OXCGN’s Resident Evil Remaster Review – It’s Still Scary-Awesome.


Thanks, Nintendo.

Before starting this review I must thank Nintendo for playing host to one of the greatest remakes on their Gamecube system 13 years ago.

Resident Evil was simply jaw dropping — its visuals melted your eyes and brought players a sense of realism that had not been experienced before. And even by today’s standards Resident Evil can keep up with the graphic powerhouse games of 2015.

Capcom is to thank for this; by implementing pre-rendered backgrounds they brought a sense of realism that could not otherwise be attained at the time.

Resident Evil subsequently Resident Evil 0 (also on the Gamecube) were some of the last games to truly embrace this graphical style.

A concequence of pre-rendered backgrounds that I am sure Square-Enix is also running into is their tendency to distort when ported to new systems. To combat this the 2015 remaster offers players both the original 4:3 and a stretched 16:9 aspect ratio to choose from.

The latter definitely provides sharper visuals but I think most will stick with 16:9.

RE Remaster 1

The game stays very true to the original with the only major change being to the controls. Capcom have developed a workaround to make the controls more akin to today’s standards. The new control scheme is simple: move the joystick in any direction you want and Jill or Chris will go. It’s a very unusual experience for anyone familiar with the original Resident Evil titles.

The controls work well, however during scene changes players may often frustratingly jerk the character in the wrong direction by accident. Without a doubt the new scheme is welcoming enough for newbies to pick up and play, but the original scheme (if you’re used to it) will always be the superior experience.

The horror experience has definitely mellowed with age; I believe games such as the Dead Space series may have desensitised players to classic horror games like Resident Evil, which offer a slower paced style of horror. Scripted moments throughout the game do offer many scares but I feel that most will come as no surprise to modern gamers.

Resident Evil’s greatest success comes from its ability to build atmosphere. It forgoes fantastical settings for more familiar and personal locations where it can establish a pervading sense of dread. As you venture through the vast Spencer Mansion there is a sense of authenticity, this could be a real place owned by a mysterious billionaire.

Incumbent in any Resident Evil experience are the puzzles and there is a tangible thrill associated with solving puzzles and unveiling the secrets of the mansion.

This game pioneered the survival horror genre so the game often becomes intense, the mixture of limited supplies with restrictions of saves forces players to adopt a survivalist mentality from the very start of the game. This pervasive sense of dread, of pressure, combined with the brooding atmosphere of the mansion is where the fear comes from and it is only heightened at the higher difficulty levels.

RE Remaster 2

I would recommend anyone new to the franchise to have a go exploring the mansion without using your smartphone and an IGN game guide. Resident Evil rewards players for exploration and players who follow the most direct route will miss extra cut scenes and bonus opportunities; not to mention the satisfaction of solving the puzzles. That said if you are finding it too frustrating looking up a solution is forgivable because this is a game worth playing through to its end.

It is worth noting that some key items have had their names changed to a more suggestible title. For example the ‘Herbicide’ is now called ‘Chemical for plants’. Returning players will understand.

Above all Resident Evil offers plenty of gaming goodness for anyone. By offering gamers the choice of multiple characters and difficulties to play through veterans have an incentive to play through the main story again. This is in conjunction with the many bonuses that can be earned if you complete the game under different criteria. All of which now come backed up with a set of achievements to show off as well! (good luck completing the game in under 3 hours).

Resident Evil Remake was a revolutionary remake of a revolutionary game and while this remake of the remake doesn’t break any new ground. It sure as hell cements it as one of the best (and best looking) 13 year old games ever made.

This is a must-play for anyone, particularly those who appreciate a classic game, and classic horror.

This is how we grew up kids.

Pros:

+ Amazing pre-rendered backgrounds.

+ Believable yet scary atmosphere.

+ Rewards for exploring and not following a guide.

Cons:

– Newcomers may not like the difficulty (no hint system in here).

– The ‘door’ loading screens still exists.

– May not be as scary as it once was.

9.5/10

Survival Horror Returns with The Evil Within


We go hands-on with two hours of the game

The survival horror genre has been in a bit of a weird place over the last couple of years.

