(Coincidentally, I started writing this just as I was being informed about the bomb explosions at the Boston Marathon. Right now, everything seems very surreal. It's very weird for me to think that my wife and I were just in Boston a few short weeks ago celebrating our belated honeymoon at PAX East. My thoughts and prayers immediately go out to all the people we met and anyone affected by this horrific act.)
I've written about videogame violence before. Recently, in fact. It was just after the tragedy in Sandy Hook when I saw Senator Joseph Lieberman on television blaming the shootings on violent videogames (and I'll be referring back to that previous article in this one several times). It's something that I've always felt very strongly about. It fires me up when I see someone with no knowledge of the medium passing it off as filth. Bottom line: Games don't kill people. I like to say "I've been killing people my entire life and I've never killed anybody." It's true, my brother and I received the original Mortal Kombat as a Christmas gift back when I was 7 years old. I was totally mesmerized by the digitized blood. The day we found the combinations for all the fatalities was like a national day of celebration for us. We were finally going to perform Sub-Zero's ESRB-creating head rip fatality (to Johnny Cage, because Johnny Cage sucks).
I hate you, Johnny Cage
Violence in videogames has been around for a lot longer than most non-gamers realize. Do they know that in the original Super Mario Bros., every time you break a block, you're murdering a former inhabitant of the Mushroom Kingdom? Read the instruction booklet if you don't believe me. I grew up playing the aforementioned Mortal Kombat games, as well as games like Resident Evil, Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid, etc. Games haven't gotten any more violent over the years than television has. Remember the late 90s era of professional wrestling? The WWE (then WWF) and WCW were competing so hard to get ahead in the ratings that they would do almost anything to get fans talking and have them change the channel over to their programming. Both companies were groundbreaking in their vulgarity, and I believe are one of the biggest contributing factors to why shows like The Walking Dead get away with the type of violence they do. I say that not only as a lifelong wrestling fan, but as someone who has been a professional wrestler for the past 9 years (see video below). Gone was the wholesomeness of Hulk Hogan telling kids to say their prayers and eat their vitamins, and in it's place was the beer-chugging, middle-finger-flipping "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, rebelling against all authority.
Politicians in the 80s blamed violence on heavy metal. In the early 90s it was Mortal Kombat and Beavis and Butt-Head. The late 90s, Marilyn Manson and professional wrestling. And now, another violent act, another accusatory finger at Call of Duty. Another school shooting, and it's torches and pitchforks at Rockstar Games' headquarters. Videogames don't kill people. Horrible people kill people. We don't need censorship, we need supervision. I'm only one person, but if I can sit here and tell you that I grew up (and still am) a heavy metal-listening, Simpsons-loving, violent videogame-playing professional wrestler, and then also tell you that my wife and I are youth pastors at our church, then your accusations hold no weight. My wife and I are excellent role models for the kids in our youth group, and we spend most nights sitting on our couch playing Borderlands 2 together, and that game is so over-the-top with it's violence that it implodes on itself and you don't even realize how violent it is while you're playing. As a matter of fact, my wife and I will both tell you that the original Borderlands was probably the biggest reason we became so close and got married in the first place.You can read that story here.
Don't be fooled, we hit them when no one is looking.
Violent games are much more violent than they used to be, but they aren't evolving any faster than film or television. With that being said, I do need to be somewhat hypocritical here. I've already explained about my childhood with Mortal Kombat, but I have a nephew around the same age that I originally played it and I couldn't imagine letting him play the 2011 reboot of the series. My parents were always mindful of the type of media I consumed, but there was a lot less to be mindful of back then. I was born in 1985, so when I was a small child, the heavy metal wasn't as heavy, professional wrestling was more clear-cut with its heroes and villains, and extreme violence in videogames was still over a half-decade away. Games are changing with the times, just like all media is. Shows like The Walking Dead, CSI, and Bones never would have been allowed to make it on the air at that time.
We don't need to censor the games, we need supervision. I've worked in videogame retail before, and whenever a parent is needed in order to sell a mature rated game to their child, none of them ever ask why the game is rated the way it is. I kid you not, I once worked at a Blockbuster Video and a child wanted to rent Playboy: The Mansion, and the mother allowed it! She returned less than an hour later wanting a refund because she didn't realize what kind of content was in the game. Really? What type of game could you possibly have expected other than the one you got? More times than not, when asked if it's okay to sell the game to their child, the parents' response is "Yeah, I don't care." I've even had one woman answer by saying "Yeah, if it'll shut 'em up." It's amazing how many parents use videogames as babysitters. In all my years in game retail, I've only had one success story: a child, who could not have been older than 6, wanted to buy Grand Theft Auto IV, and when I informed his grandfather of the type of content that was in the game, he put it back immediately. I don't care who you are, if you think it's okay for a 6-year-old to be playing something like GTAIV, you need lessons on how to not be a bad person.
Are politicians and anti-videogame advocates so naive as to believe that if we got rid of videogames entirely that children wouldn't be consuming violent content? Watch the news, it's 28 minutes of rape, murder, and armed robberies and 2 minutes of a puppy getting rescued at the end to leave you with a pleasant aftertaste. Read the Bible. Even I, as a youth pastor, can't deny that it's pretty violent at times. Go watch Gladiator or Braveheart, both of which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in their respective years, both of which are considered great works of film, and both contain extremely brutal content.
Borderlands 2: Censored for pansies.
I'm not saying anything that everyone who reads this doesn't already know. I can't say that I've ever thought a game was too violent, however, I will say that some are unnecessarily violent. Did they really need to show Kratos slowly ripping off the head of Helios in God of War III to the point that you actually see his flesh separating? Probably not. The only two times I've ever felt uncomfortable with a game's violence is when Ethan cuts his finger off in Heavy Rain, and the first time I broke a genome soldier's neck in Metal Gear Solid, but that's because I have a weird phobia of broken bones (and yes, I've seen the Louisville basketball player's injury, now let us never speak of it again). If we're going to censor one thing, then we have to censor everything. Violence in games isn't going away. Are they too violent? Maybe, I don't personally think so (depending on the game and the gamer), but it's not my decision to make. That's why we have the ESRB, and if they thought a game's violence was too much, they would slap it with the dreaded Adults Only rating. If it weren't for an extremely violent videogame, my wife and I wouldn't have bonded the way that we did. Perhaps we still would have wound up married, as she and I do have a lot of similar interests, but if we hadn't spent every night together on Pandora blasting skags, I don't know how well we would have clicked, as gaming together is our number one hobby. Because of violence, I'm a much happier man.
I've always had a thing for Greek mythology, I just found it fascinating. A lot of it is just downright insane, but I've always looked at it the same way Lord of the Rings fans look at their beloved franchise, it's just fun. I've always loved media based on the Greek myths: the original Clash of the Titans, the Percy Jackson book series, and I even enjoy the film 300because I like watching half-naked dudes sweating and wrestling each other because it's totally NOT homoerotic. At all. Quit trying to say it is. Anyway, it seemed inevitable that I would love the God of War series, despite the fact that the series took me by complete surprise.
