Resident Evil 3: Remake Review – Some Glaring Oversights Are This Game’s Real Nemesis

By Kain Hunter

Just over a year after the release of the much anticipated, and brilliant, Resident Evil 2, the Resident Evil 3 Remake has dropped.

I have been eagerly awaiting its release ever since I completed my playthrough of the remake of Capcom’s second game, in their now 23 year old franchise, and was quite literally jumping up and down on the spot when I saw the beautiful green button on my steam browser allowing me to download and play the newest remake.

Upon opening the game, you’re treated to a live-action opening showing the sheer scale of the effect of the T-Virus on Raccoon City. It really hypes the player up for the forthcoming pandemonium on the streets and it really giving you an idea on just how things have gone downhill since the ‘Mansion Incident’ of the first game.

RE3 jill

After the brief opening to the game, the player wakes up inside of Jill Valentine’s apartment with a very filmic, noire filter displayed over the first person camera perspective. Slowly making your way over to the bathroom, you come to realise Jill has been racking up a couple of extra dollars to her water bill by leaving her tap on.

Once interacting with said tap, a short sequence plays with Jill mutating into one of the undead monsters. Upon realising the horror that is facing back at her in the mirror, she reaches for her gun, rests the cold barrel to her temple and pulls the trigger…

…And then the game starts.

Yes that’s right, the previous scene was just a dream sequence and offers some great insight into how hard Jill is finding it to deal with the demons of her recent past. It also plants the seeds into the player’s mind that she might be infected too.

It’s a very strong opening to the game no doubt, and I will refrain from spoiling much more of the story as even players of the original will be unfamiliar with some parts of the story to this game – which is sadly one of the big problems I have with this game.

By no means is Resident Evil 3 a bad game. No, in fact it’s a fantastic game. But it does have one or two glaring issues and problems that I just cannot overlook. Maybe because the original Resident Evil 3 is my favourite game of all time or maybe because some of the issues I have with the game make it feel as if it was designed with speedrunners in mind.

The game takes roughly four hours to complete if you focus purely on the story, and a further five to six hours if you also want to go full Indiana Jones and explore the game world for goodies. Now that probably sounds short, because it is, but Resident Evil games have never been sixty hour epics.

Resi 3 graphics

The shortness of the game isn’t what bothers me however, it’s the fact that the game could’ve taken advantage of the beautiful RE engine to bring back some of the classic and unique locations of the third entry. This would’ve provided some much-needed fan service and could’ve quite easily added a bit more enjoyment and valuable minutes to the game.

Just like Capcom redesigned and re-imagined the iconic Raccoon City Police Department in the Resident Evil 2 remake, they could’ve done just the same with Clock Tower that was a pivotal part of the story in the original Resident Evil 3. Instead, the Clock Tower section is condensed down to a very unsatisfying boss battle with no further exploration of it available.

Along with the Clock Tower section being completely omitted from the remake, fans of the original may have also noticed another section of the game that is completely missing… The Gravedigger Worm.

Now this leads me onto another negative, the sheer lack of variety in the boss battles. Two boss battles with Nemesis are exactly the same, both taking place in a circular arena that requires the player to run circles around the leviathan. If they had just included the gigantic Gravedigger Worm, not only would this have added a bit more playtime to the game, but it would have also introduced a different enemy to fight and altered the dynamic for the better.

Resi 3 Nemesis Action Shot

Just to reiterate, this remake is nowhere near being a terrible game – it is fantastic – it’s just the boss battles I have mentioned are like a budget and much easier version of a boss battle that you would see in the Dark Souls franchise.

Also, with Nemesis only really chasing you twice through the downtown Raccoon City sections, it makes the Tyrant from Resident Evil 2 feel more worthy of the “Pursuer” title.

However, this game does shine for the most part, having solid gameplay and no glitches through the five playthroughs I have done of the game. Its gunplay mechanics have been overhauled from its predecessor by introducing a quickstep mechanic. If pulled off perfectly, it allows the player to channel their inner Neo (Matrix, duh) and slow down time to score a perfect a shot on the enemy they just evaded.

In addition, the graphics in this game are pure and simply, disgustingly beautiful. They go the extra mile to capture the visceral detail of Raccoon City and underline just how badly the city has been crippled by the virus. Our big teddy bear, Nemesis, looks amazing and he is a much more frightening prospect than his 1999 counterpart.

Resi 3 PS1

We’ve come a long way since 1999…ain’t that right Nemmy? Yes Nemmy…stars.

Also, another area that usurps the original is the Hospital section of the game. Not only is the section much bigger this time around, but it still manages to capture the dark and claustrophobic atmosphere its corridors created back in 1999. Coupled with being chased by a Hunter Alpha and you’ll definitely feel like you need to change your underwear in this section of the game.

