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Thread: Nostalgia Binge: Resident Evil

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: May 2004

    Nostalgia Binge: Resident Evil

    FULL SERIES REVIEWS INCOMING

    RESIDENT EVIL (1996/2002)




    I started off my Resident Evil marathon with the 2002 HD remake of the original game. Both versions were directed by series creator Shinji Mikami. The player takes the role of a member of the Raccoon City Police Department Special Tactics and Rescue Service, or S.T.A.R.S. – you can play as either Chris Redfield (with supporting character Rebecca Chambers) or Jill Valentine (with supporting character Barry Burton), and things will play out a little differently depending which character you choose. S.T.A.R.S. are sent to investigate some strange murders, but zombie dogs show up and chase them into a giant creepy mansion, where the game takes place. Your goal is to survive long enough to uncover the truth and escape the mansion.

    I played the game on hard difficulty, which is really the only way to experience this – it’s downright unfair in the best possible way. The fixed camera angles make it so you can’t see a lot of what’s in your character’s field of view, meaning it’s incredibly easy to run straight into a zombie and immediately get captured. The control schemes don’t help with this – the control scheme is changed in the remake from the original tank controls to a directional control scheme, which makes it somewhat easier to evade enemies, but also makes it very easy to run in the wrong direction every time the camera angle changes, so I’m not sure how much I can really call it an improvement. Both control schemes are incredibly clunky, but that has the effect of ratcheting up the tension even further.

    Zombies do quite a lot of damage when they capture you, and they’re very hard to kill, as they have a tendency to get back up after you think you’ve killed them. Ammunition and medical supplies are very scarce, so you’ll spend more time running past zombies and hoping they don’t catch you than actually fighting them. The mansion is incredibly claustrophobic, but also quite massive, and you can only save when you find a typewriter, of which there are only 3 in the whole mansion – and all of them are quite difficult to get to. You need ink ribbons to save at a typewriter, but these items are also quite scarce.

    To make matters EVEN WORSE, you have very limited inventory space (6 slots for Chris, 8 for Jill) and you can’t drop items, and so you’ll frequently need to deposit items in item boxes, of which there are only 2 in the entire mansion (next to two of the typewriters). The item boxes are magically linked, so any item you put in one box will appear in all the others – don’t think too hard about it, as it seems this was a concession to make this unforgiving game a little easier for the players rather than a planned part of the design.. The game is basically structured like a classic adventure game – explore the mansion, pick up items, and use them to solve puzzles – so you’ll be doing quite a bit of backtracking and repeatedly running past zombies you failed to kill while on the verge of dying, desperately hoping they don’t grab you and deliver the finishing blow before you reach a typewriter. It’s an incredibly tense and nerve-wracking experience, and it gets the adrenaline pumping in a way I’ve never experienced from any other game.

    Later in the game, you explore the grounds around the mansion and eventually discover a secret lab underneath the mansion, where the evil Umbrella corporation has developed a virus-turned-bioweapon that caused the outbreak. While the later stages are still quite atmospheric, my main complaint with them is that they don’t ratchet up the difficulty as much as I would have liked – the game actually gets much easier as it goes on and you figure out better ways to survive, reducing the adrenaline rush. Perhaps this is fixed in the ‘survival mode’ which is unlocked at the end of the game, where item boxes are not linked and auto aim doesn’t work. The other issue I have with the game’s late stages is that the enemy design outside of the zombies starts getting a bit too goofy – we get giant tarantulas, giant sharks, a giant snake, and weird ‘Hunters’ which look like a dinosaur crossed with a chimpanzee, none of which help the atmosphere. However, some bizarre giant mutant fly things show up at the end and show that they did have some creative monster design ideas, after all. With that said, the visual aesthetic of the remake is far better than that of the original game, making it darker and more atmospheric. The music is also quite excellent, and sets the mood perfectly. The cinematics and story bits are goofy b-movie cheese, but they happen rarely enough to provide a fun respite from the oppressive atmosphere.

    The early Silent Hill games are superior to this in a lot of ways, but their psychological approach makes them less focused on the actual survival aspect. This remake is, in my opinion, the DEFINITIVE survival horror title, and I highly recommend it to masochists everywhere. I actually felt scared playing this on hard difficulty at night thanks to the combination of atmosphere and mechanics. The level design is just brilliant, and the later games never managed to top the feeling of slowly exploring this enormous, claustrophobic mansion. You’re trapped in a madman’s creation, complete with traps and secret passageways.

    I am playing the series on PC, and the PC port of this title wasn’t the best – I experienced slowdowns when attempting to run it at 1440p, despite the fact that the only 3D rendered parts are the character models. I managed to fix this issue with a patch, but I was able to run much flashier fully 3D RE titles from a decade later without a hitch right out of the box, so this port could have used better optimization (or at least a bugfix).

    RATING: 9/10 mutant flies


  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    RESIDENT EVIL 2 (1998)



    Both fortunately and unfortunately for Shinji Mikami, Resident Evil (or Biohazard, as it was known in Japan) was a huge success. Capcom demanded a sequel and moved Mikami to a producer role, despite his reservations. Mikami didn’t want RE to turn into a series, as he felt that the horror would only effective in small doses. Unfortunately, he was right. I’ve heard many proclaim this sequel to be the best game in the series, and I’m going to assume this is mainly due to nostalgia goggles.

    Apparently this sequel reached 80% completion when Mikami decided that it was just plain boring and scrapped it, restarting the development process. I’m not sure if this caused the studio to be crunched for time, but the game’s repetitive structure certainly makes it feel that way. Once again, there are two playable characters – Raccoon Police Department rookie Leon S. Kennedy and Chris Redfield’s younger sister Claire – only instead of picking one to play through the entire game with, there are two scenarios. You can play either scenario with either character, but you will always switch characters mid-game to see what the other character has been up in the meantime. Events will vary depending which character you start off with. It’s a cool idea in theory, but since this game is meant to be played twice, this means you have to play through the main areas four times with subtle variations to see everything there is to see.

    While some events are exclusive to each character, many puzzles and bosses are repeated between them. How do the puzzles magically unsolve themselves for the next person who comes around? We’ll never know. There are a couple of areas that are unique to each scenario, but there’s so much lazy recycling between the two scenarios that what should be a different take on the same levels becomes a repeat, as they didn’t go far enough in make the scenarios unique. The one major element that sets the two scenarios apart is that a nearly indestructible boss character stalks you through the second scenario – a really cool idea that sets the stage for the third game, but it’s a bit underutilized here.

    Aside from the repetition, the biggest problem is that this is basically Resident Evil Lite in every way. The structure of the game is very, very similar to the original – most of it takes place in a large, mansion-like structure (in this case, the Raccoon Police Department), then after going through the sewers beneath it, we end up in another secret Umbrella lab. But it’s nowhere near as engrossing and labyrinthine as the original because it’s all so much smaller – while the original took me nearly 10 hours to complete, I made it through the first scenario here in about 3.5hrs (and I think I could easily do it in 2 if I were to replay it). The police station is nice and atmospheric at first, but that atmosphere evaporates pretty quickly as you’re forced to replay it. It’s also much easier, partially because hard difficulty wasn’t available from the start, making this feel like an absolute breeze after the first one. I didn’t experience any anxiety until the very last section. I didn’t try hard difficulty once I unlocked it, but I imagine it would still be too easy just by merit of the game being smaller and having more frequent save points.

    There are still a few areas where this game improves on the original. The non-zombie monster designs are much better, especially for the bosses – the giant animals of the first game are largely replaced by gory body horror (though the giant spiders show up again for a minute, but they’re cute, so why not?). The story is a bit more involved, once again with just the right amount of cheese, and the more frequent cutscenes are well executed for the time. There are more characters, who replace the original’s constant feeling of isolation with a decent attempt at human drama. You get to play as one of the secondary characters, including a defenseless little girl, for one section of each scenario. The voice acting is also quite good for a Resident Evil game (it’s generally abysmal, and still pretty bad here lol), and there are some great set pieces, like zombie hands grabbing at you through boarded windows.

    The visuals are also pretty nice – while they’re low resolution on this old PC port, the pre-rendered backgrounds look quite detailed – far better than any full 3D games from the time. The music is pretty solid here, but it’s not quite as good or consistently atmospheric as that of its predecessor. I suppose it doesn’t help that I’m comparing the original version of this with an improved remake of the first game, but since most of my issues with it stem from the overall structure, I can’t see this mattering a whole lot. But nonetheless, this game is currently being remade as well, so I will re-evaluate it once the remake is released.

    Granted, this review should be taken with a grain of salt – trying to play a PC game from nearly 20 years ago that never received a patch is not a good idea, but I tried it here. If I had been smart, I would have emulated it, but instead I jumped through massive hoops trying to get this damn thing to work, and the problems didn’t end once I did. I encountered a game breaking crash at the end of the first scenario that I figured out a convoluted fix for, then another at the end of the second scenario that made me run to youtube to watch the last 10 minutes – so I technically didn’t manage to play through the whole thing even once!

    RATING: 6.75/10 lickers – A pale copy of the first game with a novel structural concept that needed to be taken further to truly work, but it has its moments. I'm excited to see what they do with the remake.


  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    RESIDENT EVIL 3: NEMESIS (1999)



    After the success of the original game, Capcom started development on multiple Resident Evil projects. With Mikami producing, they had Hideki Kamiya (the director of the 2nd game) begin work on Resident Evil 3. But the Playstation 2 was announced, and Capcom realized that if they were going to get a 3rd Playstation game out before the PS2 was released, they’d have to rush it – so Kamiya’s game was cancelled. This is where things get rather confusing – the scenario Kamiya was working on ended up later being used for RE: Revelations, and instead he started directing Resident Evil 4 – but that game turned into Devil May Cry, and Mikami directed RE4 instead. In the meantime, RE: Code Veronica, the true next generation sequel to RE2 with full 3D graphics, was being developed for the Dreamcast. An RE2 spinoff (also produced by Mikami) got promoted to the next numbered game in the series because Sony owned the rights to the name Resident Evil 3, so they couldn’t use it for Code Veronica. That spinoff is what I am reviewing now. Confused yet?

    This final numbered PS1 game closely follows the template established by the first two, using the same engine with the same mechanics, but the developers did their best to introduce new elements with their limited time. The game takes place in the streets of Raccoon City, which are swarming with zombies, instead of sticking the player in a claustrophobic environment with just a few of them. The titular Nemesis is the next iteration of the nearly indestructible boss that chased you through the latter half of RE2, and he chases you through this entire game. He looks a whole lot cooler than his predecessor. Nemesis has been designed by Umbrella to cover up evidence by killing off every member of S.T.A.R.S. who saw what happened in the mansion, so you play as Jill Valentine from the original game. This time, your goal is to survive and escape the city without being killed by Nemesis, who periodically shows up and says ’STARS’ in a wonderfully goofy voice.