I was a naive 20-year-old kid when the original God of War hit the shelves of the local Blockbuster Video I was earning a lackluster paycheck at. I hadn't really heard anything about the game outside of a small article I read in Electronic Gaming Monthly, where it shared time Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening and Rise of the Kasai. The article spoke about how a new era of hero had arrived on the PlayStation 2, but I glossed over the God of War information in order to read about a young Dante. Little did I know at the time that God of War would become one of my favorite games for the PS2, and would later become one of my all-time favorite franchises.
I honestly had no intention of playing the game until a friend told me how much he had enjoyed it, and once the game returned to my store (because we had only received two copies), I checked it out. After I had to return it to work, I went out and bought a copy for myself so I could continuously guide Kratos through his quest for vengeance against Ares. From then on, every God of War game became a must-play title for me outside of God of War: Betrayal, the mobile phone game (even though I've heard it was actually pretty good). I recently played through the entire series again after picking up the God of War Saga. I went through all five games included in about a month, and it was interesting to see just how little the game changes from entry to entry yet somehow still manages to seem fresh. I ran a marathon with the Ghost of Sparta, Kratos, and I've cataloged our journey together.
I decided to play the games in chronological order, which mean that Chains of Olympus was where I started. I originally played the game on it's native platform, and remember enjoying it quite a bit. As a matter of fact, this was the game that convinced me to buy a PSP to begin with, as I had picked up the Chains of Olympus PSP Bundle. The story takes place during Kratos' servitude to the gods, and Kratos is given the mission to find the sun god Helios after the sun falls from the sky, covering the world is darkness. He eventually discovers that it's all the works of the triple-team comprised of Morpheus, Persephone, and the titan Atlas. I don't want to bore you and give you every detail of the story, you could do that on your own if you really wanted to, but I just wanted to give you a quick overview. The God of War series, like I stated before, if one that doesn't change much from game to game, and the same rings true when they change developers and platforms. Sony commissioned Ready at Dawn Studios for this title, and they certainly stuck to the tried-and-true God of War formula. Not to say it's a bad thing, don't fix what isn't broken, but I would have preferred to not know what's coming.
That's the only real problem I have with the series, it's very predictable. It starts off with a bang, always fighting a giant mythological monster in multiple stages, and they usually make for the most memorable parts of the game, but after that, it's traditional hack-and-slash goodness with some platforming thrown in, and every now and then you'll encounter a puzzle that's more there just to slow you down than to make you think. It starts off in epic fashion, and while the rest of the game is good, it just doesn't compare to the way the game starts. It's also very easy to see battles coming. Several times throughout each game you will see a giant circular area coming up, and then the exits become blocked off as you enter and enemies spawn from all sides.
In my opinion, Chains of Olympus is the weakest entry in the series, but I still enjoy it. All the different types of magic you gain during the game are either boring or rip offs of magic from other titles in the series. The set pieces are good, but again, it looks so much like the rest of the series that you never get a sense that you're not seeing anything you haven't already seen before. You set out to the Temple of Helios to awaken the Fire Steeds, very reminiscent of how you had to awaken the Steeds of Time from God of War 2 in order to progress. You fight your way out of Tartarus, just like how you had to fight your way out of Hades in the original, and very briefly in the sequel, and then this area was used again in GoW III. There weren't a lot of new enemies used for this game, although you do fight through members of the Persian army, which is unique to the series, as the majority have you only squaring off with the undead and Greek monsters.
Despite all this, I did enjoy the section of the game where Kratos is reunited with his slain daughter, Calliope, in the Elysium Fields only to learn of Queen Persephone's plan, which would bring about the end of the world. Kratos then has to turn his back on the only thing he wants in the world for the greater good. It seems a bit out of character, considering that the only thing Kratos wants is to be rid of the nightmares from the night he had accidentally killed his wife and daughter in the heat of battle. If Persephone succeeds, it means the end of existence, which means that Kratos can finally be rid of the images that torture his soul. It was unlike Kratos to care about what happens to humanity, but it was also a bit heartbreaking for anyone that had played the other games to have to sacrifice reuniting the anti-hero with the only thing in the world that he loves. Unlikeable as he is, you still don't want to do it, as Calliope cries out in sadness every time Kratos must push her away.
Moving on in the Kratos saga brings me to the original God of War, my personal favorite in the series. I don't think it's the best game of the franchise (or even the second best), but it just blew me away so much when it was first released, and it will forever have a spot in my heart. The game starts with Kratos attempting suicide by jumping off the highest mountain in all of Greece, and just before he hits the water you receive a black "Three Weeks Earlier" screen and begin your adventure on the Aegean Sea in the midst of an attack at the hands (or heads) of the Hydra. After besting the multi-headed beast, Kratos makes his way to the city of Athens with one thing in mind, to kill Ares, the God of War, for the atrocities he had forced Kratos do commit during his time of servitude. He learns that the only way to slay a god is with the help of Pandora's Box, inside the Temple of Pandora, which rests on the back of the titan Cronos.
Going back and playing this game for the first time in several years brought back a lot of memories, most of them good, but not all. I had forgotten a lot of things about the game, like the fact that tapping the R2 button was the prompt for opening doors and gates, on the PS2 this wasn't a problem, but with the DualShock 3's trigger-like rear buttons, I found it difficult to tell if I was actually pushing the button in enough to actually open the door, and often found Kratos wimping out and lowering it to the ground. I had forgotten about the existence of The Rage of the Gods and how it gives Kratos a really stupid mohawk. I had forgotten certain encounters and characters. It was nice going back and conquering the Temple of Pandora one more time. I do think the game could have used more boss battles, as there are only three, and one of them takes place at the very beginning of the game, and you don't encounter the giant minotaur until you're in the final few hours. I can't knock the game for reusing set pieces or enemies here, as it was all new at the time, and it was all awesome. It was interesting to see their depictions of the cyclops, sirens, and satyrs, among others.
Now I feel is a good time to talk about just how great the Blades of Chaos feel. All throughout the series you're given additional weapons to try out, but none of them feel as good as the blades, with one exception which I'll speak about when we get to God of War III. The original GoW gives you the Blade of Artemis, while it may be powerful, it is also slow and monotonous, and ultimately, unsatisfying. The magic, however, is the best in the series for one reason: Poseidon's Rage. There's a reason why you began the sequel with Poseidon's Rage as the only type of magic Kratos retains, why you can unlock it for use in other entries, and why NECA made a Poseidon's Rage version of Kratos for their toy line. Bottom line, Poseidon's Rage is the best magic you receive in the entire series. It's a necessary key to ensuring victory.
The final battle with Ares is still my favorite final boss of the series. It doesn't require much strategy unless you play on the harder difficulties (I played them all on their equivalent of Normal), but I just have a thing for two dudes squaring off one-on-one with swords, it just seems so manly, so old school. As the uninformed 20-year-old kid that I was, I didn't think there would be a sequel, let alone an entire series of additions. I felt like walking atop Mount Olympus and having Kratos sit upon the throne as the new God of War was the perfect way to end finish the journey.
