Resident Evil 0 HD’s success or failure will determine future of RE franchise

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Capcom announcing an HD remake of Resident Evil 0 may seem like another gimmick to appeal towards gamer nostalgia, but to the gaming community, its a representation of a cultural struggle that will determine the future of this iconic series.

Resident Evil was the leader in defining the concept of the horror survival genre, but now its future has been brought into question. Now a debate that has pitted traditional fans of the series against a new generation could be finally resolved by the success of Resident Evil 0 HD.

A Tale of Two Gaming Generations

Starting with the Fifth Console Generation, the Resident Evil series was the leader in defining the concept of the survival horror genre. However, the times changed and so did the series in the hopes of appealing to a new generation of gamers.

At first the new direction was welcomed by fans when Resident Evil 4 found the right balance of horror and action. Then everything changed when Resident Evil 5 abandoned most of the survival horror elements in favor of an action game. It all finally came to breaking point when Resident Evil 6 was released in 2012, being hailed as the worst game in the series. The result were a deep rift between a new generation of gamers and traditional fans while the future of the series was being put into question.

Adding insult to a disgruntled community was a special investment report that was published in 2013 that attributed the problems of the series to the fan base having become “too old.” Gamers were quick to express their outrage while the gaming media denounced the report as further proof that Capcom is failing to connect with its core audience.

Going Old School

In the Summer of 2014; Capcom announced that an HD remake of Resident Evil(based on the 2002 GameCube version) was in the works. The game took the player back to the traditional setup while visually being presented in 1080p and running at 60fps along with 5.1 surround support.

The announcement was met with enthusiasm and support from the gaming community, as there has been a strong demand to re-release the GameCube remake (dubbed REmake). Social media networks along with gaming sites were flooded with gamers voicing their support for the HD remake.

Resident Evil HD Remaster released on January 20, 2015, and it was highly praised by both fans along with critics. Despite being released at the end of the month and after the Holiday season, it was one of the best-selling titles of the year. According to Capcom; it was the fastest selling title in the series and one of the best-selling digital media titles. Sony also verified that Resident Evil was the best-selling game in January for both PlayStation consoles.

The Future Is Zero

Despite what fans are hoping for, the success of one game alone is not enough to determine the future of the series. Resident Evil 0 HD will be an attempt to recreate the success of Resident Evil HD to see if the series should return to its roots.

Should Resident Evil 0 succeed then the fans have sent a clear message to Capcom that the series needs to return to its roots as a true horror survival. It could also be the push needed for a proper remake of Resident Evil 2, something fans have wanted for a long time since its often hailed as the best game in the series.

However; if Resident Evil 0 HD fails then the ramification are going to be worse then more action games. The message sent to Capcom will be one of doubt that could jeopardize the future of the series. With no clear understanding of what the fan base wants, this could be a tipping point that could kill the Resident Evil series.

Gamers will have to wait until January 2016 to see if the success of Resident Evil 0 HD is the push needed to return the series to its roots. Or will its failure be the final nail in the coffin that ends the legacy of this pop-culture icon.

Written for GameSkinny
6/4/2015
Original Article: Resident Evil 0 HD’s success or failure will determine future of RE franchise

Battlefield: Hardline Takes the War to the Streets – 3/22/2015

Following the disastrous launch of Battlefield 4 (known as Brokenfield among disgruntled fans) many gamers may be hesitant to give Hardline a play through.

It may not appeal to traditional fans at first, but those who want a different shooter experience will be attracted to its new concept. Despite the change in setting, it is still a Battlefield at its core that will impress fans.

Battlefield: Hardline is not just a unique title because of the new theme but a diverse gameplay setup that appeals to more than just shooter fans.

Single-Player

The story is set in Miami in the midst of a drug war not seen since the ’80s and the police are fighting to shut down the cartels before the conflict escalates. Players take on the role of Det. Nick Mendoza as he works with his partner, Det. Khai Minh Dao, as they try to shut down cartel operations. However, during their investigation they uncover rampant corruption within the department.

Battlefield: Hardline single-player is not so much a campaign but an episodic adventure made to feel like a crime show. The story has been crafted to feel like a modernized version of Miami Vice that also incorporates elements of other hit crime shows.

The gameplay setup is very diverse for a shooter as it combines elements of crime solving, stealth action and RPG to give players a fresh experience. The crime solving mechanism makes the game feel like L.A. Noire with a CSI: Miami tone. Unlike previous games in the series, being stealthy and arresting suspects is highly recommended. However, shooter fans will have their moments to go guns blazing.

