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12:27 PM on 06.18.2009

1.21 Gigawatts of Badass: A Review of inFamous

In the world of video games, developers have struggled to present morale choices in a way that lends any real weight to them. With infamous, developer Sucker Punch aims to make listening to your conscience harder by putting you in the scorched shoes of an unlikely super hero who gained electrical powers from a massive explosion.

Cole now carries the weight of a ravaged world’s future on his shoulders, and must choose whether to be their savior or prey off their difficult existence. With devastating power sparking at his fingertips, Cole has difficult decisions ahead of him… but so do you. Is inFamous the power trip you’ve been waiting for, or will it leave you burnt out like a blown fuse?

We enter Empire City as Cole regains consciousness after the explosion. After enduring a painful rebirth in the wake of disaster, he realizes that the element of electricity is at his beck and call. After talking things over with his best friend Zeke, a Michael Matteson wannabe, he sets off to test his mettle by defending a shipment of survival rations being pillaged by a group of anarchists called The Reapers.

This is where things start to get really interesting. The player directs Cole’s aim via an over-the-shoulder view, and is nearly identical to many modern third-person shooters. Simply line up the circular reticule and blast bolts of lightning as if you’re Zeus himself, drunk with power. Cole’s primary lightning attack is unlimited, allowing you to lay waste to enemies with multiple blasts to the body, or a quick dispatch with a clean “head shock.” Cole is ambidextrous as well, allowing for ease whether you’re left/ right handed, or just trying to peek around a corner.

Amidst all the man made electrical storms, Cole is free to shoot no matter where he is. You can calmly walk and fire upon enemies, shoot while hanging from a traffic light, or pick line up a head shock while flying through the air. Another particularly handy use for the “shoot anytime” mechanic is when hanging from a ledge. Cole will hang out of the enemy’s line of sight, waiting for you to aim before he peeks up to take a few pot shots. The shooting mechanic is masterfully done. So much so, you’ll almost entirely forget about the nearly useless melee button. For all intents and purposes, infamous is a shooter.

After Cole defends the food supplies from the hooded hoodlums, he is faced with a choice; either allow the civilians to eat their share, or hoard the whole lot so Zeke and he can eat for months. The player makes the choice by either idly allowing the pedestrians to descend on the rations like vultures, or scorch a couple people to scare everyone off. This is just one morale decision of many you’ll make throughout the game. You’ll receive good or bad karma depending on what choice you make, making your karma meter shift towards repugnant red or benevolent blue. The color of your karma wheel also affects the hue of the electricity flowing through and from you.

The city Cole resides in is a huge, sprawling, sandbox of a metropolis, demanding commute from one point to another over long distances. Luckily the protagonist is incredibly agile and can scale a building in seconds. InFamous features an automatic grappling mechanic that makes running across city roof tops as fluid as possible. Spotting a route to the top of a building is as easy as finding a window ledge or pipe, each one acting as a platform for you to launch yourself further up the structure. The automatic grabbing of ledges is incredibly reliable, but almost to a fault. Many times when attempting to jump from a roof top to the street, Cole will be magnetically drawn towards ledges or streetlights, hindering his descent. This becomes incredibly annoying when you are attempting to beat a timer or dodge enemy fire.

Speaking of enemy fire, the marauders of the city are almost everywhere. It’s a rare moment when some thug isn’t using Cole for target practice. The minimap/ radar will be your best friend in these situations, tipping you off to the location and altitude of your assailants. If an gunman is too far away for your radar to pick up, as is the case many times, it can be terribly frustrating locating where the bullets are coming from. Thankfully enemy presence can be reduced by completing side missions.

The civilians of inFamous are as needy as they come, requesting your assistance at any given opportunity. Side missions have decent variety, ranging from escort missions, to time trial checkpoint runs, to hunting hidden packages, to disabling surveillance equipment, and even to some stealth stalking. The variations may seem bountiful, but you’ll be doing them a lot. The sense of satisfaction is worth the dirty work, however, as you’ll drive enemies from parts of town like rats, gain good/ bad karma, and even net yourself some experience points.

Cole’s plentiful powers are purchased and enhanced within one of the game’s menus. Making the choice to go good or bad early on is beneficial, as there are very useful powers that require you to have your karma meter maxed out in either the direction of hero or infamous. This is unfortunate, as it likely will predetermine your path throughout the game, effectively reducing the game’s bevy of moral choices to one path or the other. Anybody walking the line between the two extreme moralities will find themselves at a disadvantage. On the other hand, you’ll have the opportunity to play through again and have a very different experience.

Getting back to powering up Cole, you can spend experience gained from killing enemies, rescuing people, and completing missions to buy new abilities. Defense, primary attack strength, and the range of certain attacks can all be upgraded. Some abilities require a specific amount of side missions to be completed, or demand that you’ve gained a particular ability by activating one of the game’s many substations.

Substations are scattered beneath Empire City, requiring Cole to travel through the sewers. Entering the sewers is the only time you’ll be “indoors,” and it’s practically the only time you’ll encounter a loading scene in the game. These underground diversions are incredibly fruitful, and benefit Cole in two ways. Firstly, Cole will restore electricity to dead portions of the city, making his treks on the surface much easier. Secondly, Cole will stumble across broken circuits that require his body to reestablish a energy flow, causing loads of wattage to course through him. This is where Cole learns such coveted abilities as grinding on power lines or train tracks, and hovering through the air with static electricity.

Both hovering and rail grinding are the defining means of transportation in inFamous, and they are incredibly empowering. After spending a good portion of the game simply running across electrical lines, the ability to slide across them at lighting fast speed is an overwhelmingly relief. Leaping through the air from power line to power line is not only incredibly easy and fun, but it gets you where you want be in a flash. Hovering allows you to float casually through the air without fear of plummeting to the city streets and having to climb up a building again. The final power gained from these substations is perhaps the most epic of all, and it won’t be spoiled in this review. Just be warned that it’s quite earthshaking.

Abilities such as launching energy grenades, shooting megawatt hammers (electricity rockets), and precise bolt sniping all consume energy. Cole has a limited supply of electricity for these powerful abilities, which are displayed by nodes at the top of the screen. As the meter diminishes, the super hero can recharge by moving next to anything that uses electricity and drain it of its power. The process is quick and painless, allowing for seamless replenishing of “juice” in the midst of combat. A click of the analog stick reveals every source of electricity surrounding Cole. This is one of the main reasons for restoring substations.

