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Thread: The Shinji Mikami / Hideki Kamiya / Hideaki Itsuno Review Megathread

  1. #26
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2014
    Would be interested how you'd rate The Evil Within by Shinji Mikami and its sequel Evil Within 2.

    I hear the second is much better than the first. The first is a diamond in the rough imo. It's deeply flawed and the complaints against it are 100% legit. That said I do really enjoy it despite its shortcomings and it does feel more like a sequel to RE4 mechanically than RE5 or RE6 were.
    Last edited by TannisRoot; 25th Sep 2018 at 17:29.

  2. #27
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    You'll find out very shortly, as I've prepared some truly massive walls of text for those titles! I wouldn't say it's closer to RE4 than RE5, though.... I thought RE5 was basically a verbatim rehash of 4 on that front aside from the co-op and real time inventory.

  3. #28
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    The year 2000 may not have been a winner for this series, but 2012 was undoubtedly the worst year in its history. Here's the final title of the year, and the worst and biggest of the pile, bringing the shooter trilogy to a close:

    RESIDENT EVIL 6 (2012)



    Producer: Yoshiaki Hirabayashi
    Director: Eiichiro Sasaki
    Writer: Shotaro Suga

    In the late 2000s, Capcom experienced a mass exodus. Their most skilled personnel flooded to Platinumgames and Nintendo. This left the remaining team with something to prove, so they decided to make the biggest, longest, most ambitious Resident Evil title ever. This game tries to appeal to every type of fan, throwing survival horror, fast paced action, melee combat with fancy kung fu moves, vehicle sections, puzzles, and quicktime events into the mix, with everything geared towards both co-op and competitive online play in order to appeal to an even broader audience. Financially, this approach paid off - while first year sales were low thanks to middling reviews, people kept buying it at a steady rate. The game ultimately sold more than 9.5 million copies, making it one of Capcom's highest grossing titles, though it still came up short of the precedent set by Resident Evil 5 (which has sold more than 11.5 million units).

    The actual quality of the game tells an altogether different story - one in which the z-team bites off more than they can chew and fails miserably on every front. It so desperately wants to be the best game in the series, but every individual aspect of the game is so poorly executed that the sum of the parts ends up barely even feeling like a game, let alone something released by a high profile studio. The story tries to be the epic climax of the series so far where all the disparate plot threads of the series come together, this time using Lanshiang, China as the exotic locale. This time it's the C-virus (a combination of the T-virus with las plagas for maximal control, if I recall correctly), which creates a suspiciously wide array of monsters, from normal zombies to new soldier-monsters called J'avo to giant fat men with boobs to swarms of stinging flies. Several characters from older titles cross paths for the first time to stop the new citywide outbreak (Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, Sherry Birkin, and Ada Wong are all playable characters). Despite its aspirations, the game ultimately ends up feeling like an irrelevant sideshow, less important even the much more intimate and small-scale side story of Resident Evil 7. Such an epic plot requires story momentum to work, but this game has absolutely no sense of urgency despite its cinematic aspirations (it's the only numbered game in the series that doesn't do any storytelling through readables). It tries to make up for that lack of tension by constantly bombarding you with an obnoxious 'epic' orchestral score, which instead has the effect of completely ruining the atmosphere of the visuals. The plot unfolds slowly and lazily, leaving you mostly in the dark about what's going on for most of its duration, before ultimately revealing that all of its twists and roundabout storytelling techniques were hiding a very standard and pedestrian RE story with a dull, generic new villain. The blanks are slowly filled in by telling the same story from four different angles (in a similar manner to Resident Evil 2. Code Veronica, RE4's DLC, and Operation Raccoon City, but with twice as many perspectives). This method of stretching out a game that's light on content is practically becoming a series trademark by this point. The characters also lack personality - Chris is as flat as ever, but even Leon lacks the wit he had in RE4. They try to give Jake a personality by making him crack sexist quips, which uh... doesn't qualify.

    RE6 was directed by Eiichiro Sasaki, who previously directed the original RE co-op games, the Outbreak series (I haven't played those titles, and if this game is any indicator, I probably shouldn't). It immediately begins with an unskippable 20 minute long single player prelude before you even get to a menu screen - a flash-forward from Leon's campaign. I think it's meant to be a tutorial, but it does a terrible job of teaching you how to play the game, as quite a few elements have been added since RE5 which it doesn't bother to introduce. The Prelude pulls control away from you every 10 seconds, so it feels less like you're playing it and more like it's playing you. Gameplay is constantly interrupted by a barrage of awful quicktime events, or by the game taking control of the camera. The quicktime events are timing minigames, like pressing a button when a line spinning in a circle gets to a certain spot - a bit more intricate than the button mashing of previous titles, which makes them all the more annoying. I can't emphasize enough how incessant they are - I think I had to play 4 of them just to open a door. It's almost as if the game tries to throw all of its worst aspects at you right at the start, as the events taking place are also action movie absurdities. A plane crashes into a building, causing a giant explosion Leon has to run from with a quicktime event. He then jumps into a helicopter (with a quicktime event), shoots a zombie off his leg with another quicktime event... you get the idea.

    As you may have gathered by now, the game is divided into 4 campaigns which happen simultaneously, and the campaigns intersect at key points - so people playing the other campaigns are supposed to periodically join your game for a 4-player experience. Each campaign is divided into 5 chapters which intially each last around the length of a film (75min-2hr for the first two campaigns, ~1hr for the next two). This makes each of the first two campaigns longer than any other RE game to date except 4 and 5, and the game as a whole is twice as long as either of those (~30hrs). Now, does this mean the game actually has twice as much content? HELL NO. This is one of the most padded games I've ever played, and it has absolutely no sense of proper pacing. It's one of those games where you've nearly reached the goal - it's right in front of you - then the floor literally falls out from under you and have to take an extremely circuitous route to get back. It's the sort of game where every boss has to show up several times throughout a given campaign and come back to life around 5x per fight. That's apparently still not enough of said boss, so you then you have to play through the main fight against that same boss again in a different campaign. The redundancy is so extreme that the game will even show you the same plot cutscenes before and after the reprised boss fight, though I actually didn't mind that so much since I played this game slowly over a year and tended to forget said scenes anyway. The characters frequently comment on all the repetition with lines like 'What, again!?' or 'I'm getting tired of this!' or even 'Why doesn't anything die anymore?' in a way which perfectly reflected my feelings - could the developers be self-aware? Not in any meaningful way, as they seem to feel obligated to show every event from every angle, regardless of whether it's fun to play it with every character. (For instance, watching a boss fight from a distance with a sniper rifle for 5 minutes is distinctly not fun.) They try to milk the campaign even further by implementing a skill system where everything costs so much XP than you have to endlessly grind to get an upgrade that actually does anything - no thanks.

    The developers were clearly banking on this game having a ton of people playing at any given time for the intersection point system to work. The chances of being at the exact right point to link up with another player's game at a loading screen are extremely low in a title this long, so this never works out in practice - I never experienced it once, despite a surprisingly large active player base. The only practical result of the intersection system that I experienced is the previously mentioned recycled content. What does work is Agent Hunt mode, where other players can join your game at certain points as monsters - but this means the story campaign is periodically turned into a deathmatch game, further killing the story momentum and making the game's identity feel even more confused. And that's when I actually encountered the monsters - there were many times that I was informed that someone had joined my game as a monster, but then I never caught a glimpse of them.

    The game's identity crisis is a real problem - although there's a great deal of variety in each campaign, each one almost feels like a different game. The opening Leon Kennedy/Helena Harper campaign is a zombie shooter. The Chris Redfield/Piers Nivans campaign aspires to be Gears of War/Call of Duty, with nonstop action and obnoxious orchestral music (Capcom's head of marketing already admitted they were aiming for the CoD audience with Operation: Raccoon City, and that mindset continues here). The Jake Muller/Sherry Birkin campaign wants to be Uncharted for its first half, complete with searches through snowy vistas (the second half is more focused on the obligatory chainsaw boss rehash). The Ada Wong campaign is more puzzle-oriented. The core problem is that this game isn't good at being any of those games - there are countless titles which do each of these things better.

    Part of the problem is that the environments feel bizarrely empty - there's virtually nothing to explore and no reward for doing so, and you're shuffled from place to place so quickly that the game never establishes a solid sense of place. The exploration element that defined the previous titles is missing, and what's left is a shallow, linear shooter where you spend most of your time doing ridiculous melee moves and tripping over things. You're hurried from one area to the next, and the paths constantly close behind you. The game decides when you can run and when you have to walk, and still frequently pulls the camera away. Speaking of the camera, it's a weird hybrid of the over-the-shoulder approach of RE4/5 and the fixed angles of the earlier games - a design decision which makes absolutely no sense, and instead just makes the camera confusing, unpredictable, and frustrating. The ways the devs spent their time is a bit perplexing here - for instance, they put in the effort to give each campaign a different HUD, but they didn't bother to make any of the HUDs intuitive or easily usable.

    I guess Capcom took the criticisms of RE5 mostly happening in broad daylight seriously, because this game takes the exact opposite approach - it's SO dark that it's nearly impossible to tell what's going on half the time. The game's brightness calibrator is broken - it tells you to turn the brightness down until you can't see the number 6, but it was still perfectly visible at 0. Everything on screen was either super bright or pitch black at 0, making it impossible to tell what was going on, so I had to turn the brightness up well past the recommended setting to see anything at all. The level design may be boring and linear, but it's strangely hard to navigate at times - we often got stuck going over an area repeatedly before discovering that whatever we were supposed to find was hidden in plain sight, as the visual design obscured the most important bits. I actually kind of like the look and feel of the visuals, but they're totally undermined by the level design and obnoxious score - all the moodiness is sucked right of out them. With that said, I suspect the darkness is partially so extreme to mask the shoddy textures, as it looks a bit washed out, cheap, and less modern than RE5.

    The mechanics are surprisingly complicated for a simple multiplayer shooter, but instead of adding depth, they just overcomplicate everything. There's a skill upgrade system and all sorts of dodges and rolls you can do - but the game really, really sucks at telling you how to do them. The new inventory system is technically a simplification, but is somehow significantly harder to use. It maintains the real-time inventory where each item takes up 1 space regardless of size from RE5, but nothing is laid out on a grid anymore, so you have to scroll through all your items in real time as quickly as possible. The game as a whole isn't quite as heavy on quicktime events and ridiculous set pieces as the prelude, but they're still frequent and irritating enough that the game shows some self-awareness and the lowest difficulty does them for you. The gunplay feels wimpy, and there's never enough ammo, leading to an over-reliance on ridiculous melee combo moves that take the tension out of the attempted horror bits. Pretty much every element of this game feels poorly implemented and underexplained, making the whole feel unsatisfying, insubstantial, and frustratingly obtuse. It's simultaneously dumbed down and counterintuitive - like making a Call of Duty game with Dark Souls design principles. When I played RE5 with a friend, we couldn't survive without voice chat since we needed to plan strategy - but there was no strategy to plan here. None of these complicated gameplay elements actually create any gameplay depth, and the mechanics are ultimately quite dull. Also, did I mention that there are nearly endless unskippable credits after every single campaign? Who thought that was a good idea? I didn't think I'd ever yearn for a return to RE5's mediocrity, but here we are.

