The old argument that Resident Evil 4 bore was brought up again with the impending release of the fifth instalment. Some say Capcom should have stuck with the old controls and others talk of such things as remaking RE2 with the new controls. Now I'm here to tell you why you're all wrong, but also right, and why Resident Evil is a great example on how to make a fantastic game series.
July 24 1998
Mysterious murders have occurred around the Raccoon Forest area. After alpha team's disappearance, bravo were sent in to investigate and recover their missing comrades.
And so the nightmare begins.
As you walk the narrow halls of the mansion, discovering the mysterious horrors that lay within you are constantly followed by a feeling of trepidation; What could be round the next corner? What was that shuffling noise? What has transpired here?
Continuing on you learn there is still plenty of room left in hell, enough for whoever has done this. The Umbrella Corporation, a supposed pharmaceutical firm, have been experimenting with a new virus in an attempt to create bio-weapons. But what exactly are their plans? It's not the time, all the matters is escaping this place, and stopping whatever is going on here in the process.
September 29, 1998
You find yourself amidst a city overrun with the undead. Thinking on your feet, you hurry past the festering monsters to the first safe place that comes to mind; The police station. But in your haste you didn't think of the nightmare you would enter.
The open city was horrific, but as you calm yourself in the cold silence you realise the closed space of the indoors just brought a different kind of horror. Once again you are forced to navigate the dark corridors of the Raccoon City buildings. What kind of sadistic architect built these places? I guess he didn't plan for the dead to rise. You discover that Umbrella has controlled the city all this time and their little experiment has broken out amongst it's population. Much more information lay before you but they're like puzzle pieces, some of them fit, others do not. Anyway, what you came looking for is not here so now what's important is escaping this forsaken dump.
Three months pass.
You awaken in a prison cell as a figure shuffles towards the bars. The door is unlocked and you realise it's a man.
You learn you're in a military complex and that everything has gone to hell. As you step outside something grabs you. You quickly turn to recognise a familiar horror. You recoil with shock and fall to the floor. Another hand grabs your ankle, and another, and another. You're surrounded! Scrambling to your feet you make a mad dash to anywhere but here. You lower your guard for a split second only to be fired at. Finding yourself off your feet again you scurry to safety, narrowly dodging the bullets. Yet again you must navigate this nightmare, driven by the hunt for Umbrella's secrets, and your brother.
The president's daughter has been kidnapped! Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president's daughter? He seems to think so and you're sent to a village somewhere in the Spanish countryside to recover her and investigate the people responsible. After being attacked by one of the inhabitants and finding your fellow officers gruesomely murdered by the others you know the locals definitely aren't friendly.
Attacking you with speed, dexterity and great numbers you frantically struggle for your own survival. They run at you from all directions, with weapons in hand and murderous intent in mind. You panic, “These aren't the shambling corpses I'm used to fighting!”
While Umbrella may have been liquidated, you soon find out their ideals live on, this time in a man named Osmund Saddler who wants to bring about a new world order using a prehistoric parasite to create a race obedient of humans. This has gone way beyond simple arms dealing, this has become a global threat. With communications down it's left to you and you alone, to save mankind...
In both RE and RE2 the player knew little about what was going on. The play style suited this mysterious feel and the scale in which it was set. But as the events moved forward so did the gameplay. Veronica increased the action and scale of events. With more open areas and a dynamic camera it changed the mood of the game. At the end of Veronica Chris vows to finally take down umbrella once and for all but the pieces weren't fully together yet. Enter RE4.
You rarely walked down a narrow corridor and were frequently mobbed by “zombies.” We were already familiar with the living dead by now and since the location had changed there was less mystery, at least from a gameplay perspective. The mood of the game had drastically changed and so had the play style. The pieces were fitting together and the tension was rising. At the end Ada captures a plagas sample for Wesker and we could all guess his intentions. The stage is set for the grand finale and so we make it to RE5.
Another complaint people had with RE5 was the forced co-op. While I found it irritating at times, I can see it as another logical progression for the series. Resident Evil has always been about partners; Chris and Jill, Rebecca and Billy, Leon and Claire, Claire and Steve, Leon and Ashley, Chris and Sheva/Jill. Capcom explored different ways of portraying these partnerships in nearly every game.
