Resident Evil 2 Review – RE-viving Nightmares

Reliving familiar frights can often make for a less-than-exciting horror experience. But with the remake of Resident Evil 2, Capcom shows respect for the original while also going to great lengths to give the macabre atmosphere and tense gameplay a noticeable upgrade. In doing so, this revamp of the classic survival horror game shows that the series can still offer a terrifying experience like no other.

You once again play as either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield. A viral outbreak has unleashed hordes of zombies and other grotesque monsters upon Raccoon City, leading to a series of dangerous and nightmare-inducing encounters for the two characters. While both protagonists’ storylines have similar plots and take place in the same locations, there are different supporting characters and unique challenges in each that set the two playthroughs apart.

In traditional Resident Evil fashion, you’re tasked with surviving through the night and overcoming the nightmarish creatures and devious puzzles found throughout the infested streets of the city, the tight, dimly lit halls of the Police Station, and in the subterranean passages below. RE2 is a great mix of the understated survivalist approach from the original games and the tactile, reflex-oriented gameplay from more recent entries. It’s very much a game about escalation; as your resources dwindle and the monsters become fearsome and more elaborate, the pressure is always mounting as the story progresses, and each moment feels just a bit more desperate than the last. Even the smallest of victories can feel like major wins in RE2, and you’ll often find yourself onto the next struggle before you know it.

No Caption Provided
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While those who played the original game will enter with an idea of what’s to come, the remake does a lot to refresh certain encounters and locations. Though many locales and their layouts are similar–save for the addition of a brand-new area and a new monster to deal with–the events therein are new. Jump scares don’t trigger when you expect them to, or a room that once spelled certain doom in your head is now a safe haven–but then the question arises: if this room is safe, which room is the real dangerous one?

Early Resident Evil games have a reputation for being melodramatic, often unintentionally, but the RE2 remake a more serious tone that makes for a more evocative story. While there is still the undercurrent of the hokey tone from the classics, with the characters cutting the tension with humor when appropriate, the remake’s narrative is far more convincing, propped up by some impressive writing and strong performances that help convey urgency and despair. This is especially evident during the more quiet moments, when the protagonists will try to psych themselves up for what’s to come. Even minor characters are given additional substance in the remake, with poignant moments given to the doomed police lieutenant Marvin Branagh and gun shop owner Robert Kendo.

Both Claire and Leon have two different versions of the campaign, and after finishing the first run for one, you’ll be prompted to start a follow-up with the other. Called Second Scenarios, they allow you to see the larger story from a different perspective. Both scenarios are totally isolated from another, and choices therein won’t impact the other, but what makes these second runs worthwhile are the different encounters and sub-plots that don’t occur in the first. It’s a very interesting way to experience the narrative, and with four versions of the campaigns between the two leads–with the first two averaging 12-15 hours–you constantly uncover new details and events that weren’t present in the previous playthroughs.

Resident Evil 2’s more serious tone is further enhanced by the renewed, fantastically atmospheric presentation, which gives familiar details from the classic game more of a pronounced look and feel. Moving away from the static camera angles of the original, everything has been redesigned with over-the-shoulder gameplay in mind, giving more of a palpable and invasive sense of dread when exploring. This is heightened even more by the impeccable audio and visual design of the game, creating an eerie, isolating vibe throughout. In a number of cases, you’ll only have the illumination of your flashlight as you walk the dark hallways of the bloody and ruined police station, with the ambient rain and distant monster sounds ramping up the tension. You rarely feel safe in RE2, even when you actually are.

The remake’s impressive level of detail is consistently noticeable, but especially so during gorey moments. These gruesome encounters channel the same macabre and staccato approach from the classics, but are now honed through the visual luster of modern rendering and animation. As the zombies are the one constant threat throughout, you quickly become accustomed to seeing flesh chip away as you fire off pistol shots, along with watching the undead torn in half by well-placed shotgun blasts. Though RE2 easily proves to be the goriest game of the series, it never comes off as excessive, and the grizzly details all serve to highlight the grim circumstances of the desperate situation.

Resident Evil 2’s more serious tone is further enhanced by the renewed, fantastically atmospheric presentation…

At the beginning, your meager selection of weapons doesn’t seem like a match for the game’s most intimidating horrors, but there are means available that can give you the upper hand in a lopsided fight. In addition to dismembering enemies with well-aimed shots hindering zombies’ speed and offense, you can barricade certain windows to block ravenous undead from entering from outside. While many of these options are simply a temporary solution to a long-term problem, which can make it seem like they’re not all that worth taking advantage of, they are helpful in a pinch.

While you will no doubt settle into tactics that work well, RE2 throws in some fresh challenges. In one of the game’s more tense encounters, you cross paths with the Tyrant, a hulking presence whose footsteps echo throughout the environment. Though it was a serious foe shown in small doses in the original, this imposing force of nature is now more of a persistent threat that actively stalks you during key periods in the story. Simply ducking into another room isn’t enough, as it’ll quickly follow you in to keep the chase going–similar to the RE3’s Nemesis in that regard. If you manage to create enough distance and it loses line of sight, it’ll disengage, but will remain lurking throughout the halls. With this dynamic, the Tyrant also makes the common foes you’ve gotten a handle of become genuine threats once again. As you find yourself trying to stay focused on the stalking figure, it’s all too easy to round a corner and run into a group of zombies.

