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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Alien: Isolation first impressions

I didn't expect to be reviewing more than one new game this year, but at this rate I might actually be able to fill up my top five games of 2014!
I might as well put up a disclaimer saying that part of this review was written prior to finishing the game, which is why the transitions are a little awkward. Also, minor spoilers inbound when I talk about a scripting error. Nothing major, but I figured I'd let you know.
Alien: Isolation the latest in a line of licensed games based on the Alien franchise. The last one, Colonial Marines was a followup to the movie, Aliens. As I was only informed about the backlash after the fact, I will not be comparing the two games, despite what other outlets and critics may be doing. Now, considering that, I'd like to talk about the history of Alien in videogames rather briefly.
Alien has had quite a few bad games based on it. For instance, the Super Nintendo platformer based on Alien Cubed was trying to be Metroid, but utterly failed due to some pretty bad mechanics and poor level design. The NES version was also trying to be Metroid pretty hard, but it failed a little more than the SNES one thanks to the LJN rainbow of doom, and the fact that the developers had obviously never played Metroid. I've heard that most of the other games made based on the Alien/Predator franchise aren't great. The ones I've heard good things about are Alien vs Predator: Requiem for Sony's PSP, which I haven't played but was apparently pretty good, and Aliens vs Predator for Xbox 360, PC and PS3, which spread itself a little too thin, but was apparently pretty decent.
And then there's the arcade beat-em-up based on the Alien vs Predator comic, which is apparently remembered alongside Turtles In Time as one of the greatest Beat 'Em Ups ever made, despite never seeing a home console release. One of the main characters is based on Dutch, Arnold's character from Predator, and someone who.... Most certainly isn't Ellen Ripley. As well as two Predators. And no Alien. Why no Xenomorph?
Anyways, the last two Alien games I wanted to talk about are Alien Trilogy and Alien: Resurrection, both for  the Sony PlayStation.
Alien Trilogy is apparently a DooM clone in every sense of the phrase. It's an FPS, you run around fighting Aliens and doing other stuff. It received generally positive reviews.
And finally, Alien: Resurrection. It started off as a survival-horror-y Resident Evil clone, but transitioned into an FPS.
Which is the exact opposite of the path Resident Evil took. It started development as an FPS, but mutated into the game that defined survival-horror.
And now we have Alien: Isolation. A followup to Alien where you play as Ellen Ripley's daughter, Amanda Ripley. Fifteen years after the events of Alien, Amanda finds out that the flight-recorder from her mothers ship has been found and joins the crew of a ship that's been sent out to retrieve it. She winds up going on a space-walk with two other members of the crew because the space-station had a damaged docking-bay.
As such, an explosion separates them and Amanda winds up having to search the station for her shipmates.
Now, as demonstrated in my ongoing let's play I was confused as to which of the characters was blown over to the airlock Ripley enters. Obviously it was Ripley, but I though it was the British girl, Taylor because of how it was... Filmed? Rendered? I don't know.
Anyways, that might have been a lapse of attention on my part.
So as the title suggests, there is an Alien in this game. There might be more than one for all I know, since this is a first impressions review. I call him "Mister drooly-face" because giving a deadly creature a cutesy nickname is hilarious. And I already beat this joke into the ground in the first few minutes after making it.
So anyways, let's start talking about the gameplay.
You guys remember my Metal Gear Solid and MGS2 playthroughs, right? And my (Currently incomplete) MGS3 playthrough? Well it's very similar to that. It's like Metal Gear in the first person. Except that you can move around in the first person.
That was something I didn't like about Metal Gear Solid 2 and MGS3, they (Unless I'm forgetting something) didn't let you move in the FPV, because they used the left stick for looking around and the right stick for the katana. Sometimes we need three analog sticks I suppose. Or maybe we should have a switch to go between the first and third person, and not a deadmans switch.
And maybe a third analog stick for the sword if we really need that.
Or maybe I'm thinking about this way too hard and I should probably get back to the real review.
Well anyways, as I said it's a lot like Metal Gear. Except crossed with Call of Duty, but with voluntary prone stance removed. Instead of letting you crawl around on the floor, you have to crouch and move like that. Your proning is completely reliant upon moving next to a low surface, and then staying under it, at least in the Xbox 360 version. It's incredibly inconvenient, as somebody who's played a lot of Metal Gear Solid and enjoyed the stealth-sections in Call of Duty 4 I expect to be able to lie down and crawl. It was invaluable in Call of Duty 4 and also in the Metal Gear Solid games. Just saying, it would have been nice to be able to crawl on my stomach. I might have not been seen or killed as many times. Having to crouch like that was what got me killed by a bunch of Androids once. If I'd been prone and crawling, the android wouldn't have seen me over the computer banks.
My point is that not being able to go prone in a stealth-horror game at-will is something that baffles me.
And also, the automatic-proning gets really irritating around certain low-hanging edges later in the game. Not letting you lay prone on your own means that you're sometimes lying down under a desk when all you want to do is not be seen over the computer monitor.
Now, I started the game on hard mode because the menu said that was how the game was meant to be played, and as of this writing I've sunken about nine hours into it give or take a few (I haven't had time to look at the footage I shot yesterday quite yet) and I'm only on chapter five. That's about the amount of time I spent on Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Sonic Adventure, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl: Subspace Emissary each. I've poured enough time into this game to fill up almost two Call of Duty games and definitely two of the shorter Sonic The Hedgehog games.
And I have to say, it feels like it's worth the time. Might even be worth the money. I wouldn't know, having only ever bought one game at full-price in my entire lifetime (For those of you who don't know, it was Fire Emblem: Awakening) and that one was certainly worth the forty bucks I paid for it. Poured almost fifty hours into it so far (And I'm sorry about putting off my midpoint thoughts on it for so long, but my summer catchup reviews have shunted it down the list quite a bit.) and it's been worth every single penny. I'll have to reserve judgement of this game until I finish it (Which I did)
For the sake of knowing, I decided to look at the achievements and see how many missions there are.
And I was shocked to see that there were... At least fifteen if I remember correctly.
Fifteen missions. Fifteen. It's crazy. It's like they actually put some kind of effort into the game!
And that's something that you can tell throughout, that actual effort was put into it. There are all kinds of little things scattered around the space station chronicling what all the residents did and what happened to them before the game started. Nice little touches here and there, you know? Fluffy things that flesh out the world.
Anyways, I can't remember how long it took for the Alien to show up, but it was at least four hours. And I like it. (Not a spoiler because Penny Arcade already mentioned that fact) Until then you're pretty much just hiding and running from human survivors. And that's a nice way to add to the tension. Sort of like the original Alien, where there was a lot of stuff going on in it before the Alien appeared. You got to know the characters, you get used the the grungy sci-fi environments, explore a little, find some cool stuff to read. And that's pretty good. I liked Alien for doing that. It was pretty sweet. For the first horror-movie I'd ever seen I would say that it was a pretty good start.
So I might as well go into some things I noticed about the game here. First off, there are quite a few physics bugs even after the patch was installed. They're fairly rampant, but they're also not major and don't really cause many problems. Second is that there are a few scripting errors that persisted past the installation of the patch. First is that, in one mission you get seen by a female survivor who was trying to unlock an elevator. When you get shot at you automatically crouch down and can't get back up to sprint until she leaves. This wasn't something I noticed until after I'd been killed by her harem of preternatural psychic sharpshooters a couple of times.
After the first time I got found, I decided to try and sneak up on her to kill her before she could sound the alarm. I got found. So at some point in time I decided to run up to her and smash her with my mighty hammer of doom. And Mjolnir just clipped right through her, but her shots managed to smack right into me. That was the point when I found out that she couldn't be killed at that point. But before that (Or after, I can't remember because that entire thing started to blur together after a while), I decided to run after her and try to keep her from sounding the alarm. And she got away. And that was about the time I found out that you don't get chased by her and her buddies until after you pick up her access-tuner. Which means you can run around the whole area looting and setting up traps to your hearts content. Up until then, the pacing was picture perfect. And that wasn't fixed in the patch to my knowledge, since I installed the patch prior to my second play session. That little scripting error broke all of my immersion built up to that point. Fortunately, they managed to suck me back into the game some more later on.
Except for the time that one of the Androids I was running from at one point managed to teleport right through the elevator door. They did that like twice if I remember correctly. Just popped right through the elevator door after it had been shut. This was after the patch was installed, by the way
In addition to that, the human NPCs in that one sequence I mentioned seemed a little too smart. They wound up being able to shoot me from across the freaking room, with pinpoint accuracy, using handguns. That really shouldn't happen. In anything. While making the NPCs scary-smart does add to the tension, humans still shouldn't be able to tell friend from foe in the dark, on a different floor, across the freaking room, and with plenty of obscuring objects between us.
At one point in time I grabbed the tuner and booked it out of the room, and then stumbled upon what I presume to have been another group of survivors, who threatened me with their guns and told me to back off or be shot. I did just that, and they proceeded to fill me with hot lead.
That didn't really make much sense. I was doing what they asked and they STILL opened fire!
Anyways, after that I decided to grab the tuner and book it out of there, opting to hide in a locker on the way. After a while, someone who I presume to have been the woman who sounded the alarm passed right by me, and then a little while later passed by me again after having checked the room. I burst out of the locker and whacked her with the maintenance jack a few times, killing her.
At that point, I decided to loot her body for her weapons and supplies. Which was when I found out that I couldn't take her revolver.
