The Lone Gamer’s Review: Resident Evil 7 Biohazard

Posted in Gaming, PC Gaming, Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, Survival Horror on February 7th, 2017 by thelonegamer


You don’t need VR to get immersed into this instant horror favorite.

A sprawling,derelict estate full of labyrinthine corridors and darkened rooms. Perplexing puzzles and twisted riddles. Ghastly creatures and a limited arsenal of weapons. Yep, it’s Resident Evil all right.

Resident Evil 7 Biohazard is a return-to-form for this long-running, much-beloved series, despite several large changes to some fundamental gameplay mechanics.

You play as Ethan Winters, a seemingly ordinary guy who has come to the swamplands of Dulvey, Louisiana looking for his wife Mia, who has been missing for the past three years. The email Mia sent him has led him to the rather large Baker Farm- a multi-building estate that seems at first abandoned and falling into slow decay. But soon after he arrives, it becomes apparent that not all is well. There is a measure of disbelief that has to be given about the stark absurdity of the situation and how Ethan still manages to soldier on regardless.

Dismembered legs of farm animals and buzzsaw blades forming a grotesque wreath before you? No problem! Seemingly abandoned house full of mysterious noises and unexplained movement? No sweat! VHS footage of some other people apparently getting murdered in this very house? NOTHING gets to this guy- he will find his missing wife come hell or high water even if any other sane person would have long run off to find the nearest SWAT Team.

But instead of hordes of zombies, the foes Ethan will face are more individualized and personal, mostly being the members of the Baker Family. There’s Jack Baker- the patriarch and father- a bespectacled, balding elder gentleman with a penchant for swinging large axes or shovels and shrugging away bullets like the Nemesis- just in overalls. There’s Marguerite, Jack’s wife and mother of the household who seems to have a very disturbing affinity for creepy crawlies. And then there’s Lucas- an intelligent young man destined to become another Jigsaw Killer in the near future. Each of the Bakers is clearly not entirely normal or human, but the exact nature of this Hills-Have-Eyes/Texas Chainsaw Massacre-reeking clan is a mystery Ethan will unravel as the night bores on- if he survives. Each family member is effectively unkillable, making each one a sort of boss. Aside from them though, there will be other enemies to be found in the course of the game where Ethan’s meager arsenal of weapons may be used more effectively on.

But just like the classic, original Resident Evil, firearms and armaments are not in huge supply. Enemies won’t drop pisetas or bullets after death. You WILL, for the most part, need to make every shot count, unless you want to possibly confront a hulking enemy armed with just a folding knife. It’s this return to a more desperate, more calculated pace of combat, resource management and survival that makes this game so much more in tune with the earlier, and more scary RE’s rather than the later, more action-oriented games of RE4 and beyond.

But aside from hearkening to the original RE, this latest sequel also borrows or takes cues from other sources of horror, from Japanese Horror films to other survival horror games like Silent Hill, P.T., Outlast and more. But you do know there’s still probably some evil pharmaceutical corporation or scientific nightmare behind it all, despite the supernatural trimmings.

Truly helping the scare factor along is the simple change in perspective- RE7 is played entirely from First Person, making everything so much more immersive and personal (note that this probably becomes doubly so on PS4 with PSVR). Enemies can suddenly shuffle into your way, or, in one unique case, even smash through walls at you (perhaps a nice nod to the classic Dogs scene?), and you can just FEEL them nipping at your heels as you turn tail to run. More often than not, it will be a case of evading enemies rather than outright fighting to succeed, at least until you have an ample supply of ammo and a good, strong weapon (and maybe a couple of those nifty healing solutions).

The graphics are pretty spot-on, with the various confines of the Baker Farm having an eerie, almost photo-realistic look to everything. Character models are well done, although still having a bit of uncanny valley with some characters, in particular Ethan’s estranged wife, Mia. On the other hand, the sound design, SFX and voice work is almost uniformly superb- I guess funny and cheesy voice acting was one thing they didn’t feel needed to be brought back.

