Thursday, November 19, 2009

Resident Evil 5

This game is probably already on your shelf. If its not, and you didnt get it around when it was originally released, Ill be honest. I feel sad for you. This game is really very good. A vast improvement over Resident Evil 4, it actually brings valid ties back to Umbrella Corp. and the original game characters. I believe its late enough to include spoilers in my review... most people have played the game by this point. Anyway, no surprise... Albert Wesker makes his official appearance back into the series,  and is recognized by Chris Redfield who saw him last in Resident Evil: Code Veronica (although officially, there is going to be a game soon released detailing the flashback mission seen in RE5 that will star Chris and Jill Valentine. During this flashback mission they come across Wesker in the Spencer Mansion immediately after killing Spencer himself, the originator of the virus outbreaks in Raccoon City). In Resident Evil 5 you are joined by a new character, Sheva Alomar, a native of Africa. She is part of an organization the like of S.T.A.R.S., and a handy backup character.

Thusly, RE5 enables you to play active coop missions in RE5 either in local or online multiplayer missions. You can invite friends only to your game, or select an option to let people randomly join you in your game at any point. I love this feature. It moves flawlessly, and frequently you find your back against the wall unless you have someone along for the ride helping you out. The only downfall is that occasionally you come across someone who plays badly, is uncooperative, screams a lot, or lags out pathetically. Although this isnt frequent, it can put a damper on thie enjoyment of the gameplay. Nonetheless, whether your comrade cooperates or not, you can merely charge forward, or leave the game and change the option. The best bet to avoid this situation is to set the game to 'Invite Only' so your friends may join or choose the option to not allow any online players at all. Its probably best the first playthrough to avoid playing online anyhow, as most gamers have all the unlockables at this point and will merely complain that you dont have 'infinite ammo' activated and will leave your game anyway, causing you to restart. Pain in the ass. Try to stick to friend play until you have achieved one or two wins in the game. It wont take you long, the game is nice and challenging but not excruciatingly difficult, until you play on Pro at least. Veteran is bracingly challenging, and my preferred option to play. So even if you havent played the series, dont start on Amateur! Its not that hard. Its not short, but not overlong... which is nice. There are plenty of unlockables in this game and it takes a while to amass them all, collect lots of items and save them to sell, hold back on ammo and stockpile it when you can. Youll unlock things all the faster. Each main character has two other costume modes, and nice unlockable weapons as well.

The game has a great story, especially if you follow the rest of the series, personally I was on the edge of my seat. Bit disappointed with the ending, actually. Anticipating further developments to be announced by Capcom on this... (grumble heh heh). Nevertheless, I was very impressed with the game, from beginning to end, and not complaining. My complaint with the ending is a personal preference, and I found myself in quite a minority when I brought it up to other gamers. (-_-) The boss battles are worth every moment, considering how fantastic the game graphics are even though the cutscenes arent real-time they are close, and beautifully choreographed. The game mechanics are great, even though at times Sheva isnt the best partner in battle, at least you can sub in a real player for her (and you can even switch to playing the game as Sheva and have people sub as Chris). The game is generated to be cooperative in every sense, to taking turns with traps or door switches, distracting boss characters as a decoy, or solving puzzles together. There are plenty of hidden treasures to be had, as well. Some of these can only be reached after the first playthrough, or not even several playthroughs later, when you have gained infinite ammo weapons or at least powered your weapons to full capacity. The variety of villians is fun, from crazed zombie villagers to mad giants to monster bat-centipedes (no kidding) to crocodiles. The game system catalogues each kill you make, how much ammo you used, your firing accuracy, length of gameplay, and various other things besides. You collect files and toy trophies from the game menu to enjoy, similar to the speaking bottle-cap trophies in RE4. The game story files recap the series and the gaps in the story up to the present in the game. Throughout the game itself you find files (similar to the original games! A feature I was excited to see used again in such depth of detail) that slowly illuminate the mystery of the connection between Tricell and Umbrella Corp. and the individuals involved. Old beloved creatures make a reappearance, such as spiders and the infamous Lickers, not seen since Resident Evil 2!

