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

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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

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:

Op-Ed: The legacy of ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’ ten years later – 11/21/2014

A young Big Boss in 'Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater'

A young Big Boss in ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’

Ten years ago on November 17, ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’ was released for the PlayStation 2 and it truly demonstrated the storytelling craft of video games.

The game started as a way for Hideo Kojima to make amends with fans who were outraged over the bait and switch of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. At the same time the success of Vietcong had started a temporary fad of creating military games set in jungle environments.

Not wanting to settle for a game that panders to popularity, Kojima crafted an origin story that explores the political atmosphere and pop-culture of the 1960s. From the start the players is given a quick history lesson on the Cold War while the opening credits feature a theme song that pays homage to the James Bond films.

The year is 1964; tensions on the world stage are high as the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union threatens the peace of the world. At the same time the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev is being threaten by Colonel Volgin, who is plotting to replace him with Leonid Brezhnev. In the midst of all this, the Fox Unit commences the Virtuous Mission with the goal of bringing Dr. Nikolai Sokolov to the West.

A young Special Forces operative code named Naked Snake is deployed to find Dr. Sokolov. Everything goes according to plan until it’s unveiled that The Boss, the Mother of the Special Forces and Snake’s mentor, has defected to the Soviet Union. To make matter worse; a research facility is destroyed in a nuclear attack that was perpetrated by Colonel Volgin using the Davy Crockett.

As a result the world has on verge of a possible war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The only way to avoid a nuclear war is for Naked Snake to embark on a journey that will push him to the limits as he is tasked with eliminating The Boss. It is out of the tragic ashes of Operation Snake Eater will rise the legacy of Big Boss.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was universally praised by both gamers and critics for raising the bar with a thought-provoking story that explored several passionate themes while redefining the stealth genre. Ten years later it has been hailed as one of the greatest PlayStation 2 games while its story has been praised as one of the most memorable in gaming.

It’s one of the few PlayStation 2 games that have survived the test of time as several ports only updated the graphics while keeping the original content. What has made Snake Eater standout is the revolutionary gameplay it introduced and the moral themes it explored.

The gameplay broke from the traditional setup featured in stealth action as the jungle environment presented a new opportunity. It was not just about avoiding detection, but a focus on jungle survival and overcoming natural obstacles. The character had to be fed and have his medical needs attended to or it would be difficult to continue. This laid the foundation for other titles that included survival in the gameplay mechanism.

The story has been a memorable one because the game explores the themes of unquestioned patriotism and its consequences along with the bound of a mother and son.

The consequences of unquestioned patriotism is the most significant due to its role in American politics during the Cold War. McCarthyism banished the concept of questioning authority while unchallenged obedience to the government dominated the political landscape. For her country, The Boss is forced to make several life changing sacrifices, including killing her lover. In the end she was asked to defect to the Soviet Union than killed by her protege for being a “traitor.”

It’s after the success of Operation Snake Eater that Snake learns the truth. He then questions his own patriotism after his mentor was tossed to the wolves by the country she swore to defend. This sets in motion Big Boss turning his back on America that will reach to a major boiling point following the events of Ground Zeros.

The bond of a mother and son is also a very powerful theme explored during the events of Operation Snake Eater. Snake is consistently at odds with his mission of eliminating The Boss due to their past history that has created a relationship similar to that between a mother and child. Like a mother; she nurtured him as they have fought in combat together while being a major influences on his character.

This relationship and its challenges are best demonstrated when The Boss is able to easily subdue Snake on multiple occasions. It may appear that he lacks the skill, but in truth is he is unable to bring himself to hurt his mother figure. Snake is finally able to defeat her after overcoming his emotions but at a cost to his principles.

It’s because of these powerful themes that made the story of Snake Eater an emotional, driven work of art. Rarely had a video game had a story that would emotionally impact the player like Kojima’s did.

Finally, one should not overlook the musical score that was composed Harry Gregson-Williams. It’s a mix of some new sounds along with a familiar composition that helps build the dramatic tension in the story.

Looking back 10 years after its release, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is truly one of the most magnificent works of digital art. As gamers await the release of The Phantom Pain, the story of how it all began will be a true testament to the power of story telling in the context of a video game.

