-Video edited by Anthony Beanes
-Reviewed by Gregg Dietz
-Video edited by Anthony Beanes
-Convention Reporter/Host of Rolling 20s podcast
When we received an advance copy of an independent comic book for review, I eagerly stepped up. Though I don’t have much time as a busy conventioneer, family man, and podcaster, I’m finding that as I get older, I want to try out as many things as I can to see if I become a fan. Shadow Hunters #4 is not one of the things I became a fan of.
The cover quickly grabbed my attention with someone that looked like a more curvy version of Marvel’s X-23 surrounded by ninjas with glowing eyes. I wasn’t sure where this was heading. I began reading pages and found out that feeling of not knowing where the story was going would deepen with every page. There was no summary or synopsis on the credits page, so it was up to me to read between as many lines as possible to find out what the actual story was. I gathered bits of it as I went; the main character is a semi-scrupulous half-vampire gang leader. She has a number of full-blooded cousins, one of which licked blood off of every part of her like a third-tier porn star. Her father is a noble and betrayed her trust. There’s some kind of flash drive everyone wants with government records on them. Lastly, for some reason, she knows a sorceress and a shape shifter that seem to play games with each other in the shower, and I’m not talking Parker Brothers.
It didn’t take long before the dialogue told me that this would take some patience on my part. By page 3, the main character (who’s name still hasn’t been mentioned at this point), says to another character, Shut up! I don’t care about you but Jessika made it sound pretty important what was on t
hat drive. And I’ll be damned if your just gonna bleed all over it! I didn’t change the punctuation at all. It was the kind of sentence that you have to read a few times to make sure what the writer was trying to get across.
The art wasn’t much more helpful. The detail seemed to fade in and out and if you weren’t a central
character, there wasn’t a lot of time spent on drawing those characters, I felt. The vampire ninjas that
showed up (yes vampire ninjas) looked like faceless minions you might find on an episode of G.I. Joe
from 1992. That being said, the pertinent characters seemed to get more attention, but all of the main characters, with the exception of one male soldier, were all slender women with D-or-larger-cup breasts who shopped at Hot Topic at various parts of the last decade. This felt more like someone’s middle school fan fiction brought to live than a story that may lead to an ongoing narrative.
The direction seemed to need help as well. The soldier was bleeding from a large gash in his abdomen standing with some of the women, then on the next page, he was several feet away laying on the ground. By the third act, not only was he not bleeding, but his clothes were repaired and clean. If there’s an explanation for any of it, I missed it.
In Norse mythology, dying in glorious combat will let a warrior enter Valhalla. In “Jotun: Valhalla Edition,” failing at that means even more fighting, as you try to prove yourself to the gods. But the obstacles and battles ahead are enhanced by great music, good visuals, and some spot-on mythological references.
Story-wise, the goal of “Jotun” is simple: earn your way into Valhalla by fighting the jotun. There are several stages to explore, each with unique environments, obstacles, and puzzles that must be traversed to clear them. While they can be tackled in nearly any order, certain levels will unlock new abilities that may make others easier to complete.
In regards to gameplay, the controls are simple enough; there are regular attacks, power attacks (which are more commonly used to clear certain obstacles, since the time it takes to charge a power attack leaves you open to be hit or for the opponent to just walk out of the way), dodge rolls, and the abilities granted from the blessings of the gods. It takes no time to get used to the controls, although as with all games, it takes time and experience to really master the timing for everything.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the game, however, is the visuals. The designs are all hand-drawn 2D artwork, but everything moves smoothly in both gameplay and animation. The environments and backgrounds are stunning, stretching out into the distance and creating beautiful scenery. At times the game will slowly zoom out, showing the sprawling worlds reaching out into the distance, showing the full scope of the game.
Additionally, the soundtrack is powerful, and adds to each level the proper amount of tension and emotion. Composer Max LL deserves praise for crafting such a fitting soundtrack for the game, as it really adds to the experience. There is some voice acting, including narration and the occasional moment where the player character (Thora) speaks, but none of it is in English; the game boasts “authentic Icelandic voice-overs,” and it adds a more unique, even mythical feeling to it.
