Resident Evil's Red Headed Stepchild: A Look Back at Dino Crisis 2.

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Here we are, the second (and what might as well be last) chapter of the mildly-famed Dino Crisis series! Following the original by only a year, Dino Crisis 2 holds very little similarity to its predecessor--beyond the inclusion of dinosaurs that is--and made a quick u-turn on the survival horror-ness of the original Dino Crisis. Though unlike the original I had already invested many an hour into Dino Crisis 2 during its heyday and loved it dearly.

Survival Horror this is most certainly not, but since both Resident Evil and Silent Hill were still covering that front at the time--and because of my lack of investment in the original--I was plenty open to letting this game's hail of bullets and heaps of dinosaur corpses wash over me.

...Which wasn't quite as unpleasant or painful as it sounds.

It's Resident Evil, but w-... No, wait, this isn't like Resident Evil at all!

You just couldn't leave well alone, could you, Theodore...

OK, it certainly includes many similarities to such ilk, but they all basically begin and end at the foundation. Sure, camera angles are still in play (with pre-rendered backgrounds instead of 3D funnily enough), and your character still moves with the grace of a wounded sloth, but... you can't walk. Like, literally. This is a game where you have one level of speed and that is GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO! Not only that, but ammo is never an issue, and not in the ''I've replayed Resident Evil so many times that I always have enough ammo because of knowing where it's all located'' thing, but the ''starting off with a shotgun complete with a hundred rounds'' kind. Yup, one hundred shells, at the very opening of the game! It just hands you this payload and asks you to go to work on making these dino-fucks extinct all over again. And of course, to go with the speedier nature of the game you can move and shoot, or ''run n gun'' as it's more traditionally known!

There's even an arcade element to it as well, as you rack up combos and are then awarded points upon exiting the area into the next. Bonuses for countering enemy attacks and/or getting through an area without getting hit (that is if you kill at least 6 enemies) also accentuate the score-focussed nature of the game.

Suffice it to say, Dino Crisis 2 is certainly quite the departure from its forebearers. Rather than relying on cribbing from its more successful cousin (or... stepparent) it decided to spread its wings and head in a markedly different direction. And despite the higher action-focus of the game, it still stands out even amongst the latter day Resident Evil shooter games at that.

Guns are fun! Fun Guns! Funs!

Simply listing what the game is can only count for so much, however. Fortunately, Dino Crisis 2 is indeed a fun time to this very day. The shotgun in particular feels powerful to wield and the dinosaurs themselves animate well and react accordingly to getting blasted in the mouth with some shells. The game isn't especially gory or anything--no dinosaur limbs flying through the air--but your weapons still evoke a feeling of raw power nonetheless.

Running and gunning your way along gives the game an urgency and pacing that feels right at home in a Platinum game or something. While the tank controls do feel a little inhibiting for this style of game, the combat is still basic enough that they don't get in the way too much. You have the ever reliable auto-aim for starters, and there's also a dodge maneuver you can use to try and escape from a dinosaur about ready to headbutt you across the environment.

Weirdly enough the sidestep dodge you have is not only an option, but is turned off by default. In fact I had only just discovered that this maneuver exists with this very revisit! Throughout all of my time playing this game as a wee cherub I had no such idea; simply keeping on the move and knowing when to shoot were my only defences. Though it should be said that it's not especially useful, as it's a little clunky to perform and you can't cancel animations or anything like that to initiate your sidestep. It's perfectly playable without it, and while again it's not exactly a game changer, it's still there so... might as well make use of it. Rather to have it than not I suppose; that triangle button isn't being used for anything else!

OH HAI GUYS WHAT DID I MISS

This time around you'll actually be playing as two characters throughout the story. The spunky red-headed not-Jill Valentine Regina returns, alongside newcomer Dylan Moran Morton. Though there's not really very much difference between the two beyond what weapons they have access to. Dylan opens up with the shotgun and Regina is again initially stuck with a pistol. Though don't let its small frame fool you! While it may have taken up to like 13 bullets to down a velociraptor in the original, that average has noticeably been cut down to somewhere 2-3 bullets instead.

In all honesty I think it's a tad disappointing that they didn't attempt to differentiate the two characters a little more. Maybe Regina could have been used for more puzzle-y segments, whereas Dylans is pure action. As it is, they're both practically just character skins of one another.

If there is a problem with the gameplay it's that it's... well, to put a negative spin on my aforementioned summation of it being rather ''basic'', kind of shallow. Most of the core combat simply involves you running and gunning in the hopes that you can shoot the dinosaurs before they claw or maul you. They do have more of a variety of dinosaurs this time around, but beyond the Allosauruses that require you to maneuver around and shoot them in their sides, for everything else you need only keep running n gunning. Though speaking of dinosaur variety, I do really like that they included a type that will by the very definition of the word literally attempt to dropkick you. I'd like to think that's precisely how they would actually fight off other dinosaurs all those millions of years ago, and if science were to prove me wrong, well -- FUCK YOU DROPKICKING DINOSAURS MAN DON'T RUIN THIS FOR ME.

You'll acquire a number of weapons as the game progresses, but for the most part I found myself plenty comfortable in just sticking with the defaults. There are some later game weapons that act as decent replacements, but because the enemies are all so similar and exhibit such basic AI patterns, there's not exactly much room nor need for strategy or anything like that. Furthermore, while you also have a menu for equipping a secondary weapon such as a machete or stun rod, they don't really serve much purpose. And in the machete/stun rod's case they're more beneficial for simply opening certain doors (ones that are covered in vines for example) than actually using in combat.

Nonetheless, the sheer act of shooting dinosaurs, especially mid-jump, is ever satisfying to pull off. As simple and shallow as it all may be, the core act of shooting is fun enough to reliably carry much of the game across its run time.

A set-piece driven shooter before there were set-piece driven shooters.

A bloody goldmine right here.

I might be misremembering the times, but during the year of 2000 I don't recall many games that were consistently introducing new kinds of temporary mechanics and set-pieces ala modern day games, least not to the extent of Dino Crisis 2. As I was much younger at the time and playing a significantly smaller variety of games, however, I will admit I don't exactly hold much authority to speak of such an era...

Regardless, Capcom must have understood that for as fun as the shooting is, they hafta to mix it up here and there to keep it from getting too stale. While the majority of the 6-8 hour story does involve all of the running n gunning I previously described, there's a good amount of curveballs involving two turret sequences (one's alright, the other less so), an escapade that has you driving a tank while trying to keep a T-Rex at bay, a short escort mission, and a particular standout that has you switching control between Regina and Dylan amidst an onslaught of Allosauruses. Some of those of course sound trite by today's standards, but back then it's no wonder why I was so enamoured with this game.

Funnily enough, the most memorable segment throughout the whole game actually goes to an underwater segment. Oh yes, you read that right. As Regina during the middle portion of the game, you'll hafta travel underwater in this huge, bulking diving suit. Your footsteps feel heavy and plodding, and firing your needle-gun at the underwater dinos is quite satisfying; you also have access to a jump now as well, which leads into a little bit of light platforming -- none of it is particularly taxing or anything, though, and getting to jump about can be pretty fun. You'll also eventually have access to an underwater missile launcher thing, which feels pretty powerful to shoot, if also making all combat encounters underwater a breeze. Just a shame you don't keep them upon returning to the surface.

The atmosphere is what really sells it, though. The pacing is slowed down a great bit alongside your movement, and the waviness and murky blue of the visuals actually portrays a surprisingly unsettling visage. The boss battle you'll face during this segment I also legitimately found to be kinda terrifying! Being underwater in general is pretty up there of my list of fears (beyond a fear of terrible game design that is), and witnessing this huge amphibious dinosaur slowly leer towards you from outside of your vision really gives me the goosebumps. The battle itself isn't particularly difficult, but the whole experience is still an effective one all the same. Funny that Dino Crisis 2 is actually more successful at being scary when it wants to over its predecessor.

Strange why there's so few horror games set underwater, and I don't mean even ala BioShock by having you in an underwater city, but actually underwater, within the ocean itself. It's a setting that carries a lot of similarities as to what makes space such a potentially terrifying location. You're slow and sluggish in movement, whereas your predators are the complete opposite of such, and the water itself can make it difficult to see very far beyond your own hand. The thought alone of dynamically encountering a giant fuck-off shark or something similar gives me the shivers... Open water itself is just as terrifying too; the idea of seeing nothing but water stretching as far as the eye can see, while there's an entire world beneath you. An environment that's just waiting to be exploited.

No game is perfect.

Dino Crisis 2's pacing in general is admittedly all over the place, however. Most of those set-pieces I previously mentioned are all primarily contained within your stay in the Edward City location during the final third. The whole first third of the game is pretty much just running n gunning with the occasional key hunt. There's also one particular instance where you're about to enter the 3rd Energy Facility, however you locate a file explaining that the guy lost the key for the entrance back in the opening jungle... So, for no reason whatsoever, you must then head back to the jungle, collect the keycard, and then return to the facility entrance. There's no new enemy introduced, no story event... it exists purely as busywork to pad the game a little and nothing more.

The points system is also easy to exploit. Enemies won't respawn indefinitely in an area, however switching between camera angles in an area will keep them respawning for a short time. Grinding isn't really all that necessary mind you as you'll likely have bought everything before the game finishes, but at the same time it shouldn't be too hard for anyone to rack up more points than you actually have stuff to spend them on very early into the game.

There's one particular area just after the first turret sequence where it's exceptionally easy to score about, maybe, 80K points, which counts for a lot. At this point the game will now make available for purchase an M60 machine gun for Regina; in the very next area you'll then be fighting the amphibious dinosaurs I mentioned earlier, only now while you're on land. With the M60 in hand you'll then be able to swiftly kill each and every one of them with a single shot. Not only do they offer up a significant amount of points purely for the base kill, but because you can kill them about as fast as they raise their head out of the water, it's pitifully easy to keep a combo going alongside some hefty No Damage bonuses, too.

HNNNNNG

There's another weapon-related bit of weirdness later on as Dylan. At this point the game will introduce these hard-skinned enemies that you must first try and knock over onto their back to deal serious damage, however by this point you're able to purchase an Anti-Tank Rifle for Dylan, which can kill them in three shots regardless of whether they're knocked over onto their back or not. The weapon itself is fucking awesome by the by, but still... It perhaps wouldn't matter as much if points were more difficult to accumulate, thus making the weapon less easy to acquire, but as mentioned earlier that's really not the case.

Unlockables, or the lack thereof.

ALLO ALLO, WOS ALL DIS DEN...

Overall I think what would be my one primary criticism is the lack of unlockables, or at least unlockables that are worth a damn. Upon completing the game you'll unlock Extra Crisis mode, which essentially functions as a... wave survival thing, I suppose. It has a timer of 10 minutes, though really it shouldn't take you any more than maybe 5. All you do is select a character and, if it's a human character (if?!), just run around shooting stuff for a little bit. The actual battle arena is this generic VR-esque thing and the camera is pulled back a fair bit. You'll go through all of the dinosaur types before finally facing off against a T-Rex, but there's nothing fancy or enticing about any of it. One unique quirk is you can unlock many of the dinosaurs to play as, however they unfortunately pale in comparison to playing as the humans. My first purchase was the T-Rex, because it's a T-Rex, however it's actually considerably difficult to kill anything with it. It's just too damn big to be able to efficiently attack any of the smaller dinosaurs at the beginning of the mode. As such, I've had most success simply playing as human characters (which includes Rick and Gail from the original Dino Crisis) and it's all rather boring. As Gail, I was able to get the highest rank on my first go at that, so...

There's another mode called Dino Coliseum, where you and a friend or someone you drugged and kidnapped off the street and have locked in your basement can fight each other as the dinosaurs. Both modes function more as a casual novelty than anything of worth akin to the Mercenaries minigame in any case.

Unfortunately, for a game that seems like it would be rife with reasons to replay, there's not much there. No unlockable costumes or weapons or anything like that. It tracks how many times you've cleared the game, but beyond simply playing the game again for the sake of... playing the game, there's no incentive; no NG+ equivalent, either. Back in the days of yore I still completed Dino Crisis a-plenty, but there were games of a significantly lesser quality that I also completed too many times to admit so, that's not the best barometer to measure the game's replay value by. As such, looking at it from a modern perspective is a little disappointing to find the game lacks the traditional pantheon of unlockables you'd expect from a Capcom game of this era.

Also, I think it's a little unfortunate for how Regina is delegated down to a supporting character. She's a co-protagonist in so much as you'll play as her, but the (still pretty bad and nonsensical) story is squarely focussed on Dylan. Only he gets any sort of backstory and much of the actual narrative is focussed exclusively on him; Regina for the most part is just sorta there. I mean the game explicitly opens and closes with you playing as Dylan, and I think that's a little unfair.

Oh! Conclusion!

I know I spent a good chunk there focussing on criticism, but I still quite like Dino Crisis 2. Certain aspects haven't aged as well as I would like, but it's hard to argue with gunning velicoraptors in the face with a shotgun while running at what feels like 30mph.