Multiplayer

While the single-player episodes are designed for a diverse gaming audience, the multiplayer game was developed for both Battlefield and shooter fans. To achieve this it has taken the gameplay features of Payday and Counter-Strike then combined them into the Battlefield setup.

The multiplayer has eight different types of games that pits cops against criminals in a verity of environments. The gameplay includes heist missions along with hostage rescue while traditional fans could still battle for outposts. There is also the traditional team death-match for those who just want to kill another player.

The heist has criminals stealing the loot then transporting it to a designated location while battling the cops. Hostage is a 4 vs. 4 match were the cops try to rescue hostages or take out all the criminals. Hotwire may be the most unique gameplay mode as the cops must stop the criminals from stealing several designated vehicles (there are a lot of car chases here).

Players could purchase new weapons with the money they earn and unlock new gear after meeting certain criteria. Charters and classes can be customized based on what the player needs.

Overall

However, this is still not a flawless gaming experiences due to a few minor issues that could not be overlooked. For starters, the driving in the single-player story is really pointless and does nothing for the overall gaming experience. The story has too many clichés from crime shows while having the quality of mediocre network shows (which is an issue for those who binge watch The Wire on HBO).

The multiplayer game could have also incorporated more Co-Op and planning into its setup. While borrowing inspiration from Payday adds to the games cops & robbers theme, but the lack of real Co-Op makes every multiplayer game feel like over complicated death-match. Instead there will be a few players working towards the the games objective while everyone else is out gunning for other players.

Gamers may also experience a few minor glitches but most of them will be resolved with future patches.

It should be noted that Battlefield: Hardline may not appeal to many players as the series has been a balance between a gameplay setup that appeals to the casuals who play Call of Duty and the hardcore buffs who prefer Armed Assault (ArmA). The Battlefield series has always tried to include the user friendly setup of CoD into a more massive and challenging experience that ArmA fans could also enjoy. While the simplicity of CoD or the difficulty of ArmA is lost, a balance is found that has incorporate the highlights of both titles. Yet there will always be those CoD gamers who will find the game too difficult while some ArmA fans will feel the game is too juvenile for them.

In a genre that has become saturated with Call of Duty-knockoffs, putting players on to the thin blue line is an excellent change. Battlefield: Hardline shift from the war zones to the streets helps bring a sense of originality to the series.

Written for GameSkinny
3/22/2015
Original ArticleBattlefield: Hardline Takes the War to the Streets

Resident Evil HD is a Return to the Classic Survival Horror Genre – 1/21/2015

It’s hard to believe now, but at one point Resident Evil was the gold standard in the horror survival genre. Now with the direction of the series in question, an HD version of the remake shows that sometimes all gamers want is a little old-fashioned.

Resident Evil HD is not just a nostalgic experience for the Next-Gen consoles but another chance to play a classic that so many fans missed. Many gamers played the original on the PlayStation, PC, or Sega Saturn back in the days but missed out on the GameCube remake because they either owned a PlayStation 2 or Xbox.

Old fans now have the opportunity to play an improved version of a timeless classic while new fans will finally experience what the true concept of horror survival is on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, and PC.

Iconic as Ever

The story itself has been hailed as one of the most memorable in gaming and has influenced the countless other horror games that followed. S.T.A.R.S (a special unit of the Raccoon Police Department) is deployed to investigate a series of murders outside the city. However, the team is forced to take refuge in a mansion after being attacked by a pack of Cerberus (zombie dogs). From this point is when the real nightmare begins as Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine work to uncover the secrets of the Umbrella Corporation.

Following in the footsteps of horror icon George A. Romero, the game uses the setting of a zombie outbreak to facilitate a social critique of the greed of pharmaceutical companies and the influence of money in politics. At the same time, it’s a modern retelling of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein that focuses on the moral implications of unchecked scientific research.

One thing Resident Evil received little credit for is how it avoided the stereotypical gender roles that are common in both video games and movies. The obvious being how Jill Valentine is not marginalized into role of the “useless chick” but is an actual, competent heroine.

The story and message may be timeless, but this update is not an old game with a new coat of paint. Original content has been added that can be unlocked after completing the game in a certain manner or at start the game with a BSAA outfit.

Classic Mechanics in New Clothes

While the visual design has been updated for the Next-Gen consoles, the gameplay setup and controls remain true to the classic horror survival genre. Ammo and health are limited while the player works to overcome a series of obstacles in an attempt to escape the mansion.

