LTTP: Resident Evil 7: biohazard

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It took a while but I finally played Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. I haven’t touched a Resident Evil game since Resident Evil 5 for the PlayStation 3. The demo of Resident Evil 6 was ridiculous but reviews scared me off. I didn’t consider either of them horror games – I didn’t even consider Resident Evil 4 a horror game. The last Resident Evil game to unsettle me was the Resident Evil Remake on the GameCube.  

It’s been well over 10 years since I considered a Resident Evil game unnerving and I’m glad they’re back at it with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. 

A brand new engine, aptly dubbed RE Engine, adorned RE7. It’s a solid engine and ran well enough on my GTX 1070 powered PC but it certainly showed its age when compared to the likes of Resident Evil 2 or Devil May Cry V. Textures were especially grimy looking in daylight. The night is full of terror — or at least — dimly lit and grungy confined spaces are. RE7 was in its element in the opening hours where everything is still a mystery and the imagination is running wild.  

The new first person perspective placed me right in the front row of the horrors. Gruesome faces and brutal attacks that would normally kill any human were directed right at me. I may have been playing as Ethan but I felt those knife and chainsaw attacks. The combination of disturbing faces and spine tingling sounds worked together to unsettle me.  

Resident Evil games were at their most unnerving when they were set in disheveled but familiar places. The creepy houses wrought with cobwebs, dust, and remains that lead imaginations down cynical paths built tension. RE7 had a handful of those houses. I found it a little silly that the Baker family had so many houses on their property. It lead to a couple of excellent areas in which to scare me but its believability unraveled with each passing hour. 

RE7 may have started out as a grounded horror game but it quickly revealed itself to be a tried & true Resident Evil game and all that entailed. Herbs? Knife? Inventory juggling, weird specialty keys, and light puzzle solving all surfaced themselves as the game and story unfolded. Umbrella Corporation, talks of cover ups, and biological weapons testing came back in force by the end of it all. It was somewhat predictable and trite, but it was classic RE fun. 

Fun scares and puzzles but the combat was by far the game’s weakest element. One could argue they’re continuing the franchise’s classic roots but that’s not a valid excuse for lame boss or easily cheesed enemy encounters. It felt like I was supposed to employ lame tactics in order to overcome the adversities. I didn’t enjoy the fact that I was just going through the motion of avoiding enemies or watching some dumb boss attack a pillar in a pathetic attempt to get to me.  

The controls took a bit of getting used to. Years of muscle memory with first person shooters built-up an expectation with regards to speed. There was a deliberate sluggishness to the Resident Evil 7. I was able to pull off everything I wanted but I was forced to play at their pace. Reloading of weapons took longer than I was used to. I also had the turning speed of a tank which could have been remedied by utilizing the classic Resident Evil quick turn, but it rarely came to mind in the thick of it. It reminded me of Red Dead Redemption 2’s first person mode. It felt like they literally took classic Resident Evil and plopped in a first person view. It works but it takes a bit of getting used to. 

After finishing Resident Evil 7: biohazard, I came away rejuvenated with the Resident Evil franchise. It’s fun dumb horror and I’m glad Capcom found their groove with this franchise again. I look forward to playing Resident Evil 2 Remake and the upcoming Resident Evil 3 Remake, but I hope to see Capcom return to a first person Resident Evil game again. They’ve proven it works and they’ve also proven they’re good at it. 

Verdict: 
I liked it

Ratings Guide

Devil May Cry V Xbox One Review

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It’s disingenuous since I haven’t gone back to play it in a long time, but in my mind, Devil May Cry V feels like another Special Edition of Devil May Cry 4. I know it isn’t; It’s more refined than that PS3/360 era game. But – for better and worse — the feel and structure of the game felt deeply rooted in the past.  

I don’t like how Dante looks in Devil May Cry V. Nero, V and Lady were fine. Trish looked oddly out of place and along with the goofy looking Nico who continued to remind me that people’s teeth shouldn’t be that defined. I understand the desire to move beyond the anime-inspired art styles but I wasn’t keen on this realistic bent they took in this game.  

