So last month as some of you are aware there was a contest to win one of the "Solid Gold" limited editions of Persona 4: Golden. However this contest involved mimicking the dances in the new intro on the Vita release. Well seeing as how the Persona 4 is one of my favorite games of all time, and the fact that I have next to no shame when it comes to making an ass of myself, I thought: "Hey, might at well enter this and hopefully provide the people with some laughs."
Much to my pleasure, people legitimately thought it was hilarious. Which was the intention, trust me I did not enter this contest because I thought I was a good dancer, quite the opposite, my intention was to use my shamelessness to my advantage.
Well as time went on the competition got fierce, and the winner seemed an obvious choice. There were a lot of great and funny entries in addition to that one too.
I've never won anything in my life, let alone an online dance contest. It only costed me my dignity, but it was totally worth it, I didn't come down from that high for the next few days. Persona is a series very close to my heart and I feel this whole experience only made me love it even more.
(Larger image here, the little engrish note of the corgi money is great)
So this week my prize finally arrived, and I wanted to wait till I had the game in my possession to make this post. Just to thank Dale and Destructoid for hosting the contest, and the community for finding my trainwreck of a video humors, you are all awesome. Just a constant reminder to me of how great this website is.
*AHEM* I mean I wanted to Personally thank all of you, I beary much appreciate it!
I have been a gamer my entire life, or at least as long as I can recall. For years growing up I remember picking up copies of EGM or Gamepro and reading about industry events like E3 and wishing I could attend an event like that, but being a Canadian kid from the Yukon I was sure that would never happen. Well this past weekend, it finally did, I attended PAX 2012 in Seattle! It was quite the surreal experience for me, what with playing many yet to be released games, chatting with press and developers, and just the fact that I had finally made it to a big industry event.
(Outside of the convention center)
I played a lot of games at PAX this year, from Aliens: Colonial Marines to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the lines were always long but ultimately worth it every time. There were games what were surprisingly good, like God of War: Ascensionís multiplayer. Then there were games that were a little underwhelming like Playstation All Stars. For the most part though, the atmosphere PAX exuded always helped the game or demo regardless of the quality. There were several games that really stood out for me however, and I thought Iíd share them with you.
My top 5 Favorite games of the show:
5.) Natural Selection 2
This game really wasnít on my radar prior to PAX, I was a big Counter-strike 1.6 player in the early 2000ís and had heard of the original Natural Selection many times, but I never got around to actually playing it. I saw Total Biscutís video preview and that was about it, then at the show I gave it a try.
All I can say is WOW, this game is great, very much a thinking manís FPS. The thing that struck me the most was the level design, itís a very choke point originated game, more in line with Counter-Strike than Call of Duty in that regard. I only got to play as the Marines, but it was a very frantic experience, the aliens felt like they excelled at ambushes, as once they were within melee range they were quite difficult to fend off. However if you had some good range between you and the aliens they were far easier to deal with. Itís hard to break the game down after only having played it about 15 minutes, but it was fantastic.
I spent a good half hour chatting it up with the developers too, I was blown away when they told me the team working on the game was only 7 people. That and they created their own engine for the game, originally they were working with the Source engine but due to growing pains they decided to make their own. Great bunch of guys, I wish them the best of luck and hope the game is a big success.
Definitely keep an eye out for this one, as it honestly felt like a better ďAliensĒ game to me than Aliens: Colonial Marines.
4.) Tomb Raider
The Tomb Raider demo at PAX was the same demo shown at E3 earlier this year, a demo I had watched about 14 times already. Regardless of that, I gave it a shot myself, and if I were to summarize the experience with one word it would be Ďatmosphericí. The developers have really nailed the isolation aspect of the game, the whole demo had a very LOST season 1 vibe to it.
While the Uncharted influence is most certainly there, I feel the game did more than enough to distinguish itself from Naughty Dogís series. The survival element seemed to be the focus of the demo, as it had you hunting, gathering, and looking at various skill tree options.
Now Iíve never been a big fan of the Tomb Raider franchise, but Iíve had high hopes for this reboot ever since it was shown at E3 2011. I have no real idea how faithful it is to the series, there wasnít any real puzzle solving or platforming in the demo. All I know is I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it, canít wait for the full release.
I actually didnít get to play Dishonored on the show floor itself, but rather a party at the Stimson-Green Mansion in Seattle. Bethesda put together a Dishonored themed party that mimicked the demo they had brought. In the demo, you had to sneak into a masquerade at the Boyle mansion and assassinate one of the lady Boyle sisters, and at the actual party(In real life) they had various people dressed up as NPCís from the game and they had this whole ďmurder mysteryĒ thing going on. The people in costume would give you vague hints as to what you had to do to find the real lady Boyle, and where giving out prizes to whoever could solve the mystery. Unfortunately I got stuck at a portion that involved talking to a maid.