Alas, as I have no access to Dino Crisis 3 I'll hafta thusly cut my retrospective on this series short. I'd be more than willing to put the hours into that thing if possible! If it was backwards compatible with the 360 in particular, but no such luck.

Dino Crisis is such a weird series. First game's this survival horror Resident Evil knockoff, sequel's an arcade-inspired run n gunner, there's some light-gun game that I never even knew existed until I looked over our Dino Crisis franchise page, and then there's Dino Crisis 3... Dinosaurs are essentially the only constant tying this series together anywhoo, and it's precisely why a reboot would undoubtedly go through a little smoother than Resident Evil for example given that it's not really beholden to any particular style of gameplay. Considering that there's so few people who even remember that this series exists, there's unlikely to be much backlash at the idea, either.

Maybe one day... Though with current Capcom I feel like there are a lot of 'maybes' and 'one days' with regards to their forgotten franchises.

MUTRO OUSIC

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Some Scattered Thoughts on Umbrella Chronicles.

A while back I made a list detailing the shrinking number of Resident Evil games I haven't yet played. And while it wasn't specifically created as a bucket list of sorts, it did remind me of my blind spot in the franchise regarding the Chronicles games. Coincidentally spotting it on sale for about £5.50 recently then finally pushed me over the edge in trying out. Unfortunately, the reasons as to why I was so hesitant in the first place have come to fruition.

A Relic of the Past, But Not The Kind I Enjoy...

I dunno, caption ect. I initially didn't even plan to put in images but then decided to anyway once this became a lot longer than I thought it would. Also super long caption I know but eh wachu gonna do, this is all off the cuff, son. And on that note, flippity floppity floop.

I can't say I've ever particularly enjoyed light-gun games. I played House of the Dead 2 some at the arcades, and I did also surprisingly enjoy my time with Dead Space: Extraction, yet it's never a genre that'll have me rushing to buy any that comes available. I wanna say the only reason I played through Extraction in the first place was because it came free with all Day-1 copies of Dead Space 2 on PS3... And while again it turned out to be a pleasantly enjoyable experience, part of that was undoubtedly for its pre-Dead Space 1 story and its cast of characters, specifically Gabe.

All the same, light-gun games in general definitely feel like the sort of genre that's of a by-gone era, and these days I envision the tightly-scripted roller coaster rides of a Call of Duty campaign are perhaps the natural evolution of these styles of games. When playing one of these time capsules from a modern mindset, they can often feel a little too... inhibiting. The way the camera keeps jerking around completely out of your control is often simply annoying, and the gameplay is traditionally rather shallow and one-note. There will need to be a helluva lot going on screen to help make up for the lack of actual control, be it sheer spectacle or a decent dose of personality, and Umbrella Chronicles doesn't come very close to delivering either.

Though not only are light-gun games not exactly my thing, there's also the fact that I have no Wii, nor a PlayStation move controller for that matter... Which has also admittedly steered me clear from many (of what few there are these days) in the genre. I have also been playing Umbrella Chronicles completely single-player at that, and with all this in mind... I can't say I'm enjoying myself so much with this game.

Though while I admit I'm far from playing this game under the ideal conditions, I'm hesitant to believe that even with a Move controller in hand I don't think that would help the actual shooting feel more satisfying. It would certainly assist my aim, but the actual shooting itself would still feel as lifeless and dull as it does regardless I'd wager. I think that would have to sum up my experience overall in playing Umbrella Chronicles -- that is one of boredom. Shooting zombies simply doesn't feel as fun as it should be, and beyond critical hit head-explosions there's a surprisingly distinct lack of feedback. The gun sound effects are all rather weak at that, and given that the entire gameplay revolves around you shooting stuff, you can imagine then why it's not left me overly enthusiastic about it all.

Having to use a DS3 most definitely isn't helping things, though, as the aim somehow manages to feel both sluggish and yet weirdly squirrelly. I won't deny that part of my lack of enjoyment with this game rests on me for not playing it correctly, but... like Hell am I getting a Move controller.

Resident Evil: CliffsNotes Edition.

Barry, where's Barry?... No seriously where in the Fuck is Barry??

The stories contained within are another thing, too. Given the structure of it all I guess it makes sense to essentially boil them down to these abridged versions, but they omitted Barry Burton from the original Resident Evil retelling for starters!... In fact there's a great many liberties they make with all the main three they have in here, being Zero, the remake of the original, and Nemesis. That said, certain unique scenarios created for this do sound rather interesting, such as one following the exploits of Rebecca Chambers shortly upon arriving at the Mansion after the events of Zero and meeting up with Richard Aiken. It's too bad Zero wasn't released in an era of DLC, as I would have loved to play through such a scenario with the old-school survival horror gameplay of the series.

There's all these scenarios following Wesker's actions throughout the series too, and not to mention one that depicts the forming of the BSAA and the ultimate downfall of Umbrella. All of which inspire a feeling of disappointment for how they're restricted to this format... The whole end of Umbrella thing in particular seems important enough that you'd think it would have been handled in a different game altogether.

There's an awful lot of Files you can collect, though like the stories themselves most only seem to be repeating information that's already out in the ether, only in much more detail. I guess for the sake of anyone who doesn't want to play the older games but is still interested in the lore surrounding them it may hold some appeal, but for myself at least many of the carrots had already been caught long before I loaded the game up.

Also, the voice acting and writing is all pretty bad. Which, Resident Evil I know, but I'd say it's all potentially even worse than their original work. Or in most cases is at least more... bland. The writing has never been stellar in Resident Evil games of course, but there's often a B-Movie level of charm to it all, which Umbrella Chronicles lacks in favour of something much more altogether dull and forgettable. Rebecca's new voice actress also makes the character sound a helluva lot more Anime than she did in the regular RE0, too. Many of those weird ''Uh!'' noises and all that... You're typically bombarded with a lot more dialogue overall courtesy of the game's structure featuring two character side by side at all times, so it makes it a little harder to ignore than it would have been in their original incantations.

So much missed potential.

Though there is this weird quirk regarding Billy Coen which I thought was kind of funny. See, when I first started up the RE0 to my surprise it was Roger Craig Smith inhabiting the character! Who has been Chris Redfield's voice actor since RE5. However when you get into gameplay... the character is very clearly being voiced by someone else. Then we reach another cutscene and RCS makes his welcome return! So, at that point I figured that RCS voices Billy in the cutscenes and this other guy voices him in gameplay... Still weird, but least there's some consistency to it I guess. That is until this scene where Billy explains about his time as a marine, where he quite literally switches between the two voice actors on the fly. It's just so bloody bizarre that that alone has sort of at least partly justified my purchase...

But not completely, as I'm still not really enjoying myself with it very much. As mentioned earlier, it's all just rather boring and feels a little muted at times as well. Lot of slow panning and shit in its attempts to create a little bit of the ole tension I suppose, but none of it is effective and only threatens to obliterate the pacing. I can't say it looks very good either, and the few occasions you see the game in third-person show off some pretty awkward animation work at that. Chris' back kick after knocking off an enemy in particular just looks terrible. Oh, and the framerate will begin to chug in some instances as well... It's not common, but the fact that it'll occur is still embarrassing to witness.

Is funny to see how it's essentially an asset-smoothie made up of so many games from the series, which even includes the Outbreak games as the zombies in the Raccoon City portions hail from over yonder. Difficulty also seems a little unbalanced, with Yawn thus far being the most difficult boss fight, while the T-002 Tyrant that succeeds it in the next chapter was a complete pile of piss.

Oh! Conclusion!

I'll likely wanna see all of its content through for the sake of... seeing it all. That way I can then comfortably add it to my list I also recently done ranking the series from Best to Worst. For the sake of 'scholarly' purposes I guess I'm getting enough out of it, but... eh, suffice it to say it's not going to be ranking very high. I am at least curious to check out its rendition of RE2's 4th Survivor story, due to the praise from one @arbitrarywater. Given how there was so little to that to begin with, giving it a wee bit of added substance may actually benefit it. Though I doubt it'll be able to top the superbly haunting Outbreak intro, however.

Still, this has all left me wondering what it was about Extraction that I found to be surprisingly engaging in comparison to this. I'm both curious but also slightly worried at the prospect of giving Extraction another ride to find out in any case. However by the time I shelf this selection of Chronicles I likely won't even care one way or the other anyway. I'd likely sooner play its seemingly universally agreed upon inferior sequel...

Also, since I'm all about linking to my lists in here it seems, to Hell with it have another!

Outro Music Yeah Big Whoop Wanna Fightaboutiwqbwqddqcndxwuwnpd

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Resident Evil's Red Headed Stepchild: A Look Back at Dino Crisis.

Or... at least the first two anyway.

I'm someone that generally enjoys going to back to old games a fair bit, especially of the survival horror variety. It's often as to simply jog the noggin', maybe for the sake of working on its wiki page, or... just to better to keep my accumulated knowledge of the videya intact. Dino Crisis is a game I actually got to pretty late, I think maybe in 2009 or something, but it's one such game that I was a little disappointed by.

And for no particular reason whatsoever, I decided to head back to it again and then sloppily slap my thoughts together. That's right, even when I'm not writing about Resident Evil I'm still basically writing about Resident Evil!

It's Resident Evil, but with dinosaurs!

'ey... 'ey! No tongue on the first date, you got that, Theodore?

...is a suitable summation as any of Dino Crisis, the survival... sci-fi game once again lead by Shinji Mikami himself. Throughout much of that era of Capcom, spanning the PS1 and early-mid PS2 days, most of their games were almost something of a skin draped over what was (and to be fair still is) their biggest selling franchise. They had a foundation in place--camera angles, exploration, key hunting, puzzles, (sometimes) tank controls--and made liberal use of it to then lead the way for many other series, such as Resident Evil with dinosaurs, samurai, scissors and demon hunters.

For as apt as it may be, there are still a number of differences that help set it apart, for both better and worse. Though sticking with the similarities for now, this is indeed a survival horror game, one starring a spunky red-headed special ops lady, who controls like a tank, is crippled in the ways of moving and shooting, and is forced to undergo a significant degree of backtracking while the camera determines what you player should be focussing on.

So far so familiar!

However where it begins to diverge is, perhaps predictably so, the ''with dinosaurs'' part.

Boat Controls

Not gif'd -- the dinosaur then proceeding to shrug off your bullets like a tank and start mauling your arm off

I had touched upon this in an earlier blog of mine where I lead the defence force for survival horror controls. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of framing dinosaurs as the terrifying bipedal meat grinders that they are -- feathers be damned. However the controls of Dino Crisis can sometimes put you at an unfair advantage, or rather even more so than, say, classic Resident Evil games. See, in the survival horror era of Resident Evil games you were actually surprisingly nimble. Tank controls aside, the animations were always fast and snappy, and once you began running you were off. That's not quite how it is in Dino Crisis, however.

For starters, there's actually a slight build-up for when you begin to run, and actually turning mid-run feels a lot more sluggish than it does in its contemporaries. Controlling REgina (OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONNNNNE) feels more akin to steering a boat than it does a tank. Then there's of course the dinosaurs to account for as well.

Now you may not be surprised to learn this, but dinosaurs are a helluva lot faster than zombies! Not only that but they're also bigger, and so trying to maneuver around them within the game's many tight corridors is often far more tricky than wall-hugging your way past a zombie. Resident Evil does have enemies such as zombie dogs of course, but even they are often just ever so slightly slower than you, so as long as you kept on the move you could keep them from chewing out your ass.

Dinosaurs are also understandably rather sturdy, and the velociraptors you'll be facing throughout a large majority can take up to like 13 regular handgun bullets. Plus for as strong as they are, your starting pistol also has shit all for stopping power, and it's got a rather slow firing rate to boot.

As such, the opening few hours of Dino Crisis can be fucking brutal, and your pistol is so useless that you'd likely have better luck in using harsh language to ward away the dinosaurs. Your main tactic is to basically just run away from all encounters, but as mentioned earlier that can be much more difficult than in Resident Evil games. Because of the limited ammo throughout, you may have to rely on tranquiliser darts instead, which make for a great risk/reward mechanic in that while they'll instantly put a dinosaur temporarily to sleep (for varying amounts of time depending on the strength of the tranq) they are of course still alive and will eventually wake up. Oh, by the way they can also follow you into other rooms too, and certain attacks can force Regina to drop her weapon requiring you to then recollect it for use. Also, bleeding -- god fucking dammit this game is hardcore! At least, in the beginning stages.

Weirdly enough Dino Crisis actually gets much more manageable as it progresses. There's only actually three weapons in here--handgun, shotgun, and ''grenade gun''--which'll you'll instead locate upgrades to make them more effective. A certain upgrade for your handgun will allow you to use a more powerful brand of ammunition, while one for your shotgun will allow you to fire without the need pump another shell per shot. Ammo is never in enough supply that you'll ever feel truly comfortable (which is a good thing I should add!), but you'll likely find you have enough to keep most at bay as the game goes on.

