Resident Evil 3 Remake: First Playthrough

Despite being a huge fan of the Resident Evil series, I somehow never played through the 3rd installment. For this reason I was very happy to learn the game would get the same remake treatment that Resident Evil 2 did last year. It came about faster than I had anticipated though, and released this past Friday. I just so happened to get paid that same day so I decided it would be my gaming purchase for the month. Quarantine has kept me locked in doors giving me more time to play through these games so I gladly invested in my entertainment future. I should note that back when Resident Evil 6 released I picked up the Anthology edition that contained codes for downloading all of the games on my Playstation 3. However, these were just the PSOne Classic versions, and though I had intended to try and play through it back then, I just never got around to it, and going back to PSOne graphics is tricky. Honestly I think this is the best way for me to experience this part of the series that I originally missed. I can already say that it has bridged some of the gaps in story that I lacked when playing some of the newer iterations.

The introductory sequence starts out in first person perspective, and I thought that was pretty cool. I really loved Resident Evil VII in which the game was pushed into the first person space, and so this was a nice touch. However the game switches to the traditional over the shoulder viewpoint rather quickly. You’ll start out playing as Jill Valentine, who was a member of STARS and introduced in the first game. She was absent from Resident Evil 2 though you can imagine that these events were happening around the same timeline, as she is in her own apartment and the conspiracy board in the background shows that she has started to put together Umbrella’s involvement in the events of the first game. Obviously by the time the events of RE2 transpire, the virus would have spread from the manor/lab to Raccoon City. This also means that the events of RE3 have to be happening around the same time, though Leon and Claire are dealing with things in and around the police station while Jill is out in the larger portion of the city. From here there will be some spoilers, only because I want to share some cool parts of the game along with screenshots, and if you haven’t played this 20 year old game yet, then welcome to the club. Come back after you’ve finished it. Otherwise, enjoy the ride.

It doesn’t take long to be introduced to the main villain, Nemesis. He’s a hulking brute that uses tendrils to grab you and pull you towards him, but later comes in additional flavors. He pops in and out of your playthrough, is impossible to actually kill, and makes life difficult for our protagonist. Soon he’ll pop up with a flamethrower, and later he’ll sport a rocket launcher. He’s a bastard, and every time a cutscene makes you believe that he’s dead, there he is again. Eventually you’ll run into a guy named Carlos who later becomes a playable character, and his organization works for Umbrella, but seems to be ignorant to the fact that his company is responsible for this mess. His commanding officers are dicks, but one does give his own life to save yours, so there’s that. I reached a point where I escaped the city and took over playing as Carlos, who was heading into the RPD building, so perhaps more of the story gaps will be closed between games.

The gameplay loop in generally the same as other Resident Evil games. You’ll find a multitude of herbs, ammunition, and craftable items, along with books, notes and scribbles that give more insight to the lore of the game. Eventually you’ll have a plethora of guns, but never enough ammo. I’ve found this game to be more challenging than its predecessor, but also more challenging than the newer games as well. You really don’t get enough ammo to deal with the amount of enemies, as each take way too many shots to dispose of. Then as you progress through levels some will respawn, so it really is beneficial to simply run past those enemies that you can. You’ll also do a ton of running away from Nemesis, so I suppose that’s the intended loop. Overall the game looks and feels just as good as the last remake, but because the story is something I knew nothing about, it has pulled me in even more. Honestly these past two remakes and RE7 are my favorites of the series to this point. I enjoyed 4 solo, and really liked the co-op features of 5 & 6, but these remakes just feel so much better. Modern conveniences and all. Regardless, I love the series, I’ve loved these remakes and I look forward to where the series goes next with the next proper sequel.

