Thursday, March 21, 2013

Resident Evil Revelations (3DS) Game Review

Resident Evil sure has gotten a bad rap over the past couple years. Once the premiere game that paved the way for the survival horror genre has now become anything but horror. The most recent installments in the series have become way too action oriented and relies heavily on quick time events around every corner or just feels like a generic third person shooter. Resident Evil Revelations, however, tries to please fans that have grown tired of the Michael Bayness that the main series has become. Revelations seemed to fly under everyone’s radar when it was released early last year. Is it because everyone was too busy complaining about the other RE games, especially RE6 when it came out? I have a feeling it is probably because, at the moment, it is only on the 3DS. For a long time, games released on hand held consoles were usually watered down copies of games that were already on home consoles and usually not considered canon in a video game series. But hand held systems have come a very long way. The last Nintendo brand hand held system I owned before getting a 3DS was the Gameboy Color so, naturally, I was very impressed with the 3DS and all that it can do. Now I only own three actual 3DS titles. I also have a few DS games and several NES and original Gameboy titles I downloaded via virtual console. So I’m a little out of my element when it comes to playing 3DS games, so maybe Revelations isn’t anything special compared to other 3DS titles? I don’t know. But this is definitely a Resident Evil title that shouldn’t be ignored by the fans of this classic survival horror series.

STORY: Set in 2005, between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5, you primarily play as Jill Valentine as she is sent to a cruise ship that has been missing on the Mediterranean Sea for some time. She arrives there with her new partner, Parker Luciani, as they investigate the supposed disappearance of Chris Redfield and his partner Jessica Sherawat, their last known location being aboard the SS Queen Zenobia. But with a title like Revelations, not all is as it seems. Jill and Parker discover that the ship is overrun with BOWs that look like they are made of whale blubber and there seems to be the resurgence of a terrorist group known as Veltro that plans to unleash a new version of the T-virus into the world’s oceans as revenge for events that happened a couple years earlier.

Like most RE games, the story is pretty crazy with lots of twists and insane situations that our heroes must survive. However, unlike RE5 or 6 that has some kind of explosion or horrible giant monstrosity coming at them every five seconds, Revelations is generally much more subdued and paced better. It starts out slow but builds the atmosphere and does a good job of making the setting of a ghost ship filled with monsters scary. Yes, this game actually managed to scare me. This is the first RE game since RE4 that has actually managed to do so and not just in cheap pop out scares but in tone and setting. That especially goes for one boss battle that literally had me freaking out. While most of the scary atmosphere is near the beginning, it does sadly kind of wear off near the middle as, by then, you’re used to the horrors on the ship and used to the enemies as there is far less of a variety here compared to the main games. However, most of them are original to this game, minus the Hunters.

I said you primarily play as Jill in this game but you do occasionally switch to other characters in some of the missions like switching to Parker in flashbacks or as Chris or two of the worst characters in RE games yet… But I’ll get to them in a minute. Don’t worry though, you do play as Jill about 80% of the game and playing as her on the ship is best part of the game. Jill is still a brunette; this is before she gets captured by Wesker or whatever. She’s a strong character as usual but I can’t say she has too much character development. Chris is the same guy we are used to; buff and leveled headed. The already established characters are great but the new characters for the game are a little lack luster. Parker, Jill’s main partner, speaks in a Russianfrenchitalianhungariangermanese accent and looks like a beefed up Russell Crowe with shaggy hair. Other than not knowing what country he is from, he’s actually a pretty badass dude. O’Brian is the BSAA director, Jill, Chris, and Parker’s boss and he reminds me of Columbo. Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s who he was based on. Jessica, Chris’s partner, is pretty annoying as she flirts with all the men and wears some very unpractical clothing for missions where you fight monsters. But the grand turkey award for worst characters in an RE games goes to Quint and Keith. Oh good god, what were they thinking? It’s like they took Pauly Shore and Marlon Wayans and teamed them up. They’re like those annoying characters in a kids movie that are there only for comic relief and to make has many pop-culture references as possible. Seriously, they stick out like a sore thumb compared to everyone and everything else in the game and franchise. Their call sign on the radio is ‘Jackass’ so that can hopefully that can tell you how bad these characters are and how annoying they are. Thankfully, you only play/deal with them for about 20 mins tops.

Much to my surprise, this game was a lot longer than I thought it would be. It took me a little over 7 hours to beat. I don’t know how long the average 3DS game is but 7 hours is longer than the length of some console games out there. It’s nowhere near as long as Resident Evil 6 but then again, Revelations isn’t trying to be 4 games wrapped into one.  Quite a few times I thought I was about to beat the game but no, it wasn’t over yet and bam I had another level given to me. The game is divided into 12 episodes and each is divided into two parts. It even has a ‘Previously on Resident Evil Revelations’ cut scene to watch that catches you up to speed on what has happened so far when you pick the game back up. While it has its crazy plot twists, Revelations has a stronger, more straight forward, and easier to follow story than RE6 or RE5. It’s also not like a Michael Bay film at all. That’s a step in the right direction in my book.

