Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Game A1 : Resident Evil - Won!

Chris report entry 3 : We did it! We gained access to the underground laboratory beneath the mansion, saved Jill who was locked in a cell room, then proceeded to blow up the whole thing! It's a good thing Brad was still flying above us in his helicopter. It was not an easy task though : The laboratory was crawling with self-healing zombies and fast things with a lot of claws. And Wesker was a traitor! Who would have guessed he was working for this dark corporation Umbrella all along? Turned out everything was some kind of test for their Biological Weapons! He regretted his treachery when his own creation, the Tyrant (the biggest and meanest zombie around) put its claws in his torso instead of thanking him... Thanks to my beloved Magnum and the rocket launcher Brad tossed me, I was able to change it into minced meat quite quickly. Glad this is all over. I'm wondering where Barry is, though...

Total time played : 10 hours -- Total "you died" screens : 14

OK! Done! I'm glad I was able to get back on this blog with my first "Won!" status. This was a tougher nut to crack that I thought... Actually, I'll look into this, but I think the game is much harder when you play as Chris, or maybe I was just remembering the Director's Cut version, which has been tampered a bit to lower the overall difficulty. Or maybe I'm just getting old and the "difficulty of old times" may be too much for me now... nah I don't think so...

I've killed that thing so many times I think I'm able to do it in real life now...

The last part of the game really gets better. After the hunters appearance, it's all starting to make sense. You know the mansion whereabouts better and are conveniently armed (even if there is never a profusion of ammo, it's still a survival-horror after all). The laboratory is suitably creepy and the documents you read are a bit more coherent. The discovery of the treachery of Wesker is particularly well done, because you find clues in the documents before the "big revelation". To be honest though, anyone who has seen at least one horror/thriller movie in his life is able to see it coming from afar.

The end boss is correct, even if it's a bit on the low difficulty side. If you've gathered enough magnum rounds and didn't waste it on zombies, you have a lot of firepower on your side. The fact he comes back at the last minute after the countdown to explosion is set (that will become one of the trademark of the series) really is stressful the first time.

You thought you had plenty of time to catch your helicopter? Think again.
Overall, the end game is a suitable climax for the game, with more than its share of revelations and brain-teasers. There is a few different endings to see, depending whether you're able to release your partner from his/her cell before blowing up the place. Resident Evil has always been known for its post-game content (the mercenaries minigames or new game+ in a lot of the subsequent entries for the series) and it's good to see this one has a costume room to open too, where you can change the outfit of your character.

It's also of course possible to do another playthrough with the other character (which I'll obviously not be doing here if I want to see another game one day), which has a lot of differences in the path. Jill is kind of protected by Barry on the beginning of the game, and gets access to the shotgun really sooner (as far as I remember). I'm not sure there is a lot of differences about the endgame though.

So I'll go set my first COWARD rating, we'll see how it goes, then to land of Hyrule I'll go!

What a tough guy?! Love. It.

Here we go again! (I know it's a bit confusing...)

Ok, I'll try again.

I've tried to write in french, but I think the personal challenge to go through this adventure in english is paradoxically one of my major motivations...

I know it's confusing and I'm sorry about it, but the post from the Trickster in my comment section was enough to make me go on this path again, after all, I'd love to get the same kind of audience following the blogs of Chet, Trick and Zen, so we'll see about that...

I'm not a 100% sure I won't switch to french again in the next few days (if that's the case, sorry about that ;), but I'll give another try in english first of all...

So without further ado... to my next post, temporarily ending my zombie-killing to the green pastures of Hyrule!

The Genealogist (back from his home country)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Series B and C... a little something for everybody?

I was thinking about it for a few days, but I'm shifting a little the purpose to this blog. Instead of focusing on one series, risking alienating a good part of the potential audience who don't have any interest concerning this particular series, I'll play games from three series at a time.

Of course, I'll concentrate on a game from family A before playing a game from family B, then to C, I won't mix the games in themselves to avoid confusion.

