Tag Archives: Resident Evil

The Problem with Lady Dimitrescu

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Lady Dimitrescu from Resident Evil Village could have been my absolute favorite character in the entire game. Instead, she became the character I came to hate the most. I’m so saddened by this, because I was so sure we were going to receive a deep and compelling character. I saw such a great promise in her. Now, I just feel that she was not the character I hoped she would be.

To be absolutely honest, I find her to be a flat our offensive character on principle. The issue is, as a villain she shouldn’t have been offensive in the very specific way she turned out to be.

Yes, her character design is absolutely the sort of representation we need in gaming. Women aren’t often portrayed as strong and assertive. At least, not nearly as often as we gamers might like.

I can respect her for that, but what I can’t do, is pretend she’s a good character when it comes down to dialogue.

Listen, she’s a man-hater, plain and simple, and the issue with her is that she could have been very compelling to have in Resident Evil Village with that mindset. However, it didn’t end up compelling, because the way she displayed that hate was just resolute mindlessness.

Lady Dimitrescu is many things, but she’s not supposed to be reduced down to a nitwit, and that’s ultimately what happened. When you listen to her speak for any length of time it becomes clear. Her insults are gender based more times than not, being prefaced with the word “man” in some way, shape or form.

Worst still, we know she has passed this ideology down to her daughters. Even they are very much obsessed with the concept of gender based ideologies, that just don’t have meaningful extrapolation.

Do we really need a reminder that our character has “man hands”? Does him being a man somehow lessens his complete and total existence? Is this really the best insult a person of such high bloodline and education can make? Is she really that lacking when it comes to turns of phrase?

Well, no, she shouldn’t be. She shows she can be far more than that. Yet, she doesn’t become more than that. That’s ultimately my problem with her…

Look, I get it, she’s a villain, but that’s the issue. She gets reduced down to a stereotypical woman angry at the male gender for seemingly no good reason. Lady Dimitrescu is supposed to be a very intelligent woman, thoughtful in her words and deeds. In short, she’s not a total and complete idiot. Yet, this is the best dialogue that they could come up with?

This is not the first time an issue like this has cropped up. It won’t be the last. A notable example is in Last of Us 2, showcasing a transgender character being horribly mistreated based on a performative interpretation of how they wished to be identified. A large contingent of the trans community, myself and Kreshenne included in that wide and diverse spectrum, took great issue with that.

Now Kreshenne hasn’t played Resident Evil Village, and and can’t speak to it meaningfully, but I have played it and I can speak to it.

I can’t in good faith have the issues that I do with the handling of Last of Us 2, unless I take those same issues with Lady Dimitrescu when referencing the male gender. It all comes down to the same problem. A complete and total lack of care when considering how best to handle the character.

Her hatred of men doesn’t help the narrative in any meaningful or heartfelt way. It only does damage. I don’t mind seeing difficult topics handled in games, but they must be handled with careful consideration, and Resident Evil Village failed to do that.

When you reduce insults and slander down to gender continually without any real need to do so, it is absolutely flat out bad writing. I don’t care what gender a character is, when insults are reduced down to that level, it makes everyone doing it look bad.

Lady Dimitrescu is not above this, and she really should be. She is tall not only in stature, but in personality and refinement. Even in combat, she fights with poise and grace until her final form. She is an aristocrat of the finest order, proud of that esteem, and her three daughters.

She is orders of magnitude above the other sorts of people our main character has faced before, and that alone should be intimidation enough. Yet, there is still something more. She hungers for more favoritism from Mother Miranda, and she’ll go to great lengths to get it.

She’s smart, cunning, and more powerful than she lets on. It is very heavily implied and shown that she is an intelligent woman. Apparently Dimitrescu maintained an almost feudal-like rule over the peasantry near her castle. Yet, for all of those amazing qualities, we see so little of them.

What little we do see is bogged down by her constant use of gender based insults. Unfortunately, we have no clear and obvious reason for her to hate men. Still, she treats the male characters she’s around with disgust and vitriol with no discernible reason for her to do this.

She doesn’t clearly voice a reason why she seems to look down on men, only that she does. It’s too heavy handed to place it aside. If you’re not speed running through the game, you’ll hear some of those insults more than once.

If you were like me, taking your time to play the game, you stayed in her domain long enough to hear those ideologies more than a few times. These ideologies coming from Lady Dimitrescu herself, and all three of her daughters.

Having one female character like that is one thing. Having four women in the same vicinity with that ideology is a bit problematic, don’t you think?

Lady Dimitrescu looks down to men like children, or the pure scum of the earth, some notable quotes are “Ugh, just another simple little manthing.” and “Stupid manthing! You won’t live long, even if you run!”oh, and let’s not forget the best one: “Oh, so gauche. What do you care for bread and circuses? The manthings suffering is assured, regardless.”

Look, here’s the sad part of all of this. She actually had the vast potential to be a far more compelling character. We see hints of it beneath it all. My absolute favorite line shows just how well educated she is, and just how cunning she can be when she says this:

“The man is of no real use to anyone else, and my daughters do love… entertaining foreigners. Furthermore, I can assure if you entrust the mortal to House Dimitrescu, my daughters and I shall deliver to you the finest cups of his slaughtered blood.”

There, see that? An insult, a threat, and a promise all encapsulated within the confines of her station and abilities. She can still see herself as a superior, but she does so in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

Now, that is a compelling villain. This is the sort of dialogue that shows just how prim and proper she can be, with that incredible ruthlessness we expect from her. It’s classy, it’s “well-to-do” as expected from an aristocrat. Above all it shows, her true grace and intellect as a ruler.

It shows how she was able to rule over the lands for so long, before becoming infected by the mold. It is characterization that is paramount for her, and we get too little of it.

We should have had more of that sort of dialogue. Grim promises, deeper threats to our livelihood, and a grace all her own. All of that from a ruler who doesn’t take idle shit from anyone.

Instead, a lot of her repetitious vocal lines fall under those before mentioned gender based insults, and that’s just sad. It diminishes her in a way that is well and truly a letdown, because she could have been so much more.

In attempting to defy stereotypes, Lady Dimitrescu become one of the worst ones a female antagonist could be. She became a mindless man-hater, with no real explicable reason for why that is, or what drives that deeper hatred of men in general.

We can’t assume she isn’t one. All we see is Dimitrescu talking down to her brother, or down to the main player character himself. There’s no other male for her to defy the precedent she sets for herself in a useful way.

It’s just so sad, because if those lines had been handled with just an ounce of care and mindful foreshadowing, she could have been one of the best villains to ever show up in a Resident Evil game.

As she is, only her looks will stand the test of time, her characterization will be too easily forgotten. That’s a real shame, isn’t it?

Well, that’s just my opinion. I know it will likely be an unpopular one, but that’s my view. In any case, this has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course.

If you liked this, please be sure to check out some of our other related content. I’ll see you next time.

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Kern’s Thoughts on Resident Evil Village

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I prefer to review series critically only after I’ve had time to look back upon it retrospectively. I like to have time time to play the game more than once, and let myself really sink into the core narratives and confines of the game as a whole.

Resident Evil Village is too new, and I’ve only played and beaten it once with plenty of dying and screwing up to say that yes, it is certainly a Resident Evil title in that way at least. Actually that’s probably the only way.

Anyway, this isn’t a review. It isn’t meant to be one. These are just some initial thoughts about the game, and my overall enjoyment of it.

I don’t know if I could call this game a masterpiece, but what I will say is that Resident Evil Village pushes boundaries I never thought it would. So, let’s dive into my thoughts, because god knows I have a lot of them.

This is mostly spoiler free. Nothing big will be discussed. Although I do briefly touch on a few things, you won’t be getting any deep details, so don’t worry about massive plot being spoiled here, you won’t be.

A Thoughtful, Captivating Opening.

Most Resident Evil titles don’t captivate me right out of the release gate anymore. Mostly, that’s because the series is too old to really give me a halfway decent bone to chew on. Usually I have to wait to I sink onto the meat of the game properly before I’m surprised by an opening.

This one did surprise me, and not just because it actually had a halfway decent recap of the events in Resident Evil 7. Though, because it was decent, there’s merit in that too. It told the Resident Evil 7 plot without getting too deep. It was easy to digest and simple to consume. It does strictly as it needs to, and nothing more.

Now, you’d expect that after this you’d dive into gameplay, but that isn’t what happened. What we’re greeted with instead is the truly astonishing part. Something that made me take two steps back. It was simple, but for the narrative it was compelling.

We got to listen to rather grim a fairy tale…

Typically, you only see things like this used in puzzles in the Resident Evil series. Survival horror as a genre likes to take fantasy elements use them to craft clues for puzzles or use them as incredibly vague item or enemy metaphor. Yet, we rarely get to see elements like this used as part of character development, or as a taste for a larger metaphorical narrative.

Fantastical music boxes, nods to classic novels, and other such tropes are usually only puzzles only. So it was super nice to see them pulling that key aspect into something greater than making a character merely interact with it. Instead of just getting some sort of key or clue, we get a greater poetic narrative of the game at large.

