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

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

gta-v

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

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

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