Moving on we come to the midpoint of this marathon, God of War: Ghost of Sparta. Unlike every other title in the God of War Saga, this was actually the first time I played this one. By the time it was released on its native platform, I had no way of playing it, having long since sold my PSP due to being a poor college kid in need of some fast cash. If I had played it when it had come out, I dare say it probably would have been my favorite game on the PSP, and it makes a strong case for being the best in the franchise, but like I said, my judgment may be a bit skewed as this was my first playthrough. I will say, however, that this installment easily has my favorite story. Veterans of the series certainly remember the videos that you unlocked after beating the original title. They gave you possible stories for future games, and one of them involved Kratos as a child, telling the story of how he and his brother were separated at birth. Kratos went on to become the God of War while his brother was killed and grew up in the underworld. While this wasn't the story for the sequel, it eventually did see life in Ghost of Sparta.
This game starts off very similarly to the original GoW, with Kratos fighting on the open sea, being stalked by the monster Scylla, which bears no resemblance to how it looked in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It looks more like it was based on the Kraken from the original Clash of the Titans film. There were two things that I really enjoyed and were unique to this entry in the franchise. One was the flashback sequences of Kratos going through his training with his brother Deimos as children. It doesn't really add much to the story outside of allowing us to see the softer side of Kratos, and showing the guilt he feels for not being able to save his brother. These sections also offer a nice little deterrent from the usual gameplay. The other section I really enjoyed was when Kratos finally arrives at his home, Sparta. Instead of running through the city smashing pots, as Kratos is wont to do, the player is forced to walk through the streets, all the while being praised by the citizens.
Once Kratos is able to rescue his brother, Deimos, rather than thanking him, is instead enraged that his brother was unable to protect him as a child, and has been living with vengeance on his mind ever since. After the God of Death, Thanatos, intervenes and Kratos saves his sibling's life, the two reconcile, and decide to fight alongside each other for the first time ever. This was another aspect of the game I liked, having an AI partner. Unlike other games, where partners are often nothing more than a nuisance, you never have to worry about Deimos, and it offers a fun little twist for the final battle. Deimos is killed almost immediately, which was a little disappointing, I would have liked to have been able to tag team some baddies for longer than you're given, but it's still an enjoyable section of the game, and was a very satisfying finale.
We now arrive at the original sequel, God of War II. After how much I enjoyed the premiere, it was a no-brainer that this would be a day-one purchase. Much like the original title, it starts off with a bang, having you go through a multi-stage battle with the Colossus of Rhodes. Of all the five game-beginning battles, this is the one I enjoy the least. It has nothing to do with the battle itself, it's simply because of what you're fighting. What? I'm fighting a giant statue? Why can't I fight some giant mythological monster like I did before? Dumb! Anywho, right off the bat you can see that Sony Santa Monica improved upon the original title, as opening gates has now been mapped away from the R2 button and onto the much easier to tap Circle button. It's a small change, but it's one that I appreciated. They also added the swinging mechanic, which varies up the platforming in certain sections, including a very memorable sequence just before you encounter Icarus. There was also the addition of being able to slow time, which is used on more than one occasion to solve puzzles. I think this was implemented nicely, they don't bash you over the head with it, and instead opted to use it sparingly and made it obvious when you were supposed to be using it. The sections riding Pegasus are new, and while they're fun and occur only a couple of times throughout the game, I feel like these sections go on a little too long.
The story for this game is very simple: Zeus is not only terrified that what happened to Ares at the hands of Kratos will also happen to him, but he also is fed up with the way Kratos doesn't listen to the gods in higher authority and plays by his own rules, which causes Zeus and the gods to turn their back on Kratos and attempt to take his life. Kratos is then saved by the titan Gaia (who we also discover is the narrator of the series up to this point), the two form an alliance, and Gaia informs Kratos that he must seek the Sisters of Fate in order to change his past.
I think GoW II has the absolute best locales in the entire series. You have the mountain which houses Typhon, the Island of Creation, the swamps, the Temple of Euryale, atop (and inside) the titan Atlas, and the Temple of the Fates, each landscape completely unique from the one preceding it. They also crammed so much mythology into this game, it almost seems like you encounter someone or something from the mythology around every corner. I especially enjoyed seeing Harry Hamlin reprise his role as Perseus.
They once again decided to give you different weapons to try to keep the combat fresh, giving you the Barbarian King's giant warhammer, and the Spear of Destiny. I found the inclusion of the Spear of Destiny to be very odd, as it's not from Greek mythology at all, and is actually from Christianity, the Spear of Destiny being the spear the pierced Jesus Christ while on the crucifix. But again, neither one of them hold a candle to the blades. The hammer is too sluggish, and the spear is just not a good weapon. It's a thrusting weapon, which results in missing your targets a lot during the beginning of your combos.
Despite my disappointment with the Colossus of Rhodes, I feel like GoW II has the best collection of boss battles to date. It was a very nice touch being able to do battle with the undead Barbarian King, and the final battle with the Sisters of Fate I think is the best battle in the entire series, as it uses not only the swing mechanic, but also the slowing of time as well. The section with the third sister, Clotho, is actually more of a mini puzzle than a battle, but it still very enjoyable.
The ending of the game is pretty good, which sees Kratos travel back in time to stop Zeus from betraying him, and results in a multistage battle that ultimately ends when Kratos accidentally kills his only ally in Athena, and the revelation that Zeus is Kratos' father. Kratos travels back in time once again to the time of the great war between the gods and the titans, and the final scene sees the titans climbing Mount Olympus in pursuit of the gods. You realize at that moment that things are about to get <i>real</i>.
Thus, we've reached the final leg of this trek: God of War III. This was the first time I'd this one since it was originally released. The story is what you would expect. It picks up where the previous entry ended, and Kratos stops at nothing until all of the gods of Olympus are dead. There's some twists and turns in there, but that's the gist of it. The first thing that jumped out at me is how much better that game looks than all the others. That's to be expected, I mean they were working with a more powerful machine in the PlayStation 3, and three years after the game was originally released it still looks fantastic. Kratos, rather than being a pure white, now has a tint of gray. This new hue makes our anti-hero seem more brutal. In God of War tradition, you begin the game by battling a giant monster. In this case it's the Hippocampi and Poseidon, but this is the only game in the series where the beginning battle is not the highlight of the game, that doesn't occur until you take down the titan Cronos.
The use of secondary weapons was a nice addition. The Bow of Apollo is a weak long range attack, but can be charged up to add some extra damage. The Boots of Hermes are pretty useless, I never found myself using them for combat, only for platforming sections that required them. The Head of Helios is the most effective secondary weapon in the game, and has multiple uses. It can be used to light the way in darkened areas, to find hidden paths, to uncover previously invisible treasures, or to stun enemies during combat. Speaking of secondary weapons, let's move on to the magic. They decided to do it differently this time around. Throughout the course of the game, Kratos acquires three additional main weapons: the Claws of Hades, the Nemesis Whip, and the Nemean Cestus. Instead of being able to use all your different magic attacks whenever you want, each main weapon has a specific magic attack unique to it. Basically what this means is that the only magic you're going to use in the game is the Army of Sparta, as it's the magic mapped to the Blades of Chaos (renamed the Blades of Exile). The Nemean Cestus and Nemesis Whip both have magic attacks very similar to magic found in previous entries. The Nemean Roar is a ground pound, and the Nemesis Rage is an electric attack almost identical to Cronos' Rage from GoW II. The Soul Summon (used with the Claws of Hades) is the most distinctive ability Kratos can use. Depending on how much you level up the Claws, you can choose from almost any enemy you encounter in the game to help you. Anything from a cerberus to cyclops can be summoned to fight at your side. The only problem is that I don't like using the Claws of Hades, so I have never really seen what this attack can really do.
