Posts by GordonFroman117:
What we have come to expect from developer FromSoftware, they have created worlds full of secrets to discover and monsters around every corner, leaving you to wonder just when the inevitability of death will come knocking at your door. Fans and critics have praised Demon’s Souls and the two Dark Souls games as some of the most demanding titles of the last generation, leaving an everlasting impact in the minds of all who endured this marathon of a crucible. Bloodborne, can be easily labeled as more of the same, and that isn’t a bad thing, but its shift in focus is what makes a world of difference from its predecessors, and will leave Souls veterans struggling to survive in the blood-soaked streets of Yharnam.
In a time before the events of the game, Yharnam was once a destination for all who were suffering from any ailments. The Healing Church in Central Yharnam became immensely powerful all in thanks to their practice of Blood Ministration – using special blood to heal and even cure illnesses. Things went well until it was discovered that the special Yharnam blood was tainted and gave rise to a horrific endemic: The Scourge of Beasts. Those infected slowly lost their humanity and transformed into beasts that killed without mercy or remorse.
The first hunter of the Healing Church rallied remaining Yharnamites to take up arms and go on nightly hunts. This noble act to reclaim their home backfired as the bloodlust grew within the citizens and quickened their transformation. You, an unknown hunter whose reasons for coming to Yharnam are unknown, are given one singular clue to start your venture, “Seek the Pale Blood to transcend the Hunt.” This goal will set players on the path to finding answers and unveiling the secrets behind Yharnam.
You’ll enter the character creation screen after the opening cinematics are done, however, for veteran Souls players, you will notice that your class and background does not grant you any starting weapons or different armors depending on what you choose, only varying stats. This place acts as a sanctuary for hunters where they can level up, upgrade their weapons of the hunt, and purchase useful items. Shortly after creating your Hunter, FromSoftware wants to remind you that you’re playing one of their games, and when you bite the dust for the first time, you enter a surreal plain known as the Hunter’s Dream. Once you obtain your tools of the trade and re-enter Yharnam you will be able to return via lanterns located throughout your travels.
Bloodborne may have the same controls and feel as the Souls games, but it undergoes a serious shift in paradigm – from defensive to offensive. This is where I have a love/dislike relation with this new focus in combat. I absolutely love how fast-paced and frantic simple fights are now. Instead of having a shield with you, you must rely on how well you can dodge and evade in order to avoid taking damage. The funny thing is that there is, in fact, a singular shield that you can find and use, but it is so useless that even in its description it reads, “Hunters do not normally employ shields, ineffectual against the strength of beasts as they are”.
Many deranged and beastly inhabitants roam the streets of Yharnam: Ravenous lycanthropes, giant crows, denizens on the verge of becoming beasts themselves, and other horrors straight from a nightmare. Players will need to read their foes’ movements just like in previous FromSoftware games, but there is a much bigger risk without a shield. Making a single mistake will cost you a lot of health, but you are given a short opportunity to regain that health back.
Once you have taken damage you will see your health drop, but quickly dealing damage back slowly fills it back up; failing to do so will leaves you with taking the full damage and attacking to late will only regain a fraction of your health back. Blood Vials can be found on the bodies of enemies or purchased in the Hunter’s Dream and will restore a set amount of health in case you’re in a tight spot. While fighting you must also keep an eye on your stamina as you use stamina to attack and evade. If you recklessly use up your stamina you can get yourself killed quickly, but it does regenerate over time.
Fighting is fun no matter whom you come across; it is when facing a boss where your mettle will be pushed to their very limits. Relentless, grotesque, and outrageously powerful, you will be broken down time and again and it is then you realize that all the times you were cut down before was simply the epilogue to the countless times where you will face the same boss over and over again. The first time I face one of the starting bosses, The Cleric Beast, it was taxing just to be standing there to face it, and there are others like him that force you to acknowledge their overwhelming presence.
With dwindling supplies and with very short windows of opportunities to heal, my heart has never raced like this before. As my shoulders tenses up, nearly touching my ears, I desperately cut away at a boss’ health as their attack become even more erratic and unpredictable. Once a boss reaches a certain limit, they will become faster and give you barely enough time to plan your next move. You must have the reflexes to time your dodges and attacks perfectly if you hope to even make it out in one piece. Emerging victoriously from a fight such as this leaves you drained, but nothing compares to the feeling of finally slaying such a daunting foe.
The beasts you encounter later on in the game only become stronger and fiercer as you inch forward toward progress. Defeated beasts give players one of two in-game currencies called Blood Echoes. Blood Echoes can be used to level up with the Doll and purchase many items and weapons inside the Hunter’s Dream. Leveling up is essential to surviving the many perils in the waking world, however, the more you level up the more Blood Echoes it costs. You will usually carry many Blood Echoes at any given time, but disaster will fall upon you eventually, and when it does, you will die as you lose all of your Blood Echoes.
But do not get discouraged, you will be given one chance to retread your step and reclaim your Echoes. At times it is as easy as picking them up from your death site, other times you will need to kill the beast that picked them up, all whom can be identified by their glowing blue eyes; being killed again while attempting to get your Blood Echoes will cause them to disappear forever.
The second type of currency is known as Insight: a strange supernatural knowledge of the unknown – the more Insight you have the more you will uncover hidden elements in the game. Insight can be used to purchase other items that you can’t get otherwise with Blood Echoes and are required when wanting to play online.
For online play you need three bells: the Small Resonant Bell, the Beckoning Bell, and the Sinister Resonant Bell. The Beckoning Bell uses one Insight and summons players from their own worlds that are using a Small Resonant Bell in the same area. Once connected, players can tackle areas and bosses together in jolly cooperation. Tread carefully as you will summon a Bell Maiden somewhere into your current area.
Bell Maidens will ring a similar bell just like the Beckoning Bell, but brings forward an invading player that rings the Sinister Resonant Bell. Killing this Bell Maiden or defeating the area Boss is the only way to stop invaders from entering your world. There are only two areas in the entire game where Bell Maidens are actual mobs, of course once you find them and rid yourself of them you will not see them again, even when all the enemies respawn
The thrill of being invaded at any time is now gone, but this also made for a very pleasant experience. I didn’t have to worry about being invaded by some overly powerful player and getting annihilated. The times I did get invaded were when I was well prepared and knew the risks of ringing the Beckoning Bell or when I got much further into the game where I was more confident in my abilities. But even if you’re the invader, you too will subject yourself to the possibility of being invaded, perhaps as a little form of karma. There are plenty of risks when ringing these bells, but the reward of getting help or defeating your target is well worth it.
Bloodborne’s focus is on pure combat. You are a hunter who hunts beasts, not a knight slaying dragons – your equipment will reflect that – finding new pieces of clothing will almost never be actual armor. This is where I’m split between understanding this decision and wishing for more variety.