No Caption Provided
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Though the Tyrant offers a nerve-wracking surprise during some of these key moments, which makes the feeling of getting the best of it all the more satisfying, there are other times when it can disrupt Resident Evil 2’s pacing. This is especially frustrating when you’re simply trying to acquire an item or solve a puzzle in a room that the Tyrant and zombies frequent. What should be tense encounters can sometimes become annoying exercises in trying to lure it away, and in some cases it comes off like you’re taking advantage of the Tyrant’s rather limited AI to do just that. The Tyrant can overstay its welcome, but in most cases, its presence is a constant reminder of the looming threat throughout the game.

While RE2 often keeps things serious, it’s not all doom and gloom. In addition to occasional references that break the tension, there’s also a suite of unlockable content available to the delight of RE fans, including the classic RE2 outfits for both Leon and Claire. After completing the campaign for both characters, you’ll unlock a set of bonus modes starring fan-favorites Hunk and Tofu, the later of which is a sentient knife-wielding block of coagulated soy. Both of these extra modes take you on timed gauntlets battling through many intense encounters, with Tofu’s mode being the most difficult scenario in the entire game. They also allow for a chance to cut loose against hordes of monsters without the worry of the larger survival-horror mechanics during the main game.

Resident Evil 2 is not only a stellar remake of the original, but it’s also simply a strong horror game that delivers anxiety-inducing and grotesque situations, topping some of the series’ finest entries. But above all, the remake is an impressive game for the fact that it goes all-in on the pure survival horror experience, confidently embracing its horrifying tone and rarely letting up until the story’s conclusion. Though Resident Evil 2 has its roots firmly in the past, it reworks the familiar horrors into something that feels brand new and all its own.

Source: GameSpot Reviews]]>

Resident Evil 2 Review – RE-living Nightmares

Reliving familiar frights can often make for a less-than-exciting horror experience. But with the remake of Resident Evil 2, Capcom shows respect for the original while also going to great lengths to give the macabre atmosphere and tense gameplay a noticeable upgrade. In doing so, this revamp of the classic survival horror game shows that the series can still offer a terrifying experience like no other.

You once again play as either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield. A viral outbreak has unleashed hordes of zombies and other grotesque monsters upon Raccoon City, leading to a series of dangerous and nightmare-inducing encounters for the two characters. While both protagonists’ storylines have similar plots and take place in the same locations, there are different supporting characters and unique challenges in each that set the two playthroughs apart.

In traditional Resident Evil fashion, you’re tasked with surviving through the night and overcoming the nightmarish creatures and devious puzzles found throughout the infested streets of the city, the tight, dimly lit halls of the Police Station, and in the subterranean passages below. RE2 is a great mix of the understated survivalist approach from the original games and the tactile, reflex-oriented gameplay from more recent entries. It’s very much a game about escalation; as your resources dwindle and the monsters become fearsome and more elaborate, the pressure is always mounting as the story progresses, and each moment feels just a bit more desperate than the last. Even the smallest of victories can feel like major wins in RE2, and you’ll often find yourself onto the next struggle before you know it.

No Caption Provided
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While those who played the original game will enter with an idea of what’s to come, the remake does a lot to refresh certain encounters and locations. Though many locales and their layouts are similar–save for the addition of a brand-new area and a new monster to deal with–the events therein are new. Jump scares don’t trigger when you expect them to, or a room that once spelled certain doom in your head is now a safe haven–but then the question arises: if this room is safe, which room is the real dangerous one?

Early Resident Evil games have a reputation for being melodramatic, often unintentionally, but the RE2 remake a more serious tone that makes for a more evocative story. While there is still the undercurrent of the hokey tone from the classics, with the characters cutting the tension with humor when appropriate, the remake’s narrative is far more convincing, propped up by some impressive writing and strong performances that help convey urgency and despair. This is especially evident during the more quiet moments, when the protagonists will try to psych themselves up for what’s to come. Even minor characters are given additional substance in the remake, with poignant moments given to the doomed police lieutenant Marvin Branagh and gun shop owner Robert Kendo.

Both Claire and Leon have two different versions of the campaign, and after finishing the first run for one, you’ll be prompted to start a follow-up with the other. Called Second Scenarios, they allow you to see the larger story from a different perspective. Both scenarios are totally isolated from another, and choices therein won’t impact the other, but what makes these second runs worthwhile are the different encounters and sub-plots that don’t occur in the first. It’s a very interesting way to experience the narrative, and with four versions of the campaigns between the two leads–with the first two averaging 12-15 hours–you constantly uncover new details and events that weren’t present in the previous playthroughs.