    Ada's campaign was originally released as a day 1 DLC episode, but the backlash was strong enough that it was soon integrated into the game. It's odd that they tried to pull this, as most of the actual plot reveal takes place in this campaign! While I appreciate that they responded to fan criticism, there was one particular bit that they probably should have ignored. People complained that the campaign didn't have co-op, so Capcom lazily added a second character to the campaign, 'Agent' (strongly resembling HUNK), so that it could be played cooperatively beyond just at the intersection points. The problem is that this insertion makes absolutely no story sense - Agent isn't a part of the story at all, so he vanishes during the cutscenes and is barely able to participate in the game. Agent can't interact with puzzles, doors, or treasure chests and is frequently locked behind a door to watch Ada do things. All he can do is occasionally jump into fights, but since the campaign was designed to be single player, there isn't even room for him in many of the game's tight corridors. Since steam already has a mode where you can invite people to watch you play, I'm not sure what they were thinking. Ignoring all that, the puzzles in Ada's campaign were about as unintuitive and nonsensical as you'd expect at this point.

    There is, of course, a mercenaries mode (and an extra hard mercenaries mode). These modes can be played with Left 4 Dead 2 character skins, which have the effect of making you wish you were playing that superior title. Mercenaries can be played co-operatively this time around. 4 more multiplayer modes were also released as DLC. 'Predator' is a 6-player mode where one of the players plays as one of the recurring bosses and the other players fight him. 'Survivors' is 2-6 player deathmatch mode. 'Onslaught' is a 2-player survival mode against waves of enemies, where one player's success creates more enemies for the other to battle. I forget what 'Siege' is, probably because I couldn't try any of these modes, as they all seem to be dead.

    I may have stated that Survivor and Operation: Raccoon City got more hate than they deserved, but my charity only extends so far - this game probably deserves even more hate than it gets. The only thing that saves RE6 is the experience of playing with a friend and laughing at how bad it is - and I played with many different friends, as no one person could handle more than a couple hours of this relentless awfulness. The best things I can say about this game is that the PC optimization was fine and the co-op interface worked far better than that of RE5 (this one even includes a local splitscreen option with a keyboard & controller option). I experienced little to no technical issues with any aspect of the port, which is honestly kind of shocking given how shoddy this whole affair is.

    RATING: 2/10 J'avo - Certainly the worst numbered title in the franchise, if not the worst period. One of the most awful games I've ever played!

    Last edited by froghawk; 12th Oct 2018 at 15:11.

  4. #29
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    2/10 dayam.

  5. #30
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    I agree with all of the criticisms, but maintain that RE6 remains a blast in co-op exactly because of how relentlessly stupid it is. Treat it less like a horror game and more like Michael Bay Presents: Resident Devil. (President Evil?) It's the cheeriest I've ever been while failing to save my partner from an overenthusiastic zombie plunging them both into a gruesome death by woodchipper. I mean, whoever knew Resident Evil would one day do an unintentional homage to Fargo?



    (Jesh's caption to the above: '"meh" - Leon')

  6. #31
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    I always get a chuckle out of "President Weevil" myself. Of course, if we go slightly further, we have the potential for President Weeble, a statesmen that wobbles but doesn't fall down.

  7. #32
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I can definitely appreciate that perspective, Sulphur. I think the problem there for me ends up being the length - it's definitely funnybad for a bit, but after 30 bloody hours of the thing it stops being consistently funny.

    Time for the game whose title is a slight variation on the words 'Resident Evil':


    THE EVIL WITHIN (2014)



    Producer: Masato Kimura
    Director: Shinji Mikami
    Writer: Itaru Yokoyama

    In a clear dig at Capcom, Shinji Mikami announced that he wanted to return survival horror to its roots in his first game with his new studio Tango Gameworks. This was his big return to horror, a decade after Resident Evil 4, and his swansong as a director. As such, he put quite a lot into it and tried to make something new instead of rehashing Resident Evil (though he definitely ended up doing a bit of that regardless). It’s designed to be a cinematic experience, with gorgeous visuals presented in letterboxed ultrawidescreen. Unfortunately, all the ambition resulted in an incredibly messy and overlong game which feels unfinished. A few brilliant moments are surrounded by heaps of unfocused and underdeveloped filler. The way it changes setting, gameplay style, and level design style so frequently makes it feel like a string of inferior copies of genre classics which fail to cohere into a greater whole.

    You play as Krimson City police detective Sebastian Castellanos, who is captured alongside two other cops when he goes to investigate a catastrophe at Beacon Mental Hospital. His brain is then hooked up to the brains of several mental patients through a machine called STEM. He is trapped in a sort of virtual world filled with manifestations of the subconscious minds of everyone he’s connected to. The story predicates that the entire game is based around an ever-changing setting – the old surreal horror trope of opening a door and finding yourself in an entirely different place, or having a headache which precedes a sudden change in surroundings. This premise could have been the basis for a wildly trippy horror game where each character hooked up to the machine has a distinct personality which manifests in clear ways. Sadly, the studio decided to go a different, less creative route, opting for a haphazardly blended mashup of several types of rather generic horror featuring many types of gameplay. Even this less creative approach could have worked well if the game had been paced accordingly, but the pacing is a complete mess.

    The nature of your surroundings isn’t revealed to you until about halfway through the game, making the first half an irritating slog through a number of seemingly random environments with abrupt and disorienting transitions between them. For instance, the game begins in a horrific human butchershop filled with traps, but before long, you’re driving through a collapsing city in a ridiculous action sequence and end up in some spooky woods. One level starts in the ruins of a castle, until you find an elevator. You make your way to a church, and suddenly you’re transported to strange ruins in a cave. These ruins lead to an industrial basement, which abruptly transforms into some sort of hospital or mental asylum. The game ends up feeling like a hodgepodge of ideas which have been done better in the survival horror classics. Many elements of the game call back to Mikami’s classic Resident Evil titles, but on the whole, it feels more influenced by Silent Hill, especially given the unreality of the basic premise and the fact that Castellanos lost his daughter. There’s even a recurring safe headed butcher boss that looks suspiciously similar to Silent Hill 2’s Pyramid Head (alongside a recurring bloody 6-armed naked lady, who has the classic japanese long-haired creepy lady look).

    Part of what made those classic survival horror titles (or newer, more successful entries like Resident Evil 7 or even the sequel to this game) so compelling was getting to know the spaces and having your expectations defied, but The Evil Within never manages to establish a consistent atmosphere or sense of place. As such, this game shines most when there is a larger area that you can explore at will, but these areas are few and far between, with most of the game opting for linearity. There’s an open area in chapter 3 that takes place in some old wooden farmhouses populated with enemies and gives you many tools for dealing with them, allowing you to pick between stealth and combat. It’s one of the tensest moments of the game and allows the player a great deal of creativity. Unfortunately, this is followed by a string of dull and linear setpieces, and the game doesn’t open up again until chapter 9 (more than 7 hours later), in a tribute to the original Resident Evil Mansion. Chapters 9 and 10 are the highlight of the game, and the only parts of it which inspire real scares, all thanks to a bit of extra focus. Even the sudden scene changes work after they’ve been contextualized by a larger area with a puzzle and a bit more story, making it all feel more purposeful after the extremely story-thin first half.

    If the whole game had been up to this standard, it would have been quite enjoyable despite its other flaws, but it seems the developers couldn’t decide whether to make an open, player-driven experience or an on-rails ride. They were also more focused on quantity than quality – a single playthrough of the game’s 15 chapters takes about 18-20hrs, making the game quite long for the genre. It’s padded on both a small and large scale – not only do some chapters feel unnecessary altogether, but every chapter is padded with extraneous sequences. Take the game’s grand finale – as you walk up to the elevator which leads to the final encounter, you’re suddenly transported to a very cool looking arena, where you’re forced into a string of horde battles, including two lesser bosses. You’re forced to confront two safe-head bosses and navigate a series of traps before you can return to the elevator and fight the final boss after some cutscenes. There was no story reason to delay the final boss for nearly an hour, and while it did feature some excellent art design, it ended up feeling like a frustrating waste of time. Ironically, the game has a lot in common with RE6 in that regard - I thought that was the game this one was meant to kill!

    The gameplay is a bizarre mix of things, and the mechanics change almost as frequently and unexpectedly as the environments. There are stealth elements that are similar to games like The Last of Us and Outlast, which involve a lot of running away and hiding in closets, on top of sneaking up on enemies for quiet kills. There’s RE4-style over the shoulder shooting, with familiar action elements from that game including running from guys with chainsaws and taking down hordes of enemies in a contained area. Unfortunately, the combat is a slog. It’s far less compelling than that of Resident Evil 4 (or even 5), and there aren’t enough opportunities for the superior stealth approach. The game frequently forces you into arena fights, but there isn’t enough ammo unless you can find many very well concealed collectibles that give you access to more. The gameplay in the late-game collapsed city chapters is especially erratic – while these chapters feature some excellent stealth sections, they’re also stuffed with extraneous arena battles, a sequence where you shoot enemies while you’re stuck on a bus, a brief and undercooked vehicle sequence, and even a dreaded mounted gun sequence. Once again, I'm getting flashbacks to RE6.

    The game is also held back by technical issues. The movement is janky and imprecise, and the camera is difficult to control. The graphics and art design may look great, but the game is held back by using the notoriously slow id tech 5 engine. The PC port isn’t well optimized at all – even after upgrading my computer, the game performed worse than any of the shinier games which followed it. The engine's notorious texture pop-in ran rampant here, creating some very jarring blocky scenery, and the framerate was choppy to the point that it often lead to my death – there’s no excuse for this in a game this old.

    The game’s inventory is heavily simplified and requires no management (a positive change imo), aside from making ammo for the Agony crossbow from parts collected around the environment. Instead, most of the complexity is saved for the skill tree, which you can level up using gel that is dropped by fallen enemies and found around the environment. The upgrades are quite necessary, as Sebastian is severely underpowered at the start – when the game begins, you can only sprint for a few seconds before your character leans over and pants for several seconds, leaving you vulnerable. There are Resident Evil-esque save rooms (Clair de Lune plays when you’re near or inside one), only instead of having a typewriter or cassette player, brightly flashing mirrors transport you to an asylum area with a nurse. You can save, upgrade your skill tree with a nasty contraption that clamps down on your head, or unlock items with hidden collectible keys in the asylum. Traversing this extra area gets old quickly, especially since you have to transport yourself back to the level after loading a save.