Besides being cosmetically different, there is very little advantage to choosing one set of armor over the other; one set can be superior by a small margin, but it really doesn’t do you a whole lot of good when you notice no change in the damage you take in combat. The only true help I had switching out pieces was when I needed a boost in poison or frenzy resistance, and even then that only helped so much.
A part of feeling like you are getting stronger is by finding new powerful weapons and more protective gear and you don’t feel stronger, at least you don’t really look the part. This is where I feel like this decision to rid the player of worrying about armor is the smart one for this game. In the Souls games you were constantly managing your armor. How much does it weigh? Is it slowing me down to too much? Which has the best overall defense? You don’t really need to concern yourself with those questions anymore. No matter what you wear in Bloodborne you are not hindered at all and remain nimble and agile.
You may not be wearing some badass armor to show how good you are, but in the end, you don’t need some spiffy looking armor to more powerful. Instead of relying on armor and shields to protect you from harm, you must hone your skills to become good enough to avoid being hit altogether. Your power comes from hours of practice, not from your equipment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some tricks up your sleeve.
Making up for the lack of defense from your attire, players can equip up to three Caryll Runes that grant passive abilities such as more physical defense or increasing poison resistance. One slot is available for Oath Memory: special Caryll Runes gained by finding and completing certain NPCs questlines. Theses runes help with health regeneration and provide other useful traits to help your character become more robust, but even with hours poured into becoming stronger, Blood Gems can make your weapons attacks power even more so. Inserted directly into the weapon, Blood Gems can imbue your weapons with increased damage or changing its damage type altogether. The combination of Caryll Runes and Blood Gems will make you a truly fearsome hunter.
The Number of weapons are lacking this time around too. Demon’s and Dark Souls had numerous weapons to find, collect and master, yet that number has been cut down to a tenth for Bloodborne. While this disappointed me at the beginning, I thought to myself, “Why would I even need 100 weapons for”!? Variety is always nice, but having a smaller arsenal to choose from gives players the chance to find which weapon works best for their needs, without having to spend hours going through hundreds of weapon/shield combinations. I do miss getting a chance to get boss specific weapons however.
You have your light and heavy attacks for each weapon, which is standard enough, but perhaps the most innovative gameplay mechanic is the ability to switch to a weapons secondary form. Every weapon you acquire will be able to transform to mix up your fighting style and adapt to your needs in battle. For example, the weapon I’m currently using is Ludwig’s Holy Blade; Its first form is a silver longsword that allows me to attack many times while consuming less stamina per swing. Its second form involves sheathing the longsword into the second sheath/blade, making it into a giant broadsword capable of dealing monstrous damage with a greater reach to equally monstrous beasts – the drawback being the large amount of stamina required to use it and how slow it swings. You can even change the weapon’s form quickly during battle by pressing L1 during your attacks and still maintain a combo.
With the shield more than useless, hunters are instead more suitably equipped with firearms along with their primary weapon. Firearms require Quicksilver Bullets to use and tend to serve as a secondary mean of attack, more importantly, they are a replacement for the riposte and counter enemy attacks. Just before an enemy lands a hit on your hunter, firing a shot into them sends them into a staggered state. Once your target is stunned you can deliver a devastating attack that inflicts massive damage called Visceral Attacks.
Backstabs are (thankfully) not as simple to execute; before, you just needed to attack a player from behind to initiate a backstab – this time it requires two steps: one must charge their heavy (R2) attack from behind the enemy and connect to stagger them, and from there you may land a critical Visceral Attack. This way ensures that, when fighting another player, one does not simply spam backstabs for an easy win.
Another great addition is the procedurally generated Chalice Dungeons that let you explore different levels to find items that can’t be found anywhere else. You will need a chalice and some ingredients to perform a Chalice Ritual in front of some gravestones located in the Hunter’s Dream. Once you begin a dungeon your task is to find the lever that open the way to that depth’s boss and once you can defeat the boss you will precede downward the second depth where you will repeat the process. Each ritual mixes up the dungeon lay out and you can even play other dungeons that other players have left open.
Even when you do finally reach the end of the game you will enter New Game+ and start your hunt from the very beginning. Naturally the enemies are tougher this time around, but ridiculously so. Enemies I was able to take down in a single blow using a Ludwig’s Holy Blade +9 now take three or more hits, meaning they are three times as tough and deal double the damage as before. Even when you fought them before and think you know their attack patterns, bosses you will face again seem to not even use the same attacks as they once did. The moments where I had to struggle to stay alive before now turned to a massacre. Bloodborne the first time around is not for the faint of heart or those quick to temper. When it comes to New Game Plus+, you better keep a pillow nearby to scream bloody murder into.
Once I got a bit into the game, to my delight I start remembering a much beloved original PlayStation title: Nightmare Creatures. The setting is quite similar as they both take place in a gothic, Victorian-era setting where you explore a town seemingly occupied solely by the monsters you hunt. Not saying it’s a straight copy, but Bloodborne deserves some points in my book for it.
I cannot express how wondrous it was playing Bloodborne. Most of the elements I loved from the previous Souls games were here: the isolation, the sense of never being safe, the generation-defining gameplay and the notorious difficulty. I did have my issues with some of the choices made like the lack of weapons or the not-so-useful armor, but quickly grew to understand and appreciate the decision. On the technical side, there are some areas where for a split second I will experience a visual and audio stutter. It happened in the same spot for each and was not something I ran into frequently at all. The loading times during my initial reviewing period were pretty painful, but have since been patched to load much faster, making playing that much less stressful!
Bloodborne is beautifully designed, masterfully crafted, and offers a gaming experience unlike anything outside of it or its predecessors. You cannot ask for a better game that demands more of your time, your patience, your skill, and everything you’ve got, than Bloodborne. If you want a game to engross you for endless hours with ever-increasing challenges and difficulty, Bloodborne cannot be missed. In all honesty, this is the game that made me finally get a PlayStation 4 – its first real system seller.
Date Released: February 28th, 2015
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Rated: T for Teen
Dragon Ball Z is at the forefront of everyone’s mind when you think of a classic anime series. A Journey to the West inspired story, Dragon Ball Z stars a Saiyan named Goku, his fight to protect Earth from powerful adversaries, and his goal to become the strongest fighter. Most, if not everyone, is familiar with Dragon Ball Z’s epic planet shattering fights and memorable villains; plenty of games before captured the lighting fast ferocity and hard hitting punches, like Budokai or Budokai Tenkaichi, and allowed players to fight as one of their favorite characters. Xenoverse brings all of the high-flying action, dozens of playable characters from the show and movies, and a fun, if not silly, story that lets players fight alongside their heroes in battle.