(One of the Lady Boyleís)
Oh the actual game, guess I better talk about that! I wasnít overly excited for Dishonored prior to PAX, but now itís near the top of my most anticipated list. The demo was absolutely glorious I adored it, from lavish art direction to the open gameplay. The game really does feel like the lovechild of Bioshock and Theif, and I think it will really scratch the itch for those that need something to tide them over till Bioshock Infinite comes out. One note I will make is this game is much more interesting if you play stealthily, going in guns blazing can be fun too, but it's not nearly as satisfying.
2.)DmC (Devil May Cry)
One of the most controversial reboots in gaming history is shaping up to be one hell of an action game. This was one title I was always cautiously optimistic about, I loved the first Devil May Cry, hated Devil May Cry 2, never got around to finishing Devil May Cry 3, and thought Devil May Cry 4 was just ok.
With DmC however, I feel Ninja Theory is onto something amazing, I had a big grin on my face the entire time I played the demo. Combat is probably more fluid than it ever has been in the series, and the art direction is simply astounding. The headset at the station I was playing the demo on unfortunately was not working, so I canít speak on the music or sound design, but from what my buddy that also tried the demo said itís fantastic.
This was the most shockingly good game of the entire convention for me, not because I didnít think it would be good, but more I just had no idea how fucking awesome it was going to be. Really canít wait to see the PC version of DmC, as the only thing I think the demo needed was that glorious 60 frames per second
If there was one theme at PAX Prime that seemed to echo throughout the convention, it was the idea that free to play games can be just engaging as full retail titles. From the League of Legends regionals being the seemingly single biggest draw at the convention, to Planetside 2 blowing peopleís minds with its scale and polish, the appeal of free to play has never seemed greater, and then of course there was Hawken. This gameÖ Oh boy did I love this game, I was amazingly hyped for this one and it delivered.
I played a single 8 player deathmatch and was immediately blown away, the game was absolutely gorgous and I still canít believe itís a free to play title. The mechs in the game have an incredible sense of weight and scale to them, but somehow the game maintains twitch styled mechanics, I have no idea how the developers pulled that off but itís quite a feat. I can tell the game is going to have a really high skill ceiling, and Iím fairly confident itíll probably be a big E-sport game if itís well supported.
When I played it, I got this awesome Hawken iphone 4 case for placing first in our game. Yup that was some blatant e-peen stroking right there, but I donít even care because it was such a great time. Words cannot describe how excited I am for this game, it was justÖ Amazing.
Well, those were the games I enjoyed the most, but as the blog title suggests, whereís the booze and PEOPLE FROM THE INTERNET? Well here you are my friends, all the photos with the Dtoid editors are from the Dtoid community meetup, in which I got stupidly drunk. I recall talking to various fellow Dtoid community members that evening, and I apologize if I came onto you that evening, I was an awestruck Canadian in a foreign land.
(Rocking a seriously terrible drunkface with Hamza)
(Donít know if any of you listened to GFW radio back in 2007/2008, but this gentleman is Jeff Green, formerly of 1UP, GFW magazine and now works at Popcap. The guy is the pinnacle of awesome)
(Tara Long and I, dear lord I wish I could slap myself for making that face lol)
(With Total Biscuit, he was at the Planetside 2 booth and is seriously a really nice guy)
Thatís it folks, all in all Iíd say it was an incredible trip, and Iím most certainly going again next year. If youíre at all interested in attending PAX, donít hesitate, just do it. You will not regret it, I promise.
Before I get into what I actually want to talk about, I'd like to give a brief background on my history with the Resident Evil series. I've been playing Resident Evil since the very first game on the PlayStation, all the way back in 1996. I've been with the series so long that I can actually say I eagerly awaited and bought Resident Evil: Directors Cut just so I could get my hands on the Resident Evil 2 demo disk. Another important note to bring up is while I adore the classic Resident Evil games, I also love Resident Evil 4. I have no real preference of one gameplay style over the other, I appreciate and enjoy both for different reasons, and both are represented in my top 10 favorite games of all time with Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4. The only reason I'm bringing this all up is to pre-counter the argument that Iím biased in any way shape or form towards the classic games, or that I just like to "hate" on anything new. Quite the opposite, I tend to always welcome change. Resident Evil is a series Iíve held dearly for many, many years, and Iíve always frothed at the mouth with excitement each time a new installment is announced, it never even occurred to me that there was any other reaction I could have.
Until I saw gameplay footage of Resident Evil 6 that is.