Resident Evil 7 surpassed pretty much all my expectations to deliver a truly engrossing, entertaining and mature survival-HORROR experience from beginning to end. The production values and quality is impressive, the story perhaps the most easy to understand and well-told both through files, environmental storytelling and just a wee bit of actual expositional dialogue. The boss fights are amazing, the combat satisfying as heck. If this is the new door to what Resident Evil is opening up to, let me the hell in.

Resident Evil 7 Biohazard
Game Rating: 9 of 10

Until Dawn: First 2 Hours Impressions

Posted in Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, My Stuff, PS4, Survival Horror, Until Dawn on August 26th, 2015 by thelonegamer


Until Dawn is a surprisingly gripping suspense title.

It’s been a while since I really got into a game outside of an RPG pretty intensely, and frankly I never expected it to be a title like Until Dawn. But then again, this Choose-Your-Own-Adventure/Survival-Horror/Interactive Horror Movie has surprised me quite a bit since I loaded it onto my PS4.

You play the game not as a single person, but as an entire clique of eight teenagers off on a trip to their friend’s secluded ski lodge, both to have a vacation and exorcise some demons of their recent past. You switch between characters as per the story events, but cannot switch actively on your own.

First off, it has to be said that the game looks fairly gorgeous. In full 1080p, with high resolution HD prettiness, this game is all eye candy made for your big-screen TVs. Where other games fail very consistently- in the character models- Until Dawn makes the grade with impressive results. The onscreen cast of young people that are put under the player’s care are not only uniformly attractive and lifelike, but for the most part likeable and very easy to get invested in. Yes, I’d say it would be fairly easy to be immediately drawn to the person we readily assume to be the game’s main heroine- the good-hearted and level-headed Sam, played by the beautiful Hayden Panettierre (Heroes), simply because her distinct features readily make her familiar. but it’s not long after you meet her friends tbat we should soon become very protective of these teens (unless you’re pointedly wanting to get them killed).

The character models are very well-done. Yes, facial expressions still aren’t perfect- they’re nowhere near even the detail of L.A. Noire. But I guess the excellent voice acting and script fill in whatever gap the digital actors’ faces still can’t quite convey.

In terms of gameplay, Until Dawn is very similar to Heavy Rain- it’s a mix of exploration, Quick Time Events and Choices. Choice, by far, is the most significant gameplay factor. Based heavenly on the Butterfly Effect, which basically states that even the smallest choice can cause vast consequences, this game pretty much ensures replayability since entire paths and branches in the storyline are locked off by choices you make. A strict Autosave prevents players from being able to stop and reload if they make a mistake or decision they regret- this is as punishing as Dark Souls in this regard- once you do something, it’s HISTORY. You have to live with it until your next playthrough. Get someone killed, the story continues onward without them (yes, even without Miss Panettiere, potentially). In fact, you can apparently finish the game with everyone dead or everyone alive (or any combination in between, I assume).

Aside from pretty spot-on controls and an environment which is immediately immersive and atmospheric, the game nails the Horror TV Show aesthetic, complete with an Opening Title Sequence and music and a ‘Previously On Until Dawn’ catch-up interlude in between game chapters. It’s like playing your own slick AMC Suspense/Mystery TV series.

Special mention also has to be given to what may so far be the CREEPIEST psychiatrist or ‘analyst’ I’ve yet met in a game, played by Peter Stormare. In between the game’s story chapters, you go through a ‘session’ with him, as a mysterious character who may or may not be involved in the goings-on at the Ski Lodge.

For some reason, this game has gotten hold of me from the first moment- and from there it hasn’t let go. This game does indeed demand your full attention- lest you miss a QTE and potentially screw up your story. But so far I am having a ball. Until Dawn, with all its horror show tropes, cliches and jumpscares strikes me as an exceptional title for the PS4. I still have to play this for quite a while before give my final, final verdict, but so far this game is coming out aces. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m still working on getting Sam back in the jacuzzi…

Until Dawn: Save the Cheerleader or Kill the Cheerleader?

Posted in Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, PS4, Survival Horror, Until Dawn on August 25th, 2015 by thelonegamer


Choose Your Own Horror Adventure.

