Resident Evil VII: Biohazard (PC, PS4, SWITCH, XBOX ONE)

“Welcome to the family, son.”

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard

Now, I am a big fan of the original Resident Evil series (games 1,2 & 3) and to some extent number 4, less so 5 & defiantly did not enjoy no. 6. This downward spiral of quality was why I was reluctant to pick up Resident Evil 7 at it’s initial release, but in fairness the more I heard about it the more praise I heard about it. So once I found the game on sale I picked it up and finally gave it a go, here’s what I thought of it.

Resident Evil 7 takes place in Dulvey, Louisiana. It’s here that Ethan Winters finds himself after he received an email from his wife Mia who went missing 3 years ago. His search leads him to an old, abandoned plantation. It’s here that Ethan finds Mia who at first is glad to see her. She then suddenly attacks Ethan taking a chainsaw to the hand, losing it in the process. Ethan must now figure out what is going on, how cure Mia and how to survive the Baker family.

First thing’s first, the game does not feel like a Resident Evil game of the past. A lot of moments, especially at the beginning of the game feel less survival horror and more just plain horror. Also compared to a lot of other more modern horror games, the games does it really well. For the first half of the game I was absolutely bricking it in fear of what my be lurking around the corner. The game oozes atmosphere and coupled in with the new 1st person camera you get a real sense of immersion. There was even a couple of times I had to stop and mentally prepare myself before heading around a corner. After about an hour though the feeling of dread did subside as enemy appearances became more predictable and I became better equipped to deal with said enemies.

There wasn’t a lot I didn’t like about Resident Evil 7. My main gripe with the game was movement of the player. There was a lot of times where I felt Ethan wasn’t moving with much urgency, especially when I’m wanting him to turn around a corner. I understand that Ethan is just an ordinary guy and as such hasn’t received any kind of special training, but still in a house of super mutant murder hillbillies I’d expect him to move like his life depends on it rather than like he’s having a lovely stroll through the woods.

Speaking of lovely strolls through the woods, The scene at the very beginning of the game bared both a lot of similarities and contradictions to the start of What Remains of Edith Finch. Both start out as walking simulators where the player is walking through the woods, however where as in Edith Finch there’s a sense of adventure, wonderment and tranquility RE7 fills the player with tension, suspense and anxiety as to what the player might suspect. I think it’s quite interesting how two games of very similar mechanics can distill opposing feelings.

Back to the topic at hand, I would recommend Resident Evil 7 to those who enjoyed the Silent Hill games or in fact any kind of horror game. Although I wouldn’t to those who are die hard fans of the Resident Evil series. In that respect it reminds me of Silent Hill 4: The Room, they are both great games but they also both feel very disjointed from it’s series lore, both feeling very off cannon. I just hope that Resident Evil doesn’t fuck it up the series again by trying to bring the cannon back in newer games… What? Chris Redfield is in Resident Evil Village? I guess some people just don’t learn.

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BONUS CONTENT: Looking Back at Resident Evil (PC, PSone)

.This week I thought I’d us this time to take you on a trip down memory lane, back to where my love for games really took hold. A time when there were no Caramel Freddos, instead there was the Taz. A simpler time, a time when I could spend every single spare moment playing video games and nobody would moan. One such game from that period, Resident Evil.

Resident Evil begins with an elite tasks force of the Racoon City Police Department known as the Special Tactics And Rescue Service (STARS). After a series of cannibalistic murders take place in the nearby Arklay Mountains. Initially Alpha team are sent in to investigate. The story then starts with Bravo team being sent in to find Alpha team and help in the investigation. Upon finding the remains of Alpha team’s helicopter the team is attacked by vicious undead dogs, their pilot flees leaving the rest of the team behind. The remaining members retreat to a near by mansion not knowing that this is where it all began.

First and foremost, I’m going to put it out there that Resident Evil has not aged well. It’s story and dialogue resembles that of a Z-movie and graphically is almost unplayable, but for it’s day the graphics were top of the class and it’s dialogue was… still really cheesy (which is also how I like my Jill Sandwiches). However; The one thing that it did do very well and still does is create atmosphere. This is achieved by the harrowing soundtrack and gameplay. This made it just as enjoyable for anyone watching the game as those playing the game. I’ve mentioned in my previous Resident Evil reviews that the less you see of an enemy the scarier it is, the anticipation of an enemy is the scariest part and Resident Evil does that really well, with periods of quiet between each zombie encounter, as a new player not knowing if an enemy is going to be waiting around the next corner can be pants wettingly terrifying. This was an aspect that made Mr X from RE2 far scarier than Nemesis in RE3.

