Resident Evil Zero: When collecting herbs, always keep the terracotta pot…

Warning: I’ve tried to avoid spoilers, but in discussing the game I mention things which may be considered spoilers if you are completely new to ‘Resident Evil’ (Biohazard) and have absolutely no knowledge of any of the content therein. 

You are now entering a world of subjective blogging horror…
Good luck… 

The ‘Resident Evil’ plot reached the level of ‘fiasco’ a few games ago and is now so convoluted that it’s sprinting towards farcical with no sign of slowing up. The series has seven numerical offerings (including Zero); other titles that also slot in to the plot (e.g. Code: Veronica); Spin-off series’ (e.g. Gun Survivor, Revelations, Outbreak); and one-off obscurities (e.g. Umbrella Chronicles, Mercenaries 3D). For this slice of ramble-pie I’m focusing in on ‘Resident Evil Zero’ (HD re-release for PC); a title which in itself requires some scene setting preamble, as my completely subjective opinions should at least be put into context. In early 2002 the original ‘Resident Evil’ (1996) was remade for the Nintendo Gamecube; the remake brought all aspects of the game up to the (then) current generation of consoles. It included some additional content to lengthen the game and was well received by both veterans and new comers to the series. Later in 2002 ‘Resident Evil Zero’ was released, also as a Gamecube exclusive, visually following the same aesthetic tone set by the preceding game. RE:Zero is a prequel to the events that transpire in ‘Resident Evil’ and provides a backstory for the fresh faced rookie, Rebecca Chambers. Following the success of the HD re-release of the ‘Resident Evil’ remake (2002) in 2015 (still following?) Capcom has given RE:Zero that same HD respray and allowed those of us who didn’t own a Gamecube to once again enter the world of survival horror and experience the prequel to those infamous events in Raccoon City.

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I’d love to make a journey on a train like this… possibly without the zombies…

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Infra and Deduce: Thoughts on Loiste Interactive’s ‘Infra’ (Part One)

The hyper-clean, polished, white, glass & steel office building that constitutes Infra’s opening sends out a clear message; modern civilization is entirely dependent on the smooth running of the underlying infrastructure. When you turn on a tap, water flows; and there is barely a thought of the collection, purification, pumping, piping and drainage needed…  Until it goes wrong.

‘Infra’ puts the player in the shoes of a gravely voiced structural engineer with a bizarrely maverick attitude (most vocations have ‘mavericks’ – just something fun to think about when the guy comes to read the gas meter; he could be the one that the rest of the office consider to be the ‘maverick’) and an extremely power hungry digital camera. You’re sent on a sightseeing tour of Stalburg’s crumbling infrastructure to document, assess and in some cases simply survive this decaying underworld. This is all played out over a backdrop of the city falling apart and a conspiracy brewing; centred around the man procuring these utilities.

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'Infra' shines in this rusting underworld

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Dying Lite

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I’m 11 posts old! I pushed through into ‘double-figures’ with my last offering; I’m through the preliminary investigations and the experiment has started properly. Laying down each of those first 10 posts has made me a little less apprehensive about hitting the ‘publish’ button and now the homepage is ‘populated’ rather than being simply speckled with a few entries. Tape-rewind-sound-effect back a few months to before my first post and I was looking up “blogging advice”. Only one thing really stuck, the often repeated mantra of “have a schedule”…  I’m bad with schedules… I kept it realistic; ‘4 posts a month’, which has since been ‘corrected’ to 3 posts a month (on average)’. It’s mid-January and I’m struggling to keep up; the problem is ‘Dying Light’.

I’ve been playing ‘Dying Light’ almost exclusively during my gaming hours since that lost week between Christmas and New Year when the days all blend together and your only real concern is that the mince pies might run out at any moment. ‘Dying Light’ is good, and I (or we,  as my partner and I are co-oping it) am enjoying it. Like the authors of so many of the articles I have read recently,  I don’t think a game needs to be in excess of 20 hours to be good value for money. Anything with a campaign North of 15 hours needs to be considered carefully before I get on board and I’ll only undertake a couple of games topping 30 hours each year. So, having picked up good vibes, it was with no small amount of consideration that I leapt into the slums of Harran and I’m still merrily hacking away at its endless stream of former inhabitants some weeks later.
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Steam Link Hardware Review: Chain Drive Steam Engine

…see the end of the post for the array of alternative titles I considered* …

I’ve started and scrapped different versions of this post many times; the one thing I can say for absolute certainty is that whilst I want to write a hardware review of Valve’s curious gizmo the ‘Steam Link’, it is inherently a dull thing to write about. I’m going to sidestep the default conclusion that I simply don’t possess the ‘blogging flair’ (or writing wizardry) to make a dry subject interesting for two reasons: firstly I’m not one to back away from a challenge, and secondly because the dullness of the ‘Steam Link’ is largely the result of it being such an ‘obvious’ piece of hardware for Valve to release.

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The Steam Link... Oooohhh...

Scene-Setting Preamble:

As 2015 drew to a close, we were finally granted permission to see the first publicly accessible iterations of the hardware side of Valve’s bid to capture our couch gaming hours in addition to our desk based ones. These hardware developments go hand in hand with the software side of things (also nominally a trio of ideas). The software consists of ‘Steam OS’, ‘Big Picture Mode’, and ‘In-Home Streaming’ whilst the hardware features ‘Steam Machines’, ‘The Steam Controller’, and ‘Steam Link’. This self-imposed literary wrestling match I’m currently involved in is largely the result of having received a Steam Link for Christmas as a gift from my partner (much better than Valve’s xmas gift to us of someone else’s account details), but maybe contextually it’s also appropriate to write about it at the start of 2016. Valve are savvy enough not to expect overnight miracles, but the uptake of these new features will no doubt be scrutinised at the end of the full year cycle and in this respect 2016 could be pivotal in the future direction of Valve’s brand of PC gaming.

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