Resident Evil 2’s more serious tone is further enhanced by the renewed, fantastically atmospheric presentation, which gives familiar details from the classic game more of a pronounced look and feel. Moving away from the static camera angles of the original, everything has been redesigned with over-the-shoulder gameplay in mind, giving more of a palpable and invasive sense of dread when exploring. This is heightened even more by the impeccable audio and visual design of the game, creating an eerie, isolating vibe throughout. In a number of cases, you’ll only have the illumination of your flashlight as you walk the dark hallways of the bloody and ruined police station, with the ambient rain and distant monster sounds ramping up the tension. You rarely feel safe in RE2, even when you actually are.

The remake’s impressive level of detail is consistently noticeable, but especially so during gorey moments. These gruesome encounters channel the same macabre and staccato approach from the classics, but are now honed through the visual luster of modern rendering and animation. As the zombies are the one constant threat throughout, you quickly become accustomed to seeing flesh chip away as you fire off pistol shots, along with watching the undead torn in half by well-placed shotgun blasts. Though RE2 easily proves to be the goriest game of the series, it never comes off as excessive, and the grizzly details all serve to highlight the grim circumstances of the desperate situation.

Resident Evil 2’s more serious tone is further enhanced by the renewed, fantastically atmospheric presentation…

At the beginning, your meager selection of weapons doesn’t seem like a match for the game’s most intimidating horrors, but there are means available that can give you the upper hand in a lopsided fight. In addition to dismembering enemies with well-aimed shots hindering zombies’ speed and offense, you can barricade certain windows to block ravenous undead from entering from outside. While many of these options are simply a temporary solution to a long-term problem, which can make it seem like they’re not all that worth taking advantage of, they are helpful in a pinch.

While you will no doubt settle into tactics that work well, RE2 throws in some fresh challenges. In one of the game’s more tense encounters, you cross paths with the Tyrant, a hulking presence whose footsteps echo throughout the environment. Though it was a serious foe shown in small doses in the original, this imposing force of nature is now more of a persistent threat that actively stalks you during key periods in the story. Simply ducking into another room isn’t enough, as it’ll quickly follow you in to keep the chase going–similar to the RE3’s Nemesis in that regard. If you manage to create enough distance and it loses line of sight, it’ll disengage, but will remain lurking throughout the halls. With this dynamic, the Tyrant also makes the common foes you’ve gotten a handle of become genuine threats once again. As you find yourself trying to stay focused on the stalking figure, it’s all too easy to round a corner and run into a group of zombies.

No Caption Provided
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Though the Tyrant offers a nerve-wracking surprise during some of these key moments, which makes the feeling of getting the best of it all the more satisfying, there are other times when it can disrupt Resident Evil 2’s pacing. This is especially frustrating when you’re simply trying to acquire an item or solve a puzzle in a room that the Tyrant and zombies frequent. What should be tense encounters can sometimes become annoying exercises in trying to lure it away, and in some cases it comes off like you’re taking advantage of the Tyrant’s rather limited AI to do just that. The Tyrant can overstay its welcome, but in most cases, its presence is a constant reminder of the looming threat throughout the game.

While RE2 often keeps things serious, it’s not all doom and gloom. In addition to occasional references that break the tension, there’s also a suite of unlockable content available to the delight of RE fans, including the classic RE2 outfits for both Leon and Claire. After completing the campaign for both characters, you’ll unlock a set of bonus modes starring fan-favorites Hunk and Tofu, the later of which is a sentient knife-wielding block of coagulated soy. Both of these extra modes take you on timed gauntlets battling through many intense encounters, with Tofu’s mode being the most difficult scenario in the entire game. They also allow for a chance to cut loose against hordes of monsters without the worry of the larger survival-horror mechanics during the main game.

Resident Evil 2 is not only a stellar remake of the original, but it’s also simply a strong horror game that delivers anxiety-inducing and grotesque situations, topping some of the series’ finest entries. But above all, the remake is an impressive game for the fact that it goes all-in on the pure survival horror experience, confidently embracing its horrifying tone and rarely letting up until the story’s conclusion. Though Resident Evil 2 has its roots firmly in the past, it reworks the familiar horrors into something that feels brand new and all its own.

Source: GameSpot Reviews]]>

Resident Evil 2 Review – Revisiting Raccoon City

Reliving familiar frights can often make for a less-than-exciting horror experience. But with the remake of Resident Evil 2, Capcom shows respect for the original while also going to great lengths to give the macabre atmosphere and tense gameplay a noticeable upgrade. In doing so, this revamp of the classic survival horror game shows that the series can still offer a terrifying experience like no other.

You once again play as either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield. A viral outbreak has unleashed hordes of zombies and other grotesque monsters upon Raccoon City, leading to a series of dangerous and nightmare-inducing encounters for the two characters. While both protagonists’ storylines have similar plots and take place in the same locations, there are different supporting characters and unique challenges in each that set the two playthroughs apart.

In traditional Resident Evil fashion, you’re tasked with surviving through the night and overcoming the nightmarish creatures and devious puzzles found throughout the infested streets of the city, the tight, dimly lit halls of the Police Station, and in the subterranean passages below. RE2 is a great mix of the understated survivalist approach from the original games and the tactile, reflex-oriented gameplay from more recent entries. It’s very much a game about escalation; as your resources dwindle and the monsters become fearsome and more elaborate, the pressure is always mounting as the story progresses, and each moment feels just a bit more desperate than the last. Even the smallest of victories can feel like major wins in RE2, and you’ll often find yourself onto the next struggle before you know it.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

While those who played the original game will enter with an idea of what’s to come, the remake does a lot to refresh certain encounters and locations. Though many locales and their layouts are similar–save for the addition of a brand-new area and a new monster to deal with–the events therein are new. Jump scares don’t trigger when you expect them to, or a room that once spelled certain doom in your head is now a safe haven–but then the question arises: if this room is safe, which room is the real dangerous one?

