Resident Evil 4 – Conquering My Fears

One of the definitions of “Haunt,” as according to Merriam-Webster, is; “to have a disquieting or harmful effect on.” I cannot recall much in my life that has done that to me, other than one video game. That belongs to “Resident Evil 4.”

My friend and I were eagerly anticipating this game. We watched pretty much every trailer and I even recollect a moment where I claimed the game would, “Be the Best video game ever.” While that statement isn’t too far from the truth, something funny happened along the lines.

I became afraid of what I was seeing. Villagers with demonic eyes, wielding sharp objects and bum rushing you with murderous intent; it was terrifying to me in a way I had never experienced before. Throw in the idea of instant death enemies and gigantic, over-powered boss fights and I was almost ready to give up.


Ah christ!

I put on a façade that I was hardcore, though. I really did want the game and I wanted others to believe I cared about it. I’m not quite sure why, but those were my actions. When the game finally came out, I immediately picked it up and popped it in my Gamecube. I played for a grand total of 20 minutes before I gave up out of fright.

I couldn’t take the tension of facing the unknown. The way death was lurking around the corner or bear traps were waiting for me or gigantic boulders were coming; it was insane. Couple all of that with the fierce difficulty curve and I was dead on arrival.

What didn’t help was how my friend was using Action Replay and still failing. Even he couldn’t deal with the difficulty and cheats couldn’t help him. I was so terrified at this point that I almost traded the game back, but I held onto the hope that I would be able to conquer my fear one day.

It took me 2 full years before I tried playing the game again. During that time, I heard from another friend of mine that most of the game was difficult. He had trouble slaying some of the bosses and he often had to quit for a few days to rebuild his strength to continue. How was that supposed to alleviate my fear?

Well, when I got my Wii and was out of games to fool around with, I figured that I might as well attack the cause of my anxiety once and for all. As it turns out, the game actually kept me scared for other reasons.


This is not an uncommon sight.

Before that point in time, not many games existed with the sole intent of destroying your morale. “Resident Evil 4” is unique in that death isn’t simply a game over screen. Most of the time, your character is mutilated or decapitated. If you check YouTube, you can find a near 10 minute video of character deaths.

That idea, alone, scares the ever-living soul out of me. When I’m trekking through a game, I don’t want to feel like I’ve failed and life is over. That’s what makes the game work, though. When you conquer a tough situation and know how gruesome failure can be, the accomplishment is like curing a major crisis.

The few successes I had in the beginning just made the entire experience wonderful. You come up to a tough area, get eviscerated or annihilated and then come back with a new found fear/respect for your foes. It makes you more careful, more calculated and even tenser at the thought of death.

One of my best moments from the game comes during the middle. You face off against this enemy that looks like a Predator. He is called Verdugo and he is nearly impossible to kill. The entire idea is to freeze him with canisters of CO2 and wait for an elevator.


He is your nightmares personified.

Well, aside from scaring the piss out of me, I was constantly running away and screaming while doing so. I was so afraid of failing that I didn’t even want to look the beast in the eye. Well, during an almost successful attempt, the guy jumped at me and decapitated me. I can remember my reaction clear as day.

The buildup of astriction and angst was tenfold, but the failure was just incredible. I couldn’t believe that I lost and I immediately headed back to surmount this bastard. When I finally overcame the beast, I was ready to throw a party.

Circumventing this foe wasn’t the end of my troubles, though. When I watched my friend cheating, he was on a boss I hadn’t even encountered yet. I saw the creature lash out and devour my friend, so I was so damn terrified of that happening to me.

Not too far after, I finally strolled into the very same boss battle. It was a fight with the antagonist, Salazaar, and I wasn’t ready. While I didn’t get consumed by him, I was nearly paralyzed at the thought of that giant creature eating me. I failed a few times out of adrenaline build up.


Thought you could best me? Think again!

When I eventually beat the game, I began to wonder what all the fear was for. Maybe just anticipation got the best of me? Hearing the stories of friends bombing at the game didn’t provide any sense of ease to me, so I let that thought permeate in my mind.

To this day, though, nothing was managed to give me a sense of dread like this. There are some other games that I’m sure will be scary to me, but I now know that I have the strength to tackle nearly any obstacle put in front of me.

Thank you, Capcom. You managed to scare me silly and make me feel invincible. That is definitely an amazing feat.

Advertisements

DEMOlition – F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn

FEAR 2 Logo

Today’s game is F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn. To give some background, Monolith released F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin last year to lukewarm critical response and not much fan reaction (at least from what I heard of the game). F.E.A.R. 2 was a follow-up to their critically acclaimed F.E.A.R. from 2005 (which also happens to be one of my favorite PC shooters).

My personal opinion on F.E.A.R. 2 (God I hate acronyms) was simple: Hate. I found the game too dumbed down and easy for my tastes. The level design was too bright to illicit any kind of frightening reaction other than a gut response to something randomly popping in your face. The A.I. was so stupid (compared to the first game which has some of the best A.I. around), the guns lost their visceral edge (they no longer produced all the intense smoke effects from the first game) and the level design was just the generic scare tactic style that Monolith overused in the first game (where random things pop out at you).

