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

  1. #51
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Ooo, you're doing Dragon's Dogma?
    I hope you've played it already, as to get the most out of the game (and its expansion, Dark Arisen), takes significantly more time than the other titles you've been playing for this thread.

  2. #52
    Registered: May 2004
    I did end up putting 50hrs into RE7 with all the DLC. But yeah, I know I'm looking at about 40hrs for Okami and 50-60+ for Dragon's Dogma, and I haven't started either yet. I do at least own Dragon's Dogma already, and plan to get a head start on it soon. I don't think this thread will reach completion for at least another year...

  3. #53
    Registered: May 2004

    Studio: Madhouse
    Director: Shin Itagaki
    Writer: Toshiki Inoue, Bingo Morihashi

    The PS2 DMC trilogy didn't exactly manage to tell a coherent story between the 3 games - the first game had minimal story, the second's plot was pointless, and the third provided all the lore for the series but directly contradicted the first game in the process. Nonetheless, Capcom tried to flesh out the story of the series with manga, graphic novels, and finally n anime series created by MADHOUSE. They produced a single season of 12 25min episodes. The episodes are mostly self-contained stories, though a plot arc does take over in the last 3 episodes. There are some cute callbacks to the games in the way things are named - the episodes are referred to as 'missions', and the last two missions, 'Showtime!' and 'Stylish!', are named after the game's combat ratings. The story bridges story gap between the first game and DMC4 (in case I've lost you, the series chronology is DMC3 - DMC - DMC4 - DMC2 - DMC5 - they kept it simple). Due to the strange chronology of the series, filling in these gaps can be a bit dangerous - a graphic novel was already produced to bridge the gap between the first two games, and now this anime and DMC4 have to fit in there as well. It really doesn't all fit together, but that doesn't mean this anime isn't enjoyable of its own accord.

    There doesn't appear to be an English dub - this one is subtitles only. This means, once again, Dante's voice actor is different, and he sounds radically different from the others, with a much deeper voice. I'm still not managing to get a sense of who Dante actually is as a character out of all of this - he's much more soft spoken and laid back in this series, with his signature confrontational snarkiness coming across as much more dry. He eats nothing but pizza (no olives!) and has a new affinity for strawberry sundaes. We never see him in demon form. Because he had so few lines in the games (too few to draw a show character from), almost all of his characterization is new. The overall tone of the show is entirely different from the games, as well - it's much slower moving and less focused on over the top action (though there is a missile riding scene in the final episode as a cute tribute). The action scenes are quick moving, vague, and far less centered around crazy stunts. While the visuals are nice and quite moody, they're often a bit too dark and can excessively obscure. The style of the animation is pretty standard for Madhouse, but it's well executed.

    It's actually quite nice to see Dante going about the day-to-day of his demon hunting business, which we never actually see in the games - the details of his business were left quite vague. The monster-of-the-week format fits this series very well. Trish and Lady are finally developed further, though Lady's personality and focus are vastly different than they were in DMC3. Two new major characters are introduced - Morrison, Dante's agent, and Patty Lowell, Dante's temporary adoptive daughter. It's nice to see Dante's relationships with these character develop. The plots sometimes take illogical turns that I couldn't quite follow, but it's hard to know if it's a translation problem or the actual writing. Nonetheless, the writing here is much better than in the games, and the plots are more enjoyable, aside from one issue which pervades the first half of the show - sexism.

    While there were certainly some sexists quips in the games, I found the portrayal of women to be a bit more pervasively questionable here. Dante's immediate response to meeting Patty (who is somewhere around 10-12 years old) is to dismiss her by saying he'll date her in 10 years. There are plenty of sexist stereotypes in this show, which really drag it down - for instance, Patty promptly decorates his place and then asks for expensive clothes. Trish and Lady are, as always, excessively sexily dressed side characters that just so happen to be super powerful badasses, but Lady drains Dante of his money (he's severely indebted to her from gambling), Trish is always fighting with him and 'trying to be his mom', and the two women get into a catfight just for fun. A female rock singer is, of course, possessed by a demon, and it's implied that she goes and lives a nice domestic life once freed of it. In another episode, a man starts stalking Dante in order to learn to be more like him to impress a waitress. The waitress still considers going out with this man after he spies on Dante, follows him into a woman's restroom, and breaks into his house, all in a desperate attempt to hook up with her.

    Thankfully, those issues are far less present in the second half of the season, which features less poor comic relief and gains a bit more focus. The story that takes over for the last few episodes is a bit reminiscent of the third game, with another plot about a demon who is trying to become the most powerful demon in existence. The effects of this spill over into the human world more than in DMC, and yet the resolution seems a bit more quick and painless, despite Dante enduring a bit more of an ordeal. As is probably clear at this point, I don't think this anime has much to add to the genre, nor do I think it will end up playing into the future games in any substantial way. It's hard to imagine the development of the relationships of these characters mattering in the games, as the familiar characters feel like different people here and the new characters never appear in the games. Nonetheless, it was an entertaining, if brief, diversion, and I don't regret watching it.

    Rating: 6.5/10 snarky masks

  4. #54
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    There is an English dub of that. It has the same voice actor for Dante, as the video games. Watched that a few years ago. Excellent anime overall.

  5. #55
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Hmm. RE: Bayonetta, while I don't disagree with your opinion on the uncomfortable sexism/protag tarted-up for the male gaze and muted graphical appeal (the environments are low-detail yet too busy, somehow), I have to say that dodging is the single most important mechanic in it, so if you were unable to get on with that, your enjoyment of the game would tank considerably. The thing is, the perfect dodge that slips everything into Witch Time is one of the most effective dopamine hits in gaming, because it initiates this electric frisson where you unload on these poor, frozen sods and end up with a huge dose of crunchy combos that makes things explode out of them, then time gets back to normal and you get to try it all over again. It's a beautiful, addictive loop.

    Also, playing half of the game with performance-related slowdown is... yeah, I'd have stopped, or lowered the resolution. Bayo is best experienced at 60 FPS+ or nothing; anything lower just compromises the silky fluidity it thrives on.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 8th Nov 2018 at 12:57.

  6. #56
    Registered: May 2004
    What is it with spectacle fighters and the Divine Comedy? That's like three games / game series already that explicitly lean on it.

  7. #57
    Registered: Jul 2014
    Well I beat REmake. It's my first classic Resident Evil. Enjoyed it a lot on normal difficulty (the highest difficulty available from the start) with Jill.

    The tank controls took a couple hours to get used to but by the end I was comfortable and fluent with them. I was surprised how much headroom the game has. The game has a reputation for difficulty, but by the end I had hundreds of bullets, 5 ink ribbons, and about 10 full heals unused. As long as you conserve items, you will have no trouble and then some.

    I took copious notes in what was probably a gaming first for me: item placement, hints, tricks. That saved a lot of time.

    Overall I'd rate it highly and I think it will be even more enjoyable to go through it again now that I know what to do.

  8. #58
    Registered: May 2004
    DEVIL MAY CRY 4 (2008)

    Producer: Hiroyuki Kobayashi
    Director: Hideaki Itsuno
    Writer: Bingo Morihashi

    The first next-gen (PS3) Devil May Cry game didn't deviate much from the series formula - Devil May Cry 4 is most certainly a DMC game. Capcom decided to make just one major change - they introduced a new protagonist as an attempt to reach a new audience and as an excuse to slightly change up the formula and try new gameplay mechanics. However, they didn't want alienate their core fanbase by not including Dante, so he's also given 7 missions (out of 20) in the back half of the game, which also includes a fanservice appearance to a couple more old characters in a nod to the anime. The new primary protagonist is another half-demon named Nero who is basically a slightly more serious copy of young Dante. Nero's new abilities include the excess gauge (sword charging) and a demon arm with grabbing abilities, which also allows Nero to grab enemies and latch onto special lights to swing through the environment in certain spots. These two things along with the fact that he doesn't use Styles make him play quite differently from Dante. His part of the game also lacks the goofy humor and over-the-top action of Dante's portion.

    Despite these attempts at switching things up, there's a bit of an air of staleness about this game. The music is the same tired industrial metal and overdramatic orchestral nonsense from DMC3. The level design is alright and not entirely linear (much better than DMC2, at least, though it often feels like an improved version of the setting from that game), but the lack of an overarching megastructure like the castle from 1 or tower from 3 bring it down a peg. The atmosphere is less palpable and enticing, not to mention less consistent - much of the game is a bit too sunny, and the jungle sequences feel especially out of place for the series. Something about the tone feels overly serious despite its cheesiness, which is partially because the goofy action is relegated to 3-4 scenes during Dante's chunk. The challenge also feels dialed down a notch, as the bosses are considerably easier and less imaginative bosses than those of 1 and 3.

    Even the story feels less compelling than that of DMC3, as the plot follows the standard princess in the castle trope. The game is based around a cult called The Order which seeks to re-open the hell gate which Sparda sealed for their own personal gain. Nero sets out to rescue his love interest from them while Dante closes the gate. I'm sure you can imagine how the rest of this pedestrian affair plays out. I guess you can't have a DMC game without someone trying to open a gate to hell, just like you can't have a RE game without someone testing out a bioweapon virus, but it would be nice if the writers at least tried to make the plot somewhat exciting, especially since the environments don't provide much excitement.

    As in DMC2, RE2, Code: Veronica, RE6, and pretty much every other game in either franchise that features two protagonists, Dante's part of the game recycles the same levels from the first half (only he progresses through them backwards). Even the bosses are the same. There's even a level towards the end of the game where many of the bosses are reprised for a third time. This sort of level may have worked in DMC3, but reprising the same boss battles three times in a single playthough in a game that's meant to be played over and over again makes the whole affair feel a bit rushed and lazy, as if they padded the game to be as long as DMC3 at the last second when they realized they wouldn't have enough content.

