Game Corner: Mega Man 11 (Xbox One)

GameCorner
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Released: October 2018
Developer: Capcom
Also Available For: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC

The Background:
Mega Man (or Rockman if you’re in Japan of one of “those” types of fans) is one of Capcom’s longest-running franchises; first debuting in 1987, the Blue Bomber has been blasting robots and navigating some of videogame’s trickiest platforms for decades now. In celebration of Mega Man’s 30th anniversary, Mega Man 11 saw the titular robot-blasting hero move away from the 8-bit-style throwbacks that Capcom had been releasing and back into a 2.5D environment for yet another round against the evil Dr. Wily. This one was a real challenge for me as, growing up as a SEGA kid, I didn’t experience a Mega Man title for quite some time and, while I have played a few of them and given them a fair shot, I’ve never actually played one from start to finish as I struggle with the series’ trademark difficulty spike.

The Plot:
The evil Dr, Wily is back; this time he’s used his Double Gear technology to power up eight Robot Masters in an attempt to usurp his old rival, the kindly Dr. Light. Ever the hero. Mega Man volunteers to use the Double Gear technology against Dr. Wily to defeat his robots and put an end to his plans for world domination.

Gameplay:
Just like the classic Mega Man titles, Mega Man 11 is a sidescrolling action/platformer that puts player sin control of the titular Blue Bomber. Mega Man must jump, slide, and blast his way through eight different stages to take on Dr. Wily’s eight Robo Masters, opposed by Wily’s other robots and a series of tricky platforming sections and traps.

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Blast your enemies with the Mega Buster.

Mega Man can blast enemies with his Mega Buster, which can be charged up to unleash a more powerful blast. As you explore each area, and destroy enemies, you’ll pick up a number of items that will help you on your journey. Yellow capsules will refill your health (and you’ll definitely need these), blue ones will refill Mega Man’s power meter, Bolts can be accumulated to purchase upgrades and buffs from Dr. Light’s lab, and Gears will power-up Mega Man’s Gear gauge.

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The Double Gear system increases Mega Man’s speed or power.

When full, you can press either the R or the L trigger to activate either the Speed Gear or the Power Gear. This is Mega Man 11’s newest gimmick as one will slow down time and enemies to allow you to attack enemies and bosses or navigate difficult areas a bit easier and the other will increase the damage output by Mega Man’s Mega Buster. In addition to this, as always, once Mega Man defeats a Robot Master, he gains their abilities for use in the remainder of the game. This is, once again, a crucial element to succeeding at Mega Man 11 as, if you take on a Robot Master without the necessary ability, the battle will be that much more difficult. Instead, while you can take on the game’s stages in any order, it’s recommended that you tackle them in a specific way so that you can whittle away at your opponent’s health that much easier. Mega Man can also call upon his robotic canine companion, Rush, to reach higher areas or fly across gaps; while this is useful, it can leave you open to attack and at risk of falling to your death.

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You’ll want to avoid the spikes as they cause instant death.

And this will mostly likely happen a lot. In keeping with the franchise’s tradition, Mega Man 11 is a tough game; there are different difficulty settings to pick from (that restrict how many lives you have, among other things) but, even on the easiest setting, it’s no cakewalk. Mega Man stutters when taking damage, which can be the difference between making a jump or slipping off a ledge, feels very weighty when he jumps 9which can make precision platforming difficult), and has such an aversion to spikes that he will explode the moment he even brushes past one.

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Purchase upgrades and buffs in Dr. Light’s lab.

All of this means that you will need to farm those Bolts and make liberal use of the shop in Dr. Light’s lab. Here, you can buy Tanks to fully refill your health or energy (or both, which can be essential to outlasting some Robot Masters), extra lives, and other items to assist in your adventure. These all carry a weighty price, however, meaning that you’ll have to be able to play through at least one stage in order to farm enough Bolts to help your continued journey.

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Mega Man 11 is no walk in the park.

In the end, Mega Man 11 was exactly the same frustrating experience as every other Mega Man I’ve ever played; Mega Man is quite slow, feels like he has bricks in his boots, and will seemingly take any excuse to fall down a bottomless pit or run face-first into enemies and obstacles. Maybe it’s me; I will be the first to admit that I suck at Mega Man games but, despite how difficult and frustrating the game can be (even with some generous autosave points), it’s still a lot of fun to play thanks to the tight gameplay, gorgeous graphics, and catchy tunes.

Graphics and Sound:
Unlike most Mega Man titles, Mega Man 11 is a 2.5D adventure with 3D polygonal characters and 2D environments. The game reminds me of the Mega Man X (Capcom, 1993 to 2001) series in terms of its presentation, but the characters and graphics are more based on the classic, chibi-aesthetic of the 8-bit Mega Man, meaning everything looks very polished and highly detailed but also cutesy and cuddly.

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Mega Man 11 mixes chibi-cute with an anime-cool.

Mega Man 11 also features numerous tunes, music, and sound effects that will be recognisable to any Mega Man fan; containing remixes and updated version of classic Mega Man tunes, the music and the charming graphical style make even the game’s most frustrating platforming sections enjoyable as you can’t help but marvel at how great the game looks and sounds as Mega Man is exploding into a hundred pieces.

Enemies and Bosses:
Mega Man 11 features  a number of returning Mega Man enemies, such as the hard-hat-wearing Met and the shield-wielding Sniper Joe. Almost all of these can be dispatched with a few well-placed shots from the Mega Buster, but you may need to charge it up or switch to one of Mega Man’s other abilities to make shorter work of them.

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Some enemies affect the environment.

Some enemies can adversely affect their environment; Lamper will light dark areas of Torch Man’s stage but also drops fireballs on you so you’re probably better off dodging its attacks so you can actually see where you’re going. Pipetto will spew chemicals that turn water into acid and the Mash Burner and Fire Server can cause damage to Mega Man after being defeated. Other enemies, like Mawaru C and the Tank Oven, shield themselves from Mega Man’s attacks and will require a precise shot or another ability to break through their defences.

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Mini bosses can pack quite a punch.

When travelling through the game’s eight stages, Mega Man must contend with a mid-boss that can be just as tricky as Wily’s Robot Masters. You’ll battle against a spinning, spiked totem that will split into pieces, a fire-spewing turkey, and the ridiculous Frog Balloon (which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like). As with other enemies, and the Robot Masters, you’ll have to make use of Mega Man’s Gear abilities and the weapons you acquire from defeating the Masters to overcome these mid-bosses but, on your first playthrough, they can be quite the challenge and annoyance.

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Each Robot Master has a specific weakness.

Then we have the Robot Masters. Mega Man 11 features eight all-new Robot Masters (though their themes and powers are vaguely similar to those of past Mega Man titles) and the key to overcoming them comes from using the right abilities against the right boss. However, when you first start the game, you’ll only have Mega Man’s Mega Buster and Gear abilities, meaning it can be a bit difficult to whittle their health down, especially if you take on Block Man, as I did. Once you defeat one boss though, this pretty much determines which stage you’ll take on next; for example, one I finally defeated Block Man, I then took on Acid Man, who is weak to the Block Dropper, then Impact Man, and so on.

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The classic Yellow Devil returns to plague gamers everywhere.

Once you figure out which boss is weak to which weapon, defeating the Robot Masters isn’t that difficult; getting to them, however, is where the game’s real challenge lies. Once you defeat all eight, you’ll storm Wily’s fortress, where you’ll get to face all eight one after another and also take on the classic Mega Man mini boss, the Yellow Devil. This guy splits himself up into sections to bash Mega Man about and attacks with massive lasers and mini versions of himself, but was actually easier for me to defeat than Block Man!

MM11Wily
Dr. Wily is no pushover but isn’t as tough as other bosses.

Similarly, Dr. Wily himself was actually much easier to defeat than some of his Robot Masters; Wily’s final machine has two forms, both of which are weak to the Acid Barrier and the Chain Blast. By this point, I knew to carry some Tanks with me to refill Mega Man’s health and energy and utilised the Power Gear to make short work of the mad scientist. Nevertheless, each of the game’s bosses are massive and multi-staged and present a significant challenge and encourages players to learn their weaknesses and the best ways of utilising Mega Man’s various abilities.

Power-Ups and Bonuses:
As mentioned, you can pick up capsules to increase your health, energy, and lives as you play. You can also pick up Tanks in stages to use for later but, generally, you’ll be boosting Mega Man’s abilities by defeating Robot Masters or spending Bolts at Dr. Light’s lab. These abilities can also help you navigate stages as well as increase your chances at defeating enemies; Tundra Man’s ice whirlwind can freeze an oncoming wall of lava in Torch Man’s stage and the Acid Barrier allows Mega Man to safely move through acid pools.

MM11Menu
Equip your items in the menu screen.

In Dr. Light’s lab, you can also purchase items that greatly improve your chances at clearing the game’s stages, such as boots that keep you from slipping on ice (pretty much mandatory for Tundra Man’s stage), or items that automatically charge up your weapons. You can also purchase a few one-time use items that will protect you from the instant death of spikes, have Beat recover you when you fall down a hole, or turn onscreen enemies into energy.

Additional Features:
In addition to the main game and its various difficulty settings, Mega Man 11 also features time trials, a challenge mode, character galleries, and online leaderboards. In these modes, you’ll take on the game’s stages under a time limit or with the intention of meeting certain conditions; while you will have access to Mega Man’s other abilities, you won’t get any of the buffs or bonuses you can purchase from Dr. Light’s lab and you’ll have to do it all on one life, so this is mainly recommended for players who are actually good at Mega Man games (so…not me, then).

MM11Extras
There are a number of extra modes to keep you busy.

There’s also a boss rush, where you’ll take on the Robot Masters and bosses one after the other, and whole bunch of Achievements to get; most of these are tied to conditions outside of the time trials and challenges. Some can only be get on your first playthrough as well, which is annoying, but you’ll pick up a fair few just on a casual playthrough. Otherwise, there’s no additional characters to play as or unlock here and it seems like we missed out on an additional skin for Mega Man as well, meaning you’ll mainly come back to the game to beat the higher difficulty settings.

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The Summary:
Mega Man 11 is a challenging experience…unless you are able to plan ahead and utilise all of the abilities the game affords you. If you blunder into a stage without thinking about it, or without the right weapon or extra Tanks, you’ll probably struggle with some of the tricky platforming, bottomless pits, and enemy placements to say nothing of battling the Robot Masters). Unfortunately, this was largely how I approached the game: head on and guns blazing. Once I understood how to use the Gear system and the best way to tackle each stage and Robot Master, the game became much easier. I still had to tackle it one stage at a time, rather than continuously playing, but this made it an enjoyable enough experience. Any time you fail or die, it’s because your skills aren’t up to the task so the only way to succeed is to get better and push a little further. There’s plenty of incentive to do that but, honestly, I feel like hardcore Mega Man gamers will get far more out of this one than novices like me.

My Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pretty Good

What were your thoughts on Mega Man 11? Do you find the series to be a challenge or have you managed to master the Blue Bomber? What is your favourite Mega Man game? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments.