    The game initially seems like it’s going to be very story driven and cinematic, but it ends up being very story thin for most of its duration. The story ultimately doesn’t make a lick of sense (for instance, we're never told why this world is populated with zombielike people and what they are), and it focuses on the wrong things while introducing other backstory bits that seem like they’re leading somewhere but ultimately get ignored in this game (these form the basis for the sequel, and its story is much stronger for it). The main villain couldn’t be less scary – his strange garment makes him look like a bloodied up anime character, and he doesn’t have much to do at all through the first half of the game. It’s a shame that he becomes the story’s focal point in the second half, as the story really doesn’t need him at all and would have been scarier and more compelling without him. Nonetheless, his backstory reveal is made into the best part of the game, so I guess I can't complain.

    Thankfully, Tango Gameworks recognized the mistakes they made with this game and rectified them in the three DLCs they released. In classic Resident Evil style, the first two DLCS (‘The Assignment’ and ‘The Consequence’) follow Sebastian’s partner, detective Juli Kidman, through the events of the main game. Almost every extraneous gameplay element has been stripped out – the skill tree and inventory are gone, healing is now automatic, and combat has been almost entirely removed, replaced instead with a new (somewhat awkward) cover system and an emphasis on stealth. They made the wise decision to not give Kidman a weapon. This makes for a much more focused experience – rather than attempt to better embody the original’s potential for trippiness or expand on its best levels (the open areas that featured a lot of player choice), it does one thing and does it well. There are still occasional detours, like a shooting gallery sequence when Kidman is pinned down, but for the most part, this has the polish that the main game lacked. Even the movement feels a whole lot less clunky than it did in the main game (though I’m perplexed as to why a cop is wearing stilettos – it’s basically a cheap device to make her movement incredibly loud). It’s also a lot more story heavy than the main game – oddly enough, Kidman is a lot more important to this story than Castellanos, and more of the backstory is revealed across these 4 chapters (~5hrs) than in the entirely of the main game. Many areas are reprised from the main title, and yet this time around, we’re told why they exist and how they’re tied into Kidman’s or the villain’s psyches, providing the context to prevent the scene changes from feeling random. Beating these DLCs unlocks a mode where you can play them in complete darkness, forcing you to rely on your flashlight.

    The third and final DLC, ‘The Executioner’, is rather different – you play as the Keeper (the safe head boss) in first person, sequentially executing many of the major characters and bosses from the main game. This is a more straightforward affair, focused on smashing heads with a hammer, but it makes combat much more fun than it was in the main game. There’s a new skill system here, allowing you to buy extra weapons and upgrade your weapons and stats. Unfortunately, it’s also plagued with more technical problems, including increased texture pop-in and missing ambient audio during one fight. The story humanizes the keeper, putting him on a search for his missing daughter. As in the main game and DLCs, beating it unlocks a New Game+ mode, this time with extra stages, weapons, and upgrades.

    RATINGS:
    Main Game: 5/10 - Flashes of brilliance, but Mikami missed the mark.
    DLC: 7/10 - The best horror I've played in this thread since RE0!
    Last edited by froghawk; 12th Oct 2018 at 15:12.

  8. #33
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I think it's going to be a good while before I can get my friend over here to finish Revelations 2, so I'm going to power on ahead and post my review of that game at the end.


    UMBRELLA CORPS (2016)



    Producers: Masachika Kawata, James Vance

    The series hasn't become enough of a cash cow yet at this point, right? So let's release a game not even worthy of bearing the name of the franchise! Umbrella Corps is a tactical multiplayer shooter set around the time of Resident Evil 6. The game was widely critically panned, but since I got it in a bundle of stuff, I figure I may as well review it. It was apparently delayed and no promotion was put behind the new date, meaning that the game's multiplayer component is so dead that I'm unable to even try it out (and there is no AI for the multiplayer component). And I mean REALLY dead - apparently the peak number of players on steam was a mere 428, and it's far lower than that now. This leaves me with the brief, story-thin singleplayer component, The Experiment.

    The tutorial immediately reveals the game to be rather bizarre. It's an over-the-shoulder third person shoulder like all the other recent titles, but with an odd up-close perspective that makes it feel more like a first person game - something about it just doesn't feel right at all. There's a cover system that highlights any wall you're looking at, allowing you to snap to cover from a distance or climb walls with a weird chargeable pickaxe thing that's also your melee weapon. This leaves the game covered in all sorts of arrows and highlighting, as if it were in constant tutorial mode. The controls are all around clunky - for instance, you have to press two contextual buttons just to open a door (unless you slam through it).

    It begins in an abandoned Umbrella lab that's been overrun with zombies. You are Agent 3A-7 (probably a member of HUNK's team), and you've been sent in to collect zombie DNA samples and test new equipment. This translates to just killing 20 zombies as fast as you can then moving to the next stage, where you 'collect more DNA'. The first 5 stages of the 24 all take place in the same level with the same goal, only you get to see a bit more of it each time and start in different spots - and since the final stage happens 3x, you basically replay the same level 7x in a row with small variations. Granted, each stage takes between one to ten minutes to complete assuming you don't die, so it's a pretty brief amount of time, but it still highlights the extreme repetitiveness of the game (and you will die frequently). Then it moves onto another level which repeats several times, but it at least varies up the goals at that point - they have you defend an area ('domination') or collect briefcases ('collection') instead of just killing x amount of zombies. Levels are recreated from previous RE titles, complete with enemies from each titles. Notable recreations include the opening village from RE4, RPD (and the streets in front of it), the Antarctic base from Code: Veronica, and a village segment from RE5.

    The Unity engine visuals are sometimes rather pretty, and the recreations of these levels feels quite faithful. The problem with these re-creations is that it forces comparisons with the gameplay of the original levels and comes up short every time due to a variety of issues. The levels in this game are consistently small and constrained. The AI is basically identical for zombies and Las Plagas - either they're shambling/pointing at you or running at you, and that's about it. I guess zombies also crawl around on the ground if you shoot out their legs, but otherwise these enemies which should be very different feel exactly the same. The plagas AI especially suffers in comparison to RE4/5's much more involved behavior. For some reason, they're still very challenging to beat - unfairly so most of the time, and many of the levels will require a lot of practice. Climbing allows you to avoid most of the zombies/plagas for a bit, but then you'll instantly be swarmed by crows that will circle around your head and attack you in a way that makes them very hard to hit. They'll often attack you on the ground, as well, usually at the most inopportune times, leading to a quick death. There's no way to pause the game, either, so you have to be ready to twitch nonstop for 8-10 minutes.

    A very vague story is lazily forced onto the precedings through text blurbs on the level selection screen. I couldn't really follow most of it because it was so underdeveloped, but I guess the gist is that Umbrella is attempting to kill the agent and clean house by sending him on harder and harder missions, which he continues to miraculously survive. Props to the developers for making the game feel like the punishment it is in the plot - this is basically a full game version of the bonus modes I avoided in previous titles. But the thing is, I spent very little time surviving. I died OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I thought I spent a lot of time dying in RE0 - ha! I had no idea what real death looks like. The game doesn't have a health bar - health regenerates, but you only know where your health is at thanks to a subtle blood splatter on the screen. It can be tough to tell when you're about to die, and it only takes 2-3 hits to kill you to begin with. I suppose this extreme difficulty actually makes it the action game that's the closest to old school Resident Evil in spirit, but it kept me in a frustrated anxious rage, making me want to tear off my body parts and hurl them out the window. Needless to say, it made me produce a lot of adrenaline, but it wasn't exactly 'fun' for much of its duration. There were moments where I got into the flow of it, found strategies to the levels (especially later on), and did genuinely have a good time, but those bits were outweighed by the frustrating repetition.

    All of this seems to exist to teach you about the multiplayer game mechanics, but in a more limited way - the multiplayer component has a leveling system and several game modes which are absent from the singleplayer game. This part of the game is supposed to take place 3 years after RE6 (and the singleplayer of this game), as 10 corporations scramble to retrieve Umbrella's lost research. There are multiple game modes centered around 4 player teams (up to 8 players with 2 teams, though some modes are 4 player last-man-standing style). Levels are infested with zombies, and each player has a zombie jammer which makes them invisible from the zombies, but other players can disrupt the jammers and send zombies swarming towards their enemies. I can't comment on any of this since I didn't try it.

    The zombie jammer is introduced in the last 4 levels of The Experiment, and the game becomes much more interesting for it. I don't know why they didn't bother to introduce it sooner. The final 3 levels (in the Antarctica base) feature an especially interesting mechanic - there's a mutated zombie (which looks suspiciously similar to the Molded from RE7, but with back spines and much faster moving) that can disrupt or even destroy your jammer and send zombies after you. It's very hard to kill and can kill you extremely quickly, so these levels become all about avoiding the mutant and anticipating its next move, making the player quite paranoid, as it doesn't always spawn in the same spot. I'm not sure why they felt the need to relegate their most interesting mechanic to the final 3 levels of a 24 level game and leave the rest a generic exercise in frustration, but what can you do?

    RATING: 3/10 mutant zombies - I'd barely call The Experiment a real game, but there are a couple nice gameplay moments hidden in a sea of frustrating awfulness. While it doesn't have the humor of RE6, at least it has a degree of focus.

    Last edited by froghawk; 12th Oct 2018 at 15:15.

  9. #34
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    RESIDENT EVIL 7: BEGINNING HOUR (2016)



    This brief demo is an alternate take on the opening area of RE7. It returns the series to its horror roots after a decade of action games, and switches to a first person perspective, rejuvinating the franchise while capturing to the spirit of REmake in a way that I’d argue no other sequel ever has. It takes place in a disgusting, claustrophobic house which is overflowing with atmosphere and packed solid with secrets. It doesn't make its connection to the series clear here beyond the game mechanics, giving it an air of intense mystery. There's a surprising amount to dig into here – I’ve never seen SO MUCH packed into a tiny free demo before - they even kept updating it with new content. You can finish this demo in 15min, but it’s very replayable and actually scary. Many of the main game's mechanics are barely even introduced in this demo, so it may not give you the MOST accurate picture of what you're in for, but it certainly succeeds in making you want to buy the full thing. There are several possible endings here, and it’s quite difficult to get the best one, which will unlock an item for you to use in the main game. Getting the best ending involves solving a crazy puzzle to solve which reminds me of 90s adventure games – I can’t remember the last time I played something new which holds your hand this little and isn't called Dark Souls. There’s virtually no combat, and you can avoid it entirely depending what order you do things in – you may not even encounter an enemy at all. If you do, it's contextualized in way that makes it harrowing. This seems to share a lot of similarities with Silent Hills PT, which I lamentably never got to play (and I guess I never will at this point). I think I recall reading that both games shared an art designer? The main game unfortunately doesn't feel quite as obscure and mysterious, but it's still got a ton to offer.