One thing that Sony Santa Monica was finally able to do was to create a weapon that feels as good as the Blades. The Nemean Cestus, while having a pretty boring magic attack, are pretty awesome. You acquire these giant gauntlets after defeating Hercules, and I found that they shared equal time in use as the Blades. They're very similar to the gauntlets you receive in Chains of Olympus, but they just feel better here. It has to do with the feedback from the DualShock 3, you just don't get that from the PSP title. The Cestus just feels powerful. You feel like you're punching a hole through enemies, you feel like you're Ivan Drago.
Up to this point I've neglected talking about just how violent the series is. It kind of goes without saying, what do you expect for a series called God of War? God of War III really ramps it up, though. Instead of defeating a boss and then being given a QTE to finish them off in a scripted kill animation or cutscene, now you're given button prompts to finish your enemies off. For instance, in order to kill Poseidon you're given the prompt to push in the L3 and R3 button simultaneously to poke your thumbs through the water god's eyes. Later in the game you literally have to rip off the head of Helios, and they spared no expense when it came to the details, showing the skin ripping as Kratos pulls harder and harder. The final battle culminates with a first-person view of Kratos pummeling Zeus with knees and fists to the face. You could literally make this go on forever, as Kratos will continuously punch Zeus until the player has decided that they're tired of pushing the circle button.
I do have a few complaints about this game, the first being the cover art (both for God of War III and God of War Saga). It seems like a silly thing to complain about, but after the rest of the series had such great cover art, the cover for God of War III just feels lazy. I mean, look at it...
...how lame is that? A close up of his eye? Of all the awesome art I've seen for this series, and this is the cover you go with for your big, epic finale? The cover for God of War Saga makes me just as angry. Not because it's so simple, it's very similar to other collections on the PS3 like the Ratchet & Clank and inFamous collections, and those are fine. No, this cover upsets me because Kratos is holding the Nemean Cestus instead of the Blades of Chaos. Why? Kratos uses the same weapon for six games, one of the most iconic weapons in gaming today, and you decide to have him holding a different weapon for the collection? Despite my previous praise of the Cestus, it still doesn't deserve to be on the cover, and that bothers me.
My biggest problem with God of War III is the story, or rather, the ending. The only thing fueling Kratos through his entire journey is revenge. How do you know this? Because he uses the words "revenge" and "vengeance" about 7,000 times throughout the course of his quest. Kratos discovers that the way to defeat Zeus is with the sacrifice of Pandora. Yeah, I get the fact that Pandora is supposed to be analogous to Callipoe, and Kratos wants to protect Pandora like he wasn't able to do with his daughter, but when you speak so much about how all you want is to kill Zeus and get revenge on the gods for what they've done to you, why in the world would you suddenly decide that you have a heart and care one iota about Pandora and try to prevent her from making the sacrifice that she's willing to make.
One other aspect of the story that bothers me is that in the original God of War, they make it seem like it's impossible to kill a god, and Kratos has to survive several trials in order to obtain Pandora's Box and unlock the power to kill a god. But in God of War III, Kratos kills Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Helios, and Hermes, in addition to also killing Hercules (half mortal, half god), and two titans in Gaia and Cronos. So obviously, killing a god isn't all that hard. You don't even kill Hera or Helios in battle, you simply break Hera's neck because she's a lush and Helios crashes his chariot, which is enough to incapacitate the mighty sun god. The fight with Hermes is less a battle and more a mutilation simulator. Despite these complaints, I found God of War III to be the best game in the series, which I wouldn't have said back when I originally played it. The final ten minutes are a little weird, and the post-credits reveal didn't need to happen at all, but it's still an amazing game despite its story flaws.
We've reached the finish line, ladies and gentlemen. Now we can take some time to catch our breath. It had been quite a while since I had taken control of Kratos, slashing my way to victory through hoards of mythological beasts. The games are just as enjoyable now as they always were. Some would argue that they're too similar to each other, but I would rather have sequels that are similar but good instead of sequels that try to do something different and ultimately turn out to be garbage. I'm very excited for the imminent release of God of War: Ascension, but it seems hard to imagine where else they can take the story. It's gone backward, forward, and in-between. They can't really go forward after God of War III unless they go with David Jaffe's original story idea, and they've already gone backward twice. I feel about God of War the same way I feel about Resident Evil, I absolutely love it, but I think it's time to call it a day instead of always milking your cash cow.
Listen up fellow DTOIDers. First off, this is not gaming related, I'm simply coming to the community I love asking for some help. For anyone that doesn't know, I'm a professional wrestler, and I have been for almost 9 years. A while back I attended a "Gut Check Seminar" for TNA Wrestling, the second biggest wrestling company in the United States. Right now, TNA is running a contest called the "Gut Check Challenge" where they will be giving a past seminar attendee the opportunity to wrestle on their weekly "Impact" television show on SpikeTV.
I'm reaching out to you guys to help get me the votes I need to move on to the next round. It's done on a bracket by bracket basis.
Fellow DToiders, I wrote this a few weeks ago on my personal blog, and have finally had enough time to convert it over here to DToid. I have a very strong opinion on the occurrences in Newtown, and I believe most of you around my age or older would agree with what I have to say. As of yet, I am yet to receive a response from Senator Lieberman.
Dear Senator Lieberman,
I was on the treadmill this morning and saw that you were doing an interview with Fox News regarding the tragedy at Sandy Hook. Knowing your track record, I fully expected you to blame the unfortunate events on violent entertainment, and you did not disappoint. Every time an unfortunate occurrence like this involves children, it's automatically video games, heavy metal music, etc. who become the scapegoats.
With Columbine, the game Doom and bands like Rammstein and Marilyn Manson were to blame when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold decided to murder 13 people. With the D.C. sniper, it was said that John Allen Muhammad was using Halo to teach Lee Boyd Malvo how to shoot. Professional wrestling, Beavis and Butt-Head, Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, these are all violent forms of entertainment that received incredible amounts of scrutiny over the years. There exist entire books based on the effects of video game violence, and all the ones I've read disprove your theory.
The real problem is supervision, or rather, a lack thereof. Allow me to give you a brief back story of myself. I'm 27-years old, and I grew up loving all of the things that you condemn for corrupting the youth of the United States. My older brother and I received Mortal Kombat as a Christmas gift from our parents when we were 7 and 10 years old, respectively. The following year, we received the sequel as a Christmas gift. While I admit that watching the "Fatality" moves you can perform on your opponents made an impression on me, and I remember verbally exclaiming "Awesome!" when I saw the character Kano rip out a man's heart, I never once thought "I wish I could do that." I watched Beavis and Butt-Head, and I still enjoy watching it today, but I never thought they were the type of characters to be emulated.
Professional wrestling is in a completely different world for me. In addition to watching our beloved Cincinnati Reds together, my father, brother, and I would also crowd around the television to watch the former WWF's Saturday Night's Main Event. Granted, the product was much tamer compared to what it would become in the mid-to-late 1990s, but I had supervision, my parents were always mindful of the type of media I consumed. I loved professional wrestling so much that I actually became one in 2004, and I've had a fairly successful career without doing any sort of overly violent matches.
