell Games went all leftfield and have served up a strategy game. Now that is a ballsy move. Hex is the first fully licenced game based on the much-loved movies so there has been a lot of anticipation. The character has only ever featured in a few games such as Payday 2 and Fortnite. This is actually a prequel to the movies — set a few years before John meets his wife and decides to hang his guns up. Yeah, just see the first movie to see how that works out.
Hex is a gangster, voiced by Troy Baker, who has kidnapped Winston and Charon. Fans will know that they are John’s closest “friends”. It was a coup for the game that Ian McShane and Lance Reddick reprise their big-screen roles which adds some real weight to the proceedings. Hex’s revenge act is aimed at getting the attention of the high table — a group that oversees the crime world in the Wick universe. But that move backfires and the high table order the Baba Yaga to rip Hex’s empire apart. Wick fans really bought into the story, but it is a gameplay gamble. The result is that each mission sees you having to complete one of two goals — get to the end and make it out or take down a target. It’s sort of dressed up as a boss fight.
Each level is based on a grid where you have to think each move out. If you spot an enemy then time stops to let you plan your next move. The clock is king here — there is a timeline that governs what you can do. You’ll need to find the right action for the amount of time you have left. Pick the wrong one and the enemy can beat you to the punch in more ways than one. Learning what your move set can do and how long they will take is key to the gameplay. There is an arsenal of weapons to spice things up but, spoiler alert, it can take ages to reload. You can also stash bonus goodies in the levels before attacking them. Once you complete a level you get a replay of the mission. On paper, that should be a slick treat to show you looking like a badass in a mini-movie. However, in reality, it just highlights the issue the game has with the animation. It is really wooden plus we suffered a number of crashes while watching the replays.
The game is dripping in style. It’s all dark, moody and neon-soaked with a strong comic book vibe. Add in the movie star voice talent and it is very slick. But — and it’s a big but — it would have been a winner to have Keanu Reeves. He was probably otherwise disposed with that Cyberpunk thing. That said, this is an interesting and bold take for a first gaming outing of the big-screen hit. It won’t be what some expected — or want — but it is an enjoyable 10-hour adventure from an unusual angle.
Forza Street (iOS and Android, FREE)
IT is no secret that we are big Forza fans at Gaming Towers — from the arcade drifting thrills at 100mph around Edinburgh in Horizon to strapping ourselves into our racing rig and battling for pole at Le Mans in Motorsport. So a mobile spin-off on mobile called Forza Street would just offer those delights on the move — or whenever we get a bus or train ever again. Er, no. We loaded it up and soon regretted that move. This is dreadful and doesn’t deserve the Forza title. The series is about racing. This is not a racer. It only lets you accelerate and boost — and, technically, brake by taking your finger off the gas. It’s that basic. You take part in drag races around Miami. OK, that could work on a mobile, but it’s not great when compared to how other mobile racers play.
The real killer is that this game is riddled with micro transactions for everything. You want a new car? Pay for it. Want more than 30 moves? Pay for it. Want to upgrade? Pay for it. If your car needs fixing because you can only use it in three races? Well, yup, you guessed it — pay for it. If you don’t want to fork out then you will need the patience of a saint. You might get there eventually but you will not enjoy it. It earns a half mark for the look and reasonable selection of cars — but good luck in getting the cool ones. This could have been so cool — a Forza winner. But this one has stalled before you even leave the garage.
Recon 70 Green Camo (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and mobile, £29.99)
THINK Turtle Beach and the odds are high that you’ll picture high-end headsets with booster amps and noise-cancelling tech. The last thing you’d consider is a budget brand. Well, think again. The audio firm has just re-released their Recon 70 headset in a number of new finishes like blue-and-green camouflage. And they are yours for just £29.99. Yes, they are basic — no bells and whistles. You get the headset and that’s it. They have a solid feel, if a bit plasticky. They certainly don’t feel like they’ll break anytime soon and they are quite lightweight. They take style cues from the firm’s Stealth 600 headset, but add the camo paint. If you are of a certain age then you’ll think they are the business.
The cups rotate and fit over the ear. They are finished in synthetic leather — now, that’s OK, but if you go from the Elite Pro 2 headset it’s like swapping a Rolls-Royce for a Fiat 500. It does the job — but just doesn’t have the same finish. The headset is rocking 40mm drivers that have a good sound quality and everything works at a decent level, especially when you factor in the price. We tested them on Warzone, MW2 remastered and Forza Horizon 4 and there was a good sound sphere across the titles with nothing blown out on the bass or treble side. The mic is a little stubby, like on the Stealth 600s. Again, like the Stealth, it features “flip to mute” and the sound was clear and crisp in parties. Turtle Beach Recon 70 is a solid, well-rounded headset that is perfect for youngsters hunting a high-end thrill on a budget. They also fit the bill perfectly if you want a back-up set.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…