InFamous’ story is nothing but a framework for the ensuing carnage. The characters are one dimensional and leave a lot to be desired. Between Cole’s lady friend Trish, his faceless government contact, and a paranoid undercover agent, the cast of the game brings nothing new to the table. The boss characters of the game are few and far between, and the encounters with them are nothing memorable. The final boss battle is passable, but still a lackluster dodge and shoot affair. After said boss fight, the game presents the first real interesting development in the plot. The revelation may be profound, but the entire game could have benefited from bleeding out the twist earlier on to entice the player into playing attention.

InFamous is an incredibly empowering experience. Never has a game so closely emulated the experience of being a fledgling super hero. Blasting enemies into the air and surging electricity into them before they hit the ground is a one of a kind experience. If you’re interested in playing one of the most polished and original games of this year, don’t hesitate to play it as soon as you can. Don’t forget to plug your PlayStation 3 into a surge protector.

Presentation: 9 The game is decent looking, but the character models and environments aren’t anything completely unique. It gets extra points for terrific comic strip cutscenes and incredibly realistic looking electricity effects.
Gameplay: 9.5 This game does nearly everything right. For every one thing it struggles with, there are twenty things making you forget you even had a problem with the controls.
Sound: 7 The voice acting is very generic, with Cole’s actor doing his best Christian Bale as Batman impression the entire time. The sound of zapping enemies never gets old, however.
Longevity: 8 This game contains two solid playthroughs worth of content, clocking in together at about 40 hours of gameplay. Add in finding all the hidden items and you’ve got one doozy of an action game!
Overall: 8.5 The only thing really holding back inFamous from perfection is its story. Hopefully Sucker Punch will remove and polish up the games spark plugs before the inevitable sequel. This game is a buy.   read

3:23 PM on 05.31.2009

A Call to Artificial Arms

Take a quick look around your room. What do you see? Besides your furniture, consoles, games, and television you may notice a plethora of game controllers. How about a dusty Wii Zapper? Perhaps a couple bulky plastic guitars? A cumbersome drum kit? There is evidence in your domicile that plastic pistols and replica rifles are being sorely neglected in the technologically advancing world of video games. This is a call to artificial arms.

Do you remember the first time you played Time Crisis in the arcade? Laying your hands on the weighty light gun and feeling the realistic recoil as the hammer slid back with each shot was an immersive experience. I’m sure you wished you could bring the toy gun home, outside the wiles of quarters and tokens.

Time passed and Namco released the GunCon, which allowed us to finally bring home the most engrossing light gun experience since Duck Hunt. However, the standard television you played it on probably wasn’t big enough to make the experience arcade authentic, and light gun games like Time Crisis weren’t exactly known for their engrossing story or innovative gameplay variety. It was simply fun to point and shoot.

This is a great example of what we DO NOT need

When the Nintendo Wii launched, everyone clamored over the possibilities of future FPSs taking advantage of the motion sensor technology. A couple Call of Duty’s and a Red Steel later, and we’re still waiting for a truly unique Wii shooter. The Wii Zapper was a joke, sheathing the already gun-like Wiimote in awkward armor. Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles is perhaps the best light gun game we’ve seen this generation, but it’s more of a shoot-from-the-hip affair than a true test of accuracy that has you lining up a shot through the sights

If the Wii is unable to provide a decent light gun experience utilizing the tech of the Wiimote, then perhaps it’s time for a new peripheral. You’re probably groaning and rolling your eyes at the thought of hoarding away another fake piece of equipment, but hear me out. Imagine pulling a sleek black case from underneath your couch. You open it, and assemble the stock, barrel, and body of a synthetic sniper rifle. You then either lay prone on your bed or prop the weapon up on the back of your couch, aiming carefully at your HD television. Imagine replaying updated versions of Silent Scope in your own room, or playing a new entry in the Metal Gear Solid series which makes use of a fully realized sniper rifle.

It gets an 'A' for effort, but this is too bulky and unwieldy. Not to mention hideous.

Perhaps long range marksmanship isn’t your thing. Remove the barrel extension and stock, leaving only a pistol sized controller in your hands. Worried about being forced to play another on rails shooter? Pull out the in-package holster and secure the light gun at your side. Then pick up your PS3 or 360 controller and navigate your onscreen character. When you’re suddenly ambushed, you’re given a brief window of opportunity to un-hostler your light gun and take aim at the screen.

These suggestions may seem very simple, but the technology exists to make it happen. Everything except the consoles themselves is wireless these days, so a tangle-free arsenal is absolutely possible. The only real issue is that of physical storage space. Retailers would dread having to find room for another Rock Band-sized product on their shelves, so embracing the compact design I described would be ideal.

If talented developers could have advance access to the peripheral, the possibilities for truly interactive games would be endless. How many times have you found yourself controlling your character with a single hand while you scratched your nose? A talented game maker could expand on this technique and allow you to deftly maneuver your avatar and fire at enemies simultaneously when in a pinch. On the other end of the spectrum, slower paced games like Resident Evil 4 and Silent Hill, which already feature decreased movement during combat, could seamlessly integrate the concept of slowing down and readying your weapon. Imagine the tension that could result from frantically reaching for your holstered light gun as a zombie draws near, only to accidently fumble with it and almost be killed. Resident Evil: Dead Aim for the PS2 is the closest I’ve seen to a game like this, but is hardly an ideal example.

Much credit to my musing on this subject must be paid to Destructoid’s Anthony Burch for his recent “Rev Rant” episode ( about the untapped potential of Snatcher. I have been imagining clever and intuitive ways to use light guns with games ever since playing rounds of Duck Hunt with the Nintendo Zapper tucked in my belt, forcing me to quick draw when the game started. Yeah, I thought it was fun then… and it could be amazing now.   read

12:25 PM on 05.25.2009

Now You’re Playing with Power Metal

For many years I’ve been an appreciator of video game music. From the bleeps and bloops of Sonic and Mario to the symphonic glory of Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid, I’ve always known there is something special about game music. Alongside game music, the driving ferocity of metal has been the forerunner of my “conventional” musical taste for a comparable amount of time. This is the story about how those two worlds met in perfect harmony.

I fondly remember subscribing to Nintendo Power for the first time when I was about twelve. It came with a bonus, the Super Mario 64 soundtrack, which caused much excitement in my little mind. I was already enamored with the mystical 3D Mushroom Kingdom on my N64, and naturally couldn’t wait to pop the shiny CD into my portable disc-man (I thought I was awesome).

I recall family vacations, with the disc-man firmly tucked into my Game Boy carrying case while I grinned in auditory delight (now that I think about it, it probably looked like a little purse). Intrigued that I was lost inside my headphones, relatives sporadically inquired as to what I was listening to. When they pulled the headphones on, a look of confusion would cross their faces, and I would explain, “It’s from Mario! …It’s a video game.” They would usually smile politely, not having much to say about the matter. It never stopped me though, I listened to that disc forever (or at least until I traded it for the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time soundtrack).