Early Resident Evil games have a reputation for being melodramatic, often unintentionally, but the RE2 remake a more serious tone that makes for a more evocative story. While there is still the undercurrent of the hokey tone from the classics, with the characters cutting the tension with humor when appropriate, the remake’s narrative is far more convincing, propped up by some impressive writing and strong performances that help convey urgency and despair. This is especially evident during the more quiet moments, when the protagonists will try to psych themselves up for what’s to come. Even minor characters are given additional substance in the remake, with poignant moments given to the doomed police lieutenant Marvin Branagh and gun shop owner Robert Kendo.

Both Claire and Leon have two different versions of the campaign, and after finishing the first run for one, you’ll be prompted to start a follow-up with the other. Called Second Scenarios, they allow you to see the larger story from a different perspective. Both scenarios are totally isolated from another, and choices therein won’t impact the other, but what makes these second runs worthwhile are the different encounters and sub-plots that don’t occur in the first. It’s a very interesting way to experience the narrative, and with four versions of the campaigns between the two leads–with the first two averaging 12-15 hours–you constantly uncover new details and events that weren’t present in the previous playthroughs.

Resident Evil 2’s more serious tone is further enhanced by the renewed, fantastically atmospheric presentation, which gives familiar details from the classic game more of a pronounced look and feel. Moving away from the static camera angles of the original, everything has been redesigned with over-the-shoulder gameplay in mind, giving more of a palpable and invasive sense of dread when exploring. This is heightened even more by the impeccable audio and visual design of the game, creating an eerie, isolating vibe throughout. In a number of cases, you’ll only have the illumination of your flashlight as you walk the dark hallways of the bloody and ruined police station, with the ambient rain and distant monster sounds ramping up the tension. You rarely feel safe in RE2, even when you actually are.

The remake’s impressive level of detail is consistently noticeable, but especially so during gorey moments. These gruesome encounters channel the same macabre and staccato approach from the classics, but are now honed through the visual luster of modern rendering and animation. As the zombies are the one constant threat throughout, you quickly become accustomed to seeing flesh chip away as you fire off pistol shots, along with watching the undead torn in half by well-placed shotgun blasts. Though RE2 easily proves to be the goriest game of the series, it never comes off as excessive, and the grizzly details all serve to highlight the grim circumstances of the desperate situation.

Resident Evil 2’s more serious tone is further enhanced by the renewed, fantastically atmospheric presentation…

At the beginning, your meager selection of weapons doesn’t seem like a match for the game’s most intimidating horrors, but there are means available that can give you the upper hand in a lopsided fight. In addition to dismembering enemies with well-aimed shots hindering zombies’ speed and offense, you can barricade certain windows to block ravenous undead from entering from outside. While many of these options are simply a temporary solution to a long-term problem, which can make it seem like they’re not all that worth taking advantage of, they are helpful in a pinch.

While you will no doubt settle into tactics that work well, RE2 throws in some fresh challenges. In one of the game’s more tense encounters, you cross paths with the Tyrant, a hulking presence whose footsteps echo throughout the environment. Though it was a serious foe shown in small doses in the original, this imposing force of nature is now more of a persistent threat that actively stalks you during key periods in the story. Simply ducking into another room isn’t enough, as it’ll quickly follow you in to keep the chase going–similar to the RE3’s Nemesis in that regard. If you manage to create enough distance and it loses line of sight, it’ll disengage, but will remain lurking throughout the halls. With this dynamic, the Tyrant also makes the common foes you’ve gotten a handle of become genuine threats once again. As you find yourself trying to stay focused on the stalking figure, it’s all too easy to round a corner and run into a group of zombies.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Though the Tyrant offers a nerve-wracking surprise during some of these key moments, which makes the feeling of getting the best of it all the more satisfying, there are other times when it can disrupt Resident Evil 2’s pacing. This is especially frustrating when you’re simply trying to acquire an item or solve a puzzle in a room that the Tyrant and zombies frequent. What should be tense encounters can sometimes become annoying exercises in trying to lure it away, and in some cases it comes off like you’re taking advantage of the Tyrant’s rather limited AI to do just that. The Tyrant can overstay its welcome, but in most cases, its presence is a constant reminder of the looming threat throughout the game.

While RE2 often keeps things serious, it’s not all doom and gloom. In addition to occasional references that break the tension, there’s also a suite of unlockable content available to the delight of RE fans, including the classic RE2 outfits for both Leon and Claire. After completing the campaign for both characters, you’ll unlock a set of bonus modes starring fan-favorites Hunk and Tofu, the later of which is a sentient knife-wielding block of coagulated soy. Both of these extra modes take you on timed gauntlets battling through many intense encounters, with Tofu’s mode being the most difficult scenario in the entire game. They also allow for a chance to cut loose against hordes of monsters without the worry of the larger survival-horror mechanics during the main game.