This opening primes the player, and through my entire play-through I was searching for those metaphorical hints that the opening provided. All-in-all it was a solid opening, and a great creative addition that deserves praise.

On Horror: Lacking/Poorly Managed At Times…

There are times it certainly looks like a classic Resident Evil game. However, it’s not even close.

The game took me about eleven hours to beat since I was taking my time, and occasionally dying. One thing that became noticeable to me at about half an hour into the game was I hadn’t received any meaningful tension to make me feel scared.

Sorry, spooky sounds and jump scares just don’t cut it. Around that time I was wandering around this spooky, snow covered forest filled with dead birds (one of them acting as a cheap jump scare), and subsequently the cabin in the aftermath that creaked and groaned but provided no real payoff.

Continuing to play the game, through more snow covered woods and several more homes (with plenty more mangled and dead animals to go rounds). It was a decent bit after that when I finally picked up my first knife and things actually became interesting.

All of this is to say that the game does have some very good horror elements, but sadly it also fails to manage them correctly at times. This leads to somewhat boring gameplay during certain stretches of time. Considering that many of the areas of the game feel like something out of the original mansion, I do take issue with that.

It just reminds me of how good horror can truly inspire fear, and how this game just can’t cut it in that regard.

Also, the gore itself was just occasionally hard to believe or immerse myself into. It was nearly bombastic at times, but the gratuitousness lacked reason or subtly.

Again, this would not have been an issue, if I had not been so thoroughly reminded of what subtle build-up can provide. That is an ongoing issue of this game. It reminds you of older titles, but never in a way that satisfies.

This style is particularly true early on, when some things weren’t explained yet. There is only one very noteworthy section of the game that is absolutely horrifying, but the rest of it is truly hit and miss for me.

Enemies: What The Hell?

No, seriously, what in the actual hell were the development staff thinking on this one? This goes back into what I was saying before about poor management of horror. The dude in this image, he is a miss.

Listen, I don’t mind when enemies get smarter and faster than your typical zombies. Chainsaw dude from Resident Evil 4 is without a doubt the kind of enemy that will make you crap yourself if you don’t know what to expect. However, when enemies that are half yeti, half zombie roar at me, I feel a distinct lack of chills, and a clear amount of agitation instead.

Come on, seriously? I wasn’t exacting this to be your typical Resident Evil game, but some of these enemy types are flat out stupid. They don’t scare me, they just make me wonder one simple question: what the hell? This goes back into what I was saying before about poor management of horror.

Unintentional Humor (Hands have never been so funny).

No image here, because I don’t want to take away from that moment. I have only one word for you….

“Good.”

That moment, which I won’t go into detail about, is the one genuinely funny thing is this game, far better than the likes of “Jill Sandwich” and other such campy dialogue, simply because it was not supposed to be funny.

Even so, I legitimately laughed out loud. Considering this has become something of an in-joke among players who know what I’m talking about, I have a feeling this moment will stand the test of time.

Looks Nice, Plays Decently…

I don’t want to show you too many enemies, because again this is mostly spoiler free, but look at this hallway. This isn’t even one of the more stunning moments in gameplay, I’m just running away a villain that’s behind me. I just wanted this image to prove a point. Let’s face it the only ugly things in this game, are the ones meant to be ugly.

Unless you’re super focused on everything looking absolutely sunning no matter what, you’ll have no problems here. Everything looks good (some wonky enemy designs aside), and it feels good to play Resident Evil Village.

I will say that I believe there are too many “chase” moments. I don’t understand why people can dislike Mr. X or Nemesis, and yet they enjoy running away from these constantly circling abominations. The sisters are a particular pain in the butt as a whole in my opinion. They’re just not needed. We already had one very compelling villain willing to chase you. Did we really need three cronies too?

It’s like out of a really bad anime, and don’t even get me started on the fact the woman in question might as well be Lust from FMA. Actually, that’s an insult to Lust, because I don’t care how well loved she is, I take extreme issue with Lady Dimitrescu, the reasons why will be details in her own separate post, because she is entirely offensive.

There are times aiming can be clunky, and first person view is the absolute last camera I want to be using, but those gripes aside, it’s a solid player experience. I wouldn’t say that it’s the best experience out there. Then again, it’s by far not the worst thing I’ve played either.

First person view is a major gripe for me, though. I just don’t like that style, and it’s becoming more common in horror games. Still, if they wanted to make more first person horror, why not revive the Resident Evil: Survivor series, or something? Remake those games and then add onto them, why not do that?

Why does it need to be in a main series title twice in a row? I suppose ultimately that is what I’m asking. Then again, you could argue Resident Evil 7 set the precedent, and that’s fine I suppose. To me though, it just comes down to personal preference.

Resident Evil 2‘s remake proved that you do not need first person camera angles to make a good Resident Evil game. Anyway, this first person camera thing, it’s just not my style. At least, not for Resident Evil, or horror in general. It pulls me out of the experience more times than not.

Not My Resident Evil…

Honestly, the game is good, it is very fun to play, but it just isn’t a typical Resident Evil title. It doesn’t feel like one, it doesn’t really play like one. Although I did enjoy the game, I won’t be praising it as heavily as I would other games.

The games looses brownie points for me because if you call it “Resident Evil” I expect to feel like I’m playing a “Resident Evil game”. I don’t think that’s unfair to expect.

I feel like this the game you’d get when you let BloodRayne have a very confused orgy with Resident Evil 4 and Outlast, without anyone knowing who the father really is. Aw hell, let’s just throw in uncle Silent Hill and aunt Clock Tower for good measure. See what I’m getting at? The identity of this game is hard to pin down, and it looses a great deal of charm that I’ve come to expect from the Resident Evil series because of that. I’ll explain more about that when I do a review properly.

The enemies don’t feel like something out of a typical Resident Evil game. Rather, it felt more surrealist in scope, or particularly high fantasy horror. Think something along the lines of Alice: Madness Returns. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, there is a time and place for those things. It doesn’t feel like Resident Evil when you include those fantasy elements to the degree Capcom did.

Again, that doesn’t make it a bad game. I just thought they would balance the setting and horror vibes more carefully, that’s all.

A lot of people compare this title to Resident Evil 4, but you know, I just don’t feel like that’s a fitting comparison either. Resident Evil 4 was certainly action packed, but it had a lot of truly creepy moments. This game doesn’t have that same creepy factor that I know and love.

You can’t really compare this to Resident Evil 7 either, because that game was super dark thematically. Way more than previous titles in the franchise. It was gritty, it was grotesque, and it was unapologetic. It glorified being disturbing to general sensibilities. Emotional abuse and mistreatment of the family dynamic runs rampant. Those qualities really upset some people, but at least Resident Evil 7 knew what it was. I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the lines it dared to cross, but at least I can respect it for understanding what it was trying to do.

To me, Resident Evil Village really jumped the shark. It’s not a scary game most of the time. When I play a horror game, I want to be freaked out, or at least mildly unsettled.

Resident Evil Village offered a thematically confusing, high octane experience. I really don’t care for that to such a large degree.

Now, there were moments that were actually unsettling or terrifying, but they were lightning in a bottle moments. They were not commonplace as I would have liked. I so rarely experienced the sort of tension required to be unsettled in the first place.

I wish I could say I loved this thing from start to finish, but I just don’t. It’s a good game, but for a Resident Evil title, it has earned itself a place in my mind of one of the worst in the franchise that I have ever played on the first run-through.

That being said, I felt the same about Resident Evil: Code Veronica and Resident Evil 5 at one point in my life, and they eventually grew on me.

If I pretend it isn’t a Resident Evil title, or at the very least pretend it is a spin-off, then the game is really damn good. Unfortunately, it’s hard to do that. You need a lot of the Resident Evil 7 backstory to even care about what happens to be going on. So let that ideology speak for itself.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are part for the course. I’ll see you next time. Be sure to join our other profiles for more great content.

Be sure to check out some related content, in case you missed it before…

Game Review: Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

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Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. By now, it should come as no surprise to you that I’m a huge fan of the Resident Evil franchise, and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis from 1999 is by far my favorite title in the old series of games. I love this game, and I return to it often on my PlayStation that has seen far better days.

That being said, Resident Evil 3 is not a perfect game. Objectively Resident Evil 2 stands as the far better game, and the reasons why I like Resident Evil 3 are personal to me. Don’t worry, I won’t be speaking through rose tinted glasses here. Just because it is my absolute favorite, that doesn’t mean I don’t see the flaws.

The game has some very clunky elements. Questionable decisions were made that just don’t allow the game to have that same polished feel that its predecessor had. The game is certainly a step sideways rather than forwards when it comes to enhanced gameplay.

So let’s dive in and take a look at this amazing game, and why it fell a little short.

The Burdens of an Acclaimed Reputation

As I explained in my Resident Evil review, the game was a spiritual successor to Sweet Home, and the birth of survival horror as a genre. Due to the huge success, a second game came shortly after, and the fans clamored over all of the wonderful new additions Resident Evil 2 had to offer.

In the late 90’s Resident Evil had proven itself to be a series that was beloved by gamers everywhere, and this made it a hit. With two widely successful games in the series so far, and sales filling their pockets, Capcom knew they had a real gem to work with. A few spin-off games were already in production, but Capcom didn’t want the fans to wait too long. This resulted in another developmental kerfuffle.