When I first saw Until Dawn, it was on some gaming event (perhaps E3 last year?) and it showed off Hayden Panettiere, or at least her in-game representation, clad in just a bath towel and being stalked by some masked assailant. At the time it kinda felt and looked cheesy (particularly due to it being an off-cam video), but since then things have kinda changed. For starters, the game is looking pretty gorgeous. The character models exhibit some very well-done facial expressions and animations, and some pretty high detail. But of course it’s all about the story, and Until Dawn looks like its pressing all the right narrative tropes to tell a good slasher yarn.
Basically you’re in control of a gang of pretty young people as they’re on a trip to an isolated ski lodge. Soon, things begin to spiral out of control as it seems everything from a mad killer to ghosts begin plaguing the on-screen heroes and heroines, challenging you to choose wisely to somehow get as many of your cast alive and kicking at the end of the game.

This of course hearkens back to the PS3 classic, Heavy Rain from Quantic Dream. It’s as much movie as game, though it seems you do have enough room for exploration and detective work, as well as finding collectibles. But a lot of the game is Quick Time Events, and the most fun will be seeing how your heroes/heroines live/die by your choices. And yes, it is apparently possible to end the game with all your characters alive or dead.

Anyways, with PS4-lovely graphics and an intriguing story that could go a ton of ways here and there, I am really wanting to get this game. It should be available in a while so I may just run off to the nearest game store for my bloody copy.

Halloween Musings: What Makes a Scary Game?

Posted in Game-related Events, Gaming, Movies, My Stuff, Survival Horror on October 30th, 2013 by thelonegamer


Important rule in surviving horror. Don’t. Look. Back.

Horror is a tricky thing to do, whether it be in movies, books or, yes, games. It’s very easy to go overboard with buckets of gore, slime and layers of prosthetics before you realize in the end, you’ve created not a scary game but a monster-action adventure. Nope, HORROR and scares, suspense, I believe, is not limited to just simple ugly monstrosities going RAAAR… there are things that make horror more effective and deeper. Particularly now, in games, where we’ve pretty much probably seen it all when it comes to monsters- scaring gamers desensitized by years of splatting beasties with plasma guns and rocket launchers is going to take more than the usual.

FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
I think one big mistake games (and their producers, marketers and designers) make is by showing their cards much too early. Almost always in the weeks, months and even years before a game hits shelves, articles in magazines or online have already revealed or shown in detail the opposition they’re going to face. Yeah, it’s different to stare at a zombie sketch or render in a magazine, and when you actually face it in-game… but still, you know what to expect, and you’re kinda prepared.
How about a scary game where the marketing never really shows the enemies you will face? It’s not new, but not often this is done- I think keeping things in suspense in this way is a very important aspect that can keep a scary game’s frights fresh till the time is right. No peeking at the gifts under the tree, after all.

ATMOSPHERE AND BUILD-UP
The best scary games know how to set the stage. It’s like cinema, only with the gamers as the stars. Remember in Aliens, where the marines arrive on the stricken colony, where everything has gone Mary Celeste on them. There are signs of struggle, tables and food left in a hurry, menacing messages left by the vanished. Of course, games can’t always take an hour or two with nothing happening before the monsters show, so pacing has to be far faster but doubly effective. In such scenes, music or perhaps the absence of it may be key as well to putting gamers in suspense and expecting the worst.

THE BEST SCARES
Perhaps the most tried-and-true scare in any media is the Jump Scare- literally something will pop out in front of you, from out of some crates, behind a door, throw up its three hands and go, BOO! This may also be seen as a pretty lazy or cheap way to get scares, and it’s really more surprise than anything else (unless the gamer has already been creeped out beforehand). The best jump scares will still get you even if you know they’re coming.
Perhaps the most effective Jump Scare for me in film is the scene from the original Alien, where Captain Dallas meets his end. That final bit still makes me go GAH every time- even if it’s the textbook BOO scene.

Man, I refer to the Alien movies so much, don’t I? Perhaps because it’s pretty much a perfect example of atmosphere, buildup and reveal in scares- well, more the first film than any one else- forget everything after Aliens.