Conclusion

Overall the Resident Evil 3 remake is a fantastic game that I believe everyone should play at least once, but don’t go into it thinking that it will be a sixty hour epic because that’s simply not the case. You will find yourself completing it in between 4 to 6 hours on a first time, moderate playthrough. There a couple of key areas in which I believe Capcom did miss the mark, which is disappointing, but as a Resident Evil game standing on its own two feet, it is definitely still a brilliant game.

Maybe Capcom will release some DLC in the future, perhaps with some separate campaigns, adding in those missing areas and even the much loved mercenaries mode.

We live in hope anyway.

– 7 out of 10 –

Do We Really Need The PS5?

The year is 2019. Sony has usurped its competition to dominate the console market with a whopping 96.8 million in lifetime sales. By the end of January 2019, the Xbox One had hit 42 million in sales; with the Nintendo Switch tearing up the ground behind it waiting to swallow its rival whole with its 30 million and quickly rising.

http://www.vgchartz.com/article/436094/switch-vs-ps4-vs-xbox-one-global-lifetime-salesjanuary-2019/

By the end of January 2019, the Xbox One had hit 42 million in sales; with the Nintendo Switch tearing up the ground behind it waiting to swallow its rival whole with over 30 million and counting (and a 4-year head start).

PlayStation’s current consoles may even beat the long-standing dominance of the famed PS2, so it begs the question, is one more addition to the catalogue something we need?

Naturally a new piece of hardware will entice lots of thirsty, early adopters that would buy a wet piece of cardboard with a shoddily drawn Sony log on it. But as for the majority, they will need convincing.

GIMME GIF

I’ve argued before that the leap from PS3 to PS4 wasn’t AS spectacular as previous generation gaps. Technology continues to advance, but a wall will be hit at some point and you can only run with this success for so long before you smash into the wall and rearrange your own face.

Mark Cerny, the Lead System Architect for Sony, revealed all the juicy new details for Sony’s newest toy. The godlike power of their imminent behemoth was revealed.

-A third-generation AMD, Ryzen line chip with 8 cores of new 7nm Zen 2 micro-architecture.

AND

-Top of the line ray tracing for realistic reflections, light rays and advanced lighting models.

I understand that technology as well as geordies understand the idea of wearing layers. It’s essentially jargon for, “our new console is more powerful than the last one”.

Now…I don’t know about you, but my PS4 Pro + 50″ 4K, HDR-enabled TV combination is absolutely stunning. Crisper than a pack of Walkers. So am I really too bothered about an 8K upgrade when that will mean upgrading to an 8K TV?

Furthermore, the human eye has a hard time recognising any discernible difference between 4K and 8K. It’s just science.

Another notable detail revealed about the PS5 is its processing power and in-turn, faster processes for games. For example, Mr Cerny used Spider-Man as a test subject, its PS4 fast travel time took roughly 15 seconds to traverse the map and put you back in control of Spidey. Whereas the new PS5 tested the same thing and it took a whopping 0.8 seconds!

Spider-Man Fast Travel

Yep. Blink and you’ll miss him.

I legitimately had “shock face” upon hearing this statistic. But once I settled down and began to look past the smoke and mirrors in front of me; I realised a couple of things.

Firstly, the reduced time is a positive no doubt, but this is based off last generation software. When new games are being developed that begin to harness and extract all the bits of power they can from the new console, then I start to wonder what the actual fast travel times will then be.

Secondly, and very crucially, a near 15 second reduction in loading times is great; hell, it may expand to even 20-30 seconds for some games, but is an extra £300-400 worth it for a few extra seconds of waiting? I’ll leave that one with your wallet.

Another thought that contravenes the idea of gaming innovation is cloud gaming. Google have just thrown their name into the hat with the recently announced “Google Stadia”. But Sony have already played their cloud gaming service card with “PS Now” and whilst it can be developed and improved on for the PS5, it’s something else that is not exactly a deal clincher.

It’s a testament to hardware developers that they can keep bettering themselves and creating all-powerful processors to gift us these massive, meaty experiences to feast on. Grand Theft Auto, Uncharted, God of War, Assassin’s Creed, some of the most universally revered franchises that even penguins in the Antarctic have played at some point; although you think their webbed feet would favour Spider-Man.

Big, open games brimming with detail. Technical marvels that have flourished on the current gen. But the rise of open world games has arisen as a result of better game engines. As a result developers, bereft of ideas, are looking more towards open-world games as easy cash. However, most of them tend to be big, bold and emptier than my tear ducts after playing the opening to The Last of Us for the millionth time.

PS5

I always love these futuristic, concept designs that people come up with. Wouldn’t mind this to be honest.

I fear mistakes will be repeated on the PS5 with lots of samey, open-world games saturating the market and creativity dwindling more so.

The Nintendo Switch has been a resounding success due to the way in which its changed how you can play games. Handheld. On your TV. That’s why its selling so well.