Resident Evil 2 is not only a stellar remake of the original, but it’s also simply a strong horror game that delivers anxiety-inducing and grotesque situations, topping some of the series’ finest entries. But above all, the remake is an impressive game for the fact that it goes all-in on the pure survival horror experience, confidently embracing its horrifying tone and rarely letting up until the story’s conclusion. Though Resident Evil 2 has its roots firmly in the past, it reworks the familiar horrors into something that feels brand new and all its own.

Source: GameSpot Reviews]]>

Life Is Strange 2: Episode 2 Review – With Great Power

The main thing I’ve learned from having a sibling is that you can be polar opposites who bicker endlessly, but when push comes to shove there is nothing you wouldn’t do to keep them happy, safe, and protected. This sentiment is the heart and soul of Life is Strange 2 and continues to ground the strong narrative through the second chapter of the Diaz brothers’ journey away from their home in Seattle and toward a new one in Puerto Lobos.

The second chapter of Life Is Strange 2 begins in the snow-laden Willamette National Forest in Oregon. It is several days after Daniel learned the tragic truth of why they had to flee Seattle, and the ensuing outburst that revealed his telekinetic powers. The brothers are now faced with the reality of managing not only their survival while on the run, but also the nuances of how to handle Daniel’s abilities. Sean sets down ground rules for keeping the powers a secret while working with his younger brother to hone them. This supernatural element adds a new dimension to gameplay in that certain situations and objects can be manipulated by Daniel with your say-so.

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More interesting, however, is the difficult balance you must strike as Sean by either encouraging or discouraging Daniel’s use of these powers. Using them may be helpful in certain situations, but there is the danger of being exposed or hurting someone in the process. The tribulations of decision-making in the second episode are far more complex due to this supernatural factor. The options to scare or prank your little brother are almost gone, but in their place you’ll have the more difficult choice between keeping him safe and repressing his abilities or allowing him to use his powers–which is sometimes the only way to save others–but potentially put him at risk in the process.

In playing the second chapter through multiple times and making different choices, it became clear that there are no options to have Sean behave in a nasty manner because Sean is not a nasty person. While you can make choices for the brothers, they aren’t puppets. If you choose to have Sean yell at a loved one, he will likely apologize; you can ask Daniel to do certain things but he won’t necessarily obey. This feature can diminish the feeling of ownership over the characters, but the way it bolsters the fundamentals of their characterization and relationships increases your fondness for them and investment in their journey. Choosing to act more dismissively or short-tempered doesn’t stop Sean from wanting the best for Daniel, nor does being unhelpful or sacrilegious around conservative family members stop them from loving you or wanting to help you. The decision-making in Life Is Strange 2 isn’t as simple as being kind or being callous, and this makes the episode far more interesting and nuanced.

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Daniel remains as impressionable as he was in the first episode. Swearing in front of him will enable him to do the same, telling him you don’t believe in heaven will change his beliefs, and being unkind or unsupportive will make him disinclined to listen to you. This puts a huge weight on the way you choose to conduct yourself and how you treat others in Daniel’s presence. The supporting characters in this chapter are less colourful than those in the last episode, and a couple of grungy train-hopping standouts are underutilized. While Sean and Daniel’s grandparents are well-written, they aren’t as unique or interesting as Episode 1 characters like Brody the travelling blogger or Lyla, Sean’s bubbly best friend. As a result they don’t contribute to the character development of the brothers in the same meaningful way.

Much of the episode is spent in relative comfort, which is a change of pace for the brothers on the run, although the beginning retreads some story beats from the first chapter and as a result they feel less impactful this time around. There are a couple of instances that feel like cheap emotional shots, one of which is related to an Episode 1 choice that ripples out in a dramatic way, yet doesn’t feel entirely earned. Even in these cases, however, the stellar performances of Roman George as Daniel and particularly Gonzalo Martin as Sean keep every moment engaging and sympathetic–from the mundanities of playing dice games to coping with heart-wrenching losses.

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While this episode is bookended by tense, gasp-inducing moments, the plot has a slower pace than the previous episode. It spends time filling in the blanks of the Diaz family tree and answers important logistical questions as to where the brothers can find a safe haven. This chapter also incorporates the story of Captain Spirit, or Chris, who we first met in the standalone game The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. Chris’ character is used as a clever device to display different sides of Sean and Daniel. He enables Daniel to flaunt his childlike creativity, while Sean can earn his trust and serve as a confidant for his troubled home life. The impressive writing from Episode 1 persists, making every conversation feel natural and relatable. This ensures that even the new characters that aren’t as unique as those introduced previously still have layers and avoid cliches.

This care and attention to detail extends to the environments, which feel genuine and lived-in. The particulars of places and objects also subtly clue you in to the personalities, priorities, and relationships of those they belong to; like kitschy plaques that signpost the interior of rooms in a house, a recycling bin full of beer cans, and a guitar covered in stickers. Underpinning all of this are acoustic folk tracks that punctuate the plot, echoing the feeling of teenage ruminations. The grounded, everyday vibe of the soundtrack helps drive home that Sean and Daniel are still normal teens and makes it easier to understand their mindset.

