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Itchy, Tasty: How The Resident Evil 2 Remake Simultaneously Irritated & Slightly Satisfied Me

We live in a time of seemingly endless video game remakes, remasters, and rehashes. And while the “remaster” category has been plagued with some of the most horribly disrespectful ruination known to creative media, surprisingly the “remake” category has been mostly wonderful releases. We could debate for hours about whether or not remakes should even be a thing in gaming, but that won’t change the fact that they exist. No, I’d much rather complain about their flaws while implying I could do a much better job despite having zero experience in video game development. So without further ado, here is how the Resident Evil 2 Remake both deeply irritated and slightly satisfied me simultaneously.

Unlike every other Resident Evil fan on the planet, I never considered the second entry to be anywhere near my favourite instalment. That’s not to say it’s bad, it just never grabbed me like the original release or the genre-shift of RE4. I only recall playing the game once around the original release while taking turns with a childhood friend of mine on a very high-quality 17-inch tube television. So it goes without saying that my gripes and dislikes of this remake aren’t rooted in comparison to the original. I will, however, be comparing it to other releases in the series, both classic and modern, but that’s fair wouldn’t you say?

I’ve never been a fan of the “it’s scary because you are forced to run away” genre of horror games. Personally, I don’t find the idea of being utterly incapable of doing anything to stop my pursuer to be scary or fun. Sure, it can enhance stress or fear when done properly and in controlled doses, but to create an entire game around it will only breed frustration and ultimately feels lazy to me. The Resident Evil series never based itself solely on the idea of having to run away. It was a legitimate tactic of course, but it was up to the player’s choice and even skill level. They had injected certain ‘unbeatable’ elements in the series, such as Mr. X and of course Nemesis, but it was always in certain points during the game. While I personally didn’t care for those moments, it never really bothered me enough to complain, until now.

Mr. X himself isn’t overwhelmingly annoying. Once you learn his, somewhat underwhelming, AI logic and entry boundaries for the sake of the game, you can easily manage the lumbering man with poor fashion taste. The real problem lies with the changes made to the zombies. For some reason, they seem to have an almost magnetic attractiveness when they enter their grab animations. While they are slow and shambling 99.9% of the time, if you walk anywhere near them, they instantly spin on their heels and dash towards you like an unmarried woman during the bouquet toss. If this happens in a group of zombies, you might as well set your controller down and grab a drink because you’ll be watching animations for the next twenty minutes since, unless you have a “rescue item”, there will be no way of interrupting the incoming sequence of annoyance. Throw Mr. X into the mix and an aneurysm is all but certain. This changes the game from planning your movements and resource usage into “use no ammo or end up with no ammo”. Either way, you’re going to be defenceless and running for the majority of the game, especially on harder difficulties. This is only compounded by the total lack of the classic knife.

Nothing could be done to avoid this endless hell.

“Aim for the head”. This phrase has been uttered since the inception of zombies. Not only does it fit into the twisted logic of “destroy the brain to stop the unstoppable dead thing”, but it also fits in the usual gameplay mechanic and challenge of having good aim. You can eventually stop a reanimated corpse by shooting its limbs or torso, but if you wanna end it quickly, you aim for the brain, much like with humans…or basically any other carbon-based multi-celled organism. This is still true for the RE2 remake, but the problem lies in how many shots it takes. I am not exaggerating when I say I’ve shot a normal, random zombie while playing on the Hardcore difficulty a staggering sixteen times in the head before it was fully dead. On average I’d say it takes around 7-9 headshots per zombie on Hardcore. This is unacceptable. You can disagree, but you’d be wrong. There is nothing satisfying, challenging, or fun about having to shoot an enemy in the head ten times, nothing.

I’m sure someone will say you’re not supposed to fully kill each one when you encounter them, and that the zombies were designed to not die until you re-encounter them later on, thus why they take so many bullets. That is basically the idea behind the Crimson Head mechanic in the first remake. Zombies would “die”, only to come back later in the game but much faster and deadlier, unless the player used the limited amount of fuel found around the mansion to burn the corpses. So I guess RE2 decided to replace that mechanic with a bunch of bullet sponges? How creative and interesting.

The game does feature the basically unexplained mechanic of standing still to steady your aim until your crosshair “snaps” resulting in the shot dealing slightly more damage, but this only makes matters worse. This means the player who can quickly swing their aim in various directions to pull off headshots on multiple moving targets is essentially penalized for being good at aiming. But you say, “Resident Evil 2 wasn’t an action game. It was about making each shot count!” Well, you’re right, it wasn’t an action game. The camera, controls, amount of enemies and their design, and everything else in the game was designed to not be action-oriented. That’s why it worked so well. The problem with the remake is that it fancies itself an action game when it comes to aiming, perspective, damage outputs, and enemies, but then attempts to retain the survival horror of the original when it comes to ammo and movements.