Another thing I feel like mentioning is that all of the handguns in this game look like Barry Burton's Colt Anaconda from Resident Evil. All of them. The revolver you find looks like it, and every character with a gun uses that same model. I'm not saying that they were lazy in designing guns, but it's a little bit perplexing that there wouldn't be at least one other model of pistol on board the station.
Anyways, I don't really appreciate the inability to loot weapons from others. That got to me in Metal Gear Solid as well, but at least they had a plausible explanation for that in the sequel. The weapons are bio-metrically locked to the owners of them, therefore they're about as useful as a knife in a gunfight. In this game however, why you can't pick up and use the weapons of others is neither addressed nor explained.
So anyways, from there on I noticed that the Alien seems to be programmed to mess with you.
In some seriously messed up ways.
I cannot count the number of times that drooling black monster just stared at me. Like it was thinking "Yeah, I'll be back for you" and then walked away to do something else.
Usually killing other people.
And then coming back to kill me. A lot. I unlocked an achievement called "100 times too many"
In case you want to know what you have to do to get that achievement, you have to be killed by the Alien a hundred times.
And that's not even counting how many times I was killed by androids, or humans, or my IED's inexplicably going off in my face.
Not that inexplicably, but sometimes I wonder how the flames from my molotovs kept arcing back towards me when I was too close to the target.
It wasn't major though. Just gotta learn to be a little further away from ground zero before tossing a pipe-bomb or molotov.
So Ripley travels around the station, gathering supplies and trying to get back into contact with her ship. And all the while, pretty much everything in the station is trying to kill her.
I won't give anything away, but suffice to say that there are some truly brutal moments in this game. The kind that must be seen to be believed.
Now, onto the level design.
Some doors require a certain button combination to open. Like holding down on the left trigger and pulling down on the left stick, or pressing A multiple times to start up a generator, or moving the left stick around to cut open a panel. Personally, I really like that the game makes you open up doors, panels and other things like that. It adds to the interactivity and immersion.
There are other, similar puzzles that require certain timing with button presses, or holding one stick in a certain position while selecting a certain panel with the other. It can get a little awkward, but it's supposed to be that way. I doubt I'd be able to do much better than Ripley in that same situation, and I like the button-combination things. They're not exactly what I would call quick-time-events, but they're similar.
I don't know why I like them, really. It might be because they add to the atmosphere, that they don't break immersion or the flow of the game, or maybe that they tend to be brief and easy to get used to.
Another thing I love about this game is that you never leave Ripley's POV once you're on the space-station. The camera never cuts to third-person for anything. And there's hardly any HUD, just an ammo-counter and a health-meter in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. And it works. You see this, Jurassic Park: Trespasser? This is what you were supposed to be. You see this, Colonial Marines? You were supposed to do this a year ago. Hell, you were supposed to be doing this thirteen years ago.
Hey, Slender? You see this? This is how you do survival horror. Not jumpscares, not inconsistent AI, but with a malicious and sadistic monster that actually poses a threat to you. Slender's game overs consist of a mannequin dressed up like The Nostalgia Critic staring at you. Alien Isolation's game overs consist of you being strangled by an android, stabbed through the stomach in graphic detail by the Alien, stomped to death, having your face bitten off, being just plain SHOT and PUMMELED TO DEATH.
And blown up by your own weapons. You see this, Slender? I'm talking to both The Arrival and The Eight Pages, as well as Slenderman's Shadow. This is how you make a good horror game. If you guys had done this instead of.... Whatever the Slender games were, I might have liked you. You might have been more than a passing fad. But guess what? You've been replaced by good survival-horror games now (As if you weren't a year ago). Games that actually have survival elements (As opposed to insta-kills and nothing to fight back with) and horror. We've got The Evil Within coming out as well, here's hoping Shinji Mikami can light the spark up again, am I right?
*AHEM*
And finally, the graphics. This game looks pretty good. The lip-sync is a little off at times, and my slow as molasses flash-drive I had to install the game on meant that textures and sometimes whole areas would take a few seconds to pop in, but I don't blame the game for that. The Xbox 360 said that it wasn't at par for data storage. As far as a game that's seeing a release on current as well as next-gen goes, it looks better than, say, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone for the PlayStation did at the time. Or Chamber of Secrets on the same system. Or Spider-Man 3, or Sonic Unleashed, or pick a sports game. It looks really nice. I played it at 1080i and I thought it looked pretty good. And I'm not usually one to care about how good something looks.
There are, as I've said before, a few minor physics bugs, and some things I presume were supposed to be round turn out looking kind of polygonal, but that's a minor detail compared to how awesome the game is.
So, moving on to Crew: Expendable.
Crew: Expendable is the first piece of DLC released for Alien: Isolation, included with the Nostromo Edition, which came as a free upgrade for all pre-orders.
It lasts about a half hour.
It includes a faithful recreation of the Nostromo from the original Alien, as well as most of their equipment. The DLC starts off right after the deaths of Kane and Brett.
In addition to informing you of that, the voucher falsely claims that Lambert and Ash have already been killed as well, despite both of them being alive and well at the beginning of the DLC, and playing rather large roles in the story. I presume this summary was attached to an older version and they didn't have time to print up new vouchers when the direction of the content changed.
Yaphet Kotto, Tom Skerrit, Harry Dean Stanton, Veronica Cartwright and Sigourney Weaver reprise their roles as Parker, Dallas, Brett, Lambert and Ellen Ripley respectively, with Ian Holm reprising his likeness as Ash, but unable to provide voice work. And it works pretty well. I like that they were able to get most of the original cast for this DLC, however brief it may be.
The expansion gives you a choice of playing as Dallas, Parker or Ripley. Considering Ripley's status as the only survivor of Alien, I naturally chose to play as her. You'd think that playing as either Dallas or Parker would open up a different ending, but from what I've read it seems to play out the same way no matter which character you choose.
I figured that it would be an abridged recreation of Alien, or maybe even a complete adaptation, which would last a couple of hours.
Unfortunately, it didn't get that far. I clocked hard mode in, give or take a half an hour. It's just an excerpt of a few scenes from Alien combined with a deleted scene and some narration.
Admittedly pretty cool and pretty tense scenes, but if you want the experience this DLC gives, you can easily just re-watch Alien.
It's pretty good for what it is I suppose. But it's nothing special. You could put the four dollars to something that lasts longer. DooM 3, for instance is ten dollars, as are, Half Life, Half Life 2, both HL2 episodes, Fallout 3, 2 and New Vegas, both KOTOR games, Portal, Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition, all for ten dollars each on Steam. X-COM is seven dollars right now on Steam, Deus Ex is seven dollars, DooM II, Ultimate DooM and FinaL DooM are all five dollars, hell. Aliens vs Predator 2000 is five dollars!
My point is that if you didn't get the Nostromo Edition already, and you've seen Alien, you won't be missing anything, and you can easily spend your money in better ways on better and longer games.
Like Aliens vs Predator 2000.
Sorry to say it, but I was disappointed in Crew: Expendable. As an unlockable once you completed the main campaign, it might have redeemed itself, but as DLC I'd personally pass on it in favor of buying a full game, or waiting on larger expansions to this one. The file-size of just over a hundred megabytes should have tipped me off as to the length. It's kind of fun at first, but I was disappointed by how short it is. Personally, I think that a full-on adaptation of Alien would have been in order. Heck, just give it its own game! That would work!
All in all, aside from the DLC, I liked Alien: Isolation. I have a feeling that it's going to become one of the defining survival horror games of this decade. It's got stealth, it's got tension, it's got aliens, it's got androids, and it has immersion. If you were burned by Aliens: Colonial Marines (And if you were, I wouldn't blame you), this game is here to provide some soothing cream. And by cream, I mean tears of fear and sweat of terror.
In the end I give it a 10.1* rating. It's a great game, and it must be played to be believed. I'll be seeing you soon with Resident Evil 2!
Side note, the game includes a brochure, stating that all four Alien movies with extended cuts and "awesome extras" available on Xbox Video.
Notice that it's mentioning all four movies as opposed to just the first two.
Granted, my hypothesis about both of those movies being figments of Ripley's imagination, dreams she's having during her cryosleep journey back to earth does make both Alien 3 and Resurrection better films (And granted, Alien 4 was much better than Alien 3, but that's not hard to do) but I don't know why anyone would want to associate something as good as this game, much less as good as the first two Alien movies with Alien 3. It would be so easy just to pull a Superman Returns and say that the third and fourth movies never happened and be done with it, and yet they keep advertising all four movies.
Probably because they know they're only going to get the last two movies into peoples hands if they bundle them with the first two. But I can tell they're trying for a soft reboot and retcon to get peoples minds off of Alien 3, and have been for the last seventeen years.
So anyways, tangents and ranting aside, this game was good. End of story.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Resident Evil Zer0

Now for some history. When the original Resident Evil was in development, some idiot on the team thought it would be a good idea for a prequel.
Yeah, that's a little bit weird. The game wasn't even finished and they were already thinking about MORE story for the series. Resident Evil Zero was in development for the Nintendo 64 back about '99 and was going to be a title for the 64 Disc Drive back when people thought it would work. Thanks to the fact that the Disc Drive didn't move a lot of units they shifted to regular the regular cartridge. Considering the fact that they managed to fit Resident Evil 2 onto a single 512MB Nintendo 64 cartridge I guess Capcom figured they could fit this massive game into a single Game Pak.
