Scotch Corner – Spook Central

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 3rd November.

 

Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch, £24.99)

IF there’s something strange in your neighbourhood…who you gonna call? Remaster!  Yep, the 10-year-old Ghostbusters: The Video Game has been given the touch-up treatment.  Which some may find a bit odd.  However, if you delve a little deeper this was actual a major event in gaming as it was original billed as a sort of Ghostbusters 3.  It saw Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and the late Harold Ramis reprising their movie roles as the heroes for rent.   Comedy legends Aykroyd and Ramis even helped write the tale for the game so it wasn’t messing around.

The game picks up right after the events of the 1989 Ghostbusters 2 film — and throws a curve ball straight at you.  Instead of playing as one of the four main leads you fill the boots of a voiceless new recruit called ‘The Rookie’.  Which is a bit of a shame as it would have been great to play as Ray, Winston, Venkman or Egon.  Where it does shine, though, is that a lot of the action takes place in locations from the first two movies as well as being packed with nods and winks that fans will love.  At its core this is a 10-year-old game, so bear that in mind as you bust ghosts and ghouls across the seven chapters with very little going off the beaten path and only some light puzzle-solving along the way.

You’ll be spending most of your time blasting and trapping with your trusty proton pack which gets a few fun upgrades for different attacks along the way as well as you being able you spend in-game cash to unlock upgrades.  But the game soon shows its age as the levels and battles are just not as sharp as you really want them to be and often end with you being handed a cheap death over and over — plus the AI of your busting buddies is very poor as they get downed too often and don’t pick you up very quickly when you’re downed.  In terms of what’s actually been remastered, it looks to be just the game’s visuals as loading times are too long and pre-rendered cut scenes are not very good-looking.  And there are a host of little glitches you’ll discover along the way.  What starts as a warm blanket of fan service soon starts to really show its age.  That’s a real shame as the cast and story are great but it’s just the gameplay that is busted.

Score: 2.5/5

CODE VEIN (PS4, PC, Xbox One, £49.99)

WHAT would happen if you took a rock-solid Dark Soul-style core and threw it in the big old anime machine?  Well, Code Vein is what you would get.  This is Bandai Namco Studio’s new take on the genre where you find yourself fighting on a planet left in ruins after a mysterious calamity that set loose a host of monsters and terrors on the world.  You play as a Revenant —which is all but a vampire in name as you were once a human but now find yourself in the thick of the fight as an immortal that must feed on blood.  In an interesting and weird twist, though, you don’t feed on what’s left of humanity and instead gorge on blood beads that have starting growing after the calamity.  But these life-giving beads are running out so you have to find out why and get to the source of where they come from.  And from there you create your character and pick your class and head out on the search.  In a smart move you are able to swap your class at any time during the game so you’re never locked into one.  Add to that a healthy ability system and you’ll spend a bit of time finding which best suits you.

Combat-wise it’s all about timing and reading your enemies as you have a pool of blood that is basically your stamina bar and depletes every time you attack but will refill after a battle.  This adds a bit of tactics to fights though the enemies are not really the brightest and often just smashing seven bells out of them gets the job done.  But things step up when the bosses turn up to offer more of a challenge — though once you figure out what to do the challenge soon fades.  And, oddly, this is maybe a good thing.  It means that the game is never as hard as most Dark Souls clones.  This will be welcoming to all but the most-hardened fans looking for their next challenges.

Visually the game is all over the place as it looks great at times and dull at others as you track around the mostly grey world with only a few highlights along the way.  But when the anime style hits it’s VERY good.  Code Vein is an odd beast that brings some interesting ideas to the genre but is let down by poor AI and level design which will put off the hardcore crowd.  But it is also maybe an entry point that many rookies have been looking for.

Score: 3.5/5

Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville (PS4, Xbox One, PC, £34.99)

SOMETIMES you want to have a blast in multiplayer without being weighed down by all the real-world baggage of fighting in real locations or using morally questionable weapons.  Luckily EA’s Plants vs Zombies is the perfect series to break away with as it blends multiplayer shooter thrills with a killer cartoon style.  Now returning with its third instalment, PvZ Battle for Neighborville takes the core gameplay fans love and adds to it with more charm and character than ever before.

As the epic battle between the Plants and Zombies wages, you get a healthy six PvP modes to get stuck into — all of which follow a standard framework of other shooters but with a PvZ twist.  Fan favourite Turf War returns, letting two teams of 12 battle it out to capture or defend points on good-sized maps with challenging final goals to bag the win.  And new mode Battle Arena takes elements from search and destroy and blends them with team deathmatch to make a fun but challenging game as there are no respawns and last player standing wins.  When not in the thick of battle you’ll be able to explore the hub world.  It is packed with fun little things to do and is where you really get a real taste of PvZ’s silly sense of humour.  But what good are maps and modes if the plants and zombies don’t deliver?  Fear not.  Each side is reinforced with three playable units, each fitting in really well to the already strong cast and all 20 have a role to play in battle.

Where the game drops the ball a little bit is on the PvE side.  It’s fun to start with but feels a bit of an afterthought and, ultimately, a grind as you do fetch quests or escort missions.  If you’re a fan of Plants vs Zombies you’ll have a blast here.  It’s more of the same really with some new bells and whistles.  And the PvP continues to be a tonne of fun with it’s over-the-top cartoon tones, especially when other blasters are stuck in a grim and dirty real-world setting.

Score: 4.5/5

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint (PS4, PC, Xbox One, £59.99)

THERE is no worse feeling that getting all fired up about a game only to discover it is a total letdown.  And Ghost Recon Breakpoint is very much in this camp when it comes to 2019’s most-disappointing titles.  Now, we love the Ubisoft Tom Clancy games — from Rainbow Six to the last Ghosts game Wildlands.  We love getting to play soldiers in near-future locations and saving the day.  We have sunk hours into them.  But Breakpoint has committed a cardinal sin in the pre-launch trailers and press.  It showed cool and interesting content that the final package does not come close to delivering.  Billed as a fight for your life as you and your squad are trapped on an island called Auroa being hunted by a force lead by Jon Bernthal (yes, the Punisher himself).  He has built an army of ex-Ghosts and you have to fight for survival as you try to stop him as well as free the island.  Which all sounds great and the gameplay looked to back this up by giving a sense of real weight and tension to each encounter.

What you get in reality, though, is a game that’s so confused it doesn’t know what it wants to be.  Its trying to be a looter shooter but all enemies can be killed with two shots to the head — no matter their levels.  The robots and drones are total bullet sponges so the gear rating system is a bit redundant.  It also seems to want to be a collect-athon.  There are thousands of things to pick up but it quickly becomes mind-numbing.  But the biggest issue is the game teased at having this rough-and-ready feel of you against the odds.  I spent the first few missions sneaking and covering my corners, being stealthy and silent, but the fear and tension was really installed by the pre-launch news.  I soon discovered you can simply run-and-gun most encounters in the game with ease, which kills any feeling of fighting to survive stone cold dead.

Auroa itself is huge with lots of stuff to do.  There are firefights waiting to break out at bases and enemies checkpoints as you take the fight to the Wolves.  The core tale, though, is totally forgettable really beyond you getting pay back on Bernthal.  But there is always hope out there.  Ubisoft have said that the game will be getting improved.  And this is key here because you can really see a good game in Breakpoint.  Hopefully this will happen moving forward.  At the moment it’s uneven and conflicted and is really a step back from Wildlands.  Even the most die-hard fans will be left cold.  At the moment it is a mediocre shooter that should be so much better.  Get to work, Ubisoft.  We are waiting…

Score: 2/5

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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