It looks as if Deep Silver is going to remove a gory bikini bust that was part of the Dead Island: Riptide collector’s edition. Which is hardly unexpected, but disappointing. Not because I want one. I don’t. It’s pretty gross. I wouldn’t know what to do with it. I still don’t know what to do with my Connor statue, Bioshock 2 soundtrack LP, or pewter Half-Life 2 box. What am I going to do with some icky horror paraphernalia? I’m a horror fan — more on that in a moment — but not the type who wears it on his shelves. My Night of the Living Dead DVD sits inconspicuously between my Napoleon Dynamite DVD and O Brother Where Art Thou? DVD. Horror is just a genre. More on that in a moment, too.
But I find it disappointing that Deep Silver is caving on this issue for two important reasons. No, not those reasons. I’m going to be mostly serious.
After the jump, two important things. Not the ones you think I’m thinking of. Continue reading →
Before I answer whether Zombie U (I refuse to call it ZombiU) is the best multiplayer game of the year, I am contractually obligated to talk about the single-player. Which is kind of a shame, because I couldn’t care less about the single-player, despite that it’s old-school bullet-by-bullet survival horror in the tradition of the original Alone in the Dark. It’s also is a bit like Dark Souls in that you’re gradually pushing forward into scary terra incognita, unlocking shortcuts to new areas, frequently punished by a permadeath system that means you can’t get too attached to your skill upgrades. You get to explore this world six bullets at a time, because that’s how many bullets you get each time you respawn with a new character. Six. You’ll be using the cricket bat a lot. How very English in a smarmy Shaun of the Dead way.
After the jump, isn’t this one of those new-fangled Wii U games? Continue reading →
As boys continue to make zombie movies, the female characters will continue to be boy fantasies. Danai Gurira’s character in Walking Dead, Michonne, consists mostly of tight pants and a samurai sword. Even Laurie Holden as Andrea confesses that she loves the thrill of the kill, which we already knew from how quickly she plunges knives into zombies. The most recent [Rec] movie exists only to show a woman in a wedding dress taking a chainsaw to a zombie, even if it’s a bit more than the actress can handle. In the Canadian thriller The Day, Ashley Bell (one of two reasons to see The Last Exorcism*) plays one of the most bad-ass zombie killing chicks you’ll see in any zombie movie with or without zombies, and she makes it worthwhile sticking around for the final scene. Michonne wishes she was that bad-ass.
But what kind of bad-ass zombie killing chick do you get when a woman makes an arthouse zombie movie? The answer to that is April in the very Scottish horror movie The Dead Outside, directed by Kerry Anne Mullaney. April is a closed book behind her needlepoint, her porcelain figures, her hunting rifles, and her steely blue eyes. This last character trait is the exclusive and invaluable contribution of Sandra Louise Douglas, an actress with only this film to her credits. She plays April with a raw unfocused anger and she does a remarkable job revealing something else as the movie progresses.
You have to watch The Dead Outside closely and you have to listen carefully. If the quiet sound mix isn’t bad enough, the Scottish accents can make the dialogue impenetrable to American ears. The cinematography is deliberately dreary. A nighttime scene is, sure enough, shot at night. And it’s slow because it’s about the relationship between the characters rather than April’s prowess with firearms. But if you want a new take on chicks killing zombies, The Dead Outside reveals that a tight outfit can’t hold a candle to the fire in Douglas’ fierce bright eyes.
The Dead Outside is available on Netflix instant watch.
* The other is Caleb Landry Jones who, as far I know, has never killed a zombie.
Blood of the Zombies is one of those “turn to page 24 to go left, turn to page 69 to go right” choose-your-own adventure books. It’s a recent volume in a series called Fighting Fantasy that’s been around since the 80s. And now it’s on the iPad, where it’s exactly as dated and tedious as you’d think it would be.
I don’t mind the concept of a choose-your-own adventure book. In fact, I love the idea of talented writers using prose to let you pick your way through an adventure. But Blood of the Zombies is missing the “talented writer” part of the equation.
Thanks to English’s gender neutral second person pronoun, you don’t know whether the lead character is a dude or a chick. I guess the idea is that you’re supposed to associate with this graduate student of the supernatural who travels Europe asking random bystanders if they’ve seen any vampires or werewolves. He or she is fortuitously kidnapped by a mad scientist who’s turning people into zombies. That’ll make quite the thesis.
While paging through text, you’ll occasionally roll a D6 to tick zombies off a list based on what weapon is in your inventory. You’ll forage through stuff, most of which is useless. You’ll eventually rescue a damsel in distress and meet a few named enemies. You’ll hit plenty of dead ends that you would have no way of anticipating, or you’ll just run out of stamina points and die. When this happens, hope that you didn’t use your single save point — it’s a bookmark! — at some point after you went down the fatal branch. If that’s the case, start over from the beginning.
A game that relies on graphics to create a world should have good visuals. Similarly, a game that relies on words to create a world should have good writing. But this is the sort of writing you’d normally skip. Blood of the Zombies is mostly prosaic descriptions of zombies, corridors, doors, furniture. Not a single memorable thing happens. It has no personality. It’s like a dungeon drawn on graph paper. As you read, creepy music plays. There are sound effects and an occasional drawing in the style of a comic book, looking vaguely out of place for how rarely they occur.