It's a really strange balance that, for as manageable as the game progressively gets, it also makes the game feel a little less... interesting in spite of it.

Throughout Dino Crisis, there are number of laser fields you'll soon have the capability to turn on and off at will. What this will often mean is that you'll be able to use them to your advantage to halt the advance of the dinosaurs, or at the very least allow you to get in some easy potshots -- 'bout the only time the pistol actually feels useful. Like the tranquiliser darts, they make for a great alternative to just shooting dinosaurs in the face. During the early game in particular it makes for an intriguing gameplay device that fits in with the core component of survival horror -- the act of improvisation and using other means beyonds guns to your advantage. It can be quite a rush as you ready yourself to turn the lasers off and then attempt to sprint past any nearby dinosaurs, preferably timing it at the second when they connect with the lasers knocking them over.

However that's kinda all there is. There's one, single instance where you can press a button to spray... something from above that'll potentially stun the dinosaurs a little bit, but that's it, beyond the laser fields. Had there been more environmental interactions you could use to your advantage then this would have made for an interesting take on survival horror games, and would have at the very least helped carve a niche within a niche as a means to further separate it from its granddaddy and help it establish its own identity.

Though as mentioned before, ammo becomes a little more plentiful so you'll likely resort to plain ole shooting dinosaurs in the face as it progresses. Fortunately ammo is again typically scarce throughout (or you at least never have enough to kill every dinosaur in sight), and even with the ammo on hand the dinosaurs are so aggressive that combating them can still prove tricky.

It's Resident Evil, but without a lot of what makes Resident Evil great.

For all you vore fans out there...

Despite my misgivings with the combat of the game, however, that's not actually my primary complaint. Instead it's how the game lacks much of the personality found in Resident Evil. All of the environments in the game are made up of boring, sterile facility buildings, and the story progression simply involves you moving from one building to another. Resident Evil games on the other hand of course often feature a variety of locales, and even though they do tend to rely on gothic mansions a little too frequently, they're still a sight more interesting to explore than the drab, empty hallways of Dino Crisis.

That Dino Crisis utilises 3D backgrounds as opposed to pre-rendered doesn't help, either. Because this is of course a PS1 game, 3D backgrounds means the backgrounds are rather, well, plain. Pre-rendered on the other hand forever offered all kinds of details littered throughout every room, but without taxing the hardware nearly as much as it would if 3D backgrounds was to attempt such a feat.

One other notable nuisance is how you won't archive any of the files and memos you'll read throughout the game. I for the life of me cannot understand why they would intentionally design it this way, but... there you have it. I mean even the very original Resident Evil nicely archived all files you encountered.

On one hand, this forced me to then actually jot down notes and passcodes and the like in the manual, which elicited a surprisingly warm feeling of nostalgia of years gone by. On the other, there are certain door puzzles that have specific methods for unlocking, some of which are a little tricky to jot down in a manual. I could have gone out of my way to practically write it all down, but that would have started to turn the nostalgic note-taking into a feeling of needless busywork. It as such resulted in me encountering locked doors that I simply couldn't wholly remember how I was supposed to unlock, and I certainly couldn't remember where the specific file was to refresh my memory. So, I would occasionally use an FAQ in that regard to get me through it. Still felt a little dirty doing it... but that feels like it's the fault of the game more than anything. Again, it need be reiterated that even the very original, 1996 Resident Evil allowed you to archive files.

On the topic of the game's personality, or lack thereof, the puzzles too don't accompany the same surrealness as Resident Evil, either. I suppose because this is more sci-fi than horror it would make sense that you're having to operate machinery and find passcodes rather than inserting gems into everything, but the passcodes in particular often take precedence over anything else. And while I'm usually not too bothered by backtracking, because of the pervasive blandness of the environments it's not particularly engaging to have to run through these hallways over and over again. One particular section nearing the end of the game where you're trying to turn on this giant third-energy machine or whatever poorly telegraphs what you should be doing at that, and the size of the thing demands that you constantly keep running from one place to the next all in the service of just... turning on a machine.

K.O.!

The dinosaur variety is a little slim, too. You'll primarily encounter velociraptors throughout most of it, to where they're replaced by a stronger, though slightly slower, variety of dinosaur. There's some pterodactyls flying around in a couple of areas, but they don't really do very much. Dino Crisis obviously features a T-Rex at least, with a noticeably awesome roar behind it. Though that also brings to mind how the game doesn't have many boss battles, either. I think there's only actually two, both of which involve you simply holding off against the T-Rex for a short while.

The story's certainly of a similar caliber at least, with a lot of silly dialogue (This isn't a joke, you idiot; we were just attacked by a big-ass lizard!) and Regina has a little more pizzazz than Jill Valentine could ever hope for. Her voice actress also strangely sounds an awful lot Jennifer Hale for whatever that's worth. The way you will also sometimes have to choose between two ways to proceed--one typically involving the combat, the other a puzzle--is a neat little story device, if hilariously hamfisted with the way your squad leader Gail will quite literally ask you to ''make your choice''. It also has a rather fantastic Save Room theme at that, and it's impressive for how it essentially sounds like a sci-fi rendition of a Resident Evil save room theme.

Oh! Conclusion!

Clearly I've been laying the negativity on pretty thick here, but many of the ideas presented in this I still really like the sound of. It all on paper essentially comes across as a more hardcore version of Resident Evil, with even more of an emphasis on generally staying out of combat. It's not... a bad game by any means, least not by my standards, and I think the best way to sum it all up overall is that it's just kinda boring. Certainly not Mikami's finest way in any case. At the same time, while I drastically prefer its sequel, it's a shame that the series couldn't have refined itself a little more and have another stab at it, rather than simply dropping it all and opting for something completely different. I think it would have been interesting to witness a mix of the two--Dino Crisis & Resident Evil--even, with zombie dinosaurs and shit. It's a series I'd love to see Capcom at least attempt to revive in some way, because hey, a big fuck-off T-Rex still sounds like something that could be legitimately terrifying in the right circumstances.

While I do plan to blog about Dino Crisis 2 in the near future, as always said future is always a little hazy with me, on the account of me being a lazy twat. I've still got these damned Resident Evil retrospective blogs to do at that, and I really wouldn't mind writing up something about Alien: Isolation. And then there was that Hitman blog too, and oh remember when I said I'd shortly do a write up about the GBA CastleVania games like a decade ago????? Oh btw about that, Aria of Sorrow's pretty cool, the other two less so.

Outro Music Sure Why Not

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Resident Evil Within.

Note: I initially posted this as an actual user-review thing, but I noticed this game hasn't been getting much positivity around here so, I'd wanna thusly post it as a blog so it can actually get a little more exposure and what have you!

The Evil Within is a wonderful thing. While it unfortunately isn't quite a return to the survival horror of old, it at least makes for a brilliant blending of the then and now. It involves a lot of the hallmarks of the latter day Resident Evil games, while also incorporating the harsh nature and limited supplies of their forebearers.

Being lead by famed Japanese developer Shinji Mikami and his newly founded studio of Tango Gameworks, The Evil Within paves a path with its influences firmly placed on its bloodied sleeve. Anyone who's played Mikami's prior work Resident Evil 4 is bound to spot the innumerable similarities on display -- some that will require a keen eye to spot, some that feel like they were violently extracted right out of Resident Evil 4 and pasted into this. Despite the similarities, The Evil Within's more psychological horror-themed story helps give it an edge over the almost comparatively mundane tale of bio-organic weapons.

While the core gameplay will certainly seem familiar, it doesn't copy the RE4 formula wholesale. While it does have you controlling a character--Sebastian Castellanos--in third-person with an over-the-shoulder view shooting at not-Ganado, The Evil Within plays it up more like a standard shooter. You won't be pulling off crazy button-prompt melee attacks and your only venue for getting your fists dirty is with a quick minimal-damage smack, which on its own I find makes a significant difference between the two. What also sets it apart is the inclusion of matches. While you're primarily going to be aiming for the head, attempting to trip an enemy over can be beneficial as well; once one of 'em has found themselves falling over your bullets, you can then use a match to douse them in flame killing it -- and potentially catching any nearby enemies within close vicinity at that. You can also use them to burn any would be ''I'm totally dead right now and not going to get up once you've triggered a certain event'' enemies, too. Though of course like you would expect, you can only carry a finite amount of matches.

Sebastian has This.

The monsters you'll be facing are pretty much the Ganado in all but name only, however. They follow the same rudimentary AI patterns of functioning like zombies, in a sense, but while being much more aggressive and being able to utilise a number of melee weapons, and later down the line even firearms... unfortunately. That said they still to this day make for an engaging opponent. The way they'll routinely try to swarm and overwhelm you injects much of the tension into the gameplay flow, and they harbor a keen balance of being dumb enough to be taken advantage of, but aggressive enough to still feel intimidating all the same. The enemy variety overall is a little lacking, however. Fortunately the Gana--sorry, Haunted are versatile enough in what weapons and tactics they'll implement that they're able to carry most of the game rather soundly.

As such, The Evil Within's combat is different while still feeling familiar all the same. Though what's most important to mention is it's still an awful lot of fun. Headshots are forever satisfying to pull off, thanks to the beautifully gooey sound effects and the superb degree of gore-filled feedback. Heads go pop, blood spews everywhere, and the weapon sound effects gives each shot a real sense of oomph. The typically limited cache of ammunition also helps to make every bullet feel special, and every missed shot a tragedy. Coming upon a handful of bullets you've found off of a corpse or inside a crate can be surprisingly relieving. Though while you're certainly far from swimming in ammunition, you're not likely to ever encounter yourself being completely dry. The game is balanced well enough to make it so you'll often always have just the right amount of supplies you need to get through each encounter, so long as you know how best to use it all. It does a brilliant job of making you feel vulnerable, yet still empowered enough to know you can do this.

That there is a surprisingly diverse upgrades tree certainly aids in the empowerment side of things. Throughout the game you'll start hearing a piece of classical music that I'm too uncultured to recall the name of. That'll signify that you're near the game's save room, where you'll transport via a mirror into a mental asylum, where you're greeted by a noticeably apathetic nurse. From there you can of course save your progress, but further back is a rusty, metal chair that you can sit down and have your brain tickered with. Doing as such allows you access to the game's surprising number of upgrades. They're all pretty standard fare -- weapon statistical upgrades, health upgrades, and so on. But there's enough there and you'll always only have so much 'green gel'--the game's currency--that you'll have to really think about how you want to spend it each time. There are also a number lockers that house some supplies for you to collect, only you first need to locate keys throughout the game to unlock them.

The amount of weapons you have at your disposal is a little on the slim side. You'll have available the requisite revolver, shotgun, rifle and magnum -- though despite the mundane selection, they all feel satisfying to use in their own right. Oh, and there's also this little thing called the Agony Crossbow, a weapon that'll certainly live up to its name throughout your monster killing. It initially functions as a regular crossbow, however you'll soon come upon multiple different varieties of ammunition for it. These include what essentially amounts to proximity mines, freeze grenades, and even flash bangs. It's a wonderfully versatile weapon and, like the rest of your repertoire, feels ever so powerful to wield.

This looks awfully familiar...

While there wasn't quite as much as I was hoping, there's also some occasional bits of environmental interaction to help turn the tide in your favour as well. Most prominently are a number of traps that are both dangerous for both you and the monsters that are after you. As such, you could potentially lead them into the a wire trap or perhaps shoot one from afar to achieve maximum damage. Beyond the traps, there's some red barrels here and there, and even some bales of hay you can set alight and then comically kick towards your foes. Here's a video of mine to show off the generally scrappy nature of the combat anywhoo.

Don't take that to be indicative of every combat encounter, but it's how things may end up from time to time! Despite this being a game where you're often going to have to kill everything to proceed, there's still a glimmer of that old school survival horror magic that makes for an important proponent of The Evil Within's combat.

Besides relying on your guns, you can also utilise some stealth -- however it's all rather rudimentary. It quite honestly comes across as a half-hearted reaction to The Last of Us and doesn't really add very much to the game itself. For one thing you can crouch walk, but you're pretty damn slow. Slow enough that it sometimes feels useless for how long it can take to sneak up to an enemy; slowly sleuthing my way around for the kill only to have the (sometimes literally) bloody thing turn around at the last second was an annoyingly common occurrence. You can also theoretically throw bottles as a distraction, but the trajectory marker is difficult to aim with--the AI often don't even react to it anyway--and should an enemy spot you, it can be incredibly difficult to actually lose their line of sight at that. Likewise you can choose to hide under beds or in cupboards, however the game rarely gives you a reason to. It's not that I at least haven't been able to get any stealth kills, but it's cumbersome to attempt and is generally shallow enough that it all feels borderline unfinished.

