Saturday, October 11, 2008

Resident Evil Dead Aim (Again)

I've decided to delete my last apalling post on this quite lovely game, because a.) It looked shite and b.) I feel to an extent it may have put my four or five loyal readers off from giving it a proper look in (with the exception of dear Nebacha.)

I completed the game in about four hours using the standard PS2 controller and I would definitely like to revisit it using the G Con light gun. the game was refreshingly short, making it a nice "light snack" between other games. It also satisfied my desire to dip further into the world of Umbrella after playing the most excellent RE4 (Wii edition) last weekend. It's really whetted my appetite for RE5 which finally seems almost close enough to touch.

Apparently out on "Friday 13th" (of what?) sometime in 2009, the game looks more jaw droppingly amazing with every fresh teaser released.

But back to Dead Aim... I was totally intrigued to find a reference to Umbrella "planting a seed in Africa" during the game. Could it be that this is where the first reference to the plotline of RE5 originated? If so it would surely elevate the status of RE Dead Aim form an under-rated spin off of the franchise to something far more significant?

Any way instead of hitting you with big ungamely chunks of Wikipedia, I'm going to present you with a very comprehensive review of the game by Jeremy Dunham of IGN . Please read it and comment if you would. Heck, if you have a PS2 lying around and a couple of quid to spare, go and buy it and play it. I'd definitely reccomend it as an amusing distraction and a fun way to kill a couple of hours (and a couple of hundred zombies ...) If you are like me and are desparate to know every twist and turn in the ongoing saga of the Umbrella Corporation , this title could be essential playing...

"US, June 17, 2003 - The difference in quality between the Resident Evil and Dino Crisis franchises in comparison to the spin-off Gun Survivor games is pretty amazing. While the former are among the best adventure titles of the last twenty years, the Survivor series hasn't been nearly as distinguished. In fact, the unpopular offshoot is generally acknowledged to be the laughing stock of the survival horror world. Not exactly an adventure, not quite a light gun shooter, the amalgamation of these two genres has never been the elite combination that Capcom was hoping for.Despite the series resolute critical panning, however, the franchise has somehow been kept alive for the lifespan of two consoles. But after 2002's botched third attempt known as Dino Stalker, most of us had figured that it would be the final chapter in a trilogy of failed experiments. Apparently we were quite mistaken. As in the span of less than a year Resident Evil: Dead Aim finds itself chiming in as the fourth attempt at a producing a quality genre blend. And while it still possesses a lot of the same mechanical problems that its predecessors had, we're pleased to announce that the series has finally taken a step forward. Hard as it may be to believe: some of it is actually "fun".StoryBorrowing a page from the forgotten Game Boy installment, Resident Evil Gaiden, Dead Aim moves the familiar Raccoon City plotline to that of a cruise liner. Owned by the Umbrella Corporation and headed for destination unknown, the ship has become infected with offshoots of the G and T-viruses while amidst the high seas.

Beginning with a confrontation between government agent Bruce McGovern and a mysterious Umbrella operative known as Morpheus, the tale seems to bring us in about halfway. On the brink of being eliminated by Morpheus, Bruce is saved rather suddenly by the interjection of another government agent and Chinese badass Fongling. Once the trio go their separate ways, the next chapter in the Resident Evil series is officially underway.

Once the game begins, the back-story is fleshed out through the discovery of journals, clippings, and other staples of Resident Evil lore and continues along at a quickened pace via the occasional cut scene. If you're a die-hard fan of the series, there isn't a lot to be discovered here in terms of adding to the franchise's mythology, and the characters themselves are a little cut and dry. Regrettably, the game's most interesting character, Fongling, is barely explored at all; and other than a few moments that allow her to show how much attitude she has, she's pretty underexposed. Of course, there are a few revelations that tie up a couple of loose ends from previous installments, but nothing truly earth shattering.