Back Issues: WildStorm’s Resident Evil #5

BackIssues

So it’s probably old news by now but we finally saw the release of the Resident Evil 3 remake (Capcom, 2020) recently and, to mark the occasion, I’ve been taking a look back at Resident Evil: The Official Comic Magazine, a five-issue comic book released by WildStorm back in 1998 to 1999. If you’ve stuck with me through it all, well done; if not, you can read up on my thoughts on issue one, two, three, and four easily enough.

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Issue five, published in February 1999, would be the last issue in this series and, honestly, it probably couldn’t have come at a better time. Rather than choose to be a by the numbers adaptation of the first two videogames, WildStorm mostly opted to tell side stories, interludes, and recaps of Resident Evil (ibid, 1996) and Resident Evil 2 (ibid, 1998). While this worked to begin with and nicely fleshed out some of the Resident Evil lore, choosing to be an anthology series rather than focusing on the events of the videogames has produces more misses than hits in retrospect.

ResEvComic5Tyrant
Dexter stumbles across a freakin’ Tyrant!

This final issue begins with “…And the Last Shall Be First” (Oprisko, et al), a story in which a teenage boy, Dexter Whitlam, pushed to the edge by schoolyard bullies, steals and injects himself with a vial of G-Virus in order to exact revenge upon his tormentors. Desperate for revenge against his bullies, Dexter stumbles across an Umbrella facility where a Tyrant is being held in stasis; it was at this point that I was hoping Dexter would release the bio-organic weapon (BOW) so that we could finally see it wreck some serious havoc as, up to this point, BOWs like the Tyrant had been given the shaft by WildStorm.

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G-Dexter enacts a bloody revenge.

Instead, though, Dexter steals a G-Virus sample (I guess Umbrella were planning on experimenting on the Tyrant with it?) and, while he initially plans to create his own BOW, he is driven to injecting himself and transforms into a “G”-like monster. G-Dexter hunts down and kills his tormentors but is subdued by Mr. Venk, an Umbrella operative, and taken to an Umbrella facility where, inexplicably, his G-infection is apparently cured. Reverted back to normal, he is offered the chance to join Umbrella and put his intellect to their use.

ResEvComic5Umbrella
Dexter is one of the few people to recover from the G-Virus.

It’s kind of sad that “…And the Last Shall Be First” is the only time a G-infected human is given a chance to do anything of note as, even in issue two’s direct adaptation of Resident Evil 2, “G” was taken out like a bitch. Here, we finally see what “G” is capable of as G-Dexter slashes fools up with his claws and mutilates his bullies with extreme prejudice. Unfortunately, though, it seems like a wasted effort as it’s not like this is the origin of a character we know from the videogames; had the story been tweaked and reworked slightly, it could have given us an interesting glimpse into William Birkin’s childhood but, alas, we’re left with the potential of “G” being wasted on a random original character who, honestly, isn’t all that compelling; it’s the same “nerd bullied to the brink” story you’ve seen a hundred times before…but with the G-Virus involved.

ResEvComic5Claire
Turns out it’s a prequel to Claire’s story…

The next side story, “Emmy’s Bloody Spoon” (Adams, et al), follows another couple, Deb and Terry, who decide to take their honeymoon in Raccoon City, of all places. They make a pit stop at a diner which, wouldn’t you know it, comes under siege from a zombie attack. Despite the best efforts of the little old lady behind the counter, they’re all massacred by a lone zombie, who is interrupted by the arrival of Claire Redfield. So, what we have here is a brief prelude to the start of Claire’s story in Resident Evil 2, showing how the diner came to be infected when she rocked up in town. The story ends the moment Claire arrives, though, and therefore doesn’t really tell us anything we really needed to know at that point as WildStorm were showing us the rate of infection in Raccoon City back in issue two so, other than filling in a very small hole in the overarching Resident Evil story, this feels, again, like wasted potential as they could have used these pages to tell a short story about Claire and Sherry after Resident Evil 2, or expand upon their time in Raccoon City but, instead, we get this…

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A threatening Tyrant, that makes a change!

The issue ends with the conclusion of the three-issue story WildStorm have been telling about Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Barry Burton trying to locate Umbrella’s European headquarters. “Kane & Abe” (ibid) opens by pretty much skipped over exactly how the three avoided being eaten by their attackers in the last issue’s conclusion and jumps right into Chris and Barry loading up on weapons to go find Jill. Jill stumbles upon Abe, an Umbrella scientist, and Kane, a massive Tyrant-like BOW that Jill is unable to stop with just her pistol, which is a nice change of pace considering how easily “G”, Mr. X, and a Tyrant were taken care of without any real effort in previous issues). Abe sets off the obligatory self-destruct and disappears, leaving Jill, Chris, and Barry to subdue Kane long enough to make their dramatic escape just as the castle explodes. The issue then ends with Claire and Leon S. Kennedy just happening upon the three like it was nothing, finally bringing an end to Claire’s long search for her brother.

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There’s a *slight* resemblance here…

Once again, WildStorm foreshadows Resident Evil – Code: Veronica (Capcom Production Studio 4, 2000) through the Gothic aesthetic of the German castle, European setting, and the reunion of the Redfields. The BOW the protagonists tangle with is also very similar to the Hypnos Tyrant from Resident Evil: Survivor (TOSE, 2000), of all things, and the action-orientated nature of their battle through the castle is more than reminiscent of the gameplay changes first seen in and Resident Evil 4 (Capcom Production Studio 4, 2005).

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The story rushes to an unsatisfying conclusion.

However, this was a very rushed conclusion to a three-part story; entire plot points and sequences are ignored and the story just jumps from one thing to the next with little in between to fill in the gaps. It’s almost as if WildStorm shouldn’t have wasted time in the last issue recreating the game’s laborious puzzles and, instead, focused on moving the narrative along in an interesting and action-orientated way.

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There’s some great, gory art in these comics.

In the end, Resident Evil: The Official Comic Magazine ended with a bit of a whimper. They didn’t do a proper adaptation of a Resident Evil videogame until issue two, didn’t start a multi-part story until issue three, and most of the stories they did tell, while interesting, were pretty forgettable and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. I applaud their efforts to tie each story together in subtle ways, and to refer to the events of the videogames; the artwork was strikingly gory and consistently good all the way through each of the five issues and they made an effort to adapt all the different nuances of the videogames, from the characters to the story, the creatures, and even the puzzles. While some of these land better (and are more suitable) than others, at least they gave it a fair shake of the stick and tried to expand upon what was, at the time, only a two game franchise.

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It’s like Capcom restriced the stories WildStorm could tell…

Reading back these issues, it almost seems as though Capcom restricted the type of stories WildStorm were allowed to tell as, rather than go into detail about what the survivors did before, between, and after Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, the writers dance and skirt around the issue, throwing as much smoke and mirrors (or, more appropriately, blood and guts) at the reader as they can to disguise the fact that they haven’t actually expanded upon these characters much at all…possibly because they weren’t allowed to given that Capcom had a couple of sequels and spin-offs in the works.

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There was a lot of potential in expanding upon these characters.

They tried to expand upon side characters like Ada’s boyfriend John and inject William Birkin with a bit more menace but both of these efforts were pretty much ignored and retconned by Capcom in subsequent sequels. With that in mind, it seems all the more sensible to me to have used these issues to tell adaptations of the first two videogames alongside one or two interludes and side stories per issue. Show a little more of Albert Wesker’s mindset, delve deeper into Chief Irons’ corruption, maybe just do a story the follows Mr. X bludgeoning its way through the Raccoon City police station. But to waste pages and effort on telling us what happened before Claire arrived at that diner seems like a waste of time to me, especially when you’re giving the shaft to the Lickers and BOWs like “G”.

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Sadly, WildStorm’s Resident Evil comics are now hard to come by.

WildStorm would revisit the Resident Evil franchise a couple more times over the years; they told the story of the hitherto-unknown Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) Charlie team in the four-issue Resident Evil: Fire & Ice series, published in 2000 and 2001. This comic featured many of the same writers and artists as Resident Evil: The Official Comic Magazine and even returned some of the original characters and places to the lore, like Patrick Brady from issue two and Saguaro Wells from issue four. They also published a prequel to Resident Evil 5 (Capcom, 2009) between 2009 and 2011 and, while they collected each of these different publications into trade paperbacks, they are all long out of print. Overall, Resident Evil: The Official Comic Magazine was a pretty enjoyable experience but it had the potential to be so much more; it could have used its artists and writers to bring the videogames to life in a new way for comic readers and given fans of the videogames a lovely piece of ancillary media to collect. Instead, it’s more of a forgettable tie-in that peaks with the second issue, though it would be nice to see the collection get a reprint at some point.

My Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Could Be Better

Did you ever read any of the Resident Evil comics published by WildStorm? Would you be interested in the series receiving a reprint as the collection is currently out of print? Do you have a favourite piece of ancillary Resident Evil media? Drop a comment down below and stay in touch for more content and articles.

Back Issues: WildStorm’s Resident Evil #4

BackIssues

The release of the Resident Evil 3 remake (Capcom, 2020) is still a big enough news item for me to continue my retrospective on Resident Evil: The Official Comic Magazine, a comic book released by WildStorm back in 1998 to 1999 that ran for five issues and covered events between, during, and after Resident Evil (ibid, 1996) and Resident Evil 2 (ibid, 1998).

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Issue one recapped and filled in events from the first game, while issue two focused entirely on covering the events of the second. The third issue oddly introduced supernatural elements to the lore and began a three-issue arc that would continue in issue four, released in December 1998.

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Leon shows up to save the day.

The issue’s first story, “Night Stalkers” (Oprisko, et al), revolves around giant, man-bat creatures created by Umbrella’s G-Virus attacking and small Nevada town. Their bite infects a young boy, turning him into a zombie, but their true purpose is to spirit townsfolk away to a hidden Umbrella lab, where the lunatic scientist Dr Callos, can turn them into more bat-men. Luckily, Leon S. Kennedy rocks up to investigate and, after a brief scuffle, is captured by the man-bats and taken to Dr Callos’ laboratory. Leon manages to overload the machine Callos has been using to control the man-bats and they turn on their creator, ripping him to shreds while Leon makes his escape and the air force move in to eradicate the lab.

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A similar creature would appear in Resident Evil Zero.

This was a slightly better attempt at mixing the supernatural with Resident Evil as, unlike last issue’s “Wolf Hunt” (Adams, et al), “Night Stalkers” shows these vampire-like creatures to be products of Umbrella’s G-Virus rather than anything mythical. Once again, the comic oddly foreshadows Resident Evil Zero (Capcom, 2002), which featured a giant infected bat as a boss battle, though that was noticeably less humanoid than the man-bats featured here.

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Much of this story foreshadow’s Resident Evil 4.

Without really knowing it, this story also provides a bit of a glimpse into Leon’s life between Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4 (Capcom Production Studio 4, 2005); Leon even arrives in a small town using a little jeep, very much like the opening of Resident Evil 4, and is both decidedly more capable and written as more of an action hero as in that game . It’s not really revealed who he’s working for here; he wears a modified version of his riot gear but, judging from his rescuers, appears to work for the United States government.