As it stands right now, Resident Evil 6 is looking really, really rough, in just about every way possible, and I know Iím not the only one that thinks so. The game looks to be the very definition of ďJack of all trades master of noneĒ with Capcom promising itíll appeal to fans both as action game and as horror game. That game design mentality is where practically all the problems people are having with Resident Evil 6 stem from. Itís an attempt to appeal to long-time fans of the series that prefer the slower, more methodical games (RE1,RE2, CVX, etc..) way of searching for a Helmet key, to unlock a door, so you can grab an emblem, to open another door, to fight a boss. While at the same time appealing to the newer fans that jumped onboard the series with Resident Evil 4, and prefer the more action heavy gameplay that game brought about. Now while there are exceptions to the rule, Horror and Action are two genres that couldnít be more different in tone and purpose, they rarely blend together without one genre just overpowering the other. The developers of Resident Evil 6 claim they can do both by simply creating multiple campaigns that will each have a different focus and feel to them. However when you compare Leonís campaign, which is supposed to be the ďhorrorĒ campaign with the other two campaigns, you start to wonder how many Capcom employees could actually keep a straight face when saying each campaign is much different from the other. To help illustrate my points, weíre going to look back on the history of the series and analyse not only what makes a good Resident Evil game, but what actually makes good horror in general.
A Look to Cinema: What Effective Horror Is
Now the following statement is probably going to upset some people, but it has to be said: The majority of what is classified as horror in film is shit, has always been shit, and will always be shit. Simply for the fact that the majority of horror movies entirely miss the point of the genre they claim to be a part of. There is unfortunately a huge distinction between something that is considered horror and something that is actually scary. Ask yourself some questions: When was the last time you heard of an adult that thinks an 80ís slasher series like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street were scary? Or how about someone that thinks the recently popular torture porn movies like Hostel and Saw were scary? I am willing to bet youíll be sitting there pondering those questions for a while, because the focus of most horror like that is to either create a body count, or to simply be grotesque and evoke feelings of disgust in the viewer; revulsion is not the same emotion as fear. Couple that with the fact that a lot of this kind of horror is usually ripe with unlikeable and annoying characters. Jason Voorhees isnít scary to most people because his victims tend to be idiotic, once you start routing for the villain then all of the fear and tension is out the window. This is more a problem with movies than it is games, but the point stands all the same: gore in and of itself is not scary, it can certainly be disturbing, but itís NOT scary, and a lot of people seem to forget that. The creators of this type of horror forget the most important things in creating an actual scary story: fear is generally a product of something we do not see, understand, and in fictions case something we can relate to in the real world.
(Image from ĎThe Exorcistí, 1973)
While the horror genre is overflowing with junk like I just mentioned, there are magnificent diamonds in the rough. Some examples of effective horror, as in horror that actually understands what the genre is supposed to be are: The Exorcist, Alien, Jaws, and The Blair Witch Project. Letís take a look at what set them apart from the rest. (I know I know, those are movies not videogames, bear with me Iíll bring it home)
The Exorcist played upon fears of the afterlife, the spiritual world, and the possibility that we as humans may indeed be held accountable for our actions after we die. It asked the question: Do you believe in the devil?
Jaws was a reminder that while human beings are at the top of the food chain, we are still very vulnerable animals in most environments, and can be easily be reminded of that in the presence of a great predator. Jaws terrified an entire generation to the point that many people to this day will not go swimming in the ocean.
The Blair Witch Project brought the horror out of the movie and into reality. With an extremely low budget, a lot of imagination, and brilliant viral marketing, it made audiences around the world ask themselves: Is this real?
Alien toyed with the idea of rape and physical violation in the worst way possible by manifesting those evil qualities into a physical life form, unclouded by conscience or remorse. It even turned the act of childbirth into something not only horrific, but made birth trauma something even men could relate to. It reveled in the possibility that finding life outside of our own planet could be nightmarish.
(Image from ĎAliení, 1979)
All of these films are considered landmarks in the genre, mostly due to the reception audiences had to each one, but what is their key to success? Itís quite simple, they played on real legitimate human fears that anyone can relate to: Be it faith, the ocean, rape, isolation, or simply being pursued. More importantly they all deal in one of the most important aspects of horror, and that is fear of the unknown. They donít reveal everything about themselves, and thereís a sense of mystery and ambiguity to each one. Their monsters spend more time hidden from the camera than on it, because the creators of these films understood that the viewer will fill in the gaps with their minds with something far more terrifying than anything a special effects studio could create.
Now youíre probably wondering what in the hell does any of this have to do with Resident Evil? The answer is these films are the type of horror that inspired the creators of the original Resident Evil. That sense of mystery, that element of the unknown, it was written into the DNA of what made the first Resident Evil game a hit. It probably didnít ask any real thought provoking questions of its audience, but the creator of the series, Shinji Mikami, like the creators of the films I just mentioned certainly understood what horror actually should be, which is applying real world fears to a piece of entertainment.