They had faced one of these controversies in the past. I’ve highlighted that particular mess with my review of Resident Evil 1.5, which you can read here. The short version is this; Resident Evil 2 had a prototype that was scrapped due to disagreements in the development process.

Ultimately, this resulted in a lackluster game that was never finished. This prototype is loved by a select few, and is known in the fandom as Resident Evil 1.5.

Those still on the team at the time revitalized the game from the ground up. This was the right decision, making Resident Evil 2 the success it stands as today. Upon release, it quickly made incredible sales numbers. Many fans argue it’s the best game in the entire series, and really among the classic games it is very hard to dispute this fact.

Anyway, perhaps these past lessons about rushing the development process hadn’t been learned. Two spin-off titles were being produced at the time, and instead of making an entirely new title, both of these spin-off titles were in the running to take the place as the third official entry in the series.

For clarification, one game was Resident Evil: Nemesis. The other was Resident Evil: Code Veronica.

Quite frankly, I believe this is the core issue with a lot of the problems the game has. It stands to reason that taking a spin-off title and trying to contort it into a main story leaves, much to be desired.

Side Note: A Theory I Have

To be honest though, I don’t think the rush to release a new title was entirely unsound. Even though I do think the game did suffer a bit because of it. I’m sure that the precedent set by the swift release of prior games made the developers and the production staff behind the game feel a true sense of urgency.

Other horror titles were also in production by competing studios at the time, and this likely had a part to play in the decision to rush to a release. The games slipping into the market would promise some very heavy competition. What games you ask? That’s a very good question.

There are a few, but namely Silent Hill comes to mind as one such powerhouse title. It was in production at the time, and saw an earlier release in 1999 as well.

I can only imagine that the knowledge of Konami working to release Silent Hill in a timely manner, and Squaresoft releasing Parasite Eve in 1998 proved to Capcom that their hold over horror games on the PlayStation could be considered fickle at best. It is merely a theory, but I’m sure this contributed to some of the rushed decisions we ultimately see when in regards to Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.

What is important to remember is that while there were many horror titles in the original PlayStation era, few series were as popular, or as widely loved as Resident Evil or Silent Hill.

It is true that Clock Tower comes to mind as one such series that may stand up well against them, but due to gamers already knowing of that franchise as early as 1995, it’s hardly a fitting comparison. It released before the first Resident Evil had even seen the light of day, and Clock Tower already had a strong fan base crossing over from other platforms.

The Chosen Successor

From here on out, I will be calling the prototype to the game the “Nemesis prototype”. Capcom eventually chose their Nemesis prototype to become the third game in the series. It would proudly bear the number three upon it’s front casing, with the titular monster standing menacingly behind the title. When fans saw the game, we were hyped, and we just couldn’t wait to get our hands on it.

The game is known to us now as Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, released in September of 1999.

The issue is, this game was crafted to be a spin-off title first and foremost. It was never built or conceptualized to be a main series title. Originally, it had been handed to a small, and frankly very inexperienced team of people. The sort just getting their feet wet with larger and widely loved titles.

There was little knowledge among the group when it came to the vast lore of Resident Evil as a series. The game was intended to star an entirely new character, attempting to escape the horrors of the city now infested with zombies. However, this creative choice would not stand well against the already released and widely popular Resident Evil 2. The story was just too similar in thematic beats and story telling.

With two games out and set in stone, it was imperative that the next story reflected the already loved and established characters. With stories that hadn’t been entirely finished yet, the world needed building. The environment and threat from Umbrella needed to be extrapolated upon. When the “Nemesis Prototype” was chosen, and it underwent an exclusivity deal with PlayStation, cementing it firmly in place.

From there the wheels began turning into motion. Key plot lines were changed to include Jill Valentine from the first game as the main character for this new title.

She was chosen because she could still escape the city, and tying the story in closely with the events from the second game allowed many of the thematic elements to be kept from the initial prototype. They could still keep them well in-hand, without crapping all over the general premise that the “Nemesis Prototype” started with.

Shinji Mikami stepped in to help, as his previous experience gave him insight as to just how the game should be produced. Ultimately, the game is a mixed bag. Now let’s discuss why.

Story Troubles

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis makes the entire Resident Evil lore a bit messy thematically. Some parts take places before the events of Resident Evil 2. Meanwhile, others take place during the events, and some take place after the events. This makes the game stand as a strange narrative window into almost all of the early Resident Evil plot lines.

Jill is a former S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team member. She is coined by Berry, another teammate as the maser of unlocking.

In the first game, what started as a search for missing Bravo team members went south when monsters chased the group deep into the forest. Taking refuge inside the mansion, sinister truths began to unfold as zombies and other monsters run rampant.

At the start of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis Jill recounts the events. When the team returned to report what they’d seen at the mansion, the truth wasn’t received well. Due to the mishandling of information, and conspiratorial cover-ups, the dangerous T-virus has run rampant in the heart of the city. Now she must survive the hordes of zombies all over again.

Umbrella wasn’t going to go down without a fight. They had a new master plan. The pharmaceutical company gone wrong had a new bio-weapon they’ve been working on. This one is intelligent and deadly. Releasing it into the city streets, they’ve given this abomination one single mission. To eradicate remaining S.T.A.R.S. team members, and this creature will prove to be Jill’s most dangerous opponent yet.

As she calls it “My last chance, my last escape“. She attempts to flee the city, and bring light to these new horrors. During her escape, Jill teams up with a member of Umbrella’s own mercenary unit. A man by the name of Carlos Oliveira.

While it’s true that plot line itself is fairly straightforward, trying to break down exactly when certain events take place in relation to Resident Evil 2 can be a bit difficult. Thankfully though, this only really influences the most die-hard fans. An average player won’t be impacted by the questionable bits of lore buried deep.

Resident Evil has never really had the knack for complicated storytelling, particularly in it’s earliest games. What makes the plot of Resident Evil 2 so good is that it is very cleanly cut and masterfully written upon those surface level ideas. The details embedded into the core of the game need not be considered by the casual fans, and I think that has a lot going for it.

Meanwhile, Resident Evil 3 just can’t hold up as well. It can be too easily compared on a surface level, and to differentiate the game from its predecessor you need those finer details and several times playing the game due to branching paths. I’ll get to that later. For now the only point I want to make here is that most titles in the franchise linger on the surface elements.

That is where most gamers will collect the vast majority of the plot elements, and Resident Evil 3 fails to accomplish surface level storytelling. You need to be willing to dive deep to get the best out of it, and that shouldn’t happen in a zombie shooter.

This game requires that you understand the entire lore of Resident Evil up to that point. The events at the manor play a large role in the backstory. The corruption between Umbrella several key characters from the previous two games can’t be understated either. If you don’t know of these games, you likely have no idea what I’m talking about. That’s my direct point. The devil really is in the details on this one, and that makes Resident Evil 3: Nemesis much harder to simply dive into blindly.

Nemesis or Mr. X Clone?

Welcome to the devil within those details I mentioned above, the main big baddie of the game. This is another point of contention for the game. Nemesis is a clunky bugger on a good day, but we’ve already seen his mechanical style before. He chases the player in key moment of gameplay. Sound like something we’ve seen before? Well, it should because Mr. X does this during Resident Evil 2.

Many times when Nemesis crops up, the player can choose to fight or run away. Some battles are scripted boss battles that can’t be avoided, but there are plenty of times you can just run away too. This is a good time to discuss the multilayered storytelling, and the choose your own adventure style of gameplay. Occasionally, the player will encounter a moment when time slows down and the screen fades a bit to a whiteout.

Two choices will come onto the screen, and you have a few moments to choose one before the game picks for you. Doing nothing will always choose the option highlighted first. These moments don’t always include Nemesis, but it happens often enough with him that this is as good a section as any to discuss it.

I think this is why I love the game so much, and why it is my favorite. The layering of complex choices upon a first or second run of the game are staggering. For example, the first time this happens is an encounter with Nemeses. You can choose to run away, or you can choose to fight him. Here’s the funny thing though, you don’t have to fight him even if you choose the option to do so. Instead, you can run up to the dead body of one of your teammates and collect his identification card so that you don’t have to find yours later.

After grabbing it, you can run inside the police station and avoid the fight. Or if you choose to fight him accidentally, you can just run inside the police station anyway having done nothing.

This sort of complex narrative is done through player interaction, and it builds a very distinct style of gameplay that just can’t be overstated. You have options, often times way more than you think you do. Being creative and thinking about how best to tackle a situation is the core of the Resident evil formula, but here it really thrives.

How you choose to play after you’ve made a clear cut choice matters. It can and often does split the narrative path.

This matters on a personal level, and tactically it offers a far more robust gameplay experience on top of it. Without this key detail, Nemesis would certainly be a Mr. X clone many claim him to be. However, because these events are so often tied to a Nemesis encounters in some way, he’s absolutely not a clone, he stands on his own merits.

