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 18th November 2018.
Lego DC Super-Villains (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £43.99)
IT is all very well being a hero, but super-villains have all the fun. So, big props to Lego for letting you play as some of the best-known bad guys in the DC universe. Traveller’s Tales know their way round a Lego game and Lego DC Super-Villains is a neat slant on the series. The Justice League have been replaced by a group known as the Justice Syndicate — kind of a knock-off League. The Syndicate is in cahoots with DC’s big bad Darkside, so the Joker and Lex Luthor form the Injustice League to stop them . . . and you’re off. The fun starts here. It is all a bit complex for a Lego game as the multiverse evolves over the 15 or so main missions.
Anyone who has played a Lego game will know the score — a group of bad guys bashing, smashing and walloping your way round with some puzzle-solving thrown into the mix. Some are way too tough for the kids this game is targeted at, but there is help at hand with a new hint if things go past your mental blow-up point. There is a good-size open world with some of the best-known locations in the DC universe to pay around in — think Gotham and Metropolita . . . and a few surprises along the way. But some of them are a bit smaller than you would have expected. Away from the missions, the open world is full of tasks, from gold brick challenges to races. You certainly get bangs for your bucks. Almost every villain in the DC universe is there — from The Joker to Clayface, from Deathstroke to Gorilla Grodd. There are around 160 all ready and willing to smash the place up. You can even custom-build a character which can unlock powers for as you play — and it will have a key role in the overall game. That’s very clever. Your custom character doesn’t talk and you even get a few cheap digs during missions about your silence. That’s a nice touch because it could easily have gone unaddressed. Instead Harley Quinn pokes fun at you!
It has the high level of polish we expect from a Lego game — some of the areas look great and the characters look like have come to life. The soundtrack does a great job in framing the high jinks and include some cheeky tones to reinforce the bad-guy vibe. But it’s the voice acting that really steals the show — it’s a who’s who of DC voice actors, with Mark Hamill, Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown and even Outlander’s Sam Heughan getting in on the action among a huge cast of standout names. Traveller’s Tales do stick to a well-used script. They know it works, but it might be time for someone to spice things up and try something a little different. Lego DC Super-Villains will not change your mind if you’re a not a fan. But, if you love DC and Lego games then this is a must. Younger games will have a blast because it is a good fun being bad.
Build It Up
TT Games reckon the key to success for Lego:DC Super-Villains will be the all-star cast. Head of design Arthur Parsons is delighted with the rogues’ gallery they have put together. Arthur told me:
“The roster is at the point where it is looking set to beat our own Guinness World Record for the most number of villains in a video game. The record is pretty high and we have well over 200 characters in the game if you include all the extra characters that come with the deluxe edition as well.”
But he admits it is tough to pick his favourite bad guy. He added:
“The fact that our Joker is played by Mark Hamill makes him an instant favourite, but then I also have quirky favourites like Calendar Man and Polka Dot or Clock King. I have always loved the weird characters — the ones that we have to really dig through the comics to find. But, because it’s villains, you can’t just pick one because they all have cool and interesting things about them. Then there is the likes of Harley Quinn, who is played by Tara Strong. In my mind, she is the best and she is really endearing throughout the whole story.”
Arthur believes the latest game is proof that the development team and DC are on the same page. He said:
“We have wanted to do a game focused on villains since we worked on Lego Batman back in 2008. That game had hero missions as well as villain missions. The villain mission was the best part of the game. We have worked on a lot of games since 2008 and finally we got to a point where I was on the phone to a good colleague over at DC Comics and we were discussing what should we do for the next game. We both said villains at the same time and it really snowballed from there. What could be better for a Lego game than using DC’s roster of villains? They are all different and funny in their own way which is great for a Lego game.”
TT have built a good relationship with the likes of Marvel and Star Wars, but the Batman franchise was always going to blossom. Arthur added:
“In 2008 we did Lego Batman then 2012 was Lego Batman 2 — the first Lego game to have voice acting. It led to 2014 and Lego Batman 3. We were going to do another DC game and we really wanted something fresh, entertaining and vibrant. We wanted to look at the DC universe through a different lens. That’s why villains are perfect.”
The team were also conscious of having to compete with previous Lego titles. He said:
“We spent a lot of time in pre- production looking at where we could freshen things up. That’s part of the reason you get to make your own character. We know, because a lot of us are parents, how much kids love making their own statement on what every they do from phones to skins in games. You sit there for ten minutes waiting for them, while I am just ready to play. On top of that we have freshened up a lot of the core mechanics as well a lot of balance work to make the game more accessible. Kids don’t like be shown how to play games. They like to get stuck in and work it out themselves and we have done a lot of work so that people new to the game will have an understanding of what they’ll have to do.”