(Note: Yes, Iím well aware Resident Evil came out before Blair Witch, hence why I said Ďtypesí of horror)
Examining the Past: How Resident Evil Has Handled Horror Throughout its History
Most gamers and media tend to categorize the Resident Evil series in one way: the classic survival horror games and the newer games that are more action centric. Often not considering what sets each individual game apart from the other, more specifically not considering how each game tackles fear. In the beginning, each main entry in the series approached horror in a way that was fairly distinct from the game that came before it, or at the very least evolved or improved a concept that was already there. To help illustrate this point Iím going to look at a few entries in the series and discuss how they presented their own special take on horror. (Note: I said few, not all)
Resident Evil: Fear of the Unknown
Resident Evil was released in March of 1996 and opened the eyes of gamers and critics alike. It was the first game to really make people take a step back and realize videogames could be more than just fun, they could also be terrifying. No itís wasnít the first horror game ever created, but it was the first horror game with mainstream success. It took everything that was good about Alone in the Dark and improved on it in every way. Resident Evil was the game that helped create the survival horror genre, and set the quality standard for all that followed it.
How exactly did Resident Evil approach horror though, what were its keys to success? Well, Resident Evil followed the philosophy of telling the player as little as possible about the journey they were about to embark on. The back of the box said next to nothing, and the manual only gave small bios on the characters, not much of the story was given away. The opening cutscene also gave players very little plot details, but what was there was more than enough to entice and drag gamers into the world of Resident Evil.
The game took place in July of 1998 in the fictional Arklay Mountains, a forested area outside of an American Midwestern town called Raccoon City. Gamers had the choice of playing as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, two members of the Raccoon City Police departmentís S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) unit. The S.T.A.R.S. unit was divided into two teams: Alpha and Bravo team, and they were tasked with investigating a series of bizarre murder cases in Raccoon City. The Bravo Team was sent in to investigate the suspected hideout of the partyís responsible for the murders, and disappeared in the process. Shortly after the Bravo Teamís disappearance, the Alpha team was then sent in to look for their missing team mates. Once the Alpha team set down in the Arklay Mountains however, they were ambushed by a pack of hellish creatures. The teamís vehicle specialist, Joseph Frost, was killed in the ambush, and the rest of them tried to flee back to their helicopter, only to find that their team mate and pilot Brad ďChickenheartĒ Vickers had abandoned them. Desperately trying to escape the pack of hell beasts chasing them, they found themselves running into a mansion in the middle of the forest. Out of the 6 members of Alpha team, only Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, and Albert Wesker made it to the mansion. (Note: It can also be Jill, Barry, and Wesker that make it to the mansion if you choose to play as Jill rather than Chris)
This was all gamers were given to go on, you were stuck in a mansion in the middle of nowhere, and dared not go back outside for fear of whatever just tore apart one of your comrades might do the same to you. Although you discovered quickly this mysterious mansion wasnít much safer. As the place was littered with locked doors, very difficult puzzles, and was crawling with all sorts of undead monsters. Escape seemed near impossible, top it all off with one of your comrades going missing during the dash towards the seemingly safe mansion, and you had a game that oozed mystery and suspense. It was even reflected in how the game played and what the developers expected of the player. As this was the first time most gamers were introduced to the now infamous tank controls, and this was back in the days when there was not an ingame tutorial for everything. So not only was the situation for the characters within the game very grim, but gamers faced a similarly grim task of how to even play the game properly, they didnít even tell us how to save! Sure you could look in the manual for help on how to use the controls and whatnot, but what kind of wimp does that!?! (Fun Fact: I spent days playing the game without ever knowing you could actually run! But I was a kid so give me a break)
That is what Resident Evil excelled in; creating a frightening and mysterious scenario that told you next to nothing in the beginning, other than why you were there. Gamers had no idea what they were dealing with, for all we knew the monsters were all a result of something supernatural. Much of the plot and backstory wasnít even told to you directly in a cutscene, you had to wonder this mansion digging up old flies and journals to discover the truth. In order to find out what happened to your team mates, what the cause of the monsters were and what the mansion itself wasÖYou had to press on, and go further and further into the world of survival horror. Resident Evil had some special qualities that made it a good piece of horror, and that was the fear of isolation and of the unknown. You knowÖ something relatable!