So here it comes :


The Legend of Zelda 1986 NES
Zelda II : The Adventure of Link 1987 NES
The Legend of Zelda : A Link to the Past 1991 SNES
The Legend of Zelda : Link's Awakening 1993 GB
Zelda : The Wand of Gamelon 1993 CDI
Link : The Faces of Evil 1993 CDI
Zelda's Adventure 1995 CDI
The Legend of Zelda : Ocarina of Time 1998 N64
The Legend of Zelda : Majora's Mask 2000 N64
The Legend of Zelda : Oracle of Seasons 2001 GBC
The Legend of Zelda : Oracle of Ages 2001 GBC
The Legend of Zelda : Four Swords 2002 GBA
The Legend of Zelda : The Wind Waker 2002 GC
The Legend of Zelda : Four Sword Adventures 2004 GC
The Legend of Zelda : The Minish Cap 2004 GBA
The Legend of Zelda : Twilight Princess 2006 WII
The Legend of Zelda : Phantom Hourglass 2007 DS
Link's Crossbow Training 2007 WII
Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland 2007 DS
The Legend of Zelda : Spirit Tracks 2009 DS
The Legend of Zelda : Skyward Sword 2011 WII


Blood Omen : Legacy of Kain 1996 PSX
Legacy of Kain : Soul Reaver 1999 PSX
Legacy of Kain : Soul Reaver 2 2001 PS2
Blood Omen 2 : Legacy of Kain 2002 PS2
Legacy of Kain : Defiance 2003 PS2

Obviously the Series C is much shorter than the other ones, so I'll figure out another series to play if I ever come to finish Legacy of Kain (in my opinion, considering the time it will take, somewhere around march 2056)

So to be clear on it (my frenchitude might be a little confusing sometimes, sorry about that...)
From RE1, I'll switch to Legend of Zelda, then to Blood Omen, then back to RE2. If it works well, I hope I'll be able to interest a wider audience...

What do you think of my choices? Would you like to read about these games?

Introducing... the COWARD system!

Here it is, the COWARD system will allow me to put some kind of notation to the games I'm currently playing.

It was a hard time trying to figure out what to put in this scale, because it has to be a bit generalist.
The GIMLET, PISSED and CAPICE systems (from the CRPG Addict, Adventure Gamer and RPG Consoler blogs, respectively) work great, notably because they are specialized in one genre. My major problem was that I should be able to find a scale that could be used for any kind of game. I didn't want to go for a "classic" video game magazine scale, which would hold no new interest (Reviews on 1UP or Gamespot would be much more interesting to read).

So, the COWARD system works majorly on my "feelings" towards the game I just played. It's even more subjective than any other scale, but let's try this for the time being, we can always change it if you find it doesn't work.

C stands for Cleverness.
Cleverness is, for me, one of the most important part of any game. Why are Zelda games so great for example? It's because it makes you feel good when you solve a puzzle. Cleverness stands for when the game lets you figure something out for yourself instead of shoving it down your throat. In the Resident Evil franchise, it would be to let you forge your own path through the mansion (e.g. RE1) instead of putting you on rails and never let you go astray (e.g. RE0 in my memory). If the game itself is "clever" and able to fool the player with something he would never have seen coming, it will be notified here as well.

O stands for Originality
This one is a bit peculiar. Considering I'm working through game franchises, the first game of every series would get a great Originality grade, and all the subsequent ones would get a low one. I'll treat the first games of every series differently : How is RE1 has changed anything in the video games industry instead of just getting its inspiration from other places? About the sequels, the O grade will stands for the risk taken from the formula. Resident Evil 4, where everything was rethought concerning how to change the formula, is sure to fetch a great grade, where Resident Evil 5, which is basically a "quicker, more aggressive" version of RE4, would score lower.

W stands for Writing
Considering I want to play games that have always something to do with storytelling (even if it's not the major point), this note stands for how the story is told. A "classic" Mario game usually doesn't have a lot to say about the story, it's often "cross level, battle Bowser, save princess", but a Zelda, or even a Resident Evil one (the books and notes scattered all over the place tell you more about what happened in the first place) would be much more interesting to evaluate. The story itself is important, but this grade will also gauge how it's told.