Set some time after the main storyline, we see that Time Patrol Trunks (a returning character from the Japanese and Korean title, Dragon Ball Online) is witnessing disturbances in time; iconic encounters and fights are turning out for the worst and Trunks needs help to ensure that time properly runs its course. Using the power of the seven Dragon Balls, Trunks summons Shenron and wishes for a powerful warrior to help. Once summoned, Trunks and the player will use the Book of Endings and Beginnings to go back in time and stop these rifts in Dragon Ball Z history and find out the cause of them.
Once Trunks makes his wish, players can create and customize their very own warrior to play as, starting with choosing between 5 races: Saiyan, Earthling, Namekian, Majin, or Frieza Race. Once you’re done and complete some tutorials, you begin your first missions in the Saiyan Saga, starting with Goku and Piccolo’s battle with Raditz. Upon beating these main missions, you will unlock characters to use later on in the game or to play as. The controls are simple to get the hang of, but with only one tutorial under my belt it was a bit challenging at the beginning, but once I mastered the basics, my own battles were as bombastic and explosive as those in the show.
You have weak and strong attacks, a button for ki blasts, A or X can be used to teleport behind enemies when taking or block damage, left trigger to start flying at top speed, and you can access super attacks by holding down the right trigger or ultimate attacks by holding down both triggers plus whatever button your mapped attack is.The fighting mechanics aren’t that complicated nor do you need to remember a series of button combos. You can, however, customize the super and ultimate attack that you can use and what combinations work best for your play style. For example, my character is fairly balanced and uses both strike supers, which are a flurry of punches and kicks, and ki blast supers like the Galick Gun or the Kamehameha, quite adeptly.
Finding the right combinations of powers and blasts can greatly affect how you fight and how you can string your abilities together effectively. Of course, you’ll need the necessary ki to pull off supers and ultimates, and stamina to fly and teleport. Taking a short break from fighting can recover stamina and using basic attacks can build up ki; if you possess the ability, you can also power up to recover either.
Outside of missions players can explore Toki Toki City, the central hub and hangout for the Time Patrollers. From here you can access the game’s different modes and purchase items that will help you in upcoming battles. This is where you can also interact and team up with fellow players if you join in an online lobby. Players can check out the numerous custom created characters, help each other with missions, offer gifts, or go for a friendly bout. Mingling within Toki Toki City is fun and I’ve had no problems getting connected, but actually joining a one-on-one match or mission is another story. Connectivity issues hinder what should be a great competitive or co-op experience, and the fact that there is only one stage for fighting friends and online players is a questionable choice.
What will really get players engaged is the fact that their own custom character can become even stronger by leveling and be outfitted with different accessories and outfits that grant different stat boosts. These RPG elements, coupled with a large selection of attacks to learn and use, is any fan’s dream: To have your very own Z Warrior stylized in Akira Toriyama’s world, running around fighting the baddest of the bad, blasting away with your favorite attacks and saving legends like Goku or Vegeta. The story may be a bit gimmicky and silly at times, and the combat may be a bit too simplistic, but that doesn’t stop me from becoming a giggling nerd everytime my Saiyan warrior shoots a Kamehameha and goes Super Saiyan. Going through missions and reliving the show’s legendary battles is terrific fun, but the online problems and the repetitive combat hold back Dragon Ball Xenoverse from being truly super.
Overall Rating: 3.75/5
Date Released: March 17th, 2015
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Genre: Survival Horror
Rated: M for Mature
With 2015 just three months in we’ve already received two new Resident Evil games, the remake (which you can see the review by clicking here), and the latest entry, Revelations 2. Resident Evil 7 is known to be in development at this point, and looking at how people were generally disappointed in Resident Evil 6, it was hard to tell where the series is headed. I can confidently say that not only am I excited for the next game, but that I thoroughly enjoyed playing Revelation 2.
While attending a party, Claire Redfield welcomes Moira Burton (the daughter of series legend Barry Burton) to Terra Save, a biohazard prevention agency. Their celebration is short-lived as masked soldiers literally crash the party and abducts our heroines. Claire and Moira are taken to a remote island facility where a woman only known as the “Overseer” occasionally mocks them with cryptic messages through bracelets placed on them that reacts to the wearer’s fear.
Sometime after the disappearance of Claire and his daughter, Barry personally speeds towards island where they are held by boat. Arriving at the docks Barry comes across a mysterious young girl named Natalia who seems to have been waiting for him. Undeterred by Barry’s insistence to remain by the boat, the two make their way to pick up Claire and Moira’s trail and figure out who is behind the abductions and the mutated denizens called the “Afflicted”.
Revelations 2 is broken into 4 episodic chapters which have two parts each, one for Claire and Moira, and the part for Barry and Natalia, which takes place 6 months apart from each other. Playing the episodes as they came out felt very much like an action drama show, leaving me in a state of wonder. As the story progresses the questions are slowly answered and the blanks are filled and it leaves you wanting to play all the way through to uncover backstories, plot twists, and insane master plans the series is known for.
This is Resident Evil we’re talking about; item management, creepy settings with creepy creatures infesting the place and you’ll have to put them in their place. Playing solo, players will have to utilize each characters abilities equally; you can also enjoy the game with a friend by connecting a second controller for local co-op or online. Claire and Barry are the weapon experts, handling armaments of all types, while Moira and Natalia are support characters that help out by finding secrets and revealing enemy locations. However you play, alone or with a buddy, you’ll have a lot of fun. Friendly A.I. has never been the most reliable, but with the ability to switch characters, you’ll take advantage of every character’s skills. Using Moira’s ability to blind the Afflicted with her flashlight and being able to point out invisible monsters as Natalia, the gameplay gets a health does of variety.
With that said, there are some moments where things come to a crawl. Some puzzles slow down the pacing and aren’t as fun as the rest of the game and when playing as Barry you’ll usually retread old areas when in search of Moira and Claire, but does go through different routes to previously unexplored sections. What keeps the game engaging is the excellent fast-paced gunplay and action that Resident Evil has been perfecting, and there’s plenty of it. On top of that, each chapter has several moments of large enemy encounters that really leave an impact as you dodge, shoot, and blow up swarms of deformed Afflicted.
The interaction between the two duos is filled with hilariously cheesy dialog and classic references that series fans will love. Barry and Natalia’s friendship is the most endearing as Barry makes an effort to protect and comfort Natalia, like a father would, and I found it touching oddly enough, especially when I realized that this coming from a Resident Evil game!
Postgame content is plentiful as you can always replay on harder difficulties and attempt different modes like speed runs and fighting all invisible enemies. There are medals to collect by completing objectives in each chapter and you can try to get an S ranking as the overall best score. You earn BP (an acronym for Battle Points I’m assuming) upon completing a level. BP can be spent improving weapon power and abilities which will help when tackling harder challenges.