    RATING: 9.5/10 network TV con artists
    Last edited by froghawk; 7th Oct 2018 at 02:34.

  10. #35
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Posted this one here before, but I've revised it a bit....

    RESIDENT EVIL 7: BIOHAZARD (2017)



    Producers: Masachika Kawata, Tsuyoshi Kanda
    Director: Koshi Nakanishi
    Writers: Morimasa Sato, Richard Pearsey

    I guess Capcom got tired of the series having two different titles in Japan and America so they combined the two names into one. Unimaginative name aside, this game is a return to form – Capcom recognized their mistake in turning the series into co-cop action games and returned to a single player horror experience, this time with a fresh first person camera perspective. In a break from RE tradition, this game introduces a new main character, Ethan Winters. The basic setup is very similar to Silent Hill 2 – he receives a message from his wife who has been missing for 3 years, summoning him to meet up with her – but it quickly diverges from that template. This message brings him to yet another mansion – only this time the mansion is a run down estate in Louisiana owned by the Bakers, a truly deranged southern family. They spend the first 2/3 of the game stalking you through the estate’s many houses and outbuildings, the scope of which silently conjures a familial history of slave ownership.

    The opening sequence in the guest house immediately shows you how serious they were about returning to horror here – this is BY FAR the scariest game in the series. I didn’t think the RE series would ever go this far – this may be the first time a horror game has ever had me freaked out in the daytime. The claustrophobia induced by the odd camera angles from the early games has been wonderfully updated in first person with tight spaces and a flashlight which gives you a tiny field of view. The house is downright disgusting, and a lot of what you have to do to traverse it is quite nauseating (naturally including draining a mold-filled bathtub in a tribute to the original). The visuals are wonderful, and the music is used sparingly but effectively. The monster designs are great, and while there are a few reprised ideas*(like Jack Baker’s final form having eyes all over its body, which are the boss’s weak spots, or a sequence where you’re chased by someone with a chainsaw), they feel more like a cute nod to previous entries than lazy recycling.

    Mechanically, this game is a return to the core principles of old school RE. Magically interconnected item boxes are back. Typewriter save spots are back in the form of cassette recorders, though you get unlimited saves as in RE4. The core of the game is once again a key hunt in a big house. It’s difficult even on normal, and you will run out of ammo frequently, putting you in hairy situations. Health and ammo crafting systems have been combined and streamlined – you can combine a green herb, gunpowder or solid fuel with a chem pack or strong chem pack to craft 6 different items. This isn’t quite as much of a return to old-school design as the teaser implied – it holds your hand a bit more in the form of frequent autosaves and an objective list – but it feels like a nice compromise between the cruelty of those old games and the excessive handholding of modern ones. It hits a nice sweet spot.

    Most of the game feels like it could have been a new IP or offshoot, thanks to a much more intimate story with a new main character, a new camera perspective, and a very different kind of horror. Unfortunately, it becomes much more uninspired once it starts trying to be a Resident Evil game again in the final act, ditching all the elements that made it so interesting to begin with for tired cliches.*Several plot twists feel like forced attempts to tie this unrelated story into the main series, transforming the story into an addled and incoherent mess of smashed-together tropes. This is primarily frustrating because, for the first time ever, the plot of a Resident Evil game was almost good. It was probably silly of me to expect it to remain that way.

    To make matters worse. the gameplay also declines in the final act. The Bakers aren’t the only enemies in the game – there are also new zombielike creatures called the Molded.*These creatures are quite scary and hard to defeat early on in the game, but once the game forgets about the Bakers and gives you stronger firepower, it devolves into another dull zombie shooter. Granted, it doesn’t swarm you with enemies in a fast-paced manner filled with quicktime events (of which there are close to none), so it’s still a step above the previous entries, but it’s a big step down for this game. It doesn’t help that the environments become rather mundane once you leave the estate – the salt mines in the final stage are particularly dull.

    The gameplay issues are rectified in the ‘Madhouse’ hard mode which is unlocked after beating the game, providing*a full updating of the 90s Resident Evil experience for modern audiences. As in the early games, you have a limited number of saves in the form of cassettes, and can only save at specific cassette players with very little autosaving (with the one unfortunate downside of making you watch some unskippable cutscenes several times, but this is a rare occurrence). And, of course, there are tougher enemies and less resources to deal with them. There are also upgrade cages added to the main hall, allowing you to get the scorpion key much faster and to upgrade your attack power and defense. The result is a novel experience with many differences from my first playthrough. Events happen in a different order and I encountered new cutscenes I missed the first time around. Most importantly, the difficulty is so much higher that the final act of the game was not turned into a shooting fest – I had to run away in almost every situation. This makes the experience much more enjoyable from beginning to end. While it doesn’t fix the story issues, it does make the gameplay a lot more consistent just by making things harder. It’s a shame that this mode isn’t available from the start, because it feels like the way the game was meant to be played.

    After the lengthy action trilogy, this game returned to being brief and tight – my clear time was around 7.5hrs (though took me a full 4hrs longer in Madhouse mode). I feel like this is an optimal length for a horror game, but seeing as even this brief game had a bit of filler towards the end, I would have preferred that it was even shorter and they’d just made the Bakers the entire focus. I can only imagine what the game would have been like if they’d brought in the history of the deep south a bit more and tried to make statement with it instead of just playing with the scary hicks trope then concluding that the Bakers weren't bad people. It also seems a bit scant on content, since the extra modes were saved for DLC – this is the first Resident Evil game to ship without a Mercenaries mode or something similar since the original.

    The PC port is great – I can’t remember the last time I could get away with running a new game on native resolution, let alone without turning everything down! It took quite a bit of tweaking to get to that point, but my GPU isn’t supposed to be powerful enough to run this game at all and I managed to run it on high settings. While the initial release evidently had some optimization issues, they seem to have cleared them up incredibly well with patches. I’m impressed with their new RE engine - this bodes well for the upcoming RE2 remake.

    RATING: 8.5/10 mutated mold spores (but the first 2/3 gets a solid 10/10 and may actually be the high pint of the entire series IMO)
    Last edited by froghawk; 12th Oct 2018 at 15:16.

  11. #36
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    RESIDENT EVIL 7: SEASON PASS (2017-18)



    BANNED FOOTAGE VOL. 1

    The first two DLCs released for the game are mostly dedicated to describing the fate of the Baker's previous victim, Clancy (a TV personality we were introduced to in the main game’s first video tape). His story is told in an unconventional way, through a series of three scenarios each highlighting a different aspect of the game and focusing on a different Baker family member.

    Nightmare: Clancy is trapped in the Bakers’ basement and must survive the night while being stalked by Jack Baker and a horde of Molded. This is basically this game's twist on Mercenaries, but with an extra survival twist - several compactors are scattered around the basement, producing a steady supply of scraps that you must collect to make ammo and traps. It’s actually quite fun, though I couldn’t beat it until repeated attempts unlocked a cheap item that made it much easier but nerfed my score. A hard difficulty is unlocked upon completion, but I didn’t spend much time with it - the mode is hard enough as is. Overall, it's my least favorite of this pack.

    Bedroom: Upon surviving the night in the basement, Clancy is captured by Maguerite and chained to a bed. Where ‘Nightmare focused on combat, the 'Misery'-inspired ’Bedroom’ focuses on puzzles. Clancy must find a way to escape the bedroom through solving classically obtuse RE style puzzles - I admit that I had to glance at a walkthrough a few times just because some items were so well hidden, but I nonetheless greatly enjoyed this scenario. It's a more focused look at one of my favorite aspects of the main game, and it feels a bit more old school than the other scenarios here. It's my favorite scenario in this DLC, but also the least replayable.

    Jack's Birthday Party: Each volume of this DLC also included a third unrelated mode which doesn't tie into the story. ‘Jack’s Birthday Party’ is a time trial in which the player runs around levels from the main game collecting food for Jack to eat. You’ve got to collect a set amount food for him before the timer runs out, but the timer can be paused by killing enemies. There are six stages to this mini game which alternately take place in the guest house, Lucas's testing area, and the main house. 2 stages are based on each area, with each being a bit larger than the last. As with ‘Nightmare’, many rewards can be unlocked from playing each stage repeatedly and getting a better score.


    BANNED FOOTAGE VOL. 2

    21: Upon escaping the bedroom, Clancy is captured by Lucas Baker, who then forces him into a card game which is basically blackjack meets ‘Saw’. It’s sadistic as hell, but I got quite a bit of mileage out of it. Beating the initial scenario unlocks a 'Survival' mode, where you have to defeat 5 enemies at cards without dying, and beating that unlocks 'Survival+' mode, where you have to beat 10 enemies and each one takes much longer to defeat. Accomplishing certain goals unlocks new cards in your deck.

    Daughters: Instead of elucidating Clancy's final fate, the final scenario shows the moment the Bakers went insane and features Zoe as the playable character. It's the only scenario here which seems truly story-oriented (as opposed to the other entries here, which explain the story context in a loading screen as a thin justification for what are essentially arcade modes). The gameplay focuses on the strongest aspects of the game - while it isn't as strong as the best moments from the main title, it arguably comes close at times. It takes place in the main house, which has yet to wear out its welcome - there are enough twists to keep it enjoyable. There are 2 possible endings, only one of which is the true ending that leads into the main game. Beyond that, it's not particularly replayable and there are no extra modes, but the puzzle to figure out the true ending is obtuse enough that you'll likely have to play through this one several times to notice every necessary detail.

    Ethan Must Die: The non-story scenario in volume 2 is a permadeth mode which again recycles the game's best levels. Ethan must take an extremely perilous trip through the main house to find a key to unlock the greenhouse and once again fight Marguerite in her final boss form. The path through this scenario is figured out over the course of many deaths, as there is no save function, the house is filled with traps, and Ethan is so delicate that he often dies with a single hit. While this amount of level repetition would be tedious in most titles, seeing the levels from new angles is surprisingly refreshing and fun here, making these DLC episodes a great testament to the quality of this game's level design. You have to stay alive for about 20 minutes to make it through this one. Admittedly, I haven’t survived all the way yet, but I’m on my way!


    NOT A HERO

    This free story DLC follows Chris Redfield as he hunts down Lucas Baker and tries to save 3 kidnapped men. This episode was severely delayed (at least 8 months) because the developers initially felt it to be under par. I appreciate that they did that, but seeing as it lasts less than 90 minutes, the length of the delay is perplexing. It immediately answers the question posed in the final scene of RE7 (yes, Chris Redfield is indeed (reluctantly) working for Umbrella, who have turned a new leaf and decided to make up for their past mistakes by fighting bioterror). An Umbrella representative occupies Chris’s comms, helping him track down Lucas with laughably wooden voice acting. What they do with Lucas here feels like a retcon, giving him a forced backstory (and ongoing plot) involving bioterror that was never mentioned in the main game. The bioterror angle and the presence of Umbrella and Chris Redfield ties RE7 to the rest of the series more strongly, but it doesn’t feel as organic as it could have. And, of course, every Resident Evil game needs a secret lab. We only saw a tiny bit of the secret lab in the salt mines in the main game – this DLC shows us the rest of it.

