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 March 2018.
Wolfenstein II: The Deeds of Captain Wilkins (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £7.99)
ANOTHER day, another DLC pack for Wolfenstein II — or so it seems. The Deeds Of Captain Wilkins is the final chapter and aims to finish the Freedom Chronicles adventure with a bang. You play as US Army Captain Gerald Wilkins — an ageing trooper who has been fighting the Nazis for longer than he cares to remember. He returns to America after being warned that General Schwartz plans to destroy half of America with the sun gun. It sets up classic Wolfenstein II fare as you blast waves of Nazis and save the world. The gameplay is the same as the past two chapters and is the best mix of stealth and gunfire, plus it gives you the power to use a set of robot legs — or big stilts — to help you explore the levels.
But this is a short blast of fun. The story is told over three levels and ever gets chance to breathe and grow. On top of that, the sun gun is never given a chance. There are hints but it never gets fleshed out and that is a shame because it could have been the backbone of the tale. It leaves you with a massive feeling of what might have been. It should be very good, but it falls way short as an addition for a main title that was our Game of the Year last year. Yes , you’ll love the fighting — shooting Nazis never gets old, especially with duel shotguns — but there is very little new content. There are no new enemies or guns and the locations are 85 per cent rehashes from the core game. You are in a base where you can look through a window and see a forest but you never get anywhere near it.
That basically sums up the Freedom Chronicles — hints and teases without the goodness. If you want to scratch that Wolfenstein itch then we would turn up the difficultly and replay the full game. The Freedom Chronicles is one step too far.
Fear Effect Sedna (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £15.99)
FEAR Effect became a PlayStation classic after it was released in 1999. It got the prequel treatment a year later and was ripe for a series but there was nothing . . . until now. Fast forward 17 years and Sushee got some Crowdfunding to bring us Fear Effect Sedna. But this is a new take on the classic. It’s an isometric tactical affair with a dash of cover-based shooting.
You start by having to steal a statue for a mystery client and the story that follows cuts a fine line between cheesy B-movie and high-tech spy thriller and it almost pulls it off. It follows a similar animated style as the originals — which means heavy cell shading. You need a gameplan. You need tactics and to utilise the individual strengths of each member of your team. You can also switch team members during missions to help solve puzzles. However, for a tactical game it is a shame that the best tactic seems to be to run around and shoot stuff. The AI team-mates aren’t much of a help.
The original had a fear gauge and that makes a welcome return. You do more damage when it is high, but there is a great risk and reward. You can calm things down with a sedative. The levels are a bit dull and flat, especially when you look at the cut scenes but the soundtrack carries things through with a great noire vibe. The voice acting is OK. It is good to see the title back but there is a lack of substance. It feels like it could have been made in 2000 rather than 2018. Fans will enjoy it but newcomers may feel a bit lost.
Kirby Star Allies (Switch, £41.99)
EVERYONE has their favourite Nintendo character like Mario and Zelda, but many often overlook Kirby. Not any more — the loveable little pink puff has made has made the jump to the Switch with Kirby Star Allies. The whimsical tale is full of charm — an evil force sends dark hearts to reign over dreamland. They turn all the good guys bad and Kirby has to save the day. It’s not exactly deep, but it is pretty much all you need to carry you through the levels.
The gameplay mixes things up as you have to work with your allies as you build a team and complete a level. Kirby fans will be used to his power — eating enemies then stealing their skills — and that is key to solving puzzles or finding secrets. However, you also get three buddies who unlock new attacks and abilities and give you a helping hand in fights. You can recruit team members by throwing a heart at an enemy. They then join you. Half the fun is finding new teammates and seeing what powers they bring. The game will last about seven hours to get through, but if you want to find everything then be prepared to add a few hours to that total. You’ll also unlock a few other modes — like an arena and a speed run — once you finish the game.
There is a stunning look to the game — it positively glows with colour and has bags of typical Nintendo charm. The soundtrack carries that vibe neatly with an overall feeling of joy and wonder throughout. But it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. Historically, Kirby games are not the hardest games on the shelf and having a team of AI control characters makes it even easier. A lot of gamers will be frustrated because it is just too easy. They should maybe wait for Dark Souls on the Switch later this year. If you want some light-hearted platforming fun then this is perfect. If you’re a young gamer then it is a real attraction. It will put a smile on your face — unless you are the sort of gamer who wants to die every 10 seconds and then work up a rage. Kirby Star Allies is even more fun when playing with friends.
The pink puff hero is the perfect way to wile away a few hours.
VALA (Xbox One and PC, £11.99)
FIGHTING waves of zombies, soldiers or spaceships is pretty normal . . . but LLAMAS? No, that’s just wrong. Roguecode developers must have had bad dreams as kids. VALA stands for Vicious Attack Llama Apocalypse and you have to gun them down to save the world. It may be off the wall, but it is great fun as you power about in your Mech suit and blast your way to victory. The tale is puntastic. Llamazon has stopped using llamas to deliver packages. That has outraged them and turned them against humans.
Your Mech has a weapon on each arm and you can swap them for more powerful gear as you progress. You also have powers like a shield, speed dash and jump which help you out but drain your power. Then you need to find the cells you need to power up. The game is spilt into a handful of levels over 10 zones which change every time you play because you pick the route. The world has a dull, grim look, but your Mech is covered in neon and the llamas are neat until you blast them as they turn into red goo. The soundtrack is OK and the voice acting is solid, but there are only so many llama jokes you can make. There is a four-player local co-op, but no online which is a shame especially when the going gets a bit frantic.
But it is a fun twin-stick shooter that has a strong sense of humour. Cute animals on the charge — it’s llamageddon. Alpaca my bags.
On The Stream
WILL Mackellar is best known as LardTeamaker on Twitch. He started gaming as a youngster but podcasting and streaming have allowed him to create a fanbase. The care worker also streams and does podcast for The Game Won’t Play Itself cast alongside James Atkinson and Chris Gergler.
“I’m currently an Affiliate but my next step for both my own channel and the podcast is a partnership.”
ESPORTS Scotland has launched its inaugural season with leagues for ten games across different platforms. The 25-week campaign finishes with a live final in Edinburgh on October 6-7. The first two games to be played will be CS:GO and Splatoon 2. Teams score points through their placement in each tournament for their specific game with the top players going through. But there will also be an Open Last Chance Online Qualifier for each league where one team can still make the final for each game.
See facebook.com/eSportsSCO for more details.
In The News
KONAMI’S Super Bomberman R hits the PC on June 13 and Xbox One and PS4 the following day. The jump from the Switch will include a few bonus goodies, including an exclusive character. It’s a Ratchet & Clank-inspired Bomberman for PS4, Portal 2’s P-Body for PC and Xbox One gets the Master Chief Bomber.
IO INTERACTIVE is giving away Hitman’s Sapienza map and all the missions for free on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. The Spring Pack has episode two from the main game and the World Of Tomorrow story mission. The pack is available until April 3.
TICKETS are on sale for this year’s EGX at the NEC in Birmingham from September 20-23. Get them here.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…