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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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 

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

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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

New ‘Silent Hill’ being developed by Kojima and del Toro – 08/12/2014

Silent Hill
Sony unveiled at Gamescom 2014 that a new ‘Silent Hill’ game is in the works and it’s being developed by horror icon Guillermo del Toro along side gaming icon Hideo Kojima.

It was first reported back in 2012 that Konami asked Kojima to create a new Silent Hill game, which he accepted.

The game was being promoted by Sony as “P.T.” before the gameplay teaser was unveiled it to be a new Silent Hill. The hour-long teaser features a character exploring the setting in a first-person perspective before revealing that del Toro and Kojima are responsible for this project.

At the end it’s revealed that the main character is played by Norman Reedus, from The Walking Dead. Not much details about the game is known other than it will be titled Silent Hills and that it’s being developed using the Fox Engine.

News of a Silent Hill game being created del Toro and Kojima has surprised the media while having gotten the attention of the gaming community. Gamers voiced their support for Silent Hills and welcomed collaboration between the two icons.

Many should have suspected that del Toro and Kojima were working on a project after two were seen hangout together at Comic-Con 2014.

With del Toro now working on Silent Hill, its unknown if his previous horror game is still in development or has it been cancelled. It was unveiled back in 2010 that he was working on inSANE but the project was put on hold after THQ went bankrupt.

Silent Hill is a horror survival series known for its eerie tone and for having help establish the genre alongside Resident Evil. The series focus on the supernatural forces that haunt a small town and the people connected to the evil presence.

Written for Digital Journal 
08/12/2014
Original Article: New ‘Silent Hill’ being developed by Kojima and del Toro

Playing It Old School – ‘Wolfenstein’ and the birth of the shooter – 5/18/2014

Most of the iconic and popular games are first person shooter (FPS) that put gamers in the role of a hero who has to go against an army with nothing more than a few rounds in the magazine. A gamers time is mostly spent on the virtual battlefields of Counter Strike, Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield.

This joy of the virtual war was made possible thanks to Wolfenstein 3D breaking the norm to establish a new genre for a mature audience. With Wolfenstein: The New Order on the horizon, Playing It Old School will like to go back and pay its respects to the Father of the Shooter genre.

Known to most gamers as a shooter, the Wolfenstein series actually started back in 1981 as a stealth action game developed by Muse Software. Castle Wolfenstein had players attempt to infiltrate a Nazi fortress to steal secret plans than escape undetected. The game was a hit and was followed by Beyond Castle Wolfenstein.

Unfortunately Muse Software closed in 1987 with most of its assets sold-off.

Then in 1991 John Romero, John Carmack, Tom Hall, along with Adrian Carmack established Id Software LLC and one year later they would set the foundations for modern gaming. These pioneers acquired the Wolfenstein intellectual property and used it as the foundation to create the first-person shooter genre.

Wolfenstein 3D has players infiltrate the castle by fighting Nazi soldiers and their monstrous creations (including a Robot Hitler). The games success was followed by Spear of Destiny, which has the gamer attempt to recover the Holy Lance before the Nazi’s could use its power.

The game became the building blocks for the FPS genre and it’s success was followed by Doom and Quake. They would become a major influence on the development of other groundbreaking games like Half Life, Medal of Honor, Soldier of Fortune and 007 GoldenEye.

The game also introduced gamers to one of the most iconic characters, William “BJ”  Blazkowicz. He was the foundation for characters in an FPS while being one of the earliest gaming heroes that was targeted towards a more mature audience. On a side note; he is the grandfather of Billy Blaze from Commander Keen and a descendent of the “Doom guy” from the Doom-series.

The game itself was a pioneer in transforming video games from an expensive childs toy to a mature medium. Wolfenstein 3D was the first step needed for the gaming industry to grow and to experiment with more mature content.

After a decade long absence; the series was introduced to a new generation in 2001 with Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Gamers once again took on the role of Blazkowicz as he attempts to dismantle Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse secret weapons project and prevent Heinrich Himmler from using ancient magic to resurrect an evil warlord. This reimagining developed a new timeline within the context of a classic setting. The game also included a groundbreaking multiplayer feature that borrowed elements of Counter Strike with objective based missions set in a WWII setting,

Return to Castle Wolfenstein was the byproduct of taking one of the most iconic games and rebuilding it into something new. The end result was one of the best FPS games of the time while being awarded multiple “Game of the Year” awards. Its success was followed by a console port that expanded the story along with Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, a free to play multiplayer game.