That's the one.

Around the same time I discovered my love for game music, my brother set up our computer with a service his university provided. It was called the “internet.” Intrigued, I began fiddling around and discovered On it I delved into a cornucopia of game music. I uncovered tunes that had long since outlived their games in my mind, allowing me to ignite the spark of nostalgia at the click of a button. Childhood memories of Sega Master System’s Shinobi and Alex Kidd in Miracle World came flooding back to me, fueling the desire to repurchase my pawned systems in coming years.

Just as my love for video game music became solidified, my infatuation with heavy metal was coming to a boil. From the classic riffs and gritty vocals of Metallica to the full force battle cries and blasting drums of Amon Amarth, I developed a nearly all encompassing love for metal. One of my favorite pass times was downloading guitar tablature for video game music, learning it, and then laying on thick distortion and metal-fying the hell out of it.


Plucking away at guitars and listening to metal midis of Mega Man 2’s Air Man theme can only get you so far, however. Like a child who loves peanut butter and chocolate but only ever gets a nibble of a Reese’s, I needed something to sink my teeth in. Through the years I flirted with video game cover bands like The Minibosses, Mega Driver, and others, but none of them truly delivered what I was looking for. Don’t get me wrong, all of them are incredibly talented musicians, but I needed something ragingly rapid and horrendously heavy.

One evening, I ran into an old friend at a local watering hole, and took note of his Zelda sweatshirt. Naturally, the conversation lead to video games in general, and he informed me he was taking a road trip to see a band called Powerglove. I shrugged in ignorance, unfamiliar with the band personally. In a mixture of excitement and alarm, my friend vowed to put the music of Powerglove into my ears.

Weeks passed and the exchange floated to the back of my mind. Then out of the blue, my friend materialized, burnt CD in hand. “Total Pwnage” and “Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man” were the two albums burned onto the solitary disc. Never until that day did I know so much face melting ass whoop could be squeezed into one little disc. Without a track list, I simply slid the CD into my car stereo and began listening. Immediately my ears were accosted by a power metal rendition of Dr. Robotnik’s theme from Sonic 2. Having been one of my favorite games, I instantly fell in love with what I heard. The volume was increased as I joyously identified each and every song that blared through the speakers.


The damage had been done, and the dust had settled. In the end, Powerglove stood triumphantly above all challengers. I then faithfully went online and purchased legitimate copies of the CDs and cherished receiving them in the mail. The video game music supremacy of Powerglove has only been strengthened after seeing them live and fully experiencing the magnitude of their shredding video game passion.

So that’s the story of how two worlds converged in a clashing collision of charm. Metal and video games, together in the form of Massachusetts band Powerglove. That same burned disc has been faithfully lodged inside of my car’s CD player for an entire year, and I don’t intend on removing it. Now when non-gamers hear the video game music blast, the looks of confusion have been exchanged for nods of approval… and devil horns.

[embed]133379:19532[/embed]   read

6:28 PM on 05.11.2009

Power Trip #6: Braid

This week’s power-up comes from a very unlikely protagonist. He’s as subtly gifted as he is short. The abilities he possesses aid him in warping the very fabric of reality to his beck and call. No pesky keys or trick ladders will stop him from piecing together the puzzle of his life and finding his princess. Caught in a world of obscurity and loneliness, the only constant he has is the power to defy consistence.

Billowing clouds drift across the blue, watercolor sky as Tim dashes across the lush green field. In the distance a cannon fires, so he quickens his pace. The silence is broken only by the fabric of his business suit rustling as he runs. The horizon suddenly yields to a perilous pit. Knowing spherical, iron doom is sailing through the air behind him, his decision is instant. Without breaking speed, Tim leaps into the air, extending his arms towards the opposing cliff. His arms do not make purchase, and he quickly plummets towards bottom of the crevasse. As he falls to his inevitable demise, the pursuing cannon ball harmlessly passes above.

Fiery, spiked death envelopes Tim, and his world is dark for one long second. Floating above time, he visualizes the actions that lead to this end. Quietly asking forgiveness for his errors, Tim is lifted from his harsh descent in the reverse. As mistakes are rewound, Tim and the cannon ball retrace their recent paths to a point of less chaos. The cannon ball slowly returns to its steel womb, and Tim’s feet once again settle onto the plush grass of the field. He hesitates before correcting the flow of time, taking a moment to brace himself for his next attempt of dozens.

This pit required dozens of trial and error efforts.

Jonathon Blow’s mysterious masterpiece, Braid, is a game not easily dismissed. The warm visuals and soothing music are enough to entice anyone to pick up the controller (or keyboard). Upon introducing itself to you, Braid suggests that it is merely an artsy platformer. Just as false familiarity begins to make you feel comfortable, the game throws you for a loop upon the first “death.” In Braid, nothing is permanent.

Everyone remembers their first encounter with death in Braid, and how uniquely empowering it was to effectively “un-do” the mistake. I believe Soulja Boy said it best. “I just went back in time. Throughout the whole game you just be goin’ back in time. Like, you about to die, you be like, ‘ooohhh!’ Shit I’m goin’ to die. …I psyched your ass out, bitch!” These profound words closely reflect the feelings I had when first experimenting with the time manipulation power.

Donkey Kong would have been a lot easier if Mario could have just frozen the barrels in time.

For many years our worth in platforming and gaming in general was numerically assessed via the “lives” system. To see Braid successfully shatter the concept of “game over,” and still manage to be an unbelievably fun platform/ puzzle game is nothing short of incredible. With the strict boundaries of “lives” eliminated, we are free to attempt unconventional solutions to the game’s puzzling situations. The powerful feeling of immortality is more significant in the humble Braid than it is with “god mode” activated in the blood smeared Doom.

Tim’s powers are not limited to simply altering the flow of time. He also possesses a ring imbued with the power to slow time, allowing him to localize the “slo mo.” This power aids Tim in slowing speeding bullets or tricky platforms, and conveniently fits into his coat pocket. Such power has not been seen in one little ring since Bilbo Baggins curiously toyed with one very important piece of jewelry.

Mastering Tim's shadow was a tricky process, but worth it.

Another power Tim acquired in his journey was that of summoning a doppelganger. Whenever he would do a particular set of actions, and then stop, Tim’s shadow would appear to repeat that same task to the point. Effectively controlling two protagonists greatly increased possibilities for puzzle solving. Even keys would leave shadow versions of themselves that could only be handled by Tim’s doppelganger, aiding our hero in unlocking doors along the way.