If I happened to be watching a scary or violent film with my parents, they were always sure to remind me that nobody was really getting hurt, and that what was going on in those films wasn't real.
I started listening to heavy metal when I was 8-years-old because I wanted to be just like my older, cooler brother and his friends, and that's what they listened to. I grew up listening to bands like Pantera, Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, Korn, and yes, at one point in time I was a rather big fan of Marilyn Manson. The photo of a child holding a syringe on the back of Marilyn Manson's "Portrait of an American Family" album never enticed me to try drugs, because I knew that drugs were harmful, the same with alcohol or cigarettes, and to this day I've never struggled with any of those vices. Why? Because I had positive influences in my life.
I grew up playing video games, I've already mentioned my history with the Mortal Kombat series, but I've also played games like Doom, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Gears of War, Manhunt, and pretty much every other video game that has ever received scrutiny from people in politics that just wanted something to point their finger at. While video games are an interactive medium, and I'm the one using the controller to make Tommy Vercetti run down a bunch of pedestrians and shoot cops, I've never had an urge to react violently towards anyone in my life. I've never shot a gun, or for that matter, even held a gun, and I'm sure if I ever did I would dispose of it at the first opportunity.
I give lots of credit to the original Borderlands as a main contributing factor that my wife and I are so close and even got married to begin with, because we bonded over the game, and we bond even more as we sit on our couch playing the sequel together, and they're both incredibly violent games. Laughably so, in fact. My wife and I are also assistant youth pastors at our church. We play violent video games, we both love professional wrestling, we listen to a lot of heavy metal (however, all of our favorite bands are openly Christian metal bands), and I know with certainty that my wife and I are amazing role models for the teens in our youth group. I'm not going to say that all of these tragic events could have been prevented if the children had God in their lives, and I'm not here to debate religion with anyone, but I am saying that having good, attentive role models in my life have made me a productive member of society, and being a good role model for those kids allows me to produce future productive members of society.
Supervision, Senator Lieberman, that's what I'm talking about. That's what I push for, and what I think you're overlooking. Blaming violent media is very shortsighted and narrow-minded. Let us not forget that the Home Alone films are two of the most violent films I've ever seen in my life, and they're considered family friendly entertainment despite the fact that almost everything that happens in the finales of those films has the potential to cause serious bodily injury, brain damage, or death.
I work in a video game store, and I couldn't count how many times I've had a parent walk into a store with their child, the child requests a copy of the latest Mature-rated game, and the parent just doesn't care. I've never had a parent ask me "Why is it rated Mature?" or "Do you think this would be a bad game for him or her to play?" The only thing that ever happens is that I ask the parent if it's okay to sell a Mature-rated game to their child and they respond with "I don't care." That's the problem, Senator. The problem is not that the games exist, or that the music exists, or that the wrestling exists. What we need is a reform in the supervision of today's youth.
I have four nieces and one nephew, all of which are under 7 years of age. When I heard what happened in Connecticut, I wished more than anything that I could have been with them so I could hug them. I don't write this as a way to attack anyone, or to undermine the tragedy of these recent happenings, I just hate when fingers get pointed in the wrong directions.
I love Resident Evil. I’ve loved it since I first encountered the series back in 1997. Being such a big fan of anything zombie related, I was drawn to it immediately. I even enjoy the really bad movies the series has spawned. I’ve read through the Resident Evil novel series twice. I know the timeline of the series as well as almost anybody. I’ve even had a birthday cake with a picture of Hunk on it. With the imminent release of Resident Evil 6, I’ve been in a Resident Evil mood, and wanted to write a little something about it. I think the thing about the series that has always drawn me to it are the characters, whether they be good, bad, human, or not so human. I’ve compiled lists (because everybody loves lists) of the five best heroes, villains, bosses, and monsters in the series. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Top 5 Heroes
I may get some guff from any Resident Evil fan for not including Leon Kennedy on this list, but I do have my reasons. I will preface this by saying that Resident Evil 2 is my favorite of the series on the PSone, and Resident Evil 4 is my second favorite game of all-time, and Leon is one of the protagonists in both of those games. That being said, Leon is a tool. I mean, he just is. He looks like he spends more time on his hair than a teenager getting ready for prom, he throws out one-liners that would make John Matrix smack his forehead, and he constantly gets the crap kicked out of him. Ada Wong, however, always appears alongside Leon, and always outperforms him. Ada may not fit the typical definition of “good” but I also wouldn’t classify her as a villain. Her intentions are never quite clear. We first find that she’s a spy sent to recover a sample of the G-Virus, then we see her in RE4 working with, and eventually double-crossing, Albert Wesker.
Ada and Leon seem to have a Batman and Catwoman type of relationship, and the feminine side of me thinks “Wouldn’t it be nice if they settled down together?”
Barry Burton oozes machismo. He loves 3 things: guns, weights, and being bearded. There’s the old joke that Chuck Norris has a third fist behind his beard, well Barry Burton has a colt python and a barbell. Not only is Barry the epitome of what a man should be, he’s also a big teddy bear. Reading the novelized version of the first game (The Umbrella Conspiracy) will give you a look into the heart of the bearded beast. He constantly thinks about his family, specifically, his two daughters. When Wesker forces him to turn on his companions Chris and Jill, he is only able to do so by convincing Barry that his family is in danger.
The original Resident Evil is legendary for its campy dialogue, and Barry delivers probably my favorite line in the game. No, I’m not referring to the “master of unlocking” line, I’m more partial to “You were almost a Jill-sandwich.” Obviously.
Unfortunately, there has never been a game that features Barry Burton as the main playable character (I‘m not counting the GameBoy Color game Resident Evil Gaiden). You can play as Barry in Mercenaries mode in Resident Evil 5, but I never played it. As much as I loved Mercenaries in RE4, going as far as to S rank every level with every character in order to unlock all the special goodies, I just never cared enough to play it in RE5. I like the idea they’re going for with Resident Evil 6 and having you play multiple characters, but if I were in control of the direction for the Resident Evil series, I would keep it as a single player game, keep the multiple viewpoints, and Barry Burton would always be included.
Based on his appearance in Resident Evil 5, Chris Redfield could probably bench press more than Barry, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he broke the BSAA‘s wellness policy. Regardless, Chris Redfield is THE hero in Resident Evil. He has been there from the first game, he reappeared in Code Veronica, RE5, and will come back in RE6. He is the only man truly able to stop Albert Wesker in his quest for world domination, and after the conclusion of RE5, we can only assume he finally succeeded in doing so.
He survived the horror of the Spencer Mansion in the original game, he rescued his sister and escaped Antarctica in Code Veronica, and he stopped the Uroboros virus from spreading across the entire planet (as well as saving Jill) in RE5. That’s a pretty impressive resume. The man has seen the types of living horrors that would drive a man to utter madness. It’s no small miracle that he hasn’t developed a very severe drinking problem, because if I had to kill a snake the size of a bus and lived to talk about it, the first thing I would be reaching for is the hardest liquor I could find mixed with the second hardest.
