Scotch Corner – Taking the Fight Back

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 November 2018.

 

Back to the Front

EXECUTIVE producer Aleksander Grondal reckons they have rolled the DICE with the new Battlefield game.  The super Swede challenged his development team to give the game all the attributes that had thrilled fans throughout the series — it had to be huge.  It had to be epic.  CHAOS had to reign.  Aleksander made sure the bar was set high, but he told me that the team at DICE delivered.  He admitted:

“We have so many fond memories of the 1942 game and we have been longing to return.  It felt natural to go back and, with all the improvements that we have done with the game and the engine over the years, we felt it was a good time to return to that era — but not just to return to what we have done in the past but to show some different things that you probably haven’t seen before. We explore some of the more unseen parts that happened during the war — for example, the beginning of the war, which we call the fall of Europe, where the Axis force take over parts of Europe.  We wanted to portray some battles that we haven’t really seen in games.  We think this adds a different point to how the conflict has been shown in gaming so far.”

The layers of combat needed to be spot on — from troops to tanks and planes.  That led to the chaos.  Aleksander added:

“The gameplay is returning to a little bit of Battlefield 4 or even the original form where you have the chaos of tanks and planes as well as troop all battling it out at the same time.  As a conflict the Second World War had a lot more movement to it so this time round we have more vehicles than Battlefield One.  You have the Tiger tank on one side and the Churchill on the other but both play a bit differently plus they have their own strengths and weaknesses.  It’s not just same tank re-skinned.  We also wanted to give the player more tactics as well as strategies.  You should be able to go in loud or sneak around the back of the enemies.  We have tried to make sure there is room for you to be creative with how you play — be that taking out a tank or capturing a point.  Some maps will have the ‘chaos’ — where there is a lot of things going on and you have to think fast and on your feet, but others are more open to setting up attack plans that cater for new tactics.”

The epic was sorted with the new Grand Operations mode.  Aleksander said:

“We are really excited about it — it is the evolution of the Operations mode we had in Battlefield One.  This time round it isn’t just one game mode, you’ll be playing different modes within it.  Each operation is inspired by real-world events and the mode sees you fight across days as you battle to get the upper hand on the enemy.  It never really stops.”

Aleksander admits they also listened to the fans.  He said:

“The War Stories we created for Battlefield One are back.  We found that players really wanted to play more of them and hear the stories as well as learning about the action around them.  We found some really cool stories that are inspired by real-world events and we have built them around some new characters.”

The future promises to be just as bright.  Aleksander admitted:

“We are starting out the game with a really grounded arsenal, but we also bring in more unfamiliar things like the Crocodile Tank .  All of the weapons are true to the era but it was interesting to find the ones that added to the gameplay.  It is also really important to have an array of fun weapons.  We did the secret weapons in 1942, which was an expansion pack.  These are questions we’ll have to ask ourselves a little bit down the line.”

Battlefield V (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £49.99)

SOMETIMES a step back is the best way forward.  The Battlefield boys have gone back to their roots with the latest instalment as they return to World War II.  There are two parts — all-out multiplayer and War Stories, or the single player side of things.  It all has a strong Battlefield One vibe.  It starts with three stories, although a fourth — The Last Tiger — lands early next month and, in a neat twist, sees you play as the Germans.  The launch tales let you fill the boots of different characters during key points in the war.  Under No Flag is up first.  You are a young bank robber who is offered the chance to dodge jail by signing up.  He ends up in Africa bidding to destroy enemy aircraft and sabotage supplies.

Nordly is story two — you are a young girl in the Norwegian resistance trying to rescue a scientist held by the Nazis.  Then Tirallieur touches on deeper subjects like racism faced by those who joined the war from out-reaching countries.  You play as one of two Senegalese brothers fighting for France during Operation Dragoon.  Each tale lasts about two hours.  The the first two are heavy on stealth while the third does its best to make you feel like you are fighting a huge battle instead of lone wolfing it around the maps.  It is all a good way of seeing the war from different angles, and highlights real-world events from the forming of the Special Boat Service to the true cost of war.  But, if we are honest, most gamers will head straight to the online side and that’s where DICE shine.