Apex Legends: Season 4 – Assimilation

I’m a bit late to this post, and honestly it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for some time now. Season 4 of Apex Legends kicked off back at the beginning of February. It, like seasons before it, came packed with a new Battle Pass option (containing new skins, animations and artwork), a new Legend enters the fold, and of course the promise of new limited time events. Truth be told, I have had a relationship with this game since it released a little over a year ago, and though I’m not done with it, I’m riding one of those lows right now. It’s still a fantastic game. I love the fact that they have done something new each season. While the first saw an extended time on the same version of the original map, the 2nd season warped that map in new ways. With the 3rd season we saw a whole brand new map, and to fall in line, season 4 has torn the new map up giving it new life. This means an adjustment in your specific game plans, though the broad scope of the game remains the same.

The main new attraction is this big laser drill in the center of the map, while a huge lava filled canyon split the major city in two. Overall it’s still the same map but the new touches are cool and provide variety if you continue to play regularly throughout the years.

The new character Revenant seems really cool in appearance, but I find that his skills are a little underpowered. He’s much like Wattson who is a little limited when it comes to combat I feel as well. They’re more support oriented characters in my estimation, despite maybe having a different title in the game. Whatever the case, Revenant is a little more mobile due to his passive, but his tactical silencing grenade doesn’t feel too hot. His ultimate is also debatable in usefulness, mainly because you have to drop a totem, then press a button to activate the “death protection,” and then have to die within the time limit for it to do anything. If you place it properly and happen to die it’s nice, but it seems too much of a pain in the ass to be worth it. Have you played Revenant with success? Am I just stupid? Comment below.

As I said, I wouldn’t say I’m burned out but I played 324 games last season and I was already on the uptick during season 2. I basically played the shit out of the game prior to seasons, then didn’t play season 1, started getting into it more seriously in season 2 into 3, and then basically didn’t play much at all during the whole first 3rd of the current season. Whatever the case, you can make comparisons between my last season and what has occurred so far in season 4 above, and draw your own conclusions. I have padded that total a bit more recently as in the past week or so I’ve played a couple dozen games, and I am working it back into my rotation a little bit just because I’m playing with friends due to our quarantine situation. My total stats are listed in the last picture for reference, and you can see I’m nearing 800 games played, which is an average of about two games a day for the past year or so. I guess you can say I enjoy the title, despite my couple of breaks. I’ll check back in once the next season starts and see where my interest lies at that time.

First Thoughts: DOOM Eternal

I absolutely fell in love with DOOM 2016. It was a reboot of the series to some degree, basically starting over what began in the 1990’s and updating it with modern graphics. At the time, my computer had just been built a few months before, so I was able to run this at Ultra settings and though I was still running my rig in 1080p, it was gorgeous. The action was fast paced, the glory kills were over the top fun, and overall it hearkened back to a simpler time when we played games by ourselves. The follow-up to that game was announced a couple of years ago as DOOM Eternal, and it was instantly a part of my most-anticipated games list. Slated to release in November of 2019, it ended up being delayed to March 2020, just in time for us to be cooped up in our houses with plenty of time to play games (or at least, this about the most positive thing I can say about the current circumstances of the world). Sadly I would not have been able to pick the game up on release, but was lucky enough to be gifted a copy regardless, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on my first 5 hours with the title.

This time around, there is a bit more focus on the story, with a multitude of cutscenes, set pieces that want you to wonder about what’s going on around you, and collectible codex entries that shed some extra lore on an otherwise straight forward demon slaying experience. Apparently the original DOOM games also had a bit of story to them, though it was never really well conveyed in-game. I suppose this is an attempt at creating a story you kind of care about, despite the fact that all of the glory takes place during combat — which is still this series’ strength. As it goes, this title follows the story of the original DOOM II: Hell on Earth from 1994. Its uncertain if this is meant as a reboot sequel as most of us expected, or if this is sort of a separate more detailed timeline. However you want to look at it, at the end of the day DOOM 2016 ≥ DOOM as is DOOM Eternal ≥ DOOM II: Hell on Earth. That isn’t to say either is better than the other, but they are certainly good examples of how a game that pushed boundaries in the 1990’s can still do so in 2020 but with far more realistic graphics. So we know that while the Slayer was out and about on Mars taking care of business a few years ago, he’s now come back to earth and shit has hit the fan. So it’s up to him to get down to slayin’ business immediately.

