Resident Evil Dead

On January 27, 2009, in Games, Opinion Pieces, by Steffen Itterheim

I’ve never been much of a Resident Evil player. So i wasn’t really looking forward to the new Resident Evil 5 demo on the Xbox 360. And honestly, i didn’t play it much, just enough to know that it’s not a game for me.

The demo just drops you right into the game, no tutorial or anything. Instead the demo expects you to get up to speed with one of the dreaded demo control scheme loading screens for a few seconds.

Ok, so i’m in the middle of nowhere, i walk for 20 meters, jump down a ledge, and enter a hut. CUTSCENE!

Yeah, i just played for 20 seconds and you make me watch a damn cutscene? Ok, it’s a japanese game, i should know better.

During this cutscene i watch someone getting beheaded (no, you don’t actually see the gory details). All around this scene there is a huge horde of enraged, red-eyed zombies ranting wildly. They look grim and even more aggressive than the Zombies of Left 4 Dead. Next, i am spotted and the zombie horde is directed to the hut i’m in.

My reaction: i’m in deep shit! What now, what now?

Uhm … nothing, actually. At least not for another minute or so as the zombies slowly crawl over the fence and scuffle around the building, not minding much that i shoot at them. What the … ? Where’s all the aggression? Gone?

And of course, after just 20 shots i run out of ammo. Ok, so it’s a game where ammo is sparse, i remember that. But which one is the melee button? Then the zombies enter the building. They surround me, slowly. There isn’t really much going on except for occassionally pressing B to help my teammate. But doom is inevitable and picking up ammo while being surrounded by zombies seems so … embarrassing.

In my book Resident Evil is one of those games that has outlived its zenith. It’s probably going to be a treat for all it’s fans and i’ll probably get flamed by this post if one of them happens to read it. But it won’t win any significant number of new players. It plays slow and it feels weird and inconsistent.

It’s now official: Resident Evil is the first game franchise gone hollywood of which i enjoy the movies a lot more than actually playing the game!

UPDATE: Penny Arcade’s Tycho has more experience with the game, and he seems to love it. So if you don’t share my view, read up on his “review”. Yin and Yang.

UPDATE #2: i’ve just read the latest EDGE (#200, gratz!) and they have this to conclude about Resident Evil 5: “The surprising, and sad, thing about Resident Evil 5 is that it feels old.” – giving it a 7 out of 10.

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Left 4 Broken

On January 13, 2009, in Games, Opinion Pieces, by Steffen Itterheim

Is Left 4 Dead fundamentally broken, yes or no?

From my experience: yes.

Why?

Because a coop group of survivers is basically unkillable if they just follow this very simple rule: stick together. No matter what you do as infected, you have to actually speculate on them making a mistake if you want to take them apart, and eventually take them down. But that doesn’t really happen when the group of survivors sticks together like super glue.

What’s even worse is that this even holds true for Tanks. The Tank itself is relatively harmless unless the other infected use the confusion created by the tank to pin down two survivers at the same time. But that doesn’t really happen very often. Indeed, i’ve seen it happen only once or twice. You can deal out a little damage but it’s really hard to take down a group, or even a single survivor for that matter, if the survivors actually work as a group and react promptly to any pinned teammates.

Then there are those exploits the survivors use. Sitting in a corner and just repeatedly punching Zombies is ok … i guess. But for example sitting underneath the sloped access way to the heli pad on the final level of the first campaign – this just sucks. The survivors can crawl in there and from then on they are fracking invulnerable! This isn’t the only map exploit but it’s definetely the most abused one by the survivors. But the infected have their share of exploits, too! Anyone ever noticed a door being blocked by some kind of machinery? The infected can just attack and hence push large, heavy objects to block passages. This just sucks. The game basically ends at this point, only – it doesn’t.

I believe Valve should seriously consider fixing these kinds of map exploits as well as giving the infected some more leverage or diversity. Why not enable the witch as playable character? It’s not as strong as the tank but it could also add some more of the confusion that the tank creates.

As fun as it was the few times when both teams where equally disoriented when playing the survivors, i’ve seen these types of teams less and less and more often those teams that are glued together and actually care a lot about their team members, reacting promptly to any threats. However, it’s not so much fun for the infected now. Taking out a team of survivors feels like something that happens by sheer luck, not teamwork.

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