Speaking of anything mythical, the game draws pretty much entirely from Norse mythology, and it’s perhaps the most accurate representation of the mythos I’ve ever seen. Each deity and mythical item is true to its source, including the occasional recounting of certain myths or origin stories. As a fan of mythology, the accuracy was very much appreciated; there’s no need to try to make the stories more “hip and modern,” the game relies on the appeal of the old tales and mythos.
But overall, is the game fun? Is it entertaining? Or does it focus so much on the style that the function falls flat? Well, while it may vary from stage to stage, overall the game is enjoyable to play. The music, acting, and mythological accuracy all add to the overall strong gameplay, and it’s just challenging enough to keep players engaged.
And if the boss battles aren’t tough enough for you, there’s the Valhalla Mode, providing amped up boss battles for an extra level of challenging.
If I had one complaint, it would be that the Wii-U version does not utilize the gamepad’s screen much at all. Even though the game could be played on either screen, the gamepad just displays a logo, so there’s no playing it with the TV off, which is a convenience the Wii-U allows. Of course, this only applies to the Wii-U version, and is an incredibly minor thing to mention; most players will not take any issue with this at all.
Overall, I’d give “Jotun: Valhalla Edition” a solid 8/10. It’s fun, well-made on every level, and appeals to the mythology geek in me.
I have never really liked remakes that much they just seem to be for the most part to me somewhat unnecessary. And when I personally say remake we are not talking about some sort of franchise reboot or high defiantly rereleases those are fine. No what I am mentioning here is when an original game is rebuilt from stretch to retell the same events with some new material. My peculiar reasoning for this is that if the game was already really good to begin with why remake it just play the original. But on the other hand if the original game was not all that good not to say bad of course then it could stand to reason why remaking it could be pretty desirable. The remake of the first Resident Evil is the kind of remake that falls into the rare circumstance of being remake from an original game that was not all that great overall. This remake is not only one of the few that was needed but is also one of the best remakes of any original game period.
Being an accurate remake and not just simply another reboot the opening story is exactly the same as the original. There are some events that happen later in the game that were changed to help explain certain elements in the squeals. And also plot material that came up in the squeals was also mixed in the narrative to help keep the overall story fresh. So besides that there are no changes to the main story from it was if you played through the original game. So because of that there is no need for me to go into lengthy detail about the plot especially since I already told it all again recently in my review of the prequel.
Although the core game mechanics are the exact same there have been several improvements made over the original with many of them being concepts that were later introduced in many of the squeals. Some of the new gameplay quirks that came from later games include being able to perform 180 turns in an instant and being able to auto combine weapons ammo and ink ribbon in and out of the storage bins. Of course one new addition to the gameplay that was brand new is the use of single use defense items such as daggers and grenades that allow you break free when certain monsters have ahold of you. Another great enhancement is in the area of controls where overall character movement is not only much greater than before but it is also some of the best in the entire series.
The general map is pretty much the same as before so for those of you who are very familiar with the original will have no trouble knowing the layout. Although there have been some new additions to the remake such as an abandoned shack east of the mansion and the new aqua ring in the basement of the residence. Other minor changes that help keep the remake fresh include an addition set of tunnels added to the underground caverns and slight changes and new rooms on the second floor of the mansion.
Of course just because the map has not changed much does not mean you will be able to explore everything in the exact same way as you did the in the original. Most of the keys are now in different places than before and will require different strategies to get to them. Some of the key items have different uses from what they were before and there are also new key items to find.
The key items are not the only thing that is different many of the puzzles have had slight altercations to them or have completely changed as well. And there are new puzzles in areas where there were none before such as the clock puzzle in the dining room. All the puzzles are nicely done and some of them will take some brain power in order to figure them out properly.
All the monsters you love from the original are here with two new additions the first is Lisa Trevor an immortal mutated girl who shows up here and there and can only be avoided as weapons are unless against her. Then there are the Crimson Heads who rise up from zombies you have already killed and are much faster and deal more damage and they can be prevented from coming to life if you burn the body of the zombies you have killed with some kerosene. Overall the remake has lots of stuff that has remained both changed and unchanged and also has some new stuff added in for good measure that make this remake feel like an entirely new game.
