Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Videogame Solipsist: 32 and onward Halloween Edition

Silent Hill 3 (PS2)
Though I still think of the second entry in the series as the best, I also really liked Silent Hill 3. I know people seem to have problems with this game, largely stemming from its brevity and a somewhat irritating plot that ties in to the first game, but for my money, it's still damn good. The cold opening of the game, thrusting you into a haunted amusement park with no idea of what's going on, is pretty memorable. I played through the entire game in one day and haven't revisited it since, so I don't have much to say about it.
Silent Hill 2 (Xbox)
I went into this game in greater detail before, so I'll just link you to that. There ya go.
Resident Evil 4 (Wii)
Hate to repeat myself, but I also wrote about this game before. Here ya go.
Resident Evil 3 (Playstation)
Resident Evil 3 is kind of like the odd man out of the series, since the team who made the much loved second game went on directly to Resident Evil: Code Veronica (a game I've never played much of because it just seemed like more of the same) and another group worked on RE3, reportedly at the behest of the American arm of Capcom who saw dollar signs spin in their eyes like 1940s cartoon characters after the success of RE2. The mechanics of RE3 are a bit more action-y than the other pre-RE4 games, new additions which I never quite mastered because I could never time the 'dodge' or 'side step' correctly. The best part about this game was the Nemesis, pictured above, who followed you throughout the game, attacking you at what seemed to be random points, in the process creating a real sense of your character being hunted that no other game has given me. I think there were something like nine different times in the game you could fight him, and he represented an interesting risk vs. reward concept because you got good stuff off of him if you managed to down him. Anyway, RE3 is a good, overlooked survival horror game, and one who's more action-y gameplay inadvertantly spelled out the direction of the future of the series.
Resident Evil 2 (Playstation)
I really hope that someday the Resident Evil series gets back to the 'dual scenario' idea, because I loved the way, in RE2, you chose between two different characters who had wildly different plots through the game yet intersected at various points. Each character also had 'A' and 'B' scenarios, so if you played, say, Leon's scenario first, your actions in that playthrough would affect Claire's subsequent 'B' scenario. I must've play through RE2 at least three times fully, through each of the characters' scenarios. The only thing I don't like about this game anymore is the awkward tank controls. It's hard to go back once you've played RE4, which is admittedly designed around action and big set piece battles, and thus doesn't have the steady, deliberate tension building of RE 1 and 2. Speaking of...
Resident Evil (Gamecube)
I never got all that far in the original release of Resident Evil for Playstation, but the Gamecube remake was excellent. It's interesting to remember just how convoluted and difficult the first Resident Evil was: there's a lot of inventory juggling, backtracking, and frustrating combat to slog through. Though it is spooky and terrifying (the addition of those huge sharks in the remake was a brilliant touch), it's impossible for me to go back to RE1, remake or otherwise. Actually, it's a great game to watch playthroughs or speed runs of, mostly because it'll give you a good idea of how far the series (and survival horror) has come.
Half-Life (PC)
This one is debateable, since there are large portions of this game that are mainly shooting or puzzle solving. I would argue that there's something very survival horror-y about it nonetheless. You're in a government installation that gets invaded by cross dimensional aliens, who slowly kill everyone and make it as difficult as possible for you to escape not only them but the government forces sent in to clean up. You may not remember Half-Life 1 as a particularly scary game, but keep in mind that you're given a flashlight for a reason. Give the first few areas of the game another go and I think you might see what I mean.
Doom 3 (PC)
I'm in the minority on this, but I totally bought into the atmosphere and terror of Doom 3. I actually think it did the whole 'extradimensional creatures taking over a government lab' thing better than Half-Life, mostly because the demons are actively transforming the base rather than just showing up to kill people. I also love the Mars setting along with the whole backstory of artifacts and such on the planet, as well an extinct alien race. As with Half-Life, this one is debateable whether it's survival horror or not, though I would argue it's actually trying to be scary most of the time whereas Half-Life just happens to be by chance as much as design. Maybe the flashlight mechanic (borrowed from Half-Life??) was annoying and the constant monster closets were more 'jump' scares than anything....but I still liked Doom 3 a lot. It still belongs on a list of 'Halloween' games, y'know??
Aliens Vs. Predator (PC)
The original Aliens Vs. Predator for PC was pants-pissingly-scary to me. While playing as the tough Predator, the Aliens are merely creepy and annoying. While playing as the weaker Colonial Marine, they are nightmare inducing. I can't tell you how scary I thought this game was, since I was and remain a huge fan of the Alien film franchise and often had dreams about the creatures without the help of a game that let me experience them in first person. So, yeah. Nightmare inducing. Oddly, whenever I tried to play as the Alien, my PC's graphics card couldn't display its alternate vision mode correctly so I couldn't get past the second or third level. I felt like it was a purposeful middle finger from the universe, letting me know that I'll always be on the receiving end of Alien claws, double jaws, and screeches that make me curl up in a ball and hope my death is a quick one.
The 7th Guest (PC)
Myst delivered a new age of PC adventure games thanks to the CD format, games which were essentially a string of difficult logic puzzles stitched together with bad 3D prerendered graphics and poor quality video/audio. The 7th Guest was that only set in a haunted house. My sister and I never got far in the game, but still remember it fondly as one creepy ass game. The ghostly clown saying "want a balloon, kiddie?!" was a running joke between us for years, and I suspect if I went back now and played it, I would giggle at how archaic it is.

Anyway, Happy Halloween!!

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