There are two other game modes to choose from. Mercenaries is similar to the minigame featured in older Resident Evil titles, and allows you to play as characters from the game you dont normally get to play such as Wesker, or Jill. The point is to beat missions within a set time limit, taking down as many enemies as possible. Each character is set to have a certain weapon or weapons, and healing items. This game has a multiplayer option. As you beat levels you unlock characters, and further unlock levels.

The other game mode is one that must be bought and downloaded seperately, called Versus. This allows you to fight against other people online in death matches. A variety of characters are also included in this to choose from.

All in all, I found Resident Evil 5 to be the best game in the series since Resident Evil 3. I give the game a 9.5. To be fair, this is practically a 10. Very few games in my opinion achieve an actual 10 rating, and I would hardly pass that out haphazardly. A 10-rated game would have to roundly satisfy a wide variety of expectations. Resident Evil 5, for me, just nearly did that.

Edit: The release of extra content and most importantly the Gold Edition of the game changes things. The Gold Edition takes all the online content you can buy online and puts it in one shiny package. It comes with the missions "Lost in Nightmares" which is the awaited mission with Chris and Jill in the Spencer Mansion just before the actual events of RE5. It is also the mission I was most anxious to play... Anyway, the other mission is "Desperate Escape" and is led by Josh and Jill escaping the island as the events get closer to the end of RE5. Both are rather short, but entertaining in their way. "Lost in Nightmares" is fraught with puzzles and monsters, and "Desperate Escape" is where you'll meet your zombie horde. The extra content in the Gold Edition that was earlier made available online is a series of new costumes for Sheva and Chris, for Sheva a business attire outfit and a fairytale outfit. For Chris there is a mercenary outfit and a warrior outfit. This brings the total of costumes for each character up to 5. The pack also includes the Mercenaries mode, with new unlockable characters. The pack includes Versus mode, in which you can play against other players rather than A.I. There are also extra figurines included. So in all, plenty of new content and bundled together for a very fair price.

Of course, those lucky folks who dont have to make the decision 'hmm, get the Gold Edition even though Ive already downloaded all the content just so I can play the 'Move' version when it is released?' But then, we dont know if the Move version will even be worth it. But I do envy those people who never bought RE5 and walked in the store and said, 'Hey, Gold Edition. Extra missions, extra costumes, extra mercenaries, plus VS all in one pack? Cool!' and bought it. This is because they are getting the whole package for one cheap price, and didnt have to fuss with downloads and surcharges, and wont have to worry when the Move version comes out, (if its any good). Its just another example of Capcom squeezing every last dollar out of our wallets. Oh, no, we dont want to bother satisfying all those customers who already bought the game and all that DLC and spent all that money... they will just have to trade in their game (and plan on getting around $10 for it if you are lucky) and all that DLC will be worthless because when you spend MORE money buying the Gold Edition your DLC becomes worthless... its in the Gold Edition anyway... But why bother buying the Gold Edition? Merely for the curiosity of finding out if the Move edition is good? Perhaps. But it certainly irks me... oh, it really irks me... all that content gets released, and on top of that, they released a Limited Edition that came with merchandise (a satchel, a necklace, a figurine and a metal case) but that edition had no DLC in it, so its still more money to have spent and still have to buy the shiny new edition just to play the Move version.... Capcom... you suck.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Review of Uncharted 2

Ive taken a break from game reviews, but I think its time I started up again. My inspiration is roused, the newest games for my PS3 are so spectacular that I cant hesitate.

I wish to add a statement about Uncharted to my Uncharted 2 review.


The first game I wish to discuss is Uncharted, which was released around the time of the birth of the PS3. It is still an amazing game, possibly one of the best that was made for PS3 at the time. I can no longer say that, because now the best game on PS3 (besides Killzone 2, visually, and Gran Turismo Prologue, gameplay wise) is Uncharted 2. Uncharted still boasted some great graphics. Its clear that the folks at Naughty Dog really bled their souls into their series. Uncharted is a decent length of gameplay, with a story that at first wouldnt seem to be all that riveting. With the usage of witty, charming characters, making a story based on factual and mythical history can become enthralling. Uncharted: Drakes Fortune is based on Sir Francis Drake and the Golden Man, a supposedly mythical idol of gold which turns out to exist (according to the game storyline). Our main character Drake, treasure hunter extraordinaire, goes off to seek this priceless artifact. Along the way, he suffers all kinds of complex puzzles, booby-traps, and has to shoot his way through the competition. Drake is a very likeable, highly entertaining character, and the side characters are all equally charming. Escort missions are no burden whatsoever, infact you find yourself happy to have them along, as the extra characters generally help you out. Infact, you hardly take notice to them being there, and they dont get in your way. Visually, the game was rather a surprise, and greatly underestimated. The backgrounds are beautiful, although not heavily populated with wildlife as youd expect in a jungle (the second game is much better in this arena). The landscapes and lighting is top-notch. I cant really vouch for it as much anymore, because Uncharted 2 has graphics that are just so much better... its hard for me to look at the first game the same way. But its still much better than most existing titles. Coupled with the kind of attention to detail used on the graphics in the game, and the smooth game controls, and fun puzzles and climbing (what to call it? side missions?) and treasure hunting on top of all of it... NOT to forget the kind of bonuses that were available to unlock, which reappear in the second installment of the game... (Im rambling now). Bonuses included different costumes for Drake (the main character) to wear, different color filters, the option to flip the game world in a mirror image for a fresh path to play in-game, etc.

Uncharted 2:

In comparison to Uncharted... well, theres hardly room for comparison. Uncharted as a series has advanced so greatly since the first title... the second installment is perhaps... trying not to exaggerate... ten times better. Before I move into the grand points, I wish to state a minor flaw... the game was so intense and gripping I found myself playing without being able to stop... and the game ended before I knew it. Too short! Dare I say, the game was too short!!! Alright, I said it. Its my only complaint. Now on to the good stuff. Climbing controls! So much better, the intelligence of the point selection is remarkable... although at times its difficult to know what objects are climbable (is that a word?) scaleable because they are designed to mesh with the background animations so flawlessly. They are made as obvious as they could, but you really have to look at times. I had ONE moment in the game when I became irrevocably lost. After my brother came in the room to give a look for me, (after dying uncountable times), we discovered that I missed seeing a door behind a wall. Ah dear, the time I wasted. This however was of my own fault, thinking I had to take the aggressive route rather than escaping, as the game implied. Ive just thought of another small complaint... game hints are much fewer and farther inbetween. Truly, sometimes I craved a little hint of what to do, but I never spent long trying to figure out where to go. This isnt really a valid complaint, because there are both game hints and a tutorial for the game. I confess myself incompetent. The vast, vast, vast amount of graphic detail in the landscapes and structures in the game is for lack of a better word astounding. They spare no expense, without a doubt, and if youre looking for awesome visuals, this is the game to get. I still dont like Chloe's eyes, though. (Hahaha). Shooting mode is relatively the same, the kinds of weapons available are somewhat better, and enemies are tougher. The game is quite tough right from the start, the difference is obvious from the first game. But everything, graphics, controls, climbing and puzzles, has been smoothed really well. The storyline of Uncharted 2 is the path of Marco Polo to Shangri-La, and its a very well done story. Although, compared to the first game, I found some of the artifacts they find a bit unbelievable... like the capacity to build giant complex structures in the times suggested they were built... it all seemed quite make-believe but the mythical history seems solid, and its a fun story besides. So I can overlook it. It really is a fantastic story. The ruins are just majestic, and half the time I wished I could go there myself. There are a couple more characters along for the ride, and they are amusing too. Bonuses are a big feature in this game... although the system is rather new, using a monetary system rather than a point system this time. But there are so many features this time around! Drake has many costumes, and you can also collect costumes of all your other characters. Of course, like the first game, there are trophies for PSN, something I forgot to mention in my review of Uncharted (whoops). And on top of that all... Uncharted 2 has multiplayer! And its probably the most fun multiplayer Ive ever played. :) There are like five modes incorporated, either cooperative or competititive, and since Im not really the first person shooter type, I enjoy a good Team Deathmatch in third-person perspective :). But more on that later! (Once I plug in for some hours playing multiplayer, Ill have a seperate review for that). Uncharted 2 is a winner in my book. And Uncharted wouldnt be a waste of your time either!

I really love Uncharted 2. :) The most important feature of a game for me... it has to be fun to play. And I want to play both Uncharted games over and over. :)