    Instead of adding a second character choice for replayability (as they did in the first two games), the developers present you with a number of binary choices to be made on the fly which alter the course of the game. For example, when the Nemesis shows up, you can choose to run away or fight him, or to push him off a bridge or jump off yourself. They also allow you to craft your own ammo, which doesn’t change ammo scarcity (as you still have to find gunpowder items), but does allow you to pick which types of ammo you want to have. They added explosive environmental objects that you can shoot, and also introduce a dodge move (which is useful but hard to execute with any sort of consistency, since it’s contextual and the keys for it are the same as other movements).

    The first half of the game takes place 24hrs before RE2, while the 2nd half takes place immediately after RE2. I thought this would matter, so that’s the order I played the games in, but as it turns out, the two stories are basically unrelated. Aside from the quite conclusive ending which was added last minute to justify this being a numbered title, this rather thin plot has no impact on the overall plot of the series.

    Thankfully, the PC port was much better this time around. Not only were the pre-rendered backgrounds much higher resolution (and quite pretty and atmospheric), but the game ran without a hitch and I didn’t encounter any bugs, making this a much more pleasant experience than RE2.

    I always thought the cover of this game looked AWESOME as a kid, so I was excited to play it, but it’s not a fan favorite. I was always puzzled by this, as the concept sounded truly awesome. Now I know why – it’s a real mixed bag. It’s quite short – I beat it in a mere 5 hours, which would have been fine if it had all been high quality. The city streets are the best part, but I can’t help but feel that they were held back by technical limitations – they could only have 9 zombies at once in any given area, which isn’t quite enough to make this difficult or scary. Hard mode was available from the start this time, but it still wasn’t anywhere near as challenging as the first game. While the Nemesis should be terrifying, I found him a bit too easy to run away from – the horror was gone by this point in the series, and they were clearly starting to move towards a more action-oriented approach.

    The city is organized in a way that makes it play pretty much the same way as the mansion or RPD, but it feels smaller than the mansion, probably because it’s nowhere near as densely packed. Taking this approach requires a bit more of a sprawl, so it’s shame they didn’t have time to make this part bigger.

    Because of those time constraints, it’s padded with recycled indoor areas. The first large indoor area is the Raccoon Police Department… again! As if playing through it 2-4x in the previous game wasn’t enough? Most of it is inaccessible this time, but it still feels entirely pointless aside from forcing you to face Nemesis in an enclosed area. It also doesn’t make any story sense with RE2… why is the police station deserted and boarded up one day, then totally accessible and with a couple survivors the following day? The next big indoor area is a Clock Tower, which feels like a mini-mansion – another pointless pale shadow of the original. There are even some recycled puzzles (‘Find the missing gear… again! But you have to assemble the gear this time, so it’s different right?’).

    The indoor areas in the second half of the game fare much better. The hospital is quite nice (you play through that segment as an Umbrella hired mercenary named Carlos, who has a truly terrible voice actor), as is the secret Umbrella lab disguised as a factory. But wait.. didn’t the previous game also end with a secret lab hidden in an abandoned factory? Yes, but every Resident Evil game features a secret lab near the end, so get used to it.

    Ultimately, I like this game more than Resident Evil 2. It’s got more original ideas, it’s more ambitious, it’s fleshed out slightly more, and it’s more consistently fun. But like RE2, it was held back by its extremely tight development schedule, leading to a lot of recycling. Even the music was largely recycled from RE2. There are a couple new monsters – a giant mutated flea, some little worms, a frog hunter, more dangerous Hunter that can take your head off in one swipe – but they’re all variations on older monsters. The best monster design is the final form of Nemesis, which retains the body horror aesthetic from the previous game.

    There is also a ‘Mercenaries’ arcade mode, where you run from one side of the city to the other while trying to kill as many zombies as possible in a limited amount of time. Arcade modes aren’t really my thing, so I didn’t spend more than 5 minutes on this, but it seemed decently fun.

    RATING: 7.25/10 brain suckers – This isn’t half bad for a rushed formulaic sequel, but the formula is running thin.


  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by froghawk View Post
    Apparently this sequel reached 80% completion when Mikami decided that it was just plain boring and scrapped it, restarting the development process.
    Your aware of Resident Evil 1.5 I presume?

  5. #5
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Excellent stuff froghawk, looking forward to more

    I skipped 2 & 3 as I'd sold my PS1 at that point, but I played a bit of Veronica on a friend's Dreamcast, and after that I think I either played Zero or REmake. Not sure which. Which one had the Witch's hut?

    But I rinsed the original, with it being the last game I bought on my PS1 before I sold it. I even unlocked the rocket launcher with infinite ammo

    And I loved RE4 of course. Bought it on Gamecube, then Wii (Wiimote was awesome for aiming), and even bought the initial borked PC release, later buying the proper HD one.

    I did buy RE5 on the 360, but found it to be pretty "Meh" and never even got around to completing it.

    Since then, I've not touched another entry in the series, as Dead Rising became my Capcom zombie game of choice (even though my interest in that series petered out after the second entry).

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    Your aware of Resident Evil 1.5 I presume?
    Yep! I should probably give the released version a try... it just sounds like a pain to get working.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malf
    I skipped 2 & 3 as I'd sold my PS1 at that point, but I played a bit of Veronica on a friend's Dreamcast, and after that I think I either played Zero or REmake. Not sure which. Which one had the Witch's hut?
    I assume you're talking about the Lisa Trevor house, in which case it's REmake.

    I recommend returning to the series for 7 - it's a huuuuuuge improvement over 5&6. Much more like the original, but in first person.


    Anyway, I'll be reviewing some spinoffs and related games as well. I might not get to a lot of these until after I'm done reviewing the main series, but here's the first nonetheless:

    DINO CRISIS (1999)



    In between producing multiple Resident Evil sequels, Shinji Mikami found time to direct the first title in a new IP called Dino Crisis, which was basically Jurassic Park (one character even states ‘This is just like that movie!’) with Resident Evil game mechanics. Velociraptors and Pteranodons replace zombies and mutated animals. You play as Regina, a member of SORT (Secret Operation Raid Team – nothing like STARS at all!), who have been sent to Ibis Island to find a scientist, Dr. Kirk. Everyone thought Dr. Kirk was dead, but it turns out he’d been doing secret weapons research all this time and accidentally opened a portal to the past, bringing dinosaurs into the present.

    This game was the first full 3D RE style game, predating Code: Veronica by a year, but featuring many ideas never seen in early Resident Evil. The game takes place entirely inside a research facility (basically another mansion/lab), and the downside of this being the first 3D game in this style is that every room looks pretty much identical, all lacking the detail and character found in the early RE games. Code: Veronica’s environmental variety was much better, but its gameplay didn’t innovate anywhere near as much as this.

    In all the early RE games, once you managed to escape a room, enemies couldn’t follow you (with the exception of the Nemesis). In Dino Crisis, dinosaurs can follow you between rooms, and they’re much faster moving than the RE zombies, leading Mikami to dub this game ‘panic horror’ instead of survival horror. They can even knock the weapon right out of your hand. There are also early quicktime event type things, which a dinosaur will attack you and you have to button mash to get free while ‘DANGER’ flashes on the screen.

    Typewriters and ink ribbons have been replaced by special save rooms that ask if you want to save as you leave them. You're given extra lives with an option to continue in the room where you died, but you can only do that 30x before you run out of continues (I only ended up using this 6x, and just because it was there – I didn’t really need it at all). The health system is pretty much the same as RE – you can mix health items to combine effects, only poisoning has been replaced by bleeding, which is stopped using hemostats. Magic item boxes have been replaced by color-coded emergency boxes that need to be unlocked using plugs. Each box has items for you to use, which you can trade with items you want to store, and you’ll be able to access them again from any box of the same color, making you choose which color box you’ll use (different colors provide different items, but also take varying numbers of plugs to unlock). There are also laser grids which you can turn on and off, which are used to both block your progress and to give you another tool to escape enemies. The key hunts have gotten more complex, often requiring you to find two discs then solve a simple cypher to gain entry to new areas. You’ll even have to take fingerprints off corpses to forge ID cards.

    As in Nemesis, you are given binary choices that affect which of the 3 endings you get. You are asked to pick between the strategies of your teammates – Gail is a soldier who wants to fight through every obstacle, while Rick is a tech guy who offers alternate solutions, usually involving puzzle solving. I tend to avoid combat in games if at all possible, so I sided with Rick every time – and while I appreciate what they were trying to do, I ultimately found this way of playing the game to be rather dull. This style of gameplay is dependent on tension, but there were very few enemies to fight or avoid taking Rick’s approach, making the game feel dull instead of tense.

    Part of the problem is it’s not only the visuals that lack variety – the puzzles also get repetitive. There are several variations on a couple types of puzzles (code cyphers and such) which start becoming tedious very quickly. I can’t really imagine things are all that much more exciting taking Gail’s approach, as there are only 5 types of dinosaurs (velociraptor, pteranodon, compsognathus, and Therizinosaurus, plus a recurring T-Rex boss, which presents no real challenge) and 3 weapons to fight them with (the RE standards – pistol, shotgun, and grenade launcher). Granted, each weapon has multiple types of ammo (including tranq darts for a shotgun – what?), and you can upgrade all 3 weapons if you can find the parts. The music is quite nice and moody and does some pretty cool things for a midi score, but also rather repetitive. This was the shortest game I’ve played so far (clear time was 4.5hrs), but it didn’t manage to stay fun even for that brief amount of time.

    It sounds like they rectified a lot of these issues in Dino Crisis 2, which returned to pre-rendered backgrounds for more variety and made a fast-paced game that focused on action instead of an incredibly slow game focused on puzzles. The atmospheric approach simply didn’t work here, as the game fails to be scary like RE – transplanting that same gameplay into a new setting lost the things that made the gameplay work to begin with, despite many new mechanics.

    The PC port seems to be using the same tech as Resident Evil 2, but thankfully it doesn’t suffer from anywhere near as many issues. It has an extra mode called Operation Wipeout, which is similar to Mercenaries – run through the facility and try to kill all the dinosaurs before time runs out. Yawn. As with RE2, it also has an extra mode called ‘Arrange’, which features different enemy and item placement. I didn’t try this in either game.

    As I side note, I think it’s hilarious how attached fans get to these characters. Apparently there was outcry over Regina not appearing in Dino Crisis 3, but she has even less personality than any of the Resident Evil protagonists, which is really saying something. What is there to get attached to?

    Every title directed by Shinji Mikami has far more fresh ideas than the others, so I commend this game for that aspect – but so many other parts of it feel undercooked that this title ultimately ends up rather underwhelming despite the new gameplay mechanics.