The graphical leap of the remake over the original is amazing as the amount of detail with the characters and environments were some of the best for its time. The soundtrack is still really good with most of it being updates of tracks from the original including the save room theme. And of course the voice acting and writing are much better as well although some of us long for the days of the Jill Sandwich and Master Of Unlocking. Not to mention there are quite an amount of unlockable extras to keep you coming back for more including the new real survival mode.
Overall the remake of the first Resident Evil as mention earlier is not only one of the few remakes that was needed but is also one of the best ever made. In many ways it is better off for some to skip over original and just play the remake instead it is that good. And like the second Resident Evil is not only one of the best in the series it is also one of the best in its genre period!
The original trilogy of the Resident Evil series began and ended the first saga of events for the series that coined the term survival horror. The first game started the viral outbreak at the Spencer Mansion while the second and third games showed the virus consuming the mountain town of Raccoon City which in the end had led to the city being wiped off the face of the earth. Of course there are still some important questions to ask such as what exactly happened that lead to the first outbreak at the mansion and how was the virus that was the cause of it even created in the first place? Resident Evil 0 is here to answer those questions as this prequel that takes place right before the infamous mansion incident will take you deeper into the secrets and working of Umbrella and some of its founders. There is much to learn for those seeking more answers into the series of events that began the survival horror experience and with that only one question remains should love live out this nightmare that took place before the nightmare?
As previously mentioned in the first game just in case you forgot the town of Raccoon City has been experiencing an unusual series of cannibalistic murders. The special forces of the Raccoon City Police known as STARS were sent into the forest region of the city outskirts to investigate. The first group sent in was the STARS Bravo Team who while searching the forest experienced helicopter trouble and made an emergency landing. And then the next night the STARS Alpha team was sent in to find the Bravo Team when they lost contact with them after they crashed.
While the first game focused on the Alpha Team and they search for the Bravo Team this game covers the events of the only member of the Bravo Team to survival the ordeal and that person was Rebecca Chambers. Before she made it to the Spencer Mansion where the others would end up she found and boarded an occupational train called The Ecliptic Express. It did not take her long to find out that train was infested with zombies as well as some other very deadly creatures. She then comes across an escaped convict named Billy Coen who was able to flee his prisoner transport when it was attack by Cerberuses. Despite his status as an adjudicated killer Rebecca teamed up with Billy in order to try and survival this nightmare and uncover the secrets of the Umbrella Corporation and one of its former founders and most brilliant scientists.
The story not only shows the event that took place before the Mansion Incident but also tells us how the virus that started it all was created and how it was leaked as well. Of course like with the previous installments you need find and read some of the documents laying around in you want to know it all. But despite still having to read some stuff here and there the plot is pretty good and there are lots to learn for those interested in knowing the precursor to the Mansion Incident.
While the core gameplay is same as with all the previous games there is one new major difference and that is the partner system. Throughout the majority of the game Rebecca and Billy are both playable as you control one while the computer controls the other. You can switch which character you want to control at almost any time and even swap items between the two. Your computerized partner can be told to either follow you or stay put and you can even tell it whether or not it can attack enemies with whatever weapon it has equipped.
While this system does bring in some new gameplay elements overall it does not increase the survival horror experience of previous games. Although it does add some minor advantages such being able to carry more items and having help taking take down enemies. Or course you can as mentioned before you can leave your partner behind and go around on your own if you wish. And there are moments when you can even go and explore one area and then have your partner explore another area afterwards which can cut down on backtracking if are good enough.
Although some of the downsides are you can only use your herbs to heal either only you or your partner which could complicate you in an upheaval. There are also random times when the two will be randomly separated which depended on which items you and partner have can put you in an even more convoluted situation. Like with the first game both characters have slight differences from one another Rebecca is the only one who mix herbs and can fit into smaller spaces while Billy can carry heavier items and take more damage. Other than the partner system just like prior installments you will need to conserve weapons ammo and healing material and you need to find certain item and solve puzzles.