SCARING THE MEMBRANE
Asian Horror and films like The Ring and Ju-On showed the world a new kind of scare- not necessarily the jump scare with gory monsters, but the creep out slow burn scare, the disturbing and the off-kilter.
Yeah, the Grudge didn’t really translate well into games (the Wii Game was laughably horrible but great for laughs) but granted, it did have some good jump scares. Psychological horror it was not though. That’s because Asian horror relies a lot on the victim having a history that ties them to the scares- not something you can easily do with games, not without a bit of backstory or establishment.
I think a good Asian Horror-style game can be done and done well- such as with the very scary old Siren and Fatal Frame games on the old PS2.

FUTURE HORROR
Games like The Evil Within and anything coming down the line have a challenge on them- how to scare the gamers in this day and age. Still, it can be done, as games like Amnesia and Outlast have shown they can capably do (haven’t played these games though). Though I feel TEW relies a bit too much on fantastic situations and monsters to be completely scary. PC games have a lot more potential for really creepy games to come, given the menagerie of horror titles already available. But we’ll see. For someone like me, who loves to get creeped out, the best scary game is the one that keeps me awake until the wee hours- ’cause I’m too scared to go to sleep. Heheh.

Happy Halloween, Gamers!

The Latest Resident Evil Trailer is… Just. Watch.

Posted in Action Adventure, Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, PS3, Survival Horror, Xbox360 on September 26th, 2012 by thelonegamer


Fast Tube by Casper

Desperation makes for a gripping watch.

With all the freakin’ fighting games and RPGs out or coming out, there’s this little title called RESIDENT EVIL 6 that just may get lost in the shuffle… NOT! Nope, this latest chapter in Capcom’s classic and often embattled Survival-Horror series is looking great and gruesome, and looks to be the title to get when October shuffles in. This latest cinematic spot has the production values, music and action of a big budget Hollywood action-suspense blockbuster- and no Milla Jovovich in sight. If this doesn’t get your heart pumping for some undead-killing, mutant-fighting action, then you’re probably already a zombie…

I’ll get myself properly psyched for this by playing the demo (which I just DL’ed a couple of days ago from PSN). The game is out next week! Get ready.

New Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Trailer is a Mini Action Epic!

Posted in Fan Service, Game Advertising, Gaming, PS3, Resident Evil, Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City, Shooters, Survival Horror, Xbox360 on January 10th, 2012 by thelonegamer


Fast Tube by Casper

Five+ minutes of zombie-on-special forces action!

I have to admit, I’m really not hyped for the upcoming multiplayer shooting action of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. But this new trailer- a dazzling, action-packed CG extravaganza of guns, gore, gals and gas masks- really entertained me. A bit of this has been seen before, many months ago, but now the spot is much, much longer and has tons more action. The quality and length of the Umbrella Special Forces vs Other Guys with Guns and Beasties is of very high quality, and it has everything from hot femme fatales slicing up Lickers to intense firefights to some hapless RCPD guy who may or may not be Leon Kennedy getting blown away as a by-the-way. Yeah, one of the Umbrella guys looked like a Psycho Mantis rip-off but damn, this is awesome. THIS is what I wish a CG full-length action movie would be… not that boring Degeneration stuff. Sigh…

Anyways, check out the vid. Who knows- maybe I’ll check out Raccoon City when it comes out later this year. We’ll see…

Dead Island Stories: ARRGH!!! GIMME BACK MY GEAR!!!

Posted in Dead Island, My Stuff, PS3, Survival Horror, Videogame Comedy on October 5th, 2011 by thelonegamer

Warning: Some Spoilers Ahead (No Plot Spoilers Though)
Been playing quite a bit of Dead Island lately, and so far I’ve been on a good run with my first-ever character (Sam B., the One-Hit Wonder Rapper) in the game. Am currently on Chapter 8, having moved out from the confines of the resort and into the wider world of Banoi’s mainland city, Moresby.
At this point, I was feeling that I had finally gotten the hang of zombie-killing. In Dead Island though, you’re never really quite safe- the game levels up with you, so grinding too much won’t make you invincible. Far from it- even slow Walker zombies can kill you if you’re stupid, and the always-chilling Infected- the most rabid and dangerous of the common enemies- can kill you in a flash. Getting mobbed by groups of zombies is almost a sure way to die, so the best thing is to run- to either flee (although enemies will pursue you for a while) or give yourself room so you can take on enemies one at a time.