Resident Evil was the defining moment for the Survival Horror genre. It certainly wasn’t the first given that ‘Sweet Home’ and ‘Alone in the Dark’ are both classed as Survival Horror games and were released in 1989 & 1992 respectively. Resident Evil just took what came before it and did it better than anyone else, carving the rules of the genre into stone. The feelings of isolation and powerlessness, limiting recourses and in doing so forcing the player to make judgement calls such as “Can I spare this ammo in taking down this zombie or should I try to avoid them?”. This de-emphasises combat in favour of strategy and thinking around a problem rather than running in guns blazing like most shooters before it.

To round everything off, Resident Evil was a Concorde moment for the genre, nothing would be the same again after it. It’s just a pity that the series itself couldn’t build upon the genre that it had so truly defined. Each subsequent sequel loosing a little more of the ambiance and the player feeling a little less hopeless as the games go on until we got to the monstrosity that was Resident Evil 6. Although the remakes of both Resident Evil & Resident Evil 2 have told me that Capcom still have it in them to deliver survival horror as it should be, only to have the Resident Evil 3 remake remind me that a leopard never changes it’s spots.

Resident Evil 2 (PC, PS4, XBOX ONE)

Things are still going slow so as promised I have another one for you. This time we are bring the past to the present a much loved classic remade for the 21st century. Now we delve into the heart on zombie infested Raccoon City as we play Resident Evil 2 (2019).

Most you are probably more than aware of the story behind Resident Evil 2 but for those who don’t know, Umbrella (ella-ella) has accidentally leaked the T-Virus into Raccoon City and as such the local residents have shown their distaste for this by making the city a huge mess and turning themselves into zombies. It just so happens that while this is going on Leon Kennedy turning up in town eager to start his first day at the local police station and Claire Redfield who’s come into town looking for her brother Chris because she hasn’t paid her phone bill and as such can’t just call him. The two must split-up, look for survivors and get out of there.

This will be the 3rd Resident Evil game I would have written about making it my joint most written about game series (the other being Mass Effect). Iv’e already mentioned my past love of Resident Evil and especially Resident Evil 2. The original was by far my favourite of the series, so with that in mind and how much I loved the re-make of the original Resident Evil, I was super excited when I heard Capcom were remaking RE2. I went into this game with a huge expectation and I’m glad to say that it both lived up and exceeded my expectations.

So, differences between the original and new one. The biggest change in game-play is changing from a fixed camera to the over-the-shoulder camera introduced in Resident Evil 4, which in all honesty is a god send. As much as I preferred the earlier games having a fixed camera and trying to shoot an enemy you can’t see on the other side of it was more than a slight annoyance. There have been a few little story tweaks but nothing that changes the story dramatically. A huge graphical upgrade, the original wasn’t anything great at the time and by today’s standard it lies somewhere between god awful and abysmal. The remake however looks highly polished, the lighting effects cast an eerie feel almost everywhere and the gore physics leave little to the imagination. There’s little on this earth more satisfying then sending your last pistol bullet into a zombies face and watching it’s brains escape just as quickly in every other direction.

Now for my final thought. The game is a much appreciated return of survival horror that I have wanted for many years. Despite it’s niggles I’d put it up for contender for my game of the year. There’s enough ammo to get you though the game but not enough to be wasting it at every zombie/ dog/ potted plant. Each scenario on it’s own feels a little short and can be completed in 2-3hrs but given that there are 4 of them (2 for Leon and 2 for Claire) as well as some added extras it will keep you entertained for a while (It took me about a month from first starting to getting the platinum trophy). The atmosphere is thick which really immerses you into the game. I can only imagine the number of sleepless nights my 8 year old self would have had in both joy and piss-expelling terror had the game looked and felt this good when the original was released.

