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 22nd October 2017.
Ruiner (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £16.74)
RUINER may look familiar but don’t let that put you off — this game will have you on the edge of the your seat. The cyberpunk, future-themed, twin-stick, run-and-gun fest from Polish team Reikon Games has a hint of Hotline Miami and a sniff of Mr Shifty, but it ends up with a flavour all of its own. The plot? You are trying to find your brother, who has been kidnapped by HEAVEN. You have a high-tech mask and you need help from a number of shadowy characters to get you through the underbelly of a high-tech city. So, it’s not deep, but it can be tough to follow — although it neatly frames the 14 levels you have to conquer.
There are side missions as well as exploring the world — and that can reward you with new toys. Everything is fast, frantic and brutal. You blast and smash and make sure nothing is left breathing, then you rinse and repeat. Simple theory, but tough to do. You start off being very under-powered so you need to unlock goodies and learn skills quickly. But when you’re in the heat of the fight you look very cool and you feel like a cyber ninja.
The look is very stylish. Some of it is very dark and moody but the level design gets a bit repetitive after a while. The weapons have a beefy thud and thunk as you blast waves of enemies and the soundtrack is outstanding. It is a perfect fit. The difficulty in the play may put off some people, the hub world feels a bit like filler rather than a story-driving device and it can be a bit TOO dark at times. But that shouldn’t stop you giving this a go. If you do, you will be hooked.
Rogue Trooper Redux (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £19.99)
ROGUE Trooper is classic game fare — its storylines have graced the pages of the 2000AD comics for 40 years. The famous blue boy first got the game treatment back in 2006 on the original Xbox and PS2 and then again in 2009 on the Wii. Now Rebellion Developments and Tick Tock Games have given it an HD makeover with Rogue Trooper Redux. So, don’t be expecting new content because there isn’t any. This is a graphics and control upgrade. Seeing as the last game was 11 years ago, that is a real missed opportunity but it doesn’t stop you enjoying a good game.
It blends a number of storylines from the Rogue Trooper series as you become Rogue — a Genetic Infantryman who has been bred as a super-soldier. The GIs fight for the Southers who are waging an epic war with the Norts on Nu-earth — a key planet that has all but been destroyed in the siege. Rogue and the rest of the GIs are dropped into the Quartz Zone but they have been betrayed and the Norts are waiting for them. Only Rogue and three team-mates escape the massacre, but the minds of the dead GIs are stored on Bio-chips. Rogue can use them to provide an extra layer of tactical nous on the battlefield. Rogue’s mission is to find the general who ratted them out and then find out why. He also wants revenge.
The third-person shooter will take between nine and 10 hours to complete and is a mixture of on-rails fighting and a surprisingly good level of tactical options to get you through each challenge. You can’t forget this is an 11-year-old game — the level designs are quite dated. They can feel very empty when you’re not knee-deep in a battle. But the controls have been tweaked to give it a fresher feel. You also get a new cover system and an over-the-shoulder aim mode. The game has two co-op modes which will see you team up with up to four friends to fight off waves of Norts. They provide a welcome break from the main story.
The new look is crisp. You can certainly see the work that has gone into the textures and lighting as you fight your way through a mix of iconic locations straight from the pages of the comic. The soundtrack and voice acting are good standard though some of the accents are a bit ropey. Rogue Trooper is a solid and enjoyable shooter that fans will love. It is also a good introduction to the world of Rogue Trooper and is certain to be a first step to expanding the series.
Rebel(lion) with a Cause
RICHARD May started work on Rogue Trooper in 2006, but he is only just hearing what fans thought about it. The lead programmer on Rogue Trooper Redux reckons social media has given gamers a voice and he is loving the feedback. He told me:
“Having worked on the original back when social media wasn’t such a big thing, the game was released into the void and that was is it. Now we have Redux and we are getting so many people saying they played the original and loved it. As one of the team that made it, it’s great to hear as we didn’t get to hear any of these reactions back in the day.”
“We are very fond of the original Rogue Trooper and the new Redux. The original had a different development cycle but we worked really long hours on it and we were really happy with what we produced, although not as many people as we hoped got to play it. So getting the opportunity to bring it back was exciting — we can bring the game to a newer audience and even get it to players who may have never heard of Rogue or the game.”
But May admits the game’s hero needed the 2000AD comic introduction. He explained:
“If you come in completely cold with no idea of the comic and the characters then it’s a tough sell — you’re a strange blue guy walking around with a talking gun. But for people willing to give its slightly dated mechanics a chance, they will have a good time.”
May reckons the 2000AD comic character is perfect for gaming. He added:
“He is a huge fan favourite and it’s a story of his revenge after being betrayed — that is a great tale to be told though a game. The machines fit so well into the gameplay styles throughout the story — things like the bio-chips giving you new abilities.”
And he loved the idea of revisiting the game. He added:
“I was a programmer on the original title. It was at a point in my career where I’d finally found my feet as a programmer and I was confident about what I was doing. Now, when programmers ask me how aspects of the game work, I look back and wonder how any of it ever worked. There’s a weird sort of déjà vu, coupled with a ‘Wish I’d changed that’ or ‘Wish it hadn’t been quite like that’.”
May is quick to defend the decision not to put any new content into the game by admitting there could be new titles on the way. He said:
“We are calling it a sort of remastered edition rather than a remake. We wanted to take the original game, which we felt had really strong gameplay, and update it for modern consoles. This is very much a toe-in-the-water moment for us. If Rogue Trooper Redux does well then we will certainly be looking into other games like Dredd vs Death.”
>OBSERVER_ (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £23.99)
BLADE Runner 2049 has been a massive smash in the cinema, so no surprise that there is now a game surrounding the Cyberpunk thriller. Observer is developed by Polish studio Bloober Team — the team behind horror walking SIM Layers Of Fear. The game takes place in a Poland controlled by mega-corporation Chiron, with the Fifth Polish Republic set up as an elite police unit called Observers. You are Daniel Lazarski, a hardened and battle-weary soul who works in Cracow and investigates for Chiron.
It all kicks off with him getting a shock call from his son and . . . well, we won’t spoil it for you because the whole game is very story-driven. It is mostly a walking SIM as you search for clues and evidence, but it comes into its own when you hack suspects. The memories open up a host of different styles of gameplay — from using stealth to avoid a monster to having to work your way through a level that is constantly ripping itself apart. As you play, your grasp on what is real, hacked and a memory gets all mixed up in a pretty scary way. Observers looks absolutely stunning. It has a dark and grimy vision of the future where technology has taken over. The hacking has a neat 70s-style feel but the mechanic is a little over-used.
The soundtrack does a great job at building the atmosphere and the voice acting is top-notch. Daniel is voiced by film legend and Blade Runner bad guy Rutger Hauer. The pace can be an issue and a few cat-and-mouse sections struggle, but it won’t stop you diving into a compelling and deep tale which begs to be completed.
On The Download
THE Overseas Connection Podcast is a transatlantic offering aimed at the more mature gamer. Greg DeLacy, from California, is your host with Robin Tate, from Northern Ireland, Nicole Radowski, from Alabama, Kim Woods, from Missouri, Fraser Moores, from Toronto and Brits Richard Webster and Mark Wright. They have clocked up almost 450 episodes playing games and chatting about them. They support the Extra-Life.org 24-hour gaming marathon and are preparing for this year’s fundraiser on November 4-5.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…