As such, that the game actually opens up with a forced stealth encounter doesn't it any favours. However after that's outta the way the game settles quite nicely into what the rest of the game will entail. The Evil Within is strictly linear, however it does a good job in dallying between more open environments to explore for supplies, to more claustrophobic corridors that'll have you traverse every corner with your gun up. The pacing in general throughout the entire game is genuinely superb. Like Resident Evil 4, it feels like it is constantly introducing new environments and set-pieces -- both big and small. Situations involving you teaming up with fellow detective Joseph Oda typically features the game at its most action-orientated. The game has a brilliant ebb and flow to it, and it expertly understands when to keep things slow and atmospheric, and when to throw in some wave combat at you. Despite it being a rather lengthy adventure that took me about 14 and a half hours, I completed it all in two sittings it kept me so surprisingly stuck in. If there is one criticism it's that there's very few puzzles; not only are they few and far between, but they're also exceptionally simple. One of which has another character quite literally just tell you the solution, and another I solved completely by accident while I was prodding at the systems.

The pacing of the game throughout is a definite high point

The psychological horror story set up gives Mikami free reign to continually pull the rug from beneath you and throw you into a completely different environment, or maybe block off the door you just came in through, and so on. Even the save room might not always be entirely safe. Oh right, the story. It's... considering the many other similarities to Resident Evil, you likely won't be surprised to learn the story it also a bunch of nonsensical junk. There's many references to things that aren't really explained, certain character fates feels unsatisfying, and so on. It tries to tell a tale that has some rather disturbing themes, but a lot of it simply falls flat. The dialogue is pretty stupid at that -- it's not quite Master of Unlocking stupid, but it gets pretty close. The voice acting too doesn't fair much better unfortunately, despite wrangling in all of this hollywood talent including Anson Mount and Jennifer Carpenter -- Anson Mount as Sebastian in particular is quite possibly the worst. It's one thing that he's bad, but that he just sounds bored throughout really deflates a lot of the potential for some Resident Evil-esque cheesy charm. Funnily enough it's veteran voice actor Yuri Lowenthal as your aforementioned detective partner Joseph Oda that gives the best performance of the game. It's not unbearable by any means, and if anything it almost feels sort of nostalgic to encounter this level of storytelling in a game.

One thing that's important to note is that The Evil Within isn't especially scary. In fact for most I would bet it won't be scary in the slightest. It may carry a sometimes suffocating atmosphere about it, but despite playing it in the dark with headphones on... nothing. I tried, I really did, but alas. The game is still at the very least grotesque. Many of the enemy designs all look appropriately disturbing, and again the amount of blood that's constantly spraying everywhere is wonderfully akin to the B movies of the 80s. Some of the boss designs can certainly be intimidating at that, like the multi-armed 'Laura' and the lumbering, mysterious Keeper creature. The visuals throughout encompass a sometimes nauseating amount of grindhouse gore--there are a number of... let's say extravagant death animations for Sebastian--and with the way the game keeps mixing up the environments it always left me excited to see what other literal and figurative monstrosities was in store.

The Evil Within is not one to skimp on the damage modelling

The presentation of it all may be divisive, however. The game is boxed in some pretty extreme black bars throughout, which I personally got accustomed to surprisingly quickly. Nonetheless, that there's not even any option to turn them off is a point to consider. The way the camera zooms in to your hand when you aim your weapon also took a little getting used to, but like the letterboxing it was something I was surprised to find I adapted to rather quickly. The game otherwise looks rather attractive, or as attractive as constant heaps of blood, blades and gibs can be. Some of the texture work is a little muddy, but overall the art direction of it all steals the show, again thanks in part to the variety of environments throughout the game. From the opening village shrouded in fog at the beginning to the post-apocalyptic city streets later on, it all looks fantastic. The sound effects are also sublime at that. Everything has a very sloshy, gooey nature to it, and the sound effect for scooping up puddles of green gel off the floor I can't help but find weirdly satisfying. Speaking for the PS4 version the framerate can prove to be troublesome during the early stages, however it isn't long before it settles down and keeps itself at a rock solid 30 from then on.

I have to admit, I was always rooting for The Evil Within to function as a gateway to the old school survival horror of the 90s. It's... not that, and anyone who's coming to The Evil Within for a harrowing experience, one made of shielding your eyes and being too frightened to move, it's not that either. What it is is a nostalgic runthrough of most of Mikami's work laid down in Resident Evil 4, and it didn't take too long for me to become enraptured with it all once more. So for anyone who's in the mood for a delightfully bloody shooter made up of all the Mikami-isms of old, The Evil Within is a must play.

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All Of The Vania, None Of The Metroid.

I bought a 3DS!

Well, I bought a 3DS like maybe two months ago at this point, but nonetheless I still continue to own and play games on my relatively new-spangled videya games console. However weirdly enough the type of cartridges that have found themselves snuggly fitted into its port (uh...) are of DS games rather than the 3D variety.

''...Bitches''

I do in fact own a couple of 3DS titles--Kirby's Triple Deluxe and Tales of the Abyss--to which I have invested a fair chunk into both. Although my recent craze has admittedly taken over and left those two at the sidelines. My recent craze being of course the Castlevania series! And more specifically the MetroidVania variety at that.

I was pretty hesitant as to which one to get first, and upon reading some opinions it seemed pretty evenly split between which one of the three--Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, and Order of Ecclesia--was the most popular. The one I ended up getting first was Portrait of Ruin anywhoo -- I think probably because it was the cheapest on offer.

So,

Portrait of Ruin

Oh, the humanime!

I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

I don't have much experience with this sub-genre, so Portrait of Ruin still managed to feel relatively fresh of an experience as of late. I had indeed played Symphony of the Night via XBLA years back, but I can remember getting lost shortly upon unlocking the mist power and got bored exploring the castle... Shadow Complex (which was also my first MetroidVania game) was thusly my primary frame of reference. Though it's admittedly been a fair few years since I played Shadow Complex at that... I should probably in fact give that another go, given my recent obsession and all.

Anywhoo, Portrait of Ruin. It encompasses all of the hallmarks we associate with the Symphony of the Night design of Castlevania, with a massive 2D castle to explore (albeit semi-linearly), light RPG mechanics, screen-filling bosses, and so on. In the grand scheme of things this is essentially another Symphony of the Night, though that's certainly not a bad thing!

The presentation for starters is just as stellar as you'd expect; even when viewed from a modern perspective the game still has a fetching look to it, with plenty of visual variety throughout the castle. The soundtrack is also really good at that -- another staple of this franchise. The combat, while simplistic, still manages to feel satisfying in slashing/cleaving/whipping (especially whipping) your way up, down and around to Dracula's domain. While there isn't necessarily a loot grind exactly, there's enough gear and hidden goodies to locate that exploration always feels beneficial and inspires you to make sure you've searched every corner of the castle.

Always Be Whipping... Always.

I suppose the primary differentiator that PoR utilises to help set it apart from its forebearers is the introduction of starring two dual protagonists, Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin. Jonathan is basically your traditional Castlevania protagonist, being able to utilise an all manner of swords and whips ect, and is likely to be the one you'll be directly controlling the most. Whereas Morris relies on melee and many of the series' staple sub-weapons (and then some), Charlotte is a spellcaster. Though that doesn't mean she can't also handle herself in a scrap, courtesy of a number of books she can equip that'll then sprout swords and shit for her melee attacks. The books that extend three different weapons at different angles in particular are actually really effective. That said, her overall melee damage can't quite compete against most of Jonathon's assortment of toys, nor can she take a hit quite as well, either.

Her variety of magic spells still offer up a lot of customisation all the same, and the handy ability to instantly call her at your side to perform a set-spell before then disappearing again is ever so useful. You can also opt to have her follow alongside you thattaway, to which she will join in attacking whatever enemies are nearby, and any damage she (or Morris if you're controlling Charlotte) sustains will instead eat away at your stamina/mana bar instead.

That said, I still more often than not rolled with Jonathan on his lonesome, occasionally switching to Charlotte when I want to cast a spell to its full potential -- summoning her to your side only has her cast the spell at half its power. Having her along to dish out a little extra damage can certainly prove useful, but because the AI is so rudimentary then it sometimes amounts to a waste of stamina having her going about attacking things of her own volition.

There's some occasional puzzles that requires you to switch between characters, or maybe tell one character to stay put while another does something else. But by and large it ultimately feels just a little tacked on. Though I believe you can in fact play the game cooperatively??

Jonathan Morris, ESRB Agent

If there is one major problem I have with the game it's that its default normal mode is a little bit on the easy side, especially once I acquired a Long Spear, and even more so once I unlocked the Royal Sword. However its Hard mode feels just a little bit too punishing... It probably starts to ease up a little as you acquire more gear, but the beginning of that game on Hard mode is fucking nasty. Practically everything can kill you in like 2-3 hits, whereas it takes much more to kill one of them. Even the most rudimentary of enemies like the zombies, bats and skeletons prove to be a serious threat. Overall the balance of frustration and fun is a little off for me in that mode, in that it's basically all frustration with none of the fun =/

Nonetheless overall I've really enjoyed it, and it's made for a great jumping off point into me binging through all of these damn things. In fact I've even gone back to it and decided to play through it again from scratch -- because why not?? Also, the way the 3DS makes the sound of a door opening/closing when you open/close your 3DS is pretty cool.

Unlockable Stuff!

One thing I really appreciate about these games is the tradition of including an uber-powered unlockable character to then get up to all sorts of sequence-breaking with. By which I'm of course referring to Richter mode! Or... ''Richiter'' mode as the game refers to it.

Playing as Richter is a joyous amount of fun, and while there's no story, inventory management, items, gear, or... well not much of anything really besides what you see on the screen, Richter himself is so bloody fast and powerful that the sheer act of playing as him is a reward in and of itself. Plus, you do at least level up so there's some degree of progression to it all. Since Richter is so powerful I decided to play it on Hard mode with him, and while it's actually still pretty damn difficult, it feels like I have much more of a fighting chance overall. Though because of how fast he is it can be a little difficult to reign myself in; sprinting and leaping around on full-auto is so fun that it's hard to stop, which very quickly results in my death...

THIS GAME IS SO PRETTY OMG

I wish I could carry the same enthusiasm for the Sisters mode, though. I was actually pretty excited to play as the duo, only to have that excitement deflate like a ruptured whoopee cushion upon finding out that all you can do with 'em is use the stylus to perform a spell per sister. It's just kinda boring really, as you simply float about and stick the stylus on the screen to watch ice orbs fly everywhere. There's of course still no gear or anything like that and it's extremely shallow. There appears to be a bit of story involved with this one, but whatever, the stories even in the main modes are rather thin and poorly written, so the story of a small side-thing isn't exactly very enticing. Shame really, as again I was pretty excited at the notion of getting to play as them.

I've also read that there's an unlockable Armour Knight character, only it requires you to kill 1000 Armour Knights during the main game... One Thousand. Of this one specific enemy. Putting that to scale, by the end of my first playthrough I had killed about 3000 enemies.

Symphony of the Night

And European boxart wins again ;)

The Grand Daddy of the entire franchise, and one half of the whole MetroidVania sub-genre thing in the first place. As I mentioned earlier I did already play this way back when, but after putting in some time with PoR I then figured now is as good a time as any to return back to the Champion.

And I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

Because it's a much older game there are certain elements that are inferior to the DS releases, however what it can hold above the rest is funnily enough its presentation. Whereas most games in this series have adopted a more anime-inspired look and sound, Symphony of the Night carries the classic Gothic stylings of the series. The game still looks superb to this day and has a heavy atmosphere about it all, in so small part down to its soundtrack. PoR certainly has some great tracks on there, but it's much more JRPG-ish as opposed to the grander and more bizarre SotN's soundtrack.

What CAN I DO FOR you... Stranger?

Despite that, certain aspects like your inability to slide, or the less prominent fast-travel portals, can make it a little less accessible. Plus, while there's plenty of weaponry, most are all basically just swords. There are different qualities like some have a faster attack animation and such, but there's nothing that gives you the same degree of disparity between switching from a regular long sword to a spear for example.

One other aspect that I really dislike is the use of fighting game-esque button commands for your spells. In the heat of battle having to pull them off is tricky enough as it is, let alone when you're also trying to do it with a 360 controller. As such, I primarily went through the game pretending they didn't even exist.

OK, and just to get the criticisms outta the way, Richter mode in this isn't especially great. I mean playing as Richter is still a lot of fun, and that slide leap move of his is probably my favourite anything in the history of Castlevania thus far. However because there's once again no gear to collect or even any levelling up this time, it's like Richter was dropped into the wrong game. Which... of course is true in a way. It basically feels as if the main pull for playing as Richter is to fight the bosses, as exploring the castle is kind of a drag. To constantly leap around only to be rewarded with more hearts really sucks. Also, most of the bosses are kinda easy as Richter funnily enough.

I've read that you can at least increase your overall health, though there's no kind of feedback to obtaining a health upgrade, and it treats it no differently than if you've just collected another heart. It basically feels unfinished, as if this was the developers experimenting with the idea rather than actually giving you a healthy alternative to Alucard.

