A Few Comments on Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles

March 29th, 2013

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A few years ago, in the midst of a rail-shooter bonanza for the blog, I wrote a series of articles on Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles. Most of what I said in those posts is also true of its sequel, Darkside Chronicles, but there’s a few comments I’d like to make specifically about the second game:

Shaky Cam – During the transitions between shoot-outs it’s nausea-inducing. During the shooting sequences themselves, it’s just obnoxious. Given that the hit boxes for enemy weak points are still quite small, the hit box for critical hits are tinier still, and the enemies occasionally approach from some distance, the shaky cam only makes it harder to aim accurately.

More Talky-Talk Sequences – More than the original game, the characters talk their heads off about the supposed horror of the situation. Since the sequencing of the shoot-outs, perspective control, mechanics, game elements, and interplay with enemies aren’t structured around creating scares (some good ideas on this here), there’s an odd and somewhat comical disconnect between the fear the characters are expressing and the fear the player is not participating in. I reckon that about 2 hours of my play time was spent inactive, waiting for the characters to shut up.

Sudden Attacks – One technique which is sure to guarantee frights, and Darkside Chronicles reuses over and over again, is sudden enemy attacks. Whether zombies pop out of nowhere or interrupt one of the game’s excessive dialogue sequences, the player is caught off guard and must quickly react. This cheap trick often frustrates as the window between seeing an enemy and them taking a bite of your neck is short, indeed.

Run Away Sequences – Sometimes the characters will spot a group of enemies and quickly turn around and run because “there’s too many of them!”. The player can take a few shots before the viewpoint is suddenly yanked away from them. Given that “too many” tends to be just as many as the player had face earlier in the level, these sequences are frustrating and illogical. If anything, these sequences only encourage reckless shooting.

I played this game on Wii and would recommend a standard Wii-mote and nun-chuck setup.

A Few Comments on Vanquish

March 25th, 2013

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It only took about half an hour of play for me to realise that Platinum Games is one of the world’s best game developers. Vanquish is a supremely well-designed action game that deserves more time than I’m about to give it. Consider these dot points as preliminary commentary for when I get back to Australia and can explore the game more thoroughly on its harder difficulties.

Rolling – Access to the slowmo ability encourages the player to identify the enemy’s weak point (observation, knowledge), determine when they can roll around the enemy to get a clear shot at its weak point (space, knowledge), and then execute (dexterity, reflex).

Sliding Boosting– Because Sam Gideon slides so ridiculously fast, the slowmo is activated any time the player shoots in this state, allowing them to cleanly target enemies. If it weren’t, shooting when slide boosting would clutter the game design. By joining the two mechanics, the player’s presented with a meaningful strategic choice: use the boosters to get behind enemy lines and then keep going forward or flank the enemy with a few melee moves or shotgun blasts (less cool down juice) or slowmo as you slide in, picking apart the enemy line (more cool down juice). With the former, the player risks being caught off guard by a pack of enemies. With the latter, the player risks being caught with their suit overloaded and nowhere to hide. Depending on the composition and layout of grunts and larger foes, you’ll want to vary your strategy accordingly.

Jumping Out From Cover – Access to the slowmo ability encourages the player to identify their targets (observation, knowledge), wait until they’re open (timing), and then leave the cover, line up the crosshair, and shoot (dexterity, reflex).

After Slide Kicking – The slowmo ability allows the player to follow up the slide kick with some close-range shooting. This can destroy decimate grunts and take large chunks of health off larger foes, but comes at the expense of a lot of cool down juice.

Hopefully, there will be more for me to say in the future.

Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals Design Issues

March 22nd, 2013

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When my brother and I were kids, we finished SNES RPG, Lufia II, about six or seven times between us. Every time you beat the game, in the subsequent New Game+ file, your party’s EXP is multiplied by the number of your current playthrough. So beat the game once and start a New Game+ file and your party will receive double EXP each battle. Needless to say, we adored this game. When Square-Enix announced that Neverland, the original developers, were going to re-envision the game for the DS, it seemed too good to be true. Unfortunately, this gorgeous-looking dungeon crawler is full of bad design. I got a bit further than half way through the game (the Mountain of No Return, ironically) and gave up. Here’s why:

Here’s what I did like:

Ah, now that I’ve written this article, I don’t feel so guilty over ditching this game early.