Braid offers us an ironic look at the design of traditional platform games. On one hand it throws very challenging puzzles and obstacles at us, but on the other hand it allows us an infallible cushion to closely examine every niche of the game. Fortunately for us, the power of time feels right at home in the palms of our hands.   read

2:46 PM on 05.05.2009

Game Pricing: A Matter of Cash for Content

I know you’re probably tired of hearing the word “recession” by now, so let me say instead that money is tight these days for lots of people. Restaurants are little less busy, shopping malls aren’t as packed, and finding value for a dollar is a constant quest. With frugality at a peak, what are gamers to do with an industry that doesn’t want to budge for their budget? Most games release at $60 a pop, so how can we be certain that we will receive sufficient bang for our buck? In a world where licensed action games and JRPGs aren’t created equal, there is a call for a balancing of cash and content.

You and your friend go to the local electronics store. Both of you have enough money to buy one brand new game each, because you skipped buying lunch with mom’s cash at school for a month. You both b-line for the video game aisles, and scrounge around for the perfect gem of a game. After about twenty minutes you meet your pal at the cash register. In your hands you clutch a brand new game based on your favorite comic book character ever. Your friend is fondly reading the back of a Japanese RPG.

You each go your own ways and start plugging away at your respective games. You grin in glee as you see your graphic novel idol fully rendered and tearing bad guys’ arms off. You’re sedentary on the couch for all of the afternoon long into the evening. Blood flows, one-liners are muttered, and the final boss is felled. You sigh in relief as you see the end credits roll. Glancing at the clock, you see you’ve only been playing for 7 hours. What? 60 bucks for 7 hours? There must be some unlockable multiplayer mode or something after the credits. You grimace as you discover only an alternate costume has been unlocked. Realizing you just paid $8.50 per hour to play a seven hour game, you suddenly wish you would have rented the game for the same rate.

Calling up your buddy, he asks you to hang on as soon as he picks up the phone. You hear swords clashing and monsters snarling in the background. After he gets back to you, he informs you that he hasn’t even beaten the first dungeon and he’s been playing since he got home. He says it’s going to take weeks. He also boasts that the game was only $40. He asks how far you are in the game. You mumble something profane and hang up.

“What the hell?” you ask yourself as you stare at the receipt in next to you. $60 for 7 hours? Sure your game may have been prettier, and it was for a current generation console, but who decides what costs what? Firing up your computer, you turn to the internet to vent your frustration.

Imagine how much angrier he'd be if he paid full price for all those games

This story is a common one. It may have even happened to you at some time. Paying full admission price for a game with bare bones content, no single player replayability, and broken or absent multiplayer stings hard. The issue is that some games can be beaten in 7 hours and offer you incentive to play them over and over, and others can take the same time commitment and go belly up after the credits. Why do both rich and meager games get the same price tag?

Obviously, asking developers to admit that their own game is inferior to another is ludicrous. Every programmer puts energy into their game and should be compensated, they would be crazy to offer their product for less than standard. However, every game that hits the shelves is play-tested. Why not survey the testers asking them what they would feel comfortable paying for a particular game? This would help the right games reach the right gamers. It would also offer incentive for more people to take a risk on an unknown game. Imagine how well Valkyria Chronicles would have done if it initially released at a lower price, tempting gamers into the unexplored territory.

How much money can developers possibly be making here?

You may be saying “wait Tim, RPGs and action games are entirely different, nobody wants to play God of War for over 60 hours.” To this I would reply, “don’t they?” God of War’s main game may have been less than many RPGs at around 20 hours, but many people enjoyed playing the game again or enduring the gauntlet mode. With that replay added in, an action game could easily come close to your average RPG, and therefore merits the full price tag. Did you play Resident Evil 4? How many times?

If game developers want to combat popular rental services like GameFly or second hand stores like GameStop, they need to accommodate the consumer’s wallet. A so-so selling game like Guitar Hero: Metallica would have sold more and have better reached its more niche audience if it hadn’t had the full $60 price tag.

Ultimately, I don’t think anyone would argue that games should be cheaper if they hold less value. DVD seasons of TV shows are more expensive than movies because they have much more content, why shouldn’t the same be with video games? We live in a world where Super Smash Bros. Brawl sits on a store shelf next to Sonic and the Black Knight, each priced at $49.99. Isn’t there something wrong with that?   read

2:04 PM on 04.30.2009

Power Trip #5: Metal Gear Solid

In what many call the first cinematic video game experience, Metal Gear Solid truly sets the mold for immersive gaming experiences to come. Combining an involved plot with white knuckles stealth action, you were truly made to feel like a pawn amongst the powerful. This peon like role was only exaggerated by the dire mission, in which you were surrounded by trained killers. One slip up and you were spotted, and that could mean certain death. That is, until one particular item turned the rules of engagement inside out.

As the genome solider slowly paces down the corridor, he wonders how he got stuck on patrol duty again. He also wonders how that Sasaki kid got prison cell guard duty, and how unfair it is he gets to watch the female inmate work out in her panties. On top of that injustice, somebody forgot to make more coffee this morning, and an intruder is rumored to have infiltrated the base via the air ducts. “Bullshit,” the soldier mutters to himself. Only the rats know how to navigate those frigid vents. The guard reaches the end of the hall, scopes the area, and turns on his heel to repeat the patrol route. “What the!?” he cries out loud as he sees a silenced pistol suspended in mid air. The firearm floats inches from his face for a moment, then zips out of his line of sight. Before he can turn around he feels a pair of strong arms envelope him in a sleeper hold, tightening like a boa constrictor around his neck. As consciousness fades from the genome solider, he notices he is being strangled by thin air.

It's common knowledge Frank Jaegar was batshit crazy. But he loved him some stealth

The stealth camo technology in Metal Gear Solid for the PSone was first demonstrated in full badass-ery by the Cyborg Ninja. Seeing the psychopathic, roboticized war veteran basically teleport around the screen for the first time truly memorable. Gray Fox even forced you to play a sadomasochistic game of hide and seek with him, turning on the stealth technology and hiding in Otacon’s lab.

If the Cyborg Ninja’s use of stealth technology was the epitome of awesome, then Otacon’s use of it was the culmination of cowardice. Snake’s long time scientist buddy would use the technology to sneak around the battlefield unseen, offering the hero impromptu support when he could manage the nerve.

Firing this bad boy up for the first time is unforgettable.

So it was that you were forced to play through Metal Gear Solid anticipating every movement of the enemy. Sure the game was sub-titled “Tactical Espionage Action,” but who didn’t want to try being invisible the whole game? Well, assuming you couldn’t hold out during the Ocelot’s torture minigame, you would receive the ending in which Ocatcon lives and Meryl dies. This meant unlocking the ultimate tool in sneaking technology, “stealth camo.”