    As such, there are rumors that this game is very unfinished - that only about 40% of the planned content was finished in time for release, and that Dante was going to have a longer campaign with new levels in Hell. This is somewhat confirmed by the release of Bingo Morihashi's two-volume graphic novel 'Devil May Cry 4: Deadly Fortune' the following year, which rehash's the game's plot with a number of scenes that were always meant to be part of the story but didn't get finished in time. Morihashi actually quit Capcom partway through making this game because he felt like the writing team's communication was lacking, but Itsuno convinced him to come back and finish it. That turmoil shows in the finished product. The strange part about all of this is that this game actually had a longer development cycle than DMC3 but somehow ended up with half as much content despite following the same formula.

    As with DMC3, they created a Special Edition (released in a pizza box?!) to rectify some of these issues and add a few cut story bits back in - however, the SE didn't come until 7 years later. It added campaigns for Lady/Trish and Vergil, allowing you to play through the main campaign with different opening and closing cinematics. While it's briefly fun to experience the way these characters play, it feels quite excessive to have to play through the same set of levels six times - and that's without even considering the usual inclusion of loads of difficulty levels, including a new Legendary Dark Knight mode that includes giant hordes of enemies (and is the most enjoyable way to experience the game IMO). In short, the game wants you to play the same brief set of only moderately inspired levels over and over again, and while the gameplay mechanics are worth returning for, the settings become rather old quite quickly. I think all the recycling would have worked just fine if the level design had stuck closer to the RE mansion design instead of being mostly linear. The combat is quite fun, but I need a bit more than that to revisit a game on a near-infinite loop.

    The upgrade system has been slightly changed - now red orbs are used exclusively for purchasing items, while proud souls (gained from style points) are used to purchase upgrades. This separation allows for more of both, and it's nice to not have to pick between an upgrade and item when both are needed. The experience system from the previous game is gone - instead, new upgrades become more expensive every time you buy one. Nonetheless, it's a lot quicker to fully upgrade a character than it was in DMC3. Blue, green, and gold orbs work the same as ever. The DLC for this game was also quite controversial, as it introduced pay-to-win (also present in DMC5). You can purchase red orbs, blue orbs, or proud souls for real money (you can get 5 extra health bars for $2.99!), or you can pay to unlock all modes or extra powerful versions of the main characters. Capcom's reasoning was - if someone wants to pay us to cheat, why shouldn't we let them? And, well, fair enough, I guess, but it's a bummer looking at the decked out edition on Steam only to realize all the extra content is just paid cheating. I suppose I wouldn't mind as much if every extra piece of content released for this game didn't just provide a new way to experience already highly recycled levels, but that's what this game is all about. Only the now-requisite Bloody Palace mode provides a slightly different environment.

    The PC port doesn't work at all for a lot of people thanks to some DX11 bugs, and there's no solution for that. It didn't work for me at all when I first tried it - it crashed every time it reached a loading screen, so I was unable to even start the game. If you do manage to get it to work, it works just as well as the HD Collection. I'm rather surprised they didn't just make this game part of that collection with a fixed PC port, but I suppose they felt the need to continue giving this title the shaft.

    It's clear that the few novel elements of this game's design were a big influence on Bayonetta and DmC reboot. Most of the demons have a new look here, and their design is suspiciously similar to the angel designs in Bayonetta. The look of the environments also feels suspiciously similar in both games (Kamiya did play this game as research for Bayonetta, after all). Nero's outfit looks quite a lot like the design of Dante in DmC, and his new demon arm movement mechanics likely served as inspiration for the more complicated traversal mechanics in the reboot. The Order is the name of Vergil's group in DmC, and the cult proceedings feel rather similar to the witches coven in Bayonetta.

    6/10 insect reapers - This middling entry pales in comparison to both its predecessor and the reboot which followed.
    Last edited by froghawk; 3rd Apr 2019 at 11:21.

  9. #59
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    I didn't comment on your Bayonetta piece at the time, but I recently played through it again on the Switch, as well as the sequel.

    And the gameplay really didn't properly click with me until Bayonetta 2.

    I would say that even more important than Witch Time is the idea that you should be extending every last button press of every combo, following through every kick and punch with shots from her weapons.
    Once I twigged that, I was also able to get to grips with the game's true advanced technique, the "Dodge Offset". The idea is that if you're mid-way through a combo and have to dodge, you should be able to continue the combo where you left off. Extending button presses helps with this enormously, but is difficult to master, yet incredibly rewarding when you pull it off. Effectively, you can activate Witch Time halfway through a combo with a well timed dodge.

    The over-sexualisation is a difficult one for me, as while I can see that it is problematic, I can also see that (intentionally or not), it is epically camp.
    Weirdly, I found it more distasteful in the second game, where the character model's proportions had been modified to make her appear more human and less freakishly "other". I say weirdly, because it's a Nintendo exclusive, and the Big N see themselves as being family friendly. Yet here Bayo was being slotted into more traditionally sexist tropes.

    But then this is the company that somehow still thinks it's okay to push the idea of the Gerudo in Zelda.

    Whatever, for pace, graphics, balance and difficulty curve, Bayonetta 2 is by far and away the more polished game. But now I know the tricks of combat, I suspect I would appreciate the original game more now.

    Finally, while I agree that the vehicle sections outstayed their welcomes, I got a MASSIVE nostalgia kick out of the Space Harrier section

  10. #60
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Thanks to caching, I'll pop it to you over PM.

  11. #61
    Registered: May 2004
    BAYONETTA (2009)

    Developer: PlatinumGames / Team Little Angels
    Producer: Yusuke Hashimoto
    Writer/Director: Hideki Kamiya

    Hideki Kamiya returned to the hack-n-slash genre with his Platinum Games debut, Bayonetta. He played DMC4 as research to see how far his series had come. He wanted to create a spiritual successor to DMC that pushed the genre's boundaries, and that's exactly what he did with his new Team Little Angels - though he chose to push them in some questionable ways. In order to take things more over the top, he decided to make a 'sexy' game starring an unnaturally long-legged witch with a British accent named Bayonetta. Bayonetta is the last surviving shapeshifting Umbra witch and the child of an illicit union between witch and sage. She spends her life fighting angels in order to prevent them from dragging her to the underworld while she searches a European city called Vigrid for the other half of her pendant. If all of this sounds almost exactly like the setup for Devil May Cry reframed with a female cast, it's because that's exactly what it is, only with more ridiculous outfits. Bayonetta ’wears' full tight leather garb (which is just her hair magically formed into an outfit, so she’s technically naked all the time) and platform shoes with guns strapped to them, while contorting her hair into a weird birthday hat looking thing with streamers. The game is as ridiculous as you'd expect based on that description - even the music contributes to the absurdity of it all, as it often has a low quality muzak feel that's quite sarcastic and funny.

    The game is once again based on Dante's Divine Comedy, with the different realms now explicitly named Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. In keeping with the theme, the levels are now called ‘Chapters’ and are subdivided into parts called ‘Verses' - but don’t let the verses fool you, as each Chapter still needs to be completed in a single sitting. Bayonetta's home base (the store) is a bar called The Gates of Hell, with its name displayed in the same sort of pink neon sign as that of Dante’s shop, Devil May Cry. The game is much more cutscene heavy than the PS2 DMC trilogy, though many of this cutscenes are rendered cheaply as stylized mostly still frames with film reel bars and voiceovers. I'm not sure if this was done for budget reasons, stylization, or both, but it does make the game feel a little bit underfunded and unfinished. It also gives it a somewhat slower feel than the DMC games at times, and that slower feel is at odds with the game’s increased ridiculousness. Unlike in DMC, the game also uses readable books to tell its story, and a lot of major plot points are revealed solely in the readables.

    The basic gameplay mechanics are the same as those DMC, with a couple small improvements and changes which make a big difference. Gunplay and melee combat are far better integrated that they ever were in DMC - since Bayonetta has guns strapped to her feet, holding either of the melee buttons unleashes a torrent of bullets in combination with a melee attack. There are also WAY more combos in this game than there ever were in DMC. All of the starting combos use the same two buttons, which means you're arguably better off button mashing and dodging than trying to memorize them all. Once you start unlocking more combos later on, a bit of memorization becomes necessary, but I found myself forgetting combos all the time - there were just too many. The loading screens allow you to try different combos, but they went by so fast that I didn't have time to try anything, even on the highest settings.

    The biggest change in gameplay is that the game places a huge emphasis on dodging, which I also didn’t manage to master - the game is so visually busy that I frequently missed when attacks were coming. Because of the tricky dodging and combo overload, I was still really bad at this game after completing it, which took nearly 15hrs. I got the lowest possible rating on all but 3 missions. Nonetheless, I enjoyed some aspects of these new mechanics. Dodging at the last second enables 'witch time' (bullet time), much like the quicksilver style from DMC. Witch time also allows Bayonetta to run on walls and ceilings when the moon is out, and having a fight on all available surfaces in this kind of action game is an absolute blast.

    There are also new finishing moves here, which involve Bayonetta summoning demons using her hair (including a spider demon which looks suspiciously like the first boss in DMC) - and this is where things get really controversial. Her outfits have a strange tendency to magically vanish from her body while she summons demons, with her flowing hair conveniently covering only her nipples and crotch. This gets especially weird when she’s using it against her dad. The male gaze in this game is the most extreme I’ve encountered in any game I’ve played, to the extent that playing it actually made me uncomfortable. She is framed in the most objectifying ways possible by the camera (read: lots of shots of ass-in-leather). The developers wanted to show off her body as much as possible - she even does a pole dance over the ending credits, followed by a silly dance sequence which ends with her mostly nude. Nintendo even hired a playboy bunny to cosplay Bayonetta as promotion for the sequel. The producers like to try and justify all this by pointing to the fact that the protagonist was designed by a woman, but this is a ridiculous defense. If there's any doubt as to the intentions of this character, Kamiya has made it clear by saying things like 'to one woman, all other women are enemies... ...women are scary' and that the character represents 'what everybody in the team wants in a girl’. Gross.