Raid Mode is by far the best thing about Revelations 2. Pick a character and level them up by undergoing a series of stages that tasks you with different objectives such as killing all enemies, or guarding an object. You gain experience whether you succeed or fail, you are constantly building your character up. Reaching certain levels will unlock more abilities or an extra slot to carry more weapons with you in missions. You’re main objective is to get the maximum five medals from each stage to access more maps and the “Hard” or Very Hard” versions. There are chest to find that contain weapons and attachments so not only is your character improving so are your guns.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 is a strong entry in the long running survival horror series. While at times the action gets bogged down by the dated puzzles, it’s not enough to tarnish everything else that’s done right. The story will leave players on the edge of their seat, the gameplay is fast and chaotic, and the boss fights and bigger set pieces are some of the most memorable in the franchise. Keep playing and you’ll know why it’s called Revelations.
Visuals: 4.5 /5
Overall Rating: 4.25/5
Release Date: January 20th, 2015
Platform [Reviewed: Xbox One], Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Genre: Survival Horror
Rated: M for Mature
The original Resident Evil is a genre defining juggernaut that brought the survival horror genre in the eyes of mainstream gaming and was a hit with critics and gamers alike. In 2002, Resident Evil made its way to the Nintendo GameCube under the same name as a fully remade title featuring vastly improved graphics, reworked audio and voice acting, and implemented new areas, enemies, and gameplay mechanics. Now almost 13 years since the Remake’s release, a new generation will experience the game that set the bar for modern-day horror games while veterans will relive the terror in high definition.
S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics and Rescue Service), a special force division of the Raccoon City Police Department split into teams “Alpha” and “Bravo”, are deployed to investigate a series of unusual cannibalistic homicides. However, while on their investigation, contact with Bravo team was lost. Sent to a seemingly unending ocean of forest in search of Bravo team, Alpha encounters ravenous dogs and run towards a mansion beyond the veil of trees. With your only way out blocked, you must brave the claustrophobic corridors of the Spencer Mansion and discover the origins of the horrors that stalk your every step.
Being a mix of puzzle-solving along with the constant moments of “fight or flight” is what Resident Evil was known for. Players will have to observe their current surrounding for points of interests in order to pick up certain objects like emblems or keys. These items don’t always have an obvious use, either not being useful until later on or must be combined with another item. When in the item menu you can “Use”, “Examine”, or “Combine” objects. Items like healing items can be used as is, but as aforementioned, you can combine certain items like magazines into its appropriate weapon or combining herbs to create more effective medicine. Examining items may yield secrets that you have overlook at first; if you’re stuck on a particular part, and you don’t know what to do next, try examining the items you have collected, you may just find what you were looking for.
Your character’s inventory space is limited to only six slots at any given time and managing your items is a big part of surviving. Once you come across the first storage box you have a near endless space to keep all of you items, but you will still be plagued by filled pockets when wandering the mansion and seeing another item that you’d much rather have. Having you to go all the way to drop off items and come back may seem like a waste of time, and at times it does, but you will need to stock up on essentials no matter what.
Players will be equipped with a 9mm handgun and a survival knife as they begin their journey. When confronted with zombies aiming your weapon will lock on to the nearest threat in the vicinity. When taking aim you get into a stance to shoot and can’t move until you stop aiming. You can’t shoot at a specific point of an enemy’s body so it takes a varying amount of shots to take a single foe down. Not all combat will happen on your level and there will be creatures that will climb on the wall or hug the ground; you can aim your weapon upward or down to pick them off.
In the original Resident Evil, players had to be cautious when dealing with zombies – just because they went down that doesn’t mean that they’re dead. Even when you made sure that they’re dead, the zombies will pull an Obi Wan Kenobi and become more power if not properly taken care of once and for all. If a zombie is not taken out with a headshot or burned soon after with kerosene and a lighter, they will resurrect as Crimson Heads that are much faster and more powerful than your standard zombie. Handguns have a slim chance for pulling off a headshot, but once you get your hands on a shotgun, aiming up and pulling the trigger once a zombie is just about to attack will have a higher chance of decapitating them.
If you popped in a copy of the first Resident Evil remake you will see that it is still a stunning looking game, so much so that it was one of the reasons why I got a GameCube (the main reason being Wind Waker). Now in 1080p, 16:9 aspect ratio, Resident Evil shines with a new layer of polish. I was terrified the first time I played the 2002 version – I never made it past the dining room – but when I started up Remaster I had that same terror wash over me. The fixed camera that restricts your field of view and the moments of utter silence when you just expect something terrible to happen, but never does, is one of my most unnerving gaming experiences in recent memory; you don’t really get that in modern games today.
Anyone new to Resident Evil will find its new control scheme of directly moving their character in the direction of the thumb stick natural and is much more intuitive than the infamous tank controls of the past. This gives players a slight speed advantage over enemies and you could even get out of a scuffle unscathed if you’re quick enough. Some downsides of these new controls are when transitioning camera views and how easy you can avoid enemies.
The change in perspective will confuse players the first time around and can become frustrating when trying to escape danger and you end up running in circles because you’re constantly trying to hastily adjust your direction with the view. Resident Evil purists will have the chance to try these new changes, but if you’re feeling nostalgic you can always change the ratio to 4:3 in the menus and use the d-pad to instantly use the tank controls (which I used to remedy the camera dilemma). When using the new controls you can outrun most foes without being caught, but the narrow passages will ensure that you will have a hard time taking advantage of the fact. The game is still very challenging, more so when dealing with multiple foes at once, but some bosses like Yawn become trivial when it can’t even catch up with you.
I never got a chance to play the original release, and I may have wussed out the first time I played the 2002 version and never went back, but playing this time around was an absolute treat. The masterful gameplay is only enhanced with the new controls and the inclusion of 5.1 surround sound will have you scared stiff and too afraid to advance forward as you hear moans and other unsettling sounds off screen. And for players intimidated by the difficulty, a Very Ease mode will introduce the gameplay and challenges while making the enemies weaker and providing plentiful amounts of ammo. You can even choose to play as the original S.T.A.R.S. or the new BSAA versions of Chris and Jill, which is strangely awesome all on its own.
Resident Evil requires intuition and a sharp mind to progress instead of just senselessly picking off zombies. It is the standard that horror games should try to meet, yet sadly many do not. Now today’s players will know why Resident Evil is one of the quintessential games that no horror fan should pass up, whether you’ve played the game before or if this if your first visit to the mansion. Now let’s hope for a Resident Evil 2 HD.
Overall Rating: 4.75/5
Release Date: February 10th, 2015
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform: [Reviewed: PC], PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: First-Person Shooter, Action
Rated: M for Mature
What has been the standard since the late 90’s, competitive multiplayer has been a couple of decades of free-for-alls, and team death matches. In an attempt to provide some variety, new modes like capture the flag and domination put a twist to the killing by having an actual objective to achieve besides killing. Turtle Rock Studios put their own spin on competitive/cooperative multiplayer with their first title, Left 4 Dead, where you can play as survivors against droves of zombies or go against another team of four that played as special infected. Evolve’s unique take on a 4 versus 1 gameplay looks to change the game with an open, asymmetrical map where no two matches will be the same.