GAMEPLAY: The gameplay of RER is closest to the controls of Resident Evil 4. You’re not as flexible in movement as you were in RE6. This in itself might be a deal breaker for some people. Aiming and shooting is easy enough but movement other than walking is a little tricky. You move fast enough but you cannot sprint or if you can, I don’t know how and it’s not explained. The game was designed to be used with the circle pad pro which is just an attachment that adds another circle pad to your 3DS. You don’t need it to play but then again, I don’t know if it improves the controls or not since I do not have one. The biggest problem I ran into with the controls was not from the game but from the console itself. Since you have to push the circle pad in one direction most of the time, I found my thumb slipping off the circle pad a lot. This is due to the lack of any kind of grip on the circle pad. This is obviously not the game’s fault but most of the time I would have to stop mid motion just to put my thumb back before it would slip off. There is a dodging mechanic but I don’t really know how it works and I found it just worked whenever it felt like it. Now this probably doesn’t sound good to most folks but I have to admit, I kind of like the controls like this. Why? It definitely adds to the tension to the horror this game is going for.  The level design plays into this as well. You’re on a ship with tight corridors, rooms, and corners with monsters coming out from all over the place. It really adds to the tension and makes you freak out more because there is nowhere to run or hide unlike the RE games with huge settings.

Another thing that adds to the fear factor is that the enemies do not drop ammo at all. In RE 4, 5, and 6 enemies constantly are dropping ammo left and right so you have no fear of running dry. But in Revelations it goes back to the old school RE style of having limited ammo. Of course, you find good amounts of ammo across the levels but you have to look for it. Many times I found myself down to one round after a difficult fight, fearing that I don’t run into anymore enemies or find myself having to use a weapon not suited to the situation I am in because it’s the only type of ammo I have left. That is the Resident Evil I have missed. In addition to your usual weapons, you have this device that lets you scan rooms for hidden items and scan enemies for percent points that once added up to 100% gives you a free healing herb. This creates a risk reward system when encountering enemies. Do you just try to kill it or do you scan it before it gets near you to try and earn points towards some health? Healing is handled well with simply the press of a button so you don’t have to go through an item select or anything. However, there is no health bar or any HUD on the top screen at all. You can only tell how your health is by the screen getting a bloody coding around the border of the screen. Your item select, maps, weapons, and other stuff are handled on the touch screen and it’s very easy to read and use. A couple other novel things the touch screen does is act as a finger print scanner to open some doors and a welding mini-game to get sealed doors open.

 The partner AI is rather limited though. They seem to just be there to talk to you and shoot at things. Just shoot, not kill. I don’t think I saw my partners actually kill anything. It was always ultimately left up to me to finish an enemy off. One very good thing is that there are no quick time events in this game. If you’ve played the past three installments, you know the games are filled with QTEs in game and during cut scenes. It is very nice to not have to deal with them in this game.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND: For a hand held game, this game looks really good, on par with RE4 and maybe slightly better. The cut scenes are very impressive and very well animated. The in-game graphics look just as good and the character models and level designs look great, especially the fancier parts of the ship. The monster designs are disgustingly creepy. Only down side is that the character’s mouths do not move when they are talking in game. This comes off a little cheap.

The sound steals the show though. Often I found myself stopping and wondering ‘what was that noise?’ unsure if it was just my character walking or was there something else in the room with me. This is a game you should play with the headphones on and the lights out. The music is equally unnerving and very pretty at times as well. The voice acting is a mixed bag. Most of it is done well including Jill, Chris, and Parker, minus is silly accent. But then you have Keith and Quint and you will just be screaming at the screen for them to shut up whenever they talk. God, I couldn’t stand these too. The dialogue is on par with most RE games but not nearly as emotionally strong or preformed like it was in RE6.

Overall, Resident Evil Revelations is must own for RE fans who have a 3DS and is a good stand alone time in the series. Is it the scary Resident Evil game that truly gets back to its roots that fans have been waiting for? No. But it does come closer to the classic RE games than the recent entries in the series. The first 30 mins of Leon’s campaign isn’t good enough, RE6. Some people will either hate the controls or learn to live with them but I say learning to live with them is worth it and adds another element of fear that should be in a survival horror game. If you do not own a 3DS and want to play this game, you’re in luck. Revelations is coming to the 360, PS3, and Wii U on May 21st. I have a feeling this will be best suited to the Wii U with its touch screen controller. I’m not sure how it’ll work for the other two systems. If you do have a 3DS, it’s a pretty cheap find on amazon now so you should check it out. Thanks for reading! I was hoping to do a review of the new Tomb Raider but due to money saving, I probably won’t be able to get to that till next month along with Injustice: Gods Among Us. See ya next time!