(...or is there????!!! -FK-)

GameplayIf you're unfamiliar with the Gun Survivor games, the description provided in the introduction pretty much sums it up. Combining the primary shooting elements of light gun shooters such as Time Crisis and Ninja Assault with the adventure components of its Resident Evil source material, the series is a unique mix of otherwise opposite genres. If done right the idea is actually pretty clever, and is a legitimate attempt at improving on a sub-category of game that hasn't seen innovation since "the pedal". How long do developers expect us to stay on simplistic, rail-based pathways anyway?

Happily, Dead Aim takes the adventure aspect of the Survivor series further than any other game before it. And to its credit does an outstanding job of capturing the familiar Resident Evil-style progression. With the exclusion of pre-determined camera angles and the usual blind spots, however, the sudden frights that are associated with the traditional games aren't quite as plentiful. As we previously mentioned, though, the typical Resident Evil goodies and items are at your disposal the moment the game begins: Key cards, green herbs, first aid spray, and all that other stuff we've come to love populate the inventory screen in an identical manner to the adventure games.

Weapons too play a similar role in Dead Aim; with handguns, silenced weapons, grenade launchers, shotguns, automatic rifles, and other familiar equipment available for annihilation. Limited to only a few ammo slots in the inventory menu, ammo has to be conserved in order to have enough of it left for the end. Unlike most light-gun shooters, however, running away and choosing to fight your battles at another turns out to be the best tactic, and one that will actually prove fruitful in the more difficult game settings. This factor alone could prove to be a big turning point for light gun fans: Do they want action, or do they want atmosphere? Dead Aim provides more of the latter.Once the decision has been made, gamers will have to control their character. To maneuver them around (yes, you can control both Bruce and Fongling at different intervals), players are able to select from a myriad of different combinations that best suit their tastes.

Using a GunCon, Dual Shock, or USB Mouse, gamers will have literally every possible control option available. Though we have to admit that the best way to go is to utilize a GunCon/Dual Shock combo. With that mix, a user can implement the analog stick for movement and the gun for shooting monsters when the situation calls for it. It'll take a little getting used to at first, but it's the most rewarding way to go.Unfortunately the movement of your character is hampered by a grid-based control system that makes it close to impossible to make high-speed rotations. While this doesn't mean that players move on a point-by-point basis (ala tactics-based RPGs), it does mean that performing a full circle without stopping is nigh impossible (think Tomb Raider or better yet, Nightmare Creatures). The developers have included an "escape' button for situations that would normally call for a quick turn around, but unless you press the hell out of the shoulder button, it rarely works. Worsening the situation even further is the fact that character movement in general is rather sluggish. And when facing higher-speed monsters in the latter half of the game (like Glimmers, Hunters, the Final Boss, and so on), survival becomes less a matter of skill and more a test of patience.

Dead Aim's pacing doesn't help much either; with some moments that can see your character unscathed for six sometimes seven rooms in a row, there's a sudden feeling of rushed action when you enter a room with ten zombies after doing practically nothing for five minutes.

We figured that this sporadic placement was meant to help build tension between conflicts, but given the large nature of the traveled cruise ship and the equally big disposal facility, it doesn't exactly make for an exciting game. That is unless, you decide to play on the hardest setting at which time the game becomes a frigging nightmare. The undead is everywhere, and unless you've grown a tolerance for Dead Aim's wonky movement, is almost unplayable. Our recommendation is to stay with the normal setting -- it's still unbalanced, but it isn't as frustrating or disturbingly easy as the hard and easy options. But even then, the experience as a whole will only last you under two hours.