Your choices change some of your item pick-ups, bits of the narrative, and other small details. Each choice gives you a lot of tiny tactical options. Therefore, I firmly stand on the opinion that Nemesis is a much more improved villain over all. This is simply because the main story ties to him in a way that Mr. X could never hope for. Mr.X is an on rails experience, and he feels that way. Nemesis is on rails too, but at the time the game released he didn’t feel that way. That’s the difference here.

That being said, I still stand by what I mentioned before too. A casual player will miss out on the value this can offer. This concept is made for a hard core Resident Evil fan first and foremost. If you’re not going to think around the choice you pick, or you can’t think fast on your feet with all of the previous knowledge of Resident Evil games you should have by this point, most of the super small details will be lost on you.

Tank Controls and Dodge Maneuvers

Let’s talk about the new mechanics and the old. You know the game looks good for it’s time, even if it looks a bit trashy nowadays. You also know the soundtrack had to be good, and that’s a fact too. Typewriters and ink ribbons return, as well as all of the other stuff from previous games. There’s not much new here, though now there’s a gun powder system, that’s fairly standard and expected in the franchise now. Back in the day it was really cool, but why gush about something we’ve all been exposed to by this point?

So, we go to the core contentious mechanics that heavily influence the fandom. The Tank controls, and that dodge mechanic from hell. First however, let’s discuss something very few people bring up, in a segment I like to call “zombie eats bookshelf”. See for yourself…

See the zombie? See that bookshelf? He does that every single time! Without fail, I have yet to see him not have a go at the bookshelf instead of me, the fleshy person he should be after. This zombie absolutely loves that shelf. He won’t ever attack me unless I stand there long enough for him to figure out how to turn around. All of the other zombies could be dead, and he’s still playing with that shelf. Every single time, on any play through. He is not the only zombie to favor a wall or some other object either. The zombies are dumb, very, very dumb.

The enemies have never been too bright in these games, but certain ones are regularly more stupid this time around. It’s a real issue in this game because I notice it more in this one than in previous titles. This zombie tends to be the worst of them, which is why he gets the spotlight for most idiotic bullet sponge in the game in my opinion.

Okay, now then, onto take controls. I’ve said this before but tank controls deserve to be a gameplay choice, and I will 100% fight on that hill until the day I die for one simple reason. For me, it makes many games easier to play and enjoy. It doesn’t suit all gameplay styles though, and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis proves this in spades.

Now the tank controls themselves are fine. There’s nothing wrong with them even slightly, however a new gameplay mechanic was added that is without question very problematic. This little piece of unholy garbage is known as the “dodge maneuver”, and it’s just as crappy as you’d think it is by name alone.

What make tank controls fun for me is their predictability in the right sort of space. I know that when controlling my character, it will only run forward in very specific ways, and turn under very direct parameters. Tank controls aren’t a fluid control system. That’s why I like them.

However, the dodge maneuver takes everything I love about tank controls, and it ruins them. First of all, not only is the move clunky, it is very unpredictable. You might as well just send your character directly into the enemy you were trying to avoid. Trying to dodge will likely do it anyway, the thing is useless to anyone who isn’t a seasoned pro at the game.

The maneuver isn’t exactly player friendly, not to mention entirely not needed. That is the maneuver’s only saving grace. You don’t actually need to use it, and you can beat the entire game without having to use it at all.

Yep, you read that right. We don’t need this thing, the good ole fashioned Resident Evil “bait-and-run” works well enough on zombies. It’s the tried and true method. As for Dogs and other dangerous enemies, your old skills in previous games will serve you better than that maneuver.

Stop, look, and listen in every new area. All of the old hallmarks are there, including obvious warnings and attack patterns. Yes, some enemies move faster in this game sometimes, but you can and should be outsmarting or outrunning them. Classic Resident Evil has never been about blasting your way through everything, and it’s not about that here either.

If you ignore the dodging mechanic will you take a few hits? Oh yeah, sure, you will. However, you probably would have taken just as many, if not more hits just by using the damn maneuver anyway. You can still get the best rank in the game, never having used it once. Leave that thing to the top tier speed runners, the rest of us don’t ever need it.

Virtues of Easy Mode

This is the one and only game in the series that I will praise for having an easy setting. In most other Resident Evil games, having an easy mode only makes enemy placement or some puzzles easier to contend with. Enemies in these games are “bullet sponges” nine times out of ten on harder difficulties. Killing certain zombies qualifies as a strategy, and you don’t earn your Resident Evil stripes unless you know what zombies will screw you later. In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, though having an easy mode set up the way it does actually has replay value.

On this mode, you’re geared out hard core. You have a wealth of bullets and ammunition at your disposal, and you can basically blast your way through the entire game. Unlimited ink ribbons and even coveted Magnum rounds are in the first item box you come across along with a slew of other healing items and weaponry.

You don’t have to play by the rules. You can run the early game with that high end weaponry. With unlimited saves, and more firepower than most people would ever know what to do with, this thing isn’t exactly an “Easy Mode” as much as it is a “Fun Mode”.

I’m actually kind of sad not all the games utilize this mentality, because easy mode turns Resident Evil 3: Nemesis into a glorified fun house and there’s something to be said for just toying around in the game every now and then.

In other games, this would be the worst idea possible, but Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has branching paths. Having a mode like this allows even the most casual players to see all of the options without investing too much time into the game. They can just recklessly blast their way through with no loss of difficulty later when they play for real.

This mode is far too easy to prepare you for harder difficulties, so the addition hurts nothing. Enemies basically melt, and your item boxes are bursting with all the equipment you need to thoroughly trounce Nemesis in every encounter you have with him if you’re even halfway competent. If you want the true ending, you still have the play and beat the game on the hard setting with absolutely none of the advantages easy mode gave you.

After playing easy mode, the curve in difficulty will be absolutely astronomical for the unsuspecting player.

As much as I love the typical way to play the game, I’ve got to admit, toying around in easy mode every now and then isn’t half bad either. Yeah, there’s absolutely no real difficulty at all, but it is fun. It has a real place here, and this is the only Resident Evil game where I will praise its inclusion.

Final Thoughts

This is a hard final thoughts to write. It doesn’t come easy to me, because I love this game, but at the same time it is a mess beyond words sometimes. I guess that’s the acknowledgement I need to give it. Let’s do that, then.

Let’s end right back where I started. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Just because Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is my absolute favorite game in the classic series, that doesn’t mean I don’t see the flaws. I do, trust me, they’re everywhere.

The game is a mixed bag. I’ve praised it, I’ve bashed it, and I still can’t help thinking that my not so favorite zombie will still toy with the bookshelf next time I play the game. I’ve got my complaints with the game mechanics, and yeah the story was a bit clunky. Nemesis isn’t perfect, and although the branching paths are my favorite part of the game personally, I can see why people wouldn’t like them.

When you boil it all down, the game can’t possibly stand on the same level of quality as Resident Evil 2. There’s no denying it, I won’t try. The game was a major letdown for a lot of people. They had high expectations, and the game couldn’t live up to them.

Still, it’s not a complete failure either. This game had a lot of things going for it, and it was nice to have Jill back for another main series title. The easy mode is pure fun to play, and the freedom of gameplay and narrative choice surpasses both of its predecessors by far.

That being said, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is the game that I like best. At least when it comes to the classic Resident Evil titles. I can’t urge you to play it, objectively it just isn’t that earth shattering. I refuse to tell you to avoid it, because I like it too much, and maybe someone else will to.

This thing is a very old game. If you you must play every Resident Evil game out there, pick it up and enjoy. If not, that’s okay too. Don’t feel like you’ve lost your chance at a true piece of monumental survival horror history. This game isn’t like the ones that came before it. Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 have the claim to fame, and those are the ones you should pick up if that really matters to you.

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This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll catch you in the next post.

The Second Brick – Thoughts On ACCESSIBLE Gaming

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. In case you don’t know, I’m not just a blogger. I’m also streamer on Twitch along with my good friend Kresh. Together, we’re known as “The Demented Ferrets” and we play games several times a week.

Today I want to talk about something that hits very close to home for me; accessibility as it applies to gaming. This is why I thought it prudent to do another “brick post” today.

This time I’m going to give a bit of background on Dyspraxia, what it is, and how it can get in the way at the worst absolute times. Gaming is certainly one of them, hence the post.

Gamers tend to talk about new improvements while disregarding the old, but both have a place. The important little matter of nuance that has been lost in the greater discussion. This is a complicated topic when it comes to gaming, so please bear with me.

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First though, a brief primer on the subject. Dyspraxia is a form of developmental coordination disorder, also known as a “DCD“. I was born with it. It’s fairly common as I understand it. Although, I don’t have any personal friends who have it. That being said, there are plenty of famous people who do speak about it openly.

Daniel Radcliffe is a noteworthy actor that has spoken publicly about the disorder. He is someone I believe most people will have at least some familiarity with, given his role in the Harry Potter series. That’s why I use him as the example, but there are many more.

Now, before I continue, you need to understand that Dyspraxia has a very wide spectrum. Some people with the disorder are very low functioning. For others it would be very hard to tell they have it at all.

The disorder hinders motor skill coordination in children and adults. It may also affect speech. It is a lifelong condition, there are no cures. Dyspraxia is a fairly distinct disorder and it can affect a person in many ways.

