Resident Evil Outbreak: Here Comes the B-Team

… as the intro kicks in we see the events of William Birkin’s confrontation with the Umbrella agents play out amid the unfolding imagery of the spreading infection. Outbreak is a game firmly seated in the lore and style of the original trilogy. 

It’s no secret that I love the first trilogy of Resident Evil games; they were the reason I owned a PlayStation and consequently a big part in why I graduated on to a PS2 as soon as it was released. Unfortunately there weren’t any Resident Evil titles confirmed for PS2 at the point of release and through its life it would play a surprising second fiddle to its contemporary consoles in those tales of S.T.A.R.S. & Co. especially considering how the first games had been such prominent titles in its predecessor’s roster. The two big RE titles that would find their way there were both ‘exclusive’ to other consoles at launch: RE: Code Veronica being originally made for the Dreamcast and RE4 setting sail with the GameCube. PS2 didn’t even receive the fantastic REMake of the original or similarly styled RE: Zero. I did play and enjoy RE:CV at launch on the PS2 but had drifted further away from the series by the time I would have been able to play RE4 and when I finally did get around to sampling it in recent years I wasn’t a fan of the new, action-heavy, style of gameplay.

Between these two titles was dropped the PS2 exclusive RE:Outbreak subseries (Outbreak & Outbreak File #2) which could be considered some of the last Resident Evil games to feature the classic style of gameplay and shambling zombies. They shared the fully 3D backgrounds of RE:CV, but maintained the fixed camera angles (albeit with panning and tracking) that defined the feel and pacing of the early games. Given my own background I find it hard to believe that I owned both of these games and barely explored them at all before trading them in – I think I may even have sold ‘Outbreak: File #2’ with the cellophane still intact given that I didn’t finish Outbreak itself. A couple of weeks ago however I spotted Outbreak for £5 in a branch of popular-chain-of-used-games-stores-here-in-the-uk and decided that it was worth a revisiting. Continue reading “Resident Evil Outbreak: Here Comes the B-Team”

The Invisible Hours: I Was Sure the Cat Did It

Mr. Swan carefully replaces his broom next to the kitchen window and slowly edges back toward the table. He gingerly picks up the porcelain cat and works his fingers around it to make sure that it is the item he was searching for. Satisfied, he fumbles his way in to the dining room before positioning the cat on the polished oak table and making his way toward the hall. Little does he know that his day is about to take a downward turn.

I sat on the floor and watched Mr. Swan do this several times. The porcelain cat must be the key to it all otherwise why would he have been so careful to move it? The positioning was too precise yet random, the item too intriguing with the dragon motif on the base, and the eyes of the cat too searching, too intelligent, their glazed stare had witnessed too much. Of course ultimately it was just a porcelain cat, one detail in this play that had a surprisingly insignificant role in the a larger sequence of events where everything felt deliberate.

‘The Invisible Hours’ is a VR experience from Tequila Works (although it is now playable in non-VR) that truly deserves the ambiguous qualifier of being an ‘experience’. I’ve mentioned in the past that one of my worries for VR gaming is that it will become the home of ‘experiences’ rather than actual games however in this case the qualifier is justified as there is no traditional gameplay to speak of however please don’t let that put you off one of the more unique and satisfying VR titles that I’ve picked up so far in my Vive adventures. Continue reading “The Invisible Hours: I Was Sure the Cat Did It”

Metal Gear (NES): I Feel Asleep

This is Mission Commander Big Boss. The following article contains spoilers for the original Metal Gear. The game is thirty years old, do I still need to warn you? You have been warned! 

In my recent 20 year retrospective about Metal Gear Solid for PS1 I mentioned that the original Metal Gear for NES was one of the few games that I own for that system and yet I’ve never completed it (to clarify, my NES is not a childhood console, I picked it up about ten years ago on eBay). With that thought gently turning the cogs of my mind I decided to finally play it and see where the series began and how it shaped the follow up monster of the PlayStation 1 era. Blowing the dust off both the console and the game I fired it up and…

Continue reading “Metal Gear (NES): I Feel Asleep”

Duck Season: With Paprika

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for “Duck Season”… also whilst I’m warning, so does the trailer for “Duck Season”.

I’d lay a guinea to the fact that most of you reading this are of that very specific age to have grown up knowing the simple time pressure of renting a videogame from Blockbuster. Three-day rental, five-day rental, it made little difference, there was always a race against time. How far could you get before the return day approached? I can’t say that I had that many of the pre-requisite entirely free weekends which coincided with a Friday night adventure through the fabled door below the ripped ticket stub in to the land of blue, yellow, overpriced snacks, and disappoint of realising that although they had about a hundred of the empty cover boxes of the latest movie you needed to find one of the generic boxes to actually rent that movie. Game rental for me was indeed a rare treat, so much so that I can remember almost every instance of it during the 16-bit era… and they were all mediocre titles at best. Continue reading “Duck Season: With Paprika”

I Expect You to Die: James Bond without much James Bonding

The opening title sequence of a game is rarely something mentioned in a “review” (if that is what I do here…) but in the case of “I Expect you to Die”, the opening titles are a notable VR experience in themselves. The player is a passenger through a Bond inspired, highly stylised, red & black dichromatic intro sequence complete with Shirley Bassey style theme music. It’s an homage to everything that the game strives to be – an over the top Spy experience paying tribute to Connery and Moore whilst keeping its tongue firmly in cheek.  Continue reading “I Expect You to Die: James Bond without much James Bonding”

Arizona Sunshine Features Both Arizona and Sunshine

Shooting zombies; it’s what gamers have been doing since the 90’s. Wave after wave they arrive to be met by the ingame blast of a shotgun or grenade, and likewise the zombie shooter genre itself feels as though it’s been delivering a relentless onslaught of titles for the past 20 years. Even if you’re not a fan, it’s difficult to deny that this subgenre has been a successful formula; ever mutating to match the style of the time, but always dropping the player in that futile struggle against the undead. Whether highlighting the harrowing reality of the scenario, taking a darkly comedic look at the crisis, or simply focusing on guilt-free carnage, gamers still seem to find this well-worn path appealing.

One of the first games I looked for when road testing my Vive was a zombie shooter. A short VR experience about two years ago had been with a rail shooter and I was impressed then with how effectively the motion tracking managed to sustain the illusion of wielding weapons.

Enter “Arizona Sunshine” which seems to be the leading VR zombie shooter on the Steam Store and (for those of you who can’t be bothered to read to the end) it delivers a competent VR FPS zombie shooting experience… which might not sound like wildly extravagant praise, but is a pretty good achievement nonetheless. Continue reading “Arizona Sunshine Features Both Arizona and Sunshine”

Jurassic Park (DOS 1993) – Split Personality

“Who better to get the children through Jurassic Park than a dinosaur expert” – John Hammond … to be said in a warm Scottish accent… 

Who better indeed than Alan Grant? The embodiment of Good-Sam-Neil; as oppose to Bad-Sam-Neil that we all know and were terrified by in Event Horizon.

The latest in my very leisurely quest to explore the many Jurassic Park games goes right back to 1993 where it all started with the PC game released by Ocean software. Ocean were also responsible for the Nintendo (NES, GB, SNES) Jurassic Park games which all took a more top-down action approach when compared to the side-scrolling action of the SEGA games; but those are DNA strands to break down another day. The PC version is most similar to the SNES version with both isometric and first person segments, but they are two quite different games as I managed to complete the PC version whereas any time I’ve attempted the SNES version I’ve failed to make it more than one-hundred in-game meters from the opening screen. Continue reading “Jurassic Park (DOS 1993) – Split Personality”