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One minor issue is the meta-knowledge that the Diaz brothers are two episodes into a five-episode journey, so you have an acute awareness that no matter how positively things are going, you’re never too far from it all unraveling. However, even if you can see where things are going, there’s a joy in taking each new step of the adventure and in managing the careful balance between being a guardian and a friend to Daniel. The larger consequences of how you’ve chosen to guide Daniel are still to come, but the cracks are starting to show and the pressure is heightening. That said, no matter how you leave Daniel and Sean at the end of this chapter, there is the palpable sense of hope, of a new way forward, and of the unconditional love between two brothers.

Source: GameSpot Reviews]]>

Resident Evil 2 Review – Raccoon City Revisited

Reliving familiar frights can often make for a less-than-exciting horror experience. But with the remake of Resident Evil 2, Capcom shows respect for the original while also going to great lengths to give the macabre atmosphere and tense gameplay a noticeable upgrade. In doing so, this revamp of the classic survival horror game shows that the series can still offer a terrifying experience like no other.

You once again play as either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield. A viral outbreak has unleashed hordes of zombies and other grotesque monsters upon Raccoon City, leading to a series of dangerous and nightmare-inducing encounters for the two characters. While both protagonists’ storylines have similar plots and take place in the same locations, there are different supporting characters and unique challenges in each that set the two playthroughs apart.

In traditional Resident Evil fashion, you’re tasked with surviving through the night and overcoming the nightmarish creatures and devious puzzles found throughout the infested streets of the city, the tight, dimly lit halls of the Police Station, and in the subterranean passages below. RE2 is a great mix of the understated survivalist approach from the original games and the tactile, reflex-oriented gameplay from more recent entries. It’s very much a game about escalation; as your resources dwindle and the monsters become fearsome and more elaborate, the pressure is always mounting as the story progresses, and each moment feels just a bit more desperate than the last. Even the smallest of victories can feel like major wins in RE2, and you’ll often find yourself onto the next struggle before you know it.

No Caption Provided
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While those who played the original game will enter with an idea of what’s to come, the remake does a lot to refresh certain encounters and locations. Though many locales and their layouts are similar–save for the addition of a brand-new area and a new monster to deal with–the events therein are new. Jump scares don’t trigger when you expect them to, or a room that once spelled certain doom in your head is now a safe haven–but then the question arises: if this room is safe, which room is the real dangerous one?

Early Resident Evil games have a reputation for being melodramatic, often unintentionally, but the RE2 remake a more serious tone that makes for a more evocative story. While there is still the undercurrent of the hokey tone from the classics, with the characters cutting the tension with humor when appropriate, the remake’s narrative is far more convincing, propped up by some impressive writing and strong performances that help convey urgency and despair. This is especially evident during the more quiet moments, when the protagonists will try to psych themselves up for what’s to come. Even minor characters are given additional substance in the remake, with poignant moments given to the doomed police lieutenant Marvin Branagh and gun shop owner Robert Kendo.

Both Claire and Leon have two different versions of the campaign, and after finishing the first run for one, you’ll be prompted to start a follow-up with the other. Called Second Scenarios, they allow you to see the larger story from a different perspective. Both scenarios are totally isolated from another, and choices therein won’t impact the other, but what makes these second runs worthwhile are the different encounters and sub-plots that don’t occur in the first. It’s a very interesting way to experience the narrative, and with four versions of the campaigns between the two leads–with the first two averaging 12-15 hours–you constantly uncover new details and events that weren’t present in the previous playthroughs.

Resident Evil 2’s more serious tone is further enhanced by the renewed, fantastically atmospheric presentation, which gives familiar details from the classic game more of a pronounced look and feel. Moving away from the static camera angles of the original, everything has been redesigned with over-the-shoulder gameplay in mind, giving more of a palpable and invasive sense of dread when exploring. This is heightened even more by the impeccable audio and visual design of the game, creating an eerie, isolating vibe throughout. In a number of cases, you’ll only have the illumination of your flashlight as you walk the dark hallways of the bloody and ruined police station, with the ambient rain and distant monster sounds ramping up the tension. You rarely feel safe in RE2, even when you actually are.

The remake’s impressive level of detail is consistently noticeable, but especially so during gorey moments. These gruesome encounters channel the same macabre and staccato approach from the classics, but are now honed through the visual luster of modern rendering and animation. As the zombies are the one constant threat throughout, you quickly become accustomed to seeing flesh chip away as you fire off pistol shots, along with watching the undead torn in half by well-placed shotgun blasts. Though RE2 easily proves to be the goriest game of the series, it never comes off as excessive, and the grizzly details all serve to highlight the grim circumstances of the desperate situation.