Fans who haven’t played a classic Resident Evil game in a long time, along with those who were introduced to the series with Resident Evil 4, may have a difficult time adjusting to the traditional setup.

The point is that this will be a very difficult game because horror survival is supposed to be challenging. That is what makes Resident Evil HD such an ideal game is that it’s a return to what made the series a modern classic.

Even today: the original, and GameCube remake, are held in high regards while Resident Evil 6 is often seen as the epitome of everything that is wrong with the horror genre. For fans, it’s a call to return back to the series roots instead of pandering to the action-junkie fanbase.

Resident Evil established the horror survival genre 19 years ago and the GameCube remake polished a timeless story 12 years ago. With the series having abandoned its roots, the HD remake is reminder of what the franchise once was.

Written for GameSkinny
1/21/2015
Original ArticleResident Evil HD is a Return to the Classic Survival Horror Genre 

5 Reasons Why Camping Is a Legitimate FPS Tactic – 1/15/2015

In the multiplayer FPS gaming world, the camper is among the most despised players (fourth only to cheaters, noobs and racist trolls). Camping is a tactic that is looked down upon because it relies on luck, cowardice, and having an auto-shotgun.

After all, everyone knows that running and gunning is the only real tactic to use in a game.

However, there is more to being a camper than finding a good hiding place. It requires mastery of a series of skills. Here are five reasons  why camping is a legitimate tactic.

5. You have to know yourself and the enemy.

As the great Sun Tzu said:

Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”

This ancient quote holds merit even today, and it applies to how one plays online.

Being a camper is not all about finding a hiding spot then waiting for someone to pass (unless you’re a noob). Good campers need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of themselves (and their teams) as well as the tactics of the enemy.

4. You have to know the environment

Level designs have changed as programmers work to ensure that no map has a spot where players feel safe turning their backs. Hence, good campers need to be able to familiarize themselves with the level to find the ideal location to hide.

How difficult this is depends on the game. It’s relatively easy in Modern Warfare 3, while Battlefield 3 requires some time master the environment. To camp successfully, a player needs to quickly identify tactical advantages and disadvantages of an area. The player must also be aware of where other players will likely engage most often, as well as what secret unlocks may be hidden in the level. It takes practice and a certain level of skill to process an area quickly and use it to one’s advantage.

3. Adaptability

Knowing the enemy and the environment allows players to adapt quickly to a dynamic environment. Adaptability is a key skill for any good camper. The player must be able to quickly identify and equip the most effective camouflage or the ideal weapon for a given situation.

Camouflage makes all the difference in how quickly the enemy notices a players who is camping. To successfully blend into the environment, the ideal camouflage closely matches the details of the level. It also helps to add a camouflage design to the weapon to avoid sticking out.

2. Campers are masters of stealth

It isn’t enough to know a setting and to be able to adapt to it. Campers must also be able to navigate their evnironments quickly and quietly, so as not to attract excess attention. This requires a mastery of stealth.

Stealthy play demands both skill and patience. Players will need to be patient and calm when moving in on kills, as rushing in will expose their position. This becomes even more difficult when you’re trying to stab the enemy rather than shoot them.

1. Camping requires accuracy and killer reflexes

This is necessary for pretty much any FPS player, but it’s especially important for campers. When it’s time to make the kill, a camper has only a few seconds before giving away their position. To truly take advantage of this short window of time, it’s important for the camper to be quick and accurate.

Every second will matter, and being hesitant is not a real luxury for a camper. (There is a fine line between the patience that stealth requires and complete hesitation.) Being slow and not knowing how to aim properly are the best ways to fail. When it comes down to a camping encounter, the players’ levels of skill and the quickness of their reflexes will determine who comes out on top. 

As you can see, there is more to being a camper then being some noob hiding in a corner. It is a tactic that requires mastering one’s own skills and the environment, while being quick and quiet enough to successfully take out the target.

Written for GameSkinny
1/15/2015
Original Article: 5 Reasons Why Camping Is a Legitimate FPS Tactic

Op-Ed: Grand Theft Auto V removed from retailer due to guilt and slander – 12/11/2014

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Sexual violence is an ugly aspect of our society that has a lasting impact on the victims. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed in society and taken seriously by the criminal justice system.

Alleging one of the greatest cultural works encourages sexual violence and then strong-arming retailers with guilt isn’t one way to bring better awareness. Unfortunately a victim of domestic violence (going by the pseudonym of Nicole) chose to take this path by circulating a petition that slandered Grand Theft Auto V than bullied Kmart and Target Australia to remove it from their shelves.