The stealth item was equipped like any other non-weapon item in the game, such as night vision goggles. If the player equipped stealth and kept their firearm holstered, they could successfully do somersaults in front of their enemies without being noticed. No more hiding in boxes, and no more crawling under desks. Using stealth was the ultimate exercise in catharsis after painstakingly abiding by Metal Gear Solid’s sneaking premise.

Giving in never felt so good?

Even more fun than running up behind a genome solider unseen and breaking their neck, was playing mind games with them. Similar to the fun you had misleading the soldiers with your snowy shoe prints, you could use stealth to knock on walls inches away to confuse them. Even more, you could equip your pistol and run circles around soldiers, confusing them to no end.

Sure, using stealth made the game laughably easy, but you earned it. Stealth camo will go down in the franchise’s history as the first time we actually felt empowered in a game that strived to keep us down. If the world of Metal Gear could be so drastically tilted in your favor with this item, imagine what it could do for your world.   read

5:54 PM on 04.19.2009

Burying the Axe

The rhythm game genre is one that has been around for a long time. It existed in the forms of PaRappa the Rappa, Guitaroo Man, and Dance Dance Revolution long before anyone knew who Harmonix was. However, unless you were willing to import or get off your lazy ass and play DDR, many gamers’ exposure to these games was limited. That is, until November 2005, when the rhythm genre jumped into our hands and threw our favorite music at us. When Guitar Hero released it put rhythm games on everybody’s radar, but has the franchise grown with the core fan base, or abandoned them for the casual market?

When I first got my hands on that tiny plastic guitar, I remember thinking how ridiculous it was. At the time I played an actual guitar, and specialized in mastering meticulous metal tracks. I figured this game would be child’s play compared to the real deal. I was pleasantly surprised when the game challenged me in a way entirely separate from every other video game I had played.

Weeks passed as I climbed through the difficulty ranks. I wet my toes in Easy, waded up to my waist in Medium, then treaded water in Hard. I had years of playing along to my favorite songs on the actual guitar under my belt, but up until Guitar Hero the only thing holding me accountable for my rhythm and timing was myself. It turns out I wasn’t very strict.

As I dove off the deep end into Expert mode, I recall being amazed at how difficult the simplest songs became. Blistering solos and complicated chord progressions left my jaw agape at songs like “The Cowboys from Hell,” and “The Breaking Wheel.” The first time I went for the game’s jugular, and faced off against “Bark at the Moon” on Expert was especially memorable. This was a song I could play without any trouble on actual guitar, but failed repeatedly on Guitar Hero. However, instead of destroying my fake instrument for the real thing, I kept plugging way. After failing around the 97% mark time after time, I achieved the tangible triumph of “You Rock!” in exchange for my determination.

I'll never forget being burned by the "Bark at the Moon" riff for the first time.

The years kept coming and so did the entries in the Guitar Hero library. Guitar Hero II gave us challenging marvels like “Jordan,” and “Freebird,” to test our mettle on. Guitar Hero III also turned up the challenge with perhaps the most frustrating final tier of all. From “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” to “Through the Fire and Flame,” Guitar Hero III contains superiorly difficult songs. Beating that Dragonforce song is my life goal.

Shortly after Guitar Hero III was released, ex-Guitar Hero developer Harmonix released Rock Band. The casual-friendly game focused less on the challenge of playing music, and more on the experience of performing and having fun with friends. I enjoyed playing with friends, but still wasn’t convinced it was the “next” Guitar Hero. Something just didn’t feel right about the presentation and career mode. I patiently awaited Activision to release another game with the challenge that was featured in the third game. Time passed, and a few disappointing Guitar Hero III DLC songs later, Guitar Hero: World Tour was released.

World Tour may have gained a band, but it lost the definitive Guitar Hero “flavor.” The challenge was significantly reduced, the quality of songs was arguably poorer, and the career progression was awkwardly divided into disjointed setlists. Quantity is not always better than quality. The Guitar Hero team’s pathetic attempts at DLC were bandaged by song creation/ sharing. These fan made songs could be challenging and fun, but the lack of real polish kept them from attaining replayable greatness.

Song creation is cool, but doesn't fill the void in my soul

Was this it? Had the Guitar Hero brand sprinted after Rock Band in order to gain mass appeal? What about me? It was gamers like me that purchased the game in the first place, getting friends and friends’ friends infatuated with the game. We had practiced and become proficient at Expert, and were thirsting for something more. Instead of evolving with its core audience, Activision seemed to be taking backwards evolutionary steps, despite the addition of a full band.

It could be argued that the addition of drums and their steep difficulty compensates for the watered down guitar component. However, the core fans of the franchise have been rocking a plastic guitar since Guitar Hero first appeared. We cut our teeth on the artificial axe, so it’s unfair to assume we wish to derive all our challenge from synthetic skins.

Activision is abandoning the fans that made their game the success it is. Appealing to casual gamers with a Rock Band clone that ditches everything which made the Guitar Hero franchise “what it is” leaves us alienated and bereft. We have become proficient at playing the Fisherprice-like instrument, and we are becoming bored with the latest efforts. Guitar Hero started the night off right with making stiff drinks, and since has been watering them down. We need more to get the job done.

Guitar Junky would more appropriately describe my desire

Guitar Hero: Metallica is a step in the right direction. Expert + mode for drums offers a very specific challenge to a very specific group of gamers who enjoy laying down the beat. A handful of songs are quite challenging on Expert, and require some dedication to complete. However, the game fizzles out with anticlimactic ‘pop.’ This game is still World Tour at the roots.

Something needs to happen or the Guitar Hero name will stumble and burn in the fiery wake of Rock Band. Drop the band, Guitar Hero. You tried. Embrace the guitar as your strong point, and exploit it.   read

5:10 PM on 04.13.2009

Power Trip #4: Mega Man 3

In the early days of video games the number of ‘bits’ may have been low, but the challenge was high. Trial and error, twitch reflexes, and memorization were all necessary skills for conquering any cartridge. However, even the most punishing 8-bit titles would throw the player a bone from time to time to help slow the depletion of their health bar. This week’s power-up is the gaming equivalent to the cure for cancer, offering a hopeful future in a game that aims to break any gamer’s will.