The most effective and trouble-free tactic I’ve learned though in the urban sprawl of Moresby is to use the many derelict cars. Zombies after you? Jump on a car. Even that low height is usually enough to keep you safe, even if the undead are really only inches away. From there on your lofty perch, simply kneel down and strike at the bastards with abandon. Soon your sanctuary will be surrounded with the bloody ruin of their bodies. Bliss.

Aside from this, I’ve been making it my priority to look for exceptional weapons and modify the hell out of them. After a while, I had amassed quite an arsenal, which included several wicked-looking electrified or skull-crushing wrenches that would make Jack Ryan green with envy.

I tallied my count of items- miscellaneous stuff you use for mods or just selling off- and I saw several bottles of Champagne. Remembering a side mission for a drunk Russian gal who paid in diamonds for every bottle of the bubbly, I hustled back to the resort to cash in. On the way of course was the token gauntlet of zombies- mostly fodder walkers and one Thug. Thugs are, of course, the routine Boss of the game, a tank-like zombie who can knock you down on your ass with a single swipe. Sadly I haven’t really mastered fully the timing of attacking these brutes in close, so I opted to just throw my arsenal at him from a distance.

I lured him away from the dock and into the water, where we could be alone- and I started pelting him- soon, he was looking like a walking pincushion, with my modified electrified wrenches, nailed bats and upgraded paralyzing machetes sticking out of him. For good measure, I’d slip in a safe kick every now and then, grab a weapon right from him, and throw it again. He was a tough sucker, but I was whittling him down. Soon, he was down to about a fourth of his life bar. Victory was in sight. Just a couple more good throws.
Suddenly, I heard something shuffle and groan off in my peripheral vision, and I turned- and lo and behold what was standing there was a goddamn Suicider Zombie- a walking, pulsating pile of pus that exploded with nuclear ferocity if something sneezed on it. I didn’t do anything, but for some reason- perhaps the Thug hit it or what- the damn creep detonated. At that distance, there was no escape- I was dead.

Of course, death in Dead Island is not permanent- you respawn after a few seconds, just minus a portion of your cash. But in this case, I also lost something else- MY FREAKIN’ WEAPONS, which were stuck on the damn Thug! Unfortunately, instead of respawning me right where I died, the game threw me at a checkpoint area, some distance away from the actual place. The Thug was nowhere in sight, along with my weapons. GONE, into reset oblivion. I was fuming and foaming at the mouth- ALL my hard-earned gear was gone! I quit the game, hoping that I would be reverted to an earlier save with all my stuff intact- but nope- I was trapped right there, post-Suicider Explosion, bereft of all my cool stuff.

WHAT THE HELL!!!!! I have to admit, I was cursing and cussing for about an hour after in disbelief at the incredible bad luck. That a turtle-fast Suicider was able to creep up on me undetected, while we were in the middle of the water was inconceivable. I was convinced the game just got pissed at me and threw me a bloody curve. What an ass!!!

Anyway, in the end what could you do but pick yourself up and start all over again. I went off and restarted my arsenal-hunting, and as of this reading my gear is even cooler and more zombie-killinglicious than ever before. Suffice to say though, unless I’m in a locked room with a Thug, I won’t be throwing my gear so readily from now on.

Back to playing then…

Headed for the Big Screen: Dead Island, Mortal Kombat!

Posted in Action Adventure, Dead Island, Fan Service, Fantasy, Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game to Movies, Game-related Events, Gaming, Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat Legacy, Movies, Survival Horror on September 30th, 2011 by thelonegamer

Some recent game-to-movie news. Survival Horror Hit Dead Island will be coming to theaters care of Lionsgate Films, while Warner Bros. has given MK Legacy Maven Kevin Tancharoen the Go Ahead for a Theatrical Reboot Release of Mortal Kombat.