    RATING: 5/10 dull spinoffs

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    There were 4 titles in the Gun Survivor series, but this is the only one I'll be reviewing. RE Survivor 2 - Code: Veronica (2001) is unsurprisingly a light gun adaptation of Code: Veronica. Dino Stalker (2002) is a PS2 light gun sequel to Dino Crisis 2. The final entry in the series, RE: Dead Aim (2003), is a PS2 game with another original RE plot. There were also two rail shooters for the Wii. The Umbrella Chronicles (2007) retells the events of RE0, REmake, and RE3, while The Darkside Chronicles (2009) retells the events of RE2 and Code: Veronica.


    RESIDENT EVIL: SURVIVOR (2000)



    The first entry in the Gun Survivor series was a light gun game that used the GunCon 45, and thus was the first Resident Evil title in first person and in full 3D. It was one of the first off-rail light gun games, featuring free navigation of the environment. Unfortunately, it didn't make it to North America with light gun intact - the Columbine shooting happened shortly before the game came out and many blamed video games, leading light gun compatibility to be removed from the NA version.

    What remained was a game that was clearly meant to be played with an entirely different control scheme and was ruined through the translation. The controls differ from a standard 90s FPS - as in the other Resident Evil games, you have to hold down a button to aim, which prevents you from moving. The movement keys move the reticule in this mode, which is quite awkward and makes aiming rather inaccurate. Nonetheless, mechanics like this alongside the presence of key hunts, door animation loading screens, the survival aspect (health pickups are very rare) and the overall atmosphere make RE: Survivor very recognizably a Resident Evil game. It also differs from the previous RE titles in many core ways - most strikingly, there's very little backtracking or spending a lot of time in a given area here, though there are a few bits which feel like the older titles in that regard. Most of the game is spent moving forwards.

    The enemies here are the same as those of Resident Evil 2, but with a couple new additions. There are 8 weapons in the game, though they can't all be obtained in a single playthrough thanks to the game's branching path structure. 4 of the weapons are handguns with infinite ammo, so ammo shortages aren't quite as much of an issue as in the other series titles, but ammo for the shotgun, grenade gun and magnum is extremely scarce in just the way you'd expect. Since pistols are rather ineffective against the tougher enemies, this introduces a challenge, though it's sometimes possible to simply run away from the more difficult enemies. I almost entirely stuck to the pistols, which turned out to be a good idea, as there's a huge difficulty spike for the final boss. I used up every bit of ammo I had saved up and still needed to resort to using a pistol to finish it off. I also had to avoid getting hit for basically the entire final stage of the game, as there were no health items in the entire area and I entered it with low health. The balance could have used a bit of tweaking there.

    In a surprising move for a light gun game, it also has a real plot. It takes place shortly after the end of Resident Evil 3, chronicling a biohazard outbreak in Umbrella's township. It feels quite forced when they announce that Raccoon City wasn't the ONLY city to experience an outbreak, especially since these events are never referenced in any other game, but I guess the fact that the town is on an isolated island is meant to explain that away. In any case, the player character is a guy who entirely lost his memory in a helicopter crash. As he slowly learns about himself, he comes to the conclusion that he was a very bad guy named Vincent - the Umbrella executive responsible for the outbreak. All of this is illustrated with utterly abysmal English voice acting and inconsistently translated text files.

    It's a very brief title that can be completed in 1.5-2hrs if you make it to the end (my clear time was 2:08), but the kicker is that it needs to be completed in a single sitting with a maximum of 4 deaths. It doesn't allow you to save unless you choose not to continue after dying or get a game over, but even then, you can only save the weapons and files you've obtained and have to start the game over next time. It may have been possible to complete the game that way with a light gun, but it's virtually impossible using keyboard controls and an emulator and I imagine using a controller isn't far off from that. I'll admit to a bit of cheating by using the emulator's save and load function - I don't think I could have completed it otherwise. While the game is very nicely designed to be a different experience each time, with many door choices leading to vastly different branching paths (and a couple randomized options for monster encounters within each room), the final stages of the game are simply too hard to complete in one sitting with only 4 continues. I imagine almost no one actually beat the North American version of this game - and if they did, it was with a great deal of frustration. I certainly wouldn't have if I hadn't used the emulator's save states. I guess that's one way to make people invest lots of time in a very short game.

    In short, this game gets a lot of hate for good reasons - the aforementioned control scheme issues, the dated full 3D graphics, the retconned plot and awful voice acting in the English version, and the fact that it's basically impossible to complete. Nonetheless, I actually enjoyed quite a bit of the game. It manages to have a great deal of atmosphere and nail the proper Resident Evil vibe through its visuals and soundtrack. The survival aspect feels quite strong in this game, and it evoked the proper tension. I think it's highly underrated for all these reasons and actually quite well designed for the light gun format. What happened to the game was out of the developers' hands, but it's an undeniably frustrating game in its lightgun-free form - perhaps too much so to be worth the trouble.

    RATING: 4/10 Recurring Bosses - A game that could have been quite good had it been released with its proper control scheme, but instead came out borderline unplayable.

    Last edited by froghawk; 13th Sep 2018 at 15:36.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    RESIDENT EVIL – CODE: VERONICA X (2000)



    The first proper fully 3D, next-gen RE game was released on the Dreamcast in 2000. Development of this game was largely outsourced because of the sheer number of RE projects happening at Capcom, but was still overseen by Shinji Mikami. I emulated the Gamecube version of this game, which is extended with some extra cinematics at the end – hence the ‘X’. The audio was a little funny at times, but otherwise it ran fine. Aside from the full 3D graphics and camera angles that move a little bit with you every so often, this game is mechanically identical to the early RE games (minus the stuff that was added in Nemesis). The tone, however, couldn’t be more different – it just feels wrong. It’s very pastel – it looks and feels more like an adventure game than a horror title. Which is fine, as RE has always been an adventure series wearing horror clothes, so why not bring out the adventure elements more when the horror is no longer effective? But the strange part is that what’s on screen is still horror – there are gory scenes, and it plays identically to the earlier games – but the whole art style looks so soft and friendly. It’s a really jarring mix. Even the game’s cover looks less badass. The music is largely awful, as well, and reinforces the adventure game feel, especially in the first half – though it gets somewhat better towards the end and finally establishes the proper mood. The music also drowns out the speech in a few of the cutscenes, which is quite irritating.

    CODE: VERONICA is a direct sequel to Resident Evil 2, and takes place 3 months after that game ends. It stars Claire Redfield and her brother Chris (from the 2nd and first games, respectively), and begins with Claire getting trapped on a prison island in the South Pacific while searching for her brother. Claire executes all sorts of goofy action moves in the early cutscenes (inspired by John Woo lol), and the voice acting, writing and cinematics are just terrible – a real low for the series. The supporting characters and villains are downright embarrassing. The main villain in the first half of the game is Alfred, an aristocrat with a split personality who thinks he’s also his sister Alexia and crossdresses to become her. He also does this really annoying high-pitched giggle. Alexia has has engineered a new virus, t-veronica, to improve upon the t and g viruses from the other games. This one is somehow extracted from a queen ant – don’t ask me how it works. VERONICA is also the final code you have to enter in the game to start the last boss battle, so the title is quite literal in a rather goofy way.

    Claire’s love interest, Steve, is basically your generic emo teen who is obsessed with his submachine guns and can’t deal with killing his zombie dad. He also tries to kiss Claire while she’s sleeping, which is just creepy. Chris’s main adversary is none other than his ex-boss Albert Wesker, the main antagonist from the original game – only now, he has superpowers (super speed and laser eyes lmao – this is never explained and also underused).

    This is the longest of these first five games – the first playthrough took me 8hrs. The level design is a little different than usual, as it features multiple interconnected areas – a prison, a training facility, a naval airport, a palace, and a small mansion (this time with double the cheese) – and instead of progressing through them in a linear fashion, you can explore them somewhat freely. The game is structured similarly to RE2 in that you play as Claire on the first disc and Chris on the 2nd, and once again each character progresses through the same areas. I groaned at this initially, as you may recall that I wasn’t much of a fan of RE2’s structure, but it’s MUCH better executed this time.

    They do a lot more to differentiate the two halves here, as the base it takes place on has been bombed out when Chris returns – so the scenery is different, the route through it is different, and the puzzles are all different. Everything is exactly where Claire left it, so there are no continuity errors like there were in RE2, and you can’t pick the order of characters, so it doesn’t make you play through it twice. Chris only visits two of the five initial interconnected areas, and then the final area is MUCH larger when he gets there (with the parts Claire went through largely inaccessible). He even ends up in a recreation of parts of the mansion from the original (as if this series needed MORE recycling, or this game needed yet another mansion?), which just highlight’s how bizarre the game’s visual style is – seeing parts of the original remade in bright pastels makes my eyebrow raise. As a side note, Claire is given the exact same arsenal that she had in RE2 – cute touch.

    I may have neglected to mention in previous reviews that a movie of a door opening plays every single time you open a door in all of these early games. They spice that up slightly in this game by having the animation move slower and adding a heartbeat sound every time you’re about to encounter a boss – and cheesy as that is, it’s actually pretty effective, as I usually haven’t saved in a while by that point. They do fakeouts with it on occasion, too. There’s also the addition of security cameras (placed by Albert Wesker) that summon hunters (the most dangerous non-boss monster in all of the games). Sometimes it even summons poison hunters, which are a real pain in the ass. This doesn’t add much of a stealth element because those camera are quite hard to dodge, so I wish they’d taken that concept a bit further.

    There are no difficulty levels to choose from on this one. The enemies are bullet sponges, and while they take a while to do any damage, health items are also EXTREMELY scarce, so it’s a bit more challenging than the last two games, at least. This game isn’t afraid of screwing you over in other ways – it’s a bit mean spirited. Similarly to the hookshot lab bug in RE0, it’s also possible to leave some items in a box and forget to to return for them, which will make it impossible to progress after you can no longer return to the box. This didn’t happen to me, but I did run into some other issues. I had no idea that I had to take an item back to someone in the first room in the game to get the lockpick, as you otherwise have no reason to revisit that room. Because I missed this, I was cut off from getting several useful items for the rest of the game – even after switching characters, as Chris can only get the lighter if Claire first gets the lockpick. I wouldn’t normally be irritated by this, but somehow the game gave me the feeling that I was being punished for not magically divining these things, because missing one action started a chain reaction of more and more things I couldn’t access later on. If I played it again, I’d certainly do it differently – but frankly, I can’t imagine ever doing that.