    The game is also plagued by quicktime events during cutscenes which come out of nowhere, as in RE4. Granted, if you die, it will respawn you right before the event you missed, but dying hurts your rating. To get a good rating, you need to die less than 5x per level, but good luck with that on your first runthrough. As always, you’re also penalized for using items. The items work a lot like those in DMC, only instead of stars, they're lollipops - awkward! Enemies drop gold rings instead of red orbs, and you can get extra gold rings to buy more items and upgrades by playing an arcade shooter minigame at the end of each chapter. To gain new weapons, you have to find vinyl records in the environment and bring them to Rodin, the bartender at The Gates of Hell. It's not explained how he makes weapons by obtaining records then going into the inferno, but he comes out awfully bloody. He also offers some really major upgrades from the start that are so expensive that you probably won’t be able to purchase them until you beat the game and enter hard mode. On that note, beating hard mode unlocks a ‘Dante Must Die’ style mode called ‘∞Climax’, in which witch time is disabled and enemies are much stronger, and that’s it for extra content.

    The level design is more of a linear traversal, a la DMC2. I don't enjoy this approach as much as DMC/DMC3's more hub-oriented system, and while it's far better executed than in DMC2, I must admit that it ended up being rather tedious for me at times, as the environments were VERY linear and the atmosphere lacked DMC’s gothic appeal. Each mission also tended to go on for too long, with too many consecutive difficult battles, which made the need to complete them in a single sitting irritating much of the time. As such, the game itself is also too long. The gameplay diversifies a bit in the second half with some vehicle segments (two motorcycle bits and a rocket ride), but these also overstay their welcome. There's some creative reuse of levels in Paradiso, but it doesn't hide the fact that there's a bit too much recycling here - both the level content and the story are stretched thin across the first 2/3 of the game. The final act is better on both fronts, but still tries to cram in too many reprised battles to fill time.

    The story pacing could have used a lot of work, with the main villain only being revealed at the very end. The mysteries were dragged out for quite a while, but their reveals came as no surprise by the time they finally happened. The story doesn't end up making a whole lot sense at all, but I can’t deny that many aspects of it are creative and weird on a level far beyond most of what I’ve reviewed in this thread. There's an implication here that the witches who serve demons are all women, while the sages who serve angels are men. This may initially seem like more sexism, but the way the game treats it is unusual. In this world, demons don't seem to be bad and angels don't seem to be good - the traditional view is presented as a human misconception, with the true importance lying in the balance between the two. Angels look like monsters here, and their designs are rather interesting, often combining babyfaced statues and gems with sharp teeth and claws. Ultimately, the villain in this game is a man who works for angels, while the heroes are two women who summon demons. In that sense, the story is a nice change of pace. It also deals with motherhood in an interesting and bizarre way, and I enjoyed the level where you have to carry a small child and defend her against attacks.

    The 4k visuals of the PC port were nice, but the port itself is a bit funny - it took a bit of doing to get it running properly. I had to change it to borderless mode to avoid white screens of death, and then it muted itself. It also started the game with the UI turned off, which didn't go so well. Once I got it working, the port ran quite well for a while, but then lagged quite a bit in the second half, which is bad news for such a fast paced game. I also encountered a repeated major crash in one area. All of these issues appear to be very common for this port.

    Rating: 6.8/10 quadruped shark angel things - The combination of the game’s sexism, linear level design, poor story pacing, quicktime events, combat that wasn’t my speed, and wonky port made it a less enjoyable experience than DMC for me, despite some creative and novel touches.

  12. #62
    Registered: May 2004

    Producer: Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Minae Matsukawa
    Director: Hideaki Itsuno, Kento Kinoshita
    Writer: Bingo Morihashi, Haruo Murata, Makoto Ikehara

    The three most prominent names from the then-current DMC series (producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi, director Hideaki Itsuno, and writer Bingo Moriashi) decided to try their hand at something a little different - a D&D inspired western fantasy RPG, inspired by games like The Elder Scrolls and based around player-created parties. Itsuno had pitched the game prior to getting involved with DMC2, but it took more than a decade for it to finally be realized. The central conceit of this game is the pawn system - you create a sidekick and level them up alongside yourself, then allow other players to use the sidekick while you use their sidekicks to complete your party of four. It's an interesting and unique conceit, especially considering that the game doesn't have a real multiplayer mode - I wonder how much it was inspired by Dark Souls, as it does feel a little bit like a party-based version of that game's 'multiplayer' system. I had the pleasure of filling out my party with 2 excellent pawns by fellow TTLGers, Lemmy and Yoko (coincidental music theme? +10pts). The other main gimmick is that you get to climb on giant monsters and attack them while hanging on, so the world is populated with many giant mini-bosses. These monsters are initially VERY spongey, but battling them becomes quite fun once you've sufficiently leveled up. The only problem is that you'll probably have to spend more than 20hrs with the game before you reach that point.

    The game is set in a semi-open world called Gransys. Compared to most open world RPGs this size, the map is rather small and mostly consists of linear paths filled with respawning monsters. While you CAN explore in this game, there's little reason to stray from the main quest path. The side quests are most 'kill or collect x number of whatever', and every location is encountered in a quest. The only thing you'll get out of exploring is XP from grinding and items from chests, and there's no reason not to do that along the way as you encounter each area along the main quest path. This game kind of feels like it's wearing the clothes of an open world game while being structured nothing like one for most of its duration. With that said, following the main quest path can be confusing early on. I often ended up having no idea what I was supposed to do because I'd missed talking to a seemingly random NPC. Also, there's no fast travel at the start (except to the two big cities), or even horses, so while the world may be small, navigating it is very time consuming. All of this changes in the late game once you've obtained port crystals, which you can place then use consumable ferrystones to travel to. You eventually get an eternal ferrystone and can fast travel extensively in the late game, though you can only lay down a limited number of portcrystals. The game becomes much more open at this point and there's plenty of sidequest backtracking at that point, so I guess you could say the game gradually transforms into a more standard open world game.

    This is a game that slowly opens up in every way. The beginning of this game is, frankly, abysmal. The writing simply isn't the game's strong suit - it even manages to make Bethesda's writing look good. The intro cinematics give you no context or sense of the world before plopping you in it, which only serves to highlight how clunky everything feels. The story throughout the game feels equally lacking in context - some exposition is given in load screens which go by too fast to read them (developers never think about how fast things will load in the future when they do this!), so maybe that was part of the issue. The story is incredibly thin throughout, with the anticipated final battle coming pretty much out of nowhere even after 30hrs. However, it takes a very strange turn after that battle, and the overall plot of the game becomes quite unusual and strange for a fantasy title. I'm still not sure what to make of it, especially given the constant lack of context, but I was pleasantly surprised by the end. Let's just say the plot ultimately centers around replaying this game in an infinite loop (eternal New Game +, basically). I've never played a game that tries to incorporate replays into the plot, so I thought that was kind of cool, despite how bizarre it was.

    The quests writing is especially poor, as the game is fetch quest central. Every quest outside of the main quest pretty much consists of 'collect x amount of y', 'kill a amount of b', 'slay this big monster', 'escort this NPC here' - all standard fare. There is only one save game slot, and autosaves overwrite it, so be careful what you do - if you fail a quest, that's it. Quests can cancel without warning by accepting other quests, and then the game will autosave immediately. It's a bit frustrating, and I hate to think what would happen if the save became corrupted. The plus side is that you can hit any quest you missed on a replay, but the quests are mostly so insubstantial that you'll likely miss nothing by skipping them. For the most part, the quests are easily ignored optional grinding. The grind is purely for XP. as this isn't a loot game - although you'll end up picking up tons of random crap, few great items are found in the environment. You'll quickly end up with way more money than you can possibly use, so there's no point in grinding for cash either.

    The grind is mainly to level up vocations, as the game's 9 vocations need to be leveled up and upgraded individually. There are 3 basic vocations - fighter, strider, and mage - and each of those has a more advanced form (warrior, ranger, sorcerer). There are also 3 hybrid vocations (assassin, mystic knight, magick archer) which use some of the skills from the basic vocations, so they'll already be partially upgraded by the time you purchase them. You can switch between vocations as much as you want throughout the game, so your starting choice doesn't matter. The game is meant to be played over and over again with the aim of fulling leveling up all the vocations and purchasing all the skills.

    Much of the appeal of playing a big RPG like this comes from the pleasure of being in the world. I already mentioned that there's not much exploring to do, but the game isn't particularly nice to look at, either. The colors feel a bit washed out, and the design of everything is quite generic - the usual trees and castles, populated by an assortment of the usual wolves, goblins, bandits, skeletons, zombies, ogres, cyclops, and dragons. The pawns often give the game an air of self-awareness regarding this when they do things like pick up a rock and say 'this looks interesting' or walk through a depressingly empty city saying 'it's usually more lively'. Nothing here feels particularly creative or alive until the endgame, when the game suddenly develops more atmosphere and creative monster designs following an unexpected twist.

    In the endgame, the world becomes shrouded in darkness and populated with more dangerous enemies. The bulk of the gameplay at this point turns into a dungeon crawl, and thus the game becomes single-mindedly focused on the one thing it's actually good at - combat, particularly with big monsters. The story and open world are mostly thrown out the window. This was the most loved section of the game by its fans, so Capcom made an EXTREMELY difficult expansion following the same model called Dark Arisen. Unfortunately, both the endgame and Dark Arisen are marred by a highly repetitive reuse of the same map layouts with only tiny variations, which isn't something I can get behind in a game that's designed to be played repeatedly. It also kind of ruins the feeling of descending deeper and deeper into ruins when you've already seen all of the areas.

    Dark Arisen is so difficult that you may not even reach a high enough level on your first playthrough of the game to tackle it. The minimum recommended level is 50, but go in at level 50 and you'll be completely destroyed. I've actually only made it about 2/3 of the way through that content thanks to the difficulty and relentless sponginess of the enemies. I do plan to complete it at some point and may update this review at that point, but I'm feeling quite burnt on the game after 77hrs and 2 playthroughs of the main campaign. Good combat mechanics are nowhere near enough to carry a game for that long for me, especially when it's so generic and lacking in pretty much every other department. Dark Arisen does introduce a few new mechanics - for instance, cursed items make the experience a hair more loot-oriented than the main game - but these small changes don't alter the formula radically enough to make me want to stick around, especially when I have so many better games I've barely touched.