Resident Evil 2’s more serious tone is further enhanced by the renewed, fantastically atmospheric presentation…

At the beginning, your meager selection of weapons doesn’t seem like a match for the game’s most intimidating horrors, but there are means available that can give you the upper hand in a lopsided fight. In addition to dismembering enemies with well-aimed shots hindering zombies’ speed and offense, you can barricade certain windows to block ravenous undead from entering from outside. While many of these options are simply a temporary solution to a long-term problem, which can make it seem like they’re not all that worth taking advantage of, they are helpful in a pinch.

While you will no doubt settle into tactics that work well, RE2 throws in some fresh challenges. In one of the game’s more tense encounters, you cross paths with the Tyrant, a hulking presence whose footsteps echo throughout the environment. Though it was a serious foe shown in small doses in the original, this imposing force of nature is now more of a persistent threat that actively stalks you during key periods in the story. Simply ducking into another room isn’t enough, as it’ll quickly follow you in to keep the chase going–similar to the RE3’s Nemesis in that regard. If you manage to create enough distance and it loses line of sight, it’ll disengage, but will remain lurking throughout the halls. With this dynamic, the Tyrant also makes the common foes you’ve gotten a handle of become genuine threats once again. As you find yourself trying to stay focused on the stalking figure, it’s all too easy to round a corner and run into a group of zombies.

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Though the Tyrant offers a nerve-wracking surprise during some of these key moments, which makes the feeling of getting the best of it all the more satisfying, there are other times when it can disrupt Resident Evil 2’s pacing. This is especially frustrating when you’re simply trying to acquire an item or solve a puzzle in a room that the Tyrant and zombies frequent. What should be tense encounters can sometimes become annoying exercises in trying to lure it away, and in some cases it comes off like you’re taking advantage of the Tyrant’s rather limited AI to do just that. The Tyrant can overstay its welcome, but in most cases, its presence is a constant reminder of the looming threat throughout the game.

While RE2 often keeps things serious, it’s not all doom and gloom. In addition to occasional references that break the tension, there’s also a suite of unlockable content available to the delight of RE fans, including the classic RE2 outfits for both Leon and Claire. After completing the campaign for both characters, you’ll unlock a set of bonus modes starring fan-favorites Hunk and Tofu, the later of which is a sentient knife-wielding block of coagulated soy. Both of these extra modes take you on timed gauntlets battling through many intense encounters, with Tofu’s mode being the most difficult scenario in the entire game. They also allow for a chance to cut loose against hordes of monsters without the worry of the larger survival-horror mechanics during the main game.

Resident Evil 2 is not only a stellar remake of the original, but it’s also simply a strong horror game that delivers anxiety-inducing and grotesque situations, topping some of the series’ finest entries. But above all, the remake is an impressive game for the fact that it goes all-in on the pure survival horror experience, confidently embracing its horrifying tone and rarely letting up until the story’s conclusion. Though Resident Evil 2 has its roots firmly in the past, it reworks the familiar horrors into something that feels brand new and all its own.

Source: GameSpot Reviews]]>

Pikuniku Review – Delicious Morsel

With its simple character designs and a game world that often looks like a young kid designed it by cutting up and sticking together different bits of colored paper, Pikuniku sometimes feels like a video game adaption of a children’s book. It tells a simple story that doesn’t always quite make sense, it’s pointedly very silly, and there are scenes within it that seem to be based on how a child understands the world. A giant company pays a town by making money rain from the sky; a trendy nightclub will only let you in if you dress “cool” by wearing sunglasses; you play a game someone “invented,” but which is, essentially, just basketball mixed with soccer.

But Pikuniku (Japanese for “picnic”) never feels like it was designed specifically for children. It’s a game about battling a corporate takeover, and the writing has the playful, sarcastically irreverent tone you’re more likely to see from someone in their 20s or 30s. But the childish veneer is charming, and while Pikuniku isn’t the deepest game around, it’s lovely, funny, and engrossing in its own weird way.

At the game’s opening, your character–Piku, an entity made up of an oblong red body with dots for eyes and two long spindly legs coming out of it–awakens in a cave, prompted by a ghost to go outside. The opening tutorial doesn’t take long, because the controls are simple: You can jump, causing Piku to spin haphazardly as he moves through the air, you can kick in any direction, and you can curl your legs into yourself and roll around in ball form. You spend the rest of the game wandering through the small game world, encountering characters and helping solve their problems until, eventually, you find yourself fighting against Sunshine Inc, a giant corporation that is sending robots all over the land to harvest natural resources from the game’s three regions.

Progression rarely requires much thoughtful effort. You explore the world on a 2D plane, talking to as many people as you can, kicking at everything, and solving objectives as they’re handed to you. There are platforming elements that require some finesse, especially when you explore some of the slightly more challenging optional side quests that pop up throughout the game. Pikuniku is entertaining rather than challenging, though, and even the hardest areas you’ll find are unlikely to trip you up for longer than a few minutes. But this is to the game’s advantage–it’s accessible to inexperienced and young players, and I never felt like the game would have been more enjoyable if it pushed me harder. Piku’s weird, wobbly walk, his awkward jump, and the force of his kicks mean that just moving through the game world is inherently entertaining.