Why does this matter? Well, I have Dyspraxia and I’m a gamer. You kind of need to have good motor skills to play a game. It’s how you handle the controller, so it matters to talk about this kind of thing in the gaming community.

Accessibility is a word thrown around a lot in the gaming sphere, and often times with negative connotations involved with it. You can put your knee-jerking to the side though. I’m not here to bash developers. I’m hear to talk about my love of gaming when in relation to the disorder itself.

Accessibility is not the same as making a game easier, or in any way “watered down”. No, that’s just flat out idiocy. What makes a game accessible is merely just a wider range of options presented to the player. Therefore, when I am speaking of accessibility here, I am speaking from my personal lens.

My lens will not be your lens, even if you have Dyspraxia. Our level of severity regarding certain symptoms may be vastly different. The one thing I want to make clear here, is that gaming is not inherently inaccessible, and we need to think of accessibility in gaming differently.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. The fact that gamers sometimes assume something needs to be added to a game merely to make it accessible at all… well frankly, that just shits all over the discussion in the first place.

It needs to stop, and we need to widen our perspective. Accessibility shouldn’t be a list of “must haves” or “bells and whistles” tacked onto a game as an afterthought. That is not accessibility, that’s being an asshole.

Rather, when we discuss accessibility, we should discuss it’s confines and trappings. Accessibility is always a two way street. Balancing careful planning with a mindfulness to your core player base is the key to success.

An afterthought for the sake of brownie points is never the goal. It should never be the goal. Do not tack on stupid things, just because people scream that they want it. Instead, carefully consider just who your game is made for, first and foremost. Then, after you have that clear idea in mind, think about how you might be able to include others based on that.

Accessibility does not include superglue and a prayer. They should not feel like options slapped onto a game like some sort of deranged clown car. They shouldn’t feel as if they’re bursting out sideways and cockeyed.

For example, when it comes to Dark Souls, I’d say that when it comes to pure gameplay, it is very accessible despite the difficulty. From a point of motor control, I’d say it holds up well. Yes, it’s a hard game. It’s supposed to be.

Just because it’s hard, that doesn’t make it inaccessible inherently in that very specific instance. When you discuss how accessible and game is, it’s all comes down to specific instances.

The game is difficult, but also carefully crafted. You can do battle at a distance, you can plan your attacks. With the multitude of ways that a player can broach fights, I would not say that the gameplay itself is at all “inaccessible” based on motor function. Merely that the game can have a large barrier to entry in other ways.

Under this one lens, it is therefore accessible. However, that is just one lens, and someone may in fact disagree.

Dyspraxia can hinder a person’s ability to participate and function in everyday life. Education, work and gainful employment isn’t always easy for people who have it. A large amount of the time you end up with Dysgraphia or Dyscalculia on top of it. However, that’s an entirely different set of issues, and I won’t be covering those.

What I will say is this. It is imperative that a gamer considers the games they play, and understand the confines of those games. What an accessible MMORPG to me, for example may be different than what you consider to be so.

Final Fantasy XI is a great example of an accessible MMORPG for me. Yes it’s old, and yes it feels a bit dated. That being said, skill in this game relies entirely on knowing what you’re doing. It isn’t exactly a “motor skill” heavy game.

Knowing what the enemies do and how to counteract them is half the battle. There are no quick time events, and there is no jump button. You have no need to handle blinding floor spit aoe’s that you might find in games like WoW, or FFXIV which are also MMORPG’s.

When I thinking of end game raiding, I think of all the mechanics that just turn out to be a pain in the ass. That being said, I call what would be vanilla Rift the pinnacle of end game raiding. The best, and most fun raiding I’ve ever had in a game, for me personally.

This is merely because even if a fight was difficult and AoE’s were tossed all over, I was never just flat out blinded by a boss I was fighting.

For me, the worst offender in this regard is FFXIV. To me, though I do like it, it is very inaccessible as a game in many ways. For me boss battles in FFXIV are not a matter of simply getting good. Sometimes they are a matter of stupidity. Occasionally, I just can’t see what the hell is happening. There is literally too much crap everywhere.

I have golf balls for eyes sometimes, hence the spelling errors that occasionally slip into blog posts. This is also why I tend to use a medium font, and not the “default” that is included in the editing tool.

When I think of a game that isn’t accessible, I think of a game that is stupidly difficult for the sake of it. Or a game that might have had a very small team, and therefore couldn’t hope to factor in gamers such as myself in the first place.

Sometimes artistic choices are enough to make a game somewhat impossible for me to play. Those games have a fan base, and those games don’t include me. This also includes games like Undertale which is primarily black and white, and terrible for me personally.

It took me a year to play and beat the game. This is not to say it isn’t a good game. It is to say the game is not accessible to me as a player. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It just hurts my eyes, and the way you play the game doesn’t help.

However it was such a massive hit that I played it merely to have a perspective upon it myself. That it isn’t a good one personally, doesn’t detract from it objectively. That’s a key distinction to make here.

All in all, people with Dyspraxia are not a monolith. There are a huge list of symptoms, and if you care to look at them, do so understanding that is a very fluid disorder. No one will ever have “all” the qualifiers, because the list is just too large.

So, why does this matter? Well, to me gaming matters. Therefore, my heart can only go out to others with motor skill impairments that inhibit them from fully enjoying a gaming experience the way they might like.

When we play games we see “game over” screens more times than an average player. Sometimes, these are just for dumb reasons. Perhaps a boss doesn’t choreograph what it’s doing very well. Perhaps in games that don’t allow you to turn off quick time events, you kiss your butt goodbye on those several times over.

However, if you don’t have some sort of motor impairment you might think we’re just bad gamers, or that we’re just flat out stupid. It’s not that, not really. It’s just that how we experience the game can and will be different from yours, and our ability to play the game reflects that.

This is why I actually love the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series of games. Particularly the ones with tank controls. In my latest review of Resident Evil 2 from 1998, I brought the matter up directly by saying this:

If you think tank controls absolutely suck, you’re in for a bit of bad news. They’re just as clunky as you recall them to be. Now, I’ve never had an issue with tank controls myself. For my personal situation, tank controls actually make the games easier to play, not harder.

There is a very direct reason for that. Given my Dyspraxia, which is a motor skill disorder, having limited movement allowed me to have better control over the character. I didn’t need to be careful of subtle movement, because the characters only move in very particular ways. When it comes to my thumb being clumsy, the game just didn’t pick that up. This meant I could pay closer attention to my environment, and not what my hands did of their own accord without my noticing. While I love tank controls, I do understand that most people hate them.

For me personally, it’s not a downside. Objectively speaking though, it very well could be. I won’t overlook that just because of my nostalgia or personal situation. “

If you want to read a few of my reviews for the resident evil franchise, you can do so here:

See, this is what I mean by we need to broaden our idea of what accessibility really means. Tank controls actually help me. I’d love if more games have them, and that’s why I love a lot of retro titles. Do I expect them? Absolutely not, but I would very much like to have them.

To me, they would be an accessibility that would improve gameplay.

The point I am trying to make is that this whole accessibility discussion has vastly jumped the shark in many ways. It is true that not all games will be accessible to all people, and it will be impossible to attempt to make it that way.

However, it is also true that using that as a blind excuse is just pure laziness. Nuance matters, and we’re starting to lose that.

Final Thoughts

If you are experiencing trouble as a gamer, I have just one bit of advice. Before you start pounding on the gong of accessibility, take a breath and look at all that gaming has to offer. There will be a game or two that will suit you. There will be a genre that allows you to love gaming.

Once you find those games, you can open your eyes to the other games like it, and the much deeper world that gaming has to offer. Instead of just focusing on the usual complaints, we need to think out of the box. It’s better for everyone, and that’s the whole point of accessibly in the first place. To reach as many people inclusively as possible.

It isn’t just about controller layouts and game overlays. It’s not just about including new add-ons, fonts, colors, keybinds, or multi-lingual subtitles. It’s about the larger scope of the experience we have as gamers.

Sometimes it’s about playing the inaccessible games to understand what needs to change, instead of what we simply want changed.

We need to be discussing ports and revivals of older titles. We need to consider that there are already a wealth of games suited for us that might need to be brought back onto current software. Perhaps some of these titles need to be brought back to life or brought over to other platforms.

Perhaps a gamer can’t play a Mario or Zelda title on a Nintendo Switch, but could play that very same title with a different sort of controller found only on PC, or by a third party company. We need to be discussing this too, and look at all of our options.

We need for developers to be our partners, not our enemies. We need fellow gamers to hear us out before biting our heads off.

These are the sorts of discussions we need to be having. These are the ones that should pervade the larger narrative. When we think of accessibility, need to consider tank controls and other methods of control in general too.

Hopefully you love gaming as much as I do. Hopefully I’ve given you something to chew on. Perhaps the next time the word accessibility comes up in context with gaming, you’ll look out of the box too.

If you’re an aspiring developer, or one from a huge studio, reach out to gamers. Sometimes that alone is enough. Nine times out of ten, we’re okay that a game doesn’t have something, if there’s a good reason not to include it. Knowing why a feature isn’t in a game is sometimes enough for us.