Now, with all that outta the way, this game is still pretty damn awesome. One aspect that is undoubtedly worth all the praise is its Inverted Castle. It's probably the best use of a New Game+ ever from what I can tell. With the way it literally flips the entire castle upside down, it in doing so creates a completely new environment with new traversal obstacles to overcome. Of course, there's also plenty of new enemy types, bosses, and gear to find. So in that regard I don't know if it really counts as an example of NG+... But in any case it's a shame that no other Castlevania game to my knowledge has utilised such an interesting concept.

The voice acting and dialogue are also hilariously awful. Well, Alucard's mostly fine, but Richter & Dracula in particular are a laugh riot. Also, fun fact: the guy who voices Richter is the same guy who voices Chris Redfield in the original Resident Evil! Hey, it wouldn't be a Yummylee blog without a sprinkling of Resident Evil in there somewhere...

''What do you here?''... u wot luv

FUUUUUUU

The difficulty is an improvement too, as it can certainly prove to be a challenge at times. Galamoth is also without a doubt the hardest anything I've fought across all of these I've played... The only way I could beat him was with the shield rod and alucard's shield. Oh, and btw, I had to look up that using the shield rod with shields actually grants you different abilities. As far as I'm aware the game doesn't ever tell you the button combination to then use the ability. Anywhoo, it's actually kinda hilarious how broken that ability is. Once activated your shield then does about 424423 damage per second. Which, hey, at least it gives your a shield an actual use!

I attempted Galamoth many a time simply with my skill, but I just couldn't do it. Those electric balls he'd constantly keep summoning, and reading that he has like 15000 health, when all of my attacks do about 4 damage without any sort of buff, well... Would you kindly go fuck yourself, Galamoth. It gotten to a point where the boss was built around a war of attrition than anything.

Dawn of Sorrow

Err, Hammer? Maybe wanna watch your hand there?

Given that I'm seemingly on a quest to play every single one of these in the wrong order, next up is Dawn of Sorrow!

And I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

Oh right yeah, one of your abilities quite literally turns you into an amazonian... Huh

It's always strange when you play a predecessor, because you can't help but head in with the mentality that you're playing a sequel, even when you know to expect that maybe it won't be quite as refined, or maybe this one feature you liked isn't there ect. Though because so many of these games are so similar, it's pretty easy transition all the same, especially after going through SotN.

In fact beyond a few minor differences, it is exceptionally similar to Portrait of Ruin, right down to enemy sprites. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. While they're both rather comparable, I think I'd hafta say I prefer Dawn of Sorrow just ever so slightly. Which is weird because at first it wasn't quite grabbing me as much, yet as it went on it eventually became just as addicting. I don't what it was that clicked, but... this one definitely took a bit of time for to me really get stuck in for whatever reason.

Anywhoo, I'd say it has a more consistently entertaining soundtrack, and the overall difficulty balance is a little better, too. It's still not especially difficult, but there's more of a challenge all the same I'd say. The way you can acquire like every single enemy ability in the game is also really enticing and makes it exciting to encounter new enemies. Sure, in PoR a lot of enemies would drop their weapon or a spell centred around their attacks, but because so many were spells as opposed to weapons or sub-weapons, it wasn't quite as exciting as what you could potentially uncover in DoS. Manticore Tail, motherffffffffff!

Some truly memorable boss battles as well, with the puppet master and mirror jester bosses in particular a couple of standouts. Though on that note, it also features some of the worst. Dario is an especially poor one as he basically just stands there with like 3 attacks or something. That, and there's his infuriating ''ha-ha-ha-ha-ha'' he literally does like every 3 seconds.

I also think it's interesting how instead of finding weapons, you upgrade them via specific enemy souls you acquire. On one hand it can make exploring around a little less engaging, because of the knowledge that you're not going to find any new weapons. But on the other, it again only makes grinding out enemy souls all the more surprisingly addictive. It's a pretty great system overall that I really enjoy, and of all the ones I've played thus far it's easily my favourite with regards to your sub-weapon/magic customisation.

From what I can tell it seems only those of the Dracula bloodline have the uncanny ability to sit in chairs.

Now the one primary complaint I have for this 'un is the magic seals -- the ''connect the dots'' stylus sequencer things. They're honestly more trouble than they're worth and at best merely prove to be a minor nuisance, but at worst can be utterly infuriating. They start off simple enough as you basically just connect the dots to make a triangle, but of course they soon start getting more complicated, until you find yourself doing circles followed by semi-circles and stuff. The one that really tore at me was when fighting Death and having to do magic seal 5. The battle itself was rather tricky to begin with, and to end it with that Magic Seal BS really tested my patience. It got to a point where Death himself wasn't much of a problem, but every time it came to the magic seal I wouldn't quite do it fast enough or my lines weren't straight enough or whatever.

It doesn't really add anything to the game and mostly comes across as something they shoved in purely because, hey, there's this touch screen doohickey so... Having to hold a stylus in my hands while also play the game can be a tad unwieldy anyway, and I'd much rather developers either build a game completely around the use of the stylus, or pretend that it doesn't exist. Though to be honest I think that's probably my only major flaw with the game.

Julius Mode!

Cuz I'm a Creepy Raper Guy, see.

Oh, baby here we go. To be quite frank I'd probably say I've had about as much fun playing as Julius as I've had with Soma. For starters he's basically in his 50s, which I always like in my protagonists, which also means that he's not quite as... athletic as Richter for example. He comes across a lot more even scaled overall, and in fact his default running speed seems to be slower than Soma's. All in all, playing as Julius is a lot of fun, and I especially like the additional music peppered throughout the game. It even has a Barkerville remix!.. Oh, yeah, I must confess that when that song started playing, my first instinct was to start humming it while pronouncing the Barkerville syllables in my head. Curse you, @brad...

What's also neat is how you're not just playing as Julius, but will eventually come into contact with Yoko and even Alucard. And by Alucard I mean Alucard... Like, Symphony of the Night Alucard, right down to his inability to slide and how he's the only one of the three who can sit in chairs. Because he already had that animation so, hey! Though despite that, I still found myself playing as Julius more often than not. It's his name on the mode after all! Alucard seems to purely exist for his traversal abilities really, and I guess Yoko has her small healing ability by way of her regular attacks each providing a small bit of health -- like, literally 4 or something. Though it's honestly so small that it borders on useless, even if it does slightly increase every so few levels. Her magic abilities are rather powerful, but... Julius all the way, mang. Plus, switching between characters isn't nearly as instantaneous as it is in PoR, so it's something of a hassle really. Though you are invincible during the short transition animation, which I guess could be used to your advantage if timed right.

Like Richter Mode, playing without the option to use items gives an additional layer of complexity to the game and suddenly makes you take all of those potions and puddings for granted. It's certainly not impossible, though, it just means there's less room for error. Fighting Death has proven to be rather tricky, but thank the Lord there's at least no magic seals in here!

Shame The Abyss(full) area is so short, though. Once I went through the portal I had hoped it was then going to open up an entirely new area about the size as the Cultist Castle. But alas.

Order of Ecclesia

All right, here we go! A badass looking female protagonist, complete with a return to the more Gothic-inspired art style of old! It's even bucking its own trends and trying out some new ideas!

And yet... I don't quite like it...?

Man, this sucks. I don't mean the game exactly, but rather my own reaction to it. It has a lot of qualities that should make it shoot right up to becoming one of my favourites even. However the way the combat is designed doesn't sit well with me. OK, first I at least want to say that I'm not opposed to the World Map design. While having this giant, singular environment to explore is fun, I'm game for any other ways they wish to dish out all of the many different environment aesthetics. And boy, is there variety! The game looks fantastic as well and is easily the best looking of the DS trilogy.

Unfortunately I'm not much of a fan of the combat. See, instead of picking up weapons, you must find Glyphs. Upon absorbing these Glyphs they will give you your weapons and also magic spells. You can equip a different Glyph per hand, so you could dual-wield swords for example, or stick a sword on one and a lance on another. However all weapons (least so far) function the same, and instead are differentiated by their type. So, you're going to want use hammers against skeletons for example. But their actual animations all play out the same and just don't quite carry the same satisfaction as the weapons of the older games do.

You can again also equip spells, and there are Glyph combinations that can form into a unique special attack. Oh, because you also now two mana bars, with one determining your regular attacks/magic, and the other being your hearts, which is used for your Glyph combos, making it resemble closer to the older games of the series. Though your primary bar replenishes almost instantly when used. Hearts, however, are much rarer, so it'll force you to use your Glyph combo attacks in moderation.

I have little problem with the idea behind the Glyphs system, but the core combat attacks don't quite do it for me. I also don't think the music is anything special thus far, either. Though being able to collect CDs of classic Castlevania songs and play them over the level is quite a treat. I also like the idea behind the HUB village, that you slowly grow as you save more of its villagers. Again, there's a lot of things I like in this game, but unfortunately I currently can't get over the combat system as of now.

I'll certainly make an effort to complete it, though it's also much more difficult than its priors. That crab boss in particular musta taken me about 20 attempts! Still, part of me wants to complete it just so I can play it with the unlockable character and see if maybe I prefer it that way.

Oh! Conclusion!

TAKE IT YOU SLIMY CUNT TAKE ITTTTT

OK, I have actually totally been playing Aria of Sorrow and Harmony of Dissonance lately as well.... But hawt dayum I think this blog is long enough as it is, so if I were to be bothered to write up a little summin' summin' related to those then it'll have to be for another time. To put it short, one I like, one less so. Guess which one's which.

Still, my point has been made: these games have got me good. I'm admittedly fearing the inevitable burnout like you'd expect, but it's not quite here yet and damn if I can stop even if I wanted to! I've even got Aliens: Infestation over here for just a little extra smidge of that Metroidvania'n.

And who can blame me! It's a design that still stands up to this day; the 2D format allows some stupendously beautiful art for starters, and the act of continually unlocking new stuff and being able to further explore an ever growing environment is ever so tantalising. It's that aura of mystique that pulls us on, it inspires us to search every cranny and whip every wall... just in case. It may have taken me a few years, but I'm happy I've finally gotten around to discovering what is so beloved about these games. Though weirdly enough they're all a lot... shorter than I would have imagined.

Don't get me wrong, with them all averaging at about 9-10 hours just with the main game, they've certainly got a decent length about 'em. But when you look at the map and your statistics, you'd think you would have just surmounted a 25-30 hour long adventure. Eh, but again, I'm certainly not complaining about their value. Maybe it's just my way of admitting that I want more -- more castles, more whips, more double jumps,

More!

Also, @vinny, where'sa ma VinnyVania?!

Outro Music Sure Why Not

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All Of The Vania, None Of The Metroid.

I bought a 3DS!

Well, I bought a 3DS like maybe two months ago at this point, but nonetheless I still continue to own and play games on my relatively new-spangled videya games console. However weirdly enough the type of cartridges that have found themselves snuggly fitted into its port (uh...) are of DS games rather than the 3D variety.

''...Bitches''

I do in fact own a couple of 3DS titles--Kirby's Triple Deluxe and Tales of the Abyss--to which I have invested a fair chunk into both. Although my recent craze has admittedly taken over and left those two at the sidelines. My recent craze being of course the Castlevania series! And more specifically the MetroidVania variety at that.

I was pretty hesitant as to which one to get first, and upon reading some opinions it seemed pretty evenly split between which one of the three--Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, and Order of Ecclesia--was the most popular. The one I ended up getting first was Portrait of Ruin anywhoo -- I think probably because it was the cheapest on offer.

So,

Portrait of Ruin

Oh, the humanime!

I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

I don't have much experience with this sub-genre, so Portrait of Ruin still managed to feel relatively fresh of an experience as of late. I had indeed played Symphony of the Night via XBLA years back, but I can remember getting lost shortly upon unlocking the mist power and got bored exploring the castle... Shadow Complex (which was also my first MetroidVania game) was thusly my primary frame of reference. Though it's admittedly been a fair few years since I played Shadow Complex at that... I should probably in fact give that another go, given my recent obsession and all.

Anywhoo, Portrait of Ruin. It encompasses all of the hallmarks we associate with the Symphony of the Night design of Castlevania, with a massive 2D castle to explore (albeit semi-linearly), light RPG mechanics, screen-filling bosses, and so on. In the grand scheme of things this is essentially another Symphony of the Night, though that's certainly not a bad thing!

The presentation for starters is just as stellar as you'd expect; even when viewed from a modern perspective the game still has a fetching look to it, with plenty of visual variety throughout the castle. The soundtrack is also really good at that -- another staple of this franchise. The combat, while simplistic, still manages to feel satisfying in slashing/cleaving/whipping (especially whipping) your way up, down and around to Dracula's domain. While there isn't necessarily a loot grind exactly, there's enough gear and hidden goodies to locate that exploration always feels beneficial and inspires you to make sure you've searched every corner of the castle.

Always Be Whipping... Always.