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Mr. X makes his grand entrance.

“Special Delivery” (Mostman, et al) makes a minor attempt to address a concern I had with issue two’s adaptation of Resident Evil 2 as it follows two Umbrella helicopter pilots as the fly around delivering Umbrella’s bio-organic weapons (BOWs) to specific areas. Their first drop-off is Mr. X, whom they dump right on top of the Raccoon City police station; though this is the only time he is featured in the story, it’s interesting to see behind the scenes of his delivery as, in the game, he just comes crashing in with a bang.

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The pilots are carrying some deadly cargo…

The pilots then drop off a massive man-eating plant, similar to Plant 42, at a chemical warehouse and a Tyrant at a mineshaft working to synthesise anti-viral agents. Just as they’re about to make their last delivery, though, Umbrella’s deceitful nature kicks in and a canister activates, releasing a squid-like BOW on the chopper that promptly kills them in brutal fashion. Side stories like this are a great use of this comic as it allows us to see a version of events we’re normally not privy to in the videogames; Resident Evil, especially the earlier titles, was always ore about reacting to the events and trying to survive through them rather than worry about the hows and the whys. That came through the files and notes and was generally revealed the deeper you got into the games but, around this time, all we really had to go on about Umbrella were documents found strewn around the game’s environments, biased third-party information, and the drudgery that was Resident Evil: Survivor (TOSE, 2000).

ResEvComic4Chris
Of course Chris can pilot the plane safely!

The issue ends with a continuation of last issue’s “Dead Air” (Adams, et al), “Zombies Abroad” (ibid), which begins by solving the pesky problem of safely landing the zombie-infested plane that Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Barry Burton are in. Luckily, Chris is able to do this without any real issue and the rest of the zombies are subdued (thanks to Barry using a make-shift flamethrower, which seems incredibly dangerous in a pressurised aircraft…) before they can infect other passengers).

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Jill, Barry, and Chris kill their way across Europe.

After landing, the three do a whistle-stop tour of some of England’s most iconic landmarks in search of Umbrella’s European headquarters and find nothing but zombies. The story then just jump cuts to France and becomes an action-packed montage of the three blowing zombies away outside the Eiffel Tower, in the Louvre, and in the Netherlands until they reach a castle in Germany.

ResEvComic4Puzzles
The three solve some puzzles to find clues and hidden areas.

Here, the story slows way down and pulls inspiration from the investigatory and puzzle-solving elements of the videogames; Jill finds a mysterious photograph, Chris discovers a hidden passageway after fiddling with a suit of armour, and Barry finds a hidden note after playing an organ in a near-exact recreation of many of the arbitrary puzzles of the first videogame.

ResEvComic4Zombies
Boy, you said it, Chris!

The story ends on another cliffhanger, with each of our three heroes left in a face of jeopardy. I’m at odds with this one; on the one hand, it’s fun to see these three working together and blowing away zombies but, on the other, there’s a few questions raised. Like, when did the Tyrant-Virus (T-Virus) spread to Europe? Up until this point, it’s only infected small, mid-western towns and areas in America. When was the T-Virus released? If Umbrella’s headquarters weren’t in any of the places the three visited, it’s a bit weird that they’d encounter so many zombies.

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It’s a bit late in the game to be focusing on puzzles…

Also, while it’s nice to see the comic really go all-in with adapting the game’s puzzles, I’m not entirely sure if it works for a comic book. Comic books are generally all about frenetic action and, so far, these Resident Evil comics have always had a good balance between gory fire fights and nods to the game’s slower mechanics. I kind of feel like they could have used an entire issue to tell a slow story where we follow a lone character investigating their surroundings, finding clues and maybe solving some puzzles while building threat and looming tension as we see zombies or BOWs closing in on them but suddenly juxtaposing seven pages of zombies getting their heads blown off with elaborate puzzles in a Gothic setting just feels a bit odd here.

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The potential is there but I’m not sure the execution was right…

Other than a few additional pieces of artwork from Carlos D’Anda, that’s about it for this issue. At this point, the formula is starting to wear a little thin; it really does feel like WildStorm would have been better off doing maybe three full issues adapting the first game, then three more focusing on the second game, with one side story or interlude in each to help flesh out the Resident Evil lore. They seem, instead, to have been aiming for an anthology-based title but I’m not sure it’s really paying off as we’re only four issues in and they already seem to be struggling for content and story ideas. As there wasn’t much to go on at this point apart from the characterisations and documents we see in the videogames, it might have been smarter to stick to being a straight-up adaptation rather than try and cobble together new content out of, effectively, nothing.

My Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Could Be Better

Did you ever read the Resident Evil comics published by WildStorm? Would you be interested in the series receiving a reprint as the collection is currently out of print? Do you have a favourite piece of ancillary Resident Evil media? Drop a comment below and come back next Tuesday for my rundown of issue five.

Back Issues: WildStorm’s Resident Evil #3

BackIssues

I’m still riding the coat-tails of the Resident Evil 3 remake (Capcom, 2020) with my retrospective on Resident Evil: The Official Comic Magazine, a five-issue comic book released by WildStorm back in 1998 to 1999 that filled in events between, during, and after Resident Evil (ibid, 1996) and Resident Evil 2 (ibid, 1998) to flesh out the Resident Evil lore outside of the videogames.

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We’ve already seen how issue one used four stories to tell a recap of Resident Evil and interludes between that game and its sequel, and how issue two reduced the stories within to three while expanding the page count and revolving entirely around the events of the sequel. Issue three, released in September 1998, keeps the three-story format but also reverts to telling interludes and side stories to the main series videogames.

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A wolf-like creature has been killing students.

The first story, “Wolf Hunt” (Adams, et al) takes place before the events of Resident Evil and revolves around Jill Valentine going undercover at Racoon City College after some particularly gruesome murders take place there. Barry Burton accompanies her as back-up and she is soon attacked by a wolf-like creature. She immediately kills it and the story ends with the strong implication that it was actually a werewolf.

ResEvComic3Wolf
Turns out it was a werewolf…apparently?

This was basically a nothing story and really didn’t add much to Jill or Barry’s backstories or personalities beyond showing them working together before resident Evil. It s interesting to see Albert Wesker giving them orders and showing life in the Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) before the Tyrant-Virus (T-Virus) outbreak but, ultimately, it could have just been any story and supernatural elements shouldn’t really be involved with Resident Evil.

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The G-infected eel is quite the persistant beast.

WildStorm finally introduce the Licker in the second story, “Danger Island” (Oprisko, et al), in which a couple find their island vacation ruined when a capsule containing the creatures breaks open on the island, releasing both them and the G-Virus upon the populace. Stan and Leslie (the aforementioned couple) soon find themselves beset upon by all manner of gigantic mutated creatures mutated by the G-Virus, in particular a massive eel that ensures that the Lickers don’t get a chance to actually do anything.

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Birkin, of all people, arrives to silence their victory.

Stan is eventually able to kill the eel and, though he and Leslie are injured, they survive (using herbs to ease their wounds) and manage to call for help, only for William Birkin to show up and (it’s strongly implied) execute them to keep Umbrella’s secrets. This story focused more on the variety of mutated bio-organic weapons (BOWs) players can encounter in the Resident Evil videogames. There’s only one zombie, shown very briefly, ensuring that the story can focus entirely on the G-eel that relentlessly pursues Stan and Leslie. It’s a shame that the Lickers weren’t given more focus as the story could easily have been about them hunting prey using the island’s forestry as camouflage but it did provide a bit of a look at Birkin’s despicable character (even if he wasn’t really much of a hands-on kinda guy in the videogames).

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Jill, Chris, and Barry prepare to head to London.

The issue ends with “Dead Air” (Adams, et al) which is not only the first in a multi-part story (a first for the comic) but also a direct sequel to side stories seen in the last two issues. This story sees Chris Redfield, Barry Burton, and Jill (looking a lot like Chris’s sister, Claire, for some reason), travel to London after the events of the first game. This is interesting as, while other stories and the videogames had eluded to Chris travelling to Europe to investigate Umbrella further, I don’t believe it was ever stated that he went with his old partners, at least not before Resident Evil 5 (Capcom, 2009).

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Jill beats the infected pilot to death!

As you might expect, a T-Virus outbreak occurs once they’re in the air, forcing the characters to have to battle them without their usual weapons. Amidst the outbreak and the desperate situation, Jill realises that she’s beaten the infected pilot into mush, leaving the plane hurtling through the air in a downward spiral.

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Surprisingly, Resident Evil hasn’t had much plane action.

This story opts for the more close-quarters combat players can come to expect from Resident Evil’s claustrophobic environments but we’ve yet to actually battle an outbreak on a plane before; there was that outbreak on the narrow cabins of the train in Resident Evil Zero (Capcom, 2002) but the closest the series has come to exploring an airborne outbreak was in the opening scenes of Resident Evil: Degeneration (Kamiya, 2008), which is a bit surprising really.

ResEvComic3Plane2
Imagine equipping THAT to your inventory!

After issue two only included a brief artist’s gallery, issue three features another interview with Resident Evil producer Shinji Mikami, though it’s decidedly less interesting as the last one as he mainly dodges questions about Resident Evil sequels and talks about his childhood. In the end, issue three is a lot weaker than issue two but, between “Danger Island” and “Dead Air”, there’s some decent action/horror to experience here. Starting a multi-part story on issue three rather and issue one was an…interesting idea as, usually, continuous stores are used by comics to entice readers into buying the next issue. I guess the strength of the Resident Evil brand was enough that WildStorm felt they could wait a few issues before trying to do sequential stories.

My Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pretty Good

Did you ever read the Resident Evil comics published by WildStorm? Would you be interested in the series receiving a reprint as the collection is currently out of print? Do you have a favourite piece of ancillary Resident Evil media? Drop a comment below and come back next Tuesday for my rundown of issue four.

Back Issues: WildStorm’s Resident Evil #2

BackIssues

This month is all about the Resident Evil 3 remake (Capcom, 2020) and, as such, I’m taking a look back at the official Resident Evil comic released by WildStorm back in 1998 to 1999. The five-issue Resident Evil: The Official Comic Magazine mostly filled in events between, during, and after Resident Evil (ibid, 1996) and Resident Evil 2 (ibid, 1998) to flesh out the Resident Evil lore outside of the videogames.

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Issue two, released in June 1998, features only three stories compared to the four of issue one but has more pages devoted to each one). From this issue, the comics also start to use the God-awful American variant of the classic Resident Evil title font, most likely as this issue is more focused on events surrounding the second videogame.

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Issue two includes an adaptation of Resident Evil 2.

Another major change is that this issue actually includes a straight-up adaptation of Resident Evil 2, including dialogue lifted straight from the videogame. Whereas the closest issue one got was a recap on the first game, “A New Chapter of Evil” (Adams, et al) details pretty much the entirety of Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield’s stories, picking up with them being separated on the streets of Raccoon City and following both on their journey through the Raccoon City police station and the Umbrella facility beneath the city streets.