A razor sharp metal spike cuts through the air and connects with your torso, sending you flying back in a flash of sparks. Your blue battle armor has deep gouges and dark scorching all over it, and the damage meter in your arm cannon is reading four measly bars remaining. Your pain sensors are screaming as the dead eyes of Needle Man’s stumpy face is forcing you to realize the futility of this situation. He’s the first Robot Master you were sent to assassinate, and he’s already killed you five times. Dr. Light says the teleportation machine can’t take any more use without exploding, so this it. As you recover from the volley of needles, a crack in your metallic breast plate reveals the forgotten contents of a storage compartment. A small, blue canister with a big bold E on it is barely visible through your fractured frame. A small smirk spreads on your face as you quickly slide out of the way of Needle Man’s bull rush and reach in and pull out the E-tank. Time seems to stop as you crack the seal and drain the contents into your mouth. The damage meter on your arm slowly replenishes, chirping loudly in approval of the newly regained stamina. As you level your arm cannon once again on Needle Man’s jumping form, his dead eyes respond with a flicker of fear.

Items and weapons have come and gone throughout the years in the Mega Man series. There are always new powers to acquire from Robot Bosses and new functionalities for Mega’s canine compatriot Rush. One very important item has been a mainstay in the series, however, and that’s the “E-Tank.” First appearing in Mega Man 2, the tiny blue canister has been like a refreshing oasis in the brutal desert that is the Mega Man universe. E-Tanks can be found tucked away on unreachable platforms or behind unbreakable barriers, and always require skill or a particular item in order to acquire. The effort it takes to procure them is well worth it, however.

You don't know what he had to do for that E-Tank. It's the reason he isn't smiling.

The Mega Man series has been known for its difficulty, boss fights in particular. The challenge of these bouts is exaggerated when you are ignorant to any given Robot Master’s weakness, and have to fight them cold with the mega buster. Usually knocking back one E-Tank just before the Blue Bomber goes “pe-kew-kew-kew-kew” will do the trick and allow you barely squeeze out a victory. Plus the tanks are practically a necessity when facing the menacing machinations of Dr. Wily at the end of each game, as the evil doctor is capable of forcing you to burn through several E-tanks if you don’t know his attack patterns or weaknesses.

This leads us to the main issue with E-Tanks, and a problem that every survivalist faces in their life. While collecting and hoarding such valuable gems is a must, the question of when a situation is dire enough to use them plagues Mega Man players. Sure, a rejuvenated health bar is great, but what happens if you still get crushed under the tremendous weight of a giant robot? Well, then you’re out an E-Tank and another life. This problem is amplified when in Wily’s fortress, as you then will either have to pull off an against-all-odds victory or restart and collect them all over again. When to pull the trigger on an E-Tank is almost as challenging as pulling off a no damage run in Mega Man 9.

This is how Mega Man copes with the spin-offs of the franchise.

Whether you glug down E-Tanks like Coca Cola or ration them like beef jerky during the zombie apocalypse, you’ll have to admit they are incredibly useful. Just don’t use too many or you’ll form a chemical dependency, and you don’t want to know what has to be done on the streets to get your fix.   read

6:21 PM on 04.06.2009

Review: Dishwasher: Dead Samurai

What’s worse than being buried behind stacks of dirty dishes for less than minimum wage and no respect? Try having your heart ripped out, being systematically hunted by zombie cyborg assassins, and your sister willfully becoming one of them. This is the plight of the nameless Dishwasher from SKA Studios latest game. The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai may have been the winner of Microsoft’s Dream-Build-Play game development contest in 2007, but does the finished product get the blood pumping or leave you checking for a pulse?

The graphical presentation of Dishwasher is striking and crisp. Watching the game in action is the visual equivalent of those “black, white, and red all over” jokes. The game has a smeared ink aesthetic which aids in adding personality to the otherwise lackluster character sprites. From the black puffs of teleportation smoke that trail across the screen to the bountiful geysers of bright red that splatter on your TV, Dishwasher boasts a graphical gusto that hasn’t been seen on Xbox Live Arcade since Braid or Castle Crashers.

Every encounter echoes the lawnmower scene from "Dead Alive"

The brush with which to paint this macabre masterpiece is an arsenal of conventional and improvised weaponry. A chainsaw, butcher’s cleavers, and scythes all populate your sub weapons arsenal, each with frenzied quick attacks and brutal strong attacks that can carry you through the game themselves. If you don’t feel like stringing kill combos together by hacking and slashing, you can take a break with the clever “arsenal” weapon, with which the light attack is an Uzi, and the strong attack is a sawed-off shotgun. While not very functional, the visceral velocity of a pointblank shotgun blast sending a baddie across the screen with a red ribbon flowing behind him is truly satisfying. The real star of the game’s armory is the “shift blade,” a samurai sword with teleportation properties, and your primary weapon. With the flick of an analog stick you can perform split second midair dashes for an infinite amount of time, leaving you nearly invulnerable to enemy attacks. After each enemy has sustained enough damage, a button icon will appear above their heads indicating they are ready to be “finished.” The brutal fatalities trigger the camera to zoom in and the background to turn crimson as enemies are dismembered and executed. The variety of abilities included in Dishwasher offers a sense of true empowerment usually reserved for the final bosses of most video games. Gameplay is smooth and responsive, but requires apt reflexes and a myriad of button presses.
The use of slow motion in this game is tastfully done. The gorey kind of tastful.

The finishing moves are done in slow motion, allowing you to savor the triumph

With all these tools at your disposal, you may be wondering how anything could possibly stand in the Dishwasher’s way? Well, even on normal difficulty, the enemies’ tenacity has been turned up to eleven. Just when you feel like you’ve become the ultimate badass and are fricasseeing cyborgs into bloody microchips, the challenge-o-meter gets cranked up and you’ll be profanely threatening the game’s existence. Expect some trial and error until you chisel out a combo that works for you. If you’re feeling especially sadomasochistic, ninja and samurai difficulties also await to draw deep from your well of patience. Some of the enemies (green eyed commandos in particular) are incredibly annoying in large numbers, spamming grenades and pounce attacks that can drain your health bar in a heart beat. While there are only a handful of different enemies, Dishwasher likes to throw over a dozen in a room with you at once, producing a chaotically cluttered screen that begs to be proliferated with your room clearing “dish magic.” For those that have trouble following intense bouts, searching for your character may be harder than spotting a raw meatball in a piranha tank, so be prepared. During the more intense fights you might find yourself throwing technique out the window in exchange for button mashing or move spamming, which unfortunately works more often than not. The addition of a block feature would have been useful, but mastering the teleport dodge of the shift blade will allow you to evade most attacks.