We’ve all heard the complaints levied at developers for being unable to create a strong female character who isn’t over-sexualized. Capcom, however, pulled it off in Resident Evil 2 with Claire Redfield, the younger sister of Chris. I know that Jill Valentine was basically the same character in the original game, but I never real viewed Jill as strong character. Considering all the differences between Jill and Chris, like the fact that Jill had more inventory space, and she gets more powerful weapons in the game, it always seemed like Jill was the character you picked if you wanted the game to be easier.
As well as being a strong female lead, they also show Claire’s nurturing side, as halfway through her side of the story she comes across Sherry Birkin, the daughter of scientists William and Annette Birkin, the former of which being the main man behind the G-virus. Claire acts as a mother figure to Sherry, and eventually escapes Raccoon City with both Sherry and Leon.
Claire’s next major appearance was as the main protagonist in Code Veronica, where she attempted to escape the horrors of Rockfort Island after being captured by Umbrella. While still playing a strong character, we‘re reminded of the fact that she‘s still a young woman, developing a semi-romantic relationship with the most annoying character in all of Resident Evil: Steve Burnside. Partnered with her brother, Claire and Chris are able to take down the T-Veronica virus-infected Alexia Ashford and escape Umbrella’s secret Antarctic complex.
Claire also reunited with Leon in RE: Degeneration, which is easily the best film featuring the Resident Evil name. The movie is considered a part of the official canon of the series, though not considered to be a crucial installment in the story arc. But if you’ve never seen it and you’re a fan, it’s definitely worth checking out.
There is a reason Hunk was given the moniker “Mr. Death,” because he is a one-man killing machine. His character isn’t exactly something you’ve never heard before: he works for a secret organization, has carried out several successful operations, many times being the one member of his team to return alive, is devoid of emotion, and refuses to die. Basically, other than the secret organization part, he’s the Rambo of Resident Evil. Hunk is my favorite character in the entire series, and when I think about it, I don’t know why. Other than a secret mission in RE2, and being a total beast in the Mercenaries mode of RE4, Hunk hasn’t had much of a role in the RE universe, but remains a fan favorite. Maybe the fact that he doesn’t have much of a role is the reason he is so beloved, kind of like Pyramid Head in the Silent Hill series. Hunk is cold, dark, and mysterious. He somehow manages to be a likeable character despite working for the enemy.
Playing as Hunk in Mercenaries is incredibly satisfying. Using him results in the game being a breeze, but even though Hunk is essentially the “win” button, his unique abilities make the somewhat tense situations of Mercenaries incredibly fun. Shooting a ganado in the face, rushing toward them and snapping their neck is something that never gets old. Or shooting the legs out from under someone, setting them up for what I call the “Hunk Punt,” where he basically punts the enemy’s skull out of their head, makes for another satisfying way to conserve ammo.
The "Hunk Punt" in mid-awesome!
Top 5 Villains
None of these lists are ranked, but let’s be honest, Albert Wesker is THE villain in Resident Evil. He is the yin to Chris Redfield’s yang (gross!). He pulls the strings from behind the scenes, but he’s by no means afraid to take matters into his own hands to see to it that things get done.
Albert Wesker is to Resident Evil what Bowser is to Mario, it just doesn’t work without him. The ending of RE5 seems to insinuate that Wesker is finally dead, but then again, if he weren’t, it wouldn’t be the most befuddling thing to happen in the series. Whenever Capcom decides to call it quits with their beloved Biohazard (which doesn’t seem like it’s going to be anytime soon) I think it needs to end with a final, epic showdown between Chris and Wesker.
I’d also like to point out that I think Robert Patrick would have been the perfect actor to play Wesker in the films. Just saying.
Resident Evil: Code Veronica is the one game in the series that I was never able to complete (well, also Resident Evil 0 because I never had a GameCube). For whatever reason, I would lose interest after about an hour, and would never return to it. I’ve tried playing this game three different times, and just couldn’t get past that point. That being said, however, I think Alfred Ashford is an excellent villain for the series. While Wesker is a no-nonsense kind of villain, Ashford is just completely over-the-top…also, insane. It’s a nice change of pace from the typical villains we had seen in the series up to that point. Alfred has an obsession with his dead twin sister Alexia, and you encounter him in the game dressed up as his deceased counterpart and pretending to be her.
Pictured: Alfred being not not creepy
So, as you can see, Alfred definitely has a screw loose, and even though he appears in the one RE game I can’t really get into, I still like the story and characters it has to offer (except Steve Burnside. Seriously, I hate him).
Straight off the set of an 80s Arnold Schwarzenegger film comes Jack Krauser. He is introduced in RE4 as a former comrade of Leon Kennedy who is now working for the game’s antagonist, Saddler (and also in cahoots with Wesker). Krauser exemplifies exactly what a generic action movie character should be. The only problem with Krauser is that he fits the role of the hero’s buddy or the villain’s right-hand man so perfectly that he couldn’t be the top-dog in either respect. The hero needs to be likeable and the villain needs to be believable as a manipulator, whereas Krauser isn’t likeable in any sort of way, and is being manipulated by not only Saddler, but also by Wesker.
Krauser is involved in two of the more memorable sections of RE4. The QTE knife fight between Leon and Krauser is amazingly intense for a battle that basically requires no effort other than reacting in a quick enough manner so as to not see a “You Are Dead” screen. You encounter him again near the end of the game, and while his boss battle is very basic, the events leading up to the battle make for some nervous moments, as Krauser can appear at the drop of a hat and deal damage to you unless you’re able to effectively react and evade/attack.
Krauser is also a nice change of pace for the Mercenaries mode. While all other characters use firearms, Krauser’s weapon of choice is a bow and arrow. Each arrow results in a one-hit kill, but arrows are limited, which brings about the need to be more accurate and to make good use of exploding barrels to deal damage to multiple enemies with just one shot. Also, having that mutated arm doesn’t hurt when in close-quarters.
Apparently, no one ever told Nicholai that the Cold War ended, because this Russian Umbrella operative still acts like he’s in 1985. A lot of people are probably asking who Nicholai Ginovaef is. He only appeared in Resident Evil 3 as the leader of the UBCS Delta platoon (and again in the throwaway RE: Operation Raccoon City). When first encountered by Jill, he is only one of three men left alive in his squad, the other two being Mikhail Victor (who dies soon after) and Carlos Oliviera. Nicholai disappears early in the game and is presumed dead, only to appear later exposing his true role: he is a “Supervisor,” a special operative for Umbrella chosen to gather combat data on Umbrella’s bio-weapons.
RE3 was unique in that it allowed the player to make choices, so it was the first Resident Evil game that wasn’t completely linear, as some decisions you make result in different scenarios later in the game. These decisions can lead to three possible outcomes for Nicholai. One path that can be taken results in his death at the hands of Nemesis. The other path can lead to two different results, either fight Nicholai as he flies around in a helicopter, or you can negotiate with him, which allows him to escape from Raccoon City. This leaves his story arc open, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Nicholai replacing Wesker as the primary antagonist of the series (I should note that I haven‘t beaten Operation Raccoon City yet, so if he dies in that game, please disregard that last sentence).
Salazar is adorably twisted. While he may just be a pawn in Saddler’s quest for world domination, Salazar is a much more memorable villain. The second act of RE4 takes place in the Salazar castle, and Ramon doesn’t take kindly to Leon treading on his family’s ground. The two things that make Salazar such a unique character are his over-the-top voice acting (which often results in some pretty good dialogue between he and Leon), and his little person stature. Being protected by two “Verdugo” monsters, Salazar takes great pleasure in being a cocky jerk to Leon.