To me the gameplay is just like a writing style, as the narrative has changed the gameplay has changed to suit it. We each have our preferences but no matter how much we hope for them to last forever, all things come to an end.
And that's what I took away from Shinji Mikami's Resident Evil. What do you guys think? Does anyone feel the same?
Consolevania series 4 is out now! It's been going for a while now and I never realised. If you know what I'm talking about then you're as excited as I am. If you have no idea what I'm on about then you've been missing out.
Consolevania, also known as Videogaiden, is a regular gaming show by two crazed scotsmen. It started out on the internet, eventually getting a deal with BBC Scotland. Now it's back on the intertubes with a new approach. It instantly brings back wonderful memories of Gamesmaster and some of the episodes even feature, the man himself, Domonic Diamond.
Jim's post got me thinking about the future of gaming and a little theory I discovered a while ago called Telescopic evolution.
Telescopic evolution, also known as Period-Information Doubling (although the latter sounds much cooler), is a concept that human advancement doubles at increasingly short times; so much so that we may one day be able to see society drastically change, perhaps multiple times, within a single lifetime.
So, while this conjures up many different grand philosophical questions and discussions, I aim to address a much more crucial matter; How will this effect gaming and, more importantly, consoles?
Looking back just 10 years, at the N64 and Playstation, we can see how much has changed just graphically. As graphics evovle and with the rate at which technology advances, we may well see real life graphics within our lives. If we really do reach that pinnacle, what then? Where do we go from there? Nintendo have already given us a hint of a possible future in different interaction methods. But before I go off fantasising about virtual reality and the PS9 I have to ask; will we even get that far?
Are consoles doomed?
First, some background on the theory. I'll let Alan Moore describe it:
Transcription: "If we take one period of human information as being the time between the invention of the first hand axe, say around 50 000 BC and 1 AD, then this is one period of human information and we can measure it by how many human inventions we came up with in that time. Then we see how long it takes for us to have twice as many inventions. This means that human information has doubled.
As it turns out, after the first 50 000 year period, the second period is about 1500 years, say around the time of the Renaissance. By then we has twice as much information. To double again, human information took a couple of hundred years. The period speeds up, between 1960 and 1970 human information doubled. As I understand it, at the last count human information was doubling around every 18 months.
Further to this, there is a point somewhere around 2015 when human information is doubling every thousandth of a second. This means that in every thousandth of a second we will have accumulated more information than we have in the entire previous history of the world. At this point all bets are off. I cannot imagine the kind of culture that might exist after such a flashpoint of knowledge. I believe that our culture would probably move into a completely different state, would move past the boiling point from a fluid culture to a culture of steam."
Also for your viewing pleasure because it's a great film and you should see it:
Imagine this theory is correct. Imagine a world where information doubles every thousandth of a second, including technology. If you look at the world of PC gaming now you can get an idea. You could upgrade your system's components more than once a year, if you had the money, but these aren't significantly noticeable changes. I'm talking about a world where significant changes are visible very often, so where does this leave our humble friend the video games console?
If technology is advancing at such a rate then the five-year cycle is definitely out the window. At it's heart, gaming is a business and manufacturers always have to try and keep with the latest technological trends. But then will people be willing to pay $400 every 2 years or even every year? Doubtful. A more viable option would be to have upgradeable hardware but then that would make them like PCs and pretty much obsolete (which seems to be happening already in some people's opinion). Or would it?
Remember the N64 expansion pack? Although Nintendo have always been the forerunners of new add-ons everyone is doing it. Bigger hard drives, HDMI sockets, Wii Motion Plus. It seems ok now using longer periods of time but then the problem again is with the acceleration of technological advancement. Could we, at some point, be seeing an Xbox 360 with a new graphics card?
Would people be willing then to have a PC and a Console to upgrade? I don't think so, neither would they be willing to pay for upgrades for multiple systems. I know I wouldn't be too keen on it. Can you imagine having to keep 3 PCs up to date to play the latest games or to have the best experience? A financial nightmare. Yet they're already doing it and we're already being tempted.
Michael Pachter discussed an interesting idea on Bonus Round where he said there may not even be another generation of consoles unless we have a drastic change in the way the consoles work, not just in the traditional sense but like the Wii, only much greater, with new interactions and methods. He also mentions the move towards more multimedia based machines.