Many of the weapons you are familiar with from previous games return with the only new addition to the arsenal being Molotov cocktails. Most of the monsters you have come to know and love are back with new nasties like zombie monkeys and humanoid creatures composed of large leeches. Some of the bosses you will come across are monstrous beasts such as an incredibly giant scorpion and giant centipede and even an overgrown bat that will have asking who is the real goddamn Batman.
You will spend most of the game exploring the Umbrella Training Facility which does not look that different from the Spencer Mansion so you will get the feeling of being in familiar territory. Although Veteran fans of the series will also notice that an insignificant area that you explore are minor areas from the second game. Despite somewhat familiar settings the overall game at times just does not have that same quality level of survival horror as you got with its predecessors.
Of course the biggest flop in design is the absence of the universal storage containers instead you can your items and come back for them later. On the face of it the ability to drop item is nice when you run of space at an inconvenient time and you need to quickly exchange something. Unfortunately this can create unnecessary backtracking especially when moving to the next area and you need to bring extra herbs and ammo with you.
Graphically the game looks amazing and is an outstanding example of the graphical capabilities of the Gamecube in its early years. The voice acting is pretty good especially if you like the British accent of Wesker that he had going on at that time. And of course there are some memorable beats found within the music that fit the atmosphere of the game incredibly well. This is one of the first Resident Evil games that is overall presented pretty well when compaired to previous installments.
Resident Evil 0 is in someway considered to be both one of the weakest games in the main series and the weakest game of the retro series before the major changes brought by Resident Evil 4. But the overall game is still pretty good despite not performing as well as some of its critical acclaimed predecessors. And if you are looking for some more Resident Evil or survival horror goodness there is an earnest change you will find it here.
Sometimes whenever you have an individual movie or game that is considered awesome by many and an impending sequel is on the way the thought of how will it turn out is usually the most common. And I personally find that the three most likely answers to that question are either it will be just as awesome if not more in some ways or it will be mediocre to terrible and will destroy all expectations and last while not as good as its predecessor it will still greatly satisfy. Resident Evil 3 best falls under that third one while at the same time continues to make some slight improvements to its overall formula to try and keep things fresh. Despite its shortcomings the game still has some memorable moments that give it an undeniable mark on the franchise. For the next installment of the Resident Evil Twentieth Anniversary Series Review let us look at the game that was responsible for one of the most memorable monsters in all of gaming history.
Taking place at the same time as the events of the second installment the game manly focuses on one of the survivors of the mansion incident form the first game Jill Valentine in her attempt to escape the zombie infected hellhole that is Raccoon City. What we learned from the previous game is that William Birkin an executive scientist for Umbrella had finished his development of the new virus he was research called the G-Virus. He despite the risks then decided to keep his new research finding to himself and so Umbrella sent in special forces to retrieves the virus from him by force and was mortally wounded in the process of trying to defend his newly born virus. Before he died he injected himself with the virus and turned into an unspeakable nightmare and then killed off most of the special forces who were carrying samples of both the G-Virus and the T-Virus the virus responsible for the mansion incident. After the attack the monster consumed the samples of the G-Virus while the samples of the T-Virus that had spilled during the attack were then ingested by rats and infected the world supply of the city. And now all of Raccoon City is an undead jungle when both the local police and the SWAT team unable to fight against the swarms of zombies and those who remain alive has only one thought on their mind escape.
Like with the previous two games the story revolves around two main characters Jill Valentine and newcomer Carlos Oliveira who works for an elite private military owed by Umbrella and was told that he was sent into the city to rescue civilians. Although after Jill tells Carlos that Umbrella was responsible for the outbreak he joins forces with her in order to help them both escape and hopefully expose Umbrella for their crimes. Of course escaping will not be easy and not just because of all the zombies and other monster roaming the streets it also because of an overgrown nuisance simply known as Nemesis. Nemesis is an unusual type of Tyrant monster created by Umbrella that can be used to carry out certain requests and in this case his mission is simple find and kill any the remaining member of STARS. So to matters worse Jill also now has an oversized monstrous assassin on her tail as well chasing her wherever she goes and showing up at the most inconvenient of times and he will do whatever it takes to get at her. The story is pretty good although not the best in the series and at times it can fell trivial in ways although it does end with an enormous bang and yes both puns and spoilers were intended there.