As humanity looks to expand its reach on new worlds, we land on the far-off planet Shear to establish colonies and claim its rich, untapped resources. What the colonists didn’t foresee was what lurked within the alien forest s – Monsters. Towering giants of immense power and destructive capabilities are wreaking havoc upon the settlements, letting them know that they are not welcome on their home. In response to the threat, a team of hunters consisting of psychopaths, professionals, war vets, and expendable are sent to Shear to evacuate the remaining colonist and eliminate the alien monstrosities.
Evolve contains 4 game modes: Hunt, Nest, Rescue, and Defend. Hunt tasks the hunters with killing the monster before it destroys a power relay somewhere on the map or kills the hunters. Nest is where the Monster must protect 6 eggs scattered throughout the area for 10 minutes and can spawn a minion monster to help out against the hunters. Rescue is a first-to-five match where the hunters must locate, revive and escort colonists to safety while the Monsters will attempt to kill as many as possible. Defend will start with a fully evolved Monster with a horde of minions attack a refueling station; it is the hunter’s job to stop them and allow the starship enough time to recharge to make it out.
There is actually one more game mode call Evacuation. In Evacuation all the previous game modes are incorporated in a 5 match story mode where the victor of each round will determine who receives a bonus in the next. If a Monster was to destroy a power plant in a Hunt match and won, the next game will have toxic gas released that is harmful to the hunters while the Monster is immune to. If the hunters are to emerged victorious, instead of toxic gas, auto turrets will power on and fire at the Monster. The game will end with a Defend match.
Each player at the start of each match will be assigned a team and a class. There are four Hunter classes that you will possibly be assigned to: Assault is your heavy damage dealer that can dish out and take the pain during a rumble, Trappers lead the Hunters to the monster and when closing in can trap it within a force-field, Medic makes sure that the team is in pique condition and can administer a blast of healing energy, and the Support buffers their allies with different abilities, including invisibility.
The Hunters start the match after the Monster has a head start. Using each of the Hunters’ strengths you can easily track down careless Monsters and keep hot on its trail. Monsters can grow to become ridiculously powerful, but as long as the Hunter know their roles and take advantage of some bonuses found in the wild, The Hunters will earn their titles.
Player will have three Monsters to choose from: The brutish Goliath, the long ranged Kraken, and the stealthy Wraith. As a Monster you will start the match first as you begin in your base form and scavenge for food. Eating the local wildlife will fill your gauge that allows you to reach the next stage in your evolution. Even in your base form you are a force of nature; as you consume your will gain armor that will protect your heath bar from taking damage until it is depleted, but can always be replenished by consuming more prey. Each evolution makes you more powerful as you can assign 3 points to any one of your four abilities, each point increasing the lethality of your attacks.
In your attempt to stay one step ahead of the hunters you can use a couple of tactics to throw them off your trail. The smell ability will show your any nearby wildlife, including the Hunter’s whereabouts. The Monster can sneak, and leave the Hunters with not trail while you continue to grow in power. In your final form, not only will you feel stronger, but look stronger as well and the Hunters will see that as you barrel towards them. Seeing a fully evolved monster coming at you can make people lose their cool and seeing the damage they deal can scare the daylights out of you. Although you’re not invincible, in your last form, you become the game’s boss, wrecking anything or anyone dumb enough to get in your way.
What sets Evolve apart from other multiplayer titles is how it combines class-based abilities for each player, a well-balanced 4 vs. 1 cooperative/competitive play, and a dynamic ecosystem where the wildlife can provide advantages or disadvantages. You can play by yourself in Solo mode to practice using your preferred class and when you’re feeling confident, take your skills online. Each match played out differently every time I played and with so many variants involved each hunt felt fresh and exciting. Just like Left 4 Dead took countless sleepless nights away from gamers, Evolve is the next step in the time consuming evolution.
Overall Score: 4.75/5
Release Date: January 27th, 2015
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Platform: [Reviewed: PC], PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: First-Person, Action/Adventure, Horror
Rated: M for Mature
Out of all the videogame enemies the living dead seems to stand the test of time: there are countless hordes to smash and slash your way through and you don’t have to feel guilty about killing them. But when all is said and done, what more could we do with them? Whatever it is it has already been done, or so I thought. Dying Light takes notes from Techland’s Dead Island titles: visually stunning and great RPG elements while improving upon the melee mechanics to become more dynamic, parkour for fast-paced action and verticality, and perhaps more shockingly, a compelling story.
As all zombie stories go, a virus outbreak occurs in the city of Harran and is walled off from the rest of the world in order to contain it. Players control undercover operative Kyle Crane as he is sent inside the city walls to retrieve important documents that will either save lives or cause an unprecedented catastrophe. Things don’t go according to plan and Crane is rescued by survivors. Owing them a great debt, you will learn the skill necessary to keep one step ahead of anyone, living or dead. As the narrative unfolds you grow a bond with the survivors and care for their safety and of those lost and stuck out in the city, but as time runs out, you will need to choose between completing the mission and possibly cure the disease, or take the time to help those who are an inch away from becoming a zombie’s next meal.
To start off, you will get a crash course on how to use the environment to you advantage. If it looks climbable, it is. Staying in motion and staying above ground is the best way from being suddenly surrounded by the undead. Killing gets you experience which naturally translates to improving your character. You gain skill points to place on attributes to become more proficient and deadlier if you’re ever backed into a corner.
Fighting isn’t always ideal. You can’t be left defenseless either; fortunately there are over 100 different melee weapons to use and some fire arms too. With the new redefined yet still uncompromisingly brutal combat system, depending on where you hit a zombie, you can strategically land blows to incapacitate, knock down, or finish them of quickly with a blow to the head. But when the going gets tough, crafting items make a return which bestows horrifyingly devastating weapons of destruction or first aid when you bit off a bit more than you could chew, or got bit, you get it. Finding the blueprints for each weapon won’t frustrate you with a lengthy treasure hunt and crafting is as intuitive as simply having the necessary parts and selecting the weapon you want to make.
The missions you undertake will take you across an expansive urban environment, scavenging for supplies, setting up traps, or getting to a supply drop first. When you are out running you may come across some unexpected situations. People trapped by the undead will call out for help, sometimes when you’re already on a mission. Choosing whether or not to ignore the cry for help usually left a sickening feeling in my gut and I felt like someone’s life was actually in my hands. But you can choose what takes precedence and at what cost.
Dying Light features a dynamic day/night and weather cycle that gives the world a more ominous and tragically beautiful at the same time. But you’ll be panicking more than likely than staring off into the sunset. The title “Dying Light” isn’t just some artsy name, but a message of what’s to come. When night falls, something happens to the infected denizens of Harran. Their kill switch suddenly flips on and now you’re dealing with zombies that are not only more aggressive, but they now possess the ability to run just as fast and climb just as well as you can. Outrunning these zombies at night will either take considerable skill or a miracle.