A stands for Appeal
Here it is, the graphics and sound grade. It stands for the setting of the game, the beauty (or ugliness) of graphics, the ambiance in itself. I will try to evaluate the appearance of this game when it first hit the shelves, and how it's aged. In this regard, older games won't be necessarily disadvantaged compared to the newer ones. A good looking NES game can of course score the same grade than a PS3 one, for example. This grade is more about how the graphics and sound help the story unfold, or how they try to hide that the game in itself is an empty vessel.

R stands for Reactivity
The controls are graded here. In my opinion, the gamer should always find that a game is "fair". If you die because of your lack of response to an immediate threat, the game is fair, if you die because you couldn't make your character do what you wanted him to do, it's unfair. The "tank control" of the early Resident Evil games will have a hard time going through this grade...

D stands for Delicacy
Why do we play games? It's because of how good it sometimes make you feel. Overcoming a really strong foe or solving a complicated riddle can make you feel good, like you've really accomplished something. On the other side, too much difficulty can lead to frustration and smashing controllers. The greatest games have usually found the perfect balance in this regard.

Following the example of my blog mentors, I'll give every category a grade between 0 and 10 (leading to a 60 points rating), then put that grade on a 100 scale to get a final rating.

Here is my scale, for the time being, I'll try it on the first few games I play, and see how it goes. Please let me know what you think!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Game A1 - Resident Evil : Good Will Hunters

Chris Redfield Report, Entry 2 : Ok, the Plant 42 was another abomination, a blood-sucking plant produced by this place. Thanks to Rebecca, we were able to synthesize a serum that could enfeeble it. A few shotgun rounds down its throat (do plants have throats? this one sure did have teeth...) and it was done for. I managed to get the last Mansion key and went back to the first house... to discover our slow and now almost harmless zombies had received some backup. The place was crawling with Hunters, some kind of gorilla and crocodile mix, really fast, angry and more than capable of getting shot a few times before staying down... And this huge snake is back too! The end of the night is still far away...

Time played : 1h15 (4h45 total) - "You Died" screens : 2 (8 total)

Ok, so I haven't done a lot of progress since my last entry. My biggest error was to save a little too often (by Resident Evil standards, too often means six times in four hours) and now, I'm a bit stuck between two bosses, the plant and the snake. The bosses in themselves are not that dangerous, but the place is now crowded with Hunters. They jump all over the place, bite you, jump back and you have to be really careful to offer them the three shotgun shells that they need to stop moving...

Now, I sure am sorry for these crocodile boots I bought at the last STARS garage sale.
You have to give that to the game's credit. Now, you have a few more bullets in your bag, and a beautiful shotgun that kill a zombie in one shot. So, you're starting to feel confident. Even the sharks in the basement are not that dangerous, and you just have to run a bit to avoid the bees and spiders around the place (PETA sure hadn't heard of Capcom when this game went out...)

And then, they give you the Hunter, which is basically the stuff of nightmares for all the Resident Evil veterans. So, my last hour of play can be summarized this way : Open the door to the Plant, mix the serum with Rebecca, go down to the basement, put the serum on the roots, finish the plant with the shotgun, get the key, cross the garden, kill a few dogs, avoid the first hunter, go to the snake, kill the snake, go down to the OTHER basement, try to reach the magic box as soon as you finally get hold of an ink ribbon, get eviscerated by hunters...


So I just shut down my Playstation, wonder if I had to start again, and decided that, no, it was too soon to give up. The world is watching me (well, right now, I have one member, so let's say Zenic is watching me) and I don't want to disappoint my audience! It's too soon, I've got so many more games to explore!

I'll go back there, and get pass this rough spot. I'll have the hide of these things and make a lot of nice clothing with it.

By the way, on another note, I liked the chemical mixing puzzle. It's a bit basic, but is a nice change of rhythm after a long part of exploring and killing stuff. This game is still great. I just have to find a way to save my game again...

Paradigm Shift!

Ok, sorry about the name of the post, just a really quick update to let you all know that Alfred n the Fettuc  now boldly calls himself the "Video Game Genealogist".

I know, with big names come big responsibilities... I hope I'll be able to live up to these expectations.