Getting a glimpse of this old school genre in Dead Space, the sequels went for a more action oriented direction, leaving behind the slow paced nature of the genre in favour of bigger set pieces and an arsenal of weaponry.

Resident Evil saw itself follow the action route after Resident Evil 4, and as a result the fans haven’t been so forthcoming of the change. Creator of the Resident Evil series, Shinji Mikami – Formed Tango Gameworks in May of 2010, in hopes of returning to the roots of survival horror.

The studios first title The Evil Within, runs on a heavily modified version of the id Tech 5 engine that currently powers Wolfenstein: The New Order. It relies on t he staples of survival horror, from confined corridors, monsters that jump out at you around corners or burst through doors, scarce ammo in scenarios where you’re surrounded by half a dozen enemies and enemies that you seemingly cannot defeat.

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Good old jawless enemy #2456

The Evil Within is at its best when it puts you in situations where you’re low on ammo and you need to strategically think how to approach and defeat the enemies ahead of you. Players won’t just find random ammo scattered on the floor, so they’ll have to rely on smashing open crates in hopes of finding a few measly bullets.

Carrying a pistol, shotgun, bow with interchangeable arrows with different effects, the odd grenade and a knife, Detective Sebastian Castellano has a few items at his disposal to ensure his survival. In a twisted and warped world where evil can be anywhere, and the entire landscape can change in an instant, players need to be on alert.

The Evil Within’s scares don’t come from the random enemies bursting through barricaded doors or monsters that look scary even though they’re present, they come from tense situations where the player is overwhelmed and must think fast, with environments completely changing where you’re in a dim light corridor with a river of blood flowing at you to realising the stairs you just walked down from aren’t exactly there anymore. Whilst these sections are scripted, they do present a nice change of pace and a good sense of claustrophobia.

Whilst the game almost predominantly features blood, there’s a large emphasis on fire within the game, as Sebastian carries around a limited number of matches, which means the only way to truly eliminate enemies with The Evil Within is to burn them whilst they’re still alive.

Whilst you can shoot them and blow their heads clean off, due to the builds early nature and hit detection being a bit off, this unfortunately wasn’t the best course of action to ensure safety. To save ammunition, players can melee creatures and shoot them once or twice in hopes of downing them, here you need to get it in quick, light a match and set them on fire, where they’ll disintegrate into dust.

Be careful though as even though Sebastian carries a knife and can pick up a dropped axe, these weapons only prolong death. They cannot be used to kill an enemy, after attacking an enemy with Sebastian’s knife 3 times, it became immune and proceeded to attack me even though I kept on slashing. This is where the The Evil Within begins with its problems, but we’ll get to that a little later.

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Not really useful, when you can’t even kill enemies with it

The Evil Within does rely on a few set pieces to ramp up the tension in hopes of scaring players, various traps lay dormant within Chapter 8 and potentially the rest of the game world, but they only seem to activate when Sebastian triggers them, seemingly unavoidable. Whilst the trap in Ch 8 became tiresome after the first few times, the game’s main build of tension and stress comes from Ruvik.

The hooded figure that you’ve seen in almost all the games trailers, is in full force during both chapters.

As he seems to be the central character of the game, players unfortunately cannot kill him nor do any form of damage to him whatsoever. When he appears, it’s best to turn around the haul your ass in any possible direction. During Chapter 8 where Sebastian is in pursuit of two other characters who are unreachable behind a large bolted door, Sebastian must scour a mansion full of its own secrets and horrors, solving puzzles that include studying the human brain on live subjects whilst listening to recordings.

And the player does this all whilst eluding Ruvik, who materialises out of thin air.

With the ability to hide under beds or inside closets, players are warned of Ruvik’s approach when the lights dim and the screen turns a very dark blue hue. What they don’t know is where he’ll appear, as I found out the hard way after hiding in a closest, I found that Ruvik has the ability to randomly burst from within an enemy’s bodies, and if Ruvik touches you then its game over.

