About a week ago (or was it two? Days…blurring together…), I had the opportunity to hang out with a buddy, sip a little Courvoisier (yes, I am now classified as a mature gamer with refined tastes 🙂 ) and play the latest in one of my favorite survival/horror series, Resident Evil 5 by Capcom.  The only problem with this was the lack of horror.

If someone doesn't oil my massive arms IMMEDIATELY, it's going to get messy around here.

If someone doesn't oil my massive arms IMMEDIATELY, it's going to get messy around here.

A brief setup for the game: you’re Chris Redfield, the continuing protagonist for most of the RE games. You’re in Africa where terrorists have seized the T-virus and mutated it. You and your new partner, Sheva Alomar, are 1 of 3 teams trying to find a certain terrorist when things begin going wrong…zombie wrong.

I remember the nights working at Hollywood Video and closing the store at 1am, coming home and popping in Resident Evil 2. I remember those nights because they were damn near sleepless. Every door you walked through had it’s own creepy cut-scene (albeit, giving the Playstation just a bit of time to load the next scene) and you never knew what to expect in the next room. The lighting and music lent itself perfectly to the genre and enhanced the tension. I’ve been talking to a lot of colleagues about “moments” in games; the small scenes in a game that stand out and stick with you long after you’ve forgotten the name of the main characters or how the game ended. There was a “moment” in RE 2 when you walked down a certain hall with boarded windows, in fear of one of the Lickers attacking you, when suddenly zombie arms burst through the window boards and tried to kill you on the spot. I remember literally jumping out of my seat when this occurred and it has stuck with me ever since.

Fast forward to RE 5…no such “moments” and plenty of opportunities. In the first village, you walk around and witness someone being beaten in the street and a bit of tension rises as the members applying the beat-down slowly turn to look at you (all in-game). You walk a bit further down the road and a voice comes across a PA system. Suddenly, the town seems empty – again, a bit more tension. In hindsight, this would have been a perfect opportunity to secure the “horror” element for the game with something simple like a chicken popping out at you on a forced turn. Seriously. Something little that makes you jump and feel a bit embarrassed about doing so. Sprinkle several of these “moments” throughout the game, mixed in with actual times that the player does need to start firing to save their lives and you’ve got a winning combination that will have your audience punch-drunk, the way they want to be.

Visually, RE 5 is stunning. The motion-capture used on the zombie hoardes (and I mean hoardes…no more 2 or 3 zombies per screen) and protagonists alike is spot on. Even the textures in the walls of run-down buidings and villages look incredible.

Unfortunately, once you’re past the glitz and glamore of the graphics, you’ll notice a fairly weak storyline made worse by choppy, unbelievable dialogue. Gone are the days of ammo conservation (which set this series apart in a good way), so feel free to run and gun. And lastly, the first boss fight is much harder than anything you see throughout the majority of the game. Granted, I haven’t finished the game, but 5 hours into playing, I had not discovered a bigger challenge than the level released as a demo. Hmmm…I’m not saying false advertising, but…

In all, the game is fun but I don’t feel it lives up to its namesake. If you’re making a survivor/horror game, make sure it’s a struggle to survive and, for Pete’s sake, make sure there are moments of horror. C’mon, Capcom, you know this. Or at least, you did.

Catching Up on Things

April 9, 2009

It’s easy to be the first to report on such things as Game Developers’ Conference and World of Goo, etc. It takes passion, talent and determination to be the last to report on these things. So, here I am, bringing you the greatness of late news.

Drew McGee in "Manifest Destiny!"

Drew McGee in "Manifest Destiny!"

First things second, I’ve been playing a couple of games including Midway’s last ditch effort at a Mortal Kombat game: Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. My complete coverage of this game will be available soon on www.GamersInfo.net, but for now, steer clear. The game was obviously rushed, lacks the gore that MK fans yearn for and the overall fighting mechanics leave you more frustrated than ecstatic.

I also played TellTaleGames new launch: Wallace & Gromit in the Fright of the Bumblebees. My complete coverage of this game is already up here. As you will read, I highly recommend this game for about 5 hours of pure fun.

Okay, San Francisco and the GDC 09. Brilliant! I tip my hat to Aaron Murray, Founder of Tandem Games, for flying me out there and allowing me to experience the greatness. I spent most of my time on the expo floor where we displayed our new casual game, Bumble Tales, in the Garage Games booth. Speaking of which, BT will be available for download in May from sites like www.BigFishGames.com and various other portals, so look for it. A match-3 style game with content galore including 35 unlockable characters and stories, high-res art, full voice-over and more than 100 levels of fun!

There was an awesome game right behind these girls, but they wouldn't move!

There was an awesome game right behind these girls, but they wouldn't move!

I was given a copy of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune by Naughty Dog’s own Richard Lemarchand (couldn’t ask for a nicer guy than this) and immediately popped it in when I got home. If you’re a fan of the Tomb Raider series, this will be right in your wheel house. The music is amazing! I literally found myself sitting there waiting for the music to loop before moving on in the game because it was so big. The music took me back to the movie theater when I first saw Jurassic Park…that good. The puzzles weren’t difficult at all, but the story really made the game come together (and no, I’m not saying that just because I’m a writer). I’m going to say “Buy It” because it’s a good 10 – 15 hours of solid gameplay and finding all the treasures will have you OCD gamers enthralled.

Lastly, World of Goo. Play it! Buy it! I loaded this last night and wanted to try it for 30 minutes. I ended up playing for almost 3 hours. The game design is fan-freakin’-tastic: beautiful levels, hilariously cute Goo balls AND it makes you think! Again, the music in this game could be a soundtrack you listen to for recentering your chi or something. Take my word on this: you won’t regret this purchase.

Post-lastly, Domain of Heroes made a few headlines here and here!  Okay, that catches you up on a lot of things. Leave comments, wishes, or money. Whatever you like.