    Rating: 6/10 evil eyes - Battling giant monsters with player created parties is a fun premise, but everything else about the game needed more fleshing out.

  13. #63
    Registered: May 2004
    DmC: DEVIL MAY CRY (2013)

    Developer: Ninja Theory
    Producers: Motohide Eshiro, Yohei Uchida, Alex Jones
    Writer / Director: Tameem Antoniades
    Supervising Director: Hideaki Itsuno

    Devil May Cry is currently Capcom's 5th best selling franchise (Resident Evil is #1, of course), but in the early 2010s, they felt it could do better. They decided to reboot the series in an alternate universe with a Western developer. They wanted to create a game that was recognizably part of the series while being distinct (from Bayonetta as well as the older games) and easily accessible to new players. They chose English developers Ninja Theory (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice) for their work on Heavenly Blade. Capcom closely monitored the development of the game to be sure that the combat fit the series, with Hideaki Itsuno serving as the supervising director. The fanbase was initially outraged to see a radically redesigned Dante without his signature white hair and red jacket (Capcom demanded this change to appeal to a younger demographic, and really he looks more like Nero from DMC4), with Hideki Kamiya leading the charge against it. Honestly, I think this complaint is a bit ridiculous, as Dante had a different look and voice actor in almost every game (or show) in the series so far. His now-signature weapons (the Rebellion sword and Ebony & Ivory pistols) were retained, at least.

    The plot borrows a lot of elements from all the past games. Dante teams up with his twin brother Vergil (DMC3), the leader of The Order (DMC4), to hunt Mundus, the demon responsible for killing his mother and imprisoning his father (DMC). Mundus is living on earth in human form in a giant crazy looking skyscraper (DMC2), where he exerts his influence over our world. All of these familiar elements come with a number of twists. Dante and Vergil are nephilim: half demon, half angel (they were half human instead of angel in previous titles), which makes them the only living creatures able to destroy a demon lord. The plot has also been modernized - for the first time in the game series, it really acknowledges the human world and the way demons interact with it and control it (this was, however, covered a bit in the anime). Dante is unaware of his heritage until he meets Vergil. He is, of course, eager to help Vergil take down Mundus once he learns the truth, and thus sets off on a quest to lure out Mundus by destroying the demons who run his two primary methods of control - a popular soda and a media company.

    This game has the most creative visual design of any title in this series. It takes place in Limbo (much like Bayonetta's Purgatorio, but much cooler looking), and as such everything looks hyperstylized and crazy - as if the Silent Hill otherworld were crossed with Inception and splashed with a whole lot of color. Limbo is a living dimension that wants Dante dead. The magical door seals of previous games are replaced here with Limbo sealing off areas to trap Dante - roads explode into the air and buildings move to try to trap or crush him. The level design itself is a bit simpler than that of the first or third games (partially due to the absence of puzzles), but the creative visuals and great ways to traverse them keep them engaging. There's more platforming than ever in this game, but it's a bit more fun that it used to be thanks to the angel and devil modifiers, which reflect Dante's two halves and come with their own weapons and abilities. The angel modifier can act as a grappling hook, pulling you towards enemies and locations, while the devil modifier pulls things and enemies towards you. They're both contextual actions, so they can't be used as freely or widely as, say, the grappling hook in the Batman Arkham games, but they do have a similar feel. The platforming is also much easier than in the past since falling respawns you where you left off, removing just a single bar of health. This makes it less frustrating than it used to be, as the older games made you work your way back up from the bottom every time you fell.

    The camera is modernized, as well, as it can be moved much more freely. The only issue I had with it was in the final boss fight, where it kept obscuring the boss. The character movement is the most fluid of any game in the series so far, which also makes combat feel fantastic. The combat actually reminds me a bit of DOOM 2016, even though it hadn't come out yet - the demon designs often look similar, and the explosion of orbs upon killing a demon is quite reminiscent of DOOM. The combat strangely feels a bit more accessible than previous titles, despite having way more combos than the early games and more contexts where only one modifier works. I think the amount of tools available make the gameplay feel more fluid, since you don't just need to alternate the same 4 combos - you can whip out a whole host of moves at any point. Devil Trigger is maybe a bit too overpowered this time - it freezes the enemies and throws them up in the air in addition to making you faster and more powerful and recharging your health, so the challenge lies in getting to as many enemies as you can before the timer runs out. It also turns your coat red, making Dante look a bit more old school, though this means we don't get to see what the nonhuman form of the nephilim actually looks like - a missed art design opportunity.

    The game's stylization can feel a little too Hitman: Absolution meets Hot Topic at times. It all just feels a bit more gratuitous than previous titles - for instance, the opening cinematic features a bunch of scantily clad women with angel wings followed by Dante sleeping with them in his trailer - I'd hardly consider this Game of Thrones-level sexposition. Dante's dialogue leaves a lot to be be desired - his catchphrase is 'fuck you', he really loves repeating things that people just said in a slightly reworded way (do they think the audience can't keep up?), and he makes lots of bad puns. Big, all-caps words pop up in the environment displaying its intentions in a weird combination of Alan Wake and They Live, which bash you over the head with whatever the game wants to convey. It's still the best writing in the series - I mean, come on, good writing isn't what these games are known for. The industrial nu metal soundtrack by Noisia and Combichrist doesn't help, either - it isn't necessarily any worse than the music from DMC3, but it still feels a bit too generic, which is a shame, as the ambient music is great. Thankfully, the movement and combat feel so good and the visuals look so pretty that it's easy to overlook these flaws.

    The game length is just about right at around 11hrs - more substantial than the early titles, but not quite as drawn out as 3&4. The game is certainly easier than its predecessors (DMC2 aside, of course), and a big part of the reason for that is that it has a real checkpoint system in the missions now. You can pick up mid-mission whenever you want now - you no longer have to play whole missions in a single sitting. There are some difficult enemies in the late stages, but what made the older DMC games so hard was the bosses, which are both less frequent and less difficult here. The final two bosses are reimagined final bosses from earlier games, and while they did present a small challenge, they were basically a joke compared to the ragingly difficult originals. The strategies needed to beat them just don't feel as involved, for some reason, maybe because they're easier to execute. There's still some creativity in the boss designs, though - I especially enjoyed fighting what was basically a demonic fox news talking head.

    The store works the same as it did in DMC2 onwards - the more of an item you purchase, the more expensive it becomes. Permanent health and devil trigger upgrades are no longer orbs - they've been replaced by crosses, which make things a bit clearer from the start for newcomers. As in DMC4, upgrades are no longer purchased using red orbs. White orbs serve that purpose instead of refilling your devil trigger - collect a certain number, and you'll get an upgrade point. There are way too many upgrades available to get them all in one playthrough between the 5 melee weapons and 3 guns, and I usually ended up with just 1-2 upgrade points per level. Beating the game unlocks several difficulty tiers, as always - there are 7 tiers of difficulty, with only 3 available at the start. There are even two tiers of difficulty beyond Dante Must Die this time - in the highest one, 'Hell or Hell', Dante dies with just a single hit. As usual now, beating the game also unlocks Bloody Palace mode if you're feeling a bit of grinding. I found this to be surprisingly fun this time around. There are also a number of locked doors which lead to secret levels. While the levels I played were a bit easier than in the earlier games (and also available from the main menu, so there's no pressure to complete them in the moment as with those titles), finding the keys to unlock the doors is pretty damn hard. I came across very few during my time with the game, and thus only managed to complete a few of these levels.

    Many gamers harbor a lot of vitriol towards this game and seem to believe it's not only not worthy of the series, but bad in its own right. I simply can't agree with that at all. It isn't a flawless title, but its merits are too great to dismiss. As the first western entry in the series, it's FAR more successful than, say, Silent Hill: Homecoming or Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. Itsuno liked it so much that he wanted to direct the sequel himself, though he realized that Ninja Theory should be the ones to do it, so he developed DMC5 instead. Yes, it's a more casual game than the others in the series on the highest difficulty available at the start - but fear not, because some wickedly difficult modes are unlockable. Unfortunately, the souped-up Definitive Edition (featuring all DLC, balance alterations, and many new modes) is not available for PC. That version features some especially hard modes, like 'Must' mode where enemies can only be damaged once at an S-rank combat rating. It's a lot easier to reach that rating than in previous titles, but that would still be wickedly difficult! I guess I can't complain, though, since the PC port was great and ran very smoothly. It may even have workable PC controls this time, though I got so used to playing with a controller in the early games that I stuck with it here - it just works better for combos.

    On the other hand, the story DLC, Vergil's Downfall, is deserving of ire. It's a brief, 6-mission episode which can be easily completed in an hour or two. It's got a couple new enemies and delivers more of the excellent gameplay, and it's certainly harder than the main game, but that feels more due to ability imbalance than increased difficulty. Vergil's new dash ability feels redundant with angel and devil modes, so the new abilities aren't much to speak of (and are pretty similar to his abilities in the last two games, anyway). The level design isn't very interesting, as the devs were content to recycle bits of the game in a single area of limbo, and there isn't even a real new boss. The main problem with this DLC is the writing. It's delivered in lazily animated cutscenes, which feel jarring interspersed with the in-game cutscenes, as if it was done to save money. The story tries to explain why Vergil became so power-hungry by following him through a limbo sequence where he fights images of Dante and himself after the main game, but it doesn't make a lick of sense. It tries to humanize him in a way that's inconsistent with his previous characterization and has the unfortunate side effect of making him less interesting. Give this episode a pass.

    Rating: 7.5/10 butchers
    Last edited by froghawk; 11th Apr 2019 at 15:49.