    I also didn’t know that Chris would have access to all of the items in Claire’s box (even though that makes the nonsensical magic item boxes make even less sense), so I missed out on giving Chris some useful items (there was SO MUCH grenade launcher and bow gun ammo in the late stages of the game that I couldn’t use, and instead was perpetually short on ammo for the weapons I did have). Claire takes over again later on for a moment, but doesn’t get to do much fighting, so the ammo was still wasted. She does have an opportunity to give these weapons back to Chris, but that also isn’t made clear – it looked like she was gearing up for a boss fight at that moment, so naturally I took all of her weapons with her. Instead, all she had to do was run away, so I could’ve given those weapons to Chris after all. But all of that did make the game harder, so that’s good.

    The monster design is ok – there’s a big thing with a stretchy arm (somewhat reminiscent of the leech zombies from RE0, but even sillier looking), a salamander with a vagina for a face which can electrocute you, and more giant spiders (though they’re not tarantulas this time, so they aren’t as cute and fuzzy looking), but the visual style of the game affects the monsters as much as the environments, so nothing looks particularly scary.

    On the whole, I just felt like this game was mediocre. The level design was nice at times, and the length was a plus, but the weak writing and audio/visual design combined with formula fatigue make this one of the weaker entries in the series to me. There’s a mercenaries type mode which is unlocked when you beat it called ‘Battle Mode’ which can actually be played in first person, but it’s a pretty awkward and clunky first person that the game clearly wasn’t designed for. As with the other arcade mode, you quickly run through environments from the game and try to kill as many zombies as possible in the shortest amount of time. You can unlock new characters to play with if you get high enough scores. Not really my thing, but it’s cute.

    6/10 Vagina-faced salamanders – A solid cheesy adventure game, but a terrible horror game.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    DINO CRISIS 2 (2000)



    The second game in the Dino Crisis series underwent a massive change in direction. Mikami stepped back into an executive producer role, allowing the game to differentiate itself from Resident Evil and gain more of its own identity. The result is a far cry from the slow and ponderous gameplay of the original - Dino Crisis 2 is a fast action adventure game that only superficially resembles the original. Dino Crisis didn't run well enough to support this kind of fast gameplay, and so, in an unusual move for a sequel, the technology was scaled back. The fully 3D environments of the original game were replaced with the more attractive and varied pre-rendered backdrops of older Resident Evil, providing a more high performing and bug-free experience (at least in the PC version).

    The contrast between 'Alien' and 'Aliens' nicely reflects the difference between these two games. Where Dino Crisis was a slow and deliberate horror title filled with a small number of intelligent enemies, Dino Crisis 2 is a quickly paced action title where the enemies suddenly become a mindless hoard of easily defeated individuals. There are even similar inconsistencies between the two titles - thewway that the the previously challenging hoards of compsagnathus from Dino Crisis won't even attack you in the sequel reminds me of how the xenomorphs' acid blood in 'Aliens' is much less dangerous than it was in the first film.

    Regina returns as the protagonist here, but a second playable character is introduced - a meathead soldier named Dylan, who is probably meant to provide contrast with Regina's more deliberate approach but ends up playing pretty much exactly the same. The only substantive difference between the two is that there are certain doors that only one character has the tool to open, artificially blocking your progress until the characters are switched. The game takes place in a dinosaur-filled city and surrounding jungle that's been sent into the future. Regina and Dylan are stranded here and must find a way to return to the present, since the time drive on their ship was destroyed. The plot takes a few unexpected twists and ultimately doesn't make a lick of sense or have much of a point.

    Part of the problem with the writing is that it often gives you little reason to progress in the game beyond exploration-based motivations like 'search for survivors' or opening a door because you've found a key. This worked fine for the Resident Evil series due to the puzzle-filled mansion design, but for an action game taking place in a much more open environment, the stakes need to be a bit higher to propel things forwards. It doesn't help that a couple transitional bits are spelled out with a line of text rather than shown, which further breaks the momentum and contributes to the game's rushed low-budget feel.

    Almost none of the new mechanics from the previous title are present here - everythng from dinosaurs following you between rooms and knocking things out of your hands to freeing yourself with quicktime events to code cyphers to laser grids to emergency boxes to full 3D graphics has been stripped out. They've been replaced by a much more diverse array of dinosaurs and weaponry and a points system. The gameplay mostly consists of running (walking was removed) through a linear level segment and killing the constantly-spawning monsters as fast as you can (usually in 1-3 shots per dino) to get as high of a score as possible on each level segment. The highest scores come from taking no damage, performing counters and long combos (consecutive kills), and killing bigger dinosaurs. These points then act as money which can be used to buy new weapons, supplies, and upgrades from the computers, which feature shops and save points.

    The computers are very frequent, so you'll rarely find yourself short on ammo or terrified of dying. The fear of death is further lessened by resuscitation packs, which replace the continue system from the previous game. You can only hold two at a time, giving you two retries per scenario, but they're available for purchase at every store. You can also upgrade the clip capacity of your weapons, and since there's no reloading, all of your ammo is in one giant clip. I didn't purchase a single clip upgrade or resuscitation pack during my entire playthrough and still found the game quite easy, partially because shops were frequent enough that ammo was plentiful. The very accurate autoaim takes away any remaining challenge.

    All of this makes the game a far cry from the survival horror of Resident Evil, but it's the similarities with those titles that make Dino Crisis 2 feel like a strange relic. Although the game consists of linear level segments, these segments are all interconnected into a larger RE-style world which you'll backtrack through frequently - meaning you'll be killing dinos in the same level segment on repeat for more points, making the game feel very grindy. The inventory system doesn't feature any space management, but even the presence of an inventory screen feels out of place in such a fast-paced action game. Switching to the inventory to use a health item or look at a map still pauses the game, killing the momentum of the action. There are further RE holdovers which slow down the game, like stopping to read documents (which are longer than ever in this game, and filled with typos and misspellings) or stopping to examine the scenery (though all the important items are 3D, so I'm not sure why they even bothered to provide text explanations for parts of the backdrops). This gives the whole game the feel of an action game forced on top of a framework that was designed for slow survival horror. In 2000, it couldn't possibly feel like more of a relic - especially following more technically advanced titles like the first Dino Crisis and RE: Code Veronica.

    My clear file clocked in at a mere 4hrs - even shorter than the already scant first game. That time felt like it went by a lot faster than the first game did, probably due to the attempts at varying the gameplay. There are primitive mounted gun sequences (which are awful enough to make similar sequences in later RE games look good), an underwater sequence, a tank sequence (though it feels like a cardboard toy), and a sequence in which the characters call down air strikes. While none of these are particularly good, they at least provided a break from the grind and keep each type of gameplay restricted to brief segments.

    A mercenaries mode called 'Dino Colloseum' unlocks upon beating the game. It takes place in a Metal Gear VR type environment in which you battle dinosaurs on a timer. You can pick from various playable characters, including dinosaurs, a tank, and a couple characters from the first game, all of which are unlockable using points from the main game. There is only one lazily designed level with one scenario, so it's not likely to add much extra playtime.

    Overall, my impression is that this was a very rushed cash-in sequel. The combination of the facts that it came out a mere year after the original despite a major change in direction, that said change in direction feels so undercooked, that it's so brief and light on content, and that the plot is so thin and nonsensical all make this game feel like it was forced into existence against its will. Is it more fun to play than the original, despite being far less innovative and unique? Yes. But that merely raises its status to mediocre, and the best thing I can say about it beyond that is that you'll likely have forgotten the entire affair the second after it ends.

    Rating: 5/10 cash-in sequels

    I won't be covering the 2003 Xbox title Dino Crisis 3, as there is no PC version available and the plot is unrelated to the earlier games.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by froghawk View Post
    In short, this game gets a lot of hate for good reasons - the aforementioned control scheme issues, the dated full 3D graphics, the retconned plot and awful voice acting in the English version, and the fact that it's basically impossible to complete. Nonetheless, I actually enjoyed quite a bit of the game. It manages to have a great deal of atmosphere and nail the proper Resident Evil vibe through its visuals and soundtrack. The survival aspect feels quite strong in this game, and it evoked the proper tension. I think it's highly underrated for all these reasons and actually quite well designed for the light gun format. What happened to the game was out of the developers' hands, but it's an undeniably frustrating game in its lightgun-free form - perhaps too much so to be worth the trouble.
    I managed to beat this game on my actual PS1 back in the day. Took a few attempts in some of the bits, but was fine. I actually really liked this game. Has that campy zombie apocalypse vibe common to a lot of the older zombie movies (70s-80s), that is in the older Resident Evil games (1-3 + Code Veronica). Yes the voice acting is awful, but the gameplays fine once you've been playing for a bit. Best of all, unlike the other Gun Survivor games, your free to roam around to wherever you want. So it plays far more like the traditional RE games. All the other Gun Survivor games went for a more on rails style. So for me, I only enjoyed this one of the "Survivor" series. Tried the others and got bored quickly.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Damn, props to you! I can imagine it being easier with a controller than a keyboard. Moving the reticule around with the arrow keys makes it very hard to be accurate... a stick with more range of motion is probably preferable. And again, I think a lot about that game is really underrated. It has a lot of merits and I enjoyed a lot about it. But I also understand why people were frustrated with it.

    Anyway, 'Devil May Cry' is in the scope of this course, but I don't own it yet, so I'll return to it later. Maybe the DMC series will get its own thread. In the meantime....

    RESIDENT EVIL ZERO (2002)



    Ah RE0.. where do I even start? This was actually the second game in the series that I played, as it came in a bundle with REmake and uses the same engine. Development on this game apparently started alongside Nemesis and Code Veronica in 1998, and it was originally going to be a Nintendo 64 title – but it ended up being too big to fit on a cartridge, so it didn’t end up coming out until 4 years later (which is why it uses pre-rendered backgrounds 2 years after Capcom had already released a fully 3D RE title with Code Veronica).

    The main new mechanic in this game is that instead of having a campaign that you can play through with either of two characters, both characters are taken through the campaign at the same time. But this isn’t a co-op game – you lead with one character and the other follows, and you can switch between them on the fly and give the follower orders. The characters are S.T.A.R.S. medic Rebecca Chambers (Chris’s support character in the original game) and a random escaped convict named Billy Coen.

    This game is meant to be a prequel to the original, but the plot doesn’t make a lick of sense and it sheds absolutely no new light on the story, aside from showing Albert Wesker & William Birkin (the main antagonists of the first two games) working together. The main villain in this game, however, is a complete non sequitur – a scientist named James Marcus who looks like an anime character, sings weird little songs, and has an obsession with leeches. The opening sequence which introduces him damn near made me turn off the game forever, as it’s unbearably cheesy – Marcus stands on the top of a mountain wearing some sort of wizard robes and waves his arms around while singing, which somehow causes an outbreak to begin on a train. How this works is never explained, as he doesn’t have any magical powers. It’s every bit as embarrassingly awful as it sounds.