Resident Evil 2: Fear in Loss
ďI'm not letting anyone leave my town! Everyone's gonna die!Ē
Resident Evil 2 came out in January of 1998 to sky high expectations, gamers were clamoring for the king of survival horror to return. While in the storyline Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 were only a couple of months apart, gamers had to wait 2 years for a new game. In a production and budget sense, the game was a big step up from its predecessor. Environments were much more lavish and detailed; they did away with the silly live action FMV sequences in favor of gorgeous CG animation for the cutscenes, and the graphics and art direction were leaps and bounds better. So basically it was youíre a-typical videogame sequel, it was much improved in a technical sense and stayed true to the gameplay formula.
However much of what was scary about the original Resident Evil game could not be replicated well in a sequel if you had already played the first game. We already knew that it would have to do with the Umbrella Corporation and the T-virus (ZOMG SPOILERZ!), and we knew all the monsters would be the result of bioweapon creation and the mishandling of such. Regardless of that the developers tried to replicate that feeling of isolation and mystery the first game had. However the game also had its own distinct reoccurring themes and ideas that were barely touched on in the first game.
Resident Evil 2 took place in September of 1998, only two months after the events of Resident Evil. Players had the choice of playing as either Leon S. Kennedy, a rookie cop that just joined the Raccoon City Police department, or Claire Redfield, younger sister of Chris Redfield from the first game. This time around though, the two characters stories intertwined and directly affected the other, in fact in order to see the gameís true ending(s) you had to beat the game as both Leon and Claire. The game opened with both Leon and Claire entering Raccoon City, Leon was on route to start his first day of work with the RPD, while Claire came into town looking for her brother Chris who she had lost contact with. However after both shortly arrived in town, they discovered something was very, very wrong.
Like the first game, Resident Evil 2 followed the philosophy of telling the player very little, not to the degree of the first game though. As even if you did not play the first game, they recapped the events of Resident Evil before you started a new game in Resident Evil 2. In that regard, Resident Evil 2 was not as effective as the first game. Yes we didnít initially know how Raccoon City fell into chaos, but like I already said we knew it had to do with Umbrella and the T-virus. To compensate for this however, Resident Evil 2 added a new element of horror, the fear of losing a loved one.
(Leon and Claire)
Early on in the game, both Leon and Claire encounter characters specific to their campaigns. In Leonís, he meets a woman named Ada Wong, and in Claireís, she finds a young girl named Sherry Birkin. In both cases thereís an attachment the characters form with each other, in Leon and Adaís case itís a romantic interest, and in Claireís and Sherryís case, itís a sort of maternal bond. These attachments add an element that really wasnít seen in the first game, because now it wasnít just a matter of escaping the hellish scenario, it was a matter of escaping the hellish scenario with the people the characters cared about. Most of Leonís and Claireís actions in the game were driven to simply protect the oneís they came to care about, and it even impacted the gameplay, as both Ada and Sherry could die, yes thatís right, even the little girl could die. (Granted it was only in the gameplay and not the cannon story, IE: a zombie could kill Ada or Sherry)
If there was one theme that set Resident Evil 2 apart from the first game, it was the sense of overwhelming loss surrounding the game. Claire came to town looking for her brother, only to find that he wasnít there, and is still missing. Sherry loses both her parents to the disaster, becoming an orphan, and Leon meets and loses the love of his life in a matter of hours. Not to mention the entire city of Raccoon had become a wasteland, as thousands of civilians either lost their lives or became one of the walking dead. Now, thereís quite an argument to be had as to whether the developers intentionally added the element of ďthe death of a loved oneĒ, and thereís an even bigger argument as to whether or not the fear of losing a loved one is actually scary, or rather if itís scary in the survival horror sense. There are very few things in this world that everyone can identify with, but losing a loved one is certainly one of them.
Resident Evil 2 remains the highest selling game in the franchise on a single platform, with a total of 4.96 million copies sold on the Playstation. With the franchise now a mega hit, Capcom decided to strike while the iron was still hot.
Resident Evil 3: Fear of Being Hunted.
ďHeís after S.T.A.R.S. members, thereís no escape!Ē
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was released in September of 1999, only a year and a half after the release of Resident Evil 2. The game changed much of what players were used to about the formula, and improved on a specific concept introduced in Resident Evil 2 by a large margin. In Resident Evil 2 during a ďB scenarioĒ (basically a new game plus), a creature called Mr. X was introduced, and the concept behind this monster was he hunted the player throughout the rest of that playthrough.
(Mr. X as seen in Operation Raccoon City)
However Mr. X himself often felt like a bit of an afterthought, Mr. X was slow, couldnít follow you once you went in another room in most instances, and was fairly easy to defeat more often than not when encountered. I have always had a hunch that Capcom and the development team were not that satisfied with how Mr. X turned out, and decided they would take this concept of a ďstalkerĒ and made it the focus of Resident Evil 3. As a result, gamers were introduced to one of the greatest videogame villains of all time, Nemesis.