  14. #64
    Registered: May 2004

    Studio: Gonzo
    Director: Fuminori Kizaki
    Writer: Mitsutaka Hirota

    'Bloody Fate' is a full length anime film adaptation of the plot of 'Bayonetta' by the prolific anime studio Gonzo. It was a Japanese language film, but the English dub reprises most of the voice actors from the game. It mostly retells the game's story verbatim, often with dialogue lifted straight out of the game's script, though some ordering and plot details are changed. In particular, the final battle plays out quite differently, but the plot is still essentially unchanged. The film makes some plot details which were inferred by the game more explicit, and actually made me realize I'd missed a couple things in the game. It's certainly a bit more on the nose than the game version, but I'm not sure why the game felt the need to be coy, anyway. It's also better paced in a lot of ways, and clearly demonstrates how most of the game's plot was crammed in at the end - the endgame starts around halfway through the film. It introduces important characters and plot points that the game withheld until the end right at the start, which provides a better setup and creates more impetus for the plot.

    With that said, this translation doesn't always work. Despite the improved pacing, it can feel a bit rushed and cursory, with an awkward and unnatural flow between scenes. It never really manages to establish a sense of forward momentum. While I wondered if the lack of anticipation I felt was the result of already knowing the plot, I think it was something more than that. There's a feeling of missing context here which makes me think I may have been confused by the film if I didn't come into it with plot knowledge. Even the tone feels a bit wonky - the opening scene lacks the ridiculous goofiness of the game's opening scene, by tries to compensate in other ways, like making Bayonetta frequently lick her lips in anticipation (the execution of which kind of squicked me out).

    The dialogue is still jokey, even including a couple cute winks towards Devil May Cry, but the voice acting in the English dub feels more stilted despite using mostly the same voice actors. With the exception of Bayonetta herself, the voice acting sounds unrehearsed, as if the lines were being read off the page for the first time. The animation isn't anything special, but it gets the job done. It often imitates the game's partial still frame cutscenes, which again leads this action-heavy affair to feel a bit more static than it should, but there's still plenty of visual busyness. The camera is, of course, still obsessed with her body. In short, all of the elements are there, but the film nonetheless feels a bit dialed down from the game's ridiculous insanity - and that's a shame, because this story could have been truly mad without the game's filler. While it improves on the game's storytelling in many ways, the execution still leaves a bit to be desired.

    Rating: 6/10 deadly poses

  15. #65
    Registered: May 2004

    Producer: Michiteru Okabe
    Director: Yasuhiro Anpo
    Writer: Dai Satō

    Revelations 2 goes a long way toward remedying the problems of its predecessor. While the original Revelations was a handheld game initially released on the 3DS (and later ported to several other platforms as an HD version in 2013), its sequel was a more robust title that went straight to all the major consoles. Revelations felt like it was designed to be a cooperative title released episodically only for those plans to be scrapped at the last second, but Revelations 2 is both episodic and cooperative. It was released in 4 2-3hr chunks named after Kafka stories, with the episodes releasing on a weekly schedule at a bargain price. Having much longer episodes means there's actually time for the atmosphere sink in and the story to develop without constant cinematic interjections, which makes the game feel more consistently like a horror game than its predecessors.

    As with its predecessor, this game was written by anime writer Dai Sato (Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, Lupin the Third, etc.) and takes place before the previous numbered game in the series (this time taking place between RE5 and RE6). The main characters this time are Claire Redfield and Barry Burton, with Claire making her first appearance in the series in 15 years and Barry making his first ever appearance as a playable character. As usual at this point, neither character is really recognizable thanks to the vastly improved character models and different voice actors. Some new characters are introduced as sidekicks - Claire is accompanied by Barry's teenage daughter Moira, while Barry is joined by a little girl named Natalia who has supernatural powers. Each episode follows the Resident Evil 2 / Code: Veronica / Operation: Raccoon City game-stretching template of going through the same area with two characters (or, in this case, 2 sets of characters) to get different perspectives on the events.

    Claire Redfield and Moira Burton work for a new biohazard prevention NGO called Terrasave. A Terrasave work social is assaulted by masked troops, and both of them are captured. They wake up in a prison on a BOW-infested island with electronic bracelets on their arms and must figure out how they got there, why they were brought there, who is behind it, and how to escape. Barry then covers the same ground, searching for his daughter and protecting Natalia, a young child that he found on the island and knows nothing about. The game's main villain feels like a forced attempt to more strongly relate this title to the rest of the series. The voice acting and dialogue are still pretty terrible (shocker, I know), with Moira's dialogue taking the cake - it's filled with as many angrily delivered swear words as possible to drive home her status as an edgy teenager.

    The co-op is unique for the series, as the two characters are never on equal footing. It feels like a co-op game designed to play with your younger sibling, despite the M rating, as only Claire and Barry can use guns. Moira can only use a flashlight and crowbar, and she's tasked with illuminating enemies and finding items by shining the flashlight on them in addition to opening doors. Natalia uses her supernatural powers to point out weak points on enemies and items in the environment to Barry, and she can also hit enemies with bricks. She can fit through tight, tiny spaces, and is also able to unlock certain boxes that no one else can touch. This system is clunky in single player since the roles of each character are so different that you'll need to switch characters quite often. RE0 managed the character switching a bit more fluidly.

    There's an experience system that allows you to get upgrades at the end of each half-episode. The bulk of these upgrades aren't great - some are only useful for single player and AI improvements, while others are so situational you won't have many chances to use them. Extra XP can be gained from collecting gems in the environment. There's also a weapon upgrade system which works through finding parts boxes in the environment. Neither of these systems really feel essential to the game, but they give this mostly shallow title just a little bit more depth.

    I wish there were more puzzles, but there are at least some decent SAW-esque trap puzzles in certain parts of the game. The level design is pretty linear on the whole, and the environments are somewhat drab (though the monster design is nice and gruesome, albeit highly derivative of Silent Hill). Maybe it's because I'm used to Resident Evil games being filled with items or pickups, but the levels in this game feel oddly empty. It could be worse, though. While I think the previous Revelations title had some moodier and more unique environments, this game at least succeeds in keeping its own atmosphere more consistent and not constantly interrupting the proceedings with pure shooter bits and cinematic nonsense. The game's final episode is the strongest in a number of ways - it introduces the series classic secret lab and mansion environments with a bit of that classic key-fetching gameplay, and thus ends up feeling the closest to the 90s titles. It's also the only episode in the series to feature distinct levels for each set of characters rather than just relying on backtracking. Whether you get the good or the bad ending depends on which character defeated a boss in one of the middle episodes, but the player is given no indication of this at the time. I got the bad ending on my first go-round, and was pretty sure that was just the ending until I looked it up online.

    There are two bonus episodes in addition to the four main episodes. 'The Struggle' fills in a gap in Moira's story in episode 4. It's a survivalist episode which has you hunt rabbits to accumulate 5 lives to last you the rest of the ~50min episode, which focuses on combat with hordes of enemies - it's tough and grindy. 'Little Miss' is a stealth-only episode that tells Natalia's story before she enters the picture. Natalia can't see monsters or point in this episode, but she has a dark copy of herself who can and is invisible to enemies. If enemies see the normal Natalia, she faints (the child characters in this game faint instead of dying - a cute touch). Both of these episodes rehash levels from the other episodes, but 'Little Miss' makes them look a lot cooler with some weird filters and particle effects that provide a dreamlike effect. It's an odd episode due to an idiosyncratic mixture of tense gameplay with relaxing music and visuals. I didn't particularly enjoy either bonus episode, mainly because I wasn't a huge fan of either the combat or underdeveloped stealth mechanics in this game, but I have to give them credit for trying something a little different.

    If you decide to play this game, make sure you do it with a friend - but be aware that the PC port only has local co-op, and even that was added in a patch and is hidden without any mention in the game's menus. You simply have to know to plug in a second controller and press A to start. In addition to that, keyboard & controller co-op is not supported like it is in RE6 - you have to use 2 controllers. I'm not sure why it is that, for all their attempts to turn Resident Evil into a co-op multiplayer franchise, they could never get the multiplayer aspect quite right. The Outbreak games lacked voice chat; the PC version of RE5 lacked local co-op and was later ruined by GFWL; the Revelations campaign lacked co-op entirely even though it felt designed for it; Operation: Raccoon City had a broken matchmaking system; RE6 had a 4-player intersection point system which relied too heavily on chance and a large playerbase, and now this!

    As in the original Revelations, there is also a Raid Mode (expanded Mercenaries) which can be played in either online or local co-op, or played single player if you prefer. Raid Mode in the first title simply reused levels from the main game in an arcade setting, but it's a much more fleshed out beast here, with upwards of 200 stages (which take ~5min each), special events, daily missions, various items and upgrades. All of this is somehow still active 4 years later, despite the game having little to no remaining playerbase. It's so big that it almost feels like it's the main reason for the game's existence (which would explain why it has online co-op and the campaign mysteriously doesn't), and I actually found it to be a bit more fun than the campaign even though it's a fairly standard third person zombie shooter. The nice music may have been a big part of that. I can definitely see myself revisiting this mode more with friends.

    Raid mode is so different from the main game that it makes me wonder if it was developed by a different team. There are 15 characters to pick from which need to be leveled up individually. Each has special abilities that are gained with XP. You gain money in addition to XP when completing a stage, and money is required to try a stage and buy gear. Weapons can be upgraded and all characters can use them - but unlike the main campaign, upgrades can't be removed without destroying them. Enemies are also leveled, and there are special types of eltie enemies not found in the main game that have burning or freezing abilities or shields. There is even a plot to this mode - I haven't made it too far in, but I think it's all meant to be Alex Wesker's test chamber.

    Oddly enough, many of the levels here are remakes of levels from RE6, complete with music and enemies from said game. The whole affair ends up feeling like an odd sort of refinement of RE6, as if they were attempting to present the game as it should have been. The color palette is brighter, the combat is more visceral and satisfying, and everything feels less clunky. There are also stages drawn from both Revelations games, but most of the levels I played seemed at least loosely modeled on RE6. Granted, every stage isn't great - for instance, I took part in a special event where the community bands together to kill a giant zombie, but the zombie was incapable of harming anyone. This meant that, in practice, the level entailed emptying all your clips into a distant sponge then leaving without having made a perceptible impact.