    This opening train sequence is the only somewhat novel environment in the game (though there were brief train sequences in RE 2&3). It SHOULD be an incredibly atmospheric setting – the art design is awesome (it’s got the same dark visual aesthetic as REmake). – but any sense of atmosphere is completely eradicated by frequent cutscenes with annoying banter between the two completely insufferable lead characters. Mercifully, they mostly shut the fuck up for the rest of the game, as the plot becomes incredibly thin and stays out of the way, allowing the atmosphere to take over.

    The rest of the game basically re-imagines environments from the early games with the same structure as the first two games… as if they hadn’t already done enough REhashing and REcycling? The bulk of the game is a training facility which looks a whole lot like the original game’s mansion, which is naturally followed by an underground lab which mostly looks nothing like a lab. Then you take a tram over to the vacant factory from Resident Evil 2, before ending in a water treatment plant. The mansion is much smaller than that of the original game (though the basement is larger), and again, it’s a pale imitation – while the graphics look a little flashier than REmake, the camera angles aren’t as artistic and it never feels quite as isolated and disturbing as the original while controlling two characters (which require a somewhat wider field of view to fit, eliminating some of that claustrophobia).

    But the gameplay more than makes up for all of that by being so unfairly difficult that it makes the hardest parts of the original game look like a walk in the park. It took me exactly 20hrs to beat this game, which is the same amount of time it took to beat REmake – only my final in-game time on REmake was nearly 10hrs, while this one didn’t even reach 6hrs 40min. I spent 2/3 of my time in this game dying and retrying. This game made me feel very intense anxiety, moreso than anything else I’ve ever played, and stays that way all the way until the end.

    The scarcity of healing items and ammo is even more punishing this time around, since you have two characters to arm and keep alive. At any given time, one of them will be dying and probably defenseless. Rebecca is particularly fragile, and there are many moments in the game where it makes you split the characters up and send Rebecca into dangerous situations alone. Ammo for the shotgun and grenade launcher is even more scarce than in the original, meaning you’re basically going to be trying to survive with a pistol (as ammo for that is quite scarce) – except you basically can’t kill the game’s hardest enemies with a pistol.

    The monster designs were quite uncreative in this game, as it returned to the giant animals of the original – the first 3 bosses are a giant scorpion, a giant centipede, and a giant bat. The bat is particularly unfair, as the game uses auto-aim to help you hit your targets (the camera angles would make it impossible otherwise), but many tiny bats spawn during this fight, making it nearly impossible to lock on to the actual boss. The final boss (Marcus) also made me nearly give up and quit the game forever – I used up all my ammo (as it’s quite resistant to heavy weaponry) and had to carefully run around and take it down with a pistol. Said boss was a giant version of the game’s meanest new enemy – the leech zombie. These wiggly things look goofy as hell, but they’re virtually impossible to take down and can hit you from quite far away. The infected apes also murdered me repeatedly, as they jump faster than you can aim.

    There’s a new item called a hookshot (similar to the one Ada uses in RE4, for those who have played that game) that allows you to send whichever character is holding it through a hole in the ceiling. I’ve read that if you use it to send the wrong character up into the lab and then overwrite your saves, your whole game will be ruined and you’ll have to start over. Games don’t let you fuck up that badly anymore… The other big change in game mechanics in this game is the inventory – they eliminated the magically connected item boxes and replaced them with the ability to drop items. This lead to a lot of backtracking to retrieve items – it wasn’t too bad on hard difficulty, as items are scarce, but it was still an annoying waste of time. They may as well have called this ‘Inventory Management: The Game”. Aside from that and the two-character system, this basically plays identically to REmake, complete with the alternate control scheme, but piling those things on top of all the things that already made REmake difficult makes this game utterly sadistic. Ink ribbons (for saving the game) are much more common this time around, but the prevalence of save items almost felt spiteful and sarcastic. I didn’t find myself using them more often because saving would involve backtracking through dangerous areas and typewriters are once again rare.

    There’s an extra mode that’s unlocked once you beat the game called ‘Leech Hunter’ It’s basically an item hunt in the mansion, where you try to collect all the items before dying. I’m pretty sure this mode is LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE, so I’ll pass. There’s also Wesker Mode, which replaces Billy with the superpowered Albert Wesker from Code Veronica – it’s cute for a couple minutes, but there’s not much point to it. PC performance was alright – it ran better than the remake, but again, I could not run it at 1440p. Honestly, that’s fine for a game with pre-rendered backgrounds – it still looked good.

    I complained that the previous sequels were all just a pale imitation of the excellent original with half the difficulty – well, I guess I got what I wanted. I strangely enjoyed my anxiety-ridden time with this evil mess – I really liked it, to be honest – but I can’t recommend it to anyone, and I never want to go through playing it again. NEVER AGAIN. Objectively, most aspects of this game are pretty terrible (except the visuals & music, which are fine), and I simply can’t in good conscience give this a halfway decent rating even though I enjoyed it more than most other games in this series.

    RATING: 5/10 wiggly leech zombies – STAY AWAY (unless you’re a masochist like me, in which case it deserves a solid 8/10)


  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    RESIDENT EVIL (2002 Movie)



    2002 was quite a year for Resident Evil. The same year REmake and RE0 came out, this live action film adaptation was released – the first of what would become a 6 film series. It was written and directed by none other than Paul Anderson – no, not Paul Thomas Anderson, who made There Will Be Blood and The Master. This is Paul W.S. Anderson, the man responsible for masterpieces like Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon, Alien vs. Predator, and that Blade Runner spinoff with Mel Gibson that no one ever talks about. It seems like it should have been close to impossible to screw this film up – all they needed to do was make a fun and goofy zombie b-movie. It’s not like Silent Hill, where the source material was actually good (and therefore got completely butchered in film form). But of course, they couldn’t just make a normal zombie movie with a few series references (like Capcom did with the later CGI movie Resident Evil: Degeneration) – they had to make the whole thing look and feel like a game. Briefing screens with a 3D map of the areas it takes place in show up several times in a row, complete with names for each room and a counter for the mission time.

    The film begins in an Umbrella corporate facility, where some schmuck decides to throw a vial of virus across the room and the building’s AI responds to the outbreak by killing everyone who works there (by gassing them, drowning them, or cutting the elevator cords lmao). There’s some truly hilarious acting in this sequence. Jump cut to our protagonist, Alice (played by Milla Jovovich of Fifth Element fame), waking up disoriented in a creepy mansion. We get to see some sideboob within the first two minutes of seeing her – I guess they were scared the audience wouldn’t be titillated enough by seeing someone’s head get cut off by an elevator a couple minutes ago. She tries to leave the mansion, and there’s some spooky wind, but then some random guy grabs her and pulls her back inside, and a bunch of soldiers in gas masks bust through the windows. What the fuck is going on, you may ask? Actually, you probably won’t, because there’s no chance you’ll care enough to bother.

    Alice gets thrown against the wall, and her dress strap seductively slips down her arm. Are you excited yet? Are you? HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT SHE’S HOT? One of the soldiers grabs her and tells her to report. It turns out the random guy that pulled her back into the mansion is a cop on his first day on the job – he looks a bit like an even more moronic version of Chris Redfield, but has Leon’s backstory and a new name. This goofy looking guy is the only character in the movie who doesn’t work for Umbrella – good job guy.

    It turns out the corporate facility from the beginning was actually a secret underground research facility that’s made to look like a skyscraper with a fake backdrop from the inside, lmao. The film spends no time in the mansion, and just jumps right to this lab. It turns out Alice and some other dude were in a fake marriage and were actually guarding the mansion, which was the secret entrance to this facility – but they were knocked out by nerve gas, which somehow gave them retrograde amnesia (complete with random silly flashbacks as they slowly remember stuff). Because main characters with no identity or personality are always the best kind, of course. Jovovich gives a blank faced stare in response to everything in the film, and that’s kind of the point of her character as far as I can tell – at least until she remembers everything then suddenly tries to be a real person in the last 20 minutes of the film. Not buying it.

    There’s an adaptation of RE2 train sequence, complete with a boss monster (lmao) which begins as one of the lickers from said game then evolves into some sort of dog thing. Then some dudes in hazmat suits drag the survivors away to some electronic dance music – why is this scene a rave? I blame Marylin Manson, who apparently co-scored this film. The credits roll, and a Slipknot song plays. Be sure to purchase the soundtrack compilation, featuring classic artists like Adema, Coal Chamber, Static-X, and Saliva!

    This uses a lot of ideas from Resident Evil, but feels completely unrelated. It always impresses me when film adaptations have to add all this dumb extra shit to make it seem like something is happening, but still end up completely lacking in any sort of substance. There are way too many characters in this film, and I can’t even remember what most of them looked like. Basically every character in this film is fodder, to the extent that most of them are murdered by an AI before we even see the first zombie.

    There’s a reason video game movies have a bad reputation. This was painfully fucking boring, even while multitasking, and the only reason I can think of to ever watch it is to write a scathing review to entertain your friends. And so here we are. There’s 5 more movies of this shit?!! And every one of them broke 9 figures? And they’re rebooting this? Fuck the world.

    Rating: 1/10 blank stares. Just try and survive the horror of Paul W.S. Anderson’s filmmaking – I dare you.


  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Weird. The first film is the only one of the Resident Evil movies that I actually liked, as I felt it stuck to the games rules more compared to the later sequels. Silent Hill I've watched numerous times, and it's one of my favorite video game films (alongside Mortal Kombat 1) of all time. The RE sequels are all meh except for the 3rd film which was half half.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I HATED the Silent Hill movie with a passion. Completely ruined that story. At least RE was fun to make fun of.

  15. #15
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Yeah, the SH movie was an obnoxious mess of a thing which liberally borrowed the visual palette from the games with none of SH1's creeping dread or SH2's basic humanity intact. It just fundamentally misunderstood how to do the transition of that story from a game to a movie. It's pretty fucking sad considering the potential it had before I actually saw it.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    That about sums it up. I was irked by several things.... first, that they used the story of SH1 rather than the vastly superior 2 but didn't even manage to get that plot right... the ending was quite an egregious mangling that totally missed the point. Secondly, that they inserted pyramid head, who had a very distinct purpose in the story of 2, into an adaptation of 1 just for pointless fanservice. There was more, but I haven't seen it in a decade. I actually think the awful sequel may have been an improvement.

    Anyway, skipping over the Resident Evil: Outbreak games since I've never had any luck with PS2 emulation and they were meant to be played online anyway... we finally get to the second truly great game in the series.

    RESIDENT EVIL 4 (2005)



    After several attempts at developing this game that were either transformed into a new IP or aborted, Shinji Mikami finally returned to direct another Resident Evil game. Unsurprisingly, said game ended up turning out to be the second best in the series. Mikami recognized that the formula was becoming stale and the horror was no longer working, so he decided to switch things up and make a fully 3D 3rd person action game with an over the shoulder camera.

