2017 will go down as one of best years for game releases, I’m sure of it. Unfortunately for me, there’s still many games from this year that I have yet to play. I did get the opportunity to play some great games though, and coupled with the games of yesteryear, I’m quite content with this year’s list. Per usual, this list is in alphabetical order.
Following Wayne Holden as he attempts to remember his past and avenge his father’s death, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition features a deep science fiction background, impressive enemies, outlandish character designs, and some okay action. Developed by Capcom, spearheaded by Keiji Inafune (Mega Man, Dead Rising), and produced by Jun Takeuchi (Resident Evil, Onimusha), Lost Planet is a third-person shooter originally released for the Xbox 360 on January 12, 2007. It was later ported to the PlayStation 3 and PC.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition takes place on the frigid world of E.D.N. III. The planet is inhospitable, not only because of the unforgiving weather, but also due to a prevalent species of insects. The akrid are aggressive insects that come in many forms, most towering over the invading humans. The human race stumbled upon the frozen, insect-infected wasteland of E.D.N. III in their search for a planet to relocate to before completely destroying Earth. However, a climate change and the removal of the akrid must precede a mass exodus of Earth.
Attempts at solving these problems have been occurring over the past fifty years and solutions are in sight. The corporation NEVEC has been at the front of pioneering solutions to these problems although the rebellious snow pirates have acted as roadblocks.
As Wayne and his father hunt down a massive akrid, they get ambushed by NEVEC who kills Wayne’s father and leaves him for dead. Later rescued by a small gang of snow pirates, Wayne learns of NEVEC’s honorable plans of saving the human race through dastardly means and decides to put a stop to them. Along the way drama ensues amongst the ridiculously outfitted cast of characters.
At every turn, questions are rising over everyone’s true intentions and their mysterious pasts. As such, each and every cutscenes relays not only developments about NEVEC and their plans concerning the climate and the akrid, but also each character’s misgivings about someone else, to the point where the internal strife among the snow pirates resembled a soap opera. The drama also gets amplified by mysterious characters outside of the group who aid and hinder the snow pirates.
Besides the ongoing drama, I had another beef with the characters: their ridiculous outfits. For example one of Wayne’s accomplices, Rick, wore a set of glasses that were opaque and protruded from his face about six inches. Presumably they were some sort of technology but they looked dumb, like he was a Cyclops (X-Men) reject. His goofy haircut was in no way appealing either. The other half dozen or so characters weren’t as bad, but they still wore cluttered outfits. I will say the enemy designs of the akrid were cool, but then again, video games have featured gross looking insects from day one.
Killing the akrid, NEVEC troops, and snow pirates was done with some impressive weaponry. I usually think singling out the weapon selection of a first-person/third-person shooter as a positive aspect is unnecessary in most cases, but I really like Lost Planet’s weapons. There was a plentiful variety and my friend and I always enjoyed trying out a new weapon, but what I liked most about the weapons was their feel. I liked the feedback I got from shooting things, the overpowered shotgun especially.
A second positive aspect regarding the weaponry was the dozen or so mechs. Being that E.D.N. III is a risky place to live, mechs have become all but necessary on the planet. Most of them are in a bipedal form although multiple can transform into speedier forms. Weapons are similarly plentiful for the mechs and they’re able to be installed on nearly every one.
The mechs, as well as the controls in general, were clunky. Wayne moved around awfully slowly and panning the camera around was a chore; so much so that the bumpers on the controller were used to swing the camera around ninety degrees. This was beneficial, but speeding up the camera would’ve meant they wouldn’t have had to even offer a remedy. The stages were too long in most cases too. Averaging about a half hour, they consisted of a slow, boring slog through a usually expansive stage, battling many, many enemies until a confrontation with a usually enormous boss. The game only took my friend and me three or four hours to complete, but I don’t think that’s factoring in the oodles of cutscenes.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is a mediocre third-person shooter. The story unfolded through many good looking cutscenes, but was eventually bogged down by the drama. The gameplay was solid, although a little too clunky for me to fully enjoy, and the weaponry was fantastic, but completing stages was a real slog. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition was an enjoyable game but not entirely recommendable.
Nintendo has made news with its downloadable services recently. Their approach to the digital space rarely is news worthy and when it is, it’s usually not for a good reason. When they began offering demos on the Wii, they decided to limit when they were accessible instead of having them permanently available, until about a week ago when they released all previously available demos for no apparent reason. In other news, the Nintendo eShop (the 3DS downloadable service) has been garnering praise recently for hosting quality games; an uncommon reaction considering the lay of the land of original games on Nintendo’s downloadable services.
This brings me to the point of this article. Newsworthy only because I’m writing about it, the eShop received its first demo recently. Resident Evil: Revelations is the title and it’s one of my few experiences with the venerable series.