In the end, how Dante looks is a non-factor. How he, Nero, and V plays are what makes or breaks a game in this genre. Nero and Dante were stylistically familiar with tweaks and reintroductions to freshen things up. Like in DMC4, Dante was the more diverse and varied character. Nero wasn’t nearly as complex but they did give him swappable arms that enabled abilities beyond simply snatching enemies from a distance. I wished these arms were selectable like Dante’s array of arsenal though.  

V’s style of play was the intellectual highlight of the game. Beastmaster classes and characters have been in games like Final Fantasy and Diablo for ages, but I’ve never seen them in action games and I certainly haven’t seen a game execute on that idea so well. Capcom mapped the different beast summons to each button which resulted in V’s attacks functioning like Dante’s or Nero’s but at a distance from V himself. The closest analog I could think of is God of War’s Atreus where these proxies interweave in combat. I wish they could have an entire game dedicated to V where he captures/acquires different beasts.  

It’s been a long time since Devil May Cry 4. The franchise went on a bit of a tangent with DmC by Ninja Theory and Platinum Games put forth a few action bangers of their own with Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising. That lineage of action games went places and I felt DMCV was a bit of regression in several key areas. The stylish act of beating on fodder was comparable to its contemporaries but it failed to match the spectacle and progression variety offered by them.  

DMC4 was criticized for recycling their boss fights and I cannot help but wonder why they found fighting Urizen over and over again would fly in DMCV. They may have cobbled some narrative reasons to justify it but it just hammers home the fact that this game isn’t very fun outside of its sole core competency; fighting low level monsters. 

Finally Capcom concocted a reason for Vergil to make an official return to the Devil May Cry universe. Vergil making an appearance in a DMC game is just as much of a surprise as Vegeta making an appearance in a Dragon Ball Z game. I wasn’t impressed with how his return was handled. It felt needlessly long winded and very much like Dragon Ball: inevitable.  

For fans of the series, Capcom delivering on Devil May Cry V’s combat was enough to win them over. I liked Devil May Cry’s combat but it takes more than just a flashy and stylish combat scenarios to keep me playing. I struggled to maintain pace with Devil May Cry V. It took me well over two weeks to complete this relatively short game. I never felt compelled to play multiple chapters in a row because I wasn’t interested in what was happening. The introduction of new foes early on would just be enough to keep me coming back the next day but rarely in a single sitting. I was happy to see Devil May Cry make its triumphant return but I would like to see Capcom take a massive step forward in the next installment. 

Verdict: 
It was okay 

Ratings Guide

Monster Hunter World PS4 Review

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My fiancée and I started several games together in 2018 including Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter World. We didn’t finish either of them. The former was a rather boring if I’m being honest. It felt great to play but we didn’t feel engaged to the story or whatever narrative Bungie cobbled together. The latter, we actually enjoyed but well documented issues with its co-op setup made it just a tad too annoying to get back to. (She also doesn’t have her own PlayStation 4 but that’s another issue) 

Monster Hunter World had the two fist bumping and celebrating after each triumphant hunt. The fundamental rules and mechanics of Monster Hunter World were simple to learn. We both took time trying out several weapon types in the training area before committing to one. I gravitated towards the hammer with its thunderous hits while my fiancée eventually settled on the long sword with its flashy finishers. We practiced our moves, checked out YouTube tutorials, and before long, we were on our way to skinning and gutting monsters to satisfy our vanity. 

The hunts were fun. Figuring out how we could tackle each monster or monsters was exciting and rewarding. It was everything else in-between that felt lacking and needlessly convoluted. The main story missions required each of us to have viewed the cutscenes before we could team up. That ludicrous requirement meant that one of us had to jump through the rigmarole of: starting mission, triggering the cutscene, quitting, and waiting for the other person to finish doing the same before we finally unite. I wouldn’t mind it if the cutscenes were worth a watch but they were awful hokey time wasters that added little entertainment value. 

Discovering new hunts and challenges were always welcomed. It forced us to revisit our gear, get into the crafting mechanics, and examining our options. Less thrilling or engaging were Capcom’s attempts on creating cinematic hunts. They asked us to load cannons, shoot spears, and other one-off gimmicks in an effort to bring down these mountain sized monsters. It wasn’t thrilling; it was annoying to jump through these hoops to get back to the real meat of these games.  