I’m sure the same will apply to Sony’s competition too. If history is anything to go by, Microsoft will look to reboot franchises and do their best to create some stellar IP’s to compete with Sony’s; with neither really looking to make any substantial footprint on the innovation front.

Will I buy the PS5? Absolutely. I am indeed one of those sorry saps that will gladly queue up for one of the first slices of that moisty, wet cardboard.

But will your Average Joe (in his gymnasium) really want to fork out another few hundred pounds to play the newest FIFA or Call of Duty?

Perhaps Sony will have to avoid a dodgeball and throw a curveball our way.

Maybe like backwards compatibility across ALL previous Sony consoles…?

There’s your next article spoiler …*clicks fingers in Thanos*

– Andy.H. –

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Sony Fanboy Here: You Should Buy a Nintendo Switch

With the exception of a Mega Drive in my early years and several Gameboys (to toast the Elite Four with a high-level Charizard), Andrew has predominantly stuck to the Sony systems.

Once the sacred PS1 entered our domain, a very young Andrew’s eyes had been introduced to this incredible new polygoncentric world of entertainment that seemed too good to be true. The words “Rule number 95 kid, concentrate” became ingrained onto my brain as I mercilessly battered the Hercules demo that came with our first demo disc.

Fast-forward to my mid-20’s and barring a 3DS, I’ve had all the Sony consoles and nothing else.

That is until 2019.

It wasn’t until about a year ago that I really understood who or what the Nintendo Switch was and what it was capable of. It seemed kind of neat in all honesty. I’d always admired Nintendo’s franchises, yet simultaneously criticised them for being the same thing over and over again.

So, after putting it off for a while, I gave up being patient and got sick of those endless nights salivating over juicy deals. The raw want had consumed me. So I sought out that very piece of hardware and claimed one for myself.

My word, Nintendo have crafted something special. But I think they had to after learning a valuable lesson from the sorry state of affairs that was the Wii U.

Wii U

You did bad.

I was working in Game around the time of the Wii U’s life cycle and I barely remember anyone buying them. The controller design seemed bland, there was a significant lack of software support for the console and it ultimately flopped harder than Willy the whale.

It wasn’t too long before the poor thing was taken off of life support for good and Nintendo was already hard at work trying to rectify their mistakes. The old playbook was quickly dumped into a shredder and its newest creation showed that you CAN teach an old Mario new hat tricks.

Before I proceed any further with this rhetoric, I’ve still got Sony very much coursing through my blood and it will forever remain as my number one. However, I do know some close-minded people exist in this world. I want them to know, it’s actually safe to expand your horizon as you don’t owe loyalty to anyone.

Some people will stubbornly stick to one name, for what?

At heart, I’m a gamer. I love games. Until November 2018, with my 3DS I had never so much as sniffed the cartridge of a Zelda game. Whereas now I’ve experienced the wonders of A Link Between Worlds, Breath of the Wild and the legendary Metacritic deity that is Ocarina of Time.

Nintendo Switch

The pleasure I’ve had with BOTW is indescribable. Factor in Let’s Go Pokemon, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8, Tetris 99, Mario Party, Bayonetta, Smash Bros. Ultimate etc.

The Switch’s offerings already far exceed the Wii U’s its even re-releasing some of the U titles that would’ve otherwise gone untouched. The crisp graphics, docked or not, are fantastic and its seamless transition from docked to handheld is just magnificent.

So many time I’ve been downstairs, something is on the TV and I’ve been playing handheld. I’ve then vacated the room, gone upstairs with it and docked it to enjoy it to its most powerful version on my TV. Quick. Easy. Simple. Takes but mere seconds.

Nintendo Switch Preview Event

I’ve not even touched on the sophisticated nature of the technology yet either. The Joy-Cons are a quite literal joy. See, that’s why I’m such an advocate for the Switch, its got so many ways of being played and enJOYed.

If you have multiple people round for a chaotic Grand Prix in Mario Kart, you can unclip the two Joy-Cons from the side of the Switch, and then they can then be each used individually as controllers. It’s not fiddly and with the ability to get some sexy Gamecube controllers for the console too, you should never be short of hardware possibilities.

*Disclaimer: blue shells are unavoidable however. #antiblueshellparty

With upcoming games such as Luigi’s Mansion 3, rumoured Metroid games, the newest iteration in the long-running Pokemon franchise and another Zelda game in production, there’s just so much projected longevity in the offing. All of which can be enjoyed in the comfort of your home or commuting OR whilst you spend a hard-earned break during work.

Whilst I have bemoaned Nintendo’s lack of new IP’s throughout the years, I’ve realised it’s because they don’t need them. Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Pokemon, Zelda and Kirby amongst others. They all have franchises WITHIN franchises. Why? Because they do them well. Consistently. Barring the first two or three Zelda games, I think virtually every other game has gone on to garner universal acclaim. Mario Galaxy 1 + 2 are two of the best received games ever; ditto Super Mario Odyssey.