Sometimes just being talked to, so we’re included, is all that we need. Sometimes all we want is to be heard. We don’t want to feel useless, or that we’re just shouting into the void.

Communication is the first step, and it’s one that needs to continue being made, so yeah… do that developers, really. That first step will be an answer to a great many problems. After that, creativity is your foremost tool. Use it, and empower all of us.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets.

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

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Game Review: Resident Evil 2 (1998)

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Hey guys, it’s Kernook here, back with another review for one of my favorite franchises. As I said in my Resident Evil 1.5 review, the series had a rocky footing when it came to making the squeal for the smash hit that the first Resident Evil became.

After only a month of the first game’s release they knew they’d need to make another. Production began, but the prototype was scrapped, and this failed prototype is known by fans as Resident Evil 1.5 You can read my review of that prototype here…

In spite of the failure, the staff working on the team picked up the pieces and set to work again. This time, they ended up creating a game that they knew fans would absolutely love. So much attention to detail was poured into every aspect of this game, and Resident Evil 2 stands as a fan favorite for several very good reasons.

It was everything we could have asked for in a sequel to the franchise. Literally, it was by far everything we loved cranked up and polished to the max. It deified logic now that I think about it. This game was full to bursting with great content, almost like a gift to the fans. A labor of love that without a doubt many people recall fondly.

There were more weapons, new characters with compelling narratives, better graphics and core improvements to game design. Ultimately this made Resident Evil 2 a much beefier gameplay experience than its predecessor, and it blew fans right out of the water.

So, lets dive into this game and take a look. There is a lot to unpack here, and I really want to do this masterful game justice. First, we should begin with a bit of history…

Topping Charts

It might not look like much by today’s standard, but don’t let that fool you. It was truly a landmark title for it’s time. Making it’s way to the PlayStation here in america in 1998, later it hit the Nintendo 64. Over time, several other ports followed. A lot of people were able to get their hands on it, and this likely had a lot to do with its popularity.\.

For younger fans of the series who may not recall those days, you need to remember that survival horror was a fairly new genre to console gamers. Resident Evil had given us fans this rare taste of what a horror game could be, and it had become nearly iconic among us as a result.

So, when Resident Evil 2 entered the scene, we gobbled up copies like a zombie horde after fresh meat. We were clamoring for more, and it delivered in spades. It’s no surprise that the game topped the charts when it came to sales, because it was fresh, and new. There was so little competition when it came to strong horror titles, this gave the game a distinct edge in the market.

The game beat out Super Mario 64, and Final Fantasy 7 when it came to gross profit margins and sales. That’s how popular this game was. Then again, survival horror was a scarce thing. There were platformers and role-playing games aplenty.

At the time, there weren’t many games like the Resident Evil franchise. I attribute these sales to that fact alone. The fact that Resident Evil 2 was just a good game comes secondarily in my personal opinion. It’s certainly a key factor, but let’s face it. That wasn’t the only thing going for it.

It’s easy to beat out other games if you can do the following:

  • Have one good game in the franchise that’s well known already.
  • Appeal to a mass and under served audience.
  • Have absolutely little in the way of solid competition for the genre of game you’re selling.

Resident Evil 2 had all of these factors at play, and that can’t be overlooked. On to of that, the game just looked awesome, and for graphic fanatics you really couldn’t do better than this in the horror genre at the time.

This is a zombie from the opening scene is a great example. It freaked me out for sure.

When fan saw this thing come shuffling out of an alleyway, it was amazing. The upgrades to the zombies and new additional enemies proved to make the hype for the series reach a new all-time high.

To make a very bold statement, Resident Evil 2 was a nearly perfect game, and a therefore a solid addition to the franchise.

Nearly Perfect, Really? Yeah… It Really Was…

Resident Evil 2 improved on the standard formula of the first game, but it didn’t forget what made it so well loved in the first place. It changed nothing that would hinder the experience, only enhance it.

Director Hideki Kamiya and producer Shinji Mikami, hadn’t been able to see eye-to-eye on the original prototype, and this lead to a falling out of sorts. Hideki Kamiya took full creative control of the game after that, and this was ultimately the right choice if the popularity and sales are any metric to go by.

Plus, when it comes to Shinji Mikami, the man has interesting visions and all around bad execution when it comes to the Resident Evil series sometimes. It just isn’t his forte, but that’s a side rant. I’ll get to in other games, when that actually matters.

Anyway, with Hideki Kamiya at the helm the team got focused and things got done. A masterful story was crafted, and the world of Resident Evil stepped outside of the confines of a mansion, and out into the city.

The Plot Thickens. Coagulated Blood, Anyone?

Resident Evil 2 takes place about two months after the events at the mansion. The surviving S.T.A.R.S. members have done all they can, but the city can’t be saved. It’s come down with a bit of an infestation, and these buggers mean business. No exterminators are going to get rid of this viral mess.

Zombies have overtaken the city. Most of the residents are doomed to die in this hell, but if you’re lucky you’ll survive. You get to play as one of two characters.

The first is Leon Kennedy, a rookie police officer suffering his first day on the job. Today is just not a good day for him at all. The Second is Claire Redfield, a young woman in search of her older brother, Chris Redfield of the first game. To see the full game, you’ll have to play both of them.

These two characters have just arrived in the city, only to be greeted by carnage and zombie hordes. They meet entirely by chance, but they’re both happy to see a friendly face that isn’t trying to eat them. Choosing to stay together, they plan to head to the police station.

Leon gives Claire a gun to protect herself and things are going good. Well, everything except for the zombie in the back seat of a car, and a bitten truck driver losing control of his vehicle. This, of course, ends in the typical explosion you’d expect.

They still make it to the station, though how you get there depends on the character your playing. Once meting up again, they decide it’s best to just leave the city. Chris isn’t there anyway, and by the looks of it the little matter of the zombie horde isn’t going away any time soon.

The story is simple, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. The concept of escaping the city is enough on its own.

We’ve seen it in horror films time and time again, but getting to play through that concept in a game was an exciting addition to the format. It fits all of the typical troupes we’ve come to love.

Added to this are the characters themselves. Again, most of them have simple stories, nothing too complicated. The survivors are few and far between. Some are terrified, others are deranged, and a few have plans that go beyond the narrative scope of the game itself. Obviously, this leaves more questions than answers. However, a good horror title isn’t going to coddle you.

Resident Evil 2 certainly doesn’t hold your hand when it comes to these characters or their personal stories. There are some things you’ll just have to figure out on your own. Occasionally you will have control of two of the side characters, but those moments are carefully planned out.

Sherry Birkin and Ada Wong are wonderful additions to the game. They never seemed out of place, and their inclusions help to enrich the greater Resident Evil universe. Now, a nice thing about Ada Wong is that there are files in the first game to compliment her entry here.

It’s nice to have characters that are establish in the narrative, and Ada fills this role wonderfully.

Furthermore, the characters are edged up a notch by their voice actors. The acting is the game can still be hokey at times, but it’s a leap above what it used to be. It never takes itself too seriously, but it no longer feels like a campy horror movie made with bad actors and comedy that feels like it was written by a five year old.

Instead, this game finds levity in hopeful optimism, well placed snarky comments, and the occasional bad joke to lighten the mood.

When I think of great story telling and narrative clarity, I look no further than Resident Evil 2 as the benchmark for this series. It’s by far one of the best in this regard, it certainly feels satisfying even if it doesn’t entirely flesh out every conclusion, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

I never felt cheated out of an ending, or key character moments. I never felt as though the game refused to give me something meaningful just due to pure laziness. Every unanswered question felt like the correct choice. Either because we didn’t need to have it, or because the answer wouldn’t have been fulfilling anyway.

Some things are just better left unsaid. The game understood where the line was, never crossing it.

One last thing I want to mention, Leon and Clare have two scenarios each, and they take place basically right on top of each other.

Gameplay: A Mixed Bag

A great story isn’t the only thing that matters in a game. It needs to have good mechanics to back it up. There is a reason I say the game was almost perfect, or nearly perfect. Perfection is an impossible standard, and this game did have a few flaws.

Disregarding this would just be idiocy. The game is wonderful, and I’m a huge fan. However, setting down the fan goggles is absolutely required for a proper review. So, I’m about to do that. Don’t chase me with your pitchforks. I love the game too, but there are a few situational problems. No matter how slight they may be, it’s worth talking about them.

One of my small complaints is the lack of differences between the two main characters. They may have entirely different stories, but they feel the same to play. In the first game there were differences in gameplay based on Jill’s ability to pick locks, and Chris’s ability to carry a lighter and take more hits from enemies.

I feel none of that between Leon and Claire. The character specific weapons are nice, but this aspect is shallow when compared to it’s predecessor. It’s the story that makes up for this lack of gameplay.

While we’re still on the topic of characters, let’s discuss a new addition to the game.

Referencing back to the back to the scenarios I mentioned above, if you pick up certain items on an “A” scenario, you may not be able to get that item on a play through of the opposite character’s “B” scenario. You need to play both to get the real ending.