    RE2’s Leon is the star of this game, and he is now working for the American Special Forces. He’s been tasked with saving the president’s daughter, who has been kidnapped and taken to a remote village in Spain. When he arrives in this village, it turns out all the villagers have been infected with a parasite they call Las Plagas.

    The whole affairs is a fun commentary on the ruling class – we have the masses living in squalor, literally mind controlled by a religious leader (through Las Plagas). An aristocrat living in an enormously extravagant castle who thinks he’s on top but is really just another pawn. Despite taking place in Spain, it seems like the whole thing is a jab against America to me, with a douchey American action hero who has no interest in saving anyone but the president’s daughter (despite the massive number of people affected, who he blows straight to hell without a second thought instead of making the slightest attempt to help them).

    While the switch of genre to a 3rd person shooter isn’t really to my taste, this game is simply so well made and so much fun that I can’t argue with it. While it never gets anywhere near as anxiety inducing as 0 or 1, it does manage to evoke a terrific sort of frantic tension. This game really isn’t about survival, as there’s a ton of ammo and healing items – the focus is on chaotic action. It’s much easier to marathon that the earlier games, as it never gets too frustrating or anxiety inducing. It’s all a bit more linear than its predecessors, but structured similarly, with locked doors and key hunts. Item boxes are still gone here – you can drop items, but your inventory is much bigger now, so you’ll almost never need to. They also introduced a merchant to the game, so you can buy a larger inventory case and upgrade your weapons. The merchant also has some shooting galleries where you can earn more gold.

    The first 4 chapters (the village and castle) are particularly well put together and have a ton of atmosphere. Unfortunately, the game becomes very unfocused in its fifth and final chapter, which constantly changes setting and style in a highly jarring manner. It begins on an island, which already feels like it belongs in a Tomb Raider game instead of Resident Evil, but then we’re quickly taken through a secret lab (of course), a few tomb ruins, a waste disposal plant, a hilarious Call of Duty style war zone setpiece (complete with barbed wire and a helicopter assault), and an oil rig. It’s really hard to know what to make of that last chapter when it jarringly changes tone from horror to action or past to present styles so frequently. This leads to really strange things like guys dressed as mercenaries carrying flails and crossbows, or destructible wooden barrels sitting in the middle of an urban waste dump. A brief moment of a creepy prison (literally just for one hallway) followed by a jetski escaping a wave then riding into the sunset.

    The monster design in this game is truly excellent – it reaches the logical endpoint of the body horror aesthetic introduced in RE2. It’s quite satisfying to blow off someone’s head and see some sort of bizarre mixture of insects and innards pop out of the neck. The boss designs are also very cool along this front – there are two in particular which involve some awesome bodily transformation. The music is a mixed bag- some of it is very nice, and some of it is annoying.

    This is the longest game in the series thus far – my cleared save file was 15hrs. I also died far less, as, once again, hard mode is not available from the start, so it ended up taking about the same amount of time as REmake and RE0. This game is the opposite of RE0 in terms of difficulty – it’s hard to die multiple times in a row, as the game actually adjusts the difficulty in parts where you die. Not my favorite feature, and while I understand that’s not the case in hard mode, I’m not about to replay any of these games right now.

    As in RE2, there are segments where you play as the main supporting character. In this case, that’s the president’s daughter, Ashley. As with Sherry from RE2, she is largely defenseless, and all she can do is throw lamps at people, so these sections involve a bit of stealth – a welcome addition. The worst new gameplay addition is the quicktime events during cutscenes – these are quite annoying and easy to miss, forcing you to rewatch the cutscene. There’s even a boss fight made entirely of QTEs, which is not much fun. To make matters worse, the key combinations change each time, so it’s easy to miss them multiple times in a row – I generally ended just pressing all the possible keys simultaneously every time to cover all my bases.

    Ada Wong (the main supporting character from Leon’s parts of RE2) returns in this game, and there are extra modes where you can play through segments of the game from her perspective, RE2 style. This is better executed than RE2’s scenario split but not as well done as Veronica’s split, as it still involves a lot of repetition from the main game, and there’s only one new section (though it’s decently large). Wong is working for Albert Wesker, who didn’t appear in the main game, so it was nice to see him show up (no hint of superpowers this time). Overall, I wasn’t thrilled with these modes. There’s also a Mercenaries mode (kill as many zombies as you can on a timer), which is great fun if you’re into arcade modes, as gloob has pointed out.

    As for the PC port, I played the Ultimate HD edition, which, from what I understand, is an entirely new port, separate from the oft-maligned original Sourcenext PC version. It has proper widescreen and mouse support, and is quite playable. The performance could be better, though – I should be able to run any game from 2005 at 1440p, but I experienced occasional slowdowns in certain sections even at 1080p. Compared to the much newer and shinier RE Revelations, which I was able to run at native resolution without a hitch, this leaves a bit to be desired on the performance front.

    RATING: 8.5/10 insects exploding out of your head – Shinji Mikami’s final Resident Evil title is a winner and has stood the test of time. Definitely recommended.

    Last edited by froghawk; 18th Sep 2018 at 10:21.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    RESIDENT EVIL: DEGENERATION (2008)



    The first CGI movie in the series is a sequel to RE2 which takes place right after RE4. It’s about a new outbreak of the G-virus from RE2, and again features Leon and Claire as its lead characters. Given the quality of writing in the games, I was expecting the worst from this film, but it’s actually quite fun for what it is! It manages to retain a lot of the hallmarks of the games without feeling too fanservicey, and while the writing isn’t exactly high art, it does exactly what it needs to do. it’s ambiguous who the real bad guy is for most of this film – there’s a crooked politician, a bioterrorist, and a big pharma CEO, and doubts surround all of them, leading to multiple plot twists. A solid zombie B-movie.

    RATING: 7/10 G-virus eye thingies


  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    I remember enjoying that film.

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    RESIDENT EVIL 5 (2009)



    So what did Capcom do with their first Resident Evil title without Shinji Mikami? Well, given that RE4 was such a success, the logical thing is to copy that, right? People like multiplayer games, so why not turn RE into a multiplayer franchise and make this a co-op game? It generates publicity when you do touch on hot button issues, so why not set it in Africa?

    And that’s what we got… a slightly shorter co-op clone of RE4 set in Africa. This came out just after Team Silent dissolved and the Silent Hill series moved to American developers who utterly butchered it. This game is certainly not a disaster on the level of those later Silent Hill games, as it’s a decently fun cooperative action title once you get through an endless sea of menus and technical problems, but it’s a terrible horror game.

    Chris Redfield is the star of this one, and he’s magically become about twice as buff as he was in the older games. Since it would be unacceptable to have a white American guy murdering hordes of Africans on his own, they introduce a British half-African woman named Sheva Alomar as his partner. Neither of them have half as much personality as Leon in RE4, and neither does the game as a whole. The dialogue is as bland and the voice acting is poor. RE4’s memorable shopkeeper is nowhere to be found, and instead the store is just part of the ready screen. The dumb quicktime events are still present (though this time they’re often assigned to individual players, and thankfully never change buttons on retries), and there are also some awful new bits that are staples of generic action games, like vehicle gun sequences. Another new sequence requires one play to carry a lantern through pitch dark mines while the other fights. Most of the game takes place in broad daylight, which feels pretty strange for a Resident Evil game.

    The opening sequence is basically identical to RE4’s – you’re in a small, poor village, and are locked in the area, swarmed by people infected with parasites that make them try to kill you. You try to survive for a certain amount of time, and a new path opens up. A few alterations were made to fit the co-op gameplay – they did away with the typewriter save system and introduced a simpler inventory that operates in real time, complete with item trading. Gone are the days of spending half the game on the inventory screen, and instead the inventory is used as another way of generating tension, as you generally have to manage it in the middle of a gun fight. Every item takes up one slot now, regardless of size, so inventory management basically comes down to trading things back and forth with your partner. Healing is also a bit different – they’ve eliminated the blue & yellow herbs entirely, and the only way to live when you get below a certain amount of health is for your partner to run over and save you before time runs out. If you get too far apart and one of you is nearly dying, you’re screwed, but the level design is also more linear than RE4 to prevent you from getting too far away from your partner.

    As expected, this game generated controversy – one critic said “It plays so blatantly into the old clichés of the dangerous ‘dark continent‘ and the primitive lust of its inhabitants that you’d swear the game was written in the 1920s”. The game went under review in Europe due to accusations of racism, but it was not found guilty thanks to its anti-imperial themes. That is to say, after you’re swarmed by a goofy band of parasite-infested Africans on motorcycles, you find out that they’ve all been infected by a white guy with an embarrassingly horrible (new jersey?) accent. Said white guy is holding Chris’s old partner Jill Valentine hostage (and, of course, despite discovering a secret imperialist operation, Chris is interested in nothing except finding his old partner). But despite all that, the game does have one truly racist chapter which portrays a small African tribal village where the men are covered in war paint. It’s embarrassing and offensive, and the developers should be ashamed. I assume that the European reviewers didn’t get far enough into the game to witness that part, as it’s the only explanation I can find to justify their conclusion that the game isn’t racist.

    The PC port is quite well optimized and the graphics don’t look half bad for an 8 year old game, but despite the shinier visuals, the environments look a bit indistinct. It can become hard to navigate, even with the increased linearity of the level design, as every room in a given area looks the same. It doesn’t help that the beginning of the game is basically an endless string of the ambush setpiece moments from RE4 without that game’s inventiveness, making the gameplay as indistinct as the environments. It does change things up after the first few chapters, but in a way that makes the whole thing feel as scattered as RE4’s final chapter. There’s a chapter in a tomb that plays exactly like a Tomb Raider game, with the exact same kinds of environments and puzzles. Then you reach the hidden lab (of course), and after a boss fight there, the game turns into an awful cover shooter with the infected mercenary enemies from RE4’s last chapter. But even that is broken up in strange ways, like with a horror sequence that only lasts for a single hallway where you have to quietly walk past blind enemies to avoid a massacre. This brief sequence (and every other use of the lickers) is truly excellent, and makes the rest of the game all the more frustrating.

    The superpowered Albert Wesker from Code Veronica is the main antagonist here, and he’s basically turned into Neo from the Matrix, wearing a leather trenchcoat and dodging bullets. The final boss fight against him is truly ridiculous – the final stage of it takes place in a volcano and features numerous quicktime events, including Chris repeatedly punching a boulder (lmao). It was so unclear what to do in this fight that we spent 15 minutes trying to knife him after running out of ammo, only to later complete the stage in under a minute.