I suppose the primary differentiator that PoR utilises to help set it apart from its forebearers is the introduction of starring two dual protagonists, Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin. Jonathan is basically your traditional Castlevania protagonist, being able to utilise an all manner of swords and whips ect, and is likely to be the one you'll be directly controlling the most. Whereas Morris relies on melee and many of the series' staple sub-weapons (and then some), Charlotte is a spellcaster. Though that doesn't mean she can't also handle herself in a scrap, courtesy of a number of books she can equip that'll then sprout swords and shit for her melee attacks. The books that extend three different weapons at different angles in particular are actually really effective. That said, her overall melee damage can't quite compete against most of Jonathon's assortment of toys, nor can she take a hit quite as well, either.

Her variety of magic spells still offer up a lot of customisation all the same, and the handy ability to instantly call her at your side to perform a set-spell before then disappearing again is ever so useful. You can also opt to have her follow alongside you thattaway, to which she will join in attacking whatever enemies are nearby, and any damage she (or Morris if you're controlling Charlotte) sustains will instead eat away at your stamina/mana bar instead.

That said, I still more often than not rolled with Jonathan on his lonesome, occasionally switching to Charlotte when I want to cast a spell to its full potential -- summoning her to your side only has her cast the spell at half its power. Having her along to dish out a little extra damage can certainly prove useful, but because the AI is so rudimentary then it sometimes amounts to a waste of stamina having her going about attacking things of her own volition.

There's some occasional puzzles that requires you to switch between characters, or maybe tell one character to stay put while another does something else. But by and large it ultimately feels just a little tacked on. Though I believe you can in fact play the game cooperatively??

Jonathan Morris, ESRB Agent

If there is one major problem I have with the game it's that its default normal mode is a little bit on the easy side, especially once I acquired a Long Spear, and even more so once I unlocked the Royal Sword. However its Hard mode feels just a little bit too punishing... It probably starts to ease up a little as you acquire more gear, but the beginning of that game on Hard mode is fucking nasty. Practically everything can kill you in like 2-3 hits, whereas it takes much more to kill one of them. Even the most rudimentary of enemies like the zombies, bats and skeletons prove to be a serious threat. Overall the balance of frustration and fun is a little off for me in that mode, in that it's basically all frustration with none of the fun =/

Nonetheless overall I've really enjoyed it, and it's made for a great jumping off point into me binging through all of these damn things. In fact I've even gone back to it and decided to play through it again from scratch -- because why not?? Also, the way the 3DS makes the sound of a door opening/closing when you open/close your 3DS is pretty cool.

Unlockable Stuff!

One thing I really appreciate about these games is the tradition of including an uber-powered unlockable character to then get up to all sorts of sequence-breaking with. By which I'm of course referring to Richter mode! Or... ''Richiter'' mode as the game refers to it.

Playing as Richter is a joyous amount of fun, and while there's no story, inventory management, items, gear, or... well not much of anything really besides what you see on the screen, Richter himself is so bloody fast and powerful that the sheer act of playing as him is a reward in and of itself. Plus, you do at least level up so there's some degree of progression to it all. Since Richter is so powerful I decided to play it on Hard mode with him, and while it's actually still pretty damn difficult, it feels like I have much more of a fighting chance overall. Though because of how fast he is it can be a little difficult to reign myself in; sprinting and leaping around on full-auto is so fun that it's hard to stop, which very quickly results in my death...

THIS GAME IS SO PRETTY OMG

I wish I could carry the same enthusiasm for the Sisters mode, though. I was actually pretty excited to play as the duo, only to have that excitement deflate like a ruptured whoopee cushion upon finding out that all you can do with 'em is use the stylus to perform a spell per sister. It's just kinda boring really, as you simply float about and stick the stylus on the screen to watch ice orbs fly everywhere. There's of course still no gear or anything like that and it's extremely shallow. There appears to be a bit of story involved with this one, but whatever, the stories even in the main modes are rather thin and poorly written, so the story of a small side-thing isn't exactly very enticing. Shame really, as again I was pretty excited at the notion of getting to play as them.

I've also read that there's an unlockable Armour Knight character, only it requires you to kill 1000 Armour Knights during the main game... One Thousand. Of this one specific enemy. Putting that to scale, by the end of my first playthrough I had killed about 3000 enemies.

Symphony of the Night

And European boxart wins again ;)

The Grand Daddy of the entire franchise, and one half of the whole MetroidVania sub-genre thing in the first place. As I mentioned earlier I did already play this way back when, but after putting in some time with PoR I then figured now is as good a time as any to return back to the Champion.

And I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

Because it's a much older game there are certain elements that are inferior to the DS releases, however what it can hold above the rest is funnily enough its presentation. Whereas most games in this series have adopted a more anime-inspired look and sound, Symphony of the Night carries the classic Gothic stylings of the series. The game still looks superb to this day and has a heavy atmosphere about it all, in so small part down to its soundtrack. PoR certainly has some great tracks on there, but it's much more JRPG-ish as opposed to the grander and more bizarre SotN's soundtrack.

What CAN I DO FOR you... Stranger?

Despite that, certain aspects like your inability to slide, or the less prominent fast-travel portals, can make it a little less accessible. Plus, while there's plenty of weaponry, most are all basically just swords. There are different qualities like some have a faster attack animation and such, but there's nothing that gives you the same degree of disparity between switching from a regular long sword to a spear for example.

One other aspect that I really dislike is the use of fighting game-esque button commands for your spells. In the heat of battle having to pull them off is tricky enough as it is, let alone when you're also trying to do it with a 360 controller. As such, I primarily went through the game pretending they didn't even exist.

OK, and just to get the criticisms outta the way, Richter mode in this isn't especially great. I mean playing as Richter is still a lot of fun, and that slide leap move of his is probably my favourite anything in the history of Castlevania thus far. However because there's once again no gear to collect or even any levelling up this time, it's like Richter was dropped into the wrong game. Which... of course is true in a way. It basically feels as if the main pull for playing as Richter is to fight the bosses, as exploring the castle is kind of a drag. To constantly leap around only to be rewarded with more hearts really sucks. Also, most of the bosses are kinda easy as Richter funnily enough.

I've read that you can at least increase your overall health, though there's no kind of feedback to obtaining a health upgrade, and it treats it no differently than if you've just collected another heart. It basically feels unfinished, as if this was the developers experimenting with the idea rather than actually giving you a healthy alternative to Alucard.

Now, with all that outta the way, this game is still pretty damn awesome. One aspect that is undoubtedly worth all the praise is its Inverted Castle. It's probably the best use of a New Game+ ever from what I can tell. With the way it literally flips the entire castle upside down, it in doing so creates a completely new environment with new traversal obstacles to overcome. Of course, there's also plenty of new enemy types, bosses, and gear to find. So in that regard I don't know if it really counts as an example of NG+... But in any case it's a shame that no other Castlevania game to my knowledge has utilised such an interesting concept.

The voice acting and dialogue are also hilariously awful. Well, Alucard's mostly fine, but Richter & Dracula in particular are a laugh riot. Also, fun fact: the guy who voices Richter is the same guy who voices Chris Redfield in the original Resident Evil! Hey, it wouldn't be a Yummylee blog without a sprinkling of Resident Evil in there somewhere...

''What do you here?''... u wot luv

FUUUUUUU

The difficulty is an improvement too, as it can certainly prove to be a challenge at times. Galamoth is also without a doubt the hardest anything I've fought across all of these I've played... The only way I could beat him was with the shield rod and alucard's shield. Oh, and btw, I had to look up that using the shield rod with shields actually grants you different abilities. As far as I'm aware the game doesn't ever tell you the button combination to then use the ability. Anywhoo, it's actually kinda hilarious how broken that ability is. Once activated your shield then does about 424423 damage per second. Which, hey, at least it gives your a shield an actual use!

I attempted Galamoth many a time simply with my skill, but I just couldn't do it. Those electric balls he'd constantly keep summoning, and reading that he has like 15000 health, when all of my attacks do about 4 damage without any sort of buff, well... Would you kindly go fuck yourself, Galamoth. It gotten to a point where the boss was built around a war of attrition than anything.

Dawn of Sorrow

Err, Hammer? Maybe wanna watch your hand there?

Given that I'm seemingly on a quest to play every single one of these in the wrong order, next up is Dawn of Sorrow!

And I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

Oh right yeah, one of your abilities quite literally turns you into an amazonian... Huh

It's always strange when you play a predecessor, because you can't help but head in with the mentality that you're playing a sequel, even when you know to expect that maybe it won't be quite as refined, or maybe this one feature you liked isn't there ect. Though because so many of these games are so similar, it's pretty easy transition all the same, especially after going through SotN.

In fact beyond a few minor differences, it is exceptionally similar to Portrait of Ruin, right down to enemy sprites. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. While they're both rather comparable, I think I'd hafta say I prefer Dawn of Sorrow just ever so slightly. Which is weird because at first it wasn't quite grabbing me as much, yet as it went on it eventually became just as addicting. I don't what it was that clicked, but... this one definitely took a bit of time for to me really get stuck in for whatever reason.

Anywhoo, I'd say it has a more consistently entertaining soundtrack, and the overall difficulty balance is a little better, too. It's still not especially difficult, but there's more of a challenge all the same I'd say. The way you can acquire like every single enemy ability in the game is also really enticing and makes it exciting to encounter new enemies. Sure, in PoR a lot of enemies would drop their weapon or a spell centred around their attacks, but because so many were spells as opposed to weapons or sub-weapons, it wasn't quite as exciting as what you could potentially uncover in DoS. Manticore Tail, motherffffffffff!

Some truly memorable boss battles as well, with the puppet master and mirror jester bosses in particular a couple of standouts. Though on that note, it also features some of the worst. Dario is an especially poor one as he basically just stands there with like 3 attacks or something. That, and there's his infuriating ''ha-ha-ha-ha-ha'' he literally does like every 3 seconds.

I also think it's interesting how instead of finding weapons, you upgrade them via specific enemy souls you acquire. On one hand it can make exploring around a little less engaging, because of the knowledge that you're not going to find any new weapons. But on the other, it again only makes grinding out enemy souls all the more surprisingly addictive. It's a pretty great system overall that I really enjoy, and of all the ones I've played thus far it's easily my favourite with regards to your sub-weapon/magic customisation.

From what I can tell it seems only those of the Dracula bloodline have the uncanny ability to sit in chairs.

Now the one primary complaint I have for this 'un is the magic seals -- the ''connect the dots'' stylus sequencer things. They're honestly more trouble than they're worth and at best merely prove to be a minor nuisance, but at worst can be utterly infuriating. They start off simple enough as you basically just connect the dots to make a triangle, but of course they soon start getting more complicated, until you find yourself doing circles followed by semi-circles and stuff. The one that really tore at me was when fighting Death and having to do magic seal 5. The battle itself was rather tricky to begin with, and to end it with that Magic Seal BS really tested my patience. It got to a point where Death himself wasn't much of a problem, but every time it came to the magic seal I wouldn't quite do it fast enough or my lines weren't straight enough or whatever.

It doesn't really add anything to the game and mostly comes across as something they shoved in purely because, hey, there's this touch screen doohickey so... Having to hold a stylus in my hands while also play the game can be a tad unwieldy anyway, and I'd much rather developers either build a game completely around the use of the stylus, or pretend that it doesn't exist. Though to be honest I think that's probably my only major flaw with the game.

Julius Mode!

Cuz I'm a Creepy Raper Guy, see.

Oh, baby here we go. To be quite frank I'd probably say I've had about as much fun playing as Julius as I've had with Soma. For starters he's basically in his 50s, which I always like in my protagonists, which also means that he's not quite as... athletic as Richter for example. He comes across a lot more even scaled overall, and in fact his default running speed seems to be slower than Soma's. All in all, playing as Julius is a lot of fun, and I especially like the additional music peppered throughout the game. It even has a Barkerville remix!.. Oh, yeah, I must confess that when that song started playing, my first instinct was to start humming it while pronouncing the Barkerville syllables in my head. Curse you, @brad...

What's also neat is how you're not just playing as Julius, but will eventually come into contact with Yoko and even Alucard. And by Alucard I mean Alucard... Like, Symphony of the Night Alucard, right down to his inability to slide and how he's the only one of the three who can sit in chairs. Because he already had that animation so, hey! Though despite that, I still found myself playing as Julius more often than not. It's his name on the mode after all! Alucard seems to purely exist for his traversal abilities really, and I guess Yoko has her small healing ability by way of her regular attacks each providing a small bit of health -- like, literally 4 or something. Though it's honestly so small that it borders on useless, even if it does slightly increase every so few levels. Her magic abilities are rather powerful, but... Julius all the way, mang. Plus, switching between characters isn't nearly as instantaneous as it is in PoR, so it's something of a hassle really. Though you are invincible during the short transition animation, which I guess could be used to your advantage if timed right.

Like Richter Mode, playing without the option to use items gives an additional layer of complexity to the game and suddenly makes you take all of those potions and puddings for granted. It's certainly not impossible, though, it just means there's less room for error. Fighting Death has proven to be rather tricky, but thank the Lord there's at least no magic seals in here!

Shame The Abyss(full) area is so short, though. Once I went through the portal I had hoped it was then going to open up an entirely new area about the size as the Cultist Castle. But alas.