Written for Digital Journal 
11/17/2014
Original Article: Op-Ed: The legacy of ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’ ten years later

Review: ‘F.E.A.R. Online’ brings the horror icon to the multiplayer world – 10/27/2014

FEAROnline

The concept of a free-to-play multiplayer game based on the iconic horror shooter may at first feel difficult to comprehend, but ‘F.E.A.R. Online’ is able to capture the series essence in an online environment.

Following the destruction of the Origin Facility in the first game, Fairpoint City has been overrun by demonic creatures led by Alma Wade while the Armacham Technology Corporation (ATC) is trying to cover up its involvement with an army of mercenaries. The government response by deploying the Task Force to eliminate the demonic presence and recover evidence of ATC’s involvement.

Its hard to imagine how a MMO game could be developed given the fact that the F.E.A.R. series was more of a single player game. To overcome this obstacle, the devlopment team created a Co-Op game with a story that runs parallel to the events of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin.

The Co-Op missions are several different scenarios where up to five players must complete a series of objectives while battling swarms of Abominations along with squads of Replica soldiers or ATC mercenaries. The players start by achieving simple tasks (like bomb defusing) but as they progress more challenging tasks need to be accomplished.

However, no multiplayer game is complete without featuring classic modes like team deathmatch.

Players will earn experience after each game which will help them level up and gain access to new weapons. They will also earn points that can be used to purchase new weapons and gear or customize what they already have.

Unfortunately the game has a few issues that keep it from being perfect but they are flaws that can be overlooked. The biggest problem is how often it tries to milk the player to pay for gear or characters that could be used for a limited time.

Gamers can earn or purchase gear with points, but they have time limits on how long it can be used before it has to be repurchased. However, the need to purchase gear will not interfere with the overall playing experiences as a real gamer would not need to waste money on such trivial novelties.

One problem that is out of the developers’ hand is the community’s obsession with team deathmatch. Despite its amazing co-op gameplay, its hard to find or start a game due to the lack of players. However it’s real easy to find a game of deathmatch with plenty of players available to play.

Death match is fun but the co-op story offers gamers such a unique experience that it’s a real disappointment that many prefer to play the same deathmatch that could be found in every other multiplayer shooter.

Just in time for Halloween; F.E.A.R. Online is not only one of the best free-to-play shooters but also an ideal follow-up to one of the most iconic horror games of the Seventh Generation era.

Final Score: 4/5

Written for Digital Journal 
10/27/2014
Original ArticleReview: ‘F.E.A.R. Online’ brings the horror icon to the multiplayer world

Op-Ed: Capcom needs to stop forcing co-op into every Resident Evil game – 9/8/2014

resident-evil-logo

According to the details gathered by GamesMaster, ‘Resident Evil: Revelations 2’ is suppose to continue the style of its predecessor and return the series to its horror survival roots.

For devoted fans of the series this has been promising news as many have felt the series has abandoned its horror survival roots for a more action orientated game that is trying to tap into the Call of Duty fan-base.

Resident Evil 5 was a commercial success while many were disappointed over its heavy dependence on the action concept. Its success was followed by the train wreck of a game that was called Resident Evil 6, which was panned by gamers and most critics. Capcom attributed the failure of Resident Evil 6 along with several other games to their core fans being too old, an insult that was meet with a massive backlash from the gaming community.

Flash forward to the Summer and Capcom announced that an HD remake of Resident Evil was in the works and set to be released in 2015 for all major consoles. Along with the announcement of Resident Evil: Revelations 2, it appears that Capcom is actually listing to its fans and it could be rewarding in the years to come.

However there is a “but” to the news and that is the fact that Resident Evil: Revelations 2 will also feature co-op gameplay. Despite its efforts to take notes from the fans, Capcom still has an obsession with shoehorning co-op into every Resident Evil game.

Its understandable that Capcom does not want to churn the same game every year while looking for new ways to innovate the series, but forcing co-op into a game has not worked out all to well for them. Go onto any forum and its easy to see that gamers have despised the shoehorned co-op feature

Resident Evil 6 being the obvious example of how the co-op system was an utter failure in innovating while its feature in other the games was ignored by players. Unless its included as a side-game, Capcom is better just abandoning the concept of co-op in future Resident Evil games.