Well, wouldn’t you be surprised to hear that I actually enjoyed this demo of the new DLC expansion? Before I start delving into the good stuff (gameplay), let me set up how the demo starts. The game begins with an extremely grainy and otherwise unimpressive intro that looks almost exactly like the intro to the first game (making me think this was a remake).

This demo shows the main villain of the first game (he may also be in the second, I never cared to beat it) spouting out some nonsense about how you can free him. After about a minute (and a short little clip of your character doing some cool things), your character stands up from some explosion (possibly the end of F.E.A.R. 2).

This is where I immediately began to feel the presence of F.E.A.R (no pun intended). The first game had such a dark and atmospheric setting about the game that you always wondered what would happen around each corner. This DLC pack seems to fall back on that design and makes your awareness limited to what you can see with your flashlight (which, thankfully, doesn’t die on you).

The surroundings are laid out in a manner similar to the first game, which means they are built like an office building. It was definitely good to feel like I was playing a direct continuation of the first game instead of a sequel that forgot where its roots were.

Soon after moving a bit, you fall down through the ceiling and are confronted with your first enemy. Being without weapon, you have to melee him and take his crappy pistol. I was a little confused as far as button placement went, but melee ended up being mapped to B (just like Halo), so it wasn’t hard to set myself to one control scheme.

The only problem with melee being B is that the rest of the controls don’t follow Halo standards (or even Call of Duty or Battlefield, for that matter). When you pick up the pistol, you know RT is fire, but switching weapons is relegated to LB, with RB being grenade and LT being iron-sights (zoom). This is one of the places where I felt a bit disappointed in the demo. There is no option to bind your own controls, so you are left with a scheme that seems to be esoteric to Monolith games.

Even so, when you fire off a round with the pistol, the guns instantly feel familiar. F.E.A.R. 2 forgot about making their gunplay as impressive looking as it was handling, but Reborn doesn’t make the same mistake. Bullets impact with a splash of blood and the walls will crater when shot. Everything is definitely great looking in terms of technical value, so your guns feel heavy and realistic (just like in the first game). Sometimes your shots don’t seem to connect, though, so that does feel strange when you are missing your mark, but have a dead reticule on the enemy.

When you kill your next soldier and round another corner, the game pops-up to remind you of F.E.A.R.’s patented slow-mo ability. This ability never seemed to bother me in the original (often getting me out of ridiculous jams), but it definitely makes the combat extremely easy in this demo. Even on hardest, popping on slow-mo for 10 seconds can allow you to clear a room of 5 people.

The recharge timer for this slow-mo has been changed from the first game (probably in the second, I just can’t remember). It seems to charge a bit faster, meaning you will always have it in a rough spot. It’s just too bad the A.I. still can’t match the quality of the first. It outpaces vanilla F.E.A.R. 2, though. While I was sitting in a corner and picking off guys, I started dying randomly and turned to see a soldier behind me. Me somehow worked his way out of the scuffle and began to take me out, which is definitely neat.

FEAR 2 Shot
A.I. Tactics like cover were missing in F.E.A.R. 2, but are back in Reborn.

As for how to deal with sneaky soldiers, this demo gives you a small bit of the arsenal available in the final DLC. Along to the pistol, you are given a rather simple SMG, 3 grenade types (being proximity, frag and flame), a shotgun and a nail-gun. Yes, a freakin nail-gun. Plugging enemies in the head is so intensely satisfying that I just relied solely on this for the rest of the demo (though it does come a bit towards the end).

As for the rest of the A.I., they just kind of sit around and take your bullets. It’s not like killing them isn’t fun (especially with particle effects flying about), but challenge is not something F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn offers. What it lacks in difficulty, it makes up for with its set pieces.

After killing a few generic grunts, you jump down another level to a sniper waiting (which is easily killed by slow-mo shots) and some tank like people. These tanks don’t pose much of a threat, but waiting for them to turn corners is pointless. You are in a small area that is made of wooden walls, so the tanks just kind of bust through them. It definitely leads to some, “OH S@&^!” moments and the game feels more like it is trying to set up impressive battles like the first game.

The demo closes with you sliding down an office building, but making careful jumps from desk to ceiling pillar so as not to die. It’s very hectic and the camera is never straight, so you are always being cautious with your jumps. This also hints back to the first game, where most of the puzzles were based on moving your character instead of trying to flip a switch and press-on.

In the end, I felt rather amused and happy with the demo. F.E.A.R. 2 put a bad taste in my mouth, but this DLC seems to be correcting a lot of the issues the original title had. While the A.I. might not be up to F.E.A.R.’s level and the guns still aren’t perfect, at least Monolith realized that their level design was lacking. Simply darkening the game and going back to basics has done a lot in making me get sucked into the game world, so I commend them for that.

If you played F.E.A.R. 2 and enjoyed it, you will definitely be pleased with Reborn. The DLC should be releasing on September 3rd (Source), though no price is announced (I say expect 800 MS Points/$10 PSN). While the pack only comes with 4 levels, having them as good as the demo was would make for an amazing little download. I may actually want to finish F.E.A.R. 2 and get this pack, myself, that how much I enjoyed it.