On top of all this, third-party support is very much a thing for the Switch. DOOM, Dark Souls, Mortal Kombat and Crash Bandicoot are big examples of third-party titles on the Switch with many, many more slated for it.

Switch MK 11

The impact of having this gory, fighting game behemoth is huge. It shows that Nintendo aren’t bereft of Adult-themed games. Although I think Bowser would’ve been amazing in this.

My Switch is my second console. All my main and third-party games will be bought for my PS4 Pro. End of story. But is it fair I deprive myself of all these other fun games? Absolutely not.

Now excuse me, I’ve just placed 4th in a game of Tetris 99 and I would very much like to get a win…or should I find that final pesky moon on Mario…hmm…

– Andy.H. –

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Has Gaming Peaked?

Video games have seldom failed to innovate over the many decades of their existence. The bar continues to be raised to new levels of air superiority and the progression of games development continues to be treated like a precarious game of Jenga. As one developer slides out a block with inch-perfect precision; another will grab it from their hand, add another for good measure, and slam it down on the top of this ever-expanding, beast of construction.

The continuing evolution can be compared to that of the ‘mine’s bigger than yours’ skyscraper war that continues to escalate to untold heights. At one point, New York upheld their dominance over a 66-year period in which their structures were unsurpassable. Eventually, Kuala Lumpur got a taste of the pie and got in on the act with the impressive Petronas Towers. But that was soon dethroned by Tapei 101.

…AND then Dubai decided they’d grown weary of the child’s play before them and ultimately usurped everyone by unleashing the behemoth that is the Burj Khalifa – obliterating the previous record by over 300 meters.

Skyscrapers.jpg

This same philosophy has been a constant throughout the video game scene, dating as far back as everyone’s favourite, back and forth, bleep-bloop-a-thon; Pong. Pong was the equivalent of the Empire State Building, but now, it’s been left far behind in the dust to bigger and greater powers that be.

I’ll be completely honest with you valued reader, the classics such as Asteroids, Pac-Man and Space Invaders just don’t hook me or stimulate me to a great extent. I can’t play them for more than 5-10 minutes before wishing I was bitten by a mosquito so that the scratching the bite would give me something better to do. Whereas human beings that are 10 and 20 years my senior, used to invest every waking second of their time into these past pleasures. Relics of a bygone era that have transcended generations of ‘bigger and better’ games.

That’s not to say these games are bad, not by a long shot. It’s just that those simple mechanics have been reworked, revamped and injected with Bane-levels of energy, vigour and more importantly…the future.

PongGIF

Safe to say, we’ve come a long way since this.

Technology has continued to excel. Technology has continued to advance beyond the realms of unthinkable possibility. And technology has made gaming’s journey a mind-blowing field of dreams that we continue to walk through and discover new secrets on along the way.

…But…

Are we coming towards the end of this creative boom?

The bigger the steps that gaming takes, the less room is being left to do something new. Resulting in tiny baby steps that serve only to prolong this extension and extort more money from consumers in the meantime.

The pipeline isn’t as fresh as it once was; concepts and genres are being regurgitated for an easy buck and few mechanics are truly ground-breaking anymore. Not to mention the unwelcome influx of shady business practices such as DLC and Loot Boxes. These ugly strategies seem to be more frequent than ever, which in turn starves us of new prospects and the need for those companies to invest in new ideas and IP”s.

It still may be sometime away, but the looming dread of gaming arriving at its zenith seems closer than ever.

Take graphics as a key proponent of this argument, graphics are one of the most obvious ways we can analyse just how much development has been made over the years.

Starting from Pong’s primitive use of pixels, we’ve walked a long and winding pass that taken us through such places as Commodore City, Sega Saloon and the ever-popular Nintendo Necropolis (my inventive alliteration DIED at this point).

During this period we had Prince of Persia, Bubble Bobble, Sonic The Hedgehog, Street Fighter II, Streets of Rage, Earthworm Jim, Kirby, Mortal Kombat, Chrono Trigger, Mario Kart and Zelda.

Not a bad line-up?

*Side note: here’s a shameless plug to my recent Bubble Bobble article.

https://gamesandgraps.com/2018/10/30/retro-rewind-bubble-bobble/

Fast forward to the Nineties and some of the powerhouses are really starting to emerge at this point with the undeniable presence of the N64 and the Playstation.

The step-up was big, and with games like Mario 64 , Metal Gear Solid and Gran Turismo flexing their sleek muscles, the landscape was beginning to change for the better.

SuperMario64

Sony not only took the burden of having to try and go one better than they did for the PS1, but they took that burden and piled more burdens on top of it. They really hit the weights. Piling on plate after plate, gulping pixel protein and pushed themselves to deliver a never-seen-before piece of hardware that could exceed limits. But they did this, over and over with the almighty PS2 eventually being dwarfed by the PS3 and so forth.