It’s important to know that at no point in Grand Theft Auto V are players asked or required to participate in acts of sexual violence. There are also no moments in the game that features the player perpetrating such a criminal act on a female non-playable character (NPC).

The petition that circulated on Change.org claimed that Grand Theft Auto Vencourages and rewards players for sexually assaulting women. Her only evidence is a YouTube video that demonstrates a players encounter with a prostitute, a trivial feature that has been available since Grand Theft Auto III.

This is has not been the first time the game has been denounced for allowing players to have interactions with prostitutes. However most critics who have denounced the content have been taken seriously in resent years. This is due to a story influenced by Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson that presents an in-depth analysis of the American Dream in a post-2008 crash society. Bickering over an insignificant content to the game gives the impression that they are too stupid to understand its literary content.

Unlike the few irrelevant critics, this petition has fooled 40,000 users and convinced many that the game “encourages kids” to participate in some acts of sexual violence. The result has been two major retailers having pulled the game and reignite a controversy that should have been dead. Worse is that Nicole has had the audacity to brag about her action while demonizing gamers.

So it should not be surprising that the gaming community has come to Rockstar’s defense by circulating another petition while denouncing Nicole’s unfounded and damaging accusation.

Many have felt that Nicole’s petition was based on her not being informed of the game’s content and story, but that is just sugar coating it.The content of the petition was not based on misinformation or a response to Gamergate but the intent to damage. This was all about Nicole wanting to advance her own political ambitions by leaching on a social issue that matters to many.

Following in the footsteps of Jack Thompson, anti-video game activist and disbarred lawyer, this has been a moral crusade based on lies to deceive the public. Adding more insult, she is constantly referring to the game as a product targeted to kids while assuming gamers are kids. This despite the fact that the average gamer is in their late 20s and the game was made for adults.

Nicole is no hero looking out for those who been the victims of sexual violence. The real heroes are those who refuse to accept what happen to them while working not only to seek justice for themselves but for others. They are also the ones who are fighting to have the law take the crime seriously while pushing for stronger punishments against rapists.

It should also be noted that Change.org needs to to be held accountable for allowing such a petition to be passed around without checking its accuracy of its claim. Was the petition actually fact checked by an admin or does any social justice warrior gets a free pass?

Sexual violence is a problem that could only be addressed by fighting for the rights of the victims to seek justice, not slandering a work of art. In the end Nicole is no hero, she is just another opportunist pushing her own political agenda on the backs of those who have been the victims of sexual violence.

Written for Digital Journal 
12/11/2014
Original ArticleOp-Ed: Grand Theft Auto V removed from retailer due to guilt and slander

Review: Far Cry 4 takes players to an exotic conflict of redemption – 11/26/14

Welcome to Kyrat, a landlocked country in the Himalayas that is plagued by corruption and civil war thanks to its despotic king. This is the exotic war zone that players will have to fight through in ‘Far Cry 4′.

Continuing the tradition of its predecessors; the game puts players in the role of a random character then tosses them into a conflict zone influenced by memorable stories. The first game in the series was inspired by The Island of Doctor Moreau, its sequel was a modern retelling of Hearts of Darkness, and the third game morphed the themes of Inside the Looking Glass with the plot of James Cameron’s Avatar along with a little Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

 This time players will embark on a journey inspired by the Nepalese Civil War. This was a 10-year conflict that was fought between Maoist intransigents against the Royalist government and ended with the monarchy being abolished.

The story follows Ajay Ghale as he returns to Kyrat to spread his mother ashes. The moment he crosses the border, the bus is attacked by the military and he becomes the prisoner of Pagan Min, the nation’s despotic king. Ghale is taken to the Royal Palace were he is the guest of honor during a dinner celebration. When Pagan Min steps out for a moment, the player has the choice to stay seated or wander the palace. It’s this choice that determines if he joins the Golden Path in their war against the Royalist government.

Far Cry 4 is a first-person adventure that puts players into an open world that has so much to explore. Kyrat is a magnificent world that has a history of violence and many secrets that are open for exploration. Besides the Royal Army and internal conflict, the natural wildlife is also a force not to be overlooked.

The gameplay setup is identical to its predecessor with minor changes that improves the overall experience. Several new vehicles and a slightly tweaked combat system allow for a better playing experience. While this may feel like a drawback, in all fairness Ubisoft games are more memorable for their story than the gameplay.