The Last of Us (PS3)

Thank you, Thank you. Yes it’s good to be back. I know it has been a very very long while since I did one of these (discounting Tomb Raider because I started that before my hiatus). I’ve been busy moving house and getting a dog and such, but please don’t think that it makes me unprofessional (a shout out to any potential employers as much of a long shot as it may be). This time I’m reviewing my favourite game of 2013. The reason it’s my favourite is probably due to the fact I didn’t play Grand Theft Auto V or Bioshock Infinite. Without further or do, The Last of Us.


The Last of Us starts before the outbreak. A young girl named Sarah wakes to find her farther Joel missing, he then appears barking like a madman and proclaims that they have to go. Her Uncle and his brother Tommy appears in a car and they proceed to escape the town. Car crashes, Sarah is shot and killed then the story skips ahead 20 years, to present day where a grumpy, middle aged Joel is working with a woman called Tess as smugglers in the militarised safe zone of Boston. During an operation Joel and Tess finds Marlene the leader of the terrorist group The Fireflies. She tasks Joel and Tess to smuggle a teenage girl Ellie out of the city and thus the story begins.


Lets get one thing straight right now. The Last of Us may have been my game of the year but it still falls short of the other holders of that title (Far Cry 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim & Heavy Rain). It does have a number of issues, my biggest one must be the lack of immersion. I just couldn’t get sucked into it. I’d stick it on, play for an hour or so and then find something else I’d rather do. I really wanted it to be one of those games I’d start playing at 7pm and find myself still playing it at 11am in the morning… 3 days later.


As regular readers will be aware I do like a good story well told, but to make a good game it’s got to be seamless with the gameplay, neither sacrificing one for the other. Sadly in the case of The Last of Us, it only get 2 out of 3 of these right. The story is very good and it’s told well (if a bit choppy at times), unfortunately it’s gameplay is the turd in the custard. Now I’m not the best person at playing video games but I like to think since I’ve been playing games for roughly 20 years I’d like to think that I’m defiantly above average. With that in mind, the amount of times I died because as I was sneaking up on an infected* only for it to miraculously know I was there and lunge with it’s unblock-able kill move, it’s controller snappingly frustrating. Ammo can be plentiful if you insist on resorting to melee or stealth and like the continual look of the loading screen, or fairly scares if your name is Nathan Drake. It gets easier the further into the game you get and the more guns and upgrades you have at hand.


The stealth engine as mentioned before can be overly sensitive, meaning enemies can pick up a sparrow fart from 5 miles away or the complete polar opposite and not notice a rhino charging through a china shop from which they’re purchasing a rather lovely vase. Some middle ground would be nice. This is just one of many examples of issues I’ve had with the gameplay, all of which effects the pacing of the story causing it to stop and start, stop and start constantly, which in turn effects how I feel about the story, which then has effect on my overall view of the game. A couple of tweeks to let the gameplay flow a bit more would have changed The Last of Us from a fairly good game to a rather excellent game.


Now for my final thought. Despite all the nasty stuff I said about The Last of Us, I have given it my “Game of the Year” badge over titles such as Papers Please, Tomb Raider, God of War Ascension, Remember Me, Metal Gear Rising & DMC. Sure had I played Bioshock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V, Assassins Creed IV, Batman Arkham Origins, Saints Row IV, Beyond Two Souls, Total War: Rome II or Company of Heroes 2 I’d have given it to one of them, but the bottom line is this. Out of the 3 games I played last year that I’d recommend, The Last of Us I would recommend the most (the other 2 out of interest are Papers Please & Tomb Raider).


Finally because it’s a new year like last year I’ll share the game I am looking forward to the most this year. The nominees are as follows:

  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
  • InFamous: Second Son
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Destiny
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Thief
  • The Walking Dead: Season Two
  • Watch Dogs

And the winner is:

Watch Dogs
Every trailer and every piece of game play footage I see gets me that little bit more excited each time. Graphically it looks amazing, it’s gameplay look smooth and seamless but most of all, it’s something new and something relevant to our modern way of life. That’s all for now and have a wonderful 2014.
* In this scenario, the infected does not refer to zombies but are human husks made from a mutated form of the ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungi which is known for infecting insects using their spores and take over their nervous functions.