    As you would expect, the gameplay is a little bit more shooter-oriented than the main game, as Chris has much better fighting skills than Ethan and better equipment (including a new automatic shotgun and the ability to punch molded in the face for a finishing blow), but thankfully, this DLC is far from a mere shooting fest. Instead, it further explores Lucas’s traps and their associated simple puzzles. The atmosphere is a bit different from the main game, and it looks quite different as well, with a new HUD and even a different form of aiming. There are new monsters which require a special kind of ammo to defeat, as they can regenerate. The final boss is a mutated Lucas (notably absent from the main game), and he has the look of a classic RE boss monster.
    After beating this brief episode, a harder Professional mode is unlocked that removes much of the shooting. You’re provided with only a knife for the first half this mode despite facing a much larger quantity of monsters. The regenerating monster are invincible until you get a gun, and it throws plenty of them at you, forcing you to run away from almost every monster encounter. Once you are finally given guns, ammo is incredibly scarce – barely enough is provided to defeat the bosses, let alone the other monsters. This brings the experience a bit closer to that of the main game, though it still doesn’t offer the same kind of chills, as Chris isn’t put through the ringer in the same way as Ethan. I wish all of the hard modes for every part of RE7 had been available from the start instead of being unlockable, since they feel like what the game was meant to be. With that said, I was actually unable to beat the final boss of this episode on Professional.


    END OF ZOE

    The playable character in this paid story DLC follows a new member of the Baker family, Jack’s brother Joe - a man who is magically able to punch molded to death. Melee combat isn't exactly this game's strong suit, so I found this one to be a bit lackluster. The level design was much more linear than the main game and the other DLC and doesn't feature any puzzles - all you do is punch molded and stab crocodiles. It's even shorter than Not a Hero (I finished one playthrough in roughly 75min) and feels much less substantial, making their choice to make this the paid episode and Not a Hero the free one perplexing. The punching mechanic takes away most of the scares, leading me to wish that the writers had played up the humor angle of their ridiculous premise a bit more beyond Joe’s nonstop awful profane quips. I think they were trying to go for the survivalist angle by having you play as a guy that lives in the woods, subsists on arthropods, crafts spears, and punches monsters, but it doesn't quite work, largely because Joe feels quite overpowered until he meets the final boss (which naturally comes with a sudden difficulty spike). The plot follows up on the main game's good ending, but nothing is really added to the story here aside from witnessing Zoe’s final fate.

    The developers tried to stretch out this brief episode by including 3 unlockable modes. 'Extreme Challenge' adds time trials to many parts of the game, and beating all of them unlocks a sword that gives you health when you hit enemies with it. 'Joe Must Die' is the hard mode, and it again uses cassette saves and brings this scenario much closer to what I see as the true spirit of the franchise. Joe feels underpowered here, which instantly transforms this episode from being completely ridiculous to being the tense survivalist simulator it aimed to be. It may actually be the hardest mode in the entire game, as I couldn’t even get past the basic enemies in the first area - I can't imagine trying to tackle the bosses in this mode. There's also an 'Extreme Challenge +' mode which adds time trials to Joe Must Die - good luck with that!


    SEASON PASS RATING: 7/10 - While the overall response to the DLC was mixed, I got just as much playtime out of it as I did with the main game and enjoyed it overall.
    Last edited by froghawk; 24th Nov 2019 at 12:38.

  12. #37
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    RESIDENT EVIL: VENDETTA (2017)



    Producers: Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Hiroyasu Shinohara, Takashi Shimizu
    Director: Takanori Tsujimoto
    Writer: Makoto Fukami

    The third CG film in the series advertises a 'new tone', and, well... it really isn't all that different from the last two. The plot begins as usual - someone's got a BOW, Chris and a team of soldiers go to a creepy looking house to investigate, and most of them get killed off in a sequence that's less interesting than watching someone play a Resident Evil game (which, as far as video games go, is not very interesting to watch). Leon and Rebecca Chambers (of RE0 fame) are his co-stars, and Rebecca has apparently found a new job as a virus researcher and magically developed a personality.

    The main villain is a BOW dealer who's mad because somebody drone bombed his wedding (he was the only survivor). I'd be mad too. Rebecca, coincidentally, looks almost exactly like his dead wife. After she does one of those cliched 'explain the villain's plan to them in great detail' scenes, he decides he's going to recreate his wedding with her and the reanimated corpses of his friends and family. He also decides he's going to replace her arm with his dead wife's and turn everyone in the world except the two of them and a couple of his friends into zombies. 'Maybe this is what I've always wanted... a world in flames where only the dead remain.' Fun times!

    Once again, the CG looks amazing and shockingly real at times, but the ages of the characters make no sense. The Resident Evil series follows the real world's time line, meaning Chris and Rebecca made their first appearance more than 20 years ago and should accordingly be older, but neither looks like they've aged a day - all three of these characters are eternally at their physical peak. The villain even comments on how young Rebecca is, even though she can't plausibly be any younger than 40. I don't know why they keep using the same characters when the core RE cast seems to only be consistent in name - their personality, voice actors, look, and even age can change at any time to suit the story, making the whole series seem like fanfiction. Leon is no longer a smartass wisecracker, and instead is filled with pathos, living at the bottom of a bottle and constantly pondering how long he can keep doing this. At least Chris consistently lacks any sort of personality.

    The final act features some of the most ridiculous action sequences ever seen in the series, including slow motion gunfights on a motorcycle, ridiculously high speed zombie murder with flashy stunt moves, and plenty of collateral damage. There's also a scene where Chris and the bad guy are having a fistfight while trying to shoot each other at obscenely, unrealistically high speeds. Being a video game movie, there is naturally a final boss - a really big guy with 2 heads and a glowing heart (so idiot Chris knows where to shoot), plus pointy fingernails that can grow really long and stab people at his will. He has one line of dialogue - 'I'm gonna spill your guts all over!'. Could use a little work on the menace, buddy. The movie has some trouble following its own rules towards the end, but whatever, it’s a video game movie. Every one of these movies so far has been a standalone story, but this one ends with a little sequel bait. We’ll see if they actually follow up on it.

    Rating: 6.5/10 - This was a pretty entertaining dumb action movie. I liked it about as much as Degeneration, and prefer it to Damnation.
    Last edited by froghawk; 12th Oct 2018 at 15:17.

  13. #38
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Ok, Tannis - here you go!

    THE EVIL WITHIN 2 (2017)



    Executive Producer / Supervisor: Shinji Mikami
    Producer: Shinsaku Ohara
    Director: John Johanas
    Writers: Trent Haaga, Syoji Ishimine

    Shinji Mikami kept his promise: he did not direct The Evil Within’s sequel, and remained on board only as an executive producer. Instead, it was directed by John Johanas, who also directed the first game’s Kidman DLCs. Sticking with him was a wise choice, as he took the blueprint of the first game and turned it into something considerably more enjoyable than even those DLCs. He clearly aimed at making the game much more palatable to a wider audience, and while I’d usually object to that, it was the right decision here. Gone are the first game’s more controversial decisions, like the letterbox ultrawidescreen view or the way the characters had to stop and catch their breath after sprinting. The default difficulty is dialed down, with the highest difficulty tier still being less difficult than the first game’s middle tier. This time around, the game is designed around a open world to frame the game’s sudden changes, which are used as occasional flare here instead of the main event. While the original TEW purported to return survival horror to its roots (and failed), TEW2 does something different – it pushes the genre forward into new territory by hybridizing it with other approaches. It’s as if Johanas combined The Evil Within with Alan Wake and wrapped it all up in the Ubisoft formula, and yet the end result is far more enjoyable than any of those things.

    The change is so vast that it’s sometimes hard to believe that this game is part of the same franchise during the game’s first half. There are many new elements besides the open world, including dialogue trees, side quests, a more complex ammo crafting and weapon upgrade system, a Resident Evil 4-esque shooting gallery, and a radio that allows you to view events from the past in certain locations. All the voice actors are new (which is initially jarring in Kidman’s case, but I adjusted to it very quickly). Castellanos is far more talkative than he was in the original game, often expressing surprise at things that probably shouldn’t faze him after the events of the first game (and, frankly, talking a little too much, to the detriment of the game’s atmosphere). And yet, there’s just enough to tie it back to the original – the story finally gives Castellanos the emotional arc his character requires, delivering on the promise of the largely ignored backstory from the original game. He has frequent flashbacks of the events of the first game, as he is haunted by the (literal) ghost of Beacon Mental Hospital (the main setting of the original) throughout and is often transported to small Beaconlike environments. He even returns to Nurse Tatiana for upgrades (again gotten by collecting green gel) and to unlock lockers with collectible keys. The main bosses from the original are reprised as well. The weaponry is largely unchanged, and the agony crossbow (now warden crossbow) has the same kinds of bolts, plus a new smoke bolt to help with stealth. There’s a new inventory screen, but no reason to use it – I didn’t look at it once through my entire first playthrough. The inventory in the original was at least necessary for crafting.

    The game is split into two halves. The first, in which Castellanos stalks and is stalked by a mad photographer, takes place in two small open world segments connected by underground tunnels. The second half reverts to the gameplay style of the original title, featuring linear segments with area battles in a wide variety of environments as Castellanos is mentally tormented by a power hungry, fire-obssessed preacher. Some more minor gameplay elements from the original return in the second half, as well, like shooting off knobs to turn off flames blocking the way, or using quicktime events to turn handles. The result is that, like the first game, it feels like they threw a bit too much at the wall here, as many gameplay mechanics only appear for brief portions of the game then disappear. Thankfully, the latter half of The Evil Within 2 is far more refined than the original game, meaning it’s actually fun. The Nightmare difficulty makes ammo extremely scarce, but stealth is consistently a viable option, allowing you to conserve ammo (unlike the first game, where most of the arenas made stealth impossible or close to it). The arena sections are tense and enjoyable instead of feeling like sloglike padding, with rare exceptions. The environments are also properly contextualized, making it feel like you have a reason for being wherever you are. The scene changes feel less surreal, but they also feel justified, preventing many of the areas from feeling totally pointless the way they did in the original game.

