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 8th July 2018.
ONRUSH (Xbox One and PS4, £44.99)
IF you love racing games then ONRUSH is just about to rock your world. We have had street racers, track sims and rally challenges. ONRUSH is like having a bucket of iced water thrown over you. It’s a fast, frantic and fun arcade racer. Codemasters are known for realistic racers like F1 and DiRT, but this changes the rules. This is the first game from the core Evolution Studio team taken over by Codemasters almost two years ago. Their CV includes classics like Motorstorm and Drive Club. OnRush is a huge slice of over-the- top fun. It takes what you think you know and throws it out the window so laps and finishing lines are a thing of the past.
The core game modes are very team- focused. They are more like a first person shooter than a racer as you fight to score more points with boosts or bank time by hitting gates. There is also a King Of The Hill-style mode where you need to defend a moving area for a set time while races are rolling rounds — and usually the best of three or five. There is a solid mix of motors to pick from. The gladiators with radiators go from bikes and buggies to trucks and they all have different abilities that can help or hinder other racers dropping energy gates, slow other teams down or share extra boost with team-mates.
The game tries to evolve the racing formula. You stay in the thick of the action all the time and you don’t need to be first to win. That takes a while to get your head around it all, because the best option can be to hold back and help your team-mates. If you get taken out then the respawning is FPS fast and that helps to keep the action going. You can take down other racers in a Burnout style to bag some extra boost but it gets tough if you are a bike with a truck on your tail. The game splits in two — single player career where you race to be the best over eight hours. It’s the best way to learn the tricks and tracks. Then online is where you put it all on the line.
There is so much colour and noise. The art style works with the racers and the tracks, and it is all backed up by a banging soundtrack. The longevity is debatable, but this game will live of die by the online action after the career mode. Codemasters will need to keep it fresh with constant updates and new content. It is great to see a racer that tries something new. It is full of attitude.
Mario Tennis Aces (Switch, £44.99)
IT’S that Wimbledon time of year and Nintendo have served up a box of tricks with Mario Tennis Aces. You will probably expect the unique brand of unorthodox tennis, but you might not be so ready for the pretty serious nature of the core game. The fun starts with the adventure mode — 27 levels of a very Marvel-esque tale. An evil racket has taken control of Luigi at the annual tennis competition. It makes him track down five “power stones” that will let it take over the world. You guessed it — your job is to stop it.
It is off the wall but Nintendo have the colour, charm and skill to pull it off. It sets the backdrop to a mode which dishes up a host of different challenges that go beyond just winning a few matches. The boss and puzzle stages are the highlights as they demand different shots as well as using power- ups. That is a really clever way of preparing you for the multiplayer side of the game — the more of the adventure mode you play, the better overall player you will become because you’ll learn new moves and work out the best time to use them.
The multiplayer side has a few modes but the options are fairly limited and there is no skill tracker at the moment. That means matches can be a bit unbalanced as you suddenly come face to face with more highly skilled players than you. And you can be pretty certain about how that battle will end. You can limit things online with the simple gameplay mode which strips out a few features in a bid to make it more playable for first timers. That is a great addition for younger games who are just looking for a taste of online fun.
This is Nintendo and Mario so the look is brilliant fun. The 16 characters are full of charm. The tennis outfits. The themed courts. The joyful soundtrack. Awesome. All of it. The biggest issue is the lack of any real reward for playing both on and off-line beyond just netting a trophy. The game is also crying out for a customisable option list. If they can sort that then this game would almost certainly be a five. As it is, Mario Tennis Aces is fun and enjoyable. Hopefully, future tournaments and updates will turn it into a Grand Slam hit.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Switch, £49.99)
OUR 2017 Game of the Year is now a sensation on the Switch . . . sort of. The port is a real mixed bag — yes, you can play on the move and some cool features like HD rumble have been added. There is also an option to use Gyro-Based Motion Controls, where you take aim with your joy-cons or Pro controller. It makes it easier for you to spray rooms of the Reich. It will take time to get used to, but it’s a fun addition and it is great to see Bethesda embracing the tech of the Switch.
That said, squishing an epic game onto the Switch was a real gamble. The transfer has hit the textures and framerate especially in docked mode, but it is not a deal-breaker. This is still a stunning game — and now you can play it on the bus.
Prey: Mooncrash (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £13.19)
THIS DLC takes the core Prey gameplay and goes roguelike as you have to escape from a moon base repeatedly — with five characters. However, no two runs are the same so it doesn’t get boring. Add in new weapons such as goo mines and enemies like the moon shark and it’s actually a bigger challenge than the core game. The characters have different skill-sets so you have to react quickly because the base will beef up the difficulty if you hang around for too long.
Prey is a very story-heavy game but you may be disappointed if you are looking for an epic tale within the DLC. It does still breathe some life into Prey — that lacked a replay hook, but this is great fun. It’s a must-try.
Hyper Sentinel (Xbox One, PS4,Switch and PC, £11.99)
IN a world of HD remakes and reboots, it is neat to see an update which keeps the core idea then polishes it. This is retro joy — an upgraded version of the Commodore 64 classic, Uridium, made by Andrew Braybrook and published by Hewson Consultants in 1986. Fast forward 32 years and the game is being published by Huey Games. Their CEO is Rob Hewson, son of Andrew Hewson of Hewson Consultants.
The game is a fast-paced side-scrolling arcade shooter where you fly from left to right blasting everything that moves as you assault spaceships. It’s simple and addictive as you chase that high score. It has really nailed the retro look and the soundtrack captures the 80s vibe, but the game can get a bit repetitive after a while. Still, it pays its respects to Uridium and is a class retro act.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…