He’s got the “Touch of Death’, so expect to run when you see him, but be sure not to run too much as Sebastian’s stamina meter represents his lack of endurance. Sebastian has little to no stamina, crucial for when you run out of ammo and need to think quick. If you deplete Sebastian’s stamina, he’ll hunch over, breath heavily and compose himself for a few seconds, to which you have absolutely zero control of the character.

During the end sequence of Chapter 4, players will walk down a long brightly light corridor. At the end they’ll come up to a room where a pile of bodies lay on the floor. As scripted, a four armed creature will burst from the bodies, and reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s death in Nightmare on Elm Street, blood will spew in almost every direction. It’s here we encounter our first true horror and must run to safety or else, we’ll die. What will frustrate players about this sequence, is that they’ll easily exhaust Sebastian’s stamina and at times freak out because they’re about to die.

Yet when players reach the final act of this chase sequence, Sebastian miraculously gains unlimited stamina and you’re able to run right up to a closing door and slide under it, completely disregarding the fact that player’s have little no stamina for regular encounters.

You do NOT want to hold hands with that!
You do NOT want to hold hands with that!

Now seeing that the game has a new release date of October 23rd 2014, I can see why it was decided to push this game back, to not only focus on balancing the game but refine certain elements, which in their current state don’t work as well as I had hoped.

The game’s stealth mechanic is extremely hit and miss. In Chapter 8 after successfully entering a study on the mansions second floor, players come up against two enemies feasting on a dead body. Crouching and creeping up for a takedown, almost instantaneously, they’d stand up detect my presence and attack me. No amount of snail paced crouching could prevent this, meaning it’ was time to use up that precious ammo I searched for in every room before.

You can’t down enemies if you slash them with your knife and after a few hits they become immune and begin to attack you. With the pistol however, you can shoot an enemy in the stomach and they’ll most likely go down like a tonne of bricks for a few seconds. At times where you have no ammo but are maxed out with matches, it would be nice if the knife had some better use other than for takedowns.

If that’s not frustrating enough, The Evil Within seems to suffer from an excruciating camera that holds itself too close to Sebastian’s back. Unless I’m mistaken and this is for effect when opening doors and you cannot see what is around the corner, in tense situations or areas where you’re cornered, it’s quite hard to maneuver out of a tight spot due to the camera hugging you. The camera angle in most third person survival horror games is never an easy feat to achieve, so I hope that due to the push back in the game’s release we see an improvement in these areas.

The Evil Within in its current state isn’t necessarily a bad game, it’s got the staples of survival horror and it genuinely features some truly terrifying moments, but it is lacking a few crucial refinements that will hold it up there with the best. Fans of Shinji Mikami will eat this game up and love it, whilst others who aren’t as invested in the genre might find it just another game with mediocre gameplay and average scares.

If the two hours that I had the chance to play is any indication, The Evil Within has the potential to be a truly terrifying experience where playing with the lights off and the volume loud will send shivers down your spine.

Ruvik, not to be messed with
Ruvik, not to be messed with

OXCGN’s Dead Rising 3 Review


dr3head

An Apocalyptic Playground

Capcom Vancouver’s Dead Rising 3 is a visceral experience.

As an exclusive title for the Xbox One, it aims to not only demonstrate the power of the next generation console, it also aims to (more importantly) let players loose in a virtual playground where all the toys are capable of inflicting grievous bodily harm. Games featuring zombies are a dime a dozen in this day and age, and their saturation within the media means that anything zombie-related needs to stand out. With this in mind, as well as Dead Rising 3 being the third title in the series, can it survive the horde and survive on its own?

No stylish survivor would been seen in public without their trusty Sledgesaw.
No stylish survivor would been seen in public without their trusty Sledgesaw.

Stave off the Apocalypse here!

Fear Returns to Dead Space 3


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Fear Returns to Dead Space 3

OXCGN gets another look

by Arthur Kotsopoulos

©2013 Arthur Kotsopoulos

dead space 3 oxcgn screenshot. 5jpgLet’s go back to mid-last year, back to June when E3 was well under way and OXCGN writers were participating in an EA Booth tour. We had the chance to watch a very action oriented hands-off demo gameplay walkthrough of Dead Space 3.