Order of Ecclesia

All right, here we go! A badass looking female protagonist, complete with a return to the more Gothic-inspired art style of old! It's even bucking its own trends and trying out some new ideas!

And yet... I don't quite like it...?

Man, this sucks. I don't mean the game exactly, but rather my own reaction to it. It has a lot of qualities that should make it shoot right up to becoming one of my favourites even. However the way the combat is designed doesn't sit well with me. OK, first I at least want to say that I'm not opposed to the World Map design. While having this giant, singular environment to explore is fun, I'm game for any other ways they wish to dish out all of the many different environment aesthetics. And boy, is there variety! The game looks fantastic as well and is easily the best looking of the DS trilogy.

Unfortunately I'm not much of a fan of the combat. See, instead of picking up weapons, you must find Glyphs. Upon absorbing these Glyphs they will give you your weapons and also magic spells. You can equip a different Glyph per hand, so you could dual-wield swords for example, or stick a sword on one and a lance on another. However all weapons (least so far) function the same, and instead are differentiated by their type. So, you're going to want use hammers against skeletons for example. But their actual animations all play out the same and just don't quite carry the same satisfaction as the weapons of the older games do.

You can again also equip spells, and there are Glyph combinations that can form into a unique special attack. Oh, because you also now two mana bars, with one determining your regular attacks/magic, and the other being your hearts, which is used for your Glyph combos, making it resemble closer to the older games of the series. Though your primary bar replenishes almost instantly when used. Hearts, however, are much rarer, so it'll force you to use your Glyph combo attacks in moderation.

I have little problem with the idea behind the Glyphs system, but the core combat attacks don't quite do it for me. I also don't think the music is anything special thus far, either. Though being able to collect CDs of classic Castlevania songs and play them over the level is quite a treat. I also like the idea behind the HUB village, that you slowly grow as you save more of its villagers. Again, there's a lot of things I like in this game, but unfortunately I currently can't get over the combat system as of now.

I'll certainly make an effort to complete it, though it's also much more difficult than its priors. That crab boss in particular musta taken me about 20 attempts! Still, part of me wants to complete it just so I can play it with the unlockable character and see if maybe I prefer it that way.

Oh! Conclusion!

TAKE IT YOU SLIMY CUNT TAKE ITTTTT

OK, I have actually totally been playing Aria of Sorrow and Harmony of Dissonance lately as well.... But hawt dayum I think this blog is long enough as it is, so if I were to be bothered to write up a little summin' summin' related to those then it'll have to be for another time. To put it short, one I like, one less so. Guess which one's which.

Still, my point has been made: these games have got me good. I'm admittedly fearing the inevitable burnout like you'd expect, but it's not quite here yet and damn if I can stop even if I wanted to! I've even got Aliens: Infestation over here for just a little extra smidge of that Metroidvania'n.

And who can blame me! It's a design that still stands up to this day; the 2D format allows some stupendously beautiful art for starters, and the act of continually unlocking new stuff and being able to further explore an ever growing environment is ever so tantalising. It's that aura of mystique that pulls us on, it inspires us to search every cranny and whip every wall... just in case. It may have taken me a few years, but I'm happy I've finally gotten around to discovering what is so beloved about these games. Though weirdly enough they're all a lot... shorter than I would have imagined.

Don't get me wrong, with them all averaging at about 9-10 hours just with the main game, they've certainly got a decent length about 'em. But when you look at the map and your statistics, you'd think you would have just surmounted a 25-30 hour long adventure. Eh, but again, I'm certainly not complaining about their value. Maybe it's just my way of admitting that I want more -- more castles, more whips, more double jumps,

More!

Also, @vinny, where'sa ma VinnyVania?!

Outro Music Sure Why Not

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A Defence of Resident Evil Survival Horror Controls.

This... admittedly seems a tad random and almost comes across as a sort of reactionary post to something recent that's been making the waves throughout the interwebs. In a sense it... is sort of reactionary, but rather to the general sentiment regarding the classic Resident Evil games and how they control. Most importantly originating from the consensus of how widely accepted both RE4 & RE5 play, despite RE4 in particular featuring the exact same tank controls as the classic games. I've also always thought of it as a little unfair to how restrictions like not being able to move & shoot in those games is admissible and is commonly justified with such reasoning as ''you don't need to move & shoot'' for example, by @brad in particular.

This Brad, however, respectfully disagrees!

Which of course is 100% true. RE4 is a game that is specifically designed around the fact that you cannot simultaneously move & shoot, only that's similarly how I've always viewed the controls for the original games. I think one of the main fallacies is I would imagine most people often tend to compare the new and the old too directly; because RE4 is a shooter, people then judge the older games and how they control as if they are also shooters which... well, they're not. They're games that feature the act of shooting, but they're not really shooters.

Anywhoo, a blog like this is something I've wanted to post for like forever, but laziness and all that... Weirdly enough--and this isn't the first time--what brought about me actually finally writing up my thoughts on the matter in detail was as a forum response, specifically to @believer258. Only this time I figured I should actually reformat my post, expand it a wee bit, and place it up as a blog.

So... woolah... ?

First Things First

Now, for reals, I would never classify the controls of classic Resident Evil games as being... accessible; they're very unorthodox to say the least. Despite that, because the original games' were rather slow paced and emphasised atmosphere and exploration over most facets, I never felt like the controls were much of a hindrance. The older games may still have had plenty of combat, it was all very rudimentary; most bosses for example primarily required that you simply run away, shoot, run away, shoot ect.

Who needs to move & shoot when you're the mayor of Stunlock City!

The basic source of challenge within the games was that you had to decide between whether it's best using up ammo to kill this hypothetical zombie rather than try to run away. Your attempts at trying to get through a combat encounter without actually engaging in combat might mean you get damaged along the way, due to the intentionally claustrophobic environments, but... hey, you gotta adapt! And that's basically the core appeal for me and survival horror in general: being forced to adapt because you've run low on supplies and having to then think outside of the box and mix up your strategies. It's why I'm also a huge fan of The Last of Us not purely for its story, but because it also had some rather punishing gameplay that focussed on ammo conservation and improvisation. It's essentially what a modern-day survival horror game should strive to resemble, and that's predictably the reason why user-reception to the gameplay is rather mixed, given the nature of survival horror being a divisive one.

Boss battles admittedly tend to clash against certain philosophies regarding survival horror, by placing an enemy in front of you that must be killed to continue the game forward as opposed to giving you the chance to alternatively run away. But as abbreviated earlier bosses--in Resident Evil at least--are rather simple in design and instead exist more for spectacle and/or narrative purposes. Running low or out of ammunition is supposed to be a genuine fear, and should that happen in the midst of a boss battle... well, that would really kinda suck. It's a tricky system to balance, though Resident Evil games usually offset this potential nuisance by making sure there's likely to be additional ammo you can acquire somewhere--if not outside or near the boss arena--to beat it. Not the most elegant of solutions, but... whattayagonnado.

Camera Angles & The Why of Tank Controls

Barry Burton abides by no control scheme but his own. This includes Press X to God Mode.

Camera angles existed for the purpose of accentuating the atmosphere and directing specific scares; it allowed a lot of freedom for the game to actually show you what they want (or don't want) you to see. However analogue control (for a time) didn't quite mesh with camera angles very well. Think the original Devil May Cry, which had camera angles but also allowed you more freedom of movement; it lead to instances of you running from one angle to the next and then having to awkwardly shift to pushing the stick in the opposite direction sometimes. Whereas with tank controls pressing up always made the character move forward for example, regardless of the angle. Though like I said this was only for a time, as with games like Onimusha 3 and the Outbreak games they had evidently figured that issue out, or at least smoothed it some so it wasn't as much of a frustrating hassle. In any case that is why I believe they stuck with the tank controls for so long even when analogues were introduced to controllers.

Now, there's also the complaint concerning camera angles that you can get blindsided by enemies that you couldn't see. But every enemy in a Resident Evil game had a tell, be it a squishy footstep or growl for example, so you would always know if something was close by. Plus from Resident Evil: Director's Cut onward you had auto-aim available, so even if you couldn't see the creature your character would always aim directly at whatever may be within the vicinity. As such, I've always thought that the camera angles never got in the way that much, and they greatly benefited in attributing to the atmosphere of the games a great deal, especially in the first and its remake. Whatever grievances camera angles may have dealt the gameplay, the cinematic direction of the environments more than make up for it.

Though ironically enough I see no reason why being able to move & shoot wasn't implemented into the main games. Outbreak: File 2 introduced such a concept and I think may very well have been the first of the franchise; it didn't drastically change the formula, but it was a nice touch that offered you a little more leeway in allowing you to slowly walk backwards while pulling off some handgun shots at whatever it is you're fighting. Though the enemies you encountered in File 2 were so damn fast to begin with that you were better off skedaddling all the same. Stupid zombie lions...

And Hey, It Could Always be Worse!

For as often as people like to complain about the Resident Evil games controls, they're really not too bad when put up against the many imitators and inspirations. Tank controls aside, Resident Evil's were still what I would genuinely describe as ''smooth''; they were always responsive and animated well--no worse than RE4--and games like RE3 and the remake in particular have a surprising amount of speed to them.

Fear Effect

Though the Fear Effect games for example even I think are rather clunky, which is ironic given that in these you can simultaneously move & shoot, and even have access to a 4-way directional evasive roll. However because you would often face against enemies that could shoot back (least during the beginning segments before demons and magic and shit is introduced), the tank controls weren't quite up to snuff I think. It did at least have a basic stealth system to it, which was outright necessary to utilise in certain levels like Disc 2 for the original. But nonetheless, the animations were somewhat lethargic and not always the most responsive. I still fucking adore the Fear Effect games mind you, particularly the second, but even I would have difficulty in trying to defend the combat. And yet weirdly enough I'm to believe @jeff actually quite enjoyed it...?

Dino Crisis

Funnily enough I would also consider Dino Crisis to be a little less than ideal as well. While the first in particular is aptly described as ''Resident Evil with dinosaurs'', controls-wise the movement is a little more sluggish; primarily by way of how there's a slight build-up when you start to run, which differs from Resident Evil in that once you begin running you are off. Though that's not my primary issue with the gameplay, and unfortunately enough it's actually related to its one defining element that was to set it apart from Resident Evil -- being the dinosaurs.

As you may expect, the dinosaurs are pretty bleedin' fast. In fact they're even faster than you, which was never the case in Resident Evil beyond maybe boss monsters. They're also incredibly strong and your starting pistol has like zero stopping power and a comically slow firing rate. As such, whenever a dinosaur enters a room (it was often randomised) you were in some deep dinosaur doodoo. Of course, that's the point, but the speed and overall aggression of the dinosaurs simply felt they were a bit too much for the controls to handle. You were at a pretty significant disadvantage, much more so than in a Resident Evil game. I have completed Dino Crisis however--twice in fact--but I don't think its combat is quite as well designed as Resident Evil. Because again, the enemies in Resident Evil are typically slow & sluggish, and even the zombie dogs of the series you were always just ever-so-slightly faster than.

...It has its moments, though

Though hey, at least you can move & aim in Dino Crisis! No, not move & shoot.... move & aim, which I always thought was a rather peculiar inclusion; not like it actually provided any mechanical benefit, either. With all that said, I'm admittedly not so much a fan of Dino Crisis for many other reasons besides. Like how the game takes place pretty much exclusively in drab, boring facility buildings. This was their first survival horror game that tried out 3D backgrounds as opposed to pre-rendered, which while it allowed the camera to sometimes pan alongside you, it meant the environments lacked the superb amount of detail pre-rendered offered. Plus, again, there was very little variety to a lot of it. As the plot went along you simply just kept moving on from one drab facility to another. And dinosaurs in general I never thought were as interesting nor certainly unnerving as the monstrosities that hounded the heroes of Resident Evil. So I'd say without reservation that I actually greatly prefer its more action-orientated arcade-shooter sequel. Jeez, you can't even walk in that game! It's probably about as drastic of a divergence as what Resident Evil saw when RE4 came about.

Silent Hill 2

Another fine example would be Silent Hill 2, which frankly controls like salty garbage. Even by Silent Hill standards SH2 was especially clunky -- even the original I'd say controls better. Its melee combat was practically broken; the difficulty with which it takes James to try and swing that bloody wooden stick you'd think he was suffering from a whole series of mental cognitive problems beyond the... y'know, psychosis and stuff. It would constantly keep bouncing off of stuff and was just a total mess to try and utilise. Fortunately firearm ammo was practically raining from the skies on the Normal combat difficulty setting, which I'd gather is the developers having a little self-awareness that their combat is even more clumsy than it should be.

Oh! Conclusion!

If there's a tank out there that can effortlessly sidestep a rocket, I wanna see it!