But the key parts are the villains. Arthur laughed:
“Being able to be a villain and break into Arkham for a change is so exciting — you can break even more villains out or go to Belle Reve Penitentiary.”
Space Hulk: Tactics (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £34.99)
THIS may not be the first board game to make the move into computer games, but it is easily the most polished. Cyanide Studios have done a top job in bringing the Space Marine forces to life and keep the dark vibes you expect in a Warhmmer universe. There are two campaigns — 13 missions with the Terminators or nine as the Genestealers. Skirmish mode, online and a slick map editor will also enable the community to build some tasty extra battles.
Gameplay is king — you never know what is around the next turn and you need to remember that the Terminator armour makes them slower than the Genestealers but they are armed to the teeth. And, as the game is turned-based, you have to think out each move and that can slow the game down. The over-top view gives you an idea of the scale, but the action cam is cool — although it does sometimes have a mind of its own. It all makes you think before you act, but is perfect for those armchair commanders.
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £39.99)
THIS might be set in the same universe as Space Hulk: Tactics but they are very different beasts. Neocore Games have taken more of a Diablo route with a top-down action RPG formula blended with the Warhammers lore. There are three classes — powerful Crusader, stealthy assassin or spell-casting Psyker — and you play as an Inquisitor sent out to kill those who stand against the God-Emperor. You travel in a HUGE ship that had been missing. Classic Warhammer fare.
The gameplay differs between the classes, but most of it is blast, slash and blow up everything, grab loot and move on. You can get more powerful weapons, but it is a neat twist for most skills to be assigned to your gear, not to you. The game looks great and the soundtrack has an epic feel, but the gear styles don’t really add up to the mission you are on. It is an interesting take on the Warhammer theme and is more welcoming to newcomers than Space Hulk: Tactics but it does get a bit repetitive over time.
Spider Senses Tingling
DLC time for Marvel’s Spiderman on Tuesday. Turf Wars adds a mini-campaign where cop Yuri is kidnapped by Hammerhead — and Spidey has to come to the rescue. You also get a new gun-wielding thug and three new suits: Spider Clan, Iron Spider Armour and Spider Armour MK1. It’s £6.49 or part of the season pass.
IT’S 2-0 to Celtic. The Bhoys have signed Ettore ‘Ettorito97’ Giannuzzi and Luca ‘ildistruttore-44’ Tubelli as their first two eSports players. The lads will turn out in the efootball Pro League against the likes of Barcelona, Monaco and Nantes. Giannuzzi has won 13 titles already and will captain the side.
A Stormy Road
PLAYGROUND Games has revealed details of the first expansion heading to Forza Horizon 4. Fortune Island — which will be released on December 13 — will see you leave the UK and head to a fictional island in the remote northern reaches of the British Isles . . . so, basically, it is Shetland. It looks to build on the past DLC, Storm Island, as it promises extreme weather conditions including lightning storms for the first time. As for roads, expect to blast up perilous cliff sides and drifting around sweeping mountain switchbacks. It all looks very moody and perfect for a tough rally track or two. That’s December 13 sorted then.
Got a Role to Play
THE rumours have finally come true — Microsoft has bought Obsidian Entertainment, but there was a twist. The firm has also bought inXile Entertainment. Both studios are best known for their work on RPG-style games. Obsidian were behind the likes of Fallout: New Vegas and South Park: The Stick of Truth. InXile worked on Wasteland 2, Torment: Tides of Numenera and the Scottish-inspired The Bard’s Tale 4. The move looks set to correct one of the biggest issues with the platform — the lack of first-party exclusives.
End of the Walkthrough
SAD news as strategy guide maker Prima Games is to close its doors next spring after 28 years. The move to stop making new guides follows a significant decline in the game guide sector.
ATTENTION all you armchair generals — EA is using Petroglyph Games to remaster Command & Conquer on PC. That is good news because they are made up of key members of the original C&C team when they were at Westwood Studios. EA have acted after a backlash to their decision to bring out a free-to-play RTS mobile game, Command & Conquer: Rivals, earlier this year. EA’s Jim Vessella said the remaster programme will begin with Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn then Red Alert, and expansion packs Covert Ops, Counterstrike, and Aftermath. Best of all these, they will be bundled into a single collection.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…