Wednesday 26 July 2017

Games: Killing time executed in style

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition (PS4/XO/PC) 5 stars Age: 18+

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

The religious right could make a case study of Bulletstorm as an example of the pernicious influence of videogames. Profane, gratuitously violent and politically incorrect, it treats murder as nothing more than a game.

Which is precisely why Bulletstorm in this remastered version again proves so entertaining, an unending gory stream of kills performed in as inventive a fashion as possible. Never mind the plot, nor the sweary (and frankly wearing) script, this is a shooter as competitive sport, urging you to employ imaginative and eye-wateringly gruesome executions instead of just, y'know, killing enemies.

The sci-fi settings may be familiar (yet beautifully remastered) but it's the riotous score system that sets Bulletstorm on fire - why waste a bullet on an enemy when you can yank him from behind cover with a whip, then impale his body on to a spiky cactus? Or slide-tackle a guy and shove him into a lethal electric fence?

Yes, it's juvenile. No, graphics aside, it hasn't changed an iota from the 2011 original. But this overlooked gem deserves a new audience. Just not for anyone under the age of 18.

Yooka-Laylee

(PS4/XO/PC) 4 stars Age: 7+

They don't make 'em like this any more. That's exactly why a group of ex-Rare alumni made this retro platformer with help from Kickstarter. It fills a gap in the market for colourful collect-'em-ups just like Rare used to excel at in the N64 days - see Banjo-Kazooie et al.

Inside the world of Yooka-Laylee - populated by wacky characters (one is called, ahem, Trowzer Snake) spouting wisecracks and built from familiar 3D platforming blueprints - it's as if the last 20 years in gaming never happened. Nostalgic fans will lap it up, though, entranced by its winning mix of cute animation, gentle (and fiendish) platforming and genre tropes. Newcomers may feel justifiably irked by its slightly loose controls, wonky camera and the lack of clear direction.

Fated: The Silent Oath

(PSVR/PC) 3 stars Age: 12+

Developers are still figuring out what works best in virtual reality and Fated attempts a movie-length storyline, earthed in Norse mythology, accompanied by some light interaction.

It works, to a point, thanks to a cartoonish World of Warcraft-aesthetic and some engaging character designs as you try to save your wife and daughter from vengeful giants. But the lack of meaningful gameplay undermines Fated's attractive €10 price point.

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