Dishwasher vs. MadWorld for "bloodiest of the year"

Whether you tackle the game’s single player “story mode” or choose to play co-op, the game will consist of entering rooms, killing enemies, and moving on to the next room. In the single player game you hack and slash through different levels such as a restaurant, cemetery, and skyscraper which are all tied together by comic strip story snippets. The story isn’t overwhelmingly unique, and it definitely won’t be what drives you through the game. What will motivate you is dodging and mincing waves of enemies to earn points spendable on weapons, health, and magic upgrades. You’ll spend a small amount of time traveling from room to room, and a door will inevitably seal shut behind you as trap. The only down side of this layout is that oftentimes engaging enemies without the locked doors in place will result in you accidentally exiting mid-battle with one faulty teleport.

The co-op mode consists of progressing through a list of single room brawls that feature unique battle conditions. With the vampire condition, you must kill enemies quickly to restore your ever-draining health, in quad damage there is 4x the damage, and in bullet time every enemy is slowed to a snail’s pace. The heart of co-op, however, is all about you and a pal slicing through as many grenade throwing, chainsaw wielding enemies as you can, either locally, online, or via system link. On some of the larger maps, co-op suffers from a character being needlessly cut-off by the screen, which could have been easily remedied by panning the camera out.

Somebody has seen "The Crow" a few too many times

However, if you feel like tackling story mode with a pal you are only a couple items away. One item found early in the game allows a second player to jump in as your shadow and aid in combat, sporting an identical arsenal. The other item allows for the incredibly original experience of a buddy firing up your trusty guitar peripheral and jamming away on it to do damage. The guitar sidekick is perfect for someone who wants to do more than watch the frenzied combat, but doesn’t have the skill to quite keep up with all the intense action. This same guitar peripheral can also be used to shred out Guitar Hero style minigames to earn “psycho picks” which are then used for upgrades.

Ultimately, Dishwasher: Dead Samurai feels like two fully realized games in one. Whether you decide to tackle the single or multiplayer mode, both will have you button mashing for around three hours, depending on trial and error. This isn’t even including the “challenge room” in which you slaughter enemies in the attempt to string together an epic combo within the time limit. Think you can get the achievement for a 100,000,000 point combo? This is the place to do it. Online leader boards are also in place to check your standing for every segment of the game.

"Dish Magic" is devastatingly useful for proliferating a roomful of enemies

For ten dollars, Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is a steal. Immediately after beating the game on normal mode you’ll be tempted to pack up your upgraded gear and head into the next difficulty full force, or call up a friend and try to aim high on the co-op leader boards. In all, Dishwasher is a game unlike any other on XBLA and is begging to be downloaded. It is a game that smelts your patience with its punishing difficulty, and tempers your will like the folded layers of your blood soaked samurai sword.

8.5 Presentation
The graphics are fresh in their intentional sloppiness, creating a unique high definition bloodbath. Enemy types are recycled, but contain enough personality. The settings lack much originality.
8 Gameplay
The controls are tight and responsive, but sometimes quicktime button presses aren’t as instant as they should be. Dodging is a bit too touchy, but otherwise the game controls just fine.
8 Sound
The music is done by Jon Silva’s own band, and sounds great with its hard edged rock/ traditional Japanese sound. The enemy sound bits are overused and lack variety, however.
7 Longevity
With two replayable game modes, a challenge mode, and online play this game boasts value not otherwise common in XBLA games of its ilk.
8 Overall
Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is one of the best deals on XBLA for $10, and they could have easily have gotten away with a higher price tag. The fact that this game was created by a single person is reason enough to take a look. Download the demo now if you don’t believe me!   read

4:27 PM on 03.26.2009

Power Trip #3: Guitar Hero

For this week’s Power Trip, I explore Guitar Hero in spirit of Guitar Hero: Metallica’s release this week. The first installment in the Guitar Hero series introduced the most powerful mind controlling technique in gaming since Psycho Mantis. The power up this week is so powerful that it can malevolently manipulate the internal workings of one’s mind, turning dissonance into sweet harmony, red to green, and condemnation into euphoric idolization.

This is it, the very first song of your very first paid gig. You know everyone came for the headlining band, and your band, “Unholy Creation,” is merely in the audience’s way. Your sweaty fingers tremble as they clutch the guitar pick. The guitar’s metallic strings seem to resist your plucking and prodding as you stumble through the introductory melody of Boston’s “More Than a Feeling.” The crowd of rampant Boston fans begin jeering and reaching into their pockets for rotten tomatoes. “Is it time?,” you quietly ask yourself. You swallow hard and, while playing, tilt your electric guitar vertically. The Miniature Gyroscopic Cogniscience Manipulation Apparatus slides into place and the magnetic contacts unite, sending a signal to the Tesla Dispersal Unit attached to the guitar’s amplifier. Blue bolts of electricity burst from the amps and snake through the booing crowd, penetrating their brains via the ear canal. Suddenly grimaces mutate into smiles, jeers turn to cheers, and the familiar melody of “More Than a Feelings”’s arpeggios wash over the audience’s ears, veiling the cacophony of twangy noises coming from your guitar. “This is how you’ll rise to the top,” you think to yourself as you grin wickedly.

The Star Power of Guitar Hero may seem like a benign and cheesy way to save yourself from completely blowing it during “Bark at the Moon,” but it exemplifies a power rarely seen in games. It not only slows your rate of fail, but with each note you hit correctly, the audience approval meter sky rockets. This is incredibly helpful for not only making it through bloated serpentine solos containing notes that crowd the fret board, but it also allows you to start the next section of the song in the green, giving you a cushion should you biff it again.

Even professional musicians rely on Star Power during live shows

As everyone surely knows, Start Power appears in the form of glowing notes that must be played sequentially without error. Accumulating enough of these “streaks” fills an energy meter that looks like something inside Doc’s DeLorean. Star Power is then activated by tilting the guitar vertically in order to simulate a rocker entering “super shred mode.” Obviously, tilting the guitar allows you to look much cooler, thus wowing the audience into an orgasmic stupor.

Guitar Hero may have polished and popularized the rhythm game genre that existed successfully in Japan years before, but it also borrowed elements from another genre- survival horror. Yes, survival is crucial in the higher tier songs of the game. Being eaten alive by songs like “Cowboys from Hell” had players hoarding Star Power like shotgun rounds in preparation for the apocalyptic guitar solos of Dimebag Darrell. Waiting until the last blistering moment as they teetered on the crimson brink of failure, gamers would spastically tilt their plastic instrument and unleash the fury of Star power to save them from mass ridicule and the infamous “You Suck!” screen.

This guy has the right idea... just before you bomb

Without Star Power, Guitar Hero would have been an incredibly difficult game on the higher difficulty levels. This, combined with the first game’s strict timing window and rigid hammer-on/ pull-off mechanic would have made the game much less user friendly, and could have ultimately doomed the series and future rhythm games.