    Compared to all the other absolute bollocks that came between RE5 and RE7, this game seems pretty darn appealing. Taken on its own terms, however, it's pretty mediocre and forgettable. They were just beginning to get the series back on track with this title, but they still had a ways to go. Revelations 2 still doesn't offer much in the way of scares, and it's still mostly a linear and generic third person shooter - it's just got a little bit more horror atmosphere than the other RE titles of the era. I'm sure it seemed quite promising in 2015, but since Capcom has returned to releasing legitimately great Resident Evil games, this one has become rather obsolete.

    Rating: 6.25/10 pyramid headed bodybuilders - It may be the best RE game of its era, but it's still hampered by pedestrian gameplay and a budget feel.
    Last edited by froghawk; 5th Apr 2019 at 02:16.

  16. #66
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Landahn
    Ah, I was waiting for you to get to this. Revelations 2 is actually my favourite RE game so far, but then I've only played three of them: Zero, Revelations 1 & Revelations 2.

    Interesting to read your take on it (as on all the other games in this thread), thank you!

  17. #67
    Registered: May 2004
    RESIDENT EVIL 2 (2019)

    Producers: Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, Tsuyoshi Kanda
    Director: Kazunori Kadoi

    As with REmake, Capcom have once again managed to create a definitive RE experience which surpasses the original and really nails the essence of the franchise. I wasn't convinced that was going to be the case, since none of the original team returns here. One of the things that made the remake of the original game so successful is that Shinji Mikami returned to direct it a second time, allowing him to clarify his vision with better technology. Nonetheless, Hideki Kamiya expressed his trust in Kadoi's direction, even going as far as stating that he didn't need to be consulted for the project. There's a big difference between releasing a remake 6 years after the fact and releasing one 21 years later, and that difference prompted some major changes in the approach to remaking this. For starters, AAA developers could still get away with releasing fixed camera games with prerendered backgrounds in 2002, but this likely isn't the case in 2019. As a result, the game underwent a major change, with an over-the-shoulder camera in the style of Resident Evil 4, running on the same engine as RE7. I'm sure this made many fans panic, and it certainly left me a bit skeptical, but its hard for me imagine a much better remake of this game in this format.

    One of the most impressive parts of this remake is how much they fleshed out the level design. The police station is very recognizable - all of the clear landmarks and puzzles are there - but the upper floors in particular are greatly expanded, and the routing is just different enough that it will challenge your muscle memory and provide some surprises. My first run clear time for Scenario A was nearly 10hrs (though I got it down to under 4 on my second try), compared to 2.5hrs in the original game, and yet somehow the pacing felt identical. There were some obvious things that they added - for instance, a puzzle that used to require one medallion now requires 3 - but I noticed very few drastic changes to the pace and trajectory of the game. The additions and expansions felt totally natural, to the extent that I'm honestly a bit puzzled as to where the massively expanded length even came from, but the end result is that the game feels much less skimpy and more satisfying.

    There's a lot here that will immediately remind you of RE7, camera perspective aside, but this is no rehash of that title. It's missing the viscerally disgusting discomfort of RE7, but it also plays very differently, with a much stronger emphasis on stunning enemies while running as fast as you can. This introduces a whole new dynamic to the game when compared to the original, providing an extra level of depth and challenge. Rather than changing the game into something entirely new and different, the stun-and-run mechanic ramps up the tension and gives the game the feeling it always aspired towards.

    Hardcore difficulty is also available from the start, allowing the game to present a solid challenge from the get-go, unlike the original. Hardcore difficulty is the only one to feature the classic ink ribbon saving system, and the game is delightfully stingy in handing them out. The 4-scenario setup is still intact here, and the increased challenge gives you far more reason to replay it that many times than the original did. That doesn't mean it doesn't wear out its welcome after 4 runs - repeating the boss fights get especially tedious - but it kept me playing for that entire duration. The clear star of the show here is Mr. Big X. Despite his goofy appearance, he is turned into an utterly terrifying Nemesis/Alien: Isolation inspired stalker who ramps the tension way up and makes running through the station a whole lot harder. The game's best moments are spent hiding from him.

    Despite all of its improvements, this remake still maintains a couple of the original's core flaws. It seems like Leon's scenario is meant to come first, as Claire's story has a bit more to it - the Claire A / Leon B scenario doesn't really add anything to the story and feels a bit redundant. Despite a radical redesign, the sewers are still the least interesting part of the game, though they've been vastly improved. Some of the more archaic elements of the original sewers were removed, like the giant spiders. They're replaced by something that's far more menacing and suitable for the game. The alligator encounter is preserved, but it's very brief and doesn't break immersion.

    There's also a believability problem with the character switching. When the second character takes over, the puzzles all magically reset, often with different solutions and even different dials. New weapons magically appear, and items are magically replenished. While this issue has always been true to some small degree in all of the games that follow this format, it tended to be executed a bit more convincingly in later titles. This is one of the things that made the original game feel like they were trying to stretch out a small amount of content, but since everything is so much more fleshed out here, it just feels like an odd relic of the past. Granted, they would have had to more drastically redesign Scenario B to avoid this issue. While I wouldn't have minded that, I can see why they didn't (nostalgia!).

    The atmosphere of the police station is still a bit less compelling than that of the original mansion or RE7's mansion grounds to me, mainly on account of being a bit more clean and less claustrophobic, but they did a good job of making it feel sufficiently scary and tense. The biggest disappointment in the remake may be the new soundtrack - it's often so ambient as to be virtually undetectable, and when it does make itself noticed, it's generally rather cliched. You also have the option to use the original soundtrack and sound effects if you want to pay an extra $3, but it does often sound quite dated when matched with the new visuals. There's a free DLC which allows you to use the 1998 character models for Leon & Claire if you want to amp up the bizarre aesthetic mix of different time periods.

    All the bonus modes from the original game are still available here, including the ones where you get to play through the game as HUNK and then as a block of tofu, but there are also a few new DLC survivor modes which follow a similar model. All of these modes are short, frantic, linear runs through the game that have a very different pace and feel. In 4th/Tofu survivor, you have a set loadout that you have to make last the 10min it takes to get to the end - there are no item pickups. In The Ghost Survivors, item pickups are in backpacks carried by zombies and you have to kill the zombies to get them. All of these modes are wickedly hard and very dependent on the remake's new mechanics - speed, dodging, aiming, and stunning. I have yet to finish any of them on account of my lack of skill.

    RATING: 8.75/10 G-Type Adults - Another excellent remake which improves upon the original and provides exactly what I'm looking for out of a Resident Evil experience
    Last edited by froghawk; 24th Nov 2019 at 11:29.

  18. #68
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Yeah RE2 was so good. So good it convinced me to finally play RE7, which I’m doing now, nearing the end of Lucas’ chapter. I was afraid it’d be unpleasantly grim in a P.T. kinda way, but while it is more serious than most RE games, it’s still got plenty of goofy shit to lighten the mood. I’m digging it!

  19. #69
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Finished RE7. It was good!

    Is the Chris Redfield DLC worth playing?

  20. #70
    Registered: May 2004
    I'd say you're not missing a ton if you don't play it, but if you do, be sure to play it twice. It's much better on the second go-round with a higher difficulty. I reviewed it on the previous page if you want a more in-depth assessment. I had a little more fun with Banned Footage.

    DEVIL MAY CRY 5 (2019)

    Producer: Matthew Walker
    Director: Hideaki Itsuno
    Writer: Bingo Morihashi

    More than a decade after the previous entry, Hideaki Itsuno decided to return to the mainline DMC series. Little has changed in that time - none of the innovations of Bayonetta or DmC were incorporated here, and that's not a bad thing - this is an old school style game with very few concessions to a modern audience aside from the new and shiny graphics. Any residual elements of Resident Evil have been completely stripped out by this point - there are next to no puzzles and no hub design, leaving an almost completely linear spectacle fighter which is solely about getting from one arena fight to the next. The level design is even more stripped down than that of DMC4, which at least had a few large areas with some puzzles and backtracking (the single puzzle in this game is accompanied by Dante saying 'Boy, I haven't used my brain that much in a while!'). The focus is on the combat, and boy did they nail it - it's easily fun enough to drive the game on its own.

    The biggest design change over previous titles is that the game now juggles 3 main characters - Nero, Dante, and a mysterious new character named V. Instead of having a distinct campaign for each character where they move through the same areas as in DMC2/4, characters switch between levels. A couple levels allow you to pick a character, but even in that case each character follows significantly different paths through the level. This makes for a much less repetitive and better paced experience than DMC2/4, with a truly riveting second half. The first half felt a bit lackluster on my first run, but once you get a few upgrades in even the game's most uninspired parts becomes a serious blast - it's much more fun to play through the second time. The plot also picks up quite a bit of steam in the second half.

    This game may have the most engaging plot of any DMC title thus far - it does a great job of elucidating the connections between the characters and bringing everything full circle. It starts rather unsuspectingly, with Dante and Nero facing a demon that's too powerful to defeat inside of a blood-sucking tree rooted at the center of a city, but it goes in a rather unexpected direction from there. It feels like a long overdue climax for the series, complete with a few excellent twists (in retrospect, it seems the entire purpose of DMC4 was to introduce Nero and set the stage for this story to happen). Unlike in DMC4, where Dante had little personal stake in the story, this game tells a highly personal story for all 3 main characters. My one complaint is that the female characters feel very underused and over-sexualized - Lady and Trish show up only for fanservice and don't play any real role in the plot, nor are they playable like they were in DMC4's Special Edition. There's one new character - Nero's mechanic, a woman named Nico with a chainsmoking habit and heavy southern accent. Nico is meant to be a comic relief character, but she is also awkwardly over-sexualized and underused, and I mainly found myself annoyed by listening to her corny southern drawl. I would have preferred if the game's lack of modernization didn't also extend to its treatment of women.

