Editorial Miscellany: World Without Fear

Subtitle: 'Featuring One Mediocre Music Rrack'
A more appropriate name might be ‘Waiting For Star Fox’

Good morning dear LusiInsomniacs, I trust that every reader is also operating on just a handful of hours of sleep so that I can assuming that we are all experiencing a similar mindset. That is how life works, right?

And now, some words about video games.

Race The Sun

I am keeping my PlayStation Plus subscription for now. It is a way for me to try a variety of games that I might not normally and I have decided that if I keep any game on my system for more than a few weeks, then I have to buy it. I am not sure that Race The Sun will qualify, but at the same time, it has so far been a nice fix when I want to jump into something simple and relatively challenging without committing to a lengthy play session.

The Decline and Fall of the Resident Evil Empire

When we first started dating, Caileigh played through all of Resident Evil 4 for the first time and loved it. A friend had a similar experience in high school when I was still too terrified of everything to attempt playing a game like that. It might help to frame my easily ignited fear to state the fact that I was not allowed to watch Home Alone when I was younger. That was the bar.

Anyway, all this is to say that I finally started my playthrough of Resident Evil 4 a few months ago as I believe I have talked about on here at some point in the past. The controls might be of a type that barely exists these days, but the game was built around the way it played – like a good game should be – and it has been easy for me to recognize why it has been so praised over the years.

Although I am still working on that playthrough, Caileigh and I decided to play through Resident Evil 5 together for the co-op. It is pretty interesting to reflect on the times when Japanese developers (or, more accurately I am guessing, publishers) first started becoming obsessed with appealing to the western audience. Resident Evil 5 has all the aggravating “slickness” of what games were presenting as the norm at the time and a storyline that is capped by the main character saying all the fighting was worth it for “a world without fear”. Hmm.

The game is not as well-crafted as Resident Evil 4, but it is still built on a relatively solid foundation, and the co-op mechanics make it such that communication is necessary for success and there were lots of great moments that required skill and reflexes and both Caileigh and I saved the other one’s ass on multiple occasions. It was a solid thrill ride that still qualifies as a video game.

'That's because I'm a hollow pandering shell. So, wait, why am I not like most Americans you meet?'
‘You’re not like most Americans I meet’

So, despite hearing mixed reviews, we picked up Resident Evil 6 used for five bucks (Canadian! That is like thirty five cents American and tuppence in England) and gave it a go. Apparently the different storylines vary in quality, but I would be surprised to find any of the game approaching even RE5‘s quality, much less RE4. At this point, the series gets reduced to a roller-coaster, as it takes any meaningful control out of the player’s hand and cannot decide if it is sticking with its original control style or trying to be more like Uncharted in order to feel more familiar. Actually, that roller-coaster metaphor is not great because even a roller-coaster has the opening minutes in which it slowly climbs its first incline to build suspense and give its riders a glimpse of what is to come. Resident Evil 6 is cheap and stupid. No suspense is built, and I just feel sad seeing how desperately it is trying to appeal to a western audience. Unfortunately, the western audience at the time (which is still pretty much this time) seemed to be applauding cheap tricks and easy thrills, so it makes sense why the series could get so confused if there are voices with money shouting to make something a certain way even if it makes no sense.

As we hear of more and more Japanese studios shooting out the tubes, I cannot help but feel somewhat responsible for being part of the North American powerhouse that steamrolled over what used to be game design that led the way.

Of course, while the names that we associate with this type of design are falling, it does not mean that the knowledge is lost and one hopes that the success of Bloodborne is an indicator that games will be returning to focusing on good design before player coddling.

Final Thoughts

I guess this was less an Editorial Miscellany and more a Resident Evil editorial with a stupid Race The Sun paragraph thrown in. Oh well, disappointment is the Ethos guarantee! Say things in the comments and I will say things back. Communication!

5 comments

  1. I’ve been a Resident Evil fan since the first game on the PlayStation 1. A small part of me loves each and every one of them, but 4 is definitely my favorite. Leon’s campaign in 6 is the closest we’ve gotten to emulating that experience. However, I still don’t know why they just won’t go back to regular zombies like the first three. I’m getting tired of the “infected” humans.

  2. From what I’ve seen, RE6 is a whole game comprised of the last few areas of RE4, which are the WORST areas in RE4. The game becomes a boring military shooter by that point, devoid of everything that made the beginning interesting. I realize it was supposed to be a climax, but it made it more boring by how often you were just mowing people down.

  3. @Mel: I suspect the dev teams thought that, because games like CoD are popular, adding military-style gameplay in the endgame would be a strong motivating factor to players.

  4. @Mel/Lusi – Something like that. I’m curious about which devs felt this way and where the pressure came from to change the style and if there was resistance or quiet frustration and if so, how much of it there was. There is absolutely heavy compromise in design from game to game, but I have great doubts that if the goal wasn’t to appeal to what appeared to be the North America audience that the series would have declined so dramatically.

Comments are closed.