The next generation of video game consoles were very much in effect a decade later with the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii primarily owning the console market. They were the standard bearer.

Now in 2018, The PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch reign surprise. I didn’t think The Last of Us could be topped for looks, it didn’t seem fathomable for a game to move in motion as seamlessly as Forza Horizon; but in the last few years or so…oh boy…boy…BOY!

God of War, Uncharted 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, Spider-Man, GTA V, The Witcher III, Halo, Forza, Gears of War, Zelda, Battlefield 1 and many, many more have continued to astound. When one title steals the spotlight, there’s another right around the corner to supercede its predecessor.

However, where we are right now in terms of graphics, it’s good, it’s damn good. But it’s not getting THAT much better. For instance, the leap from PS1 to PS2 was monumental. PS2 to PS3 was incredible, PS3 to PS4 was the point at which I would say the leap merely became a hop. Killzone: Shadow Fall looked stunning as a PS4 launch title, but was arguable a slightly flashier version of Killzone 3 on the console before.

We’ve hit a wall, albeit a sexy looking wall gleaming with thousands of pristine pixels. 4K and HDR has upgraded the quality of the projected image, but at the end of the day, it’s still only fractional in the context of change. 8K will be next, whilst that will be phenomenal no doubt, it’ll never represent anything like the grand canyon jump we made over a decade ago.

Wall

True story, I just spent 5 mins browsing through pictures of walls until I found a SUITABLE WALL. This is the one that resonated with me the most.

But that’s the visual side of things, in terms of gameplay, as I’ve said, the same tired and tested tropes are being recycled to the point of over-saturation.

Now, to pretty much contradict myself once more, I do enjoy lots of this. My games list is a constant ‘one game bought, two more added’. There’s just so much out there that I’m more spoiled than a silver-spooned, home-schooled child that will remorselessly smash the family porcelain if I can’t have my diamond encrusted gold chain to show off to Moriarty my invisible friend.

That being said, the last two generations of gaming have been structured similarly in that there’s been on over-reliance and emphasis on favouring a particular genre. A genre that will be abused and exploited for every penny for an easy cash-grab.

First-person shooters had limited success on the PS2 and Xbox 360. Outside of Timesplitters, Halo, Killzone, Half-Life, Medal of Honor: Frontline and Call of Duty 2/3 and I can’t think of too much else. Then the PS3 and 360 arrived and it was just one FPS after another. Putting together a quick 4-8 hour campaign, tack on multiplayer and deliver it at full-price.

Our recent iteration of hardware has seen a HUUUUGEE surge in open world games. Makes sense though. We’re operating in a exciting time of sophisticated game engines running off of ultra-powerful machines. The PS2 is now essentially a Nissan Micra to the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport that is the PS4 Pro.

 

Pertaining to this super computer power, it’s led to the creation of vast, sprawling worlds. So vast that I can just picture a developer using a single finger with a pointed claw, clawing at the disc to fit in one last palm tree into their game. But that’s just me.

There’s just nothing much new out there. I won’t get into the whole remaster/remake debate(not yet anyway, stay tuned), but between this, the ‘big’ games with repetitive side missions, collectibles etc. It’s just easy to do.

How much GENUINE originality has there been in the gaming world since 2014?

You do get plenty of it in the independent scene, but sadly they don’t get the time or success that they need to properly excel and it usually becomes inconsequential to the broader horizon. On the other end of the scale, your more mass market companies *cough* EA *cough* Ubisoft are more than happy to indulge in their incurable disease of sequelitis.

EAMoney2

So many of the same franchises have carried over two and even three generations of consoles now with no signs of ceasing. Again, not saying that’s a bad thing; just merely stating a point to discuss.

Needless to say it would be ignorant of me to bypass one of the truer examples of growth that has exemplified change within the gaming industry. That would be the relative success of virtual reality.

But Andrew…where are the hundreds of millions of sales that would financially represent success? Is there anything like a 1:1 demographic for VR that would suggest a sustainable future for VR technology and investment?

VR shouldn’t have worked. It’s a gimmick that’s been the dream of many, myself included, for so very long. If I’m not mistaken, 2016 saw the release of the main competition with regards to VR: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR. With all the peripheral devices and the cumbersome nature of the hardware, it’s easy to see why people would be put off, especially with something that is a mostly untouched market.

PsVr

Guarantee he’s playing a game involving an ice-cream.

Sales seem to be going really well so far and with over 200 current PS4 VR games to play at the moment with Beat Saber and many others to come, the future is looking bright for this true innovation.

And if you’re not sold on the idea of your room becoming a virtual world space, trust me, I have one, it’s immersive, impactful and everything becomes…well immersive. There’s no other way of putting, no lexicon can accurately summise how powerful this tool is. One word – immersive.

