[Originally posted on When Nerds Attack.]
“You’re about to see something wonderful.” Jack’s freshly charred skin is peeling off his body. But he’s still alive, and strong. He’s clutching your wrist, pulling it to his face. He wraps his mouth around the handgun you just plucked from the desiccated cop now lying dead on the floor. With a resounding pop, a chasm erupts from the top of his skull. His body falls limply to the ground. You survived, but you didn’t win. Jack will be back. He deliberately ate a bullet just to prove a point.
It’s been a long time since Resident Evil has scared me. For the better part of a decade, Capcom remodeled the franchise that coined “Survival Horror” into gun-centric action games meant to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Familiar draws were included to bait fans that remember the fixed perspective, tank controlled days of yesteryear — whether it was tangential ties to the sinister Umbrella Corporation, hulking bio-weapons, or the franchise synonymous living dead. More often than not, though, these nostalgic additions felt like window dressing. While latter day sequels like Resident Evil 6 coated their levels in shadows and foreboding atmosphere, at their core, they were third-person shooters. True horror, the kind that the original trilogy is lauded for to this day, was left behind.
With Resident Evil 7, Capcom has finally returned to the franchise’s roots. It takes inspiration not only from its own past but from other stand-out horror experiences in order to rework and revitalize the genre they helped inform. The result is an expertly paced, incredibly tense hell-ride through a literal madhouse — and it’s actually pretty goddamn scary. Long-time fans have been yearning to hear this for years: Resident Evil 7 is pure survival horror.
Breaking Down the Info from the Hybrid Console’s Big Presser
When Nintendo finally revealed the Switch back in late October, I was left more excited about the company’s future in hardware than I have been in years. Granted, that initial trailer was the idealized vision of the console: it was direct in its messaging while shrewdly omitting any hype-strangling details like battery life, resolution, and, most importantly, price. What we were left with was the exciting prospect of console quality games (like the newest Zelda opus) on a handheld hybrid that features modular controllers; a machine that cobbles together what Nintendo is best at – forward thinking portability and first-party games so good they stand head and shoulders with the best this industry has to give.
On Thursday, Nintendo began filling in the blanks, setting about to answer (at least some) of the questions fans have had circling in their heads since the system’s unveiling. You can watch the entire conference here but, coming from someone that sat through a livestream of the proceeding – awaiting something, anything, that signaled Nintendo’s return to form – I’d recommend just reading up on the cliff notes.
Though the affair was poised in the same fashion as one of Sony’s knockout E3 conferences, Nintendo couldn’t land the same blows. I began the show with more enthusiasm than Nintendo let me leave with. After the abject failure of the Wii U (a console that only managed to push slightly north of 13 million units – the worst sales in Nintendo’s hardware history barring the Virtual Boy) the Switch needed to be touted as a reckoning. It was Nintendo’s chance to convince the fence-sitters to choose their side of the picket. We didn’t get that Thursday night.
Nintendo has always floundered in the stage show department, though. You’re asking the same company that thought this shit was a good idea to try and wow us in an hour and a half. Nintendo’s like that shy kid at the back of the class: he tests well and always turns in his homework, but the second you ask him to walk up to the board and present, he becomes a mumbling, incoherent mess. Of course they shit the bed. This is Nintendo we’re talking about. Credit to that first Switch video, though. I fell for it, too! I wrongly assumed Nintendo was trying to demonstrate they’ve turned a new leaf (no pun intended, Animal Crossing fans). At the presentation, however, it seems Nintendo isn’t just making its same old mistakes but brand new ones.
But I think it’s important to remember that a poor showcase isn’t enough reason to condemn the hardware itself. The tech, despite Nintendo’s aloof messaging, still looks cool. So let’s try to unpack what we learned at the showcase (and the info we gleaned in the days following) without having to suffer through awkward squid doctors and a translator whose probably looking for a new job right about now:
[Originally posted as A Totally Subjective List of 2016′s 10 Best Games on When Nerds Attack.]
2016 was a rough one. Whether it was methodically tearing our cultural icons away from us or trying to plant the seeds for a Twitter Age civil war, 2016 felt like a twelve month beatdown that had us collectively gasping against the ropes. But the realm of escapism thrived, especially in video games! This...
I’ve beaten Square Enix’s ten-years-in-the-making magnum opus. I do eventually want to write a review, and doubtless it’ll be a long-winded opus in and of itself since I have a ton I want to say, but I thought I’d share some quick impressions now that I’ve resurfaced from my sixty hour journey into a world of magical beings and stupid anime haircuts. Mostly to collect my thoughts on my time with...
(Originally posted on When Nerds Attack.)
Before fiery forums and contemptuous comment sections damned No Man’s Sky as the poster boy for Overhyped Disappointment, that distinction belonged to Watch Dogs. With showstopping E3 demonstrations years before its actual release and a marketing campaign that inflated the game’s reputation into the next-gen second coming, Ubisoft’s open-world title had expectations stacked to the moon.
But Watch Dogs wasn’t the crowbar to GTA’s knee it was gassed up to be. And it certainly wasn’t the next-generation tour de force of 2014 that displayed the sheer computational power of our eighth generation consoles. It was a bog standard open-world crime game, compounded by a weak story centered on one of gaming’s worst leading men. The one concept that separated it from its peers – the ability to hack parts of the environment to your advantage – felt more like a shallow distraction than a tantamount feature. Shit, Watch Dogs isn’t even the best open-world game with “Dogs” in its title. Despite huge out-of-the-gate sales, Watch Dogs became the cornerstone of Gamestop’s $9.99 bins.
That’s why Watch Dogs 2 is such a huge surprise. Ubisoft has made a herculean effort of addressing the original game’s biggest problems. We’ve ditched the dreary reinterpretation of Chicago for a lively, sometimes uncannily accurate recreation of San Francisco. Aiden’s half-baked revenge quest has been traded up for a lighter toned but more resonant tale of rebellion against a voyeuristic big brother. We’re given a cast of characters that matter, headed up by a charming, cocksure protagonist who’s instantly likable. Watch Dogs 2 is a vast improvement over its predecessor. It’s the biggest turnaround in quality an Ubisoft sequel has managed since Assassin’s Creed II.