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Leon’s story gets some fair representation here.

As in the game, the story jumps back and forth between the two but, ostensibly, the plot remains the same just without any Lickers: Leon makes it to the police station, where he meets and is eventually attacked by Marvin. After catching up with Claire, he bumps into Ada Wong and is shot by Annette Birkin after having a run-in with a G monster. Patched up by Ada, Leon dispatches of a giant mutated alligator and they descend into the Umbrella facility. Ada betrays Leon and falls to her death while trying to steal the G-Virus, leaving him with little time to escape the facility.

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And that’s seriously all for Mr.X…

As all this is going on, Claire (who begins the story packing a lot more heat than her videogame counterpart) has an extremely brief and uneventful run-in with Mr. X. seriously, she takes him out with just “five rounds”, off panel, and he never appears again. It’s like the writers only played snippets of Claire’s story.

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“G” goes down like a bitch every time.

Anyway, Claire meets Annette’s daughter, Sherry, and they witness the corrupt Police Chief Irons be killed by Sherry’s father, William, who has mutated into “G”. Claire dispatches “G” (once again with laughable ease) and comforts Sherry after her mother is killed. They hook back up with Leon and, after finally doing away with “G”’s final form, they escape the facility just as it self-destructs.

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“G” infects the animals in the city zoo.

As an adaptation of Resident Evil 2, “A New Chapter of Evil” is both extensive and rushed; loads of Claire’s story is skipped entirely, with Mr. X practically being a non-player, and the threat posed by “G” is almost completely non-existent as the characters defeat it while barely breaking a sweat. Hell, it takes Leon more effort to kill the alligator than “G”! Yet, as a quick run through of the game’s major story events, this is serviceable enough, though it feels as though the issue would have benefitted greatly from devoting its entire page count to their adaptation rather than twenty-odd pages. “Mutant Menagerie” (Oprisko, et al) briefly shows how Birkin was driven to infect himself with the G-Virus after being gunned down for his research samples. Mutating into “G”, all he can think of is to infect as many hosts as possible, which leads him to the Raccoon City Zoo.

ResEv2Comic2Patrick
Patrick is successful…or so it seems!

This is bad news for the on-shift security guard Patrick Brady, who soon finds himself fighting to survive with limited ammunition and resources against infected tigers, pandas, snakes, apes, and prairie dogs. After he realises that he’s all alone, he fights through the zoo and its infected creatures to overload the zoo’s power generator and keep the animals from escaping. Though seemingly successful, he passes out from fatigue while one last prairie dog looms in for a snack.

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A zoo was similarly infected in Outbreak: File #2.

This story does a pretty good job of relating the desperation that accompanies Resident Evil videogames; Patrick doesn’t have a lot at his disposal and is up against the odds, much like the player often is. He also is forced to battle through hordes of enemies to reach an elaborate objective, which is pretty much par for the course of all Resident Evil titles. Interestingly enough, one of the scenarios in Resident Evil Outbreak: File #2 (Capcom, 2004) saw characters dealing with a wide variety of infected creatures at the Racoon City zoo, though I would be surprised if that game took any inspiration from this particular story.

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This issue really downplays the threat of the Tyant to an absurd degree.

The final story, “Lock Down” (Oprisko, et al) follows Barry Burton about a week after the events of Resident Evil; traumatised by what he experienced, Barry opts to visit a psychiatrist but, wouldn’t you know it, the building is suddenly infested with zombies! Swiping an access key, Barry is handed a map and instructions by a dying guard and is forced to battle his way through not only zombies but a Tyrant in order to piece together a bomb that will destroy the building. Funnily enough, Barry struggles more with giant mutant cockroaches than the Tyrant and he is able to leap to safety as the building explodes.

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All he’s missing is an Item Box…

If the first story was an adaptation of Resident Evil 2’s plot, the second adapted the survival/horror gameplay, this last story goes all-in with representing the arduous side missions and tasks players must complete while battling mutated creatures and monsters. Barry must search the building using a map to find the three bomb parts, even blasting a zombie apart to get a key to open a locker for one piece, and then assemble the bomb before escaping to safety.

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This comic fleshed out Barry’s character before the games did.

It’s interesting how the first issue was basically an anthology comic of side stories and companion pieces to the first two Resident Evil videogames and it isn’t until the second that WildStorm produced a more traditional adaptation of the source material. That being said, while “Lock Down” does wonders for fleshing out Barry’s personality (he has a snarky, gritty action-hero attitude that wouldn’t really be seen for some time), the clear standout of this issue is “A New Chapter of Evil”. A lot of this is due to my personal bias for Resident Evil 2 but I feel it’s a stronger statement to feature an adaptation of the videogame alongside smaller side stories rather than just filling the pages with recaps or interludes.

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great Stuff

Did you ever read the Resident Evil comics published by WildStorm? Would you be interested in the series receiving a reprint as the collection is currently out of print? Do you have a favourite piece of ancillary Resident Evil media? Drop a comment below and come back next Tuesday for my rundown of issue three.

Game Corner: Resident Evil 3 (2020; Xbox One)

GameCorner
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Released: April 2020
Originally Released: September 1999
Developer: Capcom
Original Developer: Capcom
Also Available For: PC and PlayStation 4

The Background:
I’ve touched upon this before but, back in 1999, Capcom were on a bit of a roll with their survival/horror franchise, Resident Evil (Various, 1996 to present). Under pressure to develop multiple Resident Evil spin-offs and sequels, Capcom ending up dividing their production team into two: one would work on a title exclusive to SEGA’s Dreamcast while another would work on Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Although Nemesis bore a sequential number, it was, for all intents and purposes, more of an extension of Resident Evil 2 (Capcom, 1998); it ran on the same engine, reused a lot of the same locations, and its story ran concurrently with Capcom’s fantastic sequel. The game was noticeably shorter than its predecessor but bolstered by a whole slew of new control mechanics, crafting options, and the presence of the hulking Nemesis, a massive bio-organic weapon (BOW) that would relentlessly chase protagonist Jill Valentine through the zombie-infested streets of Racoon City. Pretty much immediately after the release of the Resident Evil 2 (Capcom R&D Division 1, 2019) remake, fans cried out for the same treatment to be afforded to Nemesis. It turned out that they were pestering Capcom for a game that had been in development for about three years. Utilising the same RE Engine as its predecessor to realise its characters and gore in glorious high definition, Resident Evil 3 sought to present this fan favourite sequel with a whole new coat of paint.

The Plot:
In the midst of a zombie outbreak in the town of Raccoon City, former Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) member and survivor of a similar outbreak, Jill Valentine, finds herself relentlessly pursued by Umbrella’s newest BOW, the Nemesis, as she desperately tries to escape the chaos alongside Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (U.B.C.S.) mercenary Carlos Oliveira.

Gameplay:
Ostensibly, Resident Evil 3 plays pretty much exactly as its predecessor but with a few more bells and whistles. The first thing you’ll notice when choosing the play the game’s single-player story is that you only have one option available; unlike Resident Evil 2, which offered the chance to play the story from the perspective of either Leon S. Kennedy or Claire Redfield, Resident Evil 3 places you squarely into the shoes of Jill Valentine and the spotlight pretty much stays on her throughout the game’s story.

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Combine items for more health and ammo.

Although you begin the game in a first-person perspective, this is only a fleeting addition and, instead, many of Resident Evil 2’s gameplay mechanics take precedence; you can place times into magical Item Boxes, save at Typewriters, and combine gunpowder and herbs together to craft more ammo and better healing items. Gunpowder is far more plentiful here than in its predecessor and, while a lot of the same (or similar) weapons return, there’s some new additions and upgrades here (the grenade launcher, for example, fires the traditional grenade, fire, and acid rounds once again and can thankfully fire more than one shot at a time).

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Quick-time events are peppered throughout the game.

While the game is far more action-orientated than its predecessor, there’s still a few of the classic Resident Evil puzzles here that’ll have you collecting jewels, picking locks, and adjusting control panels to power up or unlock new areas. Unlike the previous game, there’s a few cheeky quick-time events (QTEs) sprinkled in here for good measure (thankfully nothing to the extent of other Resident Evil titles) that will see you pressing A and holding R1 to start and drive a car at Nemesis or holding the control stick to push levers or escape Nemesis’s tentacles.

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You’ll need to master the quick step to avoid damage.

Jill controls exactly the same as Leon or Claire…for the most part. When attacked by zombies or other BOWs, you can perform a side-step by pressing R1. If performed correctly, Jill will roll out of harm’s way, time will slow down, and you’ll be afforded the chance to deliver a critical shot to the enemy’s weak spot. In order to master Resident Evil 3, especially on its higher difficulty settings, it’s basically mandatory that you get good at this dodging mechanic but I can’t say that it’s that easy. I struggled to pull off a perfect dodge at the best of times and found the mechanic to be more clunky than useful.

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You won’t be stabbing zombies in the neck in this game.

When Jill is attacked, you’ll be prompted to mash the A button. You might be inclined to think that this is a welcome return of the shake-off mechanic from previous Resident Evil titles (and which was sorely missing from Resident Evil 2, where you were guaranteed to get hurt if you were grabbed) but you’d be wrong. Instead, mashing the A button simply lessens the damage the attack does to you rather than allowing you to shake the enemy off. If you think you can use a defensive item to escape the enemy’s clutches you’ll also be disappointed as, while all those items return in this game, you can no longer jam a grenade down a zombie’s throat, though you can blow up groups of zombies using explosive barrells or stun them by shooting electrical boxes.

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Resident Evil 3 is far more action-orientated.

This was a major loss for me as these items were incredibly helpful at escaping damage and dispatching enemies in one go but there’s a good reason these have been omitted: Resident Evil 3 is far more action-orientated than its predecessor. This was true of the original game as well but, whereas that title was hampered by the franchise’s signature “tank” controls, Resident Evil 3’s vastly improved control scheme and increased focus on ammo, crafting, and engaging enemies in combat makes it far easier to take the fight to your shambling enemies rather than having to decide been fight or flight.

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When Nemesis appears you either fight, flee, or die.

Speaking of which, one feature that was unique to Nemesis was the ability to pick between battling the Nemesis or running from the fight. If you chose to battle it, you’d be rewarded with some upgrades for your weapons and health capacity but you’d be in for a tough fight as Nemesis didn’t go down easily. Resident Evil 3 does away with these options, meaning that, when Nemesis appears, you either dodge past it and run for your life or attack it to stun it (possibly earning yourself an upgrade or two as you go).

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Nemesis can enter one save room…

Similar to Mr. X in Resident Evil 2, Nemesis pursues Jill with relentless abandon; it smashes other zombies out of the way, crosses distances in the blink of an eye, bludgeons Jill with powerful swings and slams, and grabs her with its annoying tentacles. Many reviewers and previews stressed that Nemesis would even follow you into save rooms but this isn’t actually true; it can enter one save room if you choose to run back that way but, as you’re more likely to engage with Nemesis or run away from it, it’s not likely you’ll see this in play so you can save without fear.