The story continued with the seque,l Wolfenstien in 2009, which had players once again taking on the role of Blazkowicz on a mission to stop the Nazi from harnessing black magic. This time Deathshead have concentrated his forces in the town of Isenstadt in a quest to acquire Nachtsonne crystals needed to access the Black Sun Dimension.

Unfortunately Wolfenstein failed to generate the same kind of buzz as its predecessors. The game was met with average reviews while sales were so poor that the game became a financial flop.

Now the series will enter into a new era of gaming with Wolfenstein: The New Order, a new twist on the classic that will take players to an alternative 1960 were the Nazi’s won the war. How this game will stack compared to its predecessors is hard to tell but the Wolfenstien  series has always been a pioneer in defining the shooter genre.

However being first at something is always followed by a wave of controversy, and Wolfenstein was no exception. Wolfenstein 3-D caused a firestorm of controversy due to its graphic violence and Nazi reference. The original game was banned in Germany because of the display of Nazi symbols and the use of Horst-Wessel-Lied as its theme music (see Strafgesetzbuch section 86a). The game had to undergo editing and censorship just to be sold on consoles and in different countries.

Years later; Return to Castle Wolfenstein became the victim of false moral panic after Jonathan Kay (not a gamer) of the New York Times accused it of promoting anti-Semitism. As a result of the article, the game was vaguely referred to in Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism by the United States Department of State.

Despite the controversy and censorship, the Wolfenstein series has always stood strong as the needed push for gaming culture to embrace a mature concept. The success of Wolfenstein: The New Order will determine if the series could still be a major influence on the shooter genre.

Playing It Old School is a column that looks back on classic games while reflecting on the influence it had on video game and pop culture.

Written for The Gamers Progress
05/18/2014
Original Article: Playing It Old School – ‘Wolfenstein’ and the birth of the shooter

Kevin Spacey’s performance in ‘Call of Duty’ has generated buzz – 5/2/2014

KevinCOD.jpg
After the official trailer for ‘Call of Duty: Advance Warfare’ was unveiled, one of the most talked about moment has been the performance of actor Kevin Spacey as the main villain.

The game will be set in a future were Private Military Companies have grown to have great influence around while one of them decides to turn against America. Spacey portrays the villainous head of a PMC and is featured delivering a monologue to the viewer about the futility of democracy.

Spacey’s performance has been well-praised by pundits in the game media while gamers have welcomed his talent to the series. In no time his name started trending on Facebook and Twitter while gamers discussed his role on websites like N4G.

Scott Watson stated on Twitter, Well damn me it’s @KevinSpacey turning up in the latest @CallofDuty game. Is there nothing this man can’t turn his hand to? Looks EPIC \o/.

Lachlan Davidson stated on Facebook, Not really a CoD fan but I’d be interested to see Spacey’s contribution to the game.

Several gamers have refereed to Spacey’s involvement as making the game feel like “House of COD” or “Call of Duty: House of Cards” (a reference to House of Cards). Luke Plunkett of Kotaku added, “If there’s one thing that could revive my interest in this most flagging of franchises, it’s by injecting a little House of Cards in it (not literally of course, that’s not Frank Underwood, but the tone and the timing of the casting says it all).

Spacey has joined the ranks of many Hollywood stars who have had a performing role in the Call of Duty series. In 2008; Gary Oldman and Kiefer Sutherland both had a major performing role in Call of Duty: World at War. Oldman returned along side Sam Worthington and Ed Harris for Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Worthington would return for Black Ops II while Harris was replaced by Michael Keaton. Meanwhile the role of Elise T. Walker in Ghosts was performed by Stephen Lang.

Call of Duty: Advance Warfare will be the eleventh game in the popular series that has sold over 100 million copies and on average has 40 million active players a month. The game is set to be released on November 4.

Written for Digital Journal
5/2/2014
Original Article: Kevin Spacey’s performance in ‘Call of Duty’ has generated buzz