    As for the characters themselves, Dante appears with all of his abilities from the previous two games and a bit more (in a classically over the top moment, a new ability which lets you gamble orbs is introduced in a Michael Jackson-esque dance sequence). He still feels like the primary character in the sense that he has far more abilities and upgrades available than any other character in the game, even though he doesn't really enter the picture until about halfway through. Nero has lost his demon arm, and instead collects robotic replacements for it which have a very short shelf life (and various different abilities). This creates a bit of a twist in how his character is played from DMC4, and he doesn't gain some important abilities until the very end of the game, making the second playthrough quite different. Most of the gameplay innovation is put towards the new character, V, who controls a demon bird and panther that fight remotely for him. While the bird basically acts as a gun and the panther as a sword, the fact that they aren't attached to you and you don't have full control over their movement makes playing V a novel experience. A lot more multitasking is involved - you'll often find yourself remotely directing the attacks of V's minions while having him read a book and periodically jump in to personally deliver the finishing blows on enemies. It's easy to get S ratings by button mashing while playing as V, but it's rather difficult to master him if you want full control over his every move.

    The interface is stripped down - usable items (devil stars, vital stars, holy water) are no longer a thing during gameplay, which means the store is a bit simpler. As such, proud Souls have been eliminated here - everything is purchased with red orbs. There's no need to separate currency for orbs and items when there are no items! Orbs carry over between characters (including health and devil trigger upgrades), which helps keep things a bit more continuous. Gold orbs (continues) are much more plentiful this time around, since you get one as a login bonus every time you start the game and get bonus ones for S rankings. Not only that, but the levels feature checkpoints, though it's never clear where they are or when they're happening. You'll never have to restart a level from the beginning, even if you choose not to use a gold orb. This may be the only concession the game makes to modern audiences, and I'm honestly grateful for it - it makes the game a bit easier, sure, but it also reduces the frustration and feels a bit more respectful of my time. On that note, the game feels a bit shorter than the last two - the length is just right. And don't worry - the game starts getting wickedly hard on Dante Must Die difficulty, if that's what you seek.

    The camera is the freest it's ever been in the mainline DMC series, never locking you into a single angle. This really allows you to admire the game's graphics. The visual design of the game's central tree is great - it does a good job taking the atmosphere of the nastier bits of DMC3's tower and updating them. There's a lot of enemy variety, featuring many creatures reprised from previous titles. Nearly every boss in this game is some sort of callback to an older boss - this game knows it's a bit of a nostalgia trip, but I think it strikes the balance very nicely and manages to be just nostalgic enough without inducing eye-rolls or feeling redundant. The bosses are a good bit less difficult on the whole than the in the previous titles - not once did I get stuck on a boss and have to try again later. This is at least partially due to the checkpoint and gold orb system, but I also found the few secret levels I played to be more straightforward - I didn't encounter any levels that had an obvious solution but frustratingly impossible execution, unlike in the previous titles. Instead, there was more focus on making the player find creative optimal solutions, which I appreciated.

    There is technically a cooperative multiplayer component to this game, but I don't really understand why it's there. In the levels that feature multiple characters, other players randomly enter your world as the characters you didn't pick. You're asked if you'd like to give them a stylish rating at the end of each mission, which is fine for some of the fights, but often doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The problem is that you can't actually see them or what they're doing the vast majority of the time, so good luck giving them an accurate rating. You'll often progress through levels at different speeds, and many of the levels are designed so that the two characters are in different parts of the level for most of its duration. This system even matchmakes between different levels which follow different characters during the same timeframe, making it highly unlikely that you'll ever catch a glimpse of your cohorts. There isn't even a way to team up with your friends, nor can you chat with the other players. It seems like a system which probably took a lot more time and effort to implement than it was actually worth given the absolutely minuscule impact it has on the gameplay.

    Once again, the PC port was an extremely buggy experience for me. The cutscenes often stuttered, with audio and video going out of sync, and I experienced many crashes to desktop. There isn't much in the way of DLC for this title, and I didn't buy any of it. Most of it consists of the pay-to-win orb buying system from DMC4 (you can't even buy the game on Steam anymore without getting 100,000 orbs, perhaps to address complaints of early game dullness - thankfully, I bought it elsewhere), costumes, and alternate weapons. The only piece of DLC that interested me was the live action cutscenes, which are basically live-action storyboards for the game, providing some insight into the development process. It's something I'd like to pick up someday, but seeing as it's inexplicably no longer available for independent purchase on Steam, I'm not sure when that will happen.

    RATING: 7.8/10 Scissors - One of the best entries in the series. 3rd best in my ranking, but that's disputable.
    Last edited by froghawk; 13th Dec 2019 at 16:35.

  21. #71
    Registered: May 2004
    RESIDENT EVIL 3 (2020)

    Directors: Yasuhiro Seto, Yasuhiro Anpo, Yukio Ando
    Producer: Masachika Kawata

    Oh, Capcom... why must you play with my heart? It was easy to assume that R3make would be another great title, following two of the best titles in the history of the series and made on the same engine - but alas. All Capcom had to do was remake the game the same way they made RE2, but instead, they chose the route of a 'reimagining'. Indeed, this is less a remake of RE3 and more of a mis-marketed standalone expansion for RE2, loosely based on a few of RE3's concepts. A lot of what you'd expect is missing here - ink ribbons, limited ammo, mercenaries mode, zombie physics, dismemberment gore, diverging plot points, defensive weapons, most of the original locations, and most of the puzzles are all absent. In their place is a mostly linear action-oriented game which feels like a compromise between the RE2 remake and the action-oriented approach of RE4. Like the original RE3, this was released just a year after RE2 - but since AAA games in 2020 require a bit more development time than they did back in 1999, this edition feels like even more more of a rushed cash-in. This title is the first casualty of Capcom's newly planned yearly release schedule for Resident Evil, and it likely won't be the last.

    One of the the things RE2 did incredibly well was expand the original campaign without affecting the pacing, but the opposite happened here - the campaign was reduced and sped up. The original RE3 had 5 overarching areas - the city, a return to RPD, a clock tower, a hospital, and city outskirts. Of the 4 areas that are unique to RE3, the outskirts (park & factory) have been cut entirely in this remake, as has the indoor section of the clock tower - only the boss fight in front of it is represented here, albeit unrecognizably. The city areas are heavily cut and hardly resemble their original counterparts. The cut areas have been replaced by scripted chase sequences and new segments which allowed for more asset recycling from RE2 (more sewers, more NEST). And the recycling doesn't end there - for instance, music is reprised from (the original) RE2 and the item boxes from RE7 return here without any alteration. Other details feel unfinished, like the laser reticule - a red dot which looks like it came straight out of MS Paint. New enemies sometimes show up in only a single section of the game, never to be seen again. All of this adds up to an experience which feels oddly budget in spite of its AAA production values.

    All of this could have been forgivable if the game still provided the wonderfully tense feeling that I seek from Resident Evil, but the only time I felt it in my first playthrough (on Hardcore difficulty) was in an optional item-gathering sequence at the end of the hospital, following on the heels of a pale imitation of RE4's house seige. Otherwise, the game is designed like an on-rails shooter that just happens to retain a few design elements from RE2, and this is reflected by the game's perfunctory plot pacing. Everything happens a lot faster right off the bat, with Nemesis being introduced almost immediately and Jill meeting the Umbrella team less than 10 minutes in. By contrast, the original game built up to the first Nemesis encounter, and Jill spent a bit of time in the city on her own before encountering the Umbrella team. The game breezes through the heavily cut city areas, which is a shame, because they're the only part remake which feel true to the spirit of the original.

    It's hard not to imagine the missed potential here. The city could have been the game's main selling point - a big, open area, filled with puzzles and vastly expanded from its original scope - but instead, it was abridged. Relative to RE2, this makes little sense - how does it take longer to explore one floor of a police station than it does to scrounge through several city blocks? Granted, RE3 was always about running more than getting to know a space intimately, and they've dialed that up here, but in practice that just means that most areas in the game feel underutilized and underdeveloped. This change in focus is reflected in the abundance of ammo and the focus on combat. There's a new dodge mechanic (that's thankfully a lot easier to use than in the original title), and quite a lot of emphasis is put on dodging and rolling here - special retaliatory moves are hidden behind perfectly timed dodges. Defensive weapons have been replaced by a quicktime event used to reduce zombie damage. In essence, the moodiness of RE2 has been replaced with RE6's incessant floor-rolling.

    The star of the show here is, of course, Nemesis, whose redesign looks rather... unfortunate, to my eyes. His face his covered with a trashbag at the start in order to later provide a dramatic face reveal, but said reveal ends up providing a sinking feeling instead of the intended fear. Replacing his facial scars and stitches with a nose makes him look significantly goofier and less menacing than his 1999 counterpart, and his Alien3-inspired 2nd stage is far more cliche and uninspired than his original transformations (more angry dog than intelligent stalker). Looks aside, only the brief city portion has him stalk you like Mr. X - in the rest of the game, he is relegated to scripted chase sequences and boss battles (providing more of what was arguably the weakest part of RE2's remake). Even in the city, he ends up being more of an annoyance than a terror, chasing you at high speeds, jumping in front of you, and knocking you over with his tentacle. Despite how overpowered and scary this may sound, it feels like the developers had no idea how to make this a fair fight, and instead opted to artificially reduce the difficulty. For instance, he never attacks you after knocking you over, and instead lets you recover for a moment and get up before attacking you again. I never expected Nemesis to be so principled and considerate!

    On the note of surprisingly friendly things, hardcore mode is considerably less hardcore here than it was in RE2. The game frequently autosaves (allowing you to easily get away with saving less than 5x) and there's practically a typewriter and item box in every other room. The frequency of safe rooms removes the need for most of the inventory management and also makes it quite easy to retreat to safety. There are 2 unlockable difficulty modes after Hardcore - Nightmare and Inferno - but they still autosave, lack ink ribbons, and feature frequent safe rooms. Enemy placement is different in these higher difficulties, and the pacing of the city area actually works a lot better in Nightmare - provided you skip the brash cutscenes, this is the closest this game comes to providing a classic Resident Evil experience. The feeling is short lived, as nothing much can fix the game's lackluster back half. By the time I reached the final boss in Nightmare and discovered that the only way to defeat it was by mastering perfect dodge, I was ready to call it quits.