In Resident Evil 3, gamers assumed control of Jill Valentine, one of the S.T.A.R.S. members from the first game. This time around there was no option of who to play as; Jill was the only playable character. The game was also not really a sequel to Resident Evil 2, as it took place before, during, and after the events of Resident Evil 2. Once again gamers were back in Raccoon City, only this game would chronicle Jill Valentineís escape from the city. However the Umbrella Corporation used the tragedy of Raccoon City as a tool to eliminate the remaining S.T.A.R.S. members before they could escape, deploying one of their deadliest Bio Organic Weapons, The Nemesis. (NOTE: Umbrella wanted the remaining S.T.A.R.S. members dead because after the events of the first game S.T.A.R.S. were mounting an investigation against Umbrella)
Drawing clear inspiration from films like Halloween and The Terminator, Nemesis was a massive, unrelenting and uncompromising foe, whoís only intention was to see that all S.T.A.R.S. members were dead. Unlike Mr. X, you never got the feeling you were ever truly safe from Nemesis. Nemesis could run, chase you through multiple areas, pick you up and throw you, beat the ever loving piss out of you, face rape you with his tentacles, and shoot you with his rocket launcher. There was also a tad bit of inspiration from the movie JAWS, where in the movie the arrival of the shark was usually marked with the legendary Jaws theme, and in Resident Evil 3, this song usually reminded us that Nemesis was nearby.
(Nemesis about to have himself a Jill Sandwich)
Nemesis had a ďforce of natureĒ quality to him, as he was so intimidating that his arrival often felt like the end was nigh. Most people on their first playthroughs try desperately to avoid confrontations with Nemesis, as it takes an enormous amount of ammunition to even just disable him, and you have to remember this is a survival horror game, so burning through ammo to temporarily disable Nemesis might not pay off. If you did manage to down him, there was a great sense of relief and accomplishment; you were even rewarded with new weapons and other goodies. You had to enjoy that moment of solace while you could, because before long Nemesis would be back up and after you again.
The tension and dread felt throughout Resident Evil 3 had a very primal quality to it. The feeling gamers had of being stalked by this monster was probably very similar to what many of our ancestors felt when being hunted by a lion. At least thatís what I think Capcom were going for, and I believe they succeeded.
Resident Evil 4: Return to the Unknown
ďHeís not a zombieÖĒ
As the series progressed over the years, much of the gameplay formula established in Resident Evil was polished and improved upon to the point that it became very difficult to do anything new gameplay wise with the series. The last game in the series to feature the ďclassicĒ gameplay style was 2002ís Resident Evil Zero, and while it was generally well received by critics, it angered a lot of fans for a variety of reasons. It was clear that the developers were struggling to keep people interested with the existing formula, and as such they tried something completely different.
Resident Evil 4 was released in January of 2005 to much fan speculation and concern, me included. We hadnít had a new entry in the main series in nearly 3 years, and everything about this game seemed like a betrayal of everything we had come to love. There were no zombies, entirely different gameplay, no viruses, and Umbrella was not defeated by us in a big grand and glorious finale that we had hoped; they simply went belly up in the stock market. Instead, series creator Shinji Mikami was back at the helm, and wanted to bring back the sense of mystery the permeated the first game. We were once again going to enter the world of survival horror, and for the first time in nearly 10 years, we had no idea what we were dealing with.
Resident Evil 4 was not only the return of the franchise; it also featured the return of one of Resident Evilís most beloved protagonists Leon S. Kennedy. Who since the events of Resident Evil 2 had become an agent for the US government, and was charged with protecting the presidentís family. Ashley Graham, the presidentís daughter, had been kidnapped and was being held somewhere in Spain. Once Leon arrived in the area where it was suspected Ashley was being held all hell broke loose. The local villagers killed two policemen escorting Leon, and looked to do the same to him.
(Leon fending off villagers)
As you can tell, plot details were even sparser this time around then they ever had been. All we knew was Ashley was missing, Umbrella was not involved, and these villagers wanted separate Leonís head from his body. The similarities between the original Resident Evil and Resident Evil 4 are not as minimal as a lot of fans would claim, as much like the Mansion incident, we had no real idea what was going on here initially. Only that we were placed in a hostile environment with no real means of escape. You can tell that Shinji Mikami is a big supporter of telling the player as little as possible to enhance the mystery and the actual horror experience. Once again, the unknown was a big proponent in the fear being presented.