One of my favorite parts of RE4 is when Salazar goes on one of his trademark spiels, only to have Leon throw a knife, which hits its intended mark and pins Salazar’s hand to the wall. The shocked pause of Salazar’s reaction and his subsequent hyperventilation, followed by Leon’s smirk and chuckle make this one of the highlights of the game.
Part of me wants to feel sorry for Salazar, as he was tricked into unleashing Las Plagas back into the world by Saddler, which ultimately results in his death. Poor Salazar…
Top 5 Bosses
I was debating on if I should list Lisa Trevor as a boss or a monster, ultimately I decided on boss because there’s only one of her and you only encounter her twice. Despite how grotesque Lisa’s appearance is, when you read up on her, and understand her back story, you really feel sorry for her, she‘s kind of like the Sloth of Resident Evil. Lisa’s father was the man responsible for building the Spencer Mansion in the Arklay Mountains, and Lisa and her mother were used as experiments for the Progenitor Virus. Lisa eventually started to mutate physically and deteriorate mentally. After the death of her parents, Lisa would kill anyone she encountered, tearing off their faces and keeping them with her at all times until she was able to find her mother and “give her back her face.”
"I told you, Barry has your mom's face. Or Jill...go kill Jill."
Lisa Trevor is only encountered in the remake of the original Resident Evil, and she makes for probably the most frightening experience in the whole series when you encounter her in the shack right outside of the mansion.
Everyone has had the feeling of being followed, and it’s a truly terrifying feeling. It’s even scarier when the one following you seems like it can’t be stopped. Nemesis reminds me a lot of The Terminator. “It can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.” Those are the words Kyle Reese says to Sarah Connor when he explains what the Terminator is, and it’s also an excellent way of describing Nemesis from Resident Evil 3.
This game often receives a lot of criticism, as it was basically pushed out to give fans something to play until Code Veronica, but I really enjoyed it. It was the first one to give you branching paths, and it has a much wider variety of locations than in the two previous titles. But Nemesis is what really makes the game great. The first time you play through, you have no idea when he’ll show up, and in most cases it’s exactly when you don’t want him to. Oh, you’re about to find sanctuary in the Raccoon City Police Station? Boom! Here’s Nemesis! What’s that? Your evacuation helicopter is about to descend to your rescue? Nope, Nemesis is on top of the clock tower, and he has a rocket launcher! Because, why not?
The end of the game results with a final decision: Leave Nemesis dying and let the nuke that’s about to destroy Raccoon City take him with it, or grab the magnum that’s conveniently placed by a dead soldier and get the satisfaction of killing him yourself. I don’t care what anyone says, RE3 was awesome.
The thing that makes the T-103 (or Mr. X, if you prefer) is his sterility. He’s just a giant man with gray skin, dead eyes, and a green trench coat. Resident Evil gets some criticism because the majority of it’s scares are startle moments as opposed to setting up a creepy atmosphere (Silent Hill) or using superior sound design to set the tone (Dead Space). But what’s wrong with that? I argue that it can be more effective. In the RE series, you’re often tricked into thinking you’ve found sanctuary, when in reality, you’re being set up for an ambush that you don’t see coming unless you’ve played through the game before. The T-103 is the best example in the series of being taken by surprise, while you do see it coming the first time, every subsequent occurrence is completely out of the blue, and is usually done with a bang.
He’s the original, so there was no way I couldn’t include him. The final boss from the first game. Even though Resident Evil 0 eventually caused him to be edited to be known as the T-002, in my eyes he’s still the original. Designed by Umbrella to be the perfect B.O.W. and the ultimate killing machine, this beast is eventually loosed on the members of S.T.A.R.S. After seemingly disposing of him in the underground Umbrella laboratory, he comes crashing upward through the concrete of the heliport as our heroes are making their escape. Obviously, the T-002 wasn’t as efficient of an “ultimate killing machine” as Umbrella had hoped, as they made several more iterations of the Tyrant, and this particular one wound up killing exactly zero people before biting the dust at the hands of a rocket launcher. Even though he didn’t have the best win-loss record, he’s still a great boss, he scared the crap out of me when I was 12, and he is the template for what all Resident Evil bosses should be.
William Birkin aka “G”
While Nemesis gets the credit for being the boss best known for pursuing you throughout a game, William Birkin in his G-transformed state did it first. You encounter G multiple times in RE2, and to spice things up, each of those encounters features the G monster in its next evolutionary step. He goes from being human-like in appearance, to animal, and eventually ends up as a giant blob of tentacles and teeth. The first few times you come across G, you can still see some physical characteristics of William Birkin, but by the end of the game all of Birkin has vanished, which I always thought was a nice touch.
The main purpose of G is to find new hosts and impregnate them, and this leads to a very Alien-esque death for one character. G also spends the first few mutations trying to find Sherry Birkin for the purposes of impregnating her, which…yeah, I’ll just leave that alone.
Top 5 Monsters
I’ve always thought that the chimera monsters that appear in the original Resident Evil are easily the most underrated monsters in the entire series. This human-fly hybrid is genuinely a disturbing sight to behold. You only encounter them near the end of the game as you attempt your escape, and even then there are only a handful. As far as the physical appearance of these mutations, they’re rather disturbing and I would rank them as the enemy I would be most terrified of actually encountering.
Crimson Head Zombies
Once you get past the first few zombie battles and realize that you can just run past most of them, you start to lose the feeling of tension and dread you get from the opening door load screens. How do you make zombies scary again? One simple solution: make them run! For any zombie that you don’t burn, they will return stronger and faster, like a zombie on steroids. The first time I saw this happen, I nearly pooped ‘em. I’d be interested to see the series take this approach again. While enemies in RE4 and RE5 have enemies run for short bursts and lunge at you, it doesn’t have the same impact of a zombie quickly getting up off the ground and sprinting toward you with its arms extended.
The original Hunter from the mansion is the best and most terrifying enemy in the game. They decided to make several variants of the Hunter over the course of the series, whether they just look like modified versions of this one, or the weird frog-like version that appears in RE3. But when you think Hunter, you think of this big green mother. This human-reptile cross is one of the mainstays of the series, as it’s brought back over and over again, albeit a little bit altered from the original version. The first time I had one of these guys leap across the room and decapitate me, I sat there for a moment in stunned silence, turned the game off, and walked out of the room. You definitely need to be prepared to take these guys on, as they’re certainly no joke.
Before I knew the proper way to play the older Resident Evil games (run when you can, fight when you have to, and save your bigger weapons for tougher enemies), I thought I could just get by with the handgun. Obviously, that was a huge mistake. When I first purchased Resident Evil 2, I made my way through the zombie-infested streets of Raccoon City, found false safety in Kendo’s Gun Shop, watched Robert Kendo get eaten alive, grabbed his shotgun, and proceeded to use the five rounds of ammunition the gun had in it on the next five zombies I came across. Yeah, that was dumb. The first Licker in the game had little trouble disposing of Leon S. Kennedy.