Resident Evil has always been the inspiration for horror games but major titles in the last few years have not been trying to force co-op onto the player. Dead Space and Alan Wake did not have to shoehorn co-op to be successful while the upcoming Alien Isolation is more focused the player trying to survive the horror scenario.

If Capcom is really interested in expanding the Resident Evil universe to the multiplayer world than it would be better to develop an open world MMORPG set in Raccoon City. The game could take inspiration from Grand Theft Auto: Online and DayZ while in the context of the Resident Evil universe.

Capcom is on the right path to restoring the series to its horror survival root but if it hopes for Resident Evil to be the example for other games to follow than they really need to abandon the concept of co-op in future titles.

Written for Digital Journal 
09/8/2014
Original Article: Op-Ed: Capcom needs to stop forcing co-op into every Resident Evil game

Op-Ed: ‘Metal Gear Solid’ should not be remade – 8/24/2014

MGS

In this age of remakes, reboots and re-imaginings; it needs to be noted that not all classic works of the cultural arts need a makeover just to be more appealing for a new generation.

These classics have survived the test of time to have a massive impact on pop culture but do not need a makeover that will devoid it of what originally made them a landmark or have its message watered-down to appeal to a broad audience (the RoboCop remake being an excellent example).

The same could also apply to classic video games that are significant to the cultural arts. As with movies, the concept of what made it significant is lost in the need to re-imagine it for a new audience. It may have worked well for Resident Evil in 2002 but the GoldenEye remake in 2010 failed to live up to the legacy of the original.

Yet from time to time, Hideo Kojima has voiced his support for remaking Metal Gear Solid, his greatest masterpiece and one of the most iconic games of all time. Most recently he expressed at Gamescom 2014 how he hopes the original game could be remade using the Fox Engine.

It’s understandable that Kojima wishes to see his masterpiece recreated for a new generation of gamers but the reality is that Metal Gear Solid needs to be remade as badly as The Godfather. Its one of those classics that are so timeless that no remake will do it justice or at worst be a work of blasphemy.

This has already been proven when the game has remade for the GameCube back in 2004 as Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. This updated version included improved graphics, extended cutscenes and infusing the gameplay mechanisms from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

While the game was praised for rebuilding an iconic, a lot of the aesthetics that made the original a masterpiece was lost. The most obvious was the remade cutscenes relied too much on over the top action that were so campy that it devoid the game of its dramatic aspects. At the same time the performance of the voice actors lacked the theatrical depth that allowed the player to have an emotional connection with the character.

Metal Gear Solid was one of the earliest games to feature a real dramatic presence driven by the strong performance of the voice actors, but most of that would be lost in the remake. Most players had some remorse after defeating Psycho Mantis while feeling a sense of sorrow when having to fight Sniper Wolf. Yet all that emotional connection was lost in the remake.

Not helping The Twin Snakes was how the new gameplay mechanism took the challenge out of memorable boss fights and made the overall experience lack any significance. Classic moments that required carefully timed tactics lost there challenging aspect with the new mechanisms.

The best example was the duel against Revolver Ocelot while the Arms Tech President tied up in the center while strapped with C4. In the original game, players had to outflank Ocelot then properly time when to take a shot while avoid hurting the hostage. In the remake all the player had to do was stand in a corner and aim in first-person view then shot.

The battle against Revolver Ocelot is memorable because its suppose to require the player to think before acting. Meanwhile The Twin Snakes made it into a simple boss battle that lacked a challenge. The same could be said about other boss battles in the game that lost their significance because of the new gameplay mechanism.

Finally the new musical score composed for the game along with re-tuning some of the classic did not help make The Twin Snakes a better game. The musical score help drive the emotions of the moment while adding to dramatic tone. The new soundtrack did its best but lacked the same passion as the original.

If the GameCube remake failed to live up to the legacy of the original than Kojima shouldn’t expect a Metal Gear Solid built on the Fox Engine to create the same momentum. Another remake will water down its themes even more and rob it of the elements that made it significant.

Metal Gear Solid is one of the most important games ever developed while its legacy has made it an icon of pop culture. It doesn’t need to be remade just to appeal to a new generation because a real gamer should respect its legacy for what it has accomplished for the gaming medium.

Written for Digital Journal 
08/24/2014
Original Article: Op-Ed: ‘Metal Gear Solid’ should not be remade