Some say that Star Power is the western rhythm game developer’s “easy button,” and that it would have been better if the hardcore difficulty of Japanese rhythm games wasn’t watered down. However, I don’t know what I’d do without it. So here’s to Star Power! Mind washing virtual audiences into adoring us and convincing us we’re actually good at rhythm games since 2005!   read

2:41 PM on 03.22.2009

Previously, on...

If you’re anything like me you not only love playing games, but you also like completing them. After plugging hours of sleepless nights into an RPG or action game, it’s incredibly satisfying to bask in the soft glow of your television as the end credits roll. Sometimes, however, you’ll be 30 hours into a Final Fantasy game when something new and shiny distracts you from the epic quest you were on. After your fickle gaming side quest has been completed and you’re ready to pick up the unfinished JRPG again, however, it can be near impossible to reenter the state of mind you were in when you stopped. What can game developers do to make sure we see games through to their epic conclusion?

If there is one thing I’ve learned from watching episodic TV shows over the years, it’s that viewers have short memories. Even with shows that only have one cliffhanger ending episode per season, viewers need immediate reminders about the events that transpired. When you take into account shows like Lost, which have increasingly convoluted plots, dedication to summary sometimes can last over five minutes! Five minutes is a small price to pay, however, to be completely caught up to speed. The best television shows can summarize so well that you can begin watching any given show 3 seasons in and feel as knowledgeable as a fan since the pilot.

Where am I getting at with this? Well, as video games try harder to emulate cinema and existing media, their plotlines become thicker and more tangled than the Christmas lights in your attic. Games like Japanese RPGs and lengthy adventure games are especially guilty of having convoluted story lines, and could benefit greatly from a quick recap every time you load your game. Think about how many times you’ve had to restart a great game because you couldn’t remember what happened when you stopped playing? A great example for me is Final Fantasy 9. I think I left off somewhere on the 2nd disc with a hefty chunk of my life invested, and I know whenever I want to play it again I’ll have to start over. It’s not enough to read plot summaries in strategy guides to catch up, simply because they may leave something out and you may tread into spoiler town.

If Pokemon can do it, who can't?

I have found one shining example of recaps in gaming. One. The award for best “previously, on…” summary goes to the Pokémon Fire Red/ Leaf Green games. Each time you load up your save game, snapshots are presented in black and white that remind you of plot points, recently captured Pokémon, and even items you’ve purchased. Brilliant. If a Gameboy Advance game can do it so simply, what’s stopping the folks at Square Enix or even Capcom from slapping it on some of their longer games? It could be a selection in the options menu you could turn on and off, so as not to interfere with hardcore gamers that can burn through games like Persona 4 in a week.

Ultimately, we want to complete these games even if we don’t have enough vacation time saved up to conquer Final Fantasy XIII a week after it releases. There are tons of gamers that don’t complete games they’ve started, and I’m positive that this feature would help those fickle pickles finally complete what they’ve begun. Here’s to hoping we see our past in the future!

What do you folks think? Are there other games that succeed in doing this that I’m missing? How could this “previously, on…” recap be implemented best? Any particular games you would have killed to have this in?   read

9:32 PM on 03.12.2009

Power Trip#2: Resident Evil 2

In this week’s edition of Power Trip, I explore Resident Evil 2 just in time for Resident Evil 5’s upcoming release. Resident Evil may seem an obscure place to find an item that could power up the protagonist the level of near god hood, but one such enhancement exists in Resident Evil 2. In a city where 9mm ammunition is like gold and finding a little green shotgun shell box will make you wet your pants, the following item is practically the Holy Grail.

Wanton moans drown out Leon’s footsteps as he limps down the dimly lit hallway. Twelve 9mm rounds, one blue herb, and five shotgun shells. He knows these provisions will not suppress the half a dozen shambling corpses that he narrowly evaded. Somewhere between the sewage treatment facility and the factory Leon had taken a wrong turn, and now he’s facing a dead end, with the moans growing louder. Gripping his sawed off Remington shotgun firmly, Leon backs into the corner of the deadlocked corridor, slowly sliding to the ground in despair. That… thing that’s been stalking around the police station is getting stronger, and even this shotgun lacks the firepower to do more than agitate it. Next to Leon lay the corpse of a construction worker, sporting a self-inflicted headshot. The man’s firearm had since been dismantled, and all that lay near him are a reinforced gun stock and barrel extension. With shaking hands, Leon attaches the newfound upgrades to his own shotgun and slowly struggles to his feet, the powerful gun revitalizing his will. Sliding his remaining five shells into the chamber, Leon pumps the shotgun and leans back, aiming the deadly barrel at the rotting head of an incoming zombie.

This shotgun would give a Heavy from Team Fortress 2 an inadequacy complex

The shotgun parts in Resident Evil 2 are perhaps the most unassuming, seemingly random little trinkets you can pick up in the game. But when they are ‘combined’ with Leon’s existing Remington M870 shotgun, they birth a beastly Remington 1100 semi-automatic 12 gauge. Proving his manliness every step of the way, Leon refuses to shoulder the furious firearm, instead performing stylish hip-shots. The immense shotgun is about as big as the missile launchers you find at the end of every game. Similarly to the missile launchers, if you aim for a zombie’s head not only will it disintegrate upon pulling the trigger, but their arm, shoulder, and half of their torso will disappear in red mist. What’s more, if you blast a zombie’s midsection as it shuffles towards you, its torso will sickeningly slide off its still standing set of legs and crawl after you.

Makes Resident Evil 5 look tame in comparison

In the early Resident Evil games, ammo is a precious commodity where even the standard box of 9mm rounds will make you breathe a sigh of relief. That joy is far surpassed by the orgasmic bliss you feel when you find shotgun shells, and the upgraded shotgun increases their value ten fold. Not only does the Remington 1100 match the power of the series’ legendary magnum, but surpasses its effectiveness by achieving a punishing spread shot that allows you to down multiple enemies with a single shot.

Fap fap fap fap fap

The upgraded shotgun isn’t only limited to dismembering zombies, however, as super lickers, Mr.X and even g-virus infected William Birkin must all make bloody bows to this powerhouse. Blasting away bosses with this weapon will leave them withering piles of gore, and your magnum rounds will collect dust in your storage crate as you wonder why you ever lusted after them.

The Remington 1100 is a gem in Resident Evil 2, as it’s probably the strongest “ordinary” weapon available that only takes up one inventory space. Other weapons like the infinite gatling gun and rocket launcher may be more obviously devastating, but they’re inventory space hogs and for cheating.

Leon will blast down the 4th wall if you doubt the power of the Remington 1100

If you fail to see the Remington 1100 as anything but supreme, then when the zombie apocalypse rolls around I recommend trying out a bolt gun instead. Good luck with that.   read

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