Unfortunately, being such an action packed experience, I was unable to get many action shots, but the backdrops I managed to capture are fascinating. Some of the same mechanics from DOOM 2016 have returned, and some have been expanded upon. Not only do weapons get upgrades via modifications found in the world, but then you can spend weapon points on additional modifiers for those mods. Once unlocking everything on one weapon you’ll be able to then complete a mastery challenge that will unlock another perk for the gun. From there, you can also put points into your Praetor suit, which are passive bonuses that mostly have to do with your auto-map amongst other things. Runes can be found that give you further passives depending on which ones you have equipped (max 3 out of 9 at a time). There’s another layer of perks called crystals that you can equip which increase your health/armor/ammo maximum amounts, but also grants bonuses to your equipment, which is a shoulder mounted grenade launcher, frost bomb launcher, and the flamer. There’s a lot of depth here despite it just being another FPS in a long line of games that you’ve already played. In a sense it’s more of the same (which was good) but takes things just that much further. I can say for sure that the movement around maps is vastly changed, with many more open spaces to jump and dash around in. This means some creative level design was in order, and I find myself having to back track a lot less as a result. However, there is a fast travel system and because of the sheer amount of collectibles and secrets you’ll want to use this system to go back and finish the content presented.

Challenges are still a thing, but this time they’re called Slayer Challenges and you have to find a nearby key before being able to access the special zone. Once you have access and head in, you’ll be in for a challenge. I think now I could probably go back and complete a few of them, but on my first attempt I was stomped. Beyond completitionist status, there is a Battlemode that I have yet to check out, but also already included with the deluxe edition, you get access to future campaign and multiplayer content. I’m looking forward to having a reason to come back to this title beyond just deathmatch, as DOOM 2016 included but I wasn’t really a fan of. Here’s hoping the multiplayer here is better, but I can already highly recommend this title just for the single player alone. Well worth the investment price, and if you can get it on sale, even better!

Thoughts on Blasphemous

I didn’t hear about Blasphemous upon its release last year. I also am not typically looking for Metroidvania style games to play — I enjoy them, but few do much to set themselves apart from the crowd. Recently the Playstation Store has been hosting a “Mega March Sale” and with much of the world on quarantine, it was a perfect way to pick up some games on the cheap to have something to do while social distancing. It also turns out that this game does set itself apart in ways I didn’t expect, in that it has combined elements of those games that have come before but has done so in a way that appeals to modern gamers. So yes, it’s a side-scrolling hack n’ slash game, but it does have check points, more interesting combat that evolves over time, and a fantastic art style reminiscent of the Atari/Amiga era of the 1980’s. Examples:

Thought this is pixel art, it’s very high res and the animations are smooth. Back in those early days these images would have been still with very little animation, whereas these are full on cutscenes done in this fantastic artwork. But, I understand that this isn’t for everyone, so your appreciation may vary. Blasphemous is also a rather adult oriented game. There are religious influences along with blood and gore. I’m assuming there might even be nudity, because it’s already come close, but whatever the case the aesthetic works very well for me. When you’re actually playing the game, it looks a bit different, but is still pixel-perfect:

You’ll meet a variety of characters, mostly in various states of unrest. There is a small safe area that is functionally a town, where you can save your game and use the currency to make upgrades to your fighting skills, along with infusing your sword with additional properties. It turns out there is quite a bit of progression when it comes to this, as various skill/item trees exist in the menus. Your sword gets Mea Culpas, your magic spells are called Prayers. You’ll also collect prayer beads that give valuable passives, and there are some items that increase your health, the number of health potions you can carry and your magical energy as well. This is reminiscent of the Souls games in that your only fail safes are the couple of potions you can carry, and refilling them and saving your progress only happens when you visit the shrines that are pretty well spread out.