I'll try to post about my new and fresh notation scale, but I'm struggling to find a stupid acronym for it... I'll let you know!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Game A1 - Resident Evil : Ink And Lead Shortage

Chris Redfield Report, entry 1 : Ever since we entered this god forsaken mansion, I haven't heard any news from Jill and Wesker. I hope they are still around here, alive, and, like me, struggling to find some clues. I have met another survivor : Rebecca Chambers from STARS Bravo Team. She has helped me on one of this place's puzzles, and later she even saved my life by curing me from a bite of a giant poisonous snake. I have gained access to another mansion, some sort of guest house, situated on the other side of a derelict garden full of these horrible dogs. I keep finding clues about what had happened here. Apparently, some sort of experiment on a Virus went wrong, mutating everything around here into some kind of flesh-hungry monsters : dogs, crows, snakes, and everybody working on the premises... Hope I'll find a way out of here before becoming one of them. Right now, I'm investigating intel I got about some sort of man-eating plant, called Plant 42... my ammo is going dangerously low and I've used my last ink ribbon. I certainly hope my first entry won't be my last one.

Time played : 2h (3h30 total) - "You Died" screens : 1 (6 total)

Ok. Forget about the cheesy intro, the horrible controls and the blocky graphics : this game is still good. Excellent, even some fifteen years after its release date. As long as you can bear the first hour or so, when every encounter with a zombie means a huge waste of bullets and curative herbs (or a game over screen). Then, you start gaining access to more places, locating keys, solving riddles, and it all start to fall into place.

Still can't kill a crow, though...
There is a lot of things I remember from the remake, so most of the riddles come naturally. I don't think any of them is really complicated, which is a good thing because it's a relief from the zombie killing but doesn't break the rhythm too much. A few of them are a bit annoying, I'm thinking about the "push a statue over this hole so nothing comes out of it and kill you" kind of puzzle that is kinda hard because of the low error-margin on the said statue placement, or another one that implies a lock you can only open by a lot of fiddling around with the buttons, but almost every other ones are enjoyable.

A few things are infuriating, though. For example, you can only have six items in your inventory, you can't drop any on the ground to make temporary room, and it means a lot of going back and forth to one of the "magic boxes" scattered in the mansion where you can keep your stuff. It's particularly bothersome when you have to switch one item for one another and you can't take the first one before placing the other one.

The other difficult thing to accept is the lack of precision in your character's placement. The camera angles are stills and you have to face exactly your opponent to be able to hit it. In a game where every bullet counts, it can be really infuriating to shoot three times in the air before being able to hit your target, just because you couldn't see you were facing four millimeters on your right... it works because zombies are slow and clumsy, but when you're dealing with dogs or crows (arrr... I hate these crows), it can really be game-breaking.

Another heart-stopping moment : Honey, who is the zombie in the cupboard? 
A lot of people consider Resident Evil as some kind of japanese Alone in the Dark. I can see why, when you look at the first game. It's in a big mansion with all sorts of creepy monsters, you can play as a male or female character, and there is a good riddle/fighting ratio in both of them. The subsequent games in the franchise will go for a more action-oriented style, which will lead to a few masterpieces (i.e. Resident Evil 4), but this episode really has his own rhythm and feeling.

Anyway, I've met the first boss, which is a huge poisonous snake, and I've crossed the garden. I was pretty short on ammo at the time, so I look forward to cross it again, considering I haven't killed many of the hostile dogs roaming the place. My resource management so far is ok, I've got a few herbs left, and a whole bag of shotgun shells. But I know I haven't met any Hunter yet, so I'm afraid the worse is definitely to come...

Game A1 - Resident Evil : Pixel Hunting

Time played : 1h30 --- "You Died" screens : 5

Wow. Now I see the problem with the constant stream of remakes for newer consoles. HD is great, but SD games played on a huge TV set sometimes feel like someone puked on the screen.

What I remember for the game the last time I played it :
It's no RE5, but damn is the lighting pretty.
What I'm playing now :

Get off me, you horribly pixellated thing!
Well, OK, that's the point of these blogs, ain't it? You begin with old games and move slowly to the newer ones. But the problem is still the same : The playstation games are ugly nowadays, and the first 3D polygonal games really haven't aged well compared to 2D graphics, like you can see in SNES or Genesis games for example.