Unfortunately, they exceeded the maximum cartridge size, which either meant they needed to put it on two carts or wait until the release of the GameCube.
After a while it also exceeded the technical capabilities of the Nintendo 64. Considering the game was originally designed to take advantage of the N64's significantly more powerful CPU and approximately twice the RAM at stock that's saying something. The game wouldn't have worked on the PlayStation, since the system couldn't even handle Marvel vs Capcom without having to butcher the tag-team mechanics. While the Nintendo 64 had about half the polygon per second capability at stock, in Turbo-3D mode it's capable of almost double the PlayStation's polygon count. The graphics suffered, but with the RAM expansion Pak you could easily increase the resolution to 640 by 480. Not to mention being able to expand the texture cache.
Anyways, this game and REmake were both pushing the standard of realistic graphics in the sixth generation, and I haven't seen a modern game that has lived up to the sheer photorealism and depth these games have.
Call me a snob for the old stuff, but I freaking love the graphics in this game.
So let's talk about the plot. There have been several strange murders in the Raccoon City, which have been traced to a group hiding in the nearby forest. The RCPD has sent the S*T*A*R*S* Bravo team to check the situation out.
The team consists of Captain Enrico Marini, the team leader.
Edward Dewey, the pilot and team mechanics expert, as well as a sharpshooter.
Kenneth J. Sullivan, the team pointman and oldest member of S*T*A*R*S*.
Forest Speyer, Bravo Omni man, Chris Redfield's best friend and the team sniper.
Richard Aiken, Bravo rear guard and communications expert. Lives with his girlfriend.
And finally, Rebecca Chambers. The newest and youngest member of S*T*A*R*S*. Bravo team's medic and biochemist. Also one of the main characters of the game as you can see by looking at the cover of the game.
And finally, here's the other main character, ex-United States Marine Corps Second Lieutenant William "Billy" Coen. Currently a death-row inmate convicted for a massacre he refused to participate in.
As the game progresses, you learn more and more about the man known as Billy Coen, and the situations surrounding the biohazard outbreak.
I say learn, but to be honest, Resident Evil Zero only muddies the already murky waters of the series plot so far.
The guy who looks like Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII in the intro of the game is apparently the younger version of the guy who Wesker and Birkin killed to get ahold of sole control of the T-Virus. He came back to life thanks to some leaches.... Somehow... I'm obviously paraphrasing and abridging here, because this is one of the most complicated and bizarre plots in the entire series. It's better made than something like Dead Aim, which I'll be getting to next year. For now let's just say that Dead Aim is badly written, terribly acted and is probably has the least reason to exist of any game in the series. If you want to play it that badly just import a copy of Resident Evil Survivor 2 Code: Veronica. It's a much better game.
What I'm trying to say is that if you don't play this game you won't be missing much in terms of plot. But then again, outside of the novels Rebecca Chambers had very little meaning as a character. She was never mentioned after the original game outside of a report she filed about the "death" of Billy in the Nintendo 64 version of Resident Evil 2. And considering that the GameCube port was based on the Dualshock version, and didn't bother including the supplemental material the N64 version had, this game doesn't really tie into the existing plot in any way.
The game doesn't take place inside the Spencer mansion, it doesn't even really take place near the Spencer mansion, and doesn't even bother to mention how any of the S*T*A*R*S* Bravo members got into the Spencer mansion. It's got an area from Resident Evil 2 in it towards the end, with an appearance by Enrico with absolutely zero explanation of how he got there or how he got to the catacombs under the Spencer mansion.
So I have no idea what this game is for. It's not that it isn't fun, it certainly is. It's not Dead Aim, which was both completely disjointed inside of its own story and had zero connection to the existing canon as well as being boring and disappointing.
Sorry for that minor rant, so moving on.
Resident Evil Zero has some cool puzzles, interesting level design and you could easily spend your time and money in worse ways.
In the end, I'd say it's a decent enough game. They wasted a decent plot, certainly. All in all though, I'd say it was a pretty good game. Story-wise, it's confused. But it's still pretty fun and it's a got a decent mystery plot backing it up. So yeah, I recommend it. As far as Resident Evil games go it's not as good as REmake or 3, but I'd say it's still worth your time.
All in all, I give it an 8.2* rating. It loses quite a few points for the confused plot, but gained several back for being a fun game. I'll see you next week with Resident Evil 2!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Resident Evil for Nintendo Gamecube.

Remember that unboxing I did last year, when I got the first disc of Resident Evil and the second disc of Resident Evil Zero? Remember how pissed I was?
Yeah, I managed to sort that out thankfully. Resident Evil Zero is coming next week, but right now we need to get to the remake of the original Resident Evil.
Shinji Mikami has been noted as saying that Resident Evil for the GameCube is about seventy percent different from the PlayStation version (It's crazy that PlayStation is a word but not GameCube or GameBoy) but personally I would say that it's more than a hundred percent different. While there are similarities, pretty much everything has been completely changed from the original. Gone are the bright technicolor backgrounds (and static lighting) that were part of the reason why I liked the original. But considering how cool the new graphics look, that's not even an issue.
In fact, I'd say that it still looks great. Even the 3D modeling looks really good. Considering the fact that I haven't seen any game that has graphics that good in.... Ever.
I'm not kidding. I've seen really good looking games in my time, but not as good as this. Really, the only game I've seen that I could honestly say looks that good is Mario Kart 8, or Ocarina of Time 3D.
And I've seen a lot of really good looking PC games as well. It's weird. I guess I'm trying to say that there's not really any other game that took me in the way this one did. It's immersive and realistic while not dipping into the uncanny valley, like a lot of games do.
You know, it's funny. Resident Evil for the PlayStation had Chris on the front, and Resident Evil for the GameCube had Jill on the front. And I played the former as Jill and the latter as Chris. Huh.
The voice-acting has been entirely re-recorded with voice-actors who actually have some talent. And a voice-director has ears. While the laugh-out-loud humor has been removed from the dialogue, the surreal structure of the game has stayed.
The STARS Bravo Team has been sent out to take out a group of cannibals that have been hiding in the woods and preying on hikers. The RCPD lost contact with Bravo and sent the Alpha team after them.
Joseph Frost finds the eviscerated body of Kevin Dooley in the sabotaged chopper, along with most of Bravo's standard-issue equipment. The team fans out in search of the other members of Bravo, but are ambushed by a group of zombie dobermans. Joseph gets torn to bits by the dogs and they almost manage to kill Jill and Chris.
Chris almost gets eaten by a Cerberus, but is saved by the captain. The remaining members of Alpha Team manage to get to a mansion in the middle of nowhere and bar off the door. Barry Burton has gone missing in the clamor. A shot rings out from the western wing of the mansion, and Chris goes to check it out. The captain and Jill stay behind to secure the entryway while Chris goes to look for Barry and the cause of the shot.
Chris apparently lost his gun (I'm not entirely sure how, I watched the intro five times and never saw him drop it) and as such is left with his combat knife. I find it rather odd that Chris didn't have an extra firearm on him. Or maybe borrow a spare gun someone else had. Or maybe take Jill and Wesker with him.
Anyways, Chris goes through the dining-room and finds a zombie eating Kenneth J. Sullivan.
Chris kills the zombie using only his combat-knife and takes a VHS tape off of Ken's body, because the game was made in 2002 and set in 1998.
Making his way back to the entryway, Chris finds that Jill and Wesker have vanished, leaving Jill's gun behind.
This essentially undermines what I feel the whole point of not having a gun in a game where things are trying to kill you is. But then again it makes the game a lot less irritating.
Chris finds the horribly mutated Lisa Trevor in the gravekeepers shack. She and the multiple heads attached to her body attempt to kill him, but Chris manages to outmaneuver her and escape with his life and most of his bullets intact.
Anyways, Chris runs into Rebecca Chambers from Bravo Team, having locked herself in a safe-room away from the zombie horde.
Chris also runs into Richard Aiken, having been bitten by a massive snake. He runs back to the safe-room and administers anti-venom to Richard's wounds.
Unfortunately, Richard gets eaten by a Neptune shark while they're searching for the rest of Bravo Team.
Chris finds the bird-picked body of Forrest Speyer on the balcony of the mansion. It comes to life and tries to kill him, but Chris shoots the head off of the monster and continues his search for the other STARS members.
Chris finds Captain Wesker locked in combat with Lisa Trevor in a pretty precarious cavern underneath the mansion. Chris and the captain manage to kill Trevor and escape the caverns.
I almost wonder what would have happened if I had left Wesker to die instead of reloading my save file and saving him.....
Later on Chris and Rebecca find a badly wounded Enrico Marini in the catacombs below the mansion, and he manages to tell them that there's a traitor within the RCPD before being fatally shot by said traitor.
Chris and Rebecca find Jill locked in a prison cell, and then confront Wesker after finding out he's the mole.
Now, to be honest, the actor in the new picture doesn't look a thing like the polygon model they used for this game. If it had just been the picture, and not a list of names as well, I wouldn't have known that was supposed to be Wesker.