We're already seeing it this generation; you can download movies on your 360, you can view photo albums and listen to music. But this just makes them more and more like PCs. The great thing about a PC is it's freedom. You can put anything on it, any operating system, any programs, movies, music and it's not just for recreation but business use too. No one will want to give up that freedom but we're seeing restrictions like that now. Look at Battlefield: Bad Company, many of us got angry and began to fear that other developers would start making less of the game available and charging extra for this "Downloadable Content" but some of them are clearly already doing it. Take Mega Man 9 for instance.
We are definitely on the verge of a huge shift in the way gaming works, with more and more people getting into gaming it's moving into a globally, socially, accepted form of entertainment like films and TV.
There are so many different avenues of possibility to explore that I could write pages upon pages more about it. The most likely near future is a time of trial and error for the big guys like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft; different ideas will be tested on consumers, like the bad company content idea to see what works or, more likely, what they can get away with.
I encourage you to watch the episode of Bonus Round for a few more points. I'd love to hear everyone's opinions and ideas on the future of our great pastime.
Whatever the future of console gaming holds it's looking likely that consoles, as we know them, are doomed. Relics of the past like typewriters, gramophones and cathode ray tubes. Remember, with time, science fiction becomes science fact.
Wow, beat 'em up sections? And you thought Sega had finally learnt its lesson and gone for a pure sonic game, all about the speed, maybe even with super sonic in it and not even as a single disappointing level.
Is anyone else finding it hard to get fired up about stuff like this anymore? Especially after the Nintendo press conference, I just feel so apathetic. It's happened so many times now, they try and try but they just don't get it, and then everyone lets out a collective sigh.
Just stop it. It's not funny any more. How many times can you make the same old tired joke. "Oh my god new screenshots for [GAME] just came out and they are so good that I was sexually attracted to them. No... wait... they were so good that, not only was I sexually attracted to them, but they made me prematurely ejaculate."
Dat wuz rate funny wasn't it?! lolz.
They say variety is the spice of life, so try it some time. Failing that, just fucking kill yourself.
So now all you Europeans finally get a reward, kinda. You can now trade your hard earned stars for Wii points to spend on Virtual Console games and the like. It's simple, 4 stars get you 1 Wii point...Hahaha ok, had you going there, it's not that simple. Four stars do indeed get you one Wii point but points have to be purchased in cards just like in the shops. You can buy the cards in:
Once you have purchased the card you get the code straight away to redeem on your Wii.
So what was all that account linking for? If your Wii and Club Nintendo account are linked why can't it automatically transfer the points onto your account? Because Nintendo love really long numbers remember.
While the exchange rate is a little low (It's about £250 for one NES game but hey it's free) I was still excited to finally trade in my 10200 points and buy Sin and Punishment but once again Nintendo had to kick me in the balls, as if they weren't doing it enough lately. I've been through several cups.
So once I refreshed the special Card Shop page over and over and it finally connected and I was in! Ready to throw away years of points I had accumilated since the Gamecube's launch (minus 6000 they stole off me the bastards!) I finally accessed the card page to the sight above (and larger below).
I was confused but luckily Nintendo provide an FAQ and I thought "Oh this must be straight forward and supply me with the information I need as Nintendo are always clear." Yeh right.
The only thing remotely near to an answer was this classic:
"Check if your Wii Points Card of choice is still available. If your Wii Points Card of choice is momentarily no longer available, please come back at a later date."
Momentarily? It's taken me at least 20 mins to write this and make a slightly humurous image and the cards are still unavailable, hardly a moment. Perhaps it's on a daily limit but why? Another online triumph from Nintendo, now I know how stupid people feel when they click the monkey to win an iPod.
I know there has been a lot of bashing Nintendo lately but honestly, we do it because we love you and it's about time you quit the smack, pick yourself up and become the person you used to be. This is an intervention.
So even more problems with the system. Aparently, because stars expire after 2 years, after buying something with your points it doesn't necessarily spend the ones that will expire sooner. So basically it's forcing you to spend all of your points in one go because if you keep topping up it will only charge your most recent stars, leaving your older ones to expire. Kind of makes it seem less generous doesn't it?
This is actually a very serious problem as some stars will expire just after Christmas this year. What that means is if you don't get the chance to trade your stars due to the site being shit, you lose them forever. So you go from a quite nice reward to them stripping you completely and saying "Hey thanks for the cash, suckers!"