The controls are erratic and imprecise. Kicking and punching is no problem, but picking up cars and latching onto buildings is problematic. It's really hard to do stuff that should be easy. Bringing down a 10-story skyscraper is a piece of cake, but trying to damage a single-story building is nearly impossible. Why Midway assigned "jump" to the "A" button is beyond me, because it's generally worthless.
Total Destruction's lack of difficulty is another major issue. The game goes on forever, and you'll quit out of sheer boredom long before you'll run out of lives. Ironically, Total Destruction renewed my appreciation for the first Rampage (1986), which is also included on the disk along with Rampage World Tour (1997). I was never a big fan of the original back in the day, but at least you can play the game in a few minutes, and its graphics have an old school charm. Rampage Total Destruction just goes to show that "more" doesn't always mean "better", and in this case at least, it means much worse. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Since you are part of a larger fighting force, you don't need to do all the work yourself. In fact, the key to surviving most missions seems to be: a) Keep moving, b) Keep shooting, and c) Don't wander too far off. Unless you have guided missiles, it's hard to tell if you're inflicting damage, and the dragons will sustain many hits before they die. Your vehicle is constantly set on fire, requiring you to find water ASAP, which can be a real pain. A small scanner identifies enemy positions, but you can't distinguish if they're approaching by air or land.
Reign's graphics are surprisingly detailed, and the post-apocalyptic earth looks both desolate and beautiful. The dragons look so realistic that if they did in fact exist, I'm betting they would look exactly like these. It's quite a rush to see one of these huge beasts turn around in the distant sky, lining you up for their next attack run. Some dragons will even pick up large objects and drop them on top of you! I once did a double take as I watched a boat fall onto one of my tanks! The fire effects are completely convincing, and a dramatic musical score fits well with the explosions and rampant carnage.
Reign of Fire lacks polish however, causing my mood to alternate between excitement and agitation. The difficulty of the missions is wildly uneven - some are incredibly hard while others require little effort. The frame rate gets a little rough when things get hectic, and the load times are easily the longest I've seen on the GameCube. Clips from the movie are interspersed with the stages. Despite its lack of polish however, Reign of Fire's visually compelling action is exciting enough to keep you coming back for more. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Even those who played through it the first time around shouldn't hesitate to pick this up. With dramatically improved graphics, new room layouts, relocated monsters, and better puzzles, it's practically a new game. For horror movie buffs it's kind of like the difference between Evil Dead I and II. The cheesy live-action scenes from the first game have been replaced with some jaw-dropping CGI work. The mansion interior is spectacularly detailed and magnificently gothic. Lightning flashes and shadows from trees reflect on the walls, and new areas include a decrepit old graveyard.
The scenery is pre-rendered which is both good and bad. On the positive side, pre-positioned camera angles allow for some downright creepy cinematography. For example, at the end of one long hallway you may see the faint image of a mysterious figure. On the other hand you can't adjust your view and that's occasionally frustrating. The music effectively builds tension and improved voice acting makes the awkward dialog sound halfway credible. Shrill screams and ominous groans will send tingles down your spine.
While the graphics and audio are stellar, you still have to deal with a rather clumsy control scheme that really hasn't changed much since 1996. The targeting system makes it easy to locate monsters but aiming at close range can be maddeningly difficult. As with past Resident Evil games you'll need to juggle a lot of items, and your carrying capacity is very limited. It seems like whenever I find a new item I need I don't have any place to put it!
One clever new gameplay element is the "defensive weapon", which let you subdue enemies after they've gotten a hold of you. Just don't confuse the defensive dagger with the knife like I did. Also new is the ability of certain monsters to follow you from room to room, removing what little sense of security you had. The monsters don't go down easily, so remember: they aren't dead until the music stops! Resident Evil is an all-time classic and you're sure to be terrified by this slick, updated two-disk edition. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
What makes RE4 so compelling? Well the rural mountainside conjures up films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Blair Witch, and Night of the Living Dead. The desolate forest is practically a character in and of itself. Although your movements are limited to a predetermined path you'd never know by the natural-looking surroundings. The dilapidated old house you stumble upon looks authentic and foreboding. Later you explore an old church on a hill surrounded by a graveyard, and it just doesn't get much more Halloween than that.