Depending on what scenario you play, and in what order, your starting location changes. Key items will be switched around. Enemy placement will dramatically be altered. There will be unique cut scenes to watch, and a new enemy to face. This adds replay value and a bit of added strategy.

Sadly, it’s not as much as you might think…

Fans praise this aspect of the game. I do as well, but I think we often over hype it. At the time it was genuinely a great addition, and a lot of fun. Still though, I think we place this aspect on a pustule far too often. It was good, but the popularity of this addition is almost legendary. That’s almost a bridge too far.

The new enemy added is okay, but he’s stupidly easy to outsmart. He’s all brawn, no brains. Intimidating when he first comes on screen, and then flat out annoying after you have an idea of how he works. He’s also the base idea for another enemy that shows up in the next Resident Evil title, and in my opinion the concept was done way better in that one. However, I’ll speak about that when I get to it.

All in all, the changes are solid here. They’re good choices, and you can tell they were made with care. They don’t hinder the standard Resident Evil format we all came to love from the first game. This was a boon for us. We could dive right into the game without any issue whatsoever.

All of the old mechanics we’ve come to know make a complete return. This includes fixed camera angles, tank controls, puzzle solving, exploration, healing and item management. This is the mixed bag part…

If you think tank controls absolutely suck, you’re in for a bit of bad news. They’re just as clunky as you recall them to be. Now, I’ve never had an issue with tank controls myself. For my personal situation, tank controls actually make the games easier to play, not harder.

There is a very direct reason for that. Given my Dyspraxia, which is a motor skill disorder, having limited movement allowed me to have better control over the character. I didn’t need to be careful of subtle movement, because the characters only move in very particular ways. When it comes to my thumb being clumsy, the game just didn’t pick that up. This meant I could pay closer attention to my environment, and not what my hands did of their own accord without my noticing. While I love tank controls, I do understand that most people hate them.

For me personally, it’s not a downside. Objectively speaking though, it very well could be. I won’t overlook that just because of my nostalgia or personal situation.

There is a ton of backtracking as well. If you hate that sorry, you’re stuck with it. Thankfully the game got really creative with backdrops and surprise zombies, so it’s not nearly as mindless as it was in the first game.

Puzzles are incredibly elaborate and diverse. Some are super easy, like this one. You just push statues. It’s almost a no brainier. Not all of them are this easy though.

In some places they’re insanely hard, and this is one of my favorite things. That said, they can be even more unforgiving than in the first game. I know many people who complained about some of the puzzles being too obtuse, and I can understand why some people would think that.

Although I loved the puzzles, some of them felt very out of place then, and still do to this day. That detail took me out of the atmosphere more than once, and ripped me out of horror I was trying to experience.

Item management is just as much a pain in the neck as always. This is to ramp up tension of course, and to make you think strategically. This was one of my greatest downfalls in the first game, and it was my downfall in this game too. As a new player deaths were attributed to my lack of item management in key places. Nowadays, I have it down to a science.

All-in-all, the gameplay was everything we needed it to be. It didn’t add an insane amount of new things, and that’s fine. Too much would have taken away from the simplicity of just enjoying a zombie title. Since there wasn’t a huge learning curve, we could enjoy the story which was spectacular.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics were a step above it’s predecessor, which is why it was impressive to look at for its time. The rendered backdrops were more detailed, even once compressed onto a disk. While the Nintendo 64 port couldn’t live up to its PlayStation counterpart in terms of visual aesthetic the pure novelty of playing the game on the system alone was enough to be noteworthy.

Nowadays unless you like retro graphics, it will likely look like crap. The only thing to do is blame the flow of time and pure advancement.

I’ve said this many times, but the sound design on any retro Resident Evil game is paramount to gameplay in a very important way that other games don’t suffer from. Due to the fixed camera angles and zombies loitering around just off screen, it is absolutely paramount that monsters give sound cues.

They enemies need to highlight where they might be. If you can’t see them, you’re as good as dead. This is the key to that new enemy I mentioned above, and this aspect is even more important for him.

He will chase you through certain places. Knowing where he is, and what he’s doing is fundamental. It’s going to be the difference between life and death during hard mode on your first play through. Even if you’ve played the remake, don’t underestimate him. With ammo conservation still playing a heavy role, new players are better left to just leave this thing alone.

Thankfully the sound engineers working on the game understood this, and the sound quality is top notch.

The Nintendo 64 port actually had a better sound quality, which is an odd little quirk. It’s a neat little claim to fame, though. At least that made up for the lacking visuals of the system’s hardware and the need for even more compression than was on the disk.

Final Thoughts

Resident Evil 2 is a very solid entry to the series, and arguably the best of the first three named titles out there. Now, as I mentioned in passing in recent years we received a remake of the game, complete with high definition graphics, great atmosphere, and all the gore you could hope for in a zombie game.

That being said, fans shouldn’t abandon the retro version of the title. The remake is wonderful, and it will receive its own review. However, it lacks one thing that I find fundamental to the franchise.

Charm… Yeah, you read that correctly. It lacks charm. All of the older games, and the remake of the first game all have something charming about them. There are these the little moments that make you smile, even if it’s for stupid reasons.

As games become more realistic we gain a lot in the horror factor, but we lose a bit of that charming, and sometimes silly, poetic atmosphere. That’s the trade off for horror of the current era, and it is to be expected.

The Resident Evil 2 remake is more gritty, not just in the realistic look of the zombies, but in every single way. That’s amazing if you just want horror, but if you want the far more optimistic story telling found in the retro titles you won’t find it in the remake. Instead, you’re going to get a lot of cursing, and darker dialogue.

To me, this is why the remake cannot fundamentally be held on the same sort of stage that it’s retro equivalent stands upon. They’re very different experiences, and they have to be treated that way.

I love the original Resident Evil 2 because of the characters, they have such optimism. With an almost foolish desire to save people and a near gentleness especially when it comes to Claire. To me, that’s what makes this game so beloved in the first place.

It’s not just the horror, it’s the heart. To me that defining factor makes this version of the game the definitive Resident Evil 2 experience.

If you call yourself a fan of this series at all, you should play this version at least once…

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets.

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

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Resident Evil Retrospective Review

Hey guys, it’s Kernook here. Let’s enter into the realm of survival horror for a spell, shall we? This will be a retrospective review of Resident Evil. This review will only cover the original black box release of Resident Evil 1, for the PlayStation.

This review will not cover the directors cut, or the duel shock release of the game. That’s for two reasons. Firstly, the soundtrack was changed in both of those versions, and not entirely for the better. Secondly, even though I do have both the director’s cut and the original black box release, I usually don’t play the director’s cut version.

Furthermore, this review does not cover the Resident Evil remake. That’s a topic for a different day. It requires it’s own separate review. Today, I’m just going to be covering the original game. There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s get started.

Resident Evil as a franchise will always be very near and dear to my heart. In order to understand why, I need to give you a glimpse of my childhood. My personal upbringing with gaming isn’t necessarily something that should be emulated.

In 1989, I was born with Dyspraxia and Dysgraphia, which are non-curable motor-skill disorders. They’re also kind of weird, and when I was a child there was no good way to handle the disorders. Experts in the field of medicine sort of just shrugged it off. They weren’t entirely sure how to help alleviate the symptoms, which are a long list in and of themselves. Look it up if you want to, just know that not all of them apply to everyone. There is a spectrum.

What worked for me, probably as a fluke was incredibly lucky. I just want to make that clear. I don’t advocate for buying games for children who aren’t ready to handle the context of that game. Furthermore, I believe it’s up to parents to police their child’s gaming habits. It’s not for the media or the public to decide.

That being said, as a child I spent a lot of my time playing video games. I belonged to a family of gamers. My earliest memories contain eight-bit and sixteen-bit images splashed across the television screen. Sonic and Mario were my bread and butter. We were lucky to have a Sega Genesis, a Nintendo, and a Super Nintendo in the house.

Our gaming library wasn’t particularly vast. Thankfully, we had a large and active gaming family. My bother, older cousins, and even my mom, played video games. We often traded games and systems, to experience the best of all worlds. The medium of gaming was everywhere for me.

When I think about it now, playing the Resident Evil franchise in the late 90’s was one of the best experiences I could have had as a child. It helped a lot for my personal and particular problems. So, from here on out, when I talk about the franchise, just keep that. I do have a positive personal bias towards the franchise as a whole, and I won’t disregard that.

The Beginning: Sweet Home Mutates into Resident Evil

Any gamer that was around for the 90’s knows that it was a very experimental time in gaming history. Prior to the 90’s, playing games with 3D animation was laughable, expensive, and to casual players it was unheard of.

Frankly, 2D gaming was cheaper to develop, more accessible to gamers, and pandered to a wider family-style audience. In general, 2D gaming was just the commonality at the time. Occasionally computers offered a stepping stone into 3D gaming, but even that was limited at first. A lot of games that looked 3D weren’t. They just looked that way, using clever techniques and tricks of the eye.

Sony changed that with the release of the PlayStation. The powerhouse of a system opened doors for developers, and allowed gamers a glimpse into what fully realized worlds might look like.