In the 80s, these choose-your-own-adventure books were novel and exciting, particularly on your way to discovering some of the well written Infocom adventures. But today, on an iPad, Blood of the Zombies is a tedious relic, not unlike playing Adventure on an Atari 2600 emulator. It might sound like a cool idea until you’re actually doing it. Some things are better off remembered instead of experienced.
“This is just like Raccoon City all over again,” someone says in Resident Evil 6. I’m not sure who it was. Chris? Leon? Doug? Kevin? But when someone invoked Raccoon City, the place where the series was bogged down for so long before breaking out into Spain, Africa, and decent gameplay, I couldn’t have agreed more. Yes, this is just like Raccoon City all over again: stilted, awkward, ridiculous, embarrassing, tedious. Except for the parts where it’s like Call of Duty, which are equally stilted, awkward, ridiculous, embarrassing, and tedious, but with more NPC soldiers milling about. Resident Evil 6 is thoroughly oblivious to so many of the things that make a good game these days.
After the jump, slow boat to China Continue reading →
If you bought the Xbox 360 version of Dragon’s Dogma — you did buy Dragon’s Dogma, didn’t you? — then you have access to Capcom’s Resident Evil 6 demo today. Here’s what you get:
Play as Leon S. Kennedy alongside Helena Harper and explore the dark confines of the Ivy University campus and the zombies that fill its hallways. Select Chris Redfield’s mission and head to China for an intense encounter against the deadly J’avo with BSAA colleague Piers Nivans on the rooftops of Lanshiang. The third mission shifts the action to the war-torn Eastern European state of Edonia and sees Jake Muller and Sherry Berkin trying to escape the relentless pursuit of the Ustanak, one of the new B.O.W.’s being introduced in Resident Evil 6.
Helena Harper, Piers Nivans, Jake Muller, and Sherry Berkin? The J’avo? An Ustanak? One of the hallmarks of a Resident Evil game, clearly demonstrated in that screenshot above, is that I have no idea what the hell is going on.
In case it wasn’t obvious, I’m pretty bowled over by Rebuild, a zombie apocalypse game recently ported from a web-based Flash game to an iPhone app. You can read my review of Rebuild here, and you can follow a game I’m playing in real time here. And now I’m bending developer Sarah Northway’s ear about the game’s history. She reveals connections to The Warriors, Day of the Triffids, and Faith No More; she tells you how close you came to having to play a tower defense game; and she reveals the life of an itinerant game developer.
Read the interview after the jump Continue reading →
We’re running low on food. We need more people to man the walls during the occasional zombie attacks. But every time I send someone out for food, we have to spend a tense night hoping the undead loitering outside the walls don’t hit us tonight, hoping they’ll wait until after everyone gets back, hoping the scavengers will return with enough food to buy us a few more days to try to recruit another soldier. And we’ve just spotted a horde three days from our position. So all told, I have bigger problems than the low morale. Yeah, everyone’s unhappy. Tell me something I don’t know.
But morale doesn’t matter until it matters. Then it really matters. Tonight, tempers flared and a fight breaks out. Our most experienced soldier kills the scientist who was researching a cure. At least the food will last a little longer with one less mouth to feed. But in the morning, with a horde only two days out, it will be the beginning of the end. This zombie apocalypse isn’t going to end well. Maybe Rebuild, a deliciously bleak, gratifyingly intricate, and surprisingly story-driven zombie apocalypse strategy game, should have a less optimistic name.
After the jump, they’re coming to get you, [insert name here] Continue reading →
The gore is silly enough. Most gore is. The attempts at gritty edgy dialogue are even sillier. Prototype 2’s adult language is anything but. It’s playground bluster. If you got your tights in a twist over the bad guys in Arkham City calling Catwoman a “bitch”, Prototype 2 will send you into paroxysms of righteous indignation. Which is to say this is a prime example of how some videogame writers wouldn’t know good writing if it insulted their wives and called them a cunt. And that’s about all Prototype 2 has to offer in terms of storytelling: insultingly obvious, overintentionally gritty, childish, churlish. Just shut up, already, Prototype 2. You’re not impressing anyone. I have never skipped so many cutscenes so quickly and so willingly.
After the jump, but what about the game? Continue reading →
The developers at Slant Six are mostly known for successfully packing Sony’s SOCOM series into the PSP a couple of times. In Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, they’ve tackled an equally ambitious project: packing Resident Evil into a Lost Planet style team-based shooter with asymmetrical characters, persistent progression, some fancy zombie concepts, and online co-op and versus play. All the while, zombies and spec ops soldiers fight it out around you. Jump in whenever you’re ready. It must have been one hell of a design document.
After the jump, the unfortunate matter of the game itself Continue reading →
Space Pirates and Zombies gets a hefty update today. Previously, the galaxy consisted of two main factions vying for control of each system. The civilians and UTA factions were more of less interchangeable and always self-contained. Cozy up to the civilians in one system, cozy up to the UTA in another system. But today’s update adds bounty hunters, a whole new faction with a long reach, the resources to hunt you down, and their own currency. You can compete in bounty hunter arena challenges for special crew members and you can even earn ten entirely new ships.
The update will work with your current game, but developer Andrew Hume recommends a fresh start to really appreciate the bounty hunters.
This patch will integrate itself into an existing save game, but we recommend finishing your current play through of vanilla SPAZ and starting a new one with Bounty Hunters on March 19th. Progressing through the galaxy with this new menace completes the game and should adjust the feel enough to make a new playthrough worthwhile.
More details are available here.