I can’t even enjoy those cinematic moments as a voyeur of pretty graphics. To be frank, Monster Hunter World on the PlayStation 4 Pro was not what I consider pretty. The monsters genuinely majestic and awesome but the everything else – particularly the lighting – left a lot to be desired. An uncapped framerate was ideal but it was playable. There were slowdowns but framerate was relatively consistent enough to allow for predictable action.  

The technical issues would have been alleviated by switching to the PC platform where 60 FPS, and sharper visuals would have been possible but my that would have only polished up the technical issues. The various design issues surrounding the excellent core Monster Hunter experience still needs refinements and no amount of PC power could make up for that.  

We can all agree that Destiny 2 is the more polished experience but it didn’t grab either of us like I thought it would. We actually want to spend more time with Monster Hunter World and as evidenced by its monstrous sales, we are not alone. Monster Hunter World was a major step forward for the franchise and when they ironed out the peculiar design decisions in a sequel, it could reach even greater heights.  

Verdict: 
I liked it 

Ratings Guide

Street Fighter V PS4 Review

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Capcom’s Proposal to Consumers:

You give us $69.99 and we’ll give you a quality barebones fighting game featuring a selection of your favorite characters plus some new ones. You will be able to fight online against other players powered by the best netcode this series has ever seen.

We know the single player content is lacking but we promise to give you a cinematic story experience in June. We’re also going to expand beyond the basic online multiplayer options with lobbies.

Don’t forget, we’re also rolling out new characters which you can earn for free or pay us for. Check out our season pass, it’s only $29.99.

I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to shell out money for Street Fighter V. There’s a lot of quality in Street Fighter V but at some point, quantity has to show up as well. I wasn’t expecting a story mode akin to Mortal Kombat 9 and X but I expected a barebones arcade mode at the very least. They could have included the same single player arcade mode employed in Street Fighter II and most people wouldn’t have batted an eye. It’s what we’ve come to expect from the series but when they couldn’t even match that and instead offered a tedious survival mode and a paltry story mode consisting of a handful of easy one off matches, they must have known it would have garnered criticism.

At its core though, there’s a fun and engaging fighting game. I love playing it and when the online matchmaking finds a quality opponent, I have a blast and want to keep playing. The problem is that recently (just over a month after the game’s release), I’m spending more time looking for quality matches than I am participating in them. I’ve been told that I should be looking for matches during peak times and not at 10 or 11 at night which is fair but at the same time, this is the first game that I had to make these kinds of concessions for. I didn’t have these kinds of issues in early March.

So I’ve been playing the survival mode and dabbling in the training mode whenever I wanted some guaranteed quality time with Street Fighter V. It’s such a satisfying game to play. I love how easy it is to execute moves and the changes they made to characters like Charlie gave those characters new life. A number of characters received command input changes for their classic moves. For example, Chun Li’s Lightning Kick was changed from mashing kick to quarter circle forward (QCF) and kick. I appreciated those changes but I also wished they just made everything a quarter circle motion at this point — but I’m just not a fan of charge moves so that’s just my own bias.

The words “lovingly crafted” don’t immediately come to mind when I look at the visuals Street Fighter V. It may remind some people of Street Fighter IV but if they actually looked at Street Fighter IV today and not in their mind’s eye, Capcom’s latest looks markedly superior in both style and technical quality.

The game makes a great first impression. The characters look amazing and move with fluidity that remind me of the shift to Street Fighter III. After staring at the game for a few hours, I started to notice the ugly dithered shadow work and wonky clipping of hair, belts and other loose clothing. As for the backgrounds? The less I speak about those hideous assets the better. They’re fun and feature nice touches here and there but it’s clear that they had to make sacrifices in order to keep the game running at 60 FPS.

I wouldn’t recommend Street Fighter V to many people. People dreaming of robust Mortal Kombat length single player campaigns or any significant single player offering will be left disappointed. But if you’re a fan of the competitive aspect of Street Fighter — playing against other players online or offline — Street Fighter V has a very basic representation of what you’re seeking. The core fighting feels fantastic and if you can find players to do battle with, you’re going to have a blast. I want both and thus it’s been a disappointment. I have faith that Capcom will deliver the product I want. I just wish they didn’t charge full price for it yet.

Verdict:
It’s okay

Ratings Guide

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