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Carlos revisits some familiar locations…

At a couple of key moments during the game, you’ll switch to playing as Carlos, who plays a little differently to Jill. He has access to different weapons (like an assault rifle), delivers a massive punch to enemies when performing a perfect dodge (similar to Jake Muller), and explores different areas (most notably a truncated version of the police station from Resident Evil 2). Given that Nemesis was much (much) shorter than its predecessor, I was really hoping that Capcom would expand upon the story in the remake by having a separate scenario where players play as Carlos all the way through but, alas, they’ve stuck to the formula of the original game, meaning that you swap to Carlos for a brief period but will be sticking with Jill for the majority of the game.

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It won’t take you long to finish off this game.

This is disappointing as, like many reviewers have noted, Resident Evil 3 is a much shorter experience than its predecessor. Considering that you have to finish Resident Evil 2 in under three hours to unlock the best weapons and perks, though, having a game that clocks in at around three to five hours (depending on how good you are) doesn’t seem that bad in retrospect. However, it can’t be denied that the game is noticeably shorter; it seems Capcom were banking on Resident Evil: Resistance, an asymmetrical-multiplayer game included with Resident Evil 3, extending the life-span of the game but, while Resistance is an interesting inclusion, dodgy connection issues and my personal lack of interest in online multiplayer make this a questionable choice.

Graphics and Sound:
When I reviewed Resident Evil 2, I said that “graphically, the game has no equal right now” and those same, high-quality graphics return here. Resident Evil 3 makes fantastic use of lighting, swamping areas in a moody, unsettlingly darkness that is only lit by Jill or Carlos’ little torch or flickering lights.

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Raccoon City has gone to all kinds of hell.

Resident Evil 3 is far more open than its predecessor; now, you’ll explore the streets of Raccoon City as it descends into chaos around you, entering wrecked pharmacies, restoring power to a spider-infested power plant, and breaking into a toy shop, among other things. Each area is rendered in fantastic detail and Raccoon City has never looked better; areas from the previous game are back in their full glory as well and expanded upon in a natural way. You might be blocked off from exploring the entirety of Resident Evil 2’s locations but seeing where certain previously-blocked alleyways lead or noticing familiar locations is always a thrill.

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Just watch those brains splatter everywhere!

The graphics extend to the game’s enemies as well; zombies have never been gorier than in these remakes. You can blast their limbs off and expose their tendons and skulls with well-placed shots and will marvel at how truly grotesque Umbrella’s BOWs can be thanks to the game’s realistic graphics engine, which makes characters (and viscera) look more real and stomach-churning than ever. Having said that though, there were a couple of times when the graphics went a little janky; generally, when picking off zombies from a distance in larger areas, I found the enemy models were jerky and of low quality (though this did remind me of the original PlayStation titles).

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Nemesis is accompanied by his own forboding theme.

Of all the Resident Evil titles, I’ve played Nemesis the least so I’m not massively familiar with its soundtrack but, like in Resident Evil 2, the game opts for ominous, subdued melodies as you explore your surroundings and ramps up the tension whenever enemies (especially Nemesis) are onscreen. Seriously, when that bastard is hot on your heels with a rocket launcher, a lot of the adrenaline you’ll feel is thanks to his foreboding theme.

Enemies and Bosses:
If you’ve played a Resident Evil title before, you’ll be familiar with a lot of the enemies here; some of the zombies are exactly the same as those encountered in the Resident Evil 2 remake and the annoying zombie dogs are also pretty much identical (though, thankfully, far less prevalent here). There’s some now variants, given the game’s new settings but, for the most part, you’ll be battling or dodging the same neck-munching monstrosities as before; as in the last remake, zombies can take loads of damage before they’ll go down for good. Many times, you’ll think a zombie is finally dead only to find it clambering up your leg moments later.

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Some disgusting new enemies lurk around the corner…

There are some new enemies here, though; the Tremors (Underwood, 1990) inspired worm enemy from the original game is gone, replaced with the bipedal Hunter γ, a grotesque, slimy frog-like thing that will eat Jill whole if she gets too close. Notorious by their absence in Resident Evil 2, spider-like enemies crop up at that Raccoon City power plant where they slash at Jill with their spiked legs or infect her with a parasite that will, eventually, burst out of her in gory fashion.

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These bastards are a right pain in the ass.

You’ll also encounter Pale Heads, naked zombies with regenerative capabilities that are best put down with acid rounds, the returning Lickers and Hunters (which dodge your fire, can rip out your throat in one swipe, and must have their protective shell blasted open before they can be put down), and Nemesis-infected zombies. These are regular zombies with big, stupid-looking globs on their heads; these globs slash at the player with tentacles and can only be destroyed when they open up and expose their glowing eye.

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Nemesis eventually becomes a massive, acid-spitting monstrosity.

Throughout the game, you’ll also encounter the Nemesis; like Mr. X, Nemesis is a massive bullet sponge and capable of dealing tremendous damage, meaning it’s usually better to run from these battles (running is generally mandatory as well). Nemesis can be put down, however; if you manage to dodge its attacks and blast its power core, it will eventually drop to one knee stunned, which will give you a chance to run for it. As you battle Nemesis, it will mutate into bigger, more animalistic and uncontrollable forms; these must be fought in a series of boss battles that range from blasting a fuel tank on the monster’s back, to shooting it down from a clock tower, to powering up a gigantic rail gun to finally put Nemesis down for good. As much as I like Nemesis, part of me was always disappointed that it eventually degenerates into yet another massive glob of tentacles, glowing weak points, and sharp spikes but there’s no denying that Nemesis and its various forms greatly benefit from the fresh coat of paint this remake offers (even if its individual encounters are notably reduced).

Power-Ups and Bonuses:
As you play and explore your surroundings, you’ll pick up new weapons. Jill begins with a standard handgun but soon acquires a shotgun, a grenade launcher, and a magnum; Carlos, however, starts with a handgun and an assault rifle and doesn’t get to pick up any other additional weapons. Unlike in the original, where Nemesis dropped an upgrade almost every time you put it down, here you’ll only get a couple of upgrades from defeating the creature. Other weapon upgrades can be found in safes or in other areas, allowing you to add sights, grips, and other benefits to your weapons.

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There are a number of challenges to complete.

As you play, you’ll earn points; the better you perform, and the more of the game’s challenges you complete, the more points you’ll earn. Many of these challenges are tied to the game’s Achievements and are story based but many others are purely to unlock new concept art and models; you’ll be awarded points for killing a certain amount of enemies with certain weapons (and overall), finishing the game on higher difficulty settings, and more.

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Spend your points in the Shop to get extra content.

Once you clear the game, you’ll unlock the Shop, where you can spend these points on new weapons (including a heated knife and infinite rocket launcher), a new costume for Jill, and other bonus perks like coins that regenerate your health over time or increase your strength and defence. Clearing the game on higher difficulties will also unlock other, even harder difficulty settings (Nightmare and Inferno), which will make the game more challenging and lead to more points being earned.

Additional Features:
As many of the game’s unlockables are tied to the Shop, there is far less on offer here than in other Resident Evil titles. There’s no New Game+, no alternative story mode, and no additional costumes beyond the one in the Shop and the pre-order bonuses. Many of the perks and items from the Shop will make your next playthrough easier but there’s a distinct lack of replay value here as there’s not much incentive to play again as all you’ll get are Achievements.

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Team up with players online to survive.

Nemesis never included side stories like Resident Evil 2 but it did include the “Mercenaries” mode; both of these are absent here as Capcom instead put all the replay incentive into Resistance. In this mode, you’ll play online with four other plays either as a Survivor or a Mastermind. The Survivors must…survive…in typical Resident Evil fashion (collecting items and ammo, solving puzzles, and battling enemies) while the Mastermind tries to obstruct and kill the Survivors from behind a security camera.

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Hinder other players as the Mastermind.

I played a couple of games in each mode and found the game an interesting novelty but it’s not really my thing. For one thing, I had a lot of network and connectivity issues; two games just ended entirely and, more often than not, I kept getting warped, stuck, or glitched into the environment. I had a similar experience with the game’s obvious inspiration, Friday the 13th: The Game (IllFonic/Black Tower Studios, 2017) but, overall, I found that title to be far more stable and enjoyable. A lot of my experience with Resistance may have been tainted by my poor connection while playing and my general dislike of online games so I’m sure people who enjoy such games will find plenty to like about this additional title.

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The Summary:
Resident Evil 3 is a fantastic companion piece to Resident Evil 2; its predecessor was always more of an extension of Resident Evil 2, kind of like an extended piece of downloadable content (DLC), and this remake doesn’t really do much to change that. When the Resident Evil 2 remake came out, I was hoping that Capcom would merge Nemesis with the game so that, after clearing it, you’d unlock Jill and Carlos’s story and play through their side of the events as I really didn’t think Nemesis had enough content to justify a full-blown remake without massively expanding upon its narrative and gameplay. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen and it really should and could have given that Resident Evil 3 was developed pretty much alongside and immediately after Resident Evil 2 and I would have been happy to wait another year to play a combined Resident Evil 2 and 3 remake. Instead, Resident Evil 3 offers an all-too-brief, action-heavy gameplay experience that, while enjoyable to play and absolutely stunning to look at, just can’t hold up to the depth and variety of Resident Evil 2. Regrettably, it looks as though Capcom won’t be offering anywhere near the level of DLC for this game that they did for Resident Evil 2, meaning that it’s probably best if you wait for this to go on sale before picking it up.

My Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Could Be Better

Did you pick up the Resident Evil 3 remake? What did you think of it? Do you agree that it was a bit lacking compared to Resident Evil 2? What are your thoughts on the original game? Which of the classic Resident Evils is your favourite? Leave a comment below and be sure to check out my ongoing review of the WildStorm Resident Evil comics for the remainder of this month.

Back Issues: WildStorm’s Resident Evil #1

BackIssues

To continue to milk the release of the Resident Evil 3 remake (Capcom, 2020), I figured I’d spend the next few weeks taking a look back at the official comic book magazine released by WildStorm between 1998 and 1999.

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Resident Evil: The Official Comic Magazine ran for five issues and mostly featured stories that filled in events between, during, and after Resident Evil (ibid, 1996) and Resident Evil 2 (ibid, 1998). Many of these stories and events, and the characterisations of familiar Resident Evil characters, may have since been rendered non-canon by subsequent sequels and reboots but, nevertheless, these comics do a great job of fleshing out the Resident Evil lore outside of the videogames.

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Wesker is assigned to investigate some strange murders.

Issue one released in March 1998 and featured cover art by the always-fantastic Jim Lee and four full-length stories. The first, “S.T.A.R.S. Files” (Adams, et al), is a minor prelude to Resident Evil in which Albert Wesker is charged by his mysterious superior officer to form two teams to investigate a series of murders in Raccoon City.

