My Resident Evil 8 Wishlist

Eighth wonder

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard released to critical acclaim in January of 2017, looking and feeling like a complete breath of fresh air for the venerable series. The switch to first-person view, the inspired locale and the excellent Jack Baker combined to create a great soft reboot for the series and just a bloody good horror experience in all.

Now that the dust is settling (and whilst I twiddle my thumbs waiting for the delayed DLC), I’ve had a few thoughts about where I’d like the next main installment of the series to go and do (spoilers follow):

Introduce more varied enemies. The classic Resi zombie is now long gone, confined to some rubbish appearances in Resident Evil 6 and a few spin offs. I’m quite happy with the new Molded enemies; they provide a good middle ground between shambling undead and slithery proto-horror that felt creepy to encounter and enjoyable to fight. However; more variations are needed if the series is going to progress. I’d love to see some Licker-like monstrosities erupting through windows in RE8. Those fuckers were awful in the best possible way.

RESIDENT EVIL 7 biohazard (3)
The Molded: A terrifying foe, but limited in variety.

Give us an interesting protagonist. Christ, Ethan was a bore. The flattest of video game personalities since Peter Dinklage’s Ghost. I’m not asking for a superhero, boulder-punching comedian fighter pilot, just someone with a bit more about him or her. Give us a decent backstory. Allow the character the odd quip or two. Make them react in a believable way to the horrific occurances unfurling before them.

Be creative with the setting. The Louisiana bayou’s and creepy mansion in 7 were excellent; arguably the most alluring aspect of the game. However, there needs to be something new in the next installment that maintains the fresh feeling. I’m thinking there is scope for the series to return to a ruined city aesthetic, despite Resident Evil 2 Remake being an upcoming thing (give us some more damn news!). With the first-person perspective taking centre stage, running through claustrophobic alleys and apartments could be thrilling if done well.

RESIDENT EVIL 7 biohazard
The locale was an inspired design choice.

Albert Wesker returns as main antagonist. Just kidding.

Ramp up the horror. There’s a part of Resi 7 where you are navigating an abandoned series of corridors and rooms with no enemies; just the closest, creepiest atmosphere I’ve certainly ever experienced in the series (you know the one). This section highlighted a brilliance in both horror design and mechanics by Capcom: To put it simply; they’ve still got it. In Resi 8, I’d like to see more of this talent shine through, with larger sections of exploration taking place sans-enemy, with a focus on inducing genuine panic in the player. Full disclosure – I haven’t played that bit in VR, nor do I want to. At all.

Resident Evil 7 seriously impressed me as a long-time fan of the series, and it would have been a true contender for my Game of the Year had Breath of the Wild not come along (who knows, maybe the upcoming RE7 DLC will change things…). My hype for the eighth main installment grows like a Molded’s phallic appendages. Looking forward to it, Capcom!

Destiny 2 Looks Like It’s Going To Be A Good Time With Friends And Strangers Alike

Clantastic

Bungie and Activision have finally revealed some more Destiny 2 details, in the form of a livestream reveal and gameplay trailer (trailer here details here). The game is looking suitably impressive, and there was emphasis placed on the new classes, locations and story details, which all look slick as hell. For me, though, easily the most exciting aspects of the reveal were the additions of matchmaking to multiplayer PvE content like Strikes and Raids, and Guided Play, which looks like a superb approach to helping those who can’t commit to hardcore raiding (me!) to fully enjoy the endgame content. Colour me massively interested, at this stage.

The reveal speaks of a developer very much in tune with its community of enthusiasts; Bungie have been careful to consider the potential for toxicity that can come about in games such as this, and countered it by ensuring that individuals are paired up with a Clan. One would certainly hope that Clans will be far more accommodating to an individual who has chosen to play with them, wanting to demonstrate their ability and teamwork, and on the flipside the mode could be just the breakthrough that a slightly shy individual may need to get themselves in a social group, making new friends. An innovative and inspired attempt at solving an age-old problem.

Having Clan mechanics be built-in to the fibre of the game from the get-go is also a positive step forward. Contributing towards Clan rewards could be a good way of ameliorating the slightly more mind-numbing tasks that are sure to be a part of the bread and butter of the game.