Wesker gets impaled by the Tyrant, which proceeds to attack Chris and Rebecca. They manage to subdue it, free Jill, and set the mansion to blow so they can prevent the spread of infection. Chris radios Brad Vickers while the girls cover his back, and sends up a signal flare to show him where they are. Brad starts to land, but the Tyrant bursts through the helipad and starts attacking the S*T*A*R*S* members on the ground. Chris and Jill manage to keep it from killing Rebecca long enough for Brad to circle around and drop off a rocket-launcher. Chris picks it up, and blasts the Tyrant to pieces. Brad lands, the surviving S*T*A*R*S* members leave, and the mansion blows up behind them.
The game is extremely graphically sound. For being over a decade old, it holds up a lot better than some of its contemporaries, such as Final Fantasy X, or Resident Evil Code: Veronica. Strange, those were both games that used similar engines to previous games in their respective series and eschewed pre-rendered backgrounds for full 3D. And wound up looking extremely dated in a few years (Much less ten) because of it. Or for that matter, new (At the time) IPs like Splinter Cell, which had horrible lip-sync, disgusting graphics, and almost intolerable load times.
Enough hating on Splinter Cell, I've beaten that subject to death pretty much.
Anyways, I actually really like this game. It takes the surrealist bent of the original and turns it even more surreal, by replacing the amateurish voice-actors and shoddy translation of the original with more professional everything pretty much. That's not to say that there aren't spelling errors or possible mistranslations, there are. They're just a lot less frequent and noticeable.
Also, thanks to the fact that they were able to achieve more realism in the graphics, the atmosphere is also enhanced to prey on some primal fears, managing to pierce even my jaded shield towards horror. Mostly because the few primal fears I still have are related to darkness and a lack of control of my surroundings.
As for the gameplay and puzzles? They're nice. The puzzles are different enough that it doesn't seem like a rehash of the original at all. For that matter, the environments and design are also very different, so even if you're not playing on arrange mode you'll still be challenged if you've never played anything but the original.
Granted, given that Resident Evil will be turning twenty in two years, it's unlikely that's the case, but then again there are always going to be people new to the series that want to get in on the ground level. I was like that once, and the impenetrability of the fanbase initially turned me off of the series. I'm not saying that there needs to be a friendly and approachable cartoony mascot for every series, even ones that would suffer for it. What I actually am saying is that for newcomers, the series is fairly impenetrable. I'm not talking about the plot, that's pretty straightforward (Yes, I just called the plot of Resident Evil straightforward) I'm referring to the fact that it's damn near impossible to find a copy of the first couple of games in the series for a reasonable price. People like me, determined not to support digital distribution if at all possible will find it hard to get into a lot of older series since, despite there being no shortage of copies on the market, collectors and sellers have jacked up prices to maximize their profit margin. And considering that the HD port of this game has only seen a limited physical release only on the PS4 and only in Japan, it's not very encouraging for games of the future. Ace Attorney 5 and the Phoenix Wright HD Trilogy are also digital exclusive despite the former seeing a physical release in Japan and the components of the HD Trilogy have seen physical releases on the GameBoy Advance and Nintendo DS.
And then there's Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD. Resident Evil 4 is a game that's seen a release on the Nintendo GameCube, the PS2, the PC, the Xbox 360, the PS3 and the freaking iPad of all things. While the Xbox 360 and PS3 releases (Outside of a limited edition released alongside Resident Evil 6) were digital only outside Japan, the PC release was physical, because the internet wasn't nearly strong enough for an online marketplace where you could buy and download fourth generation games, much less four gigabyte monsters like Metal Gear Solid 2 and Halo. Despite my not supporting the way some games get released, it doesn't affect the quality of the game. Considering how much I loved the first two Ace Attorney games, it's highly unlikely that I'll be able to hate it simply because it's only being released digitally in America. And considering how much fun I had with Resident Evil 4 during my playthrough of the game, and how much fun I had with Resident Evil for the Nintendo GameCube, I won't be able to fault them for digital distribution simply because I like the games so much. Same goes for Azure Striker: GUNVOLT. Digital only, and yet it's probably going to turn out to be one of my games of the year simply because of how amazingly good it was.
So, after having gone off on a massive rant about digital distribution (Let's just ignore my massive Steam Library, shall we?) let's talk about the Wii version of the game.
Despite not having played much of Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil, and indeed having not recorded much, I can easily tell you that it's essentially a straight port with some new control methods, and some annoying borders on the side of the screen which cut off the edges of the field of view. Keep in mind that I played the GameCube version on my Wii, displayed on a 4:3 television, and I presume that the borders are there so they wouldn't have to crop, stretch or redraw the backgrounds for widescreen. Why it still displays like that on a 4:3 television, playing in interlaced mode on a console that's incapable of high-definition video-output is beyond me.
So anyways, all in all I liked Resident Evil. It does a decent bit of streamlining the original game and improving the acting, animation and graphics to bleeding-edge realism that still holds up today.
In the end I'll go ahead and give it a perfect score of 10.1*. Despite there being some awesome moment in both later games and earlier, I'd say this is probably the most perfect game in the series that I've played so far, tying right up there with Resident Evil 4. Not that I don't like the other games in the series, I'm going to disprove that notion several times this month.
I'll see you next week with Resident Evil Zero, and later with the novel based on the original game, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy. If you haven't already seen it, here's my review of the original Resident Evil.
I'll see you next week with Resident Evil Zero!

Resident Evil: REvisited

The story of my relationship with the Resident Evil series is a long and complicated one that goes back two years. Back when I got my PlayStation, I bought four games for it. Vigilante 8, Chrono Cross, Metal Gear Solid, and Resident Evil. Back then, I had the original PlayStation model and a pair of digital controllers for it, and as such I didn't find gaming on it very fun. Chrono Cross was the only game I stuck with for very long, since the others all read funny on the dying PSX laser, and controlled like crap with the PlayStation D-pad.
I died pretty quickly in Metal Gear Solid since I wasn't used to the controls, or stealth gameplay. Vigilante 8 was fun, but mediocre since despite the decent selection of cars, they're all pretty much the same, as are all the levels and combat. As I didn't have any friends on the same continent or in the same state as me at the time, and my parents weren't very enthusiastic about playing videogames with me, because they've both got their own things they like to to, and my dad stopped playing games years ago.
I remember reacting HORRIBLY to Resident Evil. I had no idea how the controls for it were supposed to work. It used a frankly bizarre tank control-scheme that went against what my entire lifetime of gaming had instilled into me.
So I dismissed it as an overrated piece of crap that had gotten popular for absolutely no reason.
Later on, I got a PlayStation 2 and a psOne from Craigslist, with a Dualshock and a DS2. The psOne had a much better laser in it, so I was able to play Metal Gear Solid without the audio messing up, and Vigilante 8 without my thumbs cramping up.
Needless to say considering how much time I poured into Metal Gear Solid and its first two sequels, I had a blast. Honestly, the only reason I stayed with it was because I'd beaten all of my other games and had reached an impasse in Chrono Cross.
Later on, I got Devil May Cry 2 for PlayStation 2. While it's not the game I bought a PS2 for, it certainly played a major part in my library expansion for the system. Then, later on I bought Resident Evil: Outbreak File #1 for whatever reason.
I didn't particularly like it, but that's a review for another time.
I looked up some footage of Resident Evil 2, and saw that it used the same gameplay style as Resident Evil, so I dismissed it. When I found out that the first game had been remade, I decided to look up an LP of it, but since it used the same tank control style as the first game, I dismissed it as well.
At Christmas, I got a 3DS and Sonic Generations. Right after I got the 3DS I connected it to the internet and downloaded a bunch of demos. Just for the hell of it, I decided to download the Resident Evil: Revelations demo.
I was extremely impressed. So later on, I decided I might as well pick up Resident Evil 4.
Twenty-one hours and ninety-some parts later, it was pretty obvious that I liked the series a lot more than I had. For one thing, I had a ton of fun playing Resident Evil 4.
So last year I figured I might as well fire up Resident Evil on my PlayStation again.
I wasn't planning on finishing it. I was just going to play a couple of hours, but as my YouTube channel will attest, I wound up playing the whole thing. All. Twelve. Hours.
I poured my time into this game. A game that not a whole year prior I was hating on like it was one of the worst games ever made.
I even posted a whole review talking about how much I disliked it.
Then again, DooM used to be one of my least favorite games until I stumbled upon a port that didn't suck. The Xbox version or one of the other official id Software releases are what everyone should stick to if you want a version of DooM that's got the levels arranged properly and actually plays the way it's supposed to.
Anyways, having completely retracted my statements about DooM, let's get around to tearing apart my opinions on Resident Evil.
Personally, I like the DualShock version because it gives you the ability to switch between the analog-joystick and the directional pad. That was invaluable to me, since I tried playing it with one exclusively, and then the other and....
Well let's just say it got weird. I'm not sure what was going on, but I liked being able to switch from one to the other at will for some reason. It's not like one is more precise or easier than the other, or even different from the other. The strange thing about it is that the ability to swap between the joystick and the D-pad probably kept me playing it a lot longer than I would have otherwise.
As the control-scheme is fairly impenetrable for someone who's never had any experience with it, options are a must. I don't think that there has been a single game in the series that lets you customize the controls to exactly your liking outside of Devil May Cry 3, and I'm not even sure that counts since it's a spin-off.
Despite the fact that I warmed up to the series as a whole while playing this game, I recognize that the controls will probably still turn off newcomers to the series given how different they are from almost every other game ever made. For that matter, the community surrounding the series (Especially the members of it that I personally ran into) can be a little bit unwelcoming.
At one point in time, I came across a group of people saying that you had to have grown up playing the series to get the controls.