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Wesker gives a rundown on his recruits…

Wesker compiles a report (how very Resident Evil) in which he runs down each member of the Bravo team and his Alpha team, their abilities, a bit of their backstory, and how much of a threat they pose. He talks about his willingness to blackmail Barry Burton into being his second-in-command, criticises both Rebecca Chambers and Brad Vickers, and gives a little bit of background to Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. The story ends with the Bravo team heading out to Raccoon Forest and Wesker promising that the team won’t find out anything. Obviously, this story was written long before Resident Evil Zero (Capcom, 2002), so the Bravo team exists simply to be written off but this story, while brief, does provide some insight into Wesker’s motivations and mindset at a time when he was still a one-note, clichéd villain rather than a superpowered mastermind.

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John created many of Resident Evil‘s iconic BOWs.

The second story, “Who Are These Guys?” (Adams, et al), sheds a bit of light into how all of those files and notes you pick up in Resident Evil titles are created by showing the story, and degeneration, of Ada Wong’s boyfriend, here called John Fay. It turns out that John was the scientist responsible for experimenting with the Tyrant-Virus (T-Virus) on animals, such as dogs and sharks, thus creating some of Resident Evil’s most memorable bio-organic weapons (BOWs).

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John succumbs to the T-Virus and becomes just another zombie.

In the course of his research, and the story, John contracts the T-Virus and begins degenerating into a zombie; he just about manages to scrawl out passwords and codes for Ada before being blown to pieces by Jill. This was an interesting story, fleshing out a character I don’t think we’ve ever seen in the videogames and visually detailing the degenerative process the T-Virus has on a human. It’s quite fun to see how John’s note was written out, and how all he amounts to is being just another zombie to be dispatched during the game.

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This story recaps the events of the first game.

“Dangerous Secrets” (Oprisko, et al) mixes things up a bit by telling a story about the survivors of Resident Evil as it literally takes place two days after the end of the game. The story is, basically, a recap of the events of the first game, recreating the team’s first encounter with a zombie, the infected crows, the fight against Yawn and Enrico’s assassination, their battles with the Hunters, Wesker’s betrayal and death, and the destruction of both the Tyrant and the mansion itself.

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It’s all a matter of perspective…

Tying in with the previous story a little bit, “Dangerous Secrets” also shows the characters actually using the files and notes they found in the mansion and Umbrella’s laboratory to their advantage to piece together what happened, how the T-Virus was created, and what it does to those infected. There’s also a really amusing part where Chris and Rebecca both reference how Jill was captured and imprisoned in a cell but Jill remembers the events slightly differently, believing that it was Chris that was imprisoned. This is a great reference to the contradictory story parts the player encounters when playing Resident Evil and good way of pasting over those continuity errors before the production of the Resident Evil remake (Capcom Production Studio 4, 2002) and other sequels; the idea being that each scenario is as valid as the other as it’s simply from that character’s perspective (it’s also slightly implied, through Jill’s thought bubble, that Chris is intentionally lying because he’s ashamed of being captured).

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The story acts a bridge between the first two games.

This story is also where Barry’s betrayal is revealed to Chris, explaining in detail how Wesker threatened Barry’s family to get him to go along with his plot to release the Tyrant. The story comes to an end with Chris planning on investigating Umbrella further and Leon S. Kennedy arriving in Raccoon City, effectively bridging the gap between Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 and (although unintentionally) Resident Evil – Code: Veronica (ibid, 2000).

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Ada confronts Birkin, anaware they’re being spied on…

Speaking of Resident Evil 2, the comic’s final story, “Raccoon City – R.I.P.” (Adams, Oprisko, et al), details Ada’s arrival in Racoon City to confront William Birkin (who looks a little…different to how he appears in Resident Evil 2) just as the first zombies begin to crop up around the city (which is a bit of a continuity error as zombies weren’t supposed to appear until after Birkin is killed).

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Gun Shop Kendo gets a brief cameo…

Their conversation is overheard by an unidentified third party, who then visits a bar that is promptly trashed by zombies. He heads to Gun Shop Kendo to grab a shotgun before being attacked by a zombie at a petrol station, which explodes in the fracas, killing him and his attackers.

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Sadly, Leon wouldn’t duel-wield for some time…

A trucker witnesses the explosion and is immediately set upon by zombies, who are taken out by a duel-wielding Leon, thus filling in a few blanks between Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2. Despite casting a bit more focus on Ada and her characterisation and detailing how quickly the T-Virus spread to Raccoon City, “Raccoon City – R.I.P.” is easily the weakest of this issue’s four stories; it’s got a lot more continuity errors, puts far less emphasis on recognisable characters, and the art isn’t as good.

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Mikami talks about some original character concepts.

Issue one also features a really insightful interview with Resident Evil producer Shinji Mikami, who details some of the production and design influences on the game and series, directly referencing the impact Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968) had on the game’s production. He also talks about how the version of Resident Evil released in the United States is actually harder than the Japanese version so that they could make more money of repeated game rentals (remember when those were a thing?) and some cut characters, including an original version of Barry who more resembles Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the end, this is a decent first issue; it’s more of an anthology and companion piece to the videogames rather than a by the numbers adaptation, with only “Dangerous Secrets” directly reinterpreting the videogame into comic book form. However, it has to be said that this story is easily the best this issue has to offer as it features all the characters and events you remember from the first game recreated with some stunning (and gory) art by Carlos D’Anda.

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great Stuff

Did you ever read the Resident Evil comics published by WildStorm? Would you be interested in the series receiving a reprint as the collection is currently out of print? Do you have a favourite piece of ancillary Resident Evil media? Drop a comment below and come back next Tuesday for my rundown of issue two.

Game Corner: Resident Evil – Code: Veronica X HD (Xbox 360)

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Released: February 2019
Originally Released: February 2000
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 4
Also Available For: Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PlayStation 3, and Xbox One

The Background:
After redefining the survival/horror genre with Resident Evil (Capcom, 1996), Capcom were under pressure to release ports of their popular franchise onto consoles other than Sony’s PlayStation. Unable to get a port of Resident Evil 2 (ibid, 1998) for SEGA’s ill-fated Dreamcast off the ground, and with Sony claiming first-dibs on Resident Evil’s next numbered sequel, producer Shinji Mikami opted to develop two concurrent Resident Evil sequels. While Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (ibid, 1999) continued the story of Jill Valentine and was, largely, simply a side-story to Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil – Code: Veronica reunited Claire Redfield with her brother, Chris, and utilised the superior processing power of the Dreamcast to diverge what was quickly become a stale narrative formula into a more global story.

The Plot:
Three months after escaping the destruction of Raccoon City, Claire Redfield is captured and imprisoned on Rockfort Island while attempting to reunite with her brother, Chris. After an outbreak of the Tyrant-Virus (T-Virus), Claire soon finds herself teaming up with a fellow inmate, Steve Burnside, and once again battling through hoards of zombies and the malevolent Umbrella Corporation’s Bio-Organic Weapons (BOWs) in a desperate attempt to survive.

Gameplay:
Code: Veronica features exactly the same survival/horror gameplay as its predecessors; players once again utilise “tank controls” to navigate Claire, Steve, and Chris through a number of environments but, like in Nemesis, players can now pull back on the analogue stick while pressing A to perform a quick 180-degree turn, which makes dodging BOWs and attacks far easier.

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Item management is key to your survival.

As is the tried-and-true Resident Evil formula, players must pick up files and notes to flesh out the game’s story and earn hints as well as collect and combine weapons, ammunition, key items, and healing times (herbs and first-aid sprays) in order to progress. It is crucial to your survival to be constantly aware of your environment and your resources as running out of ammo or herbs can be the difference between life and death.

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Save often (but not too often or you’ll affect your ranking!)

Players can store their items in Item Boxes, which are generally located in safe areas where players can restock and save their progress using an Ink Ribbon and a typewriter. You’ll need to make frequent use of these rooms in order to tackle the game’s puzzles, which can be as simple as moving crates and as complex as risking your life to crush a glass sphere under a massive weighted block.

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You’ll get to play as this asshole a couple of times…

Unlike the first two Resident Evil’s, but almost exactly as in Nemesis, Code: Veronica sees players jump between different playable characters as they progress through the story. You begin as Claire trying to escape the zombie outbreak on Rockfort Island but also take control of the irritating Steve at one point, before switching to Chris about halfway through the game. Like in previous games, each have different skills that help them progress (Claire has a lock pick, for example) and players can choose to help out their sibling by clearing areas of enemies or leaving weapons or items behind for them to acquire.

Graphics and Sound:
Unlike its predecessors, Code: Veronica ditches the classic pre-rendered backgrounds for three-dimensional environments that are rendered in real-time; this means that, while there are still some examples of fixed-camera angles, Code: Veronica features the most dynamic and cinematic camera the series had ever seen at that point.

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Antarctica spices up the usual laboratory setting quite well.

This works fantastically with the game’s incorporation of new, foreign locations for its story; while many of the game’s environments will be familiar to Resident Evil veterans (mansions, underground facilities, sewers and the like), you’ll also travel to the frozen wastelands of Antarctica and visit some gothic-inspired locales, though the “HD” makeover isn’t anywhere near as extensive as it has been in recent Resident Evil renovations.

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Claire is suddenly a bullet-time bad-ass…

Thanks to the power of the Dreamcast, Code: Veronica not only features a much higher level of detail in character models, faces, and zombie details but also steps up the game’s use of CG cutscenes, which specifically portray Claire in a far more capable and tougher light than she appeared in Resident Evil 2. Just as Leon S. Kennedy jumped from a relatively competent rookie street cop in Resident Evil 2 to a martial arts superspy in Resident Evil 4 (Capcom Production Studio 4, 2005) with little in-game explanation, Claire is suddenly dodging bullets (from a helicopter, no less!) and performing grandiose, bullet-time actions.

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You can never be sure of what’s lurking around the corner…

The game also features a foreboding soundtrack that echoes those of its predecessors; a lot of the time, areas are devoid of music, meaning all you can hear is the shuffle of rotting feet, the moaning of zombies, or the ominous growling of some unspeakable mutation. Subtle, soothing tunes let you know when you’re in a safe area and the dramatic score kicks in as monsters attack and dies down once they’re defeated, which is all standard fair for these early Resident Evil titles.

Enemies and Bosses:
Code: Veronica features a lot of the standard enemies you’ve come to expect from a Resident Evil title; you’ll mainly encounter rotting, bloody zombies who shuffle about, claw along the floor, or burst through windows in their droves. There’s possibly the most variety in the zombies’ appearance here, though, as there’s reanimated corpses from a cemetery, naked zombies in a sauna, zombies with little worker hats, vomiting zombies, frozen zombies, and even zombies with glowing eyes like Albert Wesker. Speaking of which, Code: Veronica inexplicably returned Wesker to the series after he was skewered into ribbons of bloody flesh in the first Resident Evil; while you don’t get to fight Wesker here, he is heavily involved in the game’s plot, which revolves around Alfred and Alexia Ashford developing a new T-Virus strain.

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I’m seeing a few similarities here…

The T-Veronica Virus offers a variety of additional BOWs for players to contend with; some will be familiar, like the deadly Hunters and giant spiders, and others are new, like the Tremors (Underwood, 1990) inspired Gulp Worm and Code: Veronica’s most persistent new enemy, the Bandersnatch, which can grab you from afar with its stretchy, clawed arms and will leap and haul tiself around the environment to get at you.