So, such is my explanations & justifications of why I think those old zombie games--for what they are--controlled perfectly fine. Now, I'm not demanding that everybody should now be inclined to agree with me, just that hopefully some may at the very least better understand why those old games continue to have their fans so many years onward. After all like I mentioned above, one of the core concepts of why I liked playing Resident Evil games of old was because of the fear of noticing your supplies dwindle and being forced to improvise. Even if because of their age there wasn't that much to improvise with beyond running away... still, early days and all that. Though of course there's still the B-movie storytelling and grotesque monster designs, they also certainly add to the appeal.

The beginning of a beautiful relationship.

That very gameplay scheme is why I really enjoyed the Outbreak games (well, the first one anyway), because it felt like it was the culmination of what Resident Evil was about but for a more modern era. It had degradable melee weapons for example and randomised zombie encounters, alongside analogue control & being able to move & shoot as I previously mentioned. And of course online cooperative multiplayer, even if we didn't have access to it over in Europe for the first game. Though even whence it was belatedly brought over with the sequel, I myself lacked the components for online play anyway, so... That's part of the reason why I prefer the original, as the sequel was made to be drastically more difficult to account for the introduction of online play; playing it solo was truly something of a nightmaaaaarrrrre.

Really, it's not like I specifically enjoy tank controls and think they're better than regular analogue control, I just (usually) have no problem with them. Camera angles, however, I am definitely in favour for and think they legitimately have merit in building atmosphere, especially in conjunction with pre-rendered backgrounds. It's a style I wish we could one day see if only a slight resurgence amidst the indie scene. If not, hopefully The Evil Within will then at least continue the slowly encroaching modern-day survival horror renaissance...

I swear, my anticipation for that game to live up to what it's selling itself as I'm finding to be far more terrifying than just about any horror game >_>...

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A Defence of Resident Evil Survival Horror Controls.

This... admittedly seems a tad random and almost comes across as a sort of reactionary post to something recent that's been making the waves throughout the interwebs. In a sense it... is sort of reactionary, but rather to the general sentiment regarding the classic Resident Evil games and how they control. Most importantly originating from the consensus of how widely accepted both RE4 & RE5 play, despite RE4 in particular featuring the exact same tank controls as the classic games. I've also always thought of it as a little unfair to how restrictions like not being able to move & shoot in those games is admissible and is commonly justified with such reasoning as ''you don't need to move & shoot'' for example, by @brad in particular.

This Brad, however, respectfully disagrees!

Which of course is 100% true. RE4 is a game that is specifically designed around the fact that you cannot simultaneously move & shoot, only that's similarly how I've always viewed the controls for the original games. I think one of the main fallacies is I would imagine most people often tend to compare the new and the old too directly; because RE4 is a shooter, people then judge the older games and how they control as if they are also shooters which... well, they're not. They're games that feature the act of shooting, but they're not really shooters.

Anywhoo, a blog like this is something I've wanted to post for like forever, but laziness and all that... Weirdly enough--and this isn't the first time--what brought about me actually finally writing up my thoughts on the matter in detail was as a forum response, specifically to @believer258. Only this time I figured I should actually reformat my post, expand it a wee bit, and place it up as a blog.

So... woolah... ?

First Things First

Now, for reals, I would never classify the controls of classic Resident Evil games as being... accessible; they're very unorthodox to say the least. Despite that, because the original games' were rather slow paced and emphasised atmosphere and exploration over most facets, I never felt like the controls were much of a hindrance. The older games may still have had plenty of combat, it was all very rudimentary; most bosses for example primarily required that you simply run away, shoot, run away, shoot ect.

Who needs to move & shoot when you're the mayor of Stunlock City!

The basic source of challenge within the games was that you had to decide between whether it's best using up ammo to kill this hypothetical zombie rather than try to run away. Your attempts at trying to get through a combat encounter without actually engaging in combat might mean you get damaged along the way, due to the intentionally claustrophobic environments, but... hey, you gotta adapt! And that's basically the core appeal for me and survival horror in general: being forced to adapt because you've run low on supplies and having to then think outside of the box and mix up your strategies. It's why I'm also a huge fan of The Last of Us not purely for its story, but because it also had some rather punishing gameplay that focussed on ammo conservation and improvisation. It's essentially what a modern-day survival horror game should strive to resemble, and that's predictably the reason why user-reception to the gameplay is rather mixed, given the nature of survival horror being a divisive one.

Boss battles admittedly tend to clash against certain philosophies regarding survival horror, by placing an enemy in front of you that must be killed to continue the game forward as opposed to giving you the chance to alternatively run away. But as abbreviated earlier bosses--in Resident Evil at least--are rather simple in design and instead exist more for spectacle and/or narrative purposes. Running low or out of ammunition is supposed to be a genuine fear, and should that happen in the midst of a boss battle... well, that would really kinda suck. It's a tricky system to balance, though Resident Evil games usually offset this potential nuisance by making sure there's likely to be additional ammo you can acquire somewhere--if not outside or near the boss arena--to beat it. Not the most elegant of solutions, but... whattayagonnado.

Camera Angles & The Why of Tank Controls

Barry Burton abides by no control scheme but his own. This includes Press X to God Mode.

Camera angles existed for the purpose of accentuating the atmosphere and directing specific scares; it allowed a lot of freedom for the game to actually show you what they want (or don't want) you to see. However analogue control (for a time) didn't quite mesh with camera angles very well. Think the original Devil May Cry, which had camera angles but also allowed you more freedom of movement; it lead to instances of you running from one angle to the next and then having to awkwardly shift to pushing the stick in the opposite direction sometimes. Whereas with tank controls pressing up always made the character move forward for example, regardless of the angle. Though like I said this was only for a time, as with games like Onimusha 3 and the Outbreak games they had evidently figured that issue out, or at least smoothed it some so it wasn't as much of a frustrating hassle. In any case that is why I believe they stuck with the tank controls for so long even when analogues were introduced to controllers.

Now, there's also the complaint concerning camera angles that you can get blindsided by enemies that you couldn't see. But every enemy in a Resident Evil game had a tell, be it a squishy footstep or growl for example, so you would always know if something was close by. Plus from Resident Evil: Director's Cut onward you had auto-aim available, so even if you couldn't see the creature your character would always aim directly at whatever may be within the vicinity. As such, I've always thought that the camera angles never got in the way that much, and they greatly benefited in attributing to the atmosphere of the games a great deal, especially in the first and its remake. Whatever grievances camera angles may have dealt the gameplay, the cinematic direction of the environments more than make up for it.

EDIT: *One such example of a superb use of camera angles is amidst the original Resident Evil's painting puzzle room, which features a murder (!!!) of crows perched above. There's no music, no sounds beyond your character's footsteps and the sporadic ''caws'' of the crows. The angle is situated with the crows at the forefront, watching you from above. As you're going around pressing buttons the camera keeps a lot of its focus on the little shits, building tension as you await for if they should eventually start attacking. The way it's arched down with the crows looming above you gives a great visual metaphor of death and its eternal gaze upon you at that.

Overall with the way the angles present such a cinematic presence, it almost begins to resemble as if you're playing the game amidst a cutscene.*

Though ironically enough I see no reason why being able to move & shoot wasn't implemented into the main games. Outbreak: File 2 introduced such a concept and I think may very well have been the first of the franchise; it didn't drastically change the formula, but it was a nice touch that offered you a little more leeway in allowing you to slowly walk backwards while pulling off some handgun shots at whatever it is you're fighting. Though the enemies you encountered in File 2 were so damn fast to begin with that you were better off skedaddling all the same. Stupid zombie lions...

And Hey, It Could Always be Worse!

For as often as people like to complain about the Resident Evil games controls, they're really not too bad when put up against the many imitators and inspirations. Tank controls aside, Resident Evil's were still what I would genuinely describe as ''smooth''; they were always responsive and animated well--no worse than RE4--and games like RE3 and the remake in particular have a surprising amount of speed to them.

Fear Effect

Though the Fear Effect games for example even I think are rather clunky, which is ironic given that in these you can simultaneously move & shoot, and even have access to a 4-way directional evasive roll. However because you would often face against enemies that could shoot back (least during the beginning segments before demons and magic and shit is introduced), the tank controls weren't quite up to snuff I think. It did at least have a basic stealth system to it, which was outright necessary to utilise in certain levels like Disc 2 for the original. But nonetheless, the animations were somewhat lethargic and not always the most responsive. I still fucking adore the Fear Effect games mind you, particularly the second, but even I would have difficulty in trying to defend the combat. And yet weirdly enough I'm to believe @jeff actually quite enjoyed it...?

Dino Crisis

Funnily enough I would also consider Dino Crisis to be a little less than ideal as well. While the first in particular is aptly described as ''Resident Evil with dinosaurs'', controls-wise the movement is a little more sluggish; primarily by way of how there's a slight build-up when you start to run, which differs from Resident Evil in that once you begin running you are off. Though that's not my primary issue with the gameplay, and unfortunately enough it's actually related to its one defining element that was to set it apart from Resident Evil -- being the dinosaurs.

As you may expect, the dinosaurs are pretty bleedin' fast. In fact they're even faster than you, which was never the case in Resident Evil beyond maybe boss monsters. They're also incredibly strong and your starting pistol has like zero stopping power and a comically slow firing rate. As such, whenever a dinosaur enters a room (it was often randomised) you were in some deep dinosaur doodoo. Of course, that's the point, but the speed and overall aggression of the dinosaurs simply felt they were a bit too much for the controls to handle. You were at a pretty significant disadvantage, much more so than in a Resident Evil game. I have completed Dino Crisis however--twice in fact--but I don't think its combat is quite as well designed as Resident Evil. Because again, the enemies in Resident Evil are typically slow & sluggish, and even the zombie dogs of the series you were always just ever-so-slightly faster than.

...It has its moments, though

Though hey, at least you can move & aim in Dino Crisis! No, not move & shoot.... move & aim, which I always thought was a rather peculiar inclusion; not like it actually provided any mechanical benefit, either. With all that said, I'm admittedly not so much a fan of Dino Crisis for many other reasons besides. Like how the game takes place pretty much exclusively in drab, boring facility buildings. This was their first survival horror game that tried out 3D backgrounds as opposed to pre-rendered, which while it allowed the camera to sometimes pan alongside you, it meant the environments lacked the superb amount of detail pre-rendered offered. Plus, again, there was very little variety to a lot of it. As the plot went along you simply just kept moving on from one drab facility to another. And dinosaurs in general I never thought were as interesting nor certainly unnerving as the monstrosities that hounded the heroes of Resident Evil. So I'd say without reservation that I actually greatly prefer its more action-orientated arcade-shooter sequel. Jeez, you can't even walk in that game! It's probably about as drastic of a divergence as what Resident Evil saw when RE4 came about.

Silent Hill 2

Another fine example would be Silent Hill 2, which frankly controls like salty garbage. Even by Silent Hill standards SH2 was especially clunky -- even the original I'd say controls better. Its melee combat was practically broken; the difficulty with which it takes James to try and swing that bloody wooden stick you'd think he was suffering from a whole series of mental cognitive problems beyond the... y'know, psychosis and stuff. It would constantly keep bouncing off of stuff and was just a total mess to try and utilise. Fortunately firearm ammo was practically raining from the skies on the Normal combat difficulty setting, which I'd gather is the developers having a little self-awareness that their combat is even more clumsy than it should be.

Oh! Conclusion!

If there's a tank out there that can effortlessly sidestep a rocket, I wanna see it!

So, such is my explanations & justifications of why I think those old zombie games--for what they are--controlled perfectly fine. Now, I'm not demanding that everybody should now be inclined to agree with me, just that hopefully some may at the very least better understand why those old games continue to have their fans so many years onward. After all like I mentioned above, one of the core concepts of why I liked playing Resident Evil games of old was because of the fear of noticing your supplies dwindle and being forced to improvise. Even if because of their age there wasn't that much to improvise with beyond running away... still, early days and all that. Though of course there's still the B-movie storytelling and grotesque monster designs, they also certainly add to the appeal.

The beginning of a beautiful relationship.

That very gameplay scheme is why I really enjoyed the Outbreak games (well, the first one anyway), because it felt like it was the culmination of what Resident Evil was about but for a more modern era. It had degradable melee weapons for example and randomised zombie encounters, alongside analogue control & being able to move & shoot as I previously mentioned. And of course online cooperative multiplayer, even if we didn't have access to it over in Europe for the first game. Though even whence it was belatedly brought over with the sequel, I myself lacked the components for online play anyway, so... That's part of the reason why I prefer the original, as the sequel was made to be drastically more difficult to account for the introduction of online play; playing it solo was truly something of a nightmaaaaarrrrre.

Really, it's not like I specifically enjoy tank controls and think they're better than regular analogue control, I just (usually) have no problem with them. Camera angles, however, I am definitely in favour for and think they legitimately have merit in building atmosphere, especially in conjunction with pre-rendered backgrounds. It's a style I wish we could one day see if only a slight resurgence amidst the indie scene. If not, hopefully The Evil Within will then at least continue the slowly encroaching modern-day survival horror renaissance...

I swear, my anticipation for that game to live up to what it's selling itself as I'm finding to be far more distressing than just about any horror game >_>...

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