Considering my well expressed dislike for the ESRB, growing up playing a game about New York City SWAT running around in a mansion filled with zombies and Lovecraftian horrors is something I can totally support.
Unfortunately, as I was born a year after this game came out I didn't grow up with it. I grew up with Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo. Considering that I never reached outside of the Nintendo line of consoles until a couple of years ago, my dislike for Sony was probably part of what tainted my opinion of Resident Evil. That and the fact that the laser on my PlayStation was in the middle of dying, despite not ever having been used certainly didn't help. Maybe the laser was just dirty, that's entirely likely.
Anyways, from what I can tell the DualShock version didn't add a whole lot compared to the original release. For instance, the right joystick doesn't do jack. Not that that's an issue, since it's not like there's any way the could have used it in the game without it being extremely awkward. The game simply wasn't designed to use a second analog stick, as a lot of games from that era weren't. For whatever reason, despite not using the right analog stick, they added an alternate control to R3. It brings up the pause menu. I have absolutely no comment. There's no reason for it to do that I can come up with, and I never used it in my gameplay to any memorable ends. To be honest, the only reason I even knew that button even did anything was by complete accident. I think I either dropped the controller or clicked the stick while I was holding it with one hand during the many, many times I had to pause the recording so that I'd have less editing to do in post production. Not that it matters how it went down, the un-memorableness of how I discovered it still highlights how useless it was. Especially when the actual Start button is closer to the Square and X buttons than R3 is. And in a game like this, you need to be able to pause the game as quickly as possible to reload in the heat of battle, lest ye be eaten by one of the many, many creatures out to chew on Jill Valentine.
So aside from the control changes, or the lack thereof, the only major differences I can tell are that they swapped out the soundtrack for whatever reason.
Personally, I don't like the pieces composed for the intro. It took me playing the Nintendo DS port to actually listen to the original soundtrack, and I have to say that version has better sound design. Even as a self admitted noir fanboy, the obnoxiousness of the poor attempt at drama that the new music applies to both the intro and the introduction of the cast is awkward, dated and unnecessary, a lot like the Japanese Dragon Ball Z soundtrack.
I guess that's a thing that the world can forgive Mamoru Samuragochi for, not composing the opening of this game.
Even though I'm on the record for disliking obnoxious and dated orchestral pieces, this is different since Capcom replaced the music that fit with the opening with this, as opposed to what happened in Dragon Ball Z, where the original soundtrack was almost completely unlistenable, but the American release replaced it with much better music. This game had good music in both the Japanese and international versions of the original game (Granted they were different pieces, but they were both still good) but the re-release replaced it with a psuedo-noir composition that was trying way too hard to be dramatic and edgy.
Which is odd, considering that the rest of the game has really well-made music.
But I mean seriously, I didn't like that twangy obnoxious ambiance in Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 and I don't like it in Resident Evil. Granted, as I said before, the rest of the music fits a lot better so this is just me rambling on about how I didn't like two pieces of music in an otherwise good soundtrack.
Anyways, the non-DualShock version has a much better instrumental song during the cast introduction that fits a lot better with the cheesy, neon, technicolor vibe I get from the game. The Japanese intro to the pre-DualShock version, Gaze of Ice also fits with the day-glo aesthetic of the game.
Blagh, rambling again. I should probably start talking about the plot.
This is one of the most famous plots in gaming history, but I'm going to summarize it anyways. Not to fill space, but to show you my interpretation of the events.
Resident Evil starts out with the Raccoon City S.T.A.R.S Alpha team investigating the disappearance of their comrades, Bravo Team. Bravo disappeared during their search for a group of cannibalistic murderers that had been plaguing Raccoon City for a month. Or alternatively, a group of homicidal rabid dogs.
During the intro cinematic, depending on which version of the game you own, it's either in black and white or in color. Personally, I like it in black and white. The color version is a little bit weirdly done. I'm not sure if the actor playing Captain Wesker had his hair dyed bright yellow or if they colorized the footage and it wound up looking really weird. Granted, the rest of the game is brightly colored as well, but something about black and white makes the whole thing seem a little grittier. Granted, the silliness is what I like about the first game, and it's actually what saved the whole experience for me. The thing about the color opening is that it shows the kind of low-budget they had for the special effects with how unrealistic the blood effects look.
Something that I found interesting about the Directors Cut was the fact that, thanks to a printing error that didn't get caught until it was too late, the American version doesn't have any differences from the original release. The scenes with Chris smoking have been cut, the scenes with the dead bodies in the intro have been cut, and Joseph's death has been cut down. The same thing happened for the Nintendo DS version as well, except that it happened in all versions of the game, even in Japan. I remember reading once that the German version, of all things was the only release of the PlayStation version outside of Japan with the uncut opening. Oddly enough, the PC version of the game is the only release that was completely uncensored outside of Japan, despite not being labeled at the Directors Cut.
After having let myself enjoy the game, I do like how over-the-top the opening is. I can forgive the bad acting, since they did what they could with what they had. I can also forgive the stupid special effects, since they're the kind that look best in black and white, but don't transition well into color.
Fun fact, did you know that instead of ketchup, the film industry used to use chocolate syrup in place of blood? It looked better on camera and behaved more like blood.
Also, I presume it tasted better.
Anyways, if you were looking at it from a pure quality standpoint, it's a complete mess.
But if you look at it as something that's goofy and over-the-top it's actually a pretty funny experience.
The cast introduction in both versions of the original game is pretty sweet. Even the noir-ish opening is nice. I like the Japanese and original intros better, but they're all kinda nice.
Upon selecting "New Game", you have the choice between playing a Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. Chris has a much harder time of it than Jill, because he dropped his gun in the uncut opening.
Except he didn't. I've watched the uncut opening of the original game, and Chris does't drop his gun. He also doesn't drop his gun in the REmake opening, so I have no idea why he doesn't have a gun.
Jill has a much better time of it. She has a gun, she can hold more stuff than Chris, and can also pick locks.
Given my bad experiences with combat as Chris in my first experience with the game, I chose Jill.
Now, despite having played Resident Evil 4, I had very little idea what went on during this game. And despite the fame of the first games plot, I also had very little idea what went on during the game. I led a fairly isolated life for the first decade or so of my existence, and as I didn't become a horror fan until very recently, I didn't know much about Resident Evil as a franchise, or as a game.
So in the intro, Joseph Frost finds the severed arm of Bravo Team pilot, Edward Dewey in the grass right before being ripped apart by zombie dogs.
After shooting some of the zombie dogs and running to cover in a nearby abandoned mansion, the remaining S*T*A*R*S* Alpha team members find that one of their members has gone missing. In Jill's half it's Chris, and in Chris's it's Barry. Since I chose Jill, she goes looking for Chris. Barry Burton comes with her, and they discover a bloodstain in the dining-room. Barry presumably has an evidence kit on him and stays behind to analyze the blood.
Now, considering this is set in 1998 and was made in 1995, that stinks of lazy writing, but it's a just a game. You probably shouldn't think too much about it.
Jill discovers a Bravo team member, Kenneth Sullivan dead. And being eaten by a zombie wearing a bright green suit. A zombie with white skin.
Weird thing is, even if you kill it it still comes after you later on.
So Barry shoots the zombie after it somehow manages to bust down the door.
They make it back to the hall, and find that Captain Wesker has gone missing.
Granted, by now we all know where this went, but for conversations sake let's keep up the facade.
Barry and Jill split up to look for Chris and the Captain. Along the way, we find the mansion is full of traps, zombies and The Legend of Zelda style puzzles.
And a lot of goofy dialogue.
The puzzles and the funny voice-acting are pretty much what saved the game for me.
I really liked the garishly colored backgrounds as well. They and the insane voice acting lend a surreal quality to the game that I really liked.
I'm not quite sure where my unconditional love for surrealism came from, but it helped me learn to like this game. And I have to say, if I'd known you could run back when I played the game originally I would have found it a lot less tedious. Granted, having a manual for the game probably would have helped me out to no end.
Anyways, there are some really cool puzzles in the game, and some pretty nice plot. Granted, the translation is pretty dodgy, but the plot as a whole is a really cool concept. To me at least.
I know that Capcom isn't known for good storytelling, but back when I started playing this I liked how straightforward everything was. While the plot might be extremely complicated, it's also a simple story of good against evil. Back in 2013, I got majorly into The Walking Dead and a lot of other cerebral morally complex stories. I got pretty tired of how deep and insane most of the stuff I was watching or reading had become, and that's why I loved how simple the story was. A group of morally upstanding officers of the law coming up against a group of mad scientists with no regard for human life? That's as straightforward as you can get.
I guess that's why I fell in love with the series, the fact that it was a story of good people in a bad situation that was brought upon them by no fault of their own clicked with the mindset I had at the time, and that's part of why I like the first Resident Evil so much.
In the end, sometimes it's a good thing to have a simple story about good and evil struggling against each other. And if you can do that while exploring a really cool mansion, killing zombies and other monsters with strategy and some pretty cool characters.
Chris Redfield is an ex ace United States Air Force pilot who has won several marksmanship awards.
Jill Valentine is a former Delta Force operative and the team medic, with a talent for lockpicking.
Barry Burton is also an ex USAF pilot, with a nice gun collection and a wife and family to get back to.