Graphics - It wouldn't be a stretch of the truth to say that Dead Aim has some mighty impressive textures. From the humans to the creatures, each character is mapped with a bevy of high quality imagery that easily eclipses the tattered mess that was Dino Stalker. Similarly, the polygonal models (be it f man or thing) are pretty convincing, and when paired with the subtle animations included for each character, produce some kick ass results. Breathing, slight head movements, and even line-of-sight eye contact with targets add that little something extra.Also worth mentioning are the excellent lighting effects. From Bruce's shoulder lamp to the red-streaked eyes of the Glimmer creatures, Capcom's attention to illumination and darkness is an important ingredient for establishing the game's distinctive horror-themed mood. Of particular note are the shadowed hallways in the latter part of the cruise ship; it's here that the more potent zombie creatures literally come out of nowhere and attack you. Don't forget to check your shorts the first time you find the path to the "clean room".Sadly, the visual positives fall victim to an unhealthy amount of slowdown when the screen is overpopulated with models --especially when playing on the busier harder difficulty setting. Another annoying little tidbit is the occasional pop-up and clipping that infest the closed-quarters sections of the game. Take one look at the three zombies inside the gas chamber when picking up the charged particle rifle for a prime example: they pop in and out of the walls like it wasn't even there. Ho hum.

Sound - Resident Evil titles have almost always been the shining example of how to properly mix an ambient soundtrack and Dead Aim isn't any different. Using subtle pipe and horn instruments in a slow, monotonous fashion, the game's musical score is appropriately creepy and foreboding in all the right sections. Occasionally during boss battles or sudden changes of situation, the composition ramps up into an action movie-like fervor -- with more than a couple of tunes that reminded us of another Capcom tale of the dark, Devil May Cry.

As a unit, it all comes together very nicely and goes to prove even further that the team's musical division definitely knows what its doing.Of course, the usual sound bank of audio effects that we've come to recognize as part of the Biohazard mythos has returned as well, and there's an untold number of groans, grunts, growls, and other such noises that fans will always appreciate. Unfortunately the character voices aren't as strong, and for some reason or another, sound as if they were recorded in a gigantic hollow tube. Nearly every spoken word echoes and reverberates the moment it leaves the television and in some of the more extreme cases, can't be understood without several chances to hear it again.Another bizarre tidbit worth mentioning is that the subtitles don't match what the actors are saying. Although the translation is similar to what the characters are referring to at the time, the written text is almost completely different. We can understand a difference when translating another language sure -- but why need two separate translations of the same material if there's only going to be one language option? Truly bizarre, indeed.

Closing CommentsIn the end, Resident Evil: Dead Aim did something we didn't expect -- it made us want to play it until we beat it (a feat that previous Gun Survivor versions made us cringe over). And though our experience with game wasn't as consistent at some of the other titles in the genre, its efforts at being different, its high production values, and legitimately entertaining mini-moments deserve a little recognition in what has otherwise been a history of negativity.
But who knows? Perhaps the series is on the edge of greatness? Perhaps Dead Aim is the catalyst that will propel the next version of Survivor into the upper echelon of shooter-loving bliss? Maybe this will be the one that helps launch a bigger, better, and more enjoyable version sometime in the near future? And maybe, just perhaps will give Capcom the opportunity to tell all of its naysayers "We told you so!" Then again, perhaps maybe not. "


NebachadnezzaR said...

Four hours, you say? Well, now you have convinced me! As with basically every game in my "to play" list I end up delaying them because I fear they will consume too much of the little free time I have, but apparently that won't be the case with this one.

fatherkrishna said...

Yep four hours! I guess as a light gun game, the fun is just blasting away... Thus game length or story complexity is not at the forefront of a developer's mind...

Having said that

fatherkrishna said...

the Umbrella Chronicles was a very enjoyable marathon with such a lot in terms of tying up the whole Resident Evil story... one of the best games I've ever played and it kills me that I can't complete it...

Ice Koobs said...

If what you say is true about Resi 5 being released on Friday the 13th then that means it either to be released in February, March or November.
I hope it's February.

fatherkrishna said...

It's got to be February dear Koobs. I'll just die if it's September...

Ice Koobs said...

It's March. Not to bad.
I've just downloaded the trailer onto my 360 (I'm still sorry to hear about your one).
It's basically the same one everyone is Showing only at the end it clearly has "13.03.09"

fatherkrishna said...

Thanks for the heads up Koobs!