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Good luck hitting this fucking thing!

You’ll also battle some messed up, multi-formed bosses that owe more than a small debt to John Carpenter’s The Thing (Carpenter, 1982); there’s a particularly gruelling close-quarters fight with a Tyrant in a plane, the blind, spider-limbed Nosferatu (who can swipe you right off a helipad and must be awkwardly shot at with a sniper rifle during a blizzard), Steve’s transformation into a hulking, axe-wielding frog-like creature that can only be ran from, and Alexia’s mutation from an insectile creature that flings flaming blood at you, bulges out into a grotesque, bug-spewing monstrosity, and finally ends up as a dragonfly-like annoyance that will take not only your best weapons (usually the Magnum) but also the unwieldy Linear Launcher to defeat.

Power-Ups and Bonuses:
In true Resident Evil fashion, you can find additional and more powerful weapons as you play and explore your environments; both Chris and Claire can obtain an assault rifle, dual-wield submachine guns, the go-to fan favourite shotgun, and a grenade launcher with four different types of ammo while also being able to upgrade their base pistol to a burst fire mode or improve its power, respectively.

Additional Features:
Players can unlock a couple of bonuses through gameplay. Completing the game unlocks “Battle Mode”, a time attack survival mode where you must battle hordes of enemies with infinite ammo and lets you pick between third- and first-person perspectives. You can unlock not only Steve but also Wesker for use in this mode and, as you might expect, finishing the game with an S-rank unlocks an infinite rocket launcher for your use. There’s also a handful of Achievements you can attain but, as this was originally an Xbox 360 title, they’re mostly tied to gameplay progression rather than Easter eggs or obscure actions on the player’s part.

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The Summary:
Resident Evil – Code: Veronica X is about as classic a Resident Evil title as you can get; it hits all of the beats you would expect from Capcom’s survival/horror franchise while also expanding its scope beyond the confines of Raccoon City for the first time. Narratively, this is also where the series begins to kind of fall of a cliff as the plot suddenly becomes far more dense, layered, and convoluted and shifts towards a focus on Wesker’s evil ambitions and away from a faceless corporation’s machinations. Yet, for as good as it is, Code: Veronica doesn’t really offer anything new; despite the benefits offered by the Dreamcast, the game is firmly entrapped in the gameplay mechanics and restrictions of the series, meaning that it’s more a case of the same-old, same-old rather than offering the fresh take on the series we’d see in Resident Evil 4. However, for those (like me) who were disappointed with the brevity of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and like jumping back into a traditional survival/horror title, there’s enough here to sustain your interest and engagement, though you’ll most likely soon forget the experience once you jump to one of its successor titles.

My Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Could Be Better

What are your thoughts on Resident Evil – Code: Veronica X? Did you play the original Dreamcast title or, like me, discover it through one of its many ports? Would you like to see an HD remaster of this title as well or do you think that it’s best left as it is? Sound off in the comments and come back for more Resident Evil content coming soon.

Game Corner: Resident Evil VII: Biohazard (Xbox One)

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With Resident Evil VII: Biohazard (Capcom, 2017), I’ve finally reached the end of the big pile of Resident Evil ibid, 1996 to present) titles I got for Christmas. I was making decent progress in the game but kept getting distracted with life, work, and other games but, now that I’ve finally finished one of the most lauded Resident Evil titles ever made, the question is: does the game live up to the hype? After the absolute, balls-to-the-wall action-heavy approach they turned the franchise into in Resident Evil 6 (ibid, 2012), Capcom decided to answer their critics and bring the survival-horror aspects of Resident Evil back to the series but with a twist: this time, it’s in first-person!

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Not gonna lie but I struggle with first-person perspective…

This was a bit of a hurdle for me right off the bat as, traditionally, I don’t really get on too well with first-person videogames, primarily because I don’t like being attacked from behind and I find them to be uncomfortable to play at times. Like, I enjoy the dread and constant tension the perspective offers here and in other, similar games but, when you’re just trying to have a bit of a casual play, it can be draining to be constantly on edge and first-person perspective can hamper controls, combat, and camera angles at times.

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The charming Baker family invite you to dinner…

However, Resident Evil VII: Biohazard utilises its new perspective to great effect as players take on the role of Ethan Winters; unlike other Resident Evil protagonists, Ethan’s just…a guy…nothing special. He’s been drawn to an abandoned house in search of his wife, Mia, who has apparently taken a bit of a turn for the worst. After he’s attacked and has his hand cut off, Ethan is left at the mercy of the mental Baker family, a bunch of messed up back-water hillbillies who make the Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s (Hooper, 1974) family look normal. With his hand reattached by staples (…just go with it) and forced to cobble together items to survive and find a way out of the booby-trapped house, Ethan is relentlessly pursued by Jack Baker, who smashes through walls and attacks without mercy, repeatedly coming back from severe trauma and injury to torment you again and again as he absorbs blows, shrugs off bullets, and your supplies dwindle away to nothing.

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The Molded are viscious buggers, far from your typical zombie fodder!

As Ethan progresses, solving puzzles, battling the bullet-sponge monstrosities known as the “Molded”, and exploring the Baker’s estate, he comes across Zoe Baker, who offers to help cure Mia by developing a serum to combat the infection that has warped her family. The source of the infection turns out to be a young girl, Eveline, who can control the minds of others, and Ethan is eventually forced to battle her in her monstrous final form. Resident Evil VII: Biohazard is unlike every other Resident Evil title before it. Sure, some tropes remain (Item Boxes, herbs, having to manually save (though using a cassette player rather than a typewriter), limited supplies, and a claustrophobic atmosphere) but, aside from some brief last minute (literally the very last minute) references to the previous titles, this looks and plays like an entirely different game. It’s a shocking departure, even more so than when the series switched to an over-the-shoulder, slightly more action-orientated approach in Resident Evil 4 (Capcom Production Studio 4, 2005); it seems that, every time Capcom wants to spice up their survival-horror franchise, a dramatic shift into another genre generally does the trick as long as there’s some restraint placed on the player to emphasise the survival aspects.

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Things get very large and very ugly by Resident Evil VII‘s end…

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard definitely emphasises this aspect as supplies are criminally low; it’s not really enough to have a herb anymore as it’s far more beneficial to also pick up some Chem Fluid to restore more health (as in other recent Resident Evil titles, this can be done with the touch of a button). This extends to ammo as well, as Ethan can combine different objects to create more, or new, ammo combinations. However, there’s never enough to truly feel comfortable in combat; the Molded take multiple shots (even from a good, old fashioned shotgun blast), forcing you to think strategically about when to fight, when to flee, and how to plan your route around enemies when a swarm turns up. Resident Evil VII: Biohazard’s bosses have quite a bit of variety; you start off desperately battling to survive as Jack Baker relentlessly attacks you with an axe or a chainsaw, progress to blasting a giant, slimy creature with the traditional giant red eyes, and end up blasting an enormous, pissed off woman right in the face. The first-person perspective makes these boss battles particularly intense as it doesn’t lend itself to the game’s limited combat; it’s tough to see where a boss is when its scurrying around you, even tougher to get a good shot off, and tricky to pull off sudden, quick-time event-like moments when you’re busy trying to get your vision lined up.

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Trust nothing when it comes to Lucas’ escape rooms…

Once you’re made it through the main campaign, you can take on a variety of additional modes. Not A Hero follows series staple Chris Redfield (once again completely redesigned and working for the now-benevolent Umbrella Corporation) as he battles through the game’s last area to (what else!) a secret laboratory while End of Zoe follows Joe Baker, a slightly more hinged member of the Baker family who uses his apparently-superhuman strength to smash apart Molded and find a cure for Zoe. You can also race against the clock and blast the Molded to feed Jack in Jack’s 55th Birthday, face death again and again in the impossibly-difficult Ethan Must Die, and take on a few other similar survival modes. Despite its dramatically new approach, Resident Evil VII: Biohazard feels a lot like the original Resident Evil in many ways, mainly in its atmosphere and aesthetics. Like the original title, doors are arbitrarily locked by themed keys, Ethan must solve puzzles to open new areas (or to escape death traps set-up by Lucas Baker that more than resemble the Saw (Various, 2004 to present) films), and combat is an intense, strategic action.

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You’re never short on horror in Resident Evil VII.

It was an interesting experiment by Capcom to use the restrictive first-person perspective to enforce the survival-horror aspect in a new, exciting way; it’s not exactly unique, as there’s lots of first-person games that take a similar approach, but it definitely worked to shift the franchise back towards survival-horror. Having played this before and after Resident Evil 2 (Capcom R&D Division 1, 2019), it’s clear that Capcom took a lot of the lessons they learned in developing Resident Evil VII: Biohazard and applied them to their remake. While I doubt that Capcom would ever use them in a full game again, I actually wouldn’t be averse to seeing first-person sequences return in future Resident Evil titles (maybe as side quests similar to the videotape flashbacks seen in this game); however, the important thing here is that the tense, atmospheric horror is retained and, given how well Capcom did in applying this atmosphere to Resident Evil 2, we should hopefully be in for some gory, engaging, terrifying Resident Evil titles once more thanks, largely, to Resident Evil VII: Biohazard.

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great Stuff

Game Corner: Resident Evil 6 (Xbox One)

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So there’s been a bit of a delay in my playing and completing of the Xbox One Resident Evil (Capcom, 1996 to present) titles due to life and the release of Resident Evil 2 (Capcom R&D Division 1, 2019) but I finally played through and completed Resident Evil 6 (Capcom, 2012). Resident Evil 6 is the culmination of the more action-orientated approach the series took from Resident Evil 4 (Capcom Production Studio 4, 2005); while Leon S. Kennedy went solo in that title and played babysitter to the otherwise-useless Ashley Graham, players were forced to constantly play in co-op, either with a friend or with a questionable AI, in Resident Evil 5 (Capcom, 2009), a title which also upped the action-centric focus of the franchise.

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Chris and Leon get into a bit of a dick-measuring contest…

Resident Evil 6 continues down this route but expands upon it in numerous ways; the most obvious is the amount of playable characters available. Players can choose from four campaign modes, three of which follow the same mechanic of the Resident Evil: Revelations(ibid, 2012; 2015) games and lumber classic Resident Evil characters with a new companion. Players can pick between playing as Leon and Helena Harper of the Secret Service agent, Chris Redfield and BSAA grunt Piers Nivans, Albert Wesker’s son, Jake Muller, who teams up with the returning Sherry Birkin, now a member of the Division of Security Operations, or go it (mostly) alone as Ada Wong. Each character has their own narrative to follow and, as you play through each campaign, you will visit the same locations as other characters, though sometimes at different times, encounter some of the same enemies, and interact with the other character’s stories at various points. This results in perhaps the most complex and connected Resident Evil story ever; you’ll play a lot of the story events out of order so it’s only by playing through each campaign will you truly get a sense of what’s going down.