Albert Wesker is about the same age as Barry
I suppose Resident Evil can be summarized as follows: Here are some cool monsters inside a sweet house. You have the ability to kill these monsters in awesome ways, but only if you solve these interesting puzzles and if you think ahead properly.
So yeah, I like the multi-faceted puzzles. It tickles the Sherlock Holmes center of my brain. I can't explain it, but I like the puzzle-solving. It's almost on par with The Legend of Zelda I would suppose.
Now, a problem I had when I originally played the game was not being able to walk up the stairs, which in retrospect seems idiotic of me. But in the end, the whole reason I knew how to controls work was of Resident Evil 4, because it had button prompts on the screen.
But Resident Evil 4 was all about knowing what you could do. Resident Evil was all about uncertainty and surrealism. Unfortunately, to a newcomer it's unlikely they'd know even the basic controls if they didn't determinedly research everything about the game before buying it (Or at the very least, read the manual like I bloody should have), and then what's the point of even playing it?.
So Jill and Barry split up and search the mansion. Jill stumbles across a room with a shotgun in it, but the room outside locks down, and the ceiling starts closing in. Barry breaks down the door and delivers one of the most famous lines from the whole series. "You were almost a Jill sandwich"
Which isn't a bad image if you know what I mean.
But anyways, the dialogue is awful. It wouldn't fly these days (He says with Ride to Hell leaning around behind him) but I feel that it's a critical part of the game. It's funny. And if you take it like that's the way it was supposed to be, it's actually kind of cheery. It lends a nice contrast to the loneliness of game.
On the balcony, Jill runs into the corpse of one of Chris's old friend, Forrest Speyer. Picked apart by a pack of genetically-engineered crows. A sickening image to say the very least.
 Jill later comes across a dying Richard Aiken from Bravo Team and manages to mix together an antidote for his snake-bite. Oh, and by the way, he got bitten by a gigantic snake, which you fight a little later in the game.
Unfortunately he dies from blood poisoning despite the potency of the antidote and Jill's medical skills.
Jill later meets up with Barry, who is now wielding a flame-thrower while facing off with a giant plant monster, which was one of the coolest boss-fights I've ever participated in.
She and Barry run into Enrico Marini, commander of S.T.A.R.S Bravo team in the catacombs under the mansion. He's pretty badly wounded, but not gravely so. He manages to tell them that there is a traitor in the RCPD before being shot by the same said traitor.
If you're counting, that leaves only one member of Bravo Team alive and five of them dead (At least in this version of the game) and exactly two members of Alpha Team unaccounted for. We know it's not Chris Redfield, since he's the other main protagonist (And was cleared in my REmake playthrough and review, having witnessed Enrico's murder himself) and it's unlikely Rebecca Chambers would be the culprit. She's barely eighteen (And looks to be about fifteen) and this was her first mission outside of school fieldtrips.
And this game has been out for almost twenty years, so everyone know exactly who the traitor was.
Albert Wesker, the man who wears his sunglasses at night, and one of the most badass characters in all of gaming history. He served as Umbrella's head of security and bio-weapons research consultant. Wesker killed Marini and blackmailed Barry into destroying evidence, but Barry and Jill overpower him and knock him out. But because cops apparently don't carry handcuffs in this universe (Or maybe they were bitten off by the Cerberus's in the intro) they leave him alone, unguarded and unrestrained with all of his gear still on him. They don't take his bullet-proof vest, his sunglasses, his equipment, his gun or ammo, and didn't even bothered tying him up. Just take a belt and lash his arms and legs together for gods sake!
But then again, they were trying to kill the Tyrant so they DID have better things to do.
After killing the Tyrant for the first time, they find Wesker has left and activated the mansions self-destruct sequence. Jill and Barry rescue Chris and radio their pilot, Brad Vickers to come pick them up. Chris and Barry stay behind to fight off some Hunters while Jill sends up the signal flare. Barry, Chris and Jill manage to get to the rooftop and wind up having to fight off the Tyrant a second time. Barry, Jill and Chris pump it full of lead to very little effect, but Brad drops out a rocket launcher in the nick of time and Jill blasts the Tyrant creature away.
Jill, Chris and Barry fly off as the mansion explodes. They get back to the police station, and the events of Resident Evil's 2, 3, Outbreak, Outbreak File #2 and Caliban Cove ensue.
So all in all, I was surprised by how much fun I had. The game is actually quite interesting. Aside from Wesker, none of the cast has a secret past, nobody has any ulterior motives, the villains are not sympathetic, and the heroes are morally upstanding people.
Granted, Brad Vickers isn't the bravest or smartest person in the world, but he's not really important.
I love the surrealism that the visuals and the story exude. The translation has a lot to be desired, but I love the game all the same. While the voice-acting is some of the worst I've ever heard, it almost seems intentional. Unlike some of the other games I've played with horrible voice acting, which are mediocre or painfully bad, this just seems like they were trying for comedic.
So in the end, I give the game a 9.8* rating.
I remember thinking that Silent Hill had to be a lot better back when I hated Resident Evil. Kojima and Konami made it, but in the end it was just a badly made cash-in on the survival horror trend. I might change my opinion later, but even though Silent Hill had slightly more logical controls, it had too many technical issues for my taste. I got pinned between a monster and a table in the diner before I could save the game. That and the horrible draw-distance and acidic texturing make it kind of hard on the eyes. Unlike Resident Evil, which has clearly defined colors and lines.
I'll see you soon with Resident Evil Zero!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Alien series

Since Alien: Isolation is coming out soon, I figured I might as well review the movies in the Alien franchise that I've seen. I was originally planning to dedicate this month to Resident Evil, but such is life.

Alien is a 1979 Sci-Fi horror movie directed by Ridley Scot, and starring Sigourney Weaver and John Hurt, long before his stint as The War Doctor. There were other people in the cast, but none of them were memorable enough for me to care. Actually, they were, but I can't remember their names.
The crew of the Nostromo pop out of cryo-sleep and touch down on an alien planet, where one of their members gets an alien-creature attached to his face. Later, during dinner a nymph of a Xenomorph bursts through his chest, killing him.
Despite knowing who the heroine was, I had a hard time picking out Sigourney Weaver. Probably because she looks a lot like a teenage boy in this.
It's a pretty sweet movie. I'd recommend watching it if you haven't already. It's a great sci-fi movie and a horror movie all in one. And I don't particularly care for horror movies in general.

Aliens is a 1986 followup to Alien. Why it took seven years to make a sequel is beyond me.
Ellen Ripley and her cat are found in the escape pod from the Nostromo and taken back to earth almost six decades after the original Alien encounter.
Ripley reports the incident to the marines, and they don't believe her since the planet has been inhabited for five decades without incident. And then they lose contact with it, so they send out Ripley with a team of Marines to check out the situation.
They get to the planet and find it wrecked.
Long story short, Aliens are obviously behind it.
And this is one of the best movies I've ever seen.
Seriously, it's a great piece of cinema. I know praise for Aliens isn't hard to come by, but I was amazed by how much I liked it. Usually when people say the sequel was better than the original they're wrong, like with Spider-Man 2, which was in no way better than Spider-Man. Not with characters, or development, or drama. Controversial, I know. I didn't like Spider-Man 2 very much, sue me.
It also introduces some of my favorite characters in film history. Corporal Dwayne Hicks, a laid-back, but level-headed soldier who wound up being my favorite character in the franchise, Bishop the android, a pretty cool character on his own, and Rebecca "Newt" Jordan, a girl Ripley and Hicks save from the planet.
The finale, the character development, the whole thing is just really good. Go watch it if you haven't seen it already.

Alien 3 is one of the very few movies I've ever seen that completely ruins any and all potential it had within minutes of pressing "Start" on the DVD player.
It does that by killing off three of the main characters (Corporal Hicks, the android Bishop and Rebecca "Newt" Jordan) from the previous movie in a fashion that seriously messes with the head. Let me get my initial criticisms out of the way. I stated earlier in the review how much I liked Hicks, Bishop and Newt. Hicks was one of my favorite characters in Aliens, and his presence in this movie would have easily fixed a few issues with the plot, and the way the characters handle the Alien.
Now, I might as well get this out of the way. Pretty much the only thing I know about Colonial Marines is that Hicks is still alive in it. Back when I heard that, I hadn't ever seen an Alien movie, so I had no context for that statement.
I wasn't part of the group that followed the news about Colonial Marines. I remember reading one thing on Yahoo games a few years ago about it and thinking that it looked pretty cool. Later on I heard that it got released, but it wasn't until I heard from NecroVMX and Jim Sterling from The Escapist about how bad it was. Later on, I watched a couple of ProJared's videos on the game and I was surprised at how much seemed to have been cut from the final product. The original script sounds like an epic masterpiece of videogame storytelling, as a tale of tragedy and interesting characters in addition to an epic action game.
The reason I bring this up is because I'm pretty sure that's the process this movie went through in development. And because of an idea I have about the events of this movie and Resurrection that ties into the events of Colonial Marines.
So anyways, after having killed off two of the main characters in the intro, they wind up having to introduce some new people to back up Ripley. Granted, she didn't need any backup in Alien, but they had to introduce characters to be killed off by the Alien. Ripley's ship, the Sulaco has caught fire, for.... Some reason.