Lickers are skinless, eyeless creatures with tongues that put Gene Simmons to shame, with giant talons and the ability to leap great distances. Lickers aren’t used as often as Hunters, but they’ve still made their fair share of appearances, including a memorable appearance in Resident Evil 5 which prompts you to slowly walk past several of them in an attempt to bypass a difficult fight.
I will go on record and say that the Regenerators from Resident Evil 4 are the most terrifying monsters in the series. These giant, sexless creatures are made more terrifying by their barrenness. Their pale, gray skin combined with the low moan they let out result in a Hungry Man sized serving of creepy. My buddy Luke had a similar experience with the Regenerator that I did with the Hunter. Near the end of the game you come to a corridor with prison cells on both sides. Luke could hear the Regenerator somewhere, but couldn’t see it. He checked a cell on the right, turned around to check the one parallel to it, and had the monster right up in his grill. Luke then turned the game off and came back to it the next day.
In addition to their appearance, the only way you can kill them is by using a sniper rifle equipped with an infrared scope (or the Chicago typewriter or rocket launcher, if you want to be boring), which makes it even more difficult on the player. The Regenerator also has a brother, referred to as the Iron Maiden, which is basically just a Regenerator with spikes protruding out of its body to use against its opponents, but I find the simplicity of the Regenerator much more scary.
But they apparently both have the same signature pose
So, there. There’s a bunch of Resident Evil goodness for you. I’m sure some agree with the lists, I’m sure some don’t. Some are probably thinking “Oh yeah, the chimera was pretty underrated,” and others may be thinking “Wait, who was Nicholai again?” The series has experienced its highs and lows, and I’ve stuck with it through the good times and the bad. Considering how amazing Resident Evil 4 is, and how much I enjoyed Resident Evil 5 (when played with a human partner, at least), I’m very hopeful for the newest installment.
Personally, despite my love of the series, I wouldn’t mind seeing it come to an end, at least in the story sense. That seems unlikely, as Resident Evil is still a big money maker for Capcom, but as a fan who has been following the series for 15 years, I think it’s time to get a definitive story end. It seems fitting though, as some of the series’ biggest stars are finally put into the same game with Leon and Chris, and the return of Sherry Birkin with her partner, Albert Wesker’s son, Jake. Not to mention the inclusion of Ada Wong. I would still prefer Resident Evil to be a single-player game, but I’m sure Resident Evil 6 will turn out to be an amazing experience.
When it comes to making virtual worlds, game programmers can do whatever they want. They have absolute freedom. They can concoct a terrifying monster, they can give you the ability to fly, they can provide you with the catalyst to live out all of your Rambo-esque fantasies. They can build entire cities, dense jungles, or underground temples. They can hide Easter eggs anywhere they please, they can fill the dialogue with classic video game in-jokes, and thanks to recent technology, you can have sex with prostitutes, followed by murdering them and taking your money back.
However, even though I appreciate the creativity that goes into even the worst games (because let's be honest, it's hard to make a compelling video game, especially these days), there is one thing that I hate so much that it's literally a deal-breaker for me in some games. I'm talking about water.
I love horror games. The only kind of game I love more than a good horror game is a good, challenging platformer. I got more excited during this past E3 from watching footage of Dead Space 3 and Resident Evil 6 than I did anything else. But you know what? If one of those games has a section that requires me to be underwater with enemies, there's a good chance that I'll get so stressed out that I'll either turn the game off or ask someone else to play that section for me.
Now, this fear I have didn't become realized until the advent of 3-D worlds. I can handle swimming levels in 2-D games just fine, and I think it has to do with controls. In the old school platformers, the controls in water were practically identical to the controls on land. In the case of the NES, the button you used to jump was the same one you used to swim upward, makes sense. When it comes to 3-D games, however, you usually need to learn a new set of controls when encountering a swimming section. No matter how many 3-D Mario titles I play, I always have trouble getting acclimated to the controls again.
But getting used to the controls is my own problem. It's really just about stress. It may be because I have an oxygen meter, or because I have to fight enemies, but being underwater in games just stresses me out. The first instance I can think of is in the Sega Genesis Sonic titles. In this case, though, it has absolutely nothing to do with the oxygen meter, absolutely nothing to do with the enemies, and everything to do with that terrifying music when Sonic is about to be deep-sixed. You know the music I'm talking about. I still hear that music in my nightmares, followed by the horrifying visage of Sonic's slow, agonizing death.
The fear continued with Ecco the Dolphin, a game that takes place entirely underwater. Why did that game scare me? Because sharks, bro. Then once games got into the 3-D space, Tomb Raider II came along and traumatized me forever. Ecco the Dolphin is understandable, because he's a dolphin, he belongs in the water. But the first time I got attacked by a shark in Tomb Raider, that was it. No thank you, sir. I turned the game off, and never returned to it. Stupid Lara Croft, there's a reason you don't go underwater, because that's where God put all the monsters. Seriously, have you seen some of the stuff that washed up on the shores after all the tsunamis in recent years?
You can't look at that thing and then tell me that it's not a monster. That thing has about 7 SyFy original movies in production about it at this very moment. I don't know what species or family this fish belongs to, so I made one up that seems the most fitting, and I've decided to call it "Satan's Nightmare Fuel."
I've always been fascinated by Greek mythology, and one of my favorite movies of all-time is Clash of the Titans. Not the 2010 remake disaster, but the 1981 original, the one that had real thespians like Burgess Meredith (Rest in peace, Mick). That movie still rocks from top to bottom, and if you've never seen it, you owe it to yourself. It was one of those movies that was always on television when I was a kid, and I never passed up an opportunity to watch it. The giant scorpions, the Stygian Witches, Cerberus, Medusa, Calibos, this movie had some amazing villains and awesome stop-motion effects. But the highlight of the film was definitely the Kraken, the most terrifying creature from ancient mythology.
Look at that thing...just awesome! Being the mythology buff that I am, I was pumped to play the original God of War back in 2005. Then I realized something. I said to myself "I'm probably going to have to fight the Kraken." Then I remembered that the Kraken came from the water, and I'm probably going to have to go into the water to kill it.....F that! The Kraken did make an appearance in the sequel, and I was beyond happy to find that I didn't have to follow it into the abyss. But the God of War series, despite being a personal favorite of mine, is also one that I find myself with feelings of unease towards. I'm yet to play Ghost of Sparta, but in the four titles I've played, there is always a swimming section. Going back and playing them now, I have no problems, but upon the first playthrough, my stress level is at an all-time high because I didn't know what to expect. The swimming sections are mostly pointless in the series, except in the original, which is also the only title in the series that has obstacles and things that can kill you.
Remember Kingfin from Super Mario Galaxy? Yeah, he was terrifying. Remember El Lago from Resident Evil 4? Horrific. Remember swimming with Emma in Metal Gear Solid 2? That's the reason my hair started turning gray.
Have you ever heard of Leviathan? The most terrifying thing ever thought up by anybody ever? He's mentioned in the Bible as a giant monster. In Satanism he is one of the four princes of Hell. You know where Leviathan lives? The water. I rest my case.
I'm not scared of water in my every day life. I'm not afraid to go swimming...in pools. Screw the ocean, man. When I'm in a pool, the worst thing that'll happen is I run into some urine or I see a very hairy, sweaty man walking around. But I still prefer that over being swallowed whole by Nessie.