The other problem is the controls. It's been a while since I've played one of the RE games plagued with the infamous "tank controls" and I've had a hard time getting used to them again. Once your brains get that up on your control pad goes in front of you, and that the left and right are used to (sloooowly) turn around, you've been eaten a few times. The first game doesn't feature any way to quickly turn around like the later games offer, so we'll have to play without that too.

The last thing about this game is that the beginnings are punishingly hard. When you play as Chris, you start only with your knife, and even when you get the gun, you can empty a whole clip on the first zombie you see, leaving you wondering what you'll do with the next one...

But let's start by the beginning. And what beginning is it! The game starts with what might be the cheesiest movie ever, with real persons filmed. I really hope that the actors were Capcom employees, and not real actors wanting to make a living out of this job because I think one's career can't ever recover from this. I think everyone should see it, because a few minutes of film is better than a thousand words. Just make sure to wash your eyes afterwards.

After this work of art, the game starts. As I said earlier, the graphics haven't aged well. The polygonal models are quite ugly, but to be fair, the prerendered backgrounds were (and stay) beautiful. The voice acting is quite bad though. I especially think about the first meeting between Chris and Rebecca, which sounds like average 80's porn.

I think anybody is familiar with the setting of this game, but I'll quickly recapitulate it. The game follows the story of the S.T.A.R.S Alpha Team, a Raccoon City Police Special Unit sent to investigate Raccoon Forest after the disappearance of Bravo Team in the area. They are attacked by some kind of zombie dogs and take shelter in a nearby mansion. You have the choice to play as Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine. They can be considered as "harder" and "hard" difficulty levels (Chris starts with a knife, Jill with a gun, for example) and the two paths have a few differences between them, which is really nice for replay value.

Pictured : wrong career choice
The cast, beyond the two main characters, consists of team leader Albert Wesker (traitor!... oops, spoiler alert, I guess), and fellow STARS members Barry Burton and Rebecca Chambers. You'll occasionally run into other survivors, who usually won't stick around very long before serving as zombie bait. As you guess, there will be a lot of twists in the story, and you'll eventually discover that the gigantic mansion holds many secrets and has quite a dark history.

This game plants the basics for the "survival horror" genre. You have a lot of hostiles, a really limited amount of ammo and a few basic riddles to overcome. This is quite a departure from other action games of the era, where you usually had plenty of ways to kill your enemies. Here, running is usually the more sensible option if you don't want to resort to your knife to survive.

At first, the game is not that scary. The zombies come to you slowly, moaning with their arms reaching to grab you. What can be scary is that the controls are so stiff you sometimes wonder if you're not playing a zombie yourself. It's no surprise that the zombies have become progressively quicker in the next games of the franchise, where controls get better and better : a slow walking zombie is scary only if your character is clumsy enough that he can't just step aside to avoid being bitten. The ambiance is quite grim and the mansion is appropriately creepy. But there is a few moments where the horror game really takes off : I've been conveniently scared by a zombie who was hidden behind a corner, and I kinda came close to the heart attack when the first zombie dog come into a corridor by crashing the window...

Ok, ok, I admit it. It was pretty damn scary.
All in all, I'm really enjoying this : the mansion layout is different enough than the remake's, and I really don't remember this game as much as I remember the sequels. I'm still discovering where the items are, getting killed often, and making slow progress. I just had my fifth death just after a pretty humiliating encounter with crows. After emptying my gun at open air and missing them about a dozen times just before being pecked to death, I had to reload a pretty far away save (I haven't mentioned the infamous ink ribbons, that you have to find before being able to save). So far, I've found 60 bullets in all (15 in the gun, 30 in the safe and another 15 clip in a room), and considering the average zombie takes 6 to 8 hits before going down, I don't think I'll finish with this game really soon... I'll keep you posted...