Noise is established early on as something that is highly discouraged. So instead of running and causing such a ruckus that you’ll have a legion nipping at your heels, stealth is your best bet in this situation. Using what is known as “Survivor Sense” to pin point zombie locations within a limited radius, you can avoid them by sneaking and distracting them someplace else. But in case you are spotted you can use different means to escape your pursuers such as traps that you may have previously set up. Be careful though, even with their heightened senses and abilities, zombies are not the most dangerous foe that you should be concerned with. Ghastly beings that only come out at night will hunt down those who are foolish enough to stay out at night and only in the safety of your safe house in the rays of the sun can you escape them. When night begins to fall, run back to safety as fast as you can.
Techland impressed me with how the Chrome Engine 5 made Banoi Island into a lush, tropical zombie getaway destination. Now using the new Chrome Engine 6, the difference between the two is like day and night (heh he). Even with a city overrun by disgusting corpses, Harran provides grand sights and detailed environments (with the exception of a few low-res textures from time to time) to really show the visual prowess that the Chrome Engine 6 can bring. The mood, atmosphere and setting aren’t complete without some blood-curdling screams in the background to chill your bones and with a fantastic score to accompany to layer on the dread of the whole situation.
I thoroughly enjoyed Techland’s previous titles, despite some short comings that plagued them, but Dying Light is a new game that was built from the ground up and it shows. Improving everything that made Dead Island so good, add the exhilarating rush of freerunning, and wrap that around a dramatic and impactful story that will have you by the edge of your seat and your have an excellent title to begin you 2015 line-up.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Game Reviewed: Citizens of Earth
Date Released: January 20th, 2015
Developer: Eden Industries
Platform [Reviewed: PC], 3DS, Wii U, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Rated: E10+ for Everyone Ages 10 and Up
The RPG genre has been around for a long time and has gone through a steady evolution. The turn-based RPGs of yesteryear have been replaced with today’s Elder Scrolls, Fallout, or Dragon Age, but perhaps none would come to be without the foundation that is the retro turn-based RPG. With that said, Citizens of Earth is a good homage to early predecessors like EarthBound while giving it a nice modern style.
You are the Vice President of the World! Back in your hometown to relax from a successful campaign, you notice that something is strangely afoot. Angry protesters outside your door isn’t too out of the ordinary, but once you stumble upon traffic cone crabs, tele-deers, bubble bees, and other strange anomalies running amok, it’s up to you to get to the bottom of things (with a legion of followers to do the dirty work for you of course, you are the Vice President after all)!
Even as the Vice President, you really don’t seem to have any influence in politics, or in any form whatsoever, but with your charismatic ways you can sway people into fighting your battles for you. Recruiting your new followers is easy enough – see what needs doing and complete the side mission – and once you complete said side mission you’ll have an eager follower, each with skills useful inside and out of battle. You can recruit up to 40 citizens, and honestly, mixing and matching their abilities is probably the most fun you’ll have in-game.
This chapter-based tale takes you across different locations where you can explore and discover items, new potential recruits, and a vicious honey jar bear (one of those honey jars that is shaped like a bear, but wonders around causing havoc). Completing each chapter not only progresses the plot, but allows you to go to new places. The only problem is that to explore all of the nooks and crannies you’ll need to go through a lot of baddies along the way. This becomes such a hindrance that you’ll be less likely to take the time to deviate from the beaten path.
Unlike the titles that Citizens of Earth draws its influence, enemies are visible and can be engaged whether you feel like battling or not. You can engage enemies by simply running into them or having your team of three rush your enemy. You can get a preemptive strike when your target is facing away from you, and if successful, you can take your target out and get instant experience points. However, if your enemy gets the drop on you instead, each of your party members will lose one energy bar that is used to activate abilities in a fight.
When tussling with some rabid protester or bald eagles with toupees, you enter a battle mode with pretty trippy background visuals and from there you can select one move for each party member. The right hand side of the screen will show you the order in which your party will make their moves, so plan accordingly to make the most of your party’s strengths. The previously mentioned energy bar is represented by blue circles are necessary to unleash your strongest attacks and can be replenished by using basic attacks to gain one on the next turn or using items.
The traditional gameplay mechanics, mixed with the various enemy types and team customization, help keep things interesting, but where those traditional mechanics fall short is when you enter a part in the game where the area is so over-populated with enemies – you’ll tire quickly and try to avoid a fight at all costs. I don’t know how fondly you are with grinding in a game, and if it was intentional or not, it just becomes a bit tedious when you go into a battle for the 20th time in the last 10 minutes.
From its colorful hand-drawn style to its bouncy, and in some cases, incredibly catchy tunes (especially the “Boss Battle” track), Citizens of Earth’s presentation is a charming and cleverly written game. Loads of quirky characters to interact with brings on the laughs with some witty dialog with a few gaming references for good measure. The voice actors do a remarkable job in bringing these citizens come to life with diverse and very distinct personalities that it’s no wonder why I thoroughly enjoyed talking with and recruiting these outstanding citizens!
Combat is what is holding Citizens of Earth from being a great game – still good, but not great. The pros and cons of combat kind of even out, but add all of the other fantastic features and you’ve got yourself an amusing 20 hr. trek to set to world back to normal.
Overall Rating: 3.75/5
I’ve made a statement about developers remastering games before – about the more recent games to be exact. Games like Tomb Raider or The Last of Us really didn’t need remastered editions; as good as the games are there isn’t any significant difference between the two besides a small boost in fidelity. But where I think other remastered titles are lazy and mostly unwarranted, Halo: The Master Chief Collection destroys what is to be expected and is a prime example of remastered games done right.
500 years from now, humanity will make contact with a hostile alliance of alien species known as The Covenant. In their eyes humanity is an abhorrent, blasphemous presence that mocks their holy “Great Journey”, and so they wage an all-out war to annihilate all of human-kind. Luckily for us, a group of super soldier known as Spartans, fight alongside our marines to hold back the Covenant onslaught. But one after another, setback after setback, our worlds fall. As the Master Chief, the last surviving Spartan-II, you will fight back against the Covenant and stumble across an ancient ring-like world that houses a terrible threat.
Halo always had great gameplay with smart enemy A.I., but let’s go over all the new stuff that The Master Chief Collection adds. First is the user interface when you fire up the game; Ever Halo game, every level, and every multiplayer map can be accessed at any moment you want. Want to jump straight to Halo 3? Done. Want to play a specific level on Halo: CE Anniversary? Go ahead. Want to play all of the levels that contain warthogs in them? Santa read your wishlist! You can relive all of the Master Chief’s adventures, or experience it for the first time, in any which way you want and for folks like me, playing every Halo back-to-back is absolute joy.