Resident Evil (GameCube)

What I wanted to do this week was to play Mass Effect 3 and tell you all how awesome the series is and that you should buy all of them but I can’t. Last week the nice people of Nvidia emailed me telling me that they were going to send me a new gaming PC and a copy of Mass Effect 3. This is great news but it just means that I have to wait for everyone to get past the red tape before it can start playing on it, which can take a wile. So in the mean wile I’m looking at my favourite remake of all time. Resident Evil on the GameCube.

I have mentioned in an earlier review that I am a big fan of the Resident Evil series. I’m pretty sure that if it wasn’t for Resident Evil, I wouldn’t be the gamer I am now. I probably would have gone out, met people, been popular and enjoy playing FIFA (that’s a scary thought). The first, although I didn’t think was the best, was probably the most memorable. The amount of times I played/watched someone else play it, I could more or less narrate the game all the way through. So when I heard that Capcom were remaking it for the GameCube I was very excited.especially since my brother had just bought a GameCube.

Capcom originally stated that in making the remake they changed 70% of the game, and it shows without seeming like a completely different game. One of the biggest noticeable differences is graphically. It looks phenomenal. Even by today’s standard it looks amazing. It would not look out of place on the 360 or PS3. The realistic graphics and the ambient lighting (or should I say the lack of lighting) really do make the game what the original wanted to be. Where the original felt cheesy and comedic, the remake actually does feel scary. A must play in the dark when you’re in the house alone.

The story in essence is pretty much the same. S.T.A.R.S alpha team is trapped in a mansion and must escape from the horrors within. A few additional sub-plots have been added here and there, for example the George Trevor sub-plot. The game also contains new game play additions, including the defensive items which can be used to attack an enemy that is attacking you. Also the ability to burn corpses of zombies, because if you don’t after a period of time they will become one of the new enemies in the game, the Crimson Head. These are stronger, faster zombies with claws instead of fingers, basically the brick shit house of the zombie world. Another new enemy in the remake is Lisa Trevor, daughter of George Trevor. She’s wears shackles and a dead skin mask of her own mother (in some sort of Leatherface esc. way) and get this, she can’t die.

Also improved in the remake include the writing and dialogue. Let’s be honest, the dialogue of the original was the wrong kind of  good, it was so bad it was good, much like any film Steven Seagal’s been in. Although at times it can seem forced and awkward it’s still a massive improvement on the old dialogue. If you are unsure how bad the dialogue was go to YouTube and search for “Jill Sandwich”. Fans of the original will be left a bit disappointed by the removal of the “Jill Sandwich” line from the remake but it’s a small price to pay in the name of progress.

Now my final thought. It’s awesome, by far the greatest remake every made. True most of them are just to squeeze a few more pennies from their fans, but Resident Evil shows us just what a developer can do when given a second chance. It is a must buy for any GameCube owner and Resident Evil fan.

EXTRA CREDIT:

After writing this review and reading it back, I can’t help but think that this game is the last of it’s kind, a dying breed if you will. Ever since Survival Horror stopped being made in Japan and moved to the US it’s lost it’s subtlety and it’s charm. Modern so called “Survival Horror’s” such as Dead Space or Left 4 Dead aren’t even Survival Horrors any more. Gun control must have gone servilely lax given the amount of weapons, guns and ammo that litter these new instalments, eliminating any kind of survival element. As for the horror aspect, the bottom line is that they are just not scary. Developers need to learn what the difference is between shock and scare. It’s not hard to shock people, just have something unexpected happen. For example someone sneaks up behind you and slaps you on the back or have the cat jump on your face while your sleeping. This is scary the first time but when repeated over and over, which these games tend to do, it just gets annoying and predictable. A good horror game gives you the tools, sets the scene and your imagination does the rest. The Japanese are very good at this, The American’s are not. I bet you wouldn’t even find the word subtle in an American English dictionary. Probably think it’s some sort of sandwich, I digress.

Resident Evil I truly found scary. Since then I’ve not really found too many games to cure that certain itch. Siren Blood Curse helped for a little while but even then that was just a shadow of what the genre was. It seems that in this day and age of “instant gratification, multi-nuke launcher to the face, explode-splode, boom” style of computer games that are topping the sales chart there is no room for compelling story, intense atmosphere and immersibility. Nope, apparently all those qualities can go fuck themselves. Oh what sad times are these.