On the other hand, we can’t all stand around all day admiring the arse of VR. Time doesn’t slow down for anyone and this is supported by the recent news that the PS5 has a date with destiny in the near-future…probably Destiny 3 to be honest but ANYWAY.

What does the future hold for gaming? Will the raw power and engineering of our next generation of beasts allow a new genre to take centre-stage? Will some crazy new computer chip allow gaming to literally look like real-life? Or are we going to stagnate and toil away in the comfort we already know? Just with prettier pencils.

– Andy.H. –

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Retro Rewind: Bubble Bobble

An undisputed classic. One of THE co-op games of the past millennium.

It just doesn’t come simpler does it?

A green dinosaur. A blue dinosaur. Descending 100 levels deep into a bizarre dungeon. Rescuing their human girlfriends. Simples.

I don’t think an invention can be created to accurately find out just how many times I’ve I’ve gone to war with this 8-bit legend. Every playthrough is a new journey and a new experience. But what do you do to beat it?

Just envelop a monsta in a bubble, then pop it!

A simplistic concept no doubt, but the road to achieving it is the fun part. The game features one of the early instances of RnG gameplay as each level can generate all manor of items to enhance your dino-capabilities.

An umbrella that can metaphorically get a jump rope out and skip you ahead a few rounds, a bottle that instantly removes all enemies in the level and shifts the round into one of the bonus variety; heck, even a water crucifix that floods the level and eradicates all enemy scum. There’s endless variety within each playthrough, and it’s one of the things that makes the game so enticing and endlessly replayable.

bubblebobbleumbrella

See that brolly? Get it at all costs. The pepper? Not so much.

The game also boasts the most inconceivably easy controls too, a staple of retro games. One button to jump and one button to fire a bubble. That’s it. Your performance is then largely based on skill, something that I feel is lost in some modern day games. Anyone can literally pick this up and play it, but it takes guile and skill to pick it up…quickly.

Each level seemingly represents a theme with regards to its layout and presentation of its enemies etc. Some are in the shape of enemies, and some are shaped like words, perhaps messages left by the girlfriends? Just a bit of lore lurking for you.

Naturally, the further you progress into the chaos, the further your skillset is tested.

Basic enemies such as Bonzo (see below) can only jump up and he has no attacks, but get crowded by enough of them, and you are sure to surrender a life to the dungeon. If you do get to the later levels, then you’ll get ‘Drunk’ launching his empty alcohol bottles at you, rebounding until they either hit you or return back to their inebriated master.

BubbleBobble1

The game presents a natural learning curve and never truly feels unfair.

But enough of that, it’s time for the best part. The effing music.

It constantly loops the same sub-minute tune for seemingly an eternity, but if this was the soundtrack to eternity, then sign me up. It’s the most insanely, catchy jingle of any game I’ve ever played. Almost iconic.

But it’s not just the main theme that mesmerises the ears, it’s everything else too. The secret room music, final boss music and even the intense ‘hurry up!’ version of the main music. The sound effects of the bubbles, the noise it makes when you get hit and lose a life; these are all the subtle nuances that add to the ever-lasting stream of charm that this game oozes.

I know what you’re thinking, yes…there is a one-hour loop of this music and yes…I have listened to it in its entirety.

Oh, and if the challenge of trying to topple the hundred-round mountain wasn’t hard enough; the road to the secret rooms lie beyond the summit, or below the depths in this case.

If you can get to round 20 without losing a single life, then a door appears to a secret room. Congratulations, few people see that room, I myself have only seen it a few select times. Done that? Well we better up the ante then, get to round 30 without suffering damage? Then you will gain access to hidden room number two.

I think I’ve reached it once in my entire life…

Wait, what? You want an even greater challenge you sadistic maniac!?!? Reach round 40 then without dying. I dare you.

BubbleBobbleSecretRoom1

Secret Room number one. Pretty isn’t it? This is all I’ll give you, if you want to see more, then you’d better get good at the game my friend.

This game offers so much content, so many hours of fun and is guaranteed a good time with a friend.

I guess the only question…is who gets to be Bub?

Bub

– Andy.H. –

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My Trophies Are Over 9, 000! Was It Worth It?

To an outsider, boasting about your whopping collection of Playstation trophies that now exceeds nine thousand, is unbelievably sad. To a gamer, it’s probably only a little bit less sad.

When I think of all the stuff I could’ve achieved with that time, it’s frightening. I mean seriously, it’s such a wide scope of endless possibilities. It could’ve been better spent learning an instrument, perhaps even learning Mongolian, or even perfecting the art of Tuvan throat singing.

Instead?