It’s important to note that the story is not just an improvement over its predecessor but a moral journey in the backdrops of a civil war. The story will explore themes of redemption, the emotional consequences of a broken heart along with the internal conflicts of traditional values vs. modern values. The biggest driving force in the story are the two characters who are in conflict with each other but bound by a sense of duty to an adopted country.

Unlike Jason Brody from the last game, Ajay Ghale is not some annoying brat who acquires combat skills after taking some hallucinogens. Instead he is a man with a troubled past that wants to put his mother to rest while exploring his families heritage. On the other side of the spectrum is Pagan Min, who seeks to keep control of Kyrat by what ever means necessary. This is a villain that could easily be described as a J-Pop star with the personality and style of the Joker. While he lacks the junkie-style savageness of Vaas Montenegro, he makes up for it with his charismatic charm.

Despite being total opposites, they have this twisted relationship that is very similar to what is shared between Batman and the Joker. A relationship that is best demonstrated in how Min doesn’t taunt or provoke Ghale but instead converses as if they are friends.The common theme that bounds these characters is they have a Western upbringing but have have come to Kyrat for a purpose that evolved into an odyssey to better themselves.

Despite having a solid story and multidimensional characters, the game has a few minor issues that are hard to overlook. Far Cry 4‘s biggest letdown is not that it uses the same gameplay mechanism from its predecessor — it uses of the same content that has become a trope for almost every Ubisoft game in the last few years.

The obvious has been requiring players to climb a tower to unlock a section of the map, a mini-game used in Assassin’s Creed, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Watch Dogs. It’s understandable that the game wants to be challenging, but this mini-game has been played out too much.

Another common trope encountered are enemies having more red on their uniforms than the Red Army, something Ubisoft has an obsession with. Such a uniform design would make sense in the Assassin’s Creed series but no modern military forces has red painted all over their uniform. It was not just in Far Cry 3 but these red armies were also an adversary in Watch Dogs and Rainbow Six: Vegas 2.

Finally it seems that they were a little lazy when it came to changing the players arsenal. Despite a few new additions, the roster of weapons available is the same from Far Cry 3 while using the same texture that was also featured in Watch Dogs.

As stated before, Ubisoft games always seem to have the most clunky gameplay mechanism but its always made up with a memorable story. While its acceptable to forgive them for reusing these tropes and the gameplay, they really need to come up with some original ideas before they start rehashing the story.

Far Cry 4 preserves everything gamers liked about its predecessor while introducing a more memorable story that is rich in context. While it will feel like a familiar game, the journey will make players explore a new world with many wonders.

Final Score: 4.5/5

Written for Digital Journal 
11/26/2014
Original Article: Review: Far Cry 4 takes players to an exotic conflict of redemption

Review: Call of Duty: Heroes is a mediocre take on a modern classic – 11/23/2014

‘Call of Duty: Heroes’ is a new vision of the iconic shooter by bring the action to the mobile device within the context of a Real Time Strategy game.

Inspired by the Modern Warfare and Black Ops story arc, players establish a base than build an army. Once everything is setup, players could either play a single-player campaign or attack the bases of other players.

Besides controlling the standard units seen in most RTS games, players will also have the ability to deploy iconic characters like Captain Price and Soap Soap MacTavish. Each of these Hero class characters have unique abilities based on the Perks from the multiplayer game.

Despite being a new setup based on the iconic series, its gameplay is almost identical to the setup featured in Clash of Clans. This would have been acceptable issue to overlook, however that setup could easily be described as having dumbed down the concept of the RTS genre.

This setup deprives the player of having to mentality develop a strategy to overcome an opponent. Instead the only plan is making a lot of units than overpowering them with sheer numbers. Sure the player may have the illusion that they are a military tactician but in truth it’s the equivalence of playing Candy Crush.

Not making the game any better is the lazy single player campaign that lacks any kind of a story to connect the events. The player just attacks the enemy base than move on to the next level that feels somewhat the same.

There is some sense of fun in this game but it really requires the player to have never played Clash of Clans or another RTS game on the mobile phone. At best its going to be one of those mediocre games someone will play just to kill time while on the toilet.

Call of Duty: Heroes tries to bring something new to gamers while preserving the essence of two iconic story arcs. Instead it uses a gameplay setup that has dumb down the RTS genre. On the bright side, it’s still a better game than Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Final Score: 3/5

 Written for Digital Journal 
11/23/2014
Original Article:
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