I was wowed by the game’s graphics. It seems Capcom likes to flex their technical prowess with the series as of late and Revelations looks great. Of course, it looks great in the pantheon of handheld games, but even thrown alongside the output of current home consoles, it’s still eye-catching. The environment I played in had many rooms and they contained nice detail. Dressers had items scattered about them and bookshelves were brimming with books. I wasn’t impressed with the 3D though. I tried playing with it for a bit and it didn’t look much different; text did pop well though.
Because I lack knowledge on the series, the plot would be above my head, if the demo had contained much info on it. I played as Jill Valentine, a familiar heroine for the series, and she woke up confused as to where she was and how she got there. She had contact from another person who she spent the rest of the demo trying to reach.
The game’s environment and Jill’s impression of it being a mansion led me to believe she was in a mansion. But it turns out this was just a clever nod to the original. Until she reached her cohort, I was fooled; it turns out she was on a ship. The rooms I explored looked as if they belonged in a mansion; well decorated rooms, long hallways, gala rooms, this ship was nice. Except for the zombies.
Zombies, or whatever Capcom wants to call them nowadays. Revelations takes place in between Resident Evil 4 and 5, so the creatures didn’t look like stock zombies. They staggered towards me like zombies, but they looked like ghastly deformed humans. The demo culminated with Jill fighting a “super” creature, one who had spikes extending from its arms.
Instead of tank controls as was custom in the series’ early years, Revelations inherits the control scheme from Resident Evil 4. The newer control setup gives gunplay an enhanced role in the game, and prevents me from “fighting” the awkward movement found in the earlier games. I controlled Jill with the analog stick and although I lacked a second one (good for camera control) the way the camera moved with Jill was fine. To shoot zombies creatures, I pulled up Jill’s gun and I then saw from her eyes. I couldn’t move when in first-person and this stillness has received much flak from critics. It’s frustrating when a creature is right in front of my character and I have to exit this view and quickly run away to get some distance again, but I’m okay with it as it’s a design choice and not an oversight on Capcom’s part and I’m not here to critique it.
Perhaps my favorite part of the demo was scanning for hidden items. Because there’s a scarcity of ammunition and healing items, it can be tough to survive. This item management can amplify the tension when a creature suddenly appears and I need to decide whether to take it out quickly with a shotgun and sacrifice hard to find shotgun shells or risk loss of life and get in close with a knife. This scanner gave me the confidence that I could succeed as I was better equipped after finding hidden items.
Even though Resident Evil: Revelations features a more action-oriented control scheme, the pace of the game was quite slow. Jill didn’t really run, but the level I played wasn’t full of creatures so I could take my time. There was a simple “fetch this to progress” obstacle in Jill’s way which makes me wonder what puzzles, if any, will be in the game. One thing I’m not in the dark about is Nintendo’s continued off-kilter policies regarding the downloadable space – the demo for Resident Evil: Revelations has a limited number of plays, albeit thirty is plenty.
When I was bored at work earlier today I realized my only obligation on Halloween this year is school, and that’s only until noon. Seeing how I live in a rural area and I don’t get trick-or-treaters, I’ll have the rest of the evening to myself, and probably some friends. Naturally, I began concocting a list of Halloween related games I could potentially play.
The first on my list, and one I will definitely play is Batman: Arkham City. Primarily because Calender Man hinted that I should visit him on Halloween, but also because dressing up as a superhero is commonplace on Halloween.
Castlevania. I’ll probably have nothing better to do on Halloween so I might as well play a game in this great series and slay Dracula.
Condemned: Criminal Origins. A really good game.
Costume Quest. I actually don’t have this, but it’s onlya download away. This role-playing game came out last October and features a group of children trick-or treating. A solid title from the well-regarded studio Double Fine Productions.
Dracula Unleashed. Or perhaps any other “spooky” game on the Sega CD like Night Trap, Mansion of the Hidden Souls, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. I’ve always wanted to play this game and this is the perfect excuse to pick it up.
Fester’s Quest. This NES game has players controlling Uncle Fester from the TV show The Addams Family. Scary indeed.
Geist. This poor GameCube first-person shooter might just be at the right place at the right time this Halloween.
Grabbed by the Ghoulies. More ghosts?
Illbleed. This Dreamcast game seems really strange.
Juggernaut. Speaking of strange, this PlayStation adventure game is off the charts.
Left 4 Dead. What list of Halloween related video games would be complete without Left 4 Dead, or any other game featuring zombies.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Playing the full-motion video Sega CD game would remind of my youth in the 1990s, and it’d be the perfect excuse to write about one of my favorite Sega CD games.
Overblood. This Resident Evil clone has a soft spot in my heart, just like another spooky PlayStation video game: Space Griffon VF-9.
Resident Evil. Any game from this survival-horror series would be right at home on Halloween.
Shadowgate. A spooky point-and-click adventure game perhaps?
The Simpsons: Night of the Living Treehouse of Horror. I received this poor Game Boy Color platformer for my birthday one year and never progressed far in it.