The combat is also more than just button mashing. You have the standard sword strike, and it chains up to three times. You can duck and jump swing to hit differing enemies, but eventually you’ll run into those that have wide swinging arcs or other defenses, and will have to either slide past them or parry into riposte. These things all make more sense when you’re playing the game, but each set of enemies comes with their own challenges. Death comes early and often. Upon dying, you’ll also drop your soul, and the guilt of losing that energy weighs upon you. Finding the soul in the world where you died will gain you back the favor and whatnot that you’ve lost.

Really, if I had to make comparisons to other games, this is the 2-D version of the Souls games, but also more reminiscent of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. I feel the back and forth nature, along with little baubles to collect and side quests that aren’t really very defined fits the mold of that game. The gothic design of the game helps as well. Overall this was a very pleasant surprise of a game and I’m glad I picked it up. If you’re into this style of game you’ll definitely want to give it a try.

The FF7 Remake Demo

We’ve known about the Final Fantasy VII Remake for several years now, but the time has finally come to see more. It has actually been delayed once, and we’ve already seen a few trailers that show off parts of the game, but finally a playable demo has been released. As a huge fan of the original game (it was my first FF game, it was the reason I bought a Playstation back in high school) I knew that I’d be interested in an updated version of the beloved classic. As information trickled down we were unsure if would be a faithful recreation or if things would be changed. It was also said that the game would be “episodic” and though I can see this being okay if they split the game the way they did in the 90’s, by making each disc of the original into a full episode, I still would prefer a whole game all at once. I assume this means that development of future episodes isn’t completed yet, and we still don’t know exactly where this first episode will end, but for now let’s just talk about what happens in the demo.

As you can see above, the game is clearly gorgeous. All of these screens show some of our main and supporting characters and all of them are introduced throughout the play session I had with the demo. To be clear, this isn’t a lengthy demo, but it does allow you to see how cool the game now looks, and also runs through the entire Mako reactor scene that introduces Cloud and the rebel group Avalanche. We also get to see how combat has evolved, and you’ll have to see some of the next screen shots for me to really describe it.

Anyone who has played the original game knows that it was a product of the times. JRPGs of that era mostly relied on ATB meters in order to determine turn order for actions that would take place during the battle. Also seemingly gone are random battles, in that you only fight when you happen upon some enemies as you traverse the level, there aren’t “unseen” enemies that attack you as you wander. I do feel this is a positive change in some aspects because I hated getting swarmed by things as I was trying to get to chests and other secrets. However, this may prove problematic if you encounter a tough fight and would need to level up on these random battles. Since we don’t ever get to a point where we get to see the world map and how that will be handled, its unclear if this was just part of the demo. Whatever the case, combat feels less like the turn based strategy of the former game, and instead feels much more like Final Fantasy XV in that regard. However, in XV you weren’t able to swap between characters, only issue commands, whereas in this title you can control who you want and still issue commands. So the best of both worlds I suppose. There is an difficulty option that also lets you focus on purely giving commands rather than also trying to do the combat yourself, so that’s a great choice for those of you who don’t care to button mash. It is a bit button mashy, but at the same time fairly fluid and responsive. Basic attacks happen when pressing square. You can change stance with triangle. Otherwise spells, abilities and items are all used via a context menu. I loved the combat, but that last boss before blowing up the reactor was a bit of a challenge without more phoenix downs.

Upon completing the reactor scene you are treated to pretty explosions and a zoomed out view of the city before the demo winds down. Clearly this is only the tip of the iceberg but I was hit in the feels immediately. I cannot wait for full release at this point, as I already know it’s going to be a blast. I’m just curious how much more of the original game will make it over and how much of it will change. Time will tell I suppose. You can download the demo for free via the Playstation Store if you’re curious to see for yourself.