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Things go to hell when another virus is unleashed…

Essentially, though, it’s the same Resident Evil storyline you’re familiar with only with everything ramped up to eleven and taken to the extreme; a terrorist group known as Neo-Umbrella, apparently under the direction of Ada, develops a brand new virus, the C-virus, and unleashes it at various locations across the globe, causing people to turn into zombies, grotesque mutations, or enter a chrysalis and become these weird, insect-like creatures. Each of the characters pursues different goals in service of ending this threat: Leon and Helena find themselves framed for the murder of the President (who had become a zombie) by Neo-Umbrella affiliate (and National Security Advisor) Derek Simmons and fight to reveal Simmons’ role in the whole conspiracy; Chris and Piers relentlessly pursue Ada after she wiped out their platoon; Jake finds himself recruited by Sherry to bring down Neo-Umbrella because he happens to be carrying the anti-virus to the C-Virus in his blood and they are pursed by Neo-Umbrella’s Usantank; and Ada sneaks around aiding the other characters at various points, obtaining data and information, and uncovering the origins of her imposter.

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Jake’s physical abilities only really come into play for his final boss.

It’s quite the twisting narrative, to be sure. To differentiate each campaign, the characters all receive slightly different HUDs, weapons, and melee attacks; Leon can duel wield pistols, for example, while Jake can switch to an unarmed mode to pummel enemies. Every character can use melee attacks, however, to stun enemies and set them up for instant kill moves or knock downs but these all drain a stamina meter that can only be filled by standing still. Disappointingly, and somewhat strangely, Jake has this meter and I didn’t really notice it refilling faster than any other characters; I kind of expected Wesker’s son, who is portrayed as this tough, semi-superhuman badass, to have an unlimited stamina meter, especially as he has less weapons to begin with. Another slightly annoying aspect of the weaponry is that the knife is back to being an equippable weapon, so you can’t shoot enemies and then switch to slashing and stabbing with a simple shoulder button press like in Resident Evil 4 and 5, which seems like a step backwards to me.

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The HUDs look different but the gameplay is mostly identical.

Also a step backwards is the inventory interface; while other Resident Evil titles favour a grid-like system that clearly displays all your items and weapons, Resident Evil 6 opts for a linear interface that makes selecting a weapon far more time consuming, switching to a sub-weapon (like a grenade) feel very rushed, and forces you to combine herbs into pills and then store them in a pill case. While this means you can recover health at the push of a button, the entire interface makes it very difficult to juggle your inventory; I was playing for most of Leon’s story before I realised that the inventory isn’t unlimited, which it appeared to be, so you have to be constantly reloading every weapon and combining those herbs, which gets especially complicated when your pill case can only hold so much. All this serves to slow the gameplay down quite a bit, at points, or make combat very stressful as you’ll be desperately scrolling through the inventory to select a different weapon or combine your herbs so you can heal. This is also quite complicated and time consuming as, when you press the button to eat a herb pill, your characters will enter into a short animation where they pop the pill out and swallow it and you’ll only regain health once this animation is complete; I was killed quite a few times during this animation, which was very frustrating. Also frustrating is that pressing the button only restores one block of health; you’ll need to press it multiple times to recover enough health to actually have an impact on your gameplay.

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Your partner is actually quite useful for taking out enemies.

Luckily, your partner is always on hand to aid you in these times of crisis; while you can’t swap and change items like in Resident Evil 5, the partner AI will still come over and help you if you get knocked down and are near death and their ammo appears to be unlimited, which can be useful in tough battles. What isn’t useful, though, is how unbelievably weak all of the characters are; it’ll only take a few bites from a zombie to sap all of your health to one measly block; enemy gunfire and attacks also have a really annoying habit of knocking you to the floor, forcing you to crawl around on your back trying to unload a shot and get to safety.

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There’s a lot of dangerous enemies to encounter.

The enemies are quite varied, which is nice; you’ll get the usual zombies, of course, but some of the weirder mutations, similar to those seen in the Revelations games, have deadly weaponry merged into their anatomy, like a particularly nasty chainsaw-armed asshole. Similar to Revelations 2, though, a lot of the intermediate and advanced enemies have seemingly unblockable one-shot kill attacks (I say “seemingly” as it may depend on how much health you have; if you have more than one block, you might be able to fight back in a quick-time event), which is made more annoying by the unskippable and overly long death scenes that accompany these enemies.

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Yep, there’s even a dinosaur-like boss this time…

There are some new enemy variations at work here, too; there’s one enemy that will burst from its chrysalis as a swarm of insects, which is one of the more annoying and tougher enemies as you have to either chuck an incendiary grenade at it or wait until the big bug appears and hope you can kill it before the smaller bugs swarm over you and drain all your health. Comparatively, the boss battles are much less of an annoyance; they are long and consist of multiple stages and elements, but they generally boil down to a simple tactic of keeping your distance, shooting at the big glowing eyes/boils/similar weak spots, and let your partner do a lot of the shooting. Unfortunately, the enemies all tend to be bullet sponges; in Resident Evil 5, I found I could blast away with reckless abandon and there would always be more than enough ammo to find to keep going but Resident Evil 6 really cuts down on the resources. While I appreciate this as a fan of the classic Resident Evil videogames, it does kind of run contrary to the game’s heavily action-orientated approach; how are you expected to blast through hoards of enemies when your ammo drains away like nothing and the drop-rate is so low? Resident Evil 6 tries to compensate for this not only with the aforementioned melee attacks, which can be useful for conserving your ammo, knocking down enemies, and landing an instant kill, but also in its overabundant use of quick-time events (QTEs).

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Resident Evil 6 loves a good quick-time event…

Literally anything could be a QTE in this game; while I don’t recall too many happening in cutscenes like in Resident Evil 4, there are plenty at work in the videogame proper here. Grabbed by an enemy? Waggle the control stick! Being chased by a boss on a mine cart? You better press X and A together to duck under those low-hanging planks of wood! Tackled by a bigger enemy or brought another boss to its knees? Better hit that A, X, or R-trigger and then mash away at X to pummel them! It’s kind of fun in some cases, like when Leon is desperately trying to pilot a helicopter through China, but it’s a lot more fun to do a similar mission with Ada, where she can fire the helicopter’s weaponry.

ResidentEvil6Cutscenes
A story this big and complex needs a lot of cutscenes…apparently…

Resident Evil 6 also really loves its cutscenes; you’ll sit and watch a cutscene filled with some suitably-dramatic tension or an impossible situation and then maybe take two steps forwards and another cutscene will happen. Similarly, you’ll be tasked with defeating a boss and struggling to take aim with the game’s janky sniper rifle controls and then suddenly a cutscene will interrupt you and you’ll realise that you wasted your ammo on the first couple of stages of the battle as all you really need to do is trigger the cutscene and survive to the final stage of the fight. Don’t get me wrong, I found the story interesting and complicated but it got very annoying to be constantly interrupted with the explosive arrival or return of a massive enemy or another twist in the tale. Also, call me crazy, but I don’t see the gameplay benefit of forcing me to walk sl-low-ly from one point to a door just to trigger another cutscene; just show Chris entering the building in the damn FMV!

ResidentEvil6Skills.PNG
There’s a lot of skills…maybe too many…

As in Resident Evil 4 and 5, Resident Evil 6 features numerous autosave points and adopts a chapter-based structure; each character’s story is split into five chapters and each chapter is maybe the length of two of Resident Evil 5’s, making casual play a bit more of a chore this time around. At the end of each chapter, you’ll get a medal based on how well you performed, maybe earn a dog tag (which can be customised and used as your gamer profile banner, I assume), and will be able to use the points you earn to buy new skills to equip. Again, though, this is a limited system; unlike previous Resident Evil titles, you can’t upgrade, improve, or buy new weapons between chapters and can only assign three skills at a time. There are bunch of skill slots available, though, and you can switch between them in-game, but being able to equip only three at a time does make the entire skill tree a bit pointless. I would have much preferred being able to upgrade certain things, like weapon accuracy or melee effectiveness, for each character rather than being forced to equip better ammo pick-ups or infinite ammo as a skill.

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There’s a lot of online modes in Resident Evil 6.

Like many of the other Resident Evil titles of this era, there are some additional modes available; the “Mercenaries” mode returns, where players to survive as long as possible against waves of enemies across the game’s various maps. In “Onslaught” mode, two players battle against waves of enemies while “Predator” pits up to six players against the Ustanak and “Survivors” is more of a classic death match set-up. I’ve only really played a bit of the Mercenaries mode as I have no desire to be depressingly owned by twelve-year-olds over the internet but I can’t say any of these extra modes hold much appeal for me. Unlike other Resident Evil titles, there aren’t really many incentives for completing the single-player campaign. You’ll get an extra scene at the end of everyone’s credit rolls, unlock New Game+ to play with the weapons and items you’ve previously acquired, and eventually unlock the ability to equip infinite ammo for various weapons but there are no additional costumes to unlock except for in the online modes. There are Serpent tokens hidden throughout each location that you can shatter to unlock concept art and the like, and you can play through each campaign again as the partner character, if you really want to play as Sherry again, and there are obviously a lot of Achievements to unlock, but I really missed unlocking extra costumes and weapons after a playthrough.

ResidentEvil6Gameplay.PNG
Leon’s campaign started out so well and then just fell apart…

I heard a lot of crap about Resident Evil 6 but I didn’t really believe it; I figured I would be happy to be playing as Leon once again and returning to his Resident Evil 4 style of gameplay but, ironically, Leon plays very differently to how he did in that game. Instead, every character feels and plays like they’re from Resident Evil 5; much more tactile, combat-focused, and relying on a bunch of over-the-top, QTE-heavy melee attacks to dispatch enemies. I was a bit confused, to be honest, as I figured Resident Evil 6 was going to mash together the Resident Evil 4 and 5 playstyle, the more first-person-shooter approach taken by Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (Slant Six Games/Capcom, 2012), and an entirely new, melee-centric playstyle. This seemed like the perfect time to mash together the older, more popular style of gameplay with Capcom’s newer, faster, FPS approach but…that’s not what has happened here. Instead, every character is essentially exactly the same, which doesn’t offer a lot in the way of variety; obviously, the Resident Evil characters were never that different in the original titles but that was more due to hardware limitations. Resident Evil 6 can’t really use that excuse, though, and really should have tried to make the characters more distinct in the way they play.

ResidentEvil6HAOS
Don’t even get me started on this fucking thing!

In the end, I did enjoy Resident Evil 6 but it was much more of a slog to get through than any of the other titles; as annoying as I found the Revelations games, at least their chapters and missions were short and could be played in a casual burst. Here, everything is an annoyance; you’ll constantly be sent flying, knocked to the floor, run out of ammo and resources, wrestle with QTEs, die a lot, and probably get sick of seeing the same boss enemies crop up again and again and again. I found it much more enjoyable to focus on one campaign at a time and leave a little gap between starting the next campaign, which is a bit of a shame as I didn’t feel as fatigued playing through the campaigns in the previous games.

My Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Could Be Better