I played and loved the first Destiny for a number of months before the endless grinding and monotony pushed me away. I’ve since been assured by pretty much everyone who is still playing the game that it has improved tenfold since those first few months, and is a now a much richer experience. Whilst I feel that it’s too late to go back at this late stage, I’m thrilled by the idea of jumping into the Destiny 2 experience on day one, given that Bungie and Activision appear to very much on the same wavelength as their punters. September 8th is closer than you think.

 

Far Cry 5 Confirmed To Be A Thing

Ubi fooling no one

As if we didn’t already know, Ubisoft today confirmed via the Far Cry Facebook page that Far Cry 5 is in development. Also confirmed via an Ubisoft press release and covered here by Kotaku is that it’ll be coming this (financial) year, along with the new Assassin’s Creed, The Crew and South Park games.

Yours truly will be all up in that ‘Creed and Far Cry when they are released; Far Cry games are reliably fun, and I’ve been hankering for a new ‘Creed since completing the excellent Syndicate last year. Bring ’em on, Ubisoft.

That Games Blogger Guy Reviews An Oldie: Quantum Break

Break even

 

Welcome, dear blog reader, to the first in the series of that games blogger guy reviews an oldie, in which yours truly provides earnest thoughts on games that have been out a while and may or may not have been given time to breathe by the games industry. As is often the case with games these days, rarely are they finished articles when they are hurled out the door by their respective developers. Regularly, we are seeing games take longer and longer to hit their stride. This (infrequent) series will look at some of the blockbusters that have come out in recent years, as well as old classics and forgotten gems, bidding both to broaden my own horizons as a lover of the medium, and hopefully to provide some thinking points for you guys. Discussion is most welcome!

With that said, on with the review.

Game: Quantum Break

Developer: Remedy Entertainment

Released: 5th April 2016 (EU)

Played by that games blogger guy: April 2017

Available on: Xbox One (version reviewed), PC

Quantum Break is a game about time travel, that curiously takes place over a range of just 17 years. No dinosaurs, no Roman Empire, no call of infinite space marines. Just a relatively modest plot about maniacal capitalist companies and the power-hungry madmen who run them, with a minor footnote about the end of the world, or something. In doing this, Remedy seemingly aim for a feeling of nigh-realism and intrigue; the resulting adventure, however, falls somewhat short of the mark and struggles to assert its identity.

Released in April 2016 to rather cool reviews, Quantum Break places players in the role of Jack Joyce, a wise-cracking everyman who happens to have one of the world’s greatest scientists for a brother, William. William has invented a time machine – a somewhat believable-ish one, I might say – and the resulting fallout of such a discovery brings down the might of huge conglomerate Monarch Solutions, headed up by an old friend of Joyce; the cold and calculating Paul Serene. The story unfolds in a unique and bizarre blend: Traditional cutscenes, in-game text files and audio logs, and four twenty-two-minute long live-action television episodes placed in between the game’s five acts. It’s these sleek, stylish, and high budget story scenes that provide the game its unique selling point; however, the show makes several missteps that stop it from being anything truly memorable.

Featuring a number of reasonably high-profile actors, the show is well put together and does tie in with the game well. A couple of the performances are great – Lance Reddick is superb as the mysterious and menacing Martin Hatch – but many are simply phoned in, and are offered no help at all by the scriptwriters. I was made to cringe several times by obvious clichés and ham-fisted plot advancements; Breaking Bad, this ain’t. But thankfully they are short enough to work with the gameplay.

“The gunplay is fluid and enjoyable, and the various time-based powers at Joyce’s disposal are clever, adding a layer of twitch-strategy that echoes first-person shooters…”

The game does pick up a lot of brownie points in the action department. The gunplay is fluid and enjoyable, and the various time-based powers at Joyce’s disposal are clever, adding a layer of twitch-strategy that echoes first-person shooters, despite the third-person perspective. Using Joyce’s Time Stop to freeze an enemy, shoot a hundred rounds into the millimetres-square space in front of his face, then let time unfreeze is endlessly entertaining, as is charging up a Time Blast and sending a group of goons flying. The graphics are gorgeous, too. If only there was a bit more variety in both enemies and locations, though. The game rarely changes from grey, brown, and black environments, and the number of different enemies could almost be counted on one hand. Disappointing, given the superb bedrock that controlling Joyce presents over the eight or so hours the story provides.