If I were to choose one way to describe Resident Evil 4, it would be a frantic experience. The entire game felt like you were being swarmed in a never ending pursuit. Not like Nemesis, no, this was more like a school of piranha was after you. The Ganados(villagers) were always looking to surround you and even when you barricaded yourself in a building, they were searching for ways to get in. Be it they crash through windows, use ladders and tools to find other ways in, or just have the chainsaw Ganados burst their way in. The funny thing about the Ganados is while they replaced zombies as the mainstay enemy type of the game, were emphasized by Shinji Mikami and Capcom that they were NOT zombies, and are often hated on by fans for simply not being zombies. They actually often felt like a better homage to old zombie movies like Night of The Living Dead than the actual zombies in the earlier Resident Evil games ever did! The infamous ďcabin fightĒ sequence illustrates this quite well.
(Leon as he appears in Resident Evil 4)
Resident Evil 4 was a mixed blessing for the franchise and the fans. On one hand it has become one of the most influential and highest rated videogames of all time, and brought back that important element of the unknown that had been missing for so long. On the other, many fans felt it was still a betrayal of the series they came to know and love. I myself am part of the rare camp of old school Resident Evil fans that really embraced and loved it. However there is no denying that the game did strip away a lot of the horror, and was a far more action oriented game than anything the series had seen prior. Unfortunately for the survival horror genre, franchise would only head further and further into the action direction.
The Dissolution of Horror
Resident Evil 5 came and went rather quickly, and didnít leave a real lasting impression on anyone; be it Resident Evil fans, critics, or just gamers in general. There were many reasons for this, but I feel a large portion of the ďho-humĒ reception was due to a lack of focus. Resident Evil 5 tried to be too much for one game, it tried to appeal to old school Resident Evil fans by returning to the previous storyline involving Wesker and Umbrella, it tried to appeal to the xbox live generation of gamers with its online co-op, it tried to appeal to the competitive multiplayer audience with its online multiplayer, all while at the same time trying to live up to expectations everyone had for it being the follow up to Resident Evil 4. There was one complaint that everyone seemed to have that was loud and clear, and that was the utter lack of anything even resembling horror.
For a time, it seemed as though Capcom not only listened to that complaint, but actually kept it in mind for future Resident Evil projects. The Lost in Nightmares DLC for Resident Evil 5 was a great homage to the original game, and Resident Evil: Revelations on the Nintendo 3DS was arguably the return of true survival horror gameplay to the franchise. For a time, things were looking quite up, and when the first trailer and information on Resident Evil 6 surfaced, I was very excited. However once I saw actual extended gameplay videos of Resident Evil 6, my hopes that it would have a greater emphasis on horror than Resident Evil 5 quickly diminished.
Resident Evil 6 looks to be making the exact same mistakes that Resident Evil 5 did, but to an even more ridiculous level. There is a much greater emphasis on action gameplay and online components than there was in even Resident Evil 5, and the lack of focus is more prevalent than ever. The game is trying to appeal to nearly every demographic. More importantly; the promised horror campaign looks to be incredibly shallow. Letís take a closer look at Leonís campaign, and see just how much actual horror is in this game.
(Keep in mind everything Iím about to talk about is speculation and comes from watching videos, as I donít have any access to the recently released demo)
Leonís section of the recent demo is undoubtedly a much slower pace at first glance than either Chrisís or Jakeís, as this is the proposed ďhorror campaignĒ. Thereís a lot of excellent lighting work that does give it short of a Raccoon City Police station vibe from Resident Evil 2, and thereís even some great music that adds to the mood. However, thatís where the compliments for Leonís demo end from me. Right away, despite this being the ďhorror campaignĒ you can see the gameís utter lack of faith in that commitment. First thereís an on screen prompt that tells you exactly where you need to go (which at least can be turned off), then thereís a navigation system you can use that illuminates the environment and tells you yet again exactly where to go. Both of these seem rather trivial given the game appears to be linear to the point that you canít really get lost at all. Itís the same Call of Duty esq level design seen in Chrisís and Jakeís campaigns. How exactly does one get lost if they are being funnelled through a straw? Thereís certainly nothing scary about it, thatís for sure.
Then thereís the portion when Leon comes in contact with a survivor that needs help finding his daughter. This was taking the linearity and hand holding to an absurd fucking level. As if the on screen indicators and the navigation system werenít enough, now the survivor escorts Leon around the environment, thatís right, the NPC is escorting the player around. Capcom clearly thinks most escort missions arenít bad enough. Now we are the ones being escorted.
Finally, the demo ends on a battle with zombies, and while it is great to see zombies make their return in a Resident Evil game after being away for so long, any sort of tension associated with this encounter seems to fade rather quickly, as Iíve read many impressions that said the combat system enables you to easily defeat them. You donít even need to use your firearms, the melee system seems to be way overpowered and you can just mow through them. It is possible that this short demo was more of a tutorial section meant to get players accustomed to the game and get a grasp on the Ďhorror gameplayí in Leonís campaign. I have my doubts however that this will even remain a ďhorror campaignĒ for long, just look at the E3 demo Capcom was showing. It was just like Chrisís and Jakeís Campaigns with the over the top Michael Bay inspired action.