-I’ve finished multiple Call of Duty campaigns on Veteran AND Realistic difficulty

-I’ve fully completed every Uncharted game (more than once on different platforms)

-I’ve conquered Rapture, on hard, with Vita Chambers turned off

-I’ve hung my head in shame after getting the platinum for Terminator Salvation

-I’ve brought Greek and Norse mythology to a standstill with a famed, ashen warrior

-I’ve been glitched out of Skyrim perfection

-I’ve cursed inFamous for leaving me on 98% trophies (damn blast shards)

-I’ve had the pleasure of platinuming some absolute gems from the Hotline Miami games to Dust: Elysian Tail to Guacamelee to Rogue Legacy

-I’ve persevered to defeat Sephiroth in a platinum match that was impossible as a kid

-I’ve suffered through unplayable atrocities such as Rambo, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem: Forever

-I’ve had a chance to catch up on series’ that eluded me in my younger days such as Doom, Wolfenstein, DMC amongst others

-And finally… I’ve killed Satan multiple times…with a crying child…with an army of helper flies

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The Collection

109 Platinum trophies

533 Gold trophies

1, 765 Silver trophies

6, 647 Bronze trophies

In hindsight, would I turn back time, and refrain from pursuing those virtual accomplishments in favour of something that MIGHT have benefitted me more substantially?

I will give you the same answer that…actually forget that, I’ll dispense with the theatrics and the hyperbole. No. A simple no.

Life is Strange. Why lead a half-life?

My First Platinum

When I was back in college, revising and knuckling down to get good A-level grades should’ve been my priority. But it was around this time that Playstation trophies were in their infancy. I’d had to watch all my friends in high school brag about their ‘chievos’. Such a novel concept. Virtual, in-game, stamps of recognition that added both replayability and an extra sense of accomplishment.

On one hand, I had the part of my life that was dealing with the academic diffculty spike that I had rear-ended with great force. But away from that burden in my life, I was battering the ever-living hell out of Quantum of Solace to finally wrap my greasy, nerdy palms around an intangible shiny shine.

I actually can’t describe how happy I was when I did it. I had to grind the online multiplayer for that game for so long, without actually wanting to sample even a second of it; let alone the hours of average gameplay I endured.

All…for that sweet release of serotonin; thanks to the delightful, addictive trophy pop sound.

In essence, it sounds like the journey has been fun, right? WRONG.

Whilst trophies have, mostly, positively impacted my gaming; they’ve also had a detrimental and equally damaging effect too.

The Downside…

Voluntarily making the decision to avoid games, THAT I WANT, just because of an unappealing trophy list.

Let that sink in for a second.

LetThatSinkIn

It honestly makes me sad writing this part to be honest. I’ve purposely denied myself gaming experiences, purely on the basis that I was displeased by a list of optional goals. If by some miracle, I could look back on the past and identify all the games that I wanted but wasn’t prepared to grind for a particular trophy etc; then I genuinely don’t think I’d want to.

Online trophies, in particular, have been the bane of my existence and caused limitations for me. There are too many variables with online trophies from: how popular the game is, which determines how populated the game is, which affects how long the servers are open for, then there’s the stability of the servers etc.

Fighting and driving games are terrible for this. I distinctly remember MK9, which I adored, had a trophy for winning 10…I repeat 10 online ranked matches. IN A ROW. I just can’t be arsed. I’m not a pro at fighting games, so knowing that it’d be a struggle to amass two or even an unlikely three-in-a-row is silly.

Furthermore, I love a good challenge in a game and even grinding to complete it too. But when you’ve got games like Wipeout that has people saying it’s near-enough a 10/10 for the difficulty to get the trophies, it’s just off-putting. Buying a game, knowing that you’ll never get the platinum trophy is disheartening.

Again, I stress; have trophies/achievements been all-good? Absolutely not. Games like the aforementioned Terminator: Salvation had a trophy list designed, lazily I might add, to increase cheap purchases and rentals. Finish the short, broken campaign and get 10+ gold trophies and a platinum. Lazy, but clever.

TerminatorSalvationI cannot stress just how much this game sucked to play.

To all the people that have the platinum for Hannah Montanna, you know who you are you embarrassed individuals with no self-respect.

Thankfully, I can hold my hand on my heart and say that virtually all of my platinums are respectable ones.

Call of Duty: Classic, Thumper, Nioh, The Crash Bandicoot Trilogy, Bioshock Trilogy, Rogue Legacy and the Hotline Miami games, to name a few, are but some of the more challenging feats I can proudly hold under my belt. Metaphorically of course. OH and DOOM 3.

So, am I proud?

Yes. Oh yes, yes, yes. I’m a gamer. Always have been. Always will. These trophies have helped me cope with life and they’ve helped me to live life. For every two or three people that don’t care about trophies or even know what they are, there’s always one who will. That person will think that ‘completely completing’ 109 games is quite cool.

Is it any different to someone who goes fishing and goes berserk for catching new fish and maybe even keeping that catch? That’s their reward for excelling themselves in their specific hobby.

People want to catch COD, I want to finish its campaign on veteran. People like to drive cars, I like to control high-speed supercars and drift them on Need For Speed to demolish preset parameters.