“Using Joyce’s Time Stop to freeze an enemy, shoot a hundred rounds into the millimetres-square space in front of his face, then let time unfreeze is endlessly entertaining…”

As far as action games go, there are certainly worse in recent memory, and this one in particular can often be picked up for a song (I got it brand new for less than a tenner (£), less than eight months after launch) so is reasonably easy to recommend. I can’t help but lament the wasted potential, though; it’s clear that Remedy and Microsoft were planning the birth of a new super-franchise here, but the lack of variety and odd choice of plot development stops it short of being anything truly great. Certainly worth a look for sci-fi and third-person shooter fans, but not revolutionary by any stretch.

Positives –

Stylish presentation

Great graphics

Thrilling time-based powers.

Negatives –

Dodgy plot and acting

Lack of variety

Short

 

6.5/10

 

RIP Alan Wake

Good-but-not-great third-person action game Alan Wake is getting removed from sale today due to music licensing issues. It can be picked up for a song (zing!) from a number of the usual e-outlets. I thought it was worth a gander when I played it some years ago.

I recently beat its flashier Remedy Entertainment brother Quantum Break. A retrospective review of that game will be going up on the blog shortly.

Next-gen Playstation in the Pipeline?

Digital Foundry have published an interesting piece on the whispered possibility of a 2018 release for the PS5. At such a curious crossroads in games development, could we be in for a new generation so soon?

It certainly isn’t business as usual this year, with the release of the Scorpio on the horizon. Exciting (and expensive!) times to be a gamer.

The Time is Right For a New Fable Game

Chasing chickens

Oft-derided figure of internet disdain, Peter Molyneux, used to make some damn fine games. One such game which the now-sadly defunct Lionhead are responsible for is the remarkable Fable and its numbered sequels, games I played to death back in the day and I still catch myself yearning for a playthrough even now.

They were just so incredibly charming. The inane yammering of the townsfolk as you saunter past, the stupid Hobbes chucking themselves at your sword, the ridiculous emotes you could use to impress peasants and kings alike. The Demon Doors with their oddball requests and insecure ramblings. All of these culminated in what is probably the most quintessentially British games since Hogs of War. Sure, the “RPG” elements of the games were about as fleshed out as a Hollow Man’s cock, and many of the promises Molyneux made were nowhere to be seen, but these are quickly forgiven when you realise just how earnest and playable these experiences are.

In many ways, the Fable series reminds of that other topical RPG-lite, The Legend of Zelda (certainly pre-Breath of the Wild Zelda anyway). Both series have a certain tone that is hard to find elsewhere, and game play in Fable clearly borrows heavily from Nintendo’s venerable franchise, from its simple one-button combat to its storybook trappings. Subtle differences give Lionhead’s offering its own appeal, however; Fable ramps up the charm and gives a greater feeling of ownership over your character. Zelda meanwhile leans more on its heroic characters and quests, allowing you to step into the shoes of Link and experience the fantastical world through his eyes. Both series are worthy of heavy time investment.

It’s no secret that Microsoft are on the ropes right now. Big exclusive after big exclusive continue to rain down from Sony’s stable, delivering body blow after body blow to an Xbox franchise that isn’t throwing anything of note back. Sooner or later, even the dyed-in-the-wool Xbox hopeful will start throwing in the towel, lured by the bright lights of the Horizon Zero Dawns and The Last of Us Part Twos that Sony offer. Surely, Microsoft now has to carefully consider the franchises that will enable it to fight back, and topping that list must be Fable 4.

Rehire the lost talent. Stick a game designer at the helm with a proven track record of not just quality but measured expectations. Put the resources in place. And for fucks’ sake, don’t cancel it.

Do you know what I’d do, were I Phil Spencer? I’d get Rare to make it. Imagine that.

Come on, Microsoft. Your legion of chicken chasers are ready to begin another story.