Multiplayer is absolutely bananas. The Master Chief Collection has over 100 multiplayer maps; every multiplayer map from every numerical Halo title is here, including all the downloadable maps. For long-time fans, we can experience Halo: CE and Halo 2 multiplayer exactly as we remember them; all but six of the maps included are running their original engines and the other six have are select Halo 2 maps that have been remastered for Halo 2’s 10th year anniversary.
Instead of doing a ranking system where you gain rank by experience points, The Master Chief Collection uses the skill-based Halo 2 ranking system where the better you do the higher your rank is. But as of this review some game modes have been removed to help some players experiencing matchmaking problems. I’ve run across some issues, but the update did help improve matchmaking and I have been able to play several matches. Getting back into the arena-style multiplayer of Halo: CE and Halo 2 is a blast to play again. Maps like Battle Creek and Ascension is the standard at which I hold other multiplayer maps to – they are just that good. Plus, co-op can be local or online, so you can your friends can tackle Legendary difficulty while going through every mission if you’re crazy enough and have the time.
The biggest and most impressive change in this package is Halo 2’s completely revamped campaign. Where Halo: CE Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4’s campaign have been touched up to boast higher resolution, small tweaks, 60 frames per second, and new lighting effects, Halo 2 in its entirety has been reworked with a powerful new engine that makes the game seem like a whole new experience. Following Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori’s beautiful score, the re-vamped composition adds to the power that the score wields, making it more predominant than the remastered visuals at times. And instead of just settling on remaking the cinematics using the already great looking in-game engine, 343 brought onboard Blur Studio to recreate every cinematic, and they are simply the best looking cinematics I’ve ever seen in a game – it’s like watching a live action short, but all of it is animated in 3D.
Never before have we seen a collection like this. Four complete titles, dozens of playlists, over 100 multiplayer maps, smart and intuitive U.I. that links everything together, Forge mode for Halo 2, 3, and 4, the Halo: Nightfall live-action digital series, and access to the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta in December – all of this in one disk. As monumental as the changes are, the core gameplay goes untouched, and that’s for the better; Halo’s gameplay is phenomenal as it stands and still hosts some of the most epic moments and threatening enemies in gaming.
With that being said, it suffers from some of the series’ past problems like inept companion AIs, and the current problems involving connectivity issues with online matchmaking. Ultimately, this is a must have title for any Xbox One owner. You will not find a better collection that is as filled to the brim with literally years worth of content than The Master Chief Collection and you can experience it however you want. Halo: The Master Chief Collection puts all other “remastered” or “definitive” editions to shame.
Overall Score: 4.75/5
Insomniac Games is the team responsible for some of Sony’s most iconic flagship series like Spyro the Dragon (may he rest in peace), Ratchet & Clank, and Resistance. In an unexpected turn of events however, Insomniac has set its sights on Microsoft’s next-gen console to release their new IP, Sunset Overdrive. True to form, it contains all of Insomniac’s wacky humor and fun factor while letting players jump, grind, and swing across a city overrun with bright orange mutants who drank too energy drinks.
Sunset City is the launch site for Fizzco’s newest overhyped energy drink, OverCharge Delirium XT, and to celebrate they host a huge party for all to try their not-at-all flawed drink. But unfortunately for our partygoers the drink is contaminated and sends them into convulsing fits and mutates them in to grotesque mutants called ODs (OverCharge Drinkers). But an unlikely hero with an uncanny ability to parkour like nobody’s business makes it out and bands together with groups of survivors to stand against the OD and uncover if Fizzco plans to order a massive recall of OverCharge.
Now that normal life is for the birds in Sunset City, players can choose who they want to be in the awesomepocalypse. Mix, match, and customize your own personal hero who will save the day and dress them in whatever attire suits you. Once that’s done, get ready to jump right into the action. The tutorial will lay down the rudimentary skills necessary to survive, which is to keep grinding and jumping; not only are you faster off the ground, you are more agile and harder to hit. ,You’ll be doing this a lot in the game, and Insomniac made sure that this will be the most fun you will ever have.
Everything around you is traversable and going from a grind to bouncing off cars into a wall run is the kind crazy action that puts quick time events to shame since it is you that’s doing all of this instead of just button prompts. Pulling off these feats is actually easy to learn; once you get enough practice in, you’ll go place to place without touching the ground once. And even when I unlocked the fast travel option, I still wanted to grind my way to my next mission, and that is a true testament of gameplay done right.
But using the city as your own personal playground isn’t the only fun thing to do; blasting baddies is just as amusing, and it’s simply not an Insomniac Games without using some imaginative weaponry. Choose up to eight weapons to maximize destruction as each one have varying stats and is more or less effective depending on which enemies you use them on. The more you use a weapon the stronger it becomes, so choose your favorites and max out your arsenal to dominate the killing field.
If that’s not enough customization for you, then wait until you’re awarded some medals. Medals are awarded once you have reached a certain milestone with a particular skill, whether it’d be killing with a class of weapon, grinding, bouncing, or putting down some enemies. Once you have enough medals for any category, you can use them as a kind of currency to unlock passive abilities called Overdrives that can increase damage on a certain class of weapons or decreased the damage you take. Speaking of currency, there are three types to look out for in your journey to save the city: normal cash, OverCharge cans, and the collectibles around the city. Cash can buy you new clothes to wear, OverCharge can be exchanged for weapons and ammo, and the stinky shoes and toilet paper you pick up are used to create something called Amps.
The absent-minded scientist named Floyd may not be entirely there most of the time, but he’s a genius when it comes to making Amps. Amps are offensive passive abilities that are activated when players have enough Style. I’ll get to that in a bit, but to get amps, one must collect enough supplies to create them. Once you do, you will need to protect a couple of vats in a nighttime defense mode. Lay some traps strategically and stop the OD from getting to your precious vats to be rewarded with new Amps when time runs out.
You can get Amps for your weapons that grant greater offensive capabilities like summoning Death that kills more enemies for you, and then you can get Amps to equip to your character. The difference with these is that you can only use them when you have enough Style. Chain together kills and skills to build up Style (indicated by a lightning bolt on the top right of the screen) to unleash your Amps and the more style you have the more Amp abilities you can use at once.
It took me a good 15 hours to finish this chaotic romp, and that doesn’t include all of the collectibles and side-missions that are also available. There are tons of missions to take, challenges to test your skill, a colorful cast of characters to meet, and gaming clichés to make fun of, despite our hero being aware of indulging in a few his/herself. And while most mission are nothing more than either killing, collecting, or night-time tower defense segments, they toss in a bit of variety into each mission, stacked with the stellar gameplay mechanics, every single moment from beginning to end is pure unadulterated fun.