Apparently two Alien eggs got onto the Sulaco, SOMEHOW. The ship crash-lands on Fury 161, an abandoned prison planet full of Double Y Chromosone prisoners. Not necessarily full of, but they're still the only people who live there. Hicks and Newt are dead because beams from the ship pierced through their pods and impaled them. Yeah, just go ahead and kill off Ripley's adopted daughter and her only equal in badassery. That's not a sick and horrid thing to do to a character that's been through the kind of crap Ripley's experienced!
Granted, I'd rather Newt be dead than raped by the prisoners, but that's only because it would be even MORE cruel to Ripley and more sickening for the audience! And it would make this movie even harder to watch!
*Ahem* Moving on. Let's not talk about the death of my favorite character in the series too much, because that would just pad out the review.
Instead, let's talk about the leadup to the death of my other favorite character in the series.
Now, I could easily get into the scientific misconceptions this film has about what having two Y chromosomes does to a person. An extra three inches of height, a little more acne as a teenager, an IQ that
may or may not have a significant difference depending on who you talk to, and a normal sex-drive and fertility rate. It does not:
-Turn you into a sex-crazed maniac.
-Make you extremely violent and blood-crazed.
And also, according to Wikipedia, they had to specifically mention that "Aggression is not seen more frequently in 47,XYY males."
So that's the entire premise of the prison planet setting demolished by a seventeen year-old highschool boy with a computer and an internet connection. Twenty-two years after the film was released, so that means it's probably already been deconstructed and debunked by numerous people with scientific backgrounds. I still felt the need to bring that up, because it was bugging me throughout the entire film.
So Ripley has the prison doctor perform an autopsy on Newt (And presumably Hicks as well, but that wasn't shown on screen) and they don't find a chest-burster inside her. Making her death and the autopsy entirely pointless aside from attempting to make the viewers cringe and deliver on the "Horror" aspect of the "Science Fiction-Horror" crossover promised by Wikipedia.
Which is something that the movie doesn't continue doing for I can't remember how long. It stays in a bizarre dreamlike state for a really long time before any action starts. In fact, the whole movie has a somewhat hazy feel to it.
I'd talk some more about the plot, but it's so sparse. Ripley befriends and sleeps with the prison doctor, she pulls Bishop out of the trash to read the Sulaco's black-box, and finds that there's another Xenomorph running around the prison.
Now, the concept of being trapped in an abandoned prison with a homicidal insectoid creature and a bunch of violent killers without any weapons could lead to some pretty cool environmental defenses if there hadn't been so much executive meddling in it. Alien 3 was actually being rewritten during filming because there were so many changes dictated by the studio, who then took the footage they had and redid the entire film in the editing process. And as a result, the movie seems too slow and schizophrenic compared to Alien or Aliens.
Now, I might as well note that the alien looks like crap. I don't know how they made it, but it looks like really cheap CGI, and never really seems to be there, unlike the aliens in the first and second movies. As such, it never seems threatening.Why didn't they actually have the alien on-set with them?
Ohh who cares. Anyways, they actually try to  reclaim the horror and science-fiction aspects of the series later on, setting up for some cool environmental defenses that never get used, because all creativity left this film the moment they canceled the original Alien 3, which sounds like a much more interesting movie.
They set it up to kill the Alien, and then Weyland Yutani shows up to try to get the Alien Queen out of Ripley. Ripley commits suicide by diving into one of the worst chroma-key effects I've seen in my entire life.
Remember the ending of Terminator 2, where they lowered the T-800 into a vat of molten metal. It was sad, it was heartbreaking, but above all it was brutal because it seemed real. And that's something that this movie lacks. Nothing really seems real. AT ALL. It all seems like a crazed fever-dream someone had after staying up too late.
This movie isn't very good. It spent too long in production, it had too many people working on it, and it made back three times its budget.
THREE. FREAKING. TIMES. A hundred and fifty MILLION dollars! One of the worst movies I've personally ever seen and it made a bundle of money.
Alien 3 took everything that the first two movies had going for them and ruined it. It made the whole struggle of Aliens pointless. And just to drive home the fact that we could have been watching a better movie, it ends with Ripley's last lines from Alien.
And do you know who I felt most sorry had died? Jonesy. Ripley's cat. She left him on Earth in Aliens and I was looking forward to her reunion with him god-dammit!

Alien: Resurrection is a 1997 followup to the baffling success of Alien 3. It's set I can't remember how many years after Alien Cubed, and follows the events of some new company that isn't Weyland Yutani who wants to use the Alien for genetic engineering. Because it's been almost three-hundred years and WY, Walmart and whoever the new people are haven't learned, after who knows how many people have been killed by Aliens and Predators over the centuries, that they should just nuke them and leave. Because they're run by whoever survived the Umbrella Corporation I suppose... And with that awkward tie-in to Resident Evil month, let's talk Firefly.
Joss Whedon wrote the script for this movie, and it really shows. This movie came out five years before Firefly, but the space-pirates in a sweet ship are essentially Serenity 0.5. In fact, aesthetically the ship they run around in is essentially a more busy version of Mal's beloved Firefly class freighter.The captain is like an underwritten Malcom Reynolds with less morals and a little more disregard for human life.
Johner, played by RON FREAKING PERLMAN of all people is like a lot like Jayne Cobb if he had less restrictions on how evil he could be because everyone else is just as insane as him. And as usual, he's one of the best parts of the movie. Seriously, how does an actor like Perlman keep getting these kinds of roles?
Anyways, while most of the characters that Whedon lifted from Alien: Resurrection into Firefly were a lot better, Johner suffered in the transition into Jayne Cobb. For one thing, he's not played by Ron Perlman, and for another, his crazy-streak is a lot more plotting and malicious in Firefly, while in Alien to the power of four he could have been played a lot like Piccolo from Dragon Ball Z.
On the other hand, they're both so obviously Vegeta clones that it's not even subtle or funny anymore.
I feel that if they'd just played up Jayne's aggression it could have been funny. Also, Jayne is a lot dumber than Johner. Not sure where I was going with any of this, but there you go.
Annalee Call, portrayed by Winona Ryder is the Kaylee Frye of the group. She's an android. Her performance is pretty good. It's one of the redeeming factors of the movie. Sure, it might be misinterpereted as bad acting, but if you've ever seen Star Trek: The Next Generation you know how good her performance as an Android is.
I don't know anybody else's opinions on the character, but personally I think that if they'd done a little more with the characters, gone back to the Aliens they used in Alien and Aliens as opposed to the horrible CG they used in Alien 3.
Which is unfortunately not what they did. They kept the plastic Xenomorph, but at least the story is a little better and the action is a little more consistent.
For the most part.
The crew of the Betty, the ship that looks suspiciously like the Serenity but certainly isn't haul out a cargo to the USM Auriga.
Now. For some reason it's taken a future society that was already over a hundred years ahead of our own society three-hundred freaking years to develop cloning. Why did it taken them TWO HUNDRED YEARS after Ellen Ripley died for them to try and clone her? I figured Weyland Yutani would have been trying it from the moment she died!
Apparently the new people are on the eighth Ripley, but that doesn't excuse the 200 year gap....
Maybe it's the fact that cloning in the Alien 'verse is illegal, but Weyland Yutani doesn't care about the laws of the United States! We know that from about the time they let the United State Colonial Marines go off to a planet full of Xenomorphs to be killed!
Off topic, it's interesting that the only Alien movies that were made in the same decade were the two worst.
Anyways, back on topic. After they show off some of New Ripley's Xenomorph moves with the crew of the Seren- I mean The Betty, Call finds out that the ninja-fast supernatural is a clone of Ellen Ripley, she attempts to kill her. But in one of the weirder scenes in the movie there's a little bit of...
Not lesbianism exactly, more motherly concern I think. Considering how Call and Newt look similar (Hair notwithstanding) I wouldn't be surprised. Unfortunately, they never mention the fact that Call looks like Ripley 8's original self's adopted daughter. Something that could have easily served as decent character development. Or maybe Winona Ryder looking like Carrie Henn is just a coincidence. But that doesn't explain the almost motherly affection...
Okay, maybe "Affection" isn't the right word, but let me just put it all this way. Throughout the movie, there are a ton of moments between Ripley and Call, and I'm pretty sure there's not a single moment where the address the fact that Call looks a lot like Newt.
And then I found out that Winona Ryder has natural blonde hair. Like Newt.
How did they not notice this? It was right in front of them. And they didn't address it.
Granted, it has been a while since I've seen the movie, but I couldn't find anything on the Alien Vs. Predator wiki, or Wikipedia addressing it, and I'm pretty sure that little thing would have been noticed. Even The Nostalgia Critic didn't address the likeness if I remember correctly.
Anyways, they have some classic Alien confrontations. Unfortunately, the new people from Smeyland Smutani haven't learned that if they plan to keep an Alien in the room, they need to keep them restrained and inside layers of calcium. It's simple chemistry, baking-soda and calcium neutralize acid, so why wouldn't you build a Xenomorph cage that can actually HOLD A FREAKING XENOMORPH!
One alien kills two others to get out of its cage, because the new people trying to weaponize them haven't figured out that an alien that bleeds acid and is really freaking strong probably can't be restrained and SHOULD NOT. BE. STUDIED.
In Aliens, it made sense. They knew very little about the Xenomorphs. Alien 3? It was pushing it quite a bit, but it wasn't treated as stupidly as it was in this movie. I don't want to give Alien 3 any credit for anything, but these people have no self-awareness, and are GRASPING THE IDIOT BALL WITH ALL OF THEIR MIGHT. Granted, the consequence of Ellen Ripley not making it back to civilization at the end of Aliens thanks to the events of Alien 3 could be part of it, but they lost a whole planet full of people. And an entire squadron of Colonial Marines. They should have at least sent one scout out there, if not the entire freaking space-navy!