Nice shot Leon! Only 235 more to go!

This is a game that isn’t sure what it wants to be. It wants that classic, stressful, survival horror it once had, but it knows that most players expect a more modern game. One with smoother movements, dynamic aiming, and a more orthodox camera in today’s market. Thus we get a game where I feel like I should be able to dodge attacks, but I can’t. Some enemies even feel like their attack patterns were designed for gameplay more similar to Resident Evil 6. I feel like someone screwed with my control scheme and I’m missing a few buttons. You need a clear idea of what type of game you want to make when it comes to controls and flow. Trying to play both styles is a dangerous idea.

In every other main entry in the Resident Evil series, the knife was always a constant. You always had that trusty little blade just waiting for a desperate situation. Especially in the first game’s remake, RE4, and RE5, the knife was a massive tactic for defeating zombies and conserving ammo. I mean I’m fairly certain that the entire idea of a “Knife Run” spawned from the original game. In the RE2 remake, it’s been demoted to the same level as a frag grenade or flashbang. You can use it as a traditional knife, but surprise, it degrades and can break after about fifteen or so uses, which is what happens when a developer mistakes overwhelming frustration with fear.

Sure these knives are all over the place, sure you can unlock an “unlimited knife” by shooting collectables, but that isn’t the point. While attempting to enhance and remake a classic survival horror game beloved by fans, they thought to remove one of the staples of the entire series, for essentially no reason at all, was a good move. The original remake featured both a survival knife and rescue knife, and it worked perfectly. I cannot for the life of me see why they changed that formula. It honestly kind of gives me a headache when I think about it.

Yes, you too can own a knife that is a worthless piece of junk!

Another problem that most people seem to agree with is the new sounds and score. While the menu sounds and intro voice isn’t really something that affects the core gameplay, the musical score certainly is. The new soundtrack isn’t bad per-se, it’s more non-existent. Most of the game you’ll be hearing no music at all, even in the iconic police dept. main hall. This does a lot to effect and potentially spoil the atmosphere and mood of the game. After my first playthrough, I honestly didn’t remember a single note of soundtrack, other than the horrible credits song. When I replayed I decided to turn on the classic sound option, and I’m glad I did. I am so glad in fact, that if there was some way to edit the console version and delete the new soundtrack from the game, I would, as I will never in my entire life want it enabled again.

The original score is so much better and mood-setting. I’m not speaking from nostalgia here; I don’t even remember the original music. It’s just better, plain and simple. I’m extremely happy Capcom includes this option, as it really improves the overall experience. What I’m downright angry about is that they only include it in the overpriced edition of the release, or for the small price of three US dollars. Really? This is what gaming has become? In order to hear original sounds and music in a remake, fans of the series (who also probably bought the original release as well) now have to pay an extra three bucks to simply enable already created noise? Absurd.

It doesn’t matter that it’s different from the original, these problems would apply to any video game. Don’t get me wrong, the Resident Evil 2 remake is a decent game; when compared to most modern AAA titles, it’s even pretty good. The atmosphere is wonderful, the visuals are great, and I am glad they did some things a bit different rather than just rehashing the exact same experience. It did scratch my itch of a classic RE title. I even think the idea of a Nemesis remake could be great, but only if they don’t fall into the same traps that they did this time around. And that’s my problem with this remake. They managed to mess up things that the series had already perfected. In a sense, they took more steps back than forward. Let’s hope they try to improve with the next release, especially if it’s going to be another remake.

5 Games We’d Like To Have Seen From Telltale

It was a weird, fascinating, and ultimately disappointing ride. The story of Telltale Games’ shutdown is now known to most dedicated console gamers, and in case you missed it, the company basically stopped keeping up. Its games became repetitive and formulaic, the graphics became outdated and the games buggy, and eventually waning interest and mass layoffs led to a shutdown announced this year. The experiment with high-end, narrative-centric, episodic gaming, to the extent that Telltale tried it, is over for now. And after a run of well over a decade, there’s surprisingly little to show for it.

With that said, it’s also oddly difficult to believe that Telltale is really done for good. So in the event that the company is resurrected somehow and brought back with a renewed commitment to quality – or if someone else decides to try to do the same style more effectively – we gave some thought to the games we’d have like to see that Telltale never got around to. (Quick note: we’re leaving out the Stranger Things game because there are some conflicting reports as to whether Netflix is forging ahead with it or it’s simply canceled.)