    The enemy design isn’t all that novel – people infected with the parasite Las Plagas are again the main enemy here. There are also bat-insect hybrid things which look like mutalisks from Starcraft (I guess they figured they already had giant bats and giant spiders, so why not have giant spider-bats?) and reprised enemies from past RE games, including the licker from RE2 and the giant cockroach things from RE3. There are also bosses which looks just like the leech zombies from RE0 (and are just as resilient), and a reprise of RE4’s El Gigante in a truly awful mounted gun boss fight. While the boss fights in this game largely suck, that one is by far the worst.

    The reprised enemies aren’t surprising considering that this game makes more effort to tie into the stories of previous games than any other RE title so far. Even RE0 and Code Veronica are referenced frequently here, and the rather scarce readable logs tie together the story of the whole series so far. Unfortunately, the game has a number of story problems – mainly, extensive and utterly lame retcons. As of this game, Chris’s main antagonist Albert Wesker was actually engineered as some sort of experiment, and the whole point of Umbrella was some old guy trying to become immortal.

    The PC version is missing local multiplayer, and is online only (previously through Games for Windows Live). Since that awful service no longer exists, it’s been removed from the game – which meant getting this to work properly was a huge pain in the ass. The only way to join a game together was for me to invite him from the Steam overlay (for some reason the opposite wouldn’t work), and half the time it still wouldn’t let him join my game for no real reason. He also got dropped from the game once. This was quite a pain in the ass, as it felt like we spent almost as much time trying to get the game started than we spent actually playing it, with no clear rhyme or reason to the errors we experienced. Thankfully, it stopped giving us issues after the first two chapters or so.

    The Gold Edition comes with 2 bonus episodes (~1hr each) which have to be completed in one sitting. I played solo to experience the AI, which was actually ok – it wasn’t as dumb as I expected in terms of constantly getting killed, but didn’t seem to know how to switch weapons or consistently smash barrels to get items. You gain points in both of these modes by picking up stars. The first episode, ‘Lost in Nightmares’, fleshes out a flashback that appears throughout the game. It’s a recreation of the original Spencer mansion, despite taking place after the original game (and I think in a different mansion? It isn’t clear, but the architecture is a little bit different). It even goes into first person for a second every time a door opens to imitate the door opening videos in the early games. It’s darker, more atmospheric, and more horror and puzzle-oriented, showing that they could have actually created a real horror co-op game with the spirit of the original and the style of RE4. This is actually scary, and it’s really good, so it’s a shame they only pursued this direction for a brief episode.

    The second episode, ‘Desperate Escape’, plays up the action side of things. Similarly to the Ada DLCs for RE4, this one runs parallel to the main game, showing what Jill Valentine (after you rescue her) and your partner Josh were doing while Chris and Sheva defeated Wesker. Thankfully, they didn’t pad out this DLC with recycled areas as in RE4, and instead kept it short and sweet, leading to a timed climax where you try to survive as long as possible. As a side note, I am not sure why Jill’s hair color changes in every game - it's hard enough to follow these characters as is with the changing voice actors and shinier graphics.

    And, of course, there’s a mercenaries mode, which is quite similar to the one in RE4. The main difference is that you’re only given one map to begin with and have to unlock more as you go, but instead you’re given multiple modes to choose from – solo, duo (co-op), No Mercy (more enemies), and Reunion (more characters to choose from). There’s also a pvp Versus mode, which I did not try.

    I haven’t mentioned the music since it goes in one ear and out the other. The save music was always the most remarkable music in the series, but since there are no typewriters here, that’s gone. The only music I can remember was the annoying orchestral climax music in the final chapter, as its obnoxious blaring was also the only thing making the final stages feel ‘epic’.

    Rating: 6/10 mutalisk spiderbat thingies


  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    A slight detour....

    VANQUISH (2010)



    Shinki Mikami left Capcom after directing God Hand. His seventh game as a director is his first and only title for PlatinumGames - a shooter which reuses some ideas from his fourth game as a director, the commercial failure P.N.03, as well as taking influence from the anime Casshern (both involve humans battling robots). I didn't review P.N.03 or God Hand on account of neither being available for PC, so this is the only non-horror title I'll be reviewing from Mikami. Vanquish is a far cry from Resident Evil and Dino Crisis - it's a highly linear 3rd person squad cover shooter in a futuristic war setting which fits quite nicely with the rest of the Platinum catalogue.

    To be quite honest, this style of game really isn't my sort of thing, but I can't deny that I was having a blast by the end. It undeniably accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is delivering fast-paced dumb fun. The plot is a bit of send-up of American action movies - a gruff-voiced, chain-smoking, augmented-reaction-suit-wearing (read: bullet time and regenerating health) DARPA agent named Sam Gideon battles Russian robots on a pretty cool looking cylindrical space colony. Russian separatists used the space colony as a weapon to destroy San Francisco, and now Sam has to stop them from using it to destroy New York. He is assisted on the field by an equally gruff-voiced draconian Marine Colonel named Robert Burns and his company of Marines. Another DARPA agent, Elena Ivanova, provides him with extra information and assistance via comms. The writing is terrible, but seemingly intentionally so - the dialogue is periodically self-aware, featuring lines like 'This is starting to sound like a bad video game'. I think it would have been more effective if it had played up the ridiculous and comedic side of things a little more - as is, the story is pretty much just there to fill space between gameplay bits.

    The game's central mechanic (and most influential, as it was widely imitated after) is a sliding boost, allowing the player to traverse the levels at extremely high speeds for short amounts of time. Aiming while sliding activates bullet time mode, which also automatically activates when the player's health is low, allowing them to more easily destroy whoever is killing them. The suit overheats after using bullet time or slide boosting for too long, leaving the player vulnerable to attack and needing to seek cover. However, cover objects are often easily destroyed by the enemy, and the player's score is penalized for using it with a time-based score deduction. The player can only carry 3 weapons at once (though there are ample opportunities to switch weapons in the environment, and the available arsenal is vast and diverse and can be upgraded, quite unlike Mikami's early titles). The player is also tasked with acting as a medic for Bravo squad and is rewarded with weapons and ammo upon saving someone. The combination of all these mechanics makes Vanquish's gameplay extremely fast-paced, frantic, and chaotic. The game is most enjoyable when it throws a boss at you in combination with hordes of enemies for maximum chaos, as it does frequently towards the end.

    It's a brief game (my play time came in just under 6hrs), which is a good thing - it's so fast paced that it works better in small doses and doesn't feel designed for binging. There is a little bit of extra content to stretch out the value, however. The game is split into 5 acts, each of which has multiple missions. Completing each act unlocks a tactical challenge - basically a time trial type arcade mode of very high difficulty. Beating the whole game unlocks 'God Hard' mode. If that's not enough for you, there are rumors that a sequel is currently in development - the ending is prime sequel bait, after all.

    The PC version is quite well optimized and features loads of graphics settings to tweak, including an option to run at 60fps. Apparently using this framerate in the launch PC version caused enemies to deal increased damage, but this bug has since been fixed. Even on high settings, the game looked a bit washed out and consoley to me, but perhaps it's because I was streaming it off a cloud and one of the settings was wrong. Still, while the visuals are not the flashiest in the world, the art design is often quite cool thanks to the novel setting. There isn't a huge amount of variation in the enemy design, but the game is short enough that it doesn't become monotonous on that front. There bosses were especially well designed, and some of the fights were quite creative.

    RATING: 7.5/10 scorpionbots


  21. #21
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    If you can get a hold of it somehow, do play P.N.0.3. It's a wonderful game. I love it to bits.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I'd love to!


    RESIDENT EVIL – REVELATIONS (2012)



    This spinoff was originally released on the handheld Nintendo 3DS, and was billed as a return to horror. The protagonists of the original game (Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine) are the stars of this one, though they’re virtually unrecognizable thanks to some new voice actors and character designs. Each of them is perpetually followed around by a new character, but unlike in RE0 or RE5, your followers can’t be killed, nor can you control them. These extra characters seem to exist solely to provide commentary. The game takes place before RE5, at around the same time as the RE: Degeneration movie.

    REvelations begins with great promise, hinting at a game which recaptures the spirit of the original Resident Evil with the over-the-shoulder camera of Resident Evil 4. The setup is perfect for a classic style RE game – bioterrorists unleash a new virus, t-Abyss, which creates an outbreak of oozing sea monsters on a derelict cruise ship. Jill is sent to investigate the situation and figure out which of 3 shady organizations is behind it. Early on, these cruise ship segments are fantastic and a lot like the original RE’s Spencer mansion – an isolated and claustrophobic setting, a big key hunt, a large environment to roam around and slowly piece things together, and lots of atmosphere (complete with odd camera angles – the rocking ship replaces the fixed framing). You spend more time narrowly dodging enemies than trying to fight them, since they brought back the dodge move from RE3 (though it’s just as finicky and inconsistent as it was in that game) and ammo is scarce early on. There’s even a moment where you can drain water from a dirty bathtub – what better tribute to the original could there be? You get separated from your follower for much of these sections, which also helps, though he doesn’t get in the way much when he is around.

    Sadly, it seems the devs didn’t want to make the excellent horror nostalgia trip they were hinting at with these early cruise ship sequences. I get the sense that they were trying to strike a balance between appeasing fans of the classic RE games and fans of the modern 3rd person action titles, which prevents the game from living up to its potential. The cruise ship segments are constantly interrupted by generic, bland, and linear 3rd person shooter segments at other locations which could have easily been chopped out of any other 3rd person action game from 2012. You literally do nothing but run around and shoot things in these sections – there’s no exploration, no puzzles, no key hunts, and no atmosphere, making these segments feel bland even in comparison to RE5. This is the side of the game that ends up winning out – before long, even the cruise ship segments become brief, linear snippets where you’re running away during a countdown, or quickly swimming through flooded areas, with constant cutscene interruptions – any atmosphere the game had early on is completely eradicated. What hinted at becoming a modern update of classic RE horror turns out to be a dime-a-dozen action shooter. If the gameplay doesn’t kill the mood, the awful hollywood action soundtrack certainly will (don’t let the rather nice title theme get your hopes up about the music). The monster designs are pretty cool, but something about how they move makes them distinctly unhorrifying.

    Part of the problem is their experiment with the game’s format – it’s divided into 12 episodes, each lasting a mere 20-30 minutes (this is another very short game – my final clear time was a mere 5hr40min, less than half as long as RE5 and about a quarter as long as RE4). I assume this format is because the game is for a handheld console, meant to be played in short bursts, but it just doesn’t work for this historically slow series. Revelations has more of a story packed into its runtime than any RE title which preceded it, which is nice on one level, but it also means you can never really get immersed in the setting as you’re constantly getting pulled out of the game by cutscenes and scene changes (and every scene is so brief – they rarely exceed 15min). The story, which involves the early days of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA) and some epic conspiracy theories, is classic RE and quite enjoyable (yes, you find a secret lab on the cruise ship – shocking, right?). This makes it all the more frustrating that they chose to deliver it in such a cinematic and fragmented way. Every episode is preceded by a recap, which would have been fine if the episodes had been longer – but instead, the game pulls you out for a pointless recap every 20-30min, further ruining the atmosphere and immersion. Can the target audience of this game really not remember what happened in such brief spans of time?