Once again the game plays exactly the same as its predecessors with no serious changes to the overall formula with the exception of some new features. The first is the much needed and very useful ability to make complete 180 degree turns that generally makes the gameplay smoother. The second is the ability to perform quick dodges against oncoming enemy attacks although I personally found them hard to execute.
Another new addition is the creating of ammo with different types of ammo powder that you will find throughout the game. These different powders can be used to create only one certain type of ammo or can be mixed with other powders to create new types of ammo. This new ammo powder system makes the game at times slightly more action focused than the previous games.
Of course the biggest new feature to the game is the regularly recurring STARS hunting tyrant monster that is Nemesis. There are several moments when this menace will be after you and you have the option to either fight or run with the latter being the most wise. But if you do manage to drop him he will just come back later although you do get some bonus items for your effort.
Although the new ammo powder system gives you more action then before the overall survival horror experience is still there. Being conservative at times is still the key to making it through especially if you choose to bring down Nemesis. And of course looking for numerous keys and items and solving simple puzzles is still here and it is all done well just as before.
The weapon selection is about the same as before with some new additions like the assault rifle and gatling gun both with infinite ammo the can mow down waves of enemies within seconds. These new weapons can by unlocked by playing through the new Operation Mad Jackal minigame which is unlocked after you beat the game. In this new minigame your goal is to get through the streets while gunning down as many enemies as you can before the time runs out.
Enemies such as the cerberus dogs and the vicious hunters return with new ones including brain sucking giant fleas and overgrown blood craving millipedes. New bosses include an incredibly large burrowing worm and multiple encounters with the always in pursuit Nemesis. Although some of his appearances can be skipped as mentioned before if you make the choice to run away.
The music is still pretty good and like the previous two has an elected few that are pretty damn memorable. The voice acting is not half bad for its time although I personally wonder if some of the foreign accents such as the Russian of Nikolai or the Latino of Carlos are both just too thick. And the overall writing is pretty decent although with the exception of Nemesis constantly saying Stars there is nothing here that is quite unforgettable like the first game had. Graphically the entire game looks pretty much exactly the same as its precursor with some enhancements. And like before going through the game again with new weapons and costumes that you can unlock will give you some decent replayability.
Resident Evil 3 put itself at being an appealing game in many ways despite still falling short of its highly acclaimed predecessor. Its keeps the survival horror train rolling while at the same time tying up quite nicely some of the events from Resident Evil 2. It might not be an abundant fan favorite as with some of the other installments but it is still pretty good and worth the play.
Resident Evil was not only one of those games that helped bring success to the original Playstation but it also helped established the survival horror genre. Even though the game itself had really annoying flaws it was still seen in the eyes of many gamers as an amazing experience. And with this great achievement sitting on the shoulders of Capcom they of course had only one thing on their minds and that was make an awesome sequel. Of course any other things on their mind at that time probably would of involved milking the hell out of Street Fighter.
The second Resident Evil was more than just an improved sequel to continue the lust gamers had to kill zombies it was considered one of the best games of the fifth generation of video games. 1998 was considered by many to be one of the greatest years in video game history and this game was defiantly an immense contributor to it. The game is still considering by many to this day to be one of the series best and one that defined survival horror. So we continue the Resident Evil Twentieth Anniversary Series Review by looking at the highly popular second installment.
It was revealed that the mysterious pharmaceutical corporation giant Umbrella had been the catalyst behind everything and the monsters were byproducts of an artificial virus the company had been developing. Albert Wesker who was secretly working for the company and was one of their head researchers had lead the STARS members into the mansion in order test the abilities of the monsters spawned from the virus. Luckily both Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield managed to successfully escape the monster infested mansion by the destroying the ultimate creature known as Tyrant and blowing up the entire mansion to prevent the virus from spreading any further.
Unfortunately though blowing up the mansion also destroyed any evidence of the events that followed and so the people of Raccoon City did not believe any of the claims the surviving STARS members made that was until it was too late. Now through an unfortunate series of events the virus has now contaminated the once small quite mountain town and has turned many of its residents into zombies with many other deadly creatures are also on the loose. And on top of that the Umbrella Corporation has purposely unleashed to ravage the city in search of something that is critically connected to the viral outbreak.