1. Westworld

Westworld has become a very popular show on HBO and is the natural successor to Game Of Thrones, even if Thrones is getting its own spinoffs. The interesting thing though is that while Westworld is almost about a sort of futuristic substitute for virtual reality gaming, it doesn’t lend itself very well to a traditional, modern game. The show is driven by plot twists, character decisions, mystery and scenery more than it is by action (even if there’s plenty of violence). Now, don’t those all sound like things Telltale excelled with in its heyday? A revamped version fo the company could produce an outstanding game based on Westworld with beautiful graphics, a clear narrative core, and plenty of decision-making opportunities for players, with minimal but suitable action. Frankly, it could be stunning.

2. The Fast & The Furious

Despite becoming a film franchise that at this point can literally rival Marvel Studios from one release to another (The Fate Of The Furious grossed $1.24 billion worldwide), the Fast & Furious films just haven’t spawned a great game. That’s probably in part because most traditional gaming styles can’t naturally blend car racing with narrative. Telltale could do it however, and it would be a nice new look for the company. Interspersing the stories we’ve come to know and love about the characters in this series with exciting street racing elements would make for a bold but fascinating game.

3. Jekyll & Hyde

Most everyone knows the story of Jekyll & Hyde at least in a very basic way, yet it’s not the kind of story we commonly associate with gaming. There is in fact a modern game based on the tale, though it takes the form of a slot arcade online. As that game points out, there’s no getting around the fact that the original tale is somewhat dark in nature, and to its credit, the game embraces a darker aesthetic than most of its slot gaming counterparts. But can you imagine a similar aesthetic in a Telltale format? A dark, haunting game revolving around one of the most famous gothic horror tales of all time would also be a bold look for Telltale. And with this being another bit of source material that revolves more around story than action, it’s a nice fit.

4. Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes just never goes away. There’s always a new video game, a new film, a new television show, or in some cases a whole fresh adaptation on the concept. So, why not try it in this kind of a format? In a way, a detective story is better suited to Telltale’s particular style than just about any other genre of fiction. Done properly, with a heavy focus on environment and gradual story reveals, it could be the kind of game that catches on with a very enthusiastic fan base.

5. Harry Potter

Think about the last great Harry Potter game you played. There’s a good bet nothing comes to mind. This is incredible given the sheer magnitude of the Harry Potter franchise, and it’s something that’s clearly going to be remedied at one point or another. There has actually been leaked footage of a Harry Potter RPG that is apparently a very real thing. The game will be called “Magic Awakened,” and will come out in the next year or two. However, given the history of games relating to Harry Potter, we’ll withhold judgement until we see it. And in the meantime, an expansive and extensive Telltale series based on J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world could legitimately be the next big thing in console gaming, with the right creative team behind it.

Investigating A Lead: Gameplay Trailer

The Occupation is a first-person, fixed-time, investigative thriller set in North West England on October 24th, 1987.

You play as a journalist in a detailed, systems-driven world where people react to your actions and time is your biggest enemy. It’s 1987 in North West England; A time of 80’s British pop, grand architecture and political unrest. An explosion has triggered a controversial act which threatens to erode civil liberties of the population to be rushed into place. You are tasked with investigating and questioning people on their actions from a tumultuous night which resulted in the loss of many lives. Each person has a different account of the night’s event and you must use the tools at your disposal to get the results you need for your investigation.

Beat Cop Console Edition • Gameplay Trailer

Explore its darkest corners and uncover its secrets as Jack Kelly, a former detective who has been framed for a murder. Degraded and forgotten by old pals, it’s your last chance to find the truth behind this whole terrible mess.

The thing is, your new boss treats you like shit, your wife is a money sucking spawn from hell and the local mafia wants your head on a plate. I guess you could say, that things are complicated down here, in the middle of Brooklyn.

Beat Cop hits consoles this month!

Catherine: Full Body

Introduced to video games when he was only five, after dying somewhere around four thousand times while playing Star Tropics, he never looked back. Some of his favorites range from titles like Shenmue and Metal Gear Solid 3 to Half-Life 2, Manhunt, and the Dark Souls series. Justin has a passion for vinyl records, and loves to collect video game memorabilia. If he had one wish, it would be to travel back to 1984 Miami.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Introduced to video games when he was only five, after dying somewhere around four thousand times while playing Star Tropics, he never looked back. Some of his favorites range from titles like Shenmue and Metal Gear Solid 3 to Half-Life 2, Manhunt, and the Dark Souls series. Justin has a passion for vinyl records, and loves to collect video game memorabilia. If he had one wish, it would be to travel back to 1984 Miami.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Introduced to video games when he was only five, after dying somewhere around four thousand times while playing Star Tropics, he never looked back. Some of his favorites range from titles like Shenmue and Metal Gear Solid 3 to Half-Life 2, Manhunt, and the Dark Souls series. Justin has a passion for vinyl records, and loves to collect video game memorabilia. If he had one wish, it would be to travel back to 1984 Miami.

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