Wish you had friends to play with, yet you don’t have any? Chaos Squad is Sunset Overdrive’s version of cooperative multiplayer that sets you up with up to 7 people to take on various tasks across the city. Every session ends with the nighttime defense segment where even more OD than usual will overwhelm you and you posse. You must rack up the kills and points to unlock 1 to 5 rewards; the better you do, the more rewards you unlock at the end of your session, and any rewards you earn in Chaos Squad can be used in the single player portion of the game!
Sunset Overdrive is punk-centric in both its presentation and in its tunes of choice. The city is large and feels alive with bright, electrifying colors that really pop out. The punk soundtrack has you banging your head to catchy tunes that complements the fast pace of the game perfectly. There are instances of the music cutting off for no reason and some sounds were not audible when they should’ve been. It wasn’t too prevalent, but I noticed that the music sometimes remains quiet when mayhem is flooding the screen.
I don’t think people were expecting such an excellent Xbox One exclusive from a developer who has worked with Sony for a large portion of its existence. But now Xbox One owners get to play one of the finest games that they have made to date. Sunset Overdrive is full of high-flying action, crazy weapons, and self-aware jokes that takes the idea that next-gen is all about power and Old Yellers it. Even if there isn’t that much in terms of mission variety, the gameplay, fun, and stylized visuals make Sunset Overdrive one of the better, if not the best overall exclusive of 2014.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Date Released: October 14th, 2014
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Genre: Survival Horror
Rated: M for Mature
Survival horror games have been making a comeback, and in its ranks is The Evil Within. For those of you who don’t know, Shinji Mikami is a very prominent figure in the industry; known for creating Resident Evil, Mikami spearheaded horror into the mainstream and now returns with his recently formed development team, Tango Gameworks to make his mark once again. With Mikami in his element, The Evil Within is a nice twist to the zombie-filled horror scene and does much to stand out amongst the crowd while paying homage to the game that started it all.
Detective Sebastian Castellanos and his colleagues are just returning from a case when they receive a call; multiple homicides at Beacon Mental Hospital. As they arrive at the scene, the entryway is littered with unmanned squad cars and ambulances. When they open the doors to the hospital, they are met with a terrible sight, but find a lone survivor uttering the name “Ruvic”. As Sebastian checks the nearby security monitors he witnesses the murders of three cops by a hooded figure with supernatural powers, and without warning, comes up behind our unsuspecting hero and knocks him out. From then on Sebastian must fight for his life as he braves a world suddenly turned mad and fights men and women turned into grotesque monstrosities.
Veterans of the recent Resident Evil games will feel right at home in The Evil Within: third-person, over-the-shoulder camera, an array of weapons to choose from, multiple foes to deal with at any given time, and plenty of bosses. But what Tango Gameworks did away with is the item management, and depending on whom you were to ask, that decision was either a good or bad one. I believe how they handled it to compensate was smart. Instead of having to stop what you’re doing to decide on whether you want that extra bit of ammo or not, everything is as simple as having a maximum amount for each weapon class. Of course I love item management in classic Resi games, but it does have a few flaws when in a tight squeeze. Now instead of dealing with management, your main concern is conservation of items.
The Haunted, which are the altered and mutilated “human” mobs that you will be mainly contending with, are numerous and a single Haunted can ruin your day, so just shooting your way out isn’t always the best idea. Ammunition is in limited supply, and when managed poorly, you will be left defenseless. This choke-hold on provisions will force you to alternate between weapons so no weapon goes left unused.
If you do play it smart, you will always have just enough when you find yourself surrounded. To help save up each precious bullet there are plenty of means to dispatch foes. Sneaking up on most enemies will prompt to silently take them out with a knife kill and most areas are rigged with booby-traps just waiting to be used in your favor. Take care not to fall in these traps yourself, as a subtle visual cue of red spots will indicate that one is near. Once you take the time to think things through, you will use everything at your disposal to its fullest potential; using your rifle to snipe a sniper, a shotgun for crowd control, a pistol to take out stragglers, and the Agony Crossbow to set up traps of your own. The developer made sure to give you just enough of what you need to make it out of any situation without being a bullet charity, and encourages strategy instead of running and gunning.
Another added feature is an upgrade system where you can increase any of Sebastian’s attributes: Abilities, Weapons, Stock, and Agony Bolts. Throughout the game you can find a substance known as green gel by killing enemies or finding them along the way; this is the main currency in which you can buy your upgrades. Anything from health, to weapon damage, to how much ammunition you can carry is upgradeable. At first I thought that a fully maxed out character would make the game too easy, but to my delight I found the game just as challenging and no weapons were absurdly overpowered. You’re never powerful enough to breeze through the game nor do you ever have more than one fully stocked weapon, and the hordes of creatures are strong enough to take a few bullets to the head without being too frustrating to handle. It’s a great balance of game difficulty and avatar strength that somehow works really well.
Plenty of extra collectables are scattered in each chapter of the game and can shed some light on Sebastian’s past, and of the strange events surrounding some particular characters. What players will want to keep an eye out for are small Goddess statues and Map Fragments. The statues, when destroyed, will reveal a key that can be used on safes that grant ammo, a large jar of green gel, or a pair of keys if lucky. The Map Fragments may not give you an immediate reward, but if you collect all 26 of them you will be greatly rewarded.
There are only two difficulty settings to choose from when playing for the first time: Casual and Survival. As daunting as “Survival” may sound, that’s only the medium difficulty setting. When you beat the game, you unlock a bunch of stuff like a figure gallery, a New Game+ mode, new weapons, and two more difficulty modes. Nightmare is your hard mode, but then there is the dreaded 悪夢(AKUMU) mode; a mode so insane that a single hit from anything will kill you. There are plenty of things to do and collect, so The Evil Within is has plenty of things to do that will have players looking forward to a next playthrough, or wanting to put themselves through hell.
This psychological thriller gone horror will whisk players all over the place, leaving some to wonder what is real and what is just a delusion of a mentally unstable mind. Even our main character will occasionally ask this very question. The one thing that is pretty silly about the whole thing is how our protagonists react to these ever-changing events and occurrences. Not the slightest bit of panic or amazement can be heard in their tone and it leaves the people we are supposed to care about as nothing more than emotionless robots that we can’t empathize with. The voice actors do a great job and everything, but if they were instructed to be as uninterested as humanly possible in what they are doing, then they hit the nail on the head. Or perhaps it’s just a homage to the campy voice acting of the first Resident Evil – the world may never know.
While not the scariest game out there, that doesn’t take away all the great things The Evil Within does. It takes classic staples that horror games have been clinging onto and does away with them in risky move that works out in their favor. And what they did keep is as refined as you would expect from a development studio headed by the grandfather of the survival horror genre. The atmosphere is haunting and suspenseful, the gameplay is refined to a t, and the locales, at times, are as twisted and gnarly as the bosses and enemies you fight. The Evil Within puts “survival” back into survival horror.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5