It didn’t really interest me due to the fact that it was mostly run and gun with a lot happening on the screen, and to me it wasn’t the Dead Space I had come to love. It was all about Unitologist soldiers along with Necromorphs firing automatic weapons back at Isaac.

The need to take cover behind crates to hide from enemy fire only to emerge at the right moment to take a shot, well, the market is flooded with this type of stuff already. The last thing I wanted to see was the same gameplay I’ve seen countless times in various other franchises especially from a game that had been such a good survival horror game.

Dead-Space-3-oxcgn_screenshot 26_shipFast forward to today and Visceral are starting to showcase more of what I want, survival horror where I’m required to creep down a corridor with my plasma cutter always drawn in case a Necromorph bursts out of the ceiling vent above, in an attempt to tear me to shreds.

Where I must scavenge dead bodies or crates in hope of finding ammo or health packs. Where I have to manage my ammo and ensure I don’t consume too much because the next area is becoming increasingly difficult.

Dead Space 3 here

OXCGN’s ZombiU Review: The Console DayZ


OXCGN’s ZombiU

The Console DayZ

by Nicholas Laborde

©2012 Nicholas Laborde

First, take a gaming niche that is nearly completely worn out and overdone.

Second, use an incredible new console and its intuitive controller to redefine how players interact with this game.

Third, use the new console’s social aspects to its full capacity and intertwine it with the game wherever possible.

Fourth and finally, take inspiration from some of the most influential games of recent years.

When you follow all of these steps, the end result is ZombiU.

It’s the standout hardcore launch title of the Wii U, and at the end of the day, is one of the most brilliant, misunderstood games of recent years.

English head bashing this way!

Dead Space 3 Preview: Don’t like change? Then you most likely won’t enjoy Dead Space 3


E3 2012: Don’t like change? Then you most likely won’t enjoy Dead Space 3

True survival horror is dead

by  Arthur Kotsopoulos

©2012 Arthur Kotsopoulos

Spending time at the EA booth at E3, which took the better part of 5 hours. I managed to get my hands and eyes on almost every title they had to offer.

Dead Space 3, developed by Visceral Games, was being shown and was an extremely visceral (oops…a pun) and visually gruesome showcase.

From the moment Isaac awoke upside down in a crashed cockpit, to the sound of the howling blizzard he needed to traverse, everything sounded crisp and clear.

Too bad the vision for this game seems less clear, as what followed had me shaking my head in dismay.  True survival horror seems to have died, an action-focused alien bursting from its innards to replace it.

Dead Space, dead horror: read here

E3 2012: “Stealth” Games Are Evolving The Wrong Way


E3 2012: “Stealth” Games Are Evolving The Wrong Way

Stalking gone stale

by Nicholas Capozzoli

©2012 Nicholas Capozzoli

Taken at a glance, you’d have to think that E3 2012 would be a great showing for fans of the stealth genre.

A new Splinter CellHitmanAssassin’s Creed?  Metal Gear game? That would have to be enough for anyone, right?

Those games are all looking fabulous, undeniably.

I’m excited for the whole lot of them.  Yet as stealth games, each title featured a number of failings.

It’s enough to say that I’m officially concerned about the genre.  Are stealth games evolving in the wrong direction?

Sneak this way

E3 2012: Metro: Last Light Developer Interview


E3 2012: Metro: Last Light Developer Interview

“It’s a terrifying, hostile world”

by : Arthur Kotsopoulos

©2012 Arthur Kotsopoulos

THQ Australia were generous enough to offer OXCGN a chance to have an email interview with Huw Beynon, Studio Communications Lead over at 4A games developing Metro: Last Light, the sequel to Metro 2033.

Myself and Nicholas Laborde had a few questions that  THQ Australia delivered.  They give a great insight into the world of Metro: Last Light and the direction the sequel is being taken.

What looks certain is that the care and effort being put into this sequel is second to none.

Find the Last Light here!