OVERALL: 7.5/10

-Good story and closer to older RE games
-Good graphics and gameplay
-Actually has some scary moments

-Controls much more limited than other newer RE games, might turn people off
-Some control aspects not explained well
-Some of the new characters are very annoying

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Crysis 3 Game Review

The Crysis series has been an excellent example of state of the art graphics and FPS gameplay. Crysis 3 bring an end the trilogy nicely. The series started in 2007 on the PC and became well known and, at the same time, notorious for its amazing visuals using the CryEngine. I, personally, have never been able to play the first Crysis since I do not own a super computer and the blood of a virgin to run the game’s steep system spec requirements. My first experience with the series came in 2011 with Crysis 2 which saw console release. Even on the Xbox, I was impressed by how amazing the game looked and the gameplay style. For me, Crysis blows away Halo and Call of Duty in the gameplay department. Unlike Halo, you actually do feel you are wearing a power suit and are able to use it to its fullest abilities.  I liked Crysis 2 so much that I named it my 2nd best game of the year pick for 2011. It’s also a game I feel is rather underrated.  Crysis 3 launched a couple weeks ago and I can honestly say that it improves on most everything from Crysis 2 and surpasses it. It continues the amazing visuals and gameplay with the CryEngine 3 and is one of the best shooters I’ve played since, well, Crysis 2. It’s not perfect though, so let’s take a closer look.

STORY: Set in the year 2047, 24 years after the events of Crysis 2, the CELL Corporation now has a massive monopoly on the world’s energy supply using something inside what is now called the Liberty Dome. The Liberty Dome is what New York City has been turned into after the Battle of New York in Crysis 2 and is now a massive tropical rain forest under the nanodome it is encased in. Prophet is the last man to be wearing the Nanosuit, a powerful exoskeleton suit built using alien technology to change the face of warfare, is rescued by a team of insurgents lead by his former team member code named Psycho. They enlist Prophet to help them break into the Liberty Dome and shut down CELL’s stranglehold on the world’s energy for good. However, Prophet knows the real thread is The Ceph, the hostile alien race that invaded New York years earlier. The Ceph are long thought to have been nearly wiped out and only a few living in the Liberty Dome but Prophet knows there is more to the remains of New York than most people think.

The story of Crysis 3 actually does a good job of explaining what happened in previous games with the help of a handy ‘previously on Crysis’ option before starting the game. However, there is little to no mention of Alcatraz, the guy you played as in Crysis 2, in the game or any of the other characters from the previous game. This would be a bigger deal if Crytek hadn’t done such a good job with the characters in this game. Thankfully, Prophet is not just another silent protagonist. He talks and has character to him and tackles deep subject matter like what it is to be human and how far he will go to lose his humanity to defeat the Ceph. There are only really three supporting characters in the game but they a good job of dealing with the themes this game is trying to convey. As a result, we have much stronger and interesting characters than seen in Crysis 2. It even has a Mass Effect 3 kind of feel with the heavy emotion this game is going for. Not as good as ME3, but feels like they are trying. It is much more character focused than the previous games which gives it a smaller picture feel which works considering it is set in a domed covered city yet the world is at stake.
This game is shorter than Crysis 2, however, but doesn’t exactly feel like it. It has far fewer levels. Only 7 while the previous game had 25. The missions are not short though. Each one lasting around 45 minutes to an hour depending on much you explore and the difficulty you are playing on. I beat the game in around 6 hours which is painfully average for most games these days but it felt longer. The game does have a really well done last boss battle and a good ending which does wrap up the game and series nicely.

GAMEPLAY: The thing that I love about the Crysis games is the Nanosuit and how it is used in actual gameplay. I can’t help but compare it to Halo when I bring this up. Think about it. In Halo, Master Chief wears a power armor suit but do you ever feel like you’re actually in a power suit with amazing strengths and powers outside of the cut scenes? For me, other than the regenerating shield, no. You’re still just a guy with a gun. The Nanosuit, however, has powers that you can use at any time and this allows you to play the game however you like. Want to run and gun? Sure! Make good use of that max armor shield. Want to sneak around? Use the cloaking feature to sneak around enemies or ambush them. Hack enemy traps and defenses to turn the tables on them. Use Nanovision to see everything in thermal imaging (which looks amazing by the way). You can even do the Iron Man ground pound move. It’s not the most effect thing but it sure looks cool. This is all governed by a power bar that drains at different rates depending what power you are using so it’s up to you to figure out the best way to regulate the power gage. There is so much more that you can do with Crysis in terms of gameplay compared to a game like Halo. All of this I loved in Crysis 2 and it continues in Crysis 3 and runs much smoother. Grabbing objects and enemies looks less awkward and does not require a charge to throw them.