Resident Evil 4 (GameCube, PC, PS2, PS3, Wii, XBOX 360)

 

With the releases of Resident Evil 4 and Code Veronica X in HD on the PSN and XBLA this is what I have been doing with myself.
First things first. I love the Resident Evil series. It takes me back to my pre-teens, back to a time where even it’s target audience would call Justin Bieber annoying and gay. I would meet at a friends house and we would play one of 3 games, 2 of those were Final Fantasy VII and Command & Conquer, but the one I want to focus on today was Resident Evil, believe it or not those graphics used to be good. The camera angles were always horrible mind, but the one thing I most enjoyed about the series was also it’s biggest flaw, the dialogue. The dialogue was that horrible and broken that it was laughable, which made it entertaining. Like watching a film with Steven Seagal in it. You don’t enjoy it because it’s a good film, you enjoy it because it’s a horribly bad film.
As sequel after sequel were released you saw minor improvements and minor tweaks that kept the games appealing to current fans, but less appealing to people new to the series, It was like opening a novel halfway through and to start reading from there. That is until Capcom decided that the series was in dire need of a 21st century reboot. At the release of Resident Evil 4 I was comfortably set in as a Resident Evil fan boy and was outraged by Capcom taking a series I loved and remould it to make it more mainstream so they could attract a wider audience and make more money, Capcom you sell-outs. To this day I still don’t know why it’s called Resident Evil (other than the obvious that it would sell better when a well known brand is stapled to it, see Silent Hill 4 for details). It has as much relevance to the original series as Custard does to the Custard Cream. It would be like playing Pokemon as Jeremy Clarkson and calling it the Top Gear Edition.
Lets start the “review” rather than rant about nostalgia and Capcom selling out shall we? Ok. The story has no relevance to the earlier games apart from the appearance of a few old faces. Leon S Kennedy from Resident Evil 2 is back and it’s his job to rescue the Presidents daughter who has been kidnapped for some reason and rather than going along with standard American foreign policy to send in an armed force, blow up half of every city, steal a few natural resources, announce victory and claim the lives of the that country have been significantly improved. Instead it’s decided that one agent armed with a pistol and a radio with a woman inside would be sufficient. The inevitable proverbial shit hits the fan and it’s up to Leon to take down a whole bio-terrorist cell single handed and rescue the princess… I mean the presidents daughter.
The biggest step away from the franchise was to not put zombies in a game that’s series was very big on zombies. Instead we have villagers who might as well be zombies but can open doors, use weapons and engage in light conversation with each other, although sometimes big bug things can appear out of the decapitated stumps of dead enemies randomly. Another huge difference was to chuck the fixed camera and go for an over the shoulder view instead. Making aiming for head shots infinity easier but having the disadvantage of not being able to see behind you. Just like real life. Although unlike real-life when aiming Leon must stand perfectly still for reasons unknown to man. Maybe it’s one of those “Men can’t multi-task” things where if Leon were to move and aim at the same time he would have to stop breathing or something similar, but I like to think women only say that to make up for their inability to priorities.
Overall I enjoyed it. The game-play was interesting enough for me to complete it back when I first played it and memorable enough for me to buy it and complete it again when released in HD. Although I still have that niggling feeling that it probably would have been a better game if it wasn’t a Resident Evil game, if it were instead the start of a new series to replace Resident Evil instead of re-branding it for a new generation who enjoyed the films (which btw. were a series of wank sandwiches each one having more filling than the last). Then again it wouldn’t have sold as well if it was called “Secret Agent no. 65,524 vs Spaniard Villagers”, but that’s just me.
The Resident Evil series has come a long way since me and my friends took the day off school so we could go into our local Blockbusters and rent out Resident Evil 2 on the day of release. Although Resident Evil 4 is a good game it doesn’t feel like a Resident Evil. The games I fell in love with and still feel nostalgic about are not in there which personally for me spoilt it slightly.
On a final note I do recommend it, it’s worth at least a play through, just leave all expectations at the door and try to imagine that it’s just a coincidence that the protagonist’s name is the same as the cop from Resident Evil 2.
Capcom you Sell-outs.