Like the previous installment the story centers around two main characters Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Leon recently joined the local police department and has just arrived in town for his first day on the job while Claire has come to the city to find her younger brother Chris who when missing after the events of the first game. Both of them run into each other and find themselves smack dap in the middle of the zombie outbreak they both escape to the local police department as they begin to unravel the events that led up to this tragedy.
Leon meets up with an enigmatic women named Ada who claim she is here in the city to find her boyfriend and Claire befriend an alarmed child named Sherry who is the daughter of one of the top scientist with Umbrella. Sherry for mysterious reasons is also contently being chased by an unknown shape shifting monster who Claire must protect from. And also the humanoid monster that Umbrella unleashed also seems to be targeting both Leon and Claire for unknown reasons.
The story more fleshed out this time around with certain elements from the previous game being explained such as the Umbrella Corporation and their involvement with the mansion incident. Although like the previous game many of the background elements are only explained in files found through the game so if you want to know everything you got to spend some time reading. None the less the story is pretty good and has many interesting moments to keep you hooked and is overall an impressively worthy follow up that helps answer questions about the events from the previous game.
The core gameplay has not changed and is the same as its predecessor but with some needed improvements that make the whole experience much better. Despite still having tank like movement overall control is smoother than before which makes moving around feel much better. Although manually aiming your weapon still feels stiff all weapons have auto aim like before which works fine however it be nice if the game would automatically alternate between targets.
Just like before conserving ammo for your weapons and herbs to heal yourself is still the priority and as long as your search places thoroughly you will have more than enough to make it through. Although it would be nice if the game did not limited the amount of times you can save your progress with the ink ribbon system which for some could still be an annoyance. Of course the ability to save wherever you want would also be nice and would help cut down on backtracking.
Other new elements added to the game include character movement being slightly slower than usual when your health is low and when they are close to death they will begin limping. And whenever you put certain items in storage such as ammo and ribbons they will auto combine. Despite the gameplay being the same as before the amount of polish in the controls and new minor game additions make the overall experience much more enjoyable than its predecessor.
When it comes to weapons there is slightly more variety than before with new toys such as the multi shot crossbow an automatic machine gun and even an odd weapon that shoots electricity. Although some of these new special weapons do not have extra ammo available for them and once they run dry they are done for good. Certain weapons such as the handgun and shotgun can now be upgraded with custom parts that can be found that increase round bursts and firepower.
Zombies are given some variety this time around with zombies wearing different types of clothing and showing traits of both male and female. Of course like before zombies are not the only creatures you have to deal with and some of these other creatures include new additions like the tongue slinging lickers and living plants that shoot acid at you. But the biggest menace you will encounter is the large humanoid beast only known as Mister X who you will run into multiple times throughout the game and you can choose either to avoid him or fight him.
Like previously part of the survival horror experience is exploring areas thoroughly to find items of importance and then figuring out their use. And also solving many simple puzzles along the way will keep you busy as you venture through the monster filled environments. Overall the design just like the gameplay although remains unchanged and certain areas of the design such as the fixed camera angels can still be annoying it just fells greatly improved over its predecessor.
Of course gameplay and design are not the only improvements made even the overall presentation have been enhanced. Graphics are much better with everything from the different environments you will explore to characters models look great. And the game even ditches the full motion video based cutscenes for computer generated ones which are also better presented.
Voice acting while not great is better than before with actors like Alyson Court and Sally Cahill who continued to voice their characters in sequels and spinoffs. The writing is also slightly better this time around but there is still plenty of cheesy stuff that even good voice acting cannot fix. Although despite the cheese there is nothing that is quite as memorable or meme worthy as Jill Sandwich or Master Of Unlocking.
The music is once again pretty good and pretty memorable and sets the tone and atmosphere just right even when you are just saving your game. In fact is one of those games where you might want to get your hands on the soundtrack and put it on whatever device you now use for music. Hell some of these tunes would make some pretty good ringtones as long as you smart enough not to pay for them.