10 years later…I’m still going. I will always keep going. When a game comes out that I want, I will analyse that trophy list until I’ve sniffed out every single strand of DNA that thing has.

No worries officer, don’t give me a badge; just give me a gold trophy and say good boy.

– Andy.H. –

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Retro Rewind: Darkwatch

It’s a new day (yes it is) and yet another brand new series for you lucky readers.

Retro Rewind

Looking through the tinted spectacles of yesteryear, this new idea will try and unearth some gems that have long since gone under the radar. Plus, I can also give you an insight into some of my favourite games that have helped shape my preferences and gaming identity.

I’ll dispense with all the pleasantries and get straight into the meat of the article.

Darkwatch.

What a damn fine game.

It oozed style and tight gameplay whilst bonding the parallel universes of cowboys and steampunk vampires. Such cohesion shouldn’t have been possible with such vastly opposing genres and themes, but Darkwatch pulled it off.

DarkwatchTrain

Plot in 60 seconds.

An naughty outlaw by the name of Jericho Cross robbed a train. He inadvertently freed a bigger, naughtier demon by the name of Lazarus. Ol’ Lazzy gets the hots for Jericho and chomps a chunk out of his neck; passing on vampirism to him. Jericho aligns with a female by the name of Cassidy to take down Lazarus. She works for an organisation called Darkwatch.

Jericho combats his new maternal cravings for the red stuff and uses his newfound powers to become a big, strong, unstoppable boy.

Throughout the game, he can either be an angel cowboy or a devil one. The consequences of your actions will become apparent as you go on; and especially during the games final battle. One fight is an arse, one is an even bigger arse


DarkwatchKeggersKeggers. The cause of so many deaths.

I remember playing the demo for this game and I had so much fun. Bear in mind it was 2005, and FPS games were in limited supply, as opposed to the oversaturation in the  generation that would follow. It had a unique theme, a horribly unsettling setting and solid gunplay.

I genuinely lost count of the undies I unashamedly soiled in the wake of…Vipers.

Imagine your worst fear; you feel your body shrivel up and turn numb in panic. Every pore of your body perspiring and creating your own Olympic-size, swimming pool to splash around in the hope that you’ll drown to avoid your fear…unless your fear is drowning; in which case…forget it, Vipers are worse.

DarkwatchRPG

*Cries in soiled underwear*

This is how me and my best friend felt playing this as unknowing 12-year-olds.

Oh, and banshees; their penis-curling screams could make you involuntarily ingest your own genitlia as a defence mechanism.

The atmosphere was always tense, the dark and dingy environments made you very aware of how isolated you felt. Let me tell you, slowly walking through a cramped sewer and turning around to see a Viper charging towards you…I can actually feel myself leaking thinking about it.

DarkwatchBanshee

Fortunately, you had an extensive range of weapons to take down these menacing beasts. Ranging from your default revolver; The Reedemer, to dual pistols, to shotguns with hatchet blades on the handles, to thermal sniper rifles etc. There was such a diverse arsenal that the gameplay never felt boring; plus certain scenarios would force you to change up your loadout regardless.

They guns even kicked like a stick of dynamite that had just given birth to its own tiny herd of baby dynamite. Note: dynamite is also a weapon you can use too.

Scintillating sound and design aside, the narrative is serviceable. One of the longstanding criticisms of this genre is the never-ending stream of -seemingly- tacked on stories; placing the emphasis on having efficient shooting mechanics instead. But Darkwatch does a good job of just about making you care about the characters, even if Jericho Cross isn’t the most effervescent individual to grace a screen.

I’ve never cared for morality choices in games, but the ones in Darkwatch at least had  some effect on the game. Your abilities hinged on which side of the fence you chose, with some being more powerful than others.

In addition, another major plus for Darkwatch? Co-op! A dying tradition that some games are desperately trying to keep alive. Local co-op. Take control of two Darkwatch members and battle through death together. It makes the game a bit easier too, but that’s not saying much. Some of the shootouts are just brutal. Finishing this game on the hardest difficulty was not for the faint of heart, but it’s JUST doable.

Despite being in development, Darkwatch 2 never got further than a brief showing at GDC 2006. It looked like being deeper and scarier. Alas, it never came to fruition. One of my biggest annoyances that I’ll ever experience with games.

Darkwatch is a HUGELY underrated FPS game that sadly never got the sequel it deserved. It had so much potential it was untrue. A interesting dynamic with endless possibilities for the future. This could’ve been the benchmark for FPS games, showing that creativity is a good thing. Also that you don’t have to create a generic, linear hallway shooter with about as much personality as a lump of coal…in a sock.

The concept of a steampunk, vampire-cowboy should have had High Moon Studios rolling around – filthy rich – in the green paper.

Maybe one day…one day…Kickstarter? Ever heard of it High Moon? Some of us are MORE than willing to help you get this long-awaited sequel produced.

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