    This greater context extends to the story, which goes out of its way to explain everything that the DLC didn’t explain about the original – for instance, it’s finally explained why the people stuck in STEM turn zombielike. This in tandem with the more emotional approach makes the writing significantly better than it was in the original game. The game is centered around Sebastian’s attempt to rescue his daughter from an Illuminatiesque organization called Mobius who are trying to unite the consciousness of all mankind using STEM in order to more easy control them. Instead of using a madman as ‘the core’ who defines the world (see: the first game), Mobius used Sebastian’s daughter Lily. While the plot is far more compelling than that of the first game, the writing isn’t always great – it’s still bogged down in some cheesy dialogue (for example, boss fight taunts), but it thankfully feels a bit more inspired by Silent Hill than Resident Evil. Unfortunately, the SIlent Hill approach of making the game a giant therapy session for the protagonist isn’t as well executed as it was in, say, Silent Hill 2 – the emotional resolution of Sebastian’s issues often seems abrupt and cursory. The game nonetheless manages to have some emotional moments, and the overall plot makes the first game feel like an inessential prequel – all the real action happens here.

    Like the original, it is overlong, though a much higher percentage of its playtime feels justified and the overall consistency is much better. It’s even longer than the first game – a single playthrough took me 25hrs. The structure of the game is a bit strange – the first big open area is the largest, and the game becomes more and more constrained as it progresses. Chapter 3 is the game’s largest, while chapter 17 (the epilogue) is nothing but on-rails sequences. Since the open parts are once again the most enjoyable parts of the game, it experiences a small and gradual decline in quality until the end. Some of the final chapters are the most padded in the game, and all the gameplay after the final boss fight feels pointless. I can’t fathom why they felt it was necessary to introduce Kidman as a playable character right at the end, let alone to have her stuck in a single cover position while shooting enemies. The entire final chapter could have been a cutscene, and it would have had more momentum for it, but I guess they felt making Sebastian run through a collapsing world to dramatic music would give it a more epic feel.

    Despite all these improvements, there’s still one rather large problem – for all of its efforts to address the issues with the original, it still isn’t scary at all. Sometimes it manages to be a little tense, but that’s the extent of it. While I said the same thing about the first game, that title at least managed to have a rather nasty atmosphere at times, even when it was short on scares. This one doesn’t manage the same, and is thus even less scary than the original title. There are a number of reasons for this - for one, the open world approach isn’t conducive to horror. Contrasting this game with Resident Evil 7, which managed to be the scariest game in the series by significantly reducing the scale of the story, it becomes clear that making things bigger reduces the fear. TEW2 is also a lot less obtuse than the original, and all the context makes things a bit less eerie. While it’s shinier looking than the first title and features some rather creative environments (STEM ends up looking a bit like Dishonored’s void by the end), the visuals also lack a certain cold and nasty flair that was present in the first game. The art design is relatively rote, with the monsters feeling rather par for the course. Some of the boss designs are nonetheless pretty cool despite their unoriginality, like the recurring boss in the game’s first half that’s made of several corpses stitched together. Though the graphics may have less atmosphere this time around, they still look nice, with especially striking reflections. Thankfully, the PC port performs much better than that of the first game – the STEM engine, still based on id tech, seems to have avoided the issues of id tech 5, without a hint of texture pop-in or stutter in sight.

    Beating the game unlocks a new game plus mode, several new overpowered weapons, and the original game’s letterbox view. The game was also patched to add a first person mode, creating a greater sense of intimacy. While the gameplay clearly wasn’t designed for this (it feels a little clunky and the stealth is much harder in this mode), it’s a worthy addition that adds even more tension to the proceedings. I played through the first 4 chapters in NG+ with first person view and letterboxing, and while the altered visuals give the game a pleasantly different feel, NG+ is basically god mode in this game. Not only were the newly unlocked brass knuckles a one-hit kill for most enemies, but the game throws an abundance of resources at you, allowing you to fully upgrade your character in an instant. This is briefly pretty entertaining, but it also removes all tension from the proceedings.

    RATING: 8/10 cameraheads – A SUBSTANTIAL improvement!

    Last edited by froghawk; 24th Nov 2019 at 12:40.

  14. #39
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Alright, now the chronology is going to get all messed up.

    DEVIL MAY CRY (2001)



    Executive Producer: Shinji Mikami
    Producer: Hiroyuki Kobayashi
    Director: Hideki Kamiya
    Writer: Hideki Kamiya, Noboru Sugimura

    In 1999, Shinji Mikami asked Resident Evil 2 (and future Okami / Bayonetta trilogy) director Hideki Kamiya to develop Resident Evil 4 with RE2 writer Noboru Sugimura. Kamiya set out to make a 'cool', gothic, fast, stylized Playstation 2 action game with fully 3D environments. Mikami felt this new direction didn't fit in the world of Resident Evil and convinced Kamiya and his Team Little Devils to make the game a new IP - thus, Devil May Cry was born.

    I'm not exactly sure how this would have fit into the RE universe - it would have undoubtedly been a bit of a stretch. Apparently the original plan was for the protagonist to be a guy named Tony who had biotechnology-induced superpowers. The plot was wisely changed to be loosely inspired by Dante's inferno, and the main character, Dante, instead had powers as a side effect of being the son of the heroic demon Sparda. Other demons killed his mother and brother, so he decided to become a demon hunter in order to hunt down those responsible and get revenge. The game begins when a leather-clad woman named Trish drives a motorcycle through the front door of his shop 'Devil May Cry' and asks for help destroying the demon Mundus, who may have killed Dante's family. She takes him to a castle on Mallet Island, where an opening to the underworld is supposedly located, then promptly vanishes, leaving Dante to spend most of the game searching for the entrance. Needless to say, there's next to no plot for the bulk of this game, as the plot doesn't advance again until mission 17 of 23. Frankly, it's unclear how he even finds the entrance the underworld near the end of the game - he seems to stumble upon the right items out of nowhere and somehow knows exactly what to do with them, as if he opens portals to the underworld every day. Gotta love video game logic. In any case, while the plot isn't particularly logical, it does what it needs to do and even ends up being surprisingly moving for what it is by the end.

    Unsurprisingly, there are many elements which feel familiar to the Resident Evil series. There are a few ideas that feel like prototypes of things that would later appear in RE4. The castle is quite reminiscent of the one which later appeared in the proper RE4, and it feels very much like a RE mansion. There's also a plane escape sequence near the end that feels like the blueprint for the Jetski escape sequence in RE4's finale. Most of the RE influence comes from the older games, of course. Much like in Code: Veronica, the camera can't be controlled by the user, and instead is dynamic, following the player through the environments. This mostly works well, but big boss monsters can get in your way and completely hide Dante, making you flail around. The control scheme is the same as the 'alternate' control scheme in REmake/RE0, where your character moves in whatever direction you point. As always, this creates a bit of trouble - your character will keep going in whatever direction you were already going in after the camera angle switches, meaning that you'll often find yourself pressing down while moving forwards. Press up, and you'll keep moving in the same direction - it's disorienting. There are also some rather awkward underwater bits in first person - the movement hasn't aged all that well, though I'm sure at the time it felt quite fast and agile with all the double jumping and flying and spinning and whatnot.

    The game's item-based puzzle system and text alerts (slow-scrolling text spelling out things like 'You found the Rusty Key') are classic RE, as is the spooky music aesthetic when combat isn't happening (industrial rock with jungle beats dominates the combat segments). But combo-based combat is what this game is all about, and that's where it deviates entirely from the early Resident Evil games. You eventually get the choice between a sword and gauntlets, each including its own set of unlockable combo moves. I'm not great at remembering combos, but thankfully these moves are all based on 4 buttons and are also easy to look up in the menu, so I managed to survive nonetheless. Each attack string is cheekily rated on a scale from 'Dull' to 'Stylish' depending on its complexity by words that pop up above the target. Dante can transform into a demon form ('devil trigger'), which includes its own set of combo moves and increases the power of all attacks - but this mode has a timer on it and needs to be recharged, so powerful attacks need to be saved for opportune moments. Dante is also armed with guns with infinite ammo (demonic powers again?) as secondary weapons, allowing the player to shoot enemies between sword slashes or punches. This all makes the combat feel quite varied, and the gameplay is varied in other ways as well, from the aforementioned puzzles and underwater sequences to missions where you have to run through an area on a timer. It's an action game which understands pacing and doesn't feel the need to just throw a million enemies at you all the time - a true rarity.

    The level design may feel like a Resident Evil game, with interconnected areas filled with locked doors and puzzles (complete with transition animations between some rooms), but the way those levels are presented is something else entirely. The gameplay is broken up into 23 discreet 'missions' - small segments of the game that need to be completed in a single sitting. Saving mid-mission will only save collected money and purchases you've made, allowing for grinding. The mission system was integrated late in the game's development, and it feels exactly like it was superimposed on already designed levels, providing an odd combination of RE style level design and something close to a checkpoint system. You'll often leave an area without having solved its puzzles, only to return there in later missions with the item you need to complete them. The level segments are small, usually restricted to a room at a time, but it runs at 60fps and the load times were basically nonexistent even in the game's original release - quite a technological accomplishment! Each mission gives you a rating at the end, based on playtime, damage, items picked up, and combat stylishness. A higher rating means a higher bonus that can be used to purchase new abilities, upgrades, and items from the time statue shop.

    One of the biggest changes from early RE is that there's no inventory management in the game - I guess Dante's demonic powers allow him to hold massive amounts of stuff. Most of the pickups in the game are 'orbs'. Enemies drop red orbs (money) and occasionally green orbs (health powerups which are used in the moment). The other types are much more rare. You find fragments of blue orbs around the environment and in secret missions, and every time you amass 4 of them, your health is permanently increased. Purple orbs increase the time of the devil trigger, while yellow orbs act as extra lives if you die. The only health item you can carry in your inventory is the vital star, which fully restores your health, but you can only carry one at a time and virtually never find them in the environments, which makes things tricky (though your health also slowly regenerates while using devil trigger on the lower difficulty settings). There's also an assortment of other power-ups which do things like restore your demon trigger, make all enemies in a room vanish, or trigger an invincible demon form.

    The gothic visuals are quite nice, and the castle has a decent amount of atmosphere. The underworld levels at the end are especially cool, with the living cave taking the cake for me, like being in something that's halfway between wobbling intestines and a cave. The demon design feels a bit random, ranging from marionettes to lizards to blue glowing bats that turn into humanoids with one big eye covering their whole face - I can't really discern any unifying aesthetic, which may be the result of the game changing direction midway though (a few enemies have the look of salvaged BOWs). Each enemy has very distinct AI and behaviors which require special strategies. Each boss appears several times, and their design is equally random, ranging from a spider-scorpion hybrid filled with lava to a giant demon to a griffin to an amorphous blob that frequently changes shape. The boss mechanics are challenging and often creative - while some of these mechanics are commonplace now, I believe they were quite novel in 2001. The final boss was especially challenging - I probably spent a solid third of my playtime on this guy, but figuring out the proper strategy to survive both stages felt very rewarding.