Capcom, a Japanese video-game developer, had the bold idea of bringing one of their classic games over to the new console. Its name was “Sweet Home“. Now, here’s a little food for thought. Sweet Home was a title for the family entertainment system. It was made in 1989, so everything about it was made with the older platform in mind. Bringing it into a 3D space was going to be a monumental effort. The game was a fusion, containing both RPG and horror elements. Knowing that this would not be an easy task, Capcom asked Shinji Mikami to help them with the project.

To say that the project was a massive undertaking would be selling the matter short. Everything was against them in this effort. Sweet Home was a complex game with multiple story lines, and very intricately created puzzles. They couldn’t just up-heave the general concept, and then proceed to cram it into a 3D environment.

That surely would have been a complete disaster. Thankfully, that’s not what they did.

Instead, the ideas and themes of Sweet Home took on a life of their own. Eventually, from the ashes of all of those great ideas, a new game was born. It was known as Bio Hazard in Japan.

Unfortunately, there was another problem. They couldn’t use the name. A DOS game had already registered that name for a different brand, so Capcom couldn’t use it.

Capcom eventually re-named the title, and it became Resident Evil. The game, in a word, was masterful. There were plenty of horror games to play at the time, but none of them were quite like this one. With the release of Resident Evil, so too, came the birth of survival horror.

An Aside: A Plethora of “You Died” Screens

I was young when I began my Resident Evil journey. The first game I ever beat on my own was Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Prior to that, I didn’t have the skills required to beat the games. I tried, of course, but I always needed help. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis had a freakishly low skill requirement on easy mode.

With tons of weapons and ammo in the item box at the start of the game, it’s actually pretty difficult to die. Well, I mean, unless you just stand there and let zombies eat you.

As a general rule, survival horror is not an easy genre to play. It’s generally made for adults. It’s not aimed at it kids, nor should it be. I played the genre as a child, but I had an older brother that was usually with me. Forcing myself to focus on cognitive puzzle solving, basic game controls, memorizing maps, and recalling enemy layouts were some of the hardest things I ever had to do in a game. This is why I say that playing these games helped me more than I ever could have perceived as a child. They were foundational tools for many of the skills I became able to do after holding a controller and thinking outside of the box.

After playing Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on easy, normal, and finally hard difficulty, I was able to go back to the older games in the genre and play them on my own. Before that, I usually never made it beyond the mansion in Resident Evil 1, or the police station in Resident Evil 2. Before that, poor inventory management, terrible ammo conservation, and a lack of ink ribbons usually did me in.

Entering the Nightmare

Entering into Resident Evil, a bazaar string of murders runs rampant. Victims are being eaten alive.

Resident Evil features a fairly typical story. A rescue mission is taking place. With a string of murders running rampant across the fictional Raccoon City, it’s up to the police to find out what is really going on. In response to this, the Special Tactics and Rescue Service, or “S.T.A.R.S.” have been sent to look into the issue. Having been sent deep into the mountains, the first team has gone missing.

When starting the game, players get to choose between two characters. Both of them are S.T.A.R.S officers. One is a man by the name of Chris Redfield. The other is a woman by the name of Jill Valentine. Each one has their own story, and it serves the player to go through each scenario at least once.

No matter what character you pick, you have a few not-so-simple tasks:

  • First, you must find the missing Bravo S.T.A.R.S. team members. At the very least, you must find out what happened to them.
  • Secondly, you must find out what has been happening deep in the Arklay Mountains just northwest of Raccoon City.
  • Thirdly, you have to survive this ordeal and come out of it alive.

The opening cinematic is the same for both characters. You find out that the other team’s helicopter has been heavily damaged, and no one is around. A pack of deranged zombie dogs attack the group. In a desperate attempt to survive the attack, the alpha team members make a mad dash to the nearby mansion. They hide inside, where they believe it will be safe.

Instead, they’ve walked headlong into the nightmare. The a virus has spread throughout the entire mansion, infecting everything from humans, dogs, plants, spiders, and more.

The Basics

The mansion itself is a labyrinth of narrow hallways. A maze that needs to be traversed bit by bit, carefully and with an eye out for the looming dangers.

Tight camera angles and tank controls keep the player on their toes. Now, I’ll say this, a lot of people complain about tank controls. In this current era of gaming, I agree they can be a bit clunky. That said, I never had an issue with them. In fact, they were almost second nature to me. For me, I had more of a problem with inventory management and trying not to use up all my ammo.

The game-takes small cues from Sweet Home, Alone in the Dark, and other story driven horror titles. With limited inventory and never enough ammo, players will be forced to explore many areas to find the items they need in order to progress.

Certain keys have to be acquired, and backtracking will happen more than once. This was a risky design decision, but I’m glad it works so well. Typewriters for saving and item boxes for inventory management will be utilized often. They have been carefully placed in areas that players visit often.

On the topic of item boxes and typewriters, they are instrumental in playing Resident Evil. These are core game mechanics across most of the titles. Space on your character is limited, and it is imperative that you plan accordingly. This includes saving your game. In order to save your game, you require ink ribbons. You’ll usually find them in small batches.

Every time you save your game, it costs an ink ribbon. The supply is limited and on the first play-through you might find yourself running out. The ink ribbon is a doubled edged sword, though. Higher end game rankings require faster completion times, fewer saves, and less healing items.

Thanks to constant puzzle solving, there is a sense of adventure woven into the narrative. To be honest, it couples nicely with the campy dialogue and nods to classic horror as a genre.

Nowadays, the original Resident Evil might be a bit too campy, but I still enjoy it. I think it works well, given the graphics of the era.

Newcomers need to remember that the PlayStation era was before high fidelity graphics were even possible in gaming. In my opinion, the goofy dialogue only adds to the charm. In some ways, it has even helped to age the game. Back in the day there were some parts of the game I had a hard time taking seriously. Nowadays, I think it’s actually impossible. I feel like everyone has that moment when they want to laugh out loud at least once. For me, that reason alone makes it an experience worth playing.

The Combat

Really, there is only one form of combat in Resident Evil. You can either aim your gun and shoot, or choose to run away. Both options have their place, and it’s important to know what option suits the situation best.

Skilled players can do no “save, knife only runs”, but that isn’t something average players will master. Certainly not on their first try.

Learning the contours of the mansion will help you to make these all too important decisions. You can’t murder every enemy in the entire game. Your ammo is limited, and this key fact is what defines the survival horror genre. Well, that, and the tank controls for earlier titles.

Your job is simply to survive by any means necessary. Choosing a live-and-let-live approach comes in handy inside wide open rooms. Outmaneuvering slower enemies will conserve ammunition. Narrow hallways will require a more aggressive approach.

Due to the stationary camera angles and tank controls, sometimes enemies will be hiding just off camera. The developers planned for that, giving every monster in the game some sort of audio cue. They were careful to make every sound distinct and clear against the ambient music of the soundtrack. Zombies have their moans, dogs growl, hunters make a clicking noise whenever they walk, and so on.

Even boss fights like Yawn have carefully placed cues to warn you about what kind of attack is coming. In general, careful players can usually avoid getting attacked by a monster off screen, all they need to do is wait and listen.

If you take damage from an enemy, you’ll have to rely on herbs and first aid sprays to heal you. They’re in short supply, and every time you get hit you put yourself into a sticky situation. Your character will begin to hold their side if the injury is bad enough. If they continue to take damage, they’ll begin to limp slowly, and this makes avoiding enemies difficult.

There are several boss battles, of course. Yawn is a battle you face twice. With the right weapons and preparation, they’re never too hard. If you conserve your ammo properly the bosses shouldn’t be your largest threat. In fact, I’d say that most boss battles in this game aren’t that big of a threat at all.

Instead, I’d say that forgetting where you might have left a zombie or two is a much bigger problem. Backtracking after a battle can be a death sentence. Especially if you’re low on ammo and healing items.

Final Thoughts

The first Resident Evil game is a true classic among the survival horror genre. It isn’t insanely difficult, but it doesn’t forgive reckless new players either. The game has a learning curve, and it expects you to rise above every puzzle, enemy, and trap that it gives you.

The game is atmospheric in the best ways, utilizing visual assets in a way few games could back then. The musical sound design is flawless in the original black box edition of the game, ambient and often beautiful. The musical quality is abysmal when it comes to the directors cut, or the duel shock releases of the game. Sadly, that’s the trade-off you make if you can’t get a copy of the original.

The voice acting is campy at best, embarrassingly bad at worst, but a lot of that dialogue became a touchstone for gamers around the world. People attend anime and gaming conventions cosplaying as the characters. Fan fiction flooded websites, and fan art followed soon after.

Best of all, nowadays speed-runners collectively band together to experience the game, giving rise to an entirely new audience of survival horror fans. All of that cannot be understated.

Obviously, with the original game being remade, we got to visit the mansion once more with the Resident Evil remake for the GameCube in 2002. Many prefer the remake over the original. I certainly do as well. The remake eventually received a PC port, which is by far the most visually impressive way to enjoy the game.

That said, returning to the original game every now and then is vastly important to gaming history. Survival horror as a genre would be completely different than it is today without the original Resident Evil.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

Patreon Supporters

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Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.


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