Your adventure begins on a dark cloudy day and only gets scarier as night falls and a thunderstorm rages. RE4's audio track adds to the sense of urgency with harrowing sound effects that seamlessly meld with a haunting musical score. The gameplay offers brisk pacing, reasonable difficulty, and extraordinary variety. Don't rest during the cut-scenes, because "quick action events" prompt you to hit buttons at critical moments to escape injury. The game keeps you on guard but you never feel hopelessly stuck. Even when you die you continue close to where you left off.
Your mission is to rescue the President's daughter from a cult, and you'll spend a large portion of the game escorting her to safety. Instead of conventional zombies RE4 opts for chanting monks and brainwashed townsfolk armed with pitchforks, torches, and axes. The violence is unflinching. When a farm woman freaks out after being shot in the face, it's actually quite disturbing. But nothing strikes more fear in this game than the sound of a chainsaw.
RE4's control scheme may seem awkward at first due to the lack of a strafe button, but the limited mobility just adds to the challenge. The over-the-shoulder view is a nice compromise between a first-person shooter and third-person adventure, and the jumping is practically automatic. Your firepower is so astounding that a shotgun can blow several attackers across a room with a single blast. The game incorporates a surprising amount of sniping action, so before you enter a new area you'll want to weed out as many enemies as you can from a distance.
Unlike previous RE games item management is not tedious at all, and a mysterious cloaked figure appears every so often to buy and sell goods. A testament to RE4's greatness is how many memorable moments are packed into this single game, including a battle with a giant "troll" monster, a wild encounter on a ski lift, a crazy mine cart ride, and a row-boat sequence as thrilling as the movie Jaws.
It should be noted that the game is definitely intended for mature audiences due to excessive violence and gore, along with some profanity. While it never takes itself too seriously there are some genuinely intense moments and gruesome images. Resident Evil 4 is one for the ages. The bar for survival horror has now been set very, very high. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Zero features fixed-camera angles and pre-rendered scenery. The level of detail is absolutely stunning, but a major drawback is how you can't adjust the view. These graphics surpass anything I've seen in a survival horror game, with driving rain, aged wood furniture, and subtle lighting effects that are nothing short of spectacular. Even the characters move with a certain grace rarely observed in a video game. The story begins with Star Team member Rebecca Chambers (very cute by the way) in a train full of dead people - an intriguing setting to say the least.
Walking down aisles of dead passengers, you know it's just a matter of time before they get up and start shambling around. After the train moves and eventually derails, the action moves to more familiar surroundings - a research center which resembles an old mansion (oh no - not again!). Zero may tread on familiar territory, but at least its puzzles go beyond the standard "find the key and unlock the next door" variety. You often have to examine and combine items, as well as work together with a partner.
That's right - Rebecca must join forces with an escaped convict. Having a partner backing you up is comforting, but it reduces the scare factor being isolated. Often your partner fights right alongside you, but occasionally he'll just stand there like an idiot. You can switch between characters on the fly and even exchange items. The helpful map feature not only displays the room layout, but also tracks objects you've found or dropped. One new innovation is how you can now drop an item anywhere - you no longer have to search for a chest. As an unwanted side effect, it's easy to pick up the wrong item when too many are lying around. I don't like how each character only has six item slots, with some weapons taking up two of them! You'll need to do a lot of item juggling to stay well-equipped.
Like past RE games, you'll use ribbons and typewriters to save your place, which always provides a feeling of relief. Control is a bit clumsy, and this time there's no auto-aim - you'll need to turn slowly towards your target. But these are minor issues. Resident Evil Zero is like a good book - it's absorbing and hard to put down. I have to confess I didn't feel the same degree of fear as I've felt in past games, perhaps because I've become too familiar with the series. I've seen dogs jump through windows and zombies burst out of closets before - you almost come to expect that kind of thing. Newcomers are in for some surprises however, and long time fans will feel right at home with this well-designed game. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.