As for the other demoís, Chrisís just looks like a sloppy 3rd person version of Call of Duty, it really didnít do anything for me when I watched it, other than highlight how awkward the camera is positioned in this game once you take aim. Jakeís campaign was uneventful as well, the new CQC system seems at least a bit inventive, but I have no idea how well it works in practice. Itís also obvious that the new ďUstanakĒ creature is meant to cater to old school fans nostalgia, as heís very reminiscent of Nemesis in both appearance and how he chases the player around the environment.
I fully acknowledge that I have not yet been able to play Resident Evil 6 myself yet, but I canít help but feel like itís so distant from anything resembling Resident Evil that I have a hard time even recognizing it as a Resident Evil game. Things like the bone crushing linearity ruin any real potential this game had at a creepy atmosphere, not to mention the notion that Leonís section is horror is completely disingenuous. Having monsters, gore, and a dark room here and there should not automatically classify your game as such. Although Capcom and many other publishers/developers seem to think so, and itís a lot like what I mentioned earlier about most horror movies being shit for not understanding the genre they claim to be a part of, videogames are heading down that same path. This whole notion of blending horror and action is a total farce because ďactionĒ is all about ultimate empowerment, while ďhorrorĒ is all about disempowerment. From what I can tell of Resident Evil 6, the horror is just being overpowered by the action.
On a final note, I feel itís important to address people in the gaming community that are insisting that Resident Evil fans need to just accept the fact that it is no longer survival horror. While itís true that Resident Evil has been heading down this path for a while now, and Capcom have made their intentions clear. The notion that we have to ďget over itĒ is a load of shit. If you are reading this blog, chances are you are a person that is very passionate about videogames, and chances are you also have a specific videogame series that helped define you as a gamer. Now imagine if that series you loved was turned into something that completely goes against what you liked about that series in the first place. Can you imagine what the reaction would be if Valve finally showed off the next Half-Life and it was just another Call of duty clone? The internet would turn into a fucking sea of rage, and no one would be saying ďget over itĒ. Just because you do not have the same affinity for a game or series as others does not make their concerns any less valid.
For me, if I were to say what series helped define me as a gamer, that series would be Resident Evil. I grew up with it and it was pivotal in what Iíve come to like in videogames. It was the series that created survival horror, and throughout much of its history addressed many different kinds of fears people have. It could be continuing that tradition, but when horror is not even the central focus I have my doubts. Now it is just becoming another 3rd person shooter, and most of what fans originally loved about Resident Evil is long gone. I will of course withhold my final judgement of Resident Evil 6 until after I play it, but even if it is a good game, it is still the departure nobody asked for.
If youíve managed to make it to the end of this blog I thank you, and hope it was interesting for you. While you ponder all of what you just read, may I offer The Ultimate Bio Weapon Melody as your background soundtrack, itís an arrangement of fully orchestrated music from Resident Evil 2. No real reason for this, I just love it is all :)
I've been a fan and follower of Destructoid for many years now, but I never really interacted with the community all that much. No specific reason for this, I just never signed up.
I've always has a big passion for gaming, ever since my mom got me a used Super Nintendo at a garage sale when I was a kid. I'm more of a PC gamer than anything these days, but I do love my Playstation 3 as well.
Right now, I've got a big write up on the Resident Evil franchise, more specifically how Resident Evil has approached horror over the years. I'm looking to post it soon, and once it's done I'm having my buddy that's a creative writing major help me polish out the kinks. It's about 5145 words right now, and probably more around the 6000 word mark once it's finished, is that too big for a blog post? Guess I'll find out, I hope it's interesting for you folks.
Hey I mentioned that I was from the Yukon didn't I? It's known for being a really scenic place, so here's a picture I took a music festival here recently!
As I'm sure many of you out there are plenty well aware, gamers can be an angry bunch, certain communities more so than others. League of Legends, Counter-Strike, DOTA, and the entirety of Xbox live are generally a couple examples of the worst in gaming, but I believe there's one fanbase that's right up their with the rest of these classy people: The Silent Hill community.
A couple months ago I made a video addressing some of the more overly negative Silent Hill fans, and uploaded it onto Youtube to to a decent response, a lot of the less doomy and gloomy fans enjoyed it quite a bit. It was featured on quite a few Silent Hill fansites like Silent Hill Historical Society and Inner Fear. Tomm Hulett, the current producer of the Silent Hill series sent me an email thanking me for making it, Tom Waltz who writes a lot of the Silent Hill comics loved it as well.
I had no intention of sharing it on Destructoid or anywhere else really, but I figured I should have, as it took some time. so here it is: