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Archive for September, 2014

Post Game Wrap Up! Dead Rising 3!

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I’ve learned something about Capcom over the past little while. As I mentioned in my previous PGWU, I took a small break from Xenoblade to focus on getting some things out for review purposes, and if I’m honest, I don’t like to binge play a game, I rather like playing a game or two at a time. Plus, Destiny came out. I have no shame in admitting that is taking up time. But I also got hold of another Capcom release on PC during that time, and I wanted to talk about it for a bit, and why Dead Rising 3 made me angry.

Dead Rising 3 is the newest release in the Dead Rising series, that places players in a sandbox filled with zombies, allowing them to fight off the horde using whatever weapons and items you can find, and more recently custom making your own tools of destruction. It was originally announced as a Xbox One exclusive, but Capcom isn’t the most faithful of developers, as Nintendo will tell you. Hell Microsoft should have known better, as this very series has flip-flopped between exclusivity and on whatever system will have it.   Now, it’s come to the PC in the Apocalypse edition, which comes with all the DLC in tow, at a reduced price of $49.99. That’s pretty standard fare for PC ports of games, which is ultimately what this boils down to.

In Dead Rising 3, you play as Nick Ramos, a mechanic who finds himself trapped in the city of Los Perdidos as a zombie outbreak happens. The city is under quarantine, and the military is set to vaporize it with high powered weaponry in a week’s time. Nick makes it his mission to get out of the city with the few survivors he’s run into. Nick, as opposed to the other series protagonists Frank and Chuck, is more friendly to people he meets and is more interested in helping them than himself. It’s a nice change of pace, but the game never really does anything with it, he just happens to be nicer than the others. I suspect he’s written that way for a reason, but due to spoilers, I’m not really open to discussing it now. Outside of that, he’s not really an interesting character. The characters and the story are kind of the weak part of Dead Rising 3, while on the subject. Most characters are a cliché, falling in line with zombie movie tropes, and the story as a whole equally follows suit, right down to the DLC chapters. The only exception being the SUPER ULTRA ARCADE REMIX HYPER EDITION EX + alpha, which is the only fun and interesting DLC pack in the entire bundle, because it tugs on retro heart strings and turns the insanity of it all to 11. Honestly, that one DLC is kind of better than the entire game itself. And while I’m talking about story, I have issues with the villains. Like everything else Capcom writes, villains takes the large and grandiose idea of unleashing a zombie horde to do something evil, when a hit man or a mad scientist could usually get it done without anywhere near the same kind of mess, clean up, or chances of failure. It’s a silly trend in Capcom writing, at least in their horror genre. I’m waiting for them to do with Street Fighter.

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(Seriously though, this should have been a standalone. It’s awesome)

Dead Rising 3, as mentioned before is a sandbox game, and the developers have gone to great lengths to highlight the sheer size of the horde on screen at any given time. To give them credit, it is something of a technical wonder, highlighting what the new generation of consoles are capable of. The game only loads once when you first load it too, and never really seems to suffer from slowdown as you play, which in a sandbox of this size, is very cool from a technical perspective. However, it doesn’t stay impressive for long. They may as well not exist when you are far away, as short of random survivors you can save for experience, they do nothing but stand around looking dumbfounded. I know they are zombies, so I’m not expecting hyper intelligent A.I, but it would be nice for them do something while not trying to chase you down. The game itself is also bigger than DR 1 or 2, and as such gives a greater emphasis on vehicles. You can combine vehicles together, just like weapons, but they aren’t necessary at any given time. Vehicles are only good for transportation, and they handle poorly at the best of times, so I would never bother with them except to get from district to district. I had hoped the series would continue to employ shortcuts to teleport from area to area, but they took them out entirely, making vehicles the only option. And because you’re not able to take the direct routes because reasons, your left taking the scenic zombie covered bridges, and it won’t take long for driving through a horde of zombies to become tedious and boring.

While on the subject of questionable game play, Nick can fashion weapons on the fly as long as he is carrying them. You need the combo’s blueprint to do this, but every time you find a blueprint, your either given the item to use right away or the items needed are laying right beside the blueprint to let you make it on the spot. This isn’t bad in theory, as due to the game’s size, hunting for items to take them back to safe room to make them could get a little aggravating. What really irks me about this is the locker system. There is one for vehicles and for weapons, and every time to pick up, use an item, or make a combo item, a copy of it gets stored in the locker. You can go to any safe house and withdraw multiple copies of it, for free. Best part of all, it refills automatically with no input from you, so once you make an item, you can just wait a while, stockpile 4 awesome combo guns or weapons, and use them to decimate hordes of zombies and the bosses the game gives you. You can even get weapons that are combo’s of combos this way. It makes it insultingly easy to handle any real challenge, and I found myself breezing through this game with no problems.

Speaking of difficulty, that’s also changed too. Normally in a Dead Rising game, there is a day/ night system, and the game passively goes forward in time, even if you’re not ready for it. It’s possible to miss story important missions/ bosses/ civilians to save this way. It’s hard sure, but Dead Rising carries your characters progress forward in-between attempts, making it possible after a few tries. Dead Rising 3 changes this by offering two game modes. There is nightmare mode, which operates just like above, and you can only save in port a potties and safe houses, and enemies hit harder and are stronger. There is also the Story mode, which allows players to take their time. Days do not progress on their own anymore, mission timers are so long it’s virtually impossible to fail them, and enemies are weaker. They call it story mode for players who want to appreciate the story, but as mentioned, the story is so weak you can really just call it easy mode, as no one is playing it to enjoy the story. I can understand changing certain things to make the game easier to play in some small ways, but I’ve never liked adding a easy mode, especially when it takes away from the game’s driving concept. If there is no time limit, there is no pressure, and no tension. Fortunately, you can just choose to play on Nightmare mode right out of the gate, so I suppose at least its optional. I also found the game to be boring visually. Perhaps I was just spoiled by the Vegas setting of DR2, but Los Perdidos is just grey and bland. Some areas seem colorful, but compared to Vegas? Sorry, the game’s got nothing compared to DR2. If your playing the PC version, you absolutely need a controller of some kind, as the PC keyboard controls are horrendous and there is no way to change them.

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(Granted, dressing as a lucha and jumping into a horde of zombies to pile-drive one of them is still cool.)

After completing the game, I felt a little ripped off. To me, Dead Rising 3 is the worst kind of continuation to a popular franchise, as it doesn’t really do anything new or interesting with the concept. It really feels to me like the series peaked at Dead Rising 2, which is weird considering I only played it for a weekend when it first came out. When the 360 came out, the game I wanted to play, and the reason I bought a system, odd enough, was Dead Rising, and when I found out Dead Rising 3 was “exclusive” to Xbox One, I was a little tempted to pick up the system so I could play it. Thank god I didn’t, as I would have felt ripped off. It’s not that Dead Rising 3 is a bad game, it just doesn’t do anything of real note, with the exception of the SUPER ULTRA DLC. Had that been a standalone experience, like off the record was for DR2, that would be worth picking up. It kind of only really exists as a tech demo, and once the novelty of that wears off, your left with a game that didn’t really do much to update the formula. If you’re looking for a Dead Rising experience, I recommend 2, because you get everything you get in 3, on a smaller scale admittedly, but you get it for $19.99, on whatever platform you wish. Dead Rising 3 just isn’t worth it on its own, and at best might be a rental experience. I’m going back to Xenoblade now, or Destiny. I need to feel better.

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Seriously, this needs to be a stand alone. Capcom, make it happen


Post Game Wrap Up! Resident Evil 4!

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I had to take a break from Xenoblade Chronicles. It’s coming soon, I promise, but I realized with the free time I have to game these days, it would be another month at least before I got that out. I figured I need something else to play in-between sessions. So I decided to look for something on sale, something I didn’t own, and something I consider to be “retro” or at least old. So, thankfully, I discovered that over on the Xbox 360, some Resident Evil games were on sale. With the Resident Evil remake (or REmake, as I like to call it. ) due out on other consoles in the near future, I thought this was a great time to look back at Resident Evil 4, The game that changed it all.

 

Resident Evil is probably not a series that requires any real introduction, it’s been a Capcom staple since 1996. But by the series 4th release in the main series, Code Veronica on the Dreamcast, some people began to feel that the game play was getting stale. The fixed camera was a relic of older technology, and the tank controls were the best way to move with a fixed camera. As systems got more sophisticated, gamers wanted something more. In 2002, Capcom signed a deal with Nintendo of all people to bring may titles exclusively to the GameCube, with titles such as Killer 7, Okami, Viewtiful Joe and Resident Evil. In 2005, Capcom released this gem of a game that is considered to be one of the must-own GameCube titles. Now, times have changed, and looking back, does Resident Evil 4 still rise up as a must own, or like the series itself, has it soured on the its own idea?

 

First, right of the bat, I got to say I loved Resident Evil 4 on the GameCube. In fact, it was the last game I bought for the GameCube. The GameCube had some good titles, but not many, certainly not compared to the PS2. But I enjoyed it then, and put much time into it. Really, I picked this one because I was curious if it would have held up after all these years, especially given how the reception to the series has changed over the years.

 

Resident Evil 4 puts you in the role of Leon S. Kennedy, one of the few survivors from the Racoon City incident. It’s been a few years since then, and Umbrella is fully dissolved. Leon has been recruited by the US government, and when the President’s daughter, Ashley, is kidnapped while in Spain, it’s up to Leon to track down the kidnappers and save the president’s daughter. Of course, a creepy cult is involved, science fiction, and monsters.  The plot is standard fare, but compared to the twists and turns games like 5 and 6 would have, it’s actually kind of refreshing to be this simple. There are subplots involving other series regulars, such as big bad Wesker, but I don’t bring them up here because.. they don’t really add much to the main story. They more serve as questions to be answered in later games and are there mainly to be vague and mysterious, but the series vets who are involved here at least feel they are supposed to. It also helps that the characters, while stock, at least feel like characters, especially the villains. A big problem 5 and 6 had were the villains in those games felt a lot like placeholder characters, but were never replaced. Here, at least the main villain, Lord Saddler has a motivation, even if we learn little about him. Motivation may not sound like much, but it’s better than Simmons from RE6, who doesn’t really didn’t seem to have much in the way of motivation.

 

But, people don’t talk about RE4’s masterful and impactful story. No, they talk about two things. The first thing is that the game play is completely different from any RE game that came before it. Resident Evil got a big facelift here, and at the time it was jaw dropping. Capcom had made the switch from a more methodical pacing to a more action paced one. Sure, it’s light on puzzles and traps, but RE4 makes up for greatly by being one of the best in terms of game play, being very simple and direct. See, RE4 made the series jump into the 3rd person action game. It’s a style that has remained mostly unchanged from 4 to 5 to 6. The only real differences are in 6 you can aim and move, and in 5 and 6 you must handle your inventory in real time, due to them having co-op online .   RE4’s game play is all about tense action moments, and while it’s a little sad to see the series change, it was refreshing in 2005, and I’ll be damned if Capcom didn’t pull it off flawlessly. Sure, you still can’t move and shoot ( a grip the fans never grew out of) but the combat is perfect for what it’s trying to be, an 3rd person action shooter, minus cover. Aiming is simple and easy to do, the weapons feel different, and Leon actually actually moves quite well, even when heavily damaged. You can also see your health bar, so there is no guessing with phases and vague terms. But the game also knows exactly how to pace itself, and the game has many crowning moments in game play. One of the best and most effective is in the first village section, just before the end of the prologue. It’s a great section that truly leaves you tense and scared, just like the series should do, sure your mobile, but you lack the firepower and survivability to truly deal with a horde. The game has other great and memorable sections though, so even though the game shows it’s best hand early, it many more equally tense moments later. The game play improvement also makes the returning Mercenaries mode a BLAST to play, and is a great addition that continues to this day.

 

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(I cannot tell you how often this happened to me.)

 

The other interesting idea that was also new to the series was the fact that enemy’s are not zombies. Sure, for all intents and purposes they are just zombies, but they are not actually zombies. Sure, the series does still have spooky monsters, but the cannon fodder human-like creatures you face are not zombies. I’ll give the series credit, for the main plot of RE4, there is no connection to Umbrella or the T-Virus. It helps the series feel like its really evolving, putting us back in unknown territory. The enemy AI for the humans is also well put together, for the time. They can dodge and weave to throw your aim off, they can throw weapons at you, including grenades( which you can shoot out of the sky/ their hands, which is awesome!) The AI is a bit limited, but it still helps add to the feeling that these guys are smarter than a zombie would be. However, the series best and creepiest creature comes from RE4. It doesn’t show up until late in the game… but when it does… it’s just as creepy now as it was then.

 

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(still creepy after all this time)

 

 

However, the game isn’t without faults. I sort of mentioned earlier that unlike RE5 or 6, the game is not co-op. That means you’re not responsible for babysitting a brain-dead useless AI partner….. for at least a couple hours. Because sadly, after that point, your saddled with babysitting. Specifically, you actually save Ashley rather early in the game. But then it turns into a escort mission with a defense less partner. If she is killed or even carried to a different area, you die. Worse yet, you can hit her while she is being carried! Even worse than that, in order to increase her health, you have to give up increasing your own, and in order to heal her, it takes up healing items. It’s annoying, at least until a play through or two later, when you unlock Ashley’s armor costume, which makes her too heavy to carry and bullet proof. I’ll say this in regards to Ashley, at least they give you a mechanic to forget about taking care of her in a later play through. And she’s not around for boss fights, making it that much easier to focus on the boss as opposed to carrying a partner, either AI or Human. She’s also not that annoying, but it does sort of ruin this awesome feeling the game has by forcing you to babysit her through 75% of the game.

 

Another annoyance sadly is the games reliance on QTE’s. They are far too prevalent in the game. Every other cut scene seems to have one, and of course failure means instant death. The worst part though is even if you fail, you can fail a second time. The game only has 2 or 3 button combinations that work in QTE’s, but the game doesn’t set any in stone, rotating at random between all 3. The only one that is relatively the same every time is a boss fight later on. Yes, a boss fight starts out with QTE’s, and any failure starts the battle over. It’s cool looking sure, but I could do without it. Another issue is that sadly the game is also a little on the short side, and unless your aiming for a high score (as leader boards are now a thing thanks to the HD ports this game has) Your actually not going to have much reason to play through it all again. Sure, your character and all his inventory carry over, but after the second go around, your basically untouchable. That might be a reason itself though, as that’s why I played through this game so many times in my youth. There are also some gaps with how the science works in the game, mostly with how Saddler is actually able to control anyone is a bit of a plot hole, but to me, that’s a minor gripe. The series has more pressing plot holes than that, trust me.

 

 

On the whole, I’m really torn here. I should explain quickly that while I found them dull, I don’t hate RE5 or 6. In fact, I think 6 has a lot of good moments… it just has many, many other bad ones. But RE4 was the game to beat as far as this new breed of RE games goes. But in saying that, I do wish things were different. I wish RE4 didn’t become a escort mission. Hell, I kind of wish that we got the version of the game that was known as the hallucination version, which looked awesome. I wish the game was longer, and I wish some side characters got more fleshed out. But, RE4 is still a great time, considering it’s age. And while I would rather just play a RE game alone, if I have to choose between a babysitting gig and a useless AI partner, I’ll take the babysitting any day, at least she knows to stay out of the way and duck. RE4 does still hold up, no question. The HD port (at least on the 360) isn’t the greatest, but for under $20, you can’t go wrong. I actually do recommend this one, if only so Capcom knows this is what we prefer, not the CO-OP stuff they are doing now.

 

And on disc DLC. We don’t like that either, but they kind of know that by now.