Here is the list of games I'll be playing in my exploration of the Resident Evil franchise :

Resident Evil - PSX - 1996
Resident Evil 2 - PSX - 1998
Resident Evil 3 : Nemesis - PSX - 1999
Resident Evil : Survivor - PSX - 2000
Resident Evil : Code Veronica - Dreamcast - 2000
Resident Evil Gaiden - Game Boy Color - 2001
Resident Evil Survivor 2 : Code Veronica - PS2 - 2001
Resident Evil (Gamecube Remake) - Gamecube - 2002
Resident Evil Zero - Gamecube - 2002
Resident Evil : Dead Aim - PS2 - 2003
Resident Evil Outbreak - PS2 - 2003
Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 - PS2 - 2004
Resident Evil 4 - Gamecube - 2005
Resident Evil : Deadly Silence - DS - 2006
Resident Evil : The Umbrella Chronicles - Wii - 2007
Resident Evil 5 - PS3 - 2009
Resident Evil : The Darkside Chronicles - Wii - 2009
Resident Evil : The Mercenaries 3D - 3DS - 2011
Resident Evil : Revelations - 3DS - 2012

Whew, that's an awful lot of games, and I'm pretty sure by the time I get to the 3DS games, Resident Evil 6 and Operation Raccoon City may be out. Well, that's life, we'll see about that when we're there.

By the way, if anyone sees I'm missing any game belonging to the series, please let me know. I left out the portable games for now, but maybe it would be worth a shot if I can find some way to play them.

Let's go kill some zombies...

So now what?

Ok. So I've been thinking about it for a long time. I love the "new" trend going in video games blogging these days. As far as I'm concerned, I think it started by the CRPG Addict work, on his great attempt (now temporary defunct) to play through every CRPG ever made in a chronological order.

A lot of great blogs then appeared, I'm currently following the Adventure Gamer (every adventure game ever released in chronological order, obviously) and The RPG Consoler (same thing for... Console RPG, guess you haven't seen this one coming).

So now what? I want to make one on my own, but I've got two major problems there. The first one is that english is not my native language. I'm french (I know, it happens) and, even if I consider my english pretty correct, it's kind of harder to me to write in english compared to french. The problem is : writing in french would alienate my blog from a lot of people, especially considering I'd love my blog to be followed by the same community dedicated to the other blogs I love. So I'll try to write in english for the time being. Please excuse my bad writing when it happens, and don't hesitate to correct me or tell me if I'm unclear on some subjects.

The second major problem is my lack of dedication. I love video games. I play a lot. But for a few years I feel like I'm incapable of playing any game through and through. I've spent hundreds of hours on Morrowind, for example, but, even if I love Skyrim, I can't seem to gather the same concentration on it that I had on its prequels a few years back. So I think what will happen is that I'll write a few posts, and just forget all about it as soon as I've been bored of that. Well, we'll see, maybe I'll discover my dedication can go back, especially as soon as I'll get an audience (if I ever get one)...

So let's go, for the time being. I've been wondering what kind of games this blog should be about. I won't stick to a genre in particular. My two favorite genres, adventure games and RPGs are taken care of by my fellow bloggers, and I see no point in talking about these games. I prefer to read about them and see their point of views on these games. So I'll go for series. I'll stick to a franchise, and play every game released for it through and through.

I'll start with Resident Evil.

Considering the number of RE games released, I'll be killing zombies and moving cranks for a long time. For the next series, I'll ask the audience advice to know what I should play next. I'll stay away from series that I could literally spend my whole life on, like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, but we'll see about that if I ever finish the Resident Evil series. My rules are the same than the other blogs started by the CRPG Addict. I have to finish a game, or at least spend five hours on it before moving to the next one. I'll play them in chronological order, and won't back off from the horrors that lurk in every game series (Gun Survivor, I'm looking at you). I'll stick to the original version first (yes I'll play the first PSX version of RE1, not the gorgeous Gamecube remake), then think about playing the remakes when the time come (there is obviously no interest to play through RE4 twice because the control scheme has changed for Wii, but it could be interesting to play through the DS or Gamecube version of RE1 to see what changed).

Last of all, I'll figure some kind of notation device like the GIMLET or CAPICE notation scale, but I may have to tune it a bit between two game series. We'll see about that in a future post.

Ok, time to dust off my PS2 and put the olde Resident Evil CD in it. I'm really looking forward to seeing the introductory short film again. In my memory, it was kind of the worst thing ever shot by a camera.

I think I'm going to see a awful lot of these screens in the next few weeks...