The weapons are a good mix of new and old weapons from the previous games plus the ability to use Ceph weapons for the first time. Prophet also has a compound bow to use which is predominantly featured in much of the game’s promo pictures. The bow and arrow is fun to use as it kills in one hit and it does not break the cloak so you can get kills off without getting spotted at all. There are different types of arrows that can be used like explosive and electrical. Most of the guns in the game can also be fully customized with different optics, attachments, and specialized ammo. Like in the other Crysis games, you can customize your weapon at most anytime. One problem I did have was trying to switch between the C4 and the rocket launcher. In Crysis 2, you simply pressed right on the D-Pad twice to switch between the two. In this game, it doesn’t seem to work like that and I guess I just don’t know how to do it. I’m sure it is easier to do with the PC version. The visor mode, on the other hand, is greatly improved. In the previous game you could only really use it to highlight three enemies in the area and spot ammo and weapons. In Crysis 3, it is far more useful. You can now tag all the enemies in the area, weapons and ammo points, collectables, traps and turrets, and locate secondary objectives. You also use visor mode to hack turrets and traps by getting in range and engaging in a quick mini-game to take control and turn them against the enemies.  You can also upgrade your suit’s abilities on the Nanosuit customization screen that looks kind of like a slot machine. You can pick up to four powers and mix them together and even select and save different power combinations for later use. You unlock these powers by finding Nanosuit packs that are hidden throughout the levels. This gives more incentive to explore the large and detailed levels of the game.

The setting of a New York City over taken by nature makes for some awesome level designs and very big ones. They are surprisingly big and offer many routes to travel and explore. This allows you to go about completing your objectives in any manor you want and however you want. I’m sure there are many more paths to explore that I didn’t even notice during my play through. There may be fewer levels than in Crysis 2 but the levels are much bigger in Crysis 3. This does lead to some small problems though. A couple times I found myself getting lost trying to figure out how to get to an objective nav point. The ruins of New York can very much be like a maze. Also you do have secondary objectives that can are optional to complete, however, many times I would be unaware of them till it was too late or have trouble locating them with the visor mode. It doesn’t ruin the overall game at all but if you’re a perfectionist, it might drive you crazy. Finally, I will mention that the game did freeze on me a couple times but this might not be an issue for PC versions. Also on the Xbox version, I noticed that it uses the cover for Crysis 2 on the Xbox dashboard. 

GRAPHICS AND SOUND: What can I say? This game is freaking gorgeous and, obviously, it is even more jaw droppingly beautiful on the PC. Is there even a reason for me to say that anymore? If the absolute best graphics are what you need to enjoy a game, you must play this on the PC. That said, this game still looks amazing on console and is the best looking game I’ve seen on the Xbox since Halo 4. And if you think that the 360 version of Crysis 3 looks ugly compared to the PC version, then you have unrealistically high standards of graphics. The character models from the Nanosuit, humans, and the Ceph look great and are very detailed but it’s the New York City that nature reclaimed that steals the show. The mix of ruined urban buildings and plant life is something that is haunting beautiful. You even run into wild life here and there like deer and squirrels. You have to really go out of your way to find poorly rendered textures. Crysis 3 is a strong contestant for best graphics of the year.

The voice acting in the game is generally well done. The one that stands out the most is the voice of Psycho with his angry British accent. The weapons and explosions sound good and are satisfying to use. The Ceph still sound and look scary. They are some of the best alien invaders in video games. The music is beautifully done and has a strong emotional tone to it rather than the heroic feel from Crysis 2. It reminds me a lot of the music from Mass Effect 3 which pulled at the heart strings. It fits the deeper themes they were going for in this game.

Overall, Crysis 3 wraps up the trilogy and gives it a fulfilling end to this technologically impressive series of shooters. If you’re an FPS gamer; you must play this game and the other games in the series. That goes double if you are a PC gamer. While it is shorter than the previous game, it feels more rewarding. If you’re a Halo fan or just tired of Call of Duty and games that try to be like it, you should definitely check out Crysis 3. Thanks for reading and I plan on playing and reviewing the Tomb Raider reboot next.


-Many ways to play and carry out missions
-Huge levels with multiple paths
-Best story out of the series so far and beautiful graphics

-Finding objective nav points can be confusing at times
-Explosive weapons switching is confusing
-Shorter than Crysis 2

Saturday, March 9, 2013