They know how to ramp up that excitement.  You get eight huge maps which split in various modes — so you can be in snowy mountains, on Rotterdam streets or on an airfield in the heart of Africa.  The class system lets you pick one of four soldiers.  Each has pros and cons but teamwork is also key.  You’ll need to monitor your ammo and health so medics and support troops are a must.  It’s hardcore and you feel like you are being forced to work as a unit and the reaction time after a shot is fired is brutal.  You have no time to duck.  Hear shot . . . dead.  That said, snipers are less powerful than past titles.  The 37 weapons feel great and you can add scopes and skills as you find the best one for you.  Vehicles also make a strong return and add to the layers of combat — think fighter planes, bombers and tanks.  DICE have done a great job with the graphics — it is epic when you get hit by a snowstorm — and the soundtrack and voice acting carry the story well.

Moans?  A large number of visual glitches and textures can take ages to pop at the start of the match while overall load times are a bit slow — not what you expect from a DICE title.  The stories are also told in the character’s native tongue which is not so good if you can’t speak French or Norwegian.  It’s no fun reading subtitles during a firefight.  Overall, it is a strong return to what made Battlefield such a hit and there are hours of fun to be had plus.  There is also at least a year’s worth of FREE content coming.  Get in.

Score: 4.5/5

WWE 2K19 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £39.99)

WRESTLING is guaranteed to start a debate.  You are either a massive fan or you think is all scripted soap opera in spandex.  Either way it is big business and wrestling games are just as popular as the shows.  Now here’s the thing, we have not watched a bout since the days of The Rock and Stone Cold so we can’t make a call on the latest storylines or stars . . . but we do know a good game.  WWE 2K19 throws a lot at you — from modes to options — but the best starting point is the career mode.  You are in grassroots wrestling in high school gyms then get your break and climb the WWE ladder.

It gets all the bells and whistles that fans expect and is good fun as you level up and unlock new moves and skills.  Some unlocks are a bit slow or are behind card packs and no one likes a loot box system so you can buy them with in-game credits although they are a bit pricey.  Daniel Bryan fans are in for a blast as the showcase mode focuses on his career.  You get the key matches that shaped his real-world rise.  There are also really cool video interviews before each match.  The core gameplay is fun and builds on last year’s title.  Each fighter has their own style and it all feels a bit faster than last year.  The new payback system lets you unleash a comeback move once a meter has been filled and that can turn the tables in the match.

You can’t beat a good custom character creator and this is one of the best we have seen.  The game is packed with modes so there is an endless number of matches with differing rules.  Then there is the online challenge.  It all looks very good, especially the rings and arenas, while the wrestlers have a great level of detail and polish.  2K have taken full advantage of having the official licence with real entry music and a section of superstar voices.  Fans will love it.  Newcomers can fight as soon as they switch on.  Winner.

Score: 4/5

Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £49.99)

HORROR writer HP Lovecraft has inspired everything from movies to books and games based on his creation, Cthulhu . . . and French studio Cyanide are adding to the mix.  This is a mix of styles, but it keeps the survival horror core and has a flavour of the 1981 cult pen-and-paper Call Of Cthulhu role-player.  You are Edward Pierce, a WWI veteran turned private detective.  He has a drink problem and carries a fair amount of baggage that rears its head throughout the game.  He is hired to investigate the death of Sarah Hawkins.  Is it linked to a fire on Darkwater Island that killed all her family?

He needs to find clues and talk to locals — how you handle that will decide whether you get information or just annoy them.  You’ll soon find there are different ways of dealing with situations and that opens up an interesting number of options.  On top of that there are some stealth and combat sections.  Both are a bit by the numbers style and, if we are honest, a little dull.  You have a skill tree which you upgrade along the way.  Where you spend your skill points can also shape the journey, which is an interesting idea that adds some replay value to a game that lasts around 16 hours.

There is a moody and dark look and the green tint fits the Lovecraft vision.  The sound effects are a bit creepy and the voice acting is OK.  It is an interesting tale that has been solidly written but the gaming side of things is a bit up and down and stops it being a great title.  There is easily a weekend worth of fun though.  And it is a break from the usual fare.

Score: 3/5

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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