    Unfortunately, since mercenaries and decision points were cut from the remake, these difficulty modes provide all of the game's replayability. To incentivize replaying, the challenge system from RE2 returns with a twist. Completing challenges gives you points which can be used to purchase things like stat boosting items, new weapons, and weapons with infinite ammo. Many of the challenges involve killing large numbers of zombies, often with a specific weapon. This grinding is yet another way I was reminded of RE6.

    Much hubbub has been made about this game's length, but a short campaign isn't unusual for this franchise - the real problem is the game's focus. It does the same thing for RE2 that the action-focused 'Not a Hero' DLC did for RE7 - but that was a free DLC that played more like the main game at higher difficulties. This full retail title isn't even up to that standard, and it would have been disappointing even if it had been sold as a $30 expansion for RE2. The weird compromise between the design of RE2's remake and the shooter dark days of the series feels a lot like the first Revelations title - a linear shooter with just enough hints of classic survival horror gameplay to make you mad at the missed potential. RE3 isn't as bad as Revelations, but the fact that this game appeared in what seemed to be an era of renewed focus for Capcom makes all of this sting that much worse. They might have saved themselves a lot of ire if they'd simply made this a new title without the weight of expectation. RE3 remade in the style of RE2 could have been a glorious thing to behold, but thanks to this game, we'll never get to find out.

    Note: In order to sell this title at full price, it was packaged with a new multiplayer game called Resident Evil: Resistance. I'll be reviewing that separately if I can find the motivation.

    RATING: 6/10 Hunter Gammas

  22. #72
    Registered: May 2004

    Producer: Hiroyasu Shinohara
    Director: Eiichirō Hasumi
    Writers: Eiichirō Hasumi, Shogo Moto

    The latest RE movie is a netflix special that's been split into 4 sub-30min episodes to get with the times. Despite being billed as a 'Netflix Original Anime Special', it isn't really any different from the other 3 CGI movies aside from some small pacing adjustments for the new format and some recycled footage. It is set between RE4 and RE5, opening in the fictional Penamstan, and again features Leon and Claire as its protagonists. You may recall that the first CGI movie, Degeneration, was also set between RE4 and 5 and starred the same two characters Apparently this one is supposed to come shortly after that one, sort of acting as a prequel to RE5 thanks to one quick callback, but I couldn't really tell.

    The continuity doesn't really make a great deal of sense, as the story in this one revolves around an inhibitor that suppresses the virus - an element that has never appeared in any other RE story. Like any good RE tale, it ends in a secret lab with a final boss, only this time said boss is able to hold a coherent conversation - yet another element that's never been seen before in the series if I recall correctly. The series feels oddly fixated on small continuity details at the expense of consistency in larger things like that, but it's RE - I give up.

    Claire really doesn't have much of a role in this, and her scenes all feel a bit superfluous. She's always given the same wardrobe in all of her appearances while Leon gets to wear multiple outfits - almost as if the creators think that the red coat is the only thing that makes her a recognizable character. Her presence feels like pure fanservice, but frankly, so does the whole affair. Does this really add anything to the RE universe or do anything new? No, and perhaps it's too much to ask for, but it's not really clear to me what the point of this was.

    The environments look gorgeous and moody - this thing had a serious budget - but the people are firmly in the uncanny valley. The dialogue is not good, but if it was, it wouldn't be RE. The pace is a bit funny between the episodes - episode 2 in particular has a very abrupt ending. Is this a worthwhile use of anyone's time? No, not really, and that's probably obvious in the way that I'm clearly struggling to say much of substance about it.

    RATING: 5.5/10 whatevers

    It appears there's going to be an 8-episode live-action show about Wesker to follow on Netflix, so stay tuned.

  23. #73
    Registered: May 2004

    Producer: Masachika Kawata, Tsuyoshi Kanda, Peter Fabiano
    Director: Morimasa Sato
    Writers: Antony Johnston

    Capcom has kept true to their promise of delivering a new title on the RE engine each year, and the third consecutive title to stay true to that promise is Resident Evil VIIlage (really??!). For those concerned about rushed development cycles on account of the missed opportunity of the clearly rushed RE3 remake, fear not - VII put things back on track. This game evidently started its life cycle as Revelations 3, but everyone at Capcom was so impressed with it that it got upgraded to a mainline title. It's easy to see why, as the game is a blast!

    RE8 returns to the first person view of RE7, with Ethan Winters returning as the protagonist. While the core gameplay (keys, puzzles, and running away!) and shocking gore of RE7 are still present here, this title gives them a somewhat unique spin, replacing the claustrophobia of 7 with the vulnerability of exposure. The deep south setting of RE7 is replaced by a snowy eastern european village as a tribute to RE4, and the game focuses a bit more on action to suit this tribute. If you've read that Capcom felt RE7 was 'too scary' and wanted to tone things down for this title, that's only partially true - there's just as much grossout gore, but the atmosphere feels less disturbing.

    As always with new RE titles, I started my first playthrough on the hardest difficulty. Thankfully, they learned from their mistake in RE7 and made Hardcore difficulty available from the start. Hardcore truly preserves the survival horror, forcing you to preserve your resources and make good use of the game's new crafting system. The only downside to hardcore mode is the first big fight, which is a tribute to the village fights at the start of RE4&5. It is seriously unbalanced - far more difficult than anything else in the game - and will require you to hide for around 6 minutes in order to survive. The new door-blocking mechanic allows for several more fights in that vein which work a lot better. For the most part, however, this isn't a game about massive hordes of enemies - each enemy takes quite a bit of firepower to take down, giving it a more survival-oriented feel than the shooter days of the series.

    The titular village serves as a hub linking together all the game's main areas, in addition to featuring resources and treasures. This doesn't mean that Capcom have jumped on the open world trend, as the game is still a linear experience and the village isn't accessible in the game's main areas - 4 houses, each run by a different boss. The first of these, House Dimitrescu, is a classic Resident Evil mansion, complete with a safe room and an invincible stalker (which I guess is now a mandatory element after the last 3 titles!). It's very well executed and should satisfy all fans of the series, but the game has more to offer than that, as each house has a different approach.

    The second house, House Beneviento, is a big puzzle which temporarily removes all your weaponry and thus features no fighting. It's considerably shorter than the first, but makes for a refreshing change of pace. Unfortunately, it lacks replay value. The third is basically a short obstacle course that sets up a boss fight. The fourth, a giant factory, is the second most fleshed out house after the mansion. The first house is certainly the best the game has to offer, but the drop in quality with subsequent houses doesn't feel too vast, mostly due to their attempt to provide variety. The final chunk of the game features a more action-oriented sequence between several boss fights - arguably one too many. For me, this chunk of the game went on a little long given that the survival horror aspect goes out the window. It feels a little too close to the dark shooter days of the series for comfort.

    In another tribute to RE4, the game includes a merchant who sells upgrades and will buy your treasure and cook you meals as upgrades. Enemies now drop resources which you can spend at the shop, and treasures and more resources (including hunting) can be found around the village if you're willing to backtrack. These resource can be used to upgrade your weapons and buy new ones. Between that system, completing challenges, and buying infinite ammo for your new weapons in the extra content shop for help tackling the highest difficulty (Village of Shadows), there's plenty here that makes the game worth a replay or two if you're a completist. It does, of course, get more combat-focused and less survival-oriented with each replay, so the first playthrough is still the most satisfying.

    Interestingly enough, Capcom hired a British comic author to write the script this time around, who formerly worked on the Dead Space games and Shadow of Mordor, in addition to his comic series Wasteland. The plot is a standard father-searching-for-his-daughter setup, but it's introduced in a particularly shocking way and takes some unexpectedly morbid turns. As in RE7, Chris Redfield is the only classic series character to return here, but not in the way you'd expect - at least not at first. The gothic horror angle taken by this game means the BOWs are now werewolves and vampires, but also with a decent side helping of creepy dolls and cyborg vampires. This shift in aesthetic is never really explained, but is anybody really still asking this series to make sense or remain consistent?

    Nonetheless, I didn't quite feel like the story's various elements came together into a larger whole. It's the sort of plot which throws a whole bunch of new stuff at the wall and then has to integrate all of that stuff into the larger story of the franchise, and thus inevitably leaves several of those threads feeling unsatisfactorily developed. That isn't to say that I expect this series to have good or satisfying writing, but it's a bit messier than usual! The story ultimately provides a bit of setup to future titles after bringing one character's arc to an end.

    Overall, I think this was a pretty solid title. It doesn't have the level of appeal to me that RE7 did, which felt like a proper return to the principles of the early series (in addition to being claustrophobic and creepy as hell), but it's aiming for something a little different. Despite being the first really action-oriented first person title in the modern series, it's also lacking a bit of novelty - for every one thing it does differently, there are several more elements that have become series staples. Nonetheless, I would not hesitate to recommend this game!

    RATING: 7.8/10 Creepy Dolls
    Last edited by froghawk; 28th Jan 2022 at 11:49.

  24. #74
    Registered: May 2004
    And just to circle back around on the whole thread for a moment, I'm not sure if my relative scores on all this reflect my actual feelings on the series, so here's my relative ranking of all the RE games thus far:

    REmake 2
    Relevations 2
    Code: Veronica X
    Operation: Raccoon City
    Umbrella Corps

    Summary: The 90s games are great fun and wonderfully nostalgic even though I didn't play them back in the day (and still haven't played the original, which is a big oversight). The series took a nosedive when it went 3D in 99/2000, being thoroughly trounced on that front by the first 2 Silent Hill games. It made a successful comeback in 2002 with REmake/0, refining the formula and increasing the difficulty to nail the survival feel better than any other game in the genre I've played. The series was successfully reinvented in 2004 with RE4, but then series creator/executive producer Shinji Mikami left the company, leading to a nosedive in quality which reached its nadir with the 3 titles from 2012. Only in 2017 did it manage to get back on track, 13 years after RE4, and it kept that quality level up with the RE2 remake. At this point, Capcom decided to make the series a yearly affair, leading to a decrease in consistency and a bit of oversaturation.
    Last edited by froghawk; 9th Feb 2022 at 10:15.

  25. #75
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Did you ever get around to playing Bayo 2 froghawk?
    PS: Always good to see this thread pop back up. It's great!

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