Resident Evil 1 as mentioned earlier helped establish the survival horror genre although it had many flaws it was an interesting game that played an important role for that gaming generation. Resident Evil 2 while the same game greatly improved on the formula despite having many of the flaws from its predecessor and created one of the best games in both the series and the genre. It is defiantly worth checking out and is an absolute prime example of the gaming greatness that made up the year of 1998.
Review By: Aaron "Aeecee" Clark
Ever since the day George Romero put out Night Of The Dead the concept of the dead coming back to life and attacking the living has been both an important and popular theme in media. Zombies have infested every form of media from books to shows and of course the endless amount of movies that continue to satisfy our love for watching feral humans get blown to bits. And of course video games are no exception to this if something in the theaters or on television because popular enough we gamers will expect to be role playing that experience at some point. And these days there are so many different games in many different genres that let us live out our love to pump some lead into the undead that there are too many to name just check Wikipedia.
But for many for there is one series that stands above the rest and that series is known by many for making killing zombies an enjoyable pastime for gamers all across the globe and that one series is Resident Evil. Since its original release back in the mid nineties it has become one of the most popular and best selling video game franchise to date and its success has led to numerous novels and movies and of course spin offs. It popularized and partially created the genre known as survival horror and even though it has somewhat strayed away from its roots it still contains well designed over the top action and tension based excitement that continues to impress today. This year is the twentieth anniversary of the franchise and what better way to celebrate this occasion by looking back at many of its games and seeing just how good were these games and how do they hold up now so lets start this off by looking at the original where it all began.
The games takes place in an obscure forest region located outside an idyllic Midwestern American town know as Raccoon City. An array of murders in which many of the victims were cannibalized has caused panic within in the town and an elite special forces unit known as STARS is sent in to investigate. While searching the forest for clues the STARS Bravo Team goes missing and all contact is lost and so the STARS Alpha Team is sent in to find them and continue the mission. Alpha Team finds the downed chopper of Bravo Team as well as the corpse of one their teammates. Alpha Team is then attack by zombie dogs one of their teammates is killed and the survivors take cover in an adjacent mansion.
What remains of the team decide to split up and search the house for clues it does not take them long to discover that something is defiantly wrong with this place as they find one of the missing members of Bravo Team is being eaten by some undead human monster. From here the story is split into two different playable characters Jill Valentine who teams up with fellow Alpha Team member Barry Burton and Chris Redfield works together with Rebecca Chambers from the missing Bravo Team as they try to undercover the secrets of the mansion while as at the same time trying not to get eaten by zombies. They soon discover more zombies as well as other monsters walking among the halls and hidden within the many rooms and they also begin to find more bodies of members from the Bravo Team who met their end in numerous horrible ways. And to make matters worse the captain of the Alpha Team Albert Wesker has gone missing too so it is up to these four to find some way to escape this house of horrors and blow away anything that is not human that gets in their way.
The main problem with the plot is that it does not present itself very well as it does in later squeals and also the remake and this is due to well known reasons that will get discussed later. One of the reasons is that alot of the background information that explain how this nightmare became to be is told in multiple files found throughout the mansion. Unless you are someone who likes to read alot and not to mention does not mind interrupting your game to read said files you are probably not going to like this method of storytelling. But overall the plot is good and has both interesting characters who only got more interesting over time as well as plenty of background story that is also pretty interesting providing you like to stop and read at times.
Resident Evil was notorious for having an interesting new style of gameplay that its creators decided to call survival horror. Although there were similar games with this style of gameplay that came before it Resident Evil was the very first to give this type of play an appropriate name. The core of the gameplay is very akin to that of an adventure game in which you explore the mansion room by room in order find clues and items that will help to progress through the house and make your escape. There are many different types of keys to find that unlock different types of doors and you will also discover several random objects that have various and mysterious uses as well as numerous simple puzzles to solve. All the objects can be examined thoroughly in three dimensions to discover hints on how they can be of use and even new items can be found inside. And of course wondering many of the halls and in many of the rooms are zombies and other monsters that are there to impede your progress and prevent any chance you will have of escape. With any of these encounters you can either choose to fight as many will or if you are skilled enough you can run your way through and hope you make it without getting your face bitten off. And the reason why you may want to run instead of fight is the game gives you an objectively limited number of weapons and ammo to use as well as the many types of herbs used for healing.