    Kamiya claimed that he set out to make a very difficult game that would challenge casual players, and he certainly succeeded. The game isn't very long - my clear time was just under 7hrs - but I spent much longer than that on the game because I died so often. The secret missions are especially difficult, and are often quite creatively designed. They provide extra challenges in the form of difficult fights or crazy platforming in levels you've already traversed, and are usually accessed by backtracking. They need to be completed in the middle of other missions, and even getting to them can be challenging. I only ended up completing 3 of 12, and coincidentally they all ended up being platforming levels. The secret missions are certainly not the only challenges the game offers, and sometimes the game's difficulty is little cheap - for instance, towards the end, there are unavoidable tentacles that will grab you and suck away all your health without killing you, naturally positioned between some very tricky enemies. Combine this kind of mechanic with the facts that you can only carry one health item at a time, green orbs are dropped infrequently, each mission needs to be completed in one go, and missions very frequently end with a difficult boss, and you'll get a sense of how hard this game is. It's sadistic in a somewhat artificial way that reminds me of early Resident Evil. I appreciate that sort of design aesthetic a bit more in a horror setting, as it makes traversing the environments scary and tense, but this game was undeniably quite rewarding by the end. Beating it unlocks a NG+ style hard mode with different enemy placements and more difficult enemies with different attacks. Beating hard mode unlocks Dante Must Die, in which all enemies also have a devil trigger mode and bosses have more than twice their base health, in addition to what you'd expect (Dante deals less damage and enemies deal more, though average enemies surprisingly have less health). I don't think I have the fortitude to tackle such a thing, but its existence should give you a good sense of what this game is all about.

    Rating: 8/10 nobodies - A truly fantastic hack-n-slash title. Some aspects of it haven't aged well, but its excellence still shines through.

    Last edited by froghawk; 12th Oct 2018 at 15:19.

  15. #40
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    DEVIL MAY CRY 2 (2003)



    Producers: Tsuyoshi Tanaka, Katsuhiro Sudo
    Replacement Director: Hideaki Itsuno

    The success of Devil May Cry was so great that Capcom very quickly began developing a sequel without informing or asking Kamiya (to his dismay). Instead, the game was handed to an unrelated team that did a poor enough job that Capcom had their veteran director Hideaki Itsuno take over the project for its last 4 months of development. The result is the most widely hated game in the series. It has an air of rushed cheapness about it, where even the font choices feel tackier than the original. As with Dino Crisis 2, the series loses its Resident Evil influence here, opting instead for pure action.

    Apparently this game takes place between DMC4 and the upcoming DMC5 chronologically. I can't imagine it's going to have any relevance to DMC5, as the story is standalone and feels like an irrelevant side story. The first game's plot was minimal, at best, but here it's sloppy in addition to being mostly nonexistent. An intro cinematic reminds of Sparda's backstory, then shows a woman named Lucia fighting demons and Dante joining in, and that's it. We're immediately thrown into a level without any context for where or when it takes place or why we're there. The destination at the end of the level is a house, which promptly explodes when the player arrives. An old woman then climbs out of a cave and tells us that some asian guy working for a megacorp in an enormous building in some unidentified city has unleashed demons on this unnamed town for unspecified reasons, at which point Dante flips a coin and decides he'll help (his defining gesture in this game). It feels like the cutscenes were hurriedly tacked on to a bunch of existing levels in a forced attempt to tie it all together, but the developers either didn't get time to put them all in or forgot a few important ones. In Dante's campaign, once the plot starts finally moving somewhere around mission 12 (out of 18), it seemed like I'd somehow missed a great deal of important plot points. Events that should have been meaningful instead acted as exposition for themselves.

    The game introduces a new playable character, Lucia, who is quicker and more acrobatic than Dante and also happens to have an accent that's impossible to pin down (did I mention the voice acting is awful?). The game opts for the old RE2/Code: Veronica double-campaign structure of having you play through the same levels with 2 characters. There are a couple new levels and enemies, but the vast majority of it is recycled (newsflash: going through one of these dull levels backwards doesn't make it more novel and exciting). Once again, it feels like they did this because they were low on content, as Dante's campaign takes less than 4hrs. At least in the Resident Evil titles, the double campaign provided a minor new perspective on the plot. Because the story here is so poorly told and nonsensical, it feels doubly like an excuse for recycling. Most of the cutscenes are even repeated verbatim. The Lucia campaign's plot doesn't make any more sense or provide any more context than Dante's, meaning it rarely feels like there's a reason that you're replaying the levels beyond stretching out the game - you still have no idea why you're there. Her campaign is at least shorter (13 missions which took me just over 2hrs), and the one small thing that sets it apart is that it places a heavier emphasis on hearts (items which grant passive abilities during demon mode, like flying or running quickly). It also features a few underwater bits, which remain in third person this time around. (As a side note, I miss the days when gamers hated games like this because they were bad, and not just because they featured a brown woman as a playable character.)

    Many of the upgraded demon moves from the first game are available from the start, like aerial attacks and rolls, and they're accompanied by some new acrobatics. Unfortunately, every move is available from the start - you find new swords and guns to use in the game and can upgrade the power of each one, but none of them comes with new moves, so the sense of progression from the first game is missing. They try to compensate for this by introducing a number of new moves at the start which make the game initially seems like it's going to be even more fun than its predecessor. Dante can now run up walls and do flips, suspend himself in the air using gunfire, or juggle enemies in the air with gunfire, which is initially a blast. The problem is that the game is unable to provide opportunities to incorporate these moves into the gameplay in any meaningful way and also makes you overuse the best ones.

    The easiest and safest way to dispose of most large enemies and bosses is to blast at them from a distance for an eternity, and suspending yourself in the air with your guns stops being fun quite quickly once you've already done it for about a million years in the first few missions. Everything in this game is a bullet sponge. I appreciate that they added health bars which also tell you the name of the enemies - more information is nice - but the tougher enemies and bosses often have 3-4 health bars layered on top of each other. Unlike in the original, none of the enemies or even bosses in this game require any real strategy, which means that beating them just comes down to tediously wearing down their health. The boss moves are so predictable as to feel utterly robotic, and usually pose no real threat. It's a far cry from the original, where bosses were very difficult and required several tries to work out a strategy. Dante's final boss illustrates this point nicely - the developers smashed a bunch of the major bosses from this game and its predecessor into a big stationary lump. The player walks around the lump, individually killing each boss by shooting them forever and wearing down something like 7 health bars until the lump explodes to reveal another boss. I give them unintentional humor points, at least. You can hold something like 60 health items at once this time, and you're basically only limited by how much grinding you're willing to do to obtain the red orbs to buy them. While this already makes things much easier than in the original, where you could only hold one health item at a time, you'll rarely even need to use them here.

    The structure of this game is very different, though the single sitting mission system is still intact. Instead of taking the first game's Resident Evil approach of having the game take place in a small location which you get to know well, the sequel instead opts for a linear traversal of much larger areas which feel too big and empty. While it's impressive that the load times are still basically nonexistent with much larger levels, I find this approach a whole lot less interesting, especially since there's far less emphasis on gameplay variety and puzzles. It's fight after fight with an occasional detour into a side room to grab a key that you probably hadn't even discovered you needed. The mystery and atmosphere from the first title are missing, and the more generic music and art design certainly don't help that impression. Even the one attempt at replicating the missions where you run through a level on a timer fails to have any urgency, as the time you're given is much longer and has a lot more room for error. The shifts between areas feel pretty much random, much like the story - for instance, a wordless motorcycle cinematic is used to transition between a city area and a tomb area, with no explanation of why Dante went to the tomb.

    There are two things that provide real difficulty in this game. One is the platforming - this was annoying enough in the first game, but it's even worse here as it's more widespread and easier to fall off ledges. The other, much bigger issue is that enemies often attack you from offscreen. I basically couldn't see the helicopter boss in mission 6 for the entire boss fight - I just sprayed bullets into the sky and relied on the autoaim, and that was just one of many instances of this nonsense. I'm not sure why anyone thought this was acceptable - they couldn't have programmed enemies not to attack unless they're in your view, or at least changed the camera angle so you could see them? Fighting offscreen bullet sponges is distinctly not fun, and since that's all the difficulty this game offers, it comes down to luck, not skill or strategy. Even the secret missions don't provide a real challenge, and they're much easier to find this time as well. No backtracking is required - just walk up to everything that looks like a door once you've cleared out an area and you'll find them. Every secret level in the original game was a unique challenge which often used the game mechanics creatively - not so here. Secret rooms contains two waves of enemies to defeat which get gradually stronger depending how many rooms you've found, and that's it. Beating the game unlocks a 'Blood Palace' mode, which is basically just a really long version of the secret rooms. There's no reason to play it unless you're trying to grind, as you'll collect lots of red orbs along the way. A hard mode is also unlocked at the end of the game, and beating that will unlock Dante/Lucia Must Die modes. I didn't try either - if the rest of the game's design is any indication, then I assume that the sponges that get spongier.

    The one thing this game is great at is giving you a new appreciation for just how good the first title was. Given that Itsuno went on to direct all the numbered titles in the series including apparent series highlight DMC3, I can't imagine how much of a mess this game was before he entered the picture. It seems he barely managed to pull it together into something nearly releasable right at the end, but lacked the time to actually make it fun to play. It has some good mechanics and feels like it could have been at least a moderately fun game with another year of development, but Capcom was in a hurry to rush out a sequel, so this is what the world got instead. Give this one a pass.

    Rating: 3/10 evil goats - I'm starting to think Capcom are the masters of crapping out awful sequels. I'll be surprised if this isn't the worst DMC title by a long shot.

    Last edited by froghawk; 12th Oct 2018 at 15:20.

  16. #41
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2014
    Thanks for guinea pigging EW2 for me Froghawk! I'm definitely going to try it when I finally get some free time. I'm glad it was an improvement on the first. I also need to check out DMC...I own it, but once never played more than a few chapters!

  17. #42
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    My personal favorites of the DMC games is the first and 4th. The 4th I spent the most time on, since it had more RPG style XP grinding. First has the best music + overall mood to it all.

  18. #43
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Quote Originally Posted by froghawk View Post
    Rating: 3/10 evil goats - I'm starting to think Capcom are the masters of crapping out awful sequels. I'll be surprised if this isn't the worst DMC title by a long shot.
    Are you actually playing these as you post, or are these more of a retrospective look at things?

    As far as DMC2 is concerned, I've never played it, but it's long been regarded as one of the worst entries in the series, with DMC3 being the most celebrated title by a long shot, despite (or maybe because of) its steep difficulty curve. I knew DMC3 was for me when Dante hooked a motorcycle with his chainblades in mid-air, vaulted onto it, rode up a vertical cliff-face and somersaulted off a crumbling tower wall, then swung the bike around with one hand while in the middle of free-fall to club a swarm of enemies with it, and landed on the entrance to the next level. And that's not even the most ridiculous thing that happens in the game.