    The one main improvement over RE4 is the lack of quicktime events – they basically only occur when you get grabbed by a monster and have to quickly press a button to get free. There are never any mid-cutscene, which is really refreshing for an RE game from the co-op action decade. And on that note, the arcade mode in this one (Raid Mode) is an action-focused co-op version of the campaign without all the story bits. I’m pretty sure this is the only RE game released between 2005 and 2015 that doesn’t have a co-op main campaign, even though it feels designed for it thanks to the extra character following you around. I didn't really explore Raid mode, so if anyone here wants to play through it with me, I’m down.

    On the plus side, the PC port is excellent. Unlike most of the other games thus far, I was able to run this at native resolution (1440p) without a single slowdown – quite surprising, as this game is much newer and the graphics are much better than those titles. Many have complained about the controls, but I didn’t have a single issue with them, which is a first for Resident Evil on PC. It also autosaves regularly (as in RE5, the typewriter save system is gone altogether in this one). It’s too bad the best RE port I’ve experienced so far was wasted on one of the worst titles.

    RATING: 4/10 sea creepers – So much potential wasted on dumb action

    Last edited by froghawk; 18th Sep 2018 at 10:34.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    RESIDENT EVIL: DAMNATION (2012)



    This CGI film acts as a prequel to Resident Evil 6. It takes place in a fictional ex-Soviet country called the Eastern Slav Republic, which is engaged in a civil war. Leon infiltrates the country after hearing rumors that BOWs (bio-organic weapons – Umbrella monsters) are being used as soldiers in the war there. It turns out that someone has figured out how to control the lickers from RE2/survivor/5 by using Las Plagas, then sold them to the rebels. They also sold a few tyrants (resembling Mr. Big X from RE2 to) the government. Leon tries to diffuse the situation. Meanwhile, Ada Wong meets with the president, pretending to be a BSAA agent. As in RE2/4, her goals are unclear and a bit shady.

    This feels like the point the overall story of the series has been building towards – the monsters can finally be controlled and used in a military setting. I didn’t find it as consistently entertaining as RE: Degeneration - the plot was a bit hard to follow at times and the pacing could have used some work - but it’s still head and shoulders above the live action film and captures the ridiculous b-movie spirit quite well. The CGI looks incredible this time around – it very nearly looks live action in many shots. The facial animations still leave a bit be desired and can be rather awkward, but many of the environments and props are shockingly lifelike.

    Rating: 6/10 shady ex-soviet leaders

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Washington DC
    Hey, just wanted to say I appreciate the writeups, this is some good stuff. Are you going to be getting to RE6? I'd be curious to see your take on that title.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Thanks! Yep, I intend to follow this all the way to the end.... I just need to convince my friends to suffer the rest of the way through it with me, as they ran away halfway through.


    RESIDENT EVIL: OPERATION RACCOON CITY (2012)



    Each Resident Evil game developed by Capcom after Mikami left became steadily less Resident Evil than the last, and this is the point where the series totally abandons every gameplay element typically associated with it. Capcom decided it was a bright idea to outsource a RE title to Canadian developer Slant Six, who had previously developed only the SOCOM U.S. NAVY SEALs series. This 4-player 3rd person squad cover shooter is designed around a hypothetical alternate universe scenario which takes place during RE2/3 during the outbreak in Raccoon City. It's designed around a battle between HUNK's Umbrella Security Services and US Special Ops.

    The generic 3rd person shooter elements that I lamented in Revelations have become the entire picture here, though thankfully in a somewhat more complex way. Essentially, this is a generic squad shooter wearing a Resident Evil skin, which I guess is unsurprising given who developed it. The campaign steps it up from RE5's 2-player co-op to 4 player co-op. Part of the reason this game was so reviled is that there is a 7-mission campaign for each team, but only the USS campaign (which lasts around 3.5hrs if you hit the par time for each level) was included with the base game. The first mission of the Spec Ops campaign was included as a teaser, and the rest was sold separately in two 3-mission 'Echo Six' DLC packs, currently being sold for $10 each when not on sale. In order to get the full 14 mission game, you had to pay a lot of extra money, and since both DLC packs featured a lot of level recycling from the main game, people were quite mad (except for many console players, who received the DLC for free). The game was very blatantly chopped in half to sell in pieces, which is made especially clear by the fact that the final bullet-sponge boss doesn't appear until the very end of the DLC (seriously, that might have been the most annoying bullet-spongey boss I've EVER encountered, but at least it wasn't hard and I never died and had to try again). In total, the two campaigns took me around 11hrs, which each mission taking 20-50min.

    The Umbrella's Security Service campaign follows their attempts to ensure that all evidence of Umbrella's involvement in the Raccoon City outbreak is erased. There are 6 different characters to pick from, all with dumb names and awful costumes. Each has a different role (assault, recon, medic, field scientist, demolition, surveillance) and accompanying special abilities which can be upgraded using XP gained from playing the game and collecting data items. I'm not sure why all of them and their main adversary are Russian - I guess it's the old neoMcCarthyist make-all-the-bad-guys-Russian routine. It is fun to see events from the side of Umbrella's henchmen, and it would also have been fun to see areas from RE2/3 recreated with much better graphics if not for the fact that they look oddly generic to the point that it's easy to miss what they're based on. The path through them is completely linear, which also makes recognition a bit more difficult. The game takes place in an alternate timeline, allowing the USS to encounter several characters from RE2 who never crossed paths with them in said game. I actually quite appreciate that this game is non-canon - it just feels like the right decision.

    The Spec Ops campaign overlaps more with Resident Evil 3 for its first half, centering around meetings with Jill and the Nemesis. It's weirdly hard to find this campaign in the game's menus - rather than having it start right after the USS campaign like you'd expect, the only way to access it is through the 'Free Play' menu. The characters are just reskins of the USS roles, to the extent that whatever ability upgrades you purchased with XP for the USS characters carry over into the new campaign. By that same token, you fight hordes of USS soldiers (who, for some reason, never appeared in the actual USS campaign, unlike the Spec Ops soldiers appear all over this campaign). For some reason, the USS soldiers look pretty much identical to the Nazis from the new Wolfenstein games. As I mentioned before, the levels are largely reused from the Umbrella campaign, making this yet another Resident Evil game where the two campaigns cover the same ground with different characters. It's a good bit more challenging than the USS campaign, though, particularly with respect to the boss battles. Mission 6 was especially challenging - it started out hard and never stopped escalating. I died something like 46 times across 50 minutes - it was a bit excessive. It ends with some prime sequel bait, but that never came to fruition despite the fact that this game is one of Capcom's bestselling titles, perhaps due to the poor critical reception.

    Ammo is unified, which actually makes a great deal of sense here as you can only hold one weapon at a time and there are tons of different weapons (many of which feel pretty much the same to me - it's already overkill, and for some reason they sold even MORE weapons as DLC). You or your teammates can become infected, at which point you need to use antiviral sprays on yourself or each other within a certain time window to prevent zombie transformation. As in RE5, first aid sprays affect all the teammates in a radius around you, and they also cure bleeding (life drain) in addition to low health. Green herbs, on the other hand, can't be stored, must be consumed in the moment, and can't be used on teammates. The team AI wasn't the best I've encountered, but it's certainly a hell of a lot more useful than the AI player in RE5, probably because there's no inventory to manage. There are a couple mechanics that I only discovered towards the end of the game thanks to hints on loading screens, and I wish the game had done a better job of telling you they existed. I didn't even get a chance to try using a zombie as a shield, as I only saw that hint right before the final boss (and I'm still not sure how to do it).

    The monsters are what you'd expect at this point - zombies, fast crimson head zombies, lickers, hunters, tyrants, Nemesis, and a new 'parasite' that's basically the head crab from Half-Life and provides the source material for the final boss. These monsters are generally fun to fight, but battling the human enemies is the opposite of fun. They're oddly difficult to hit even when parts of them are exposed through cover, and they can kill you quite quickly. They're more fun to battle later in the game, when you've purchased abilities that allow you to more effectively pit them against the infected enemies, or when a hoard of zombies and hunters is already facing a soldier group when you arrive at the scene.

    The first chapter of the game (battling Spec Ops soldiers in Willian Birkin's lab) is well and truly awful, and I was ready to write the game off right then and there. I was expecting the worst, but the game improved quickly and I actually had some fun, much to my surprise. There were some severely frustrating moments, to be sure, but the base gameplay was enjoyable. I think the claims that it's the worst title in the series are severely hyperbolic, though I wouldn't call it a good game. In context with wildly popular team-based zombie shooters like both Left 4 Dead games and Killing Floor, not to mention games like Dead Island and Dead Rising, it's easy to see why people were so hard on it - if it had come out 5 years earlier, I think it would have seemed much more appealing. Coming out in 2012, it was the latest in a glut of trendy zombie action games, and it ranked near the bottom of the pile. It fares a bit better against recent titles from its own series, though - the gameplay here is much more complicated, chaotic and fun then the rudimentary shooter bits in Revelations. It's much easier for me to enjoy this game for what it is than with RE5 and Revelations, as it doesn't retain any of the RE gameplay tropes. It never pretends to be anything more than the dumb shooter it is, and thus refrains from hinting at a superior horror direction like the aforementioned titles (though at least it takes place at night... I'm looking at you, RE5).

    The PC version of the game is quite broken, partially because it uses Games for Windows Live and thus requires a good bit of tweaking to get functional these days. As far as I can tell, the matchmaking never actually worked, and thus I was never able to try the PvP Versus mode, where the game's two teams are pitted against each other in several different 8-player game modes. I played the entire game in single player (and it really says something that it was tolerable in that form, as I can't say the same of any other RE co-op title including a few upcoming reviews), but it's easy to imagine that this would have been decent fun as the multiplayer game it was designed to be. The PC port also just isn't very well optimized, with frequent slowdowns despite its age. I can only imagine how badly this ran at launch and how much this disrupted the gameplay at the time. In short, it's very easy to see why people were furious about this game when it came out, but now that it's a bargain title and many of its issues have been mitigated (aside from getting it to run properly), it isn't the absolute worst way you could spend your time.

    RATING: 5/10 awful leather supersuits. Not as bad as you may have heard as long as you don't expect a Resident Evil game or any originality.

    Last edited by froghawk; 21st Sep 2018 at 21:20.

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