From every bullet you fire into an enemy and every herb you use to heal yourself the resources are partially scarce and must be used carefully. This rationing of certain elements like weapons ammo and first aid is one of the main gameplay elements that describe the survival horror genre. This new gameplay concept when it was first introduced was not only fascinating but it also creates an interesting mix of strategy and tension which in the end all comes together real nice. Of course the more carefully you search the house the more ammo and herbs you are likely to find which means the better you are at searching the more you may not have to rational as much.
Another concept of the survival horror experience is that you are limited to carrying an established number of items at once. Throughout the mansion you will find storage containers where you can stash items and weapons not to mention any extra ammo and herbs you will find. You are also limited to how many times you can save your game with the typewriter and ink ribbon system. Typewriters are used to save your game while the ink ribbons are the item you need in order to use them and like ammo and herbs they are limited too so make to save wisely. Of course this limited carrying capacity can lead to some annoying and unnecessary backtracking if you do not know which items you will need and which ones you will not which can lead to frustration at times.
The game features two characters to play as Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield both of them have slight variances form one another that determine both your gameplay experience and difficultly. Jill can carry more items and can take more damage and gets an especially useful lockpick which lets you unlock certain things without the need for the key. Chris on the other hand can carry slightly less and can take less damage and exists as the games option for more skilled players. Both characters are balanced quite well and allow you to pick how difficult you want to make your journey through the mansion to be.
Although if there is one thing many of the early Resident Evil games are known for it is the awkward controls that are fine with some and others not so much. You push left or right to turn your character and then push up or down to move forward or backward of the direction you are facing which feels like you are driving some tank which is labeled by many as tank like controls. This can make it difficult move pass and run away from enemies although when using weapons you do have an impartially handy lock on feature that works well although it is not present in the American Playstation version so good luck on it. If there is an Achilles Heel in this series it would definitely be the controls but enough playing around with them and you will adjust to it.
While the mansion is huge and has much to uncover on your quest to escape you will also go through from an eerie courtyard to an unsettling cavern and even an enigmatic lab there is lots to explore and discover. You will also have to solve numerous puzzles which are not only simple but are also quite clever and do some thought in order to figure out. And the variety of items you will find and discover and what you need to do with them also adds to the puzzle like experience.
When it comes to enemies there is more than the slowly walking zombies to deal with you will come across packs of hungry zombie dogs giant spiders that spit poison and the deadly hunters that can decapitate you with one swing of their claws. There are also some even larger monsters that act as the bosses such as an incredibly venomous snake who can sallow you in one bite an overgrown pile of weeds and vines plant like creature and an even bigger spider to put up with. While these bosses look intimidating they are really not that much more of an intent threat then the regular monsters as long you have some shotgun shells and some mixed herbs you will make it through with very little problems.
As mentioned earlier the controls are an Achilles Heel to the gameplay unfortunately there is also an Achilles Heel in the design too and that would be without any single doubt the camera. The game uses fixed camera angels from start to finish and while many of them are cleverly placed every now and then you will come to an angle that make fighting or avoiding enemies an incredible pain and can even hide important items and make them even more difficult to find. Both the tank like controls and fixed camera angels have become an infamous stable of the Resident Evil series but when you have played the games for as long as me it becomes something that is an important part of you.
When it comes to graphics the game has not aged all that well the environment is pretty fuzzy and the characters are really blocky but for an early Playstation game it is still somewhat decent. The music is both good and memorable with certain tracks such as the save room music which have become well recognized pieces in both the entire series and the gaming culture in general. Of course one of the most memorial elements of the game is not only the piss poor writing but also the terrible yet laughable voice acting that are the subject of one or two internet memes.
Resident Evil overall has not aged at that well from an angle of both gameplay and design and even the parts of the presentation have not held up all that good either. Although despite these shortcomings it is still an interesting game that some people will still get an immense kick out of. Not only did it help establish the survival horror genre but is also started one of the most important and popular video game franchises to date. It is still worth checking out but for some others you might to play the remake that came out six years later instead but that one is for later.
Review By Aaron "Aeecee" Clark