Fast Tube by Casper

To star Adrien Brody and a CG-youthenized Dakota Fanning. Kidding.

Zombie movies are all the rage these days- will that still be the case in a couple of years, when Dead Island’s theatrical debut hits? Probably. We’ve seen so many permutations of the shuffling/stalking/running undead/infected genre (still quite a few coming, like Juan of the Dead and World War Z), so what does Dead Island have new to offer? Bikini-clad zombies is a good start I guess, but then according to a press release by the L.A. Times, the film will feature “family ties and non-linear storytelling”.

Based on that, my impression is that they’re going to take that emotional debut trailer as inspiration, which I feel is kinda off the mark. Downer films just don’t hit it with me- and really, that story of the tragic family in the ad? It’s been told, and it’s DONE. Do we need to see an hour and a half version of that? Perhaps a more tongue-in-cheek Zombieland (Zombie Island?) approach would be better.


Fast Tube by Casper

The short film that started it all.

As for the future Mortal Kombat film, Kevin Tancharoen’s web series was mostly awesome, so this is pretty great news. He’s supposedly going for ‘more realism”… well, as real as a story with ice-throwing ninja and thunder gods-in-the-flesh can be. With a bigger budget (but less than 100 million, supposedly) perhaps we can have awesome scenes in Outworld without having to resort to animated cut-aways.

With the next MK movie due in 2013 (supposedly coinciding with the next MK game), there’s really no reason to worry about this till the first trailer hits. Anything is possible, I guess. Let’s cross our fingers that this next theatrikal release avoids Annihilation.

Ten Things About: Dead Island

Posted in Dead Island, Gaming, My Stuff, PS3, Survival Horror on September 28th, 2011 by thelonegamer


How’s Banoi been treating ya?

1. Straight in, I’m loving the atmosphere of Dead Island. A tropical paradise gone utterly, terribly wrong is an awesome setting for a survival-horror game, and this feels fresh and new for someone who has been playing these kind of games for years.

2. The world is pretty, but the people aren’t. Everyone has a dead-eyed stare, whether they’re living or undead. All the women, bikinis notwithstanding, look haggard- of course, no one’s been able to put some makeup on since this crisis started.

3. Zombies respawn once you leave an area, but luckily, so do items and cash drops.

4. Whoever did the sound for this game ought to get a bonus. This game sounds damn scary. The roars and snarls of the undead will make you jittery and worried even if you’re a stone cold zombie killer vet.

5. Voice acting though is all over the place. Jamaican? Australian? Was that a Brooklyn Gangster accent?

6. Analog controls make the melee fighting in this game something special.

7. I think a missed opportunity in this game is a Day/Night cycle. Banoi would be ten times creepier in the dark, but then I guess it’s also a testament to how great the atmosphere is that they can get away with scares in broad daylight.

8. Annoyingly I found a gun as a reward from a quest but wasn’t able to pick it up for some reason (not high level enough?). Haven’t found a freakin’ gun since. Darn it!

9. The driving in this game is damn fun. Scratch that- the driving through zombies in this game is damn fun.

10. I’m still only at 13% Main Quest completion??? How long is this freakin’ game anyway?

Dead Island Gameplay Walkthrough

Posted in Action Adventure, Dead Island, Game Advertising, Gaming, PS3, Survival Horror, Xbox360 on May 24th, 2011 by thelonegamer


Fast Tube by Casper

‘Hitting on a girl’ takes a new meaning in this game…

After the emotional CG trailer, it was inevitable that Dead Island would finally show it’s nitty-gritty; actual gameplay. Well, this quite lengthy vid shows off about 11 minutes of in-game action and interaction. DI is basically a first-person and less comedic version of Dead Rising. It’s a melee-heavy survival horror open world romp, set on a gorgeous tropical island paradise. Sounds pretty cool, and the vid gives me high hopes.

I particularly like the setting, the way your character’s dialogue ‘levels up’ as your experience with killing (re-killing?) zombies pile up. Predictably the presentation is a bit rough still, and even the supposedly live characters look kinda zombie-ish. Still, I think I may be taking an undead-heavy vacation in the near future. For now though, check out the vid above.