    Anyway, the gameplay's tighter, the combat styles are great, there's some stonking boss battles, and it never takes itself seriously. Just remembering all that makes me want to pull the trigger on that remastered HD release for PC.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 10th Oct 2018 at 17:40.

  19. #44
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Sounds awesome - can't wait to play it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    Are you actually playing these as you post, or are these more of a retrospective look at things?
    I can't get through games THAT fast, haha! It's an ongoing project. I started this in May 2017 on a different board, so I've played all of this over about a year and a half. Most of the reviews are reposts, but since beginning this thread, I've played both DMC games, Survivor, Operation Raccoon City, the last 3rd of RE6, Umbrella Corps, and some of the RE7 DLC. Can you tell I was putting off the lowest rated RE games? So yeah, this wasn't exactly done in order, even though I've mostly presented it that way. As such, I think the relative ratings might be a little skewed and I'll have to do a proper ranking later.

  20. #45
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    I'll admit to not reading these posts in full. Far too much text for me . Skimming through for bits of interest.

  21. #46
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Well, you'll have plenty of time to catch up, as I'll be updating this very slowly from here on out.
    Last edited by froghawk; 3rd Apr 2019 at 16:21.

  22. #47
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Well, I've had fun reading your retrospective reviews. While we may not share the same points of view on some of the finer details, I'm by and large in agreement with your breakdown of the general structure and gameplay of the titles. I've not seen the movies, but that's because I've generally never bought into the RE universe being a setting that's capable of telling a decent, coherent story.

  23. #48
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2014
    Okami is a game I wanted so badly to love. I got it on release in the PS2 era as a big fan of Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. Wanting to play Zelda without a Nintendo console, it seemed like the perfect choice and the reviews were excellent.

    It oozes style and it's absolutely gorgeous to look at and run around in. But the dungeons, puzzles, and clunky combat are really sub par and lack challenge. The game is basically on a permanent, untoggalable tourist difficulty where the hand-holding tutorial never lets up. Every puzzle is spoiled for you before you get the chance to use your brain. The brush stroke gimmick is a novel idea, but is limited compared to traditional zelda dungeon items and would better suit touch screens than the clunky implementation the PlayStation controls got. Combat is a pause the game, move the cursor, draw the shape, and pray the game recognizes it sort of deal. Over and over. It's also a very long game with lots of dialogue.

    For the kind of gamer who wants a certain experience, I can see why it is rated highly, but personally I'd never recommend it.

  24. #49
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I've heard those criticisms and am curious how I'll feel about it. I don't mind playing a stupidly easy game for the story and art one bit, but I do mind when the gameplay becomes a tedious timewaster.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    I've generally never bought into the RE universe being a setting that's capable of telling a decent, coherent story.
    You're absolutely right about that, especially with how many cooks it's had at this point. It's fanfiction on fanfiction now.
    Thanks for reading - glad you've enjoyed it!

  25. #50
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    DEVIL MAY CRY 3: DANTE'S AWAKENING (2005)



    Producer: Tsuyoshi Tanaka
    Director: Hideaki Itsuno
    Writers: Bingo Morihashi, Takayasu Yanagihara

    Hideaki Itsuno did a good enough job salvaging DMC2 that Capcom kept him on board for the third game (which performed so well that he became the official director of the entire series). The series regained focus with this title, as Itsuno studied what made the first title great and returned to many of its design principles. DMC2's reduced difficulty was an attempt to make it more appealing to Japanese audiences, but this backfired in the international markets, so Capcom made a compromise with the third title, releasing an easier version of the game for the Japanese market. However, they overestimated the level of difficulty the North American market could handle, leading them to re-release a rebalanced 'Special Edition' version of the game here with reduced difficulty in order to hit the market's sweet spot. And, of course, that got a PC release with broken controls (reversed analog sticks), then an HD remaster, then a PC port of the HD remaster with proper controls. This means I'm reviewing something like version #5 of the game, where they finally got everything right in the North American PC version.

    DMC3 takes everything great about the first game and the few mechanics that were appealing from the second and dials them all up to 11. Thankfully, they returned to the RE-style level design - it takes places in an enormous tower, which is a lot like the first game's castle, only much bigger and more labyrinthine (on that note, there is definitely some influence from the film 'Labyrinth' on display here.) It also ends in Hell, so the basic structure of the game feels almost identical to the original, only with the castle grounds replaced by... the inside of a flying whale demon? Why not! Buying and upgrading weapon moves is back, though the gun upgrade system from DMC2 is still present and the basic sword (Rebellion) is the one from that game. The better features from DMC2 are retained here, like running up walls and enemy juggling, but they're able to used in meaningful ways and only available with certain 'styles'. 'Styles' allow the player to pick a trade (dodging, swords, guns, etc.) and collect RPG style experience in order to unlock additional moves in that trade. Only one style can be selected per mission, and there's only time to fully upgrade one or two styles per playthrough, so choose wisely! Some rather wacky styles get unlocked later into the game, allowing the player to slow time or spawn a doppleganger.

    Everyone wanted Dante to have more attitude than he did in the second game, so Capcom decided to make a prequel with a young and especially snotty Dante. While I'm not much on this third voice actor change or his new look, everything else about this is a HUGE improvement. They went full-on with the action b-movie ridiculousness, to the point that pretty much every cutscene is comically over the top in a truly wonderful way. Dante can't go 2 seconds without riding a missile or driving a motorcycle up a wall, all while jumping off every available surface and doing wild tricks and sword spins. While it's true that it loses just a little bit of the first game's atmosphere by adopting this approach, the tradeoff is worth it. The environments still look suitably moody and the ambient music enhances them, so just enough atmosphere is still present to make the game a lot more enjoyable to be in than its predecessor. The battle music doesn't fare so well - Capcom decided to add vocals to the industrial rock of the previous titles, which makes the music feel more generic. 2005 was a bit late to fully jump on the nu-industrial trend, and the corny lyrics can detract from the proceedings when they're audible. This series doesn't seem interested in reprising monster designs, so there is once again a whole new cast of demons which retain the randomness of the designs in the first titles, from animated chess pieces to spooky jailers.

    While the storytelling is still rather poor, it's undeniably a major step up for the series. The story is a lot more involved this time around, with much more frequent cutscenes, way more exposition, and some fun ambiguity about the identity of the real villain. The plot is based around a retcon in order to make Dante's brother Vergil a major part of the story (in short, Dante will not enter DMC1 believing that his brother Vergil was killed by Mundus). I'd normally find this severe inconsistency frustrating, but I think it was a wise choice, as the writers recognized that the family angle was the strongest aspect of the storytelling in the first game. The new secondary character, Lady, is also given a familial motivation, and acts as a foil and motivator for Dante in this regard.

    This game kicks your ass HARD from the start - even with the toned down difficulty in this version, and even after having completed the first game, I found myself dying repeatedly in just the second room. You absolutely can't get away with button mashing here (you just barely could in the first game) - memorizing the combos is essential. DMC2's enemy health bars are gone, replaced by an improved combat rating system which makes it easier to figure out how to take advantage of all the mechanics the game has to offer. The game is a bit more transparent this time, as the combat ratings include a meter, actively showing you what moves are increasing your rating and showing you how long each rating will last. There are statues in the game called 'Combat Adjudicators' which make you reach a 'Stylish!' combat rating in order to get the reward inside, allowing you test what combos increase your score the fastest. These statues really drive home how wickedly difficult this game is - it often took me quite a while to reach the top rating.

    The mission rating screen is also much more transparent this time, giving you individual ratings in different categories. Interestingly enough, deaths aren't directly factored into the rating, but time is, and dying increases your time. The mission system is otherwise the same as in the previous titles, but the missions here are much longer than in those games. This means that if there's a big boss at the end of a mission (which there usually is), you'd BETTER be ready to beat it in that sitting or you'll be doing the whole thing over again. Thankfully, the game lets you pick between the old 'yellow' continue system (which requires you to do the whole mission over if you don't have a yellow orb) and a new 'gold' continue system (added in the special edition), which lets you restart from a checkpoint as many times as you want in a single sitting as long as you don't quit the mission. In 'gold' mode, gold orbs promptly respawn you where you left off instead of at a checkpoint. There's really no reason to pick yellow mode unless you're married to tradition or feel like arbitrarily making the game even harder than it already is. I can't even imagine how difficult some of the later levels would be in yellow mode - for instance, there's a level in the late game where you have to re-fight many of the bosses from earlier in the game in succession. Good luck making it through that on one or two lives - no wonder people initially thought this game was too hard!

    The items and item types are pretty much the same from previous titles, though there are a few small alterations (for instance, holy water now damages every enemy in a room instead of eliminating them). The game follows DMC2's model for item limits. You're not limited to one health item, but buying an item makes the next one you buy much more expensive, forcing you to pick between items and upgrades. There is a vital star or devil star hidden in every level, but they're often very well hidden, so finding them in the environment generally isn't going to happen. You're also penalized for using items in the mission rating, which further discourages using them.

    While the camera system is pretty much the same as it was before, one small modification is introduced which makes things a bit smoother. You can now move the camera around the x-axis in certain large areas. As with the first game, I didn't encounter any real issues with enemies attacking from offscreen, so the better implementation made the movable camera largely unnecessary. I rarely found myself utilizing it, but it was undeniably helpful in the platforming bits, which are still quite a pain here. I feel the game could have done a better job of communicating when the camera could be moved - I think a large part of the reason I ignored the mechanic is that it was unclear when it was available - but I'm glad they implemented it.

    This is a long game - longer than the previous two combined (my clear time was 20hrs). It's arguably a hair padded, but it manages to stay fun for almost the entire duration - quite a feat! It's also more replayable than either of the previous titles. As in DMC2, beating the game unlocks 'Bloody Palace' mode, which is better implemented this time and has now become the equivalent of Mercenaries for this series. It's still basically a grind for money that ends with you having to defeat the game's final boss in one go after surviving countless monsters (again, good luck with that), but thankfully you get to keep the orbs even if you die. It's got the same the same difficulty mode unlock system from the first two games, allowing the player to progress NG+ style through reconfigured Hard and Dante Must Die modes, which work the same way as before. However, there are way more skills to learn in this game than the original, so there's more incentive to play through the harder difficulties this time around. Beating the game also unlocks Vergil as a playable character in the campaign, who comes with his own intro cinematic and moveset. I'd almost prefer they hadn't set up his campaign with an intro cinematic, as it sets you up to expect a new campaign with its own story and levels even though it's a retread of Dante's campaign. Vergil is still lots of fun to play. He's much faster and more powerful than Dante, but also has a lot less life, which changes how the game plays.

    RATING: 8.8/10 damned chessmen - This may turn out to be the series' best offering!

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