So that's one thing about the movie I didn't really like, but also wasn't exactly thinking about during the film.
It's mostly straightforward from here. They even have a few rediculous things that got my mind off of the fact that the remaining crew of the Sulaco, four of the best characters in all of film, were brutally killed in the last film.
It's fine up until the point of which Call gets knocked into the water during a fight between the Aliens and the crew of the Not-Serenity, and then is somehow up at the top of the tallest ladder in the room. Okay, that's weird but I'll roll with it.
Then comes the time when Call insists they save a guy with a chestburster in him as opposed to killing him. Ripley 8 didn't even have one in here and Call was perfectly willing to slit her throat! Why did she go out of character for that? Maybe it was because Ripley 8 convinced her that even the doomed deserve hope.
Or something.
Ripley gets kidnapped by the Aliens, and the following scene is about as fever-dreamy as the opening to Alien 3. It's weird, comes straight the hell out of nowhere, and seems to have very little bearing on the events of the rest of the movie.
Ladies and gentlemen, a big-lipped xenomorph moment!
A hybrid.... THING gets birthed by the Alien Queen. It looks like a cross between a human and an alien, obviously.
Why obviously? Because screw the viewer, that's why. It doesn't make much sense.
Anyways, the hybrid thing follows them into the Betty as they escape and Ripley 8 breaches the hull, venting it out.
And it was actually kinda sad. Because she freaking tortured it.
So it's not a great movie, but it redeemed the Alien franchise with some pretty cool ideas, and by not being Alien 3.
Now, let me get to my idea.
These two movies have a really surreal tone to them. The opening to Alien 3 is a lot like the dream-sequence Ripley had in Aliens. It's so weird that it barely seems real.
Now, inside a dream time passes in a really weird manner. A minute can seem like an hour, etc. Go watch Inception for a cursory representation of what I'm talking about.
Dreams are infamous for their inconsistency, and we've already established that Ripley has nightmares about her first encounter with the xenomorphs.
And Alien: Resurrection has a lot of weird things in it that seem like something cooked up inside my head after staying up for twenty hours and a night of browsing the Aliens wiki.
And we already know that Hicks survived Alien Cubed thanks to Colonial Marines.
So the hypothesis I'm presenting is that Alien's 3 and 4 are dreams that Ripley had on her way back to earth. Grisly, bizarre dreams where people you love are dead and your old enemies come back to haunt you aren't uncommon, and I say that watching Alien 3 and Resurrection from that perspective makes them better movies. Plus, it means that the heartless bastard that wrote the deaths of Hicks, Newt, Bishop and Jonesey into Alien 3 doesn't need to be hated as much! Because Alien 3 and 4 never happened.

Prometheus is a 2012 prequel to the entire Alien franchise.
It's not as bad as Alien 3, but it's still pretty damn nonsensical.
It's weird.
It's crazy.
It's even more dreamlike and feverish and psychedelic than Alien 3 and Alien 4 combined. It's got an interesting premise, it's not as insane as Alien 3, but it just doesn't seem like they had enough time in the movie. Like maybe something severely got cut out during production.
Or maybe it just didn't need to exist. That's possible. The problem is, it seems very poorly thought out.
Now, does that detract from my view of 2012 as one of the best years in cinema? No. One mediocre movie does not a bad year make. And it doesn't detract from, say, MIIIB, The Amazing Spider-Man, Les Miserables, Jack Reacher, The Avengers, or The Hunger Games. I gave The Hunger Games a lot of crap in my review, but it was a decent movie at heart. It had a lot of great music, some good flow, and again, despite what I said about it, it certainly could have been worse.
I don't mind Prometheus, but I could have easily gone my entire life without seeing it and I wouldn't have missed a damn thing. Now, I've definitely seen worse movies. Hell, I've seen worse Alien movies.
Now, maybe I'm being easy on it because it's not Alien 3. And maybe that's not fair. But I'd certainly rather watch Prometheus than, say, Sharktopus. Granted, I'd rather be watching... Almost any other movie in my collection. Or be playing a videogame. Like Chronicles of a Dark Lord, Final Fantasy VII, Fire Emblem Awakening, etc. I have too many games to be watching bad movies.

So all in all, I'd say you should avoid all of the Alien movies listed here aside from Alien and Aliens. They're not worth your time.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a 2013 film based on the 1939 short story. Directed by and starring Ben Stiller, I did not expect this to be any good.
Surprisingly, it was.
Ben Stiller is actually a really good actor amazingly despite how typical his characters usually are.
It's about a chronic daydreamer, by the name of Walter Mitty.
He works at Life magazine where he processes photographs, working with one of Life's top photojournalist, Sean O'Connell. (Played by Sean Penn)
O'Connell has sent in a set of negatives to Walter, saying that they should use the twenty-fifth slide as the cover for the last issue of Life.
Life magazine has been bought out by some online venture-capitalist group who are planning to transition to a Life Online format and who want to downsize the company.
The guy (Name of Ted Hendricks) who is supposed to facilitate the transition is a complete and total jerk. He looks like that character from The Hunger Games movie with the sculpted beard.
The twenty-fifth slide is missing, so Walter decides to start looking for O'Connel. With some help from a co-worker named Cheryl Melhoff, he determines that O'Connel probably sent them in from Greenland.
I should probably talk about Walter's daydreaming. He starts off the movie fantasizing about rescuing his crush, Cheryl's dog from an exploding building and fashioning a prosthetic leg for it on the way down the stairs while he's waiting for the train.
He also imagines himself marrying Cheryl and aging backwards like Benjamin Button.
Anyways, he flies off to Greenland and talks to a bartender, who tells him that O'Connel took a chopper off to a boat a while ago.
Walter gets to the ship, where he learns that O'Connel has departed for Iceland.
He trades for a skateboard and uses it to traverse a town in Iceland, and this is a pretty cool scene, him remembering how to skateboard after thirty years. He's forced to return to New York, where he's fired from his job and appears to have no shot with his love interest.
His mother tells him where Sean has gone, noting that he was daydreaming the last time she told him.
So Walter goes on a trip to the Himalayas to meet with O'Connel, who tells him where to find the missing slide.
Mitty flies to LA, and then back to New York, where he delivers the slide and berates Hendricks for the disrespect he's shown the employees and the magazine during the transition.
Walter reunites with Cheryl, and they buy a copy of the last issue of Life.
I have not done the plot any kind of justice. It being the story of a chronic daydreamer who goes on a real adventure around the world, it sounds a little uninteresting. All of the promotional material made it out to be a movie that was just about a daydreamer, and that's why I thought it wasn't going to be very good. Surprisingly it was, and I do recommend it to anybody with a DVD player.
All in all, I give it a 9.8* rating..
I'll see you next week with Resident Evil!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird is a film from 1962 based on Harper Lee's novel of the same name. It stars Gregory Peck and Mary Badham in the roles of Atticus and Scout Finch respectively. It follows the adventures of Scout, her brother Jem and a friend of theirs, Dill Harris in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930s. As a piece of classic cinema, it's already gotten a lot of praise over the decades.
I figure it needs some more, because this is a great film.
Scout Finch is the daughter of Atticus Finch, a lawyer in small town Alabama. The people in the town are too poor to pay him for his services, so they exchange food and resources for courtroom representation.
Atticus gets appointed to represent a black man by the town judge. The man was accused of rape and because this is the 1930s, they have to go through special effort to keep the people of the town from hanging him. The children find out about this and, innocent as they are attempt to figure out what the peoples problems are with him.
This is where the statements of the movie and of the book really shine through. The children have no concept of prejudice, and no concept of why the people would wish a man dead without trial.
To be honest, I don't think this movie could have been made today. Despite the message it's attempting to get across, I have a feeling that point would be completely missed in favor of accusing the film of racism. Not to mention the obvious other side of the coin.
And I have a feeling that it wouldn't be able to get its message across the same way the original film did, because someone would probably inject a less tasteful agenda into it.
That's the thing about movies that try to make statements these days, they don't do them subtly. Someone always feels the need to bang the point into your head. And it makes the point all the more pointless when you present the idea as though it's inherently right and will always be right as opposed to presenting the situation and letting the audience come to their own conclusions.
On the other hand, you can easily take it too far in the other direction and leave the audience confused as to what the point was supposed to be. I suppose that's what the people who try pounding the point into your head are trying to avoid, and to be fair it's a good idea to make sure you don't make your point too broad or too specific.
But what happens over time is that people try to imitate the style of films such as this that make such good points. Somebody does it badly by going too far in one direction, or maybe just a little further than the perfectly made film did. Then it gets popular, and somebody decides to take it a little further in that same direction. Eventually it gets so overloaded that somebody takes it back in the other direction and people like that because it's a change from the standard formula these days.
Or in programmers terms:
10 Left
20 Right
30 Middle
40 Goto 10
Nice little formula for politics as well right there.
So anyways, I liked this film. It's one of the few from the early-to-mid twentieth century that I really think deserves to still be popular. I have to say that yes, it's one of my favorite films of all time. It's up there with Casablanca, Star Wars and The Godfather for me.
I give it a 9.9* rating. I'll see you next week with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.