February 25, 2010
Think of legendary Japanese survival horror games and you’ll think of… well, Resident Evil, if you’re anything at all like me. But the Silent Hill franchise is a very strong contender to Shinji Mikami’s crown, and with the seventh game in the series, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, due for release in the UK tomorrow, infinitecontinues dusted off the original PlayStation title, turned the lights down, turned the music up and settled down to ascertain why Silent Hill was so worth re-imagining in the first place. (Warning: there may be spoilers in this article for those that have never played the original.)
September 28, 2009
‘They don’t make them like they used to’ is a common enough adage. If you are the quick-to-anger type (like myself, I should add) you’ll be quite glad of that. After dying in the region of 30-40 times in my first half hour of play, I can safely predict that Heart Of Darkness is likely to be the most testing game I’ve ever played.
The plot elements I’ve uncovered so far are rather far-fetched. The player controls a boy called Andy; a rascally little imp who escapes the classroom in the opening ‘cinematic’ (it’s incredible to see how far CG has come in 11 years) to lounge around on grassy hill with his favourite companion, his dog Whiskey. A solar eclipse occurs, and for some reason, sucks up the dog. Even more illogicly, the boy has somehow managed to craft a spaceship in his treehouse, and sets off into the sky in order to save his canine, but the crash lands into a twisted other world, with the primary objective of rescuing his dog from a shadowy figure called the Master of Darkness. Oh, that old chestnut, right?
So, cue a tortuous platform-puzzler hybrid that sees you trynig to navigate the dangers of each screen, whether they take the form of shadowy, spider-like monsters or ginormous gelatinous lizards and more, in order to reach the next (harder) one. Think Flashback breeding with Samorost, yet a thousand times more sadistic. I’ve already died in a multitude of different ways, each one ‘rewarded’ with some really beautiful animation, and a cutscene depicting Andy falling to his death that I’m already painfully familiar with. As anathema to the multidinous ways of playing the current crop of the industry’s finest games, there is one way and one way only to tackle each screen – the challenge comes in how few deaths you endure in finding it. Requiring pin-point timing, some lateral thinking, and sheer bloody-mindedness, Heart Of Darkness is an old-fashioned challenge, but one that I’m looking forward to now that I’ve come to terms that I’ll be sending Andy to grisly deaths over and over and over again.
October 7, 2008
I am a massive fan of videogames. I love to collect retro games consoles, and then pick up seminal games of yesteryear that I’ve either owned previously or know is a good franchise, but have never got round to playing. However, despite owning far more consoles and games than the average fan, I very rarely devote much time to playing any one game and it’s even rarer still that I actually finish a game.
Not so with the Resident Evil series. Ever since I played the remake of the original Resident Evil on the Gamecube (I was a late-comer to the survival horror franchise), I’ve been totally hooked, and have completed every Resi game that I’ve managed to get my hands on subsequently. Recently, I bought Resident Evil 2 for the original PlayStation off eBay and settled down to further zombie romps.
Graphically, RE2 hasn’t aged well. The textures are horribly pixellated, the animation is wooden, and the collision detection is laughable – whole pieces of a character might pop in and out of existence as they converse with you. The problems are exacerbated when blown up on a 40″ HD TV, but then the makers didn’t build the game to be played on that format.
But the technical limitations of the game didn’t make one shred of difference to my enjoyment of the game. Featuring full speech, beautifully-scripted set pieces and a general sense of foreboding, Resident Evil 2 still had all the atmosphere that I’d been spoiled with on the Gamecube and Wii previously. And, once again, I found myself playing through the entire game. This equated to roughly 5 hours of play – this struck me how much shorter games used to be; something that I actually pine for again. I enjoy single-player adventure games but today’s offerings are all epic monsters – stretching out into 30+ hours of gameplay before you even begin to approach the end of the game. With so much competing for the consumer’s attention these days, it’s becoming less and less likely that they can invest this much time in any single game. I certainly can’t. My girlfriend won’t allow it…
So, thank god for eBay and retro gaming – there are still many Resi games I haven’t played, and I can safely say that I’ll be sourcing all of them. I just might have to play them on my old TV instead.