Your ability to kick everything and everyone is crucial, and much of the puzzle solving in the game comes down to kicking an object from one place to another. The kick mechanic is great fun, with objects reacting differently depending on the angle and distance you hit them from, although there are occasional moments of frustration when, for instance, a box gets wedged into a corner and is tricky to get out. Getting stuck for a moment kicking something out of a corner, or dealing with an object that isn’t behaving how you’d like, can interrupt the flow of gameplay.

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You can kick every character you meet in the game with no real punishment, which rarely stops being funny. In a few other instances Piku needs to don different hats or use items he has collected to push forward. Again, the mechanics around this are quite simple–if you see a blooming flower, for instance, you know that you need to use the watering can hat on it because a silhouette of that hat will appear above it. This makes it easy to keep track of what you might now be able to do or unlock when you find a new item. It’s not the deepest mechanic, but it means that finding a hat or item can spark immediate excitement when you already know what it’ll do.

Pikuniku throws little minigames and oddities at you among all the platforming to mix things up. At one point early on, you’re asked to draw a new face for a scarecrow using the analog stick; later, you need to win a button-matching dance-off against a robot. There’s even a Dig Dug parody, which amusingly devolves into a little joke about how some retro games don’t age well. There are boss fights, too (there’s no combat in the game otherwise), and while they’re not super involved affairs they use the game’s simple mechanics to good effect.

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Pikuniku is a funny game on numerous levels–the script often undercuts tension and plays with tropes in amusing ways, the goofy way you flip when you jump is a constant source of amusement, and the game will often throw you into strange situations without much explanation. Mess with a toaster in someone’s house, for instance, and you’ll be hurled into the “toast dimension,” which is essentially a dungeon area that you can escape by completing the simple platforming challenge within. In another instance, you enter a pottery store that is clearly begging you to smash everything inside it–it’s a clear Zelda homage, but the real delight is in the merchant’s zen approach to your destruction. Pikuniku is playful and mischievous. Even the soundtrack is wonderfully kooky, and often faintly reminiscent of Koji Kondo’s work with Nintendo.

However, Pikuniku doesn’t last long. You can jump back in after the end credits, which roll within about three hours, and enjoy the aftermath of everything you achieved, but even mopping up the last few missions and trying to collect all the optional trophies scattered around the game world doesn’t add much. The world you’re exploring is compact, and it doesn’t take long for you to feel like you’ve seen everything there is to see. Pikuniku is so charming, and so much fun, that I wanted more time with it (even though the ending is great and absolutely bonkers). The game wrapped up before I was ready to leave it behind, and more story content, or another village to explore, would have gone a long way.

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Pikuniku also comes with nine two-player levels, as well as a multiplayer version of Baskick, the aforementioned basketball/soccer hybrid featured in the campaign. These levels are divided between co-op challenges where Piku and his identical friend Niku need to work together and competitive levels where you race one another. You can play with two detached Joy-Cons, and the game holds up well on the smaller screen if you’re playing in portable mode. This is not a major component of the game, though, so don’t expect a whole second campaign. You’re unlikely to get more than an hour out of these levels, but its simplicity makes it ideal to play with a younger relative or someone with little gaming experience.

While Pikuniku is a light experience, it’s got enough charm and verve to stick with you well beyond completion. From Piku’s weird wobbly gait and looping jumps in the opening right through to the game’s funny, bizarre ending, Pikuniku is more gripping than its simple aesthetic and playful tone would suggest. It’ll make you feel like a kid again.

Source: GameSpot Reviews]]>

Pikuniku Review – Tasty Morsel

With its simple character designs and a game world that often looks like a young kid designed it by cutting up and sticking together different bits of colored paper, Pikuniku sometimes feels like a video game adaption of a children’s book. It tells a simple story that doesn’t always quite make sense, it’s pointedly very silly, and there are scenes within it that seem to be based on how a child understands the world. A giant company pays a town by making money rain from the sky; a trendy nightclub will only let you in if you dress “cool” by wearing sunglasses; you play a game someone “invented,” but which is, essentially, just basketball mixed with soccer.

But Pikuniku (Japanese for “picnic”) never feels like it was designed specifically for children. It’s a game about battling a corporate takeover, and the writing has the playful, sarcastically irreverent tone you’re more likely to see from someone in their 20s or 30s. But the childish veneer is charming, and while Pikuniku isn’t the deepest game around, it’s lovely, funny, and engrossing in its own weird way.

At the game’s opening, your character–Piku, an entity made up of an oblong red body with dots for eyes and two long spindly legs coming out of it–awakens in a cave, prompted by a ghost to go outside. The opening tutorial doesn’t take long, because the controls are simple: You can jump, causing Piku to spin haphazardly as he moves through the air, you can kick in any direction, and you can curl your legs into yourself and roll around in ball form. You spend the rest of the game wandering through the small game world, encountering characters and helping solve their problems until, eventually, you find yourself fighting against Sunshine Inc, a giant corporation that is sending robots all over the land to harvest natural resources from the game’s three regions.

Progression rarely requires much thoughtful effort. You explore the world on a 2D plane, talking to as many people as you can, kicking at everything, and solving objectives as they’re handed to you. There are platforming elements that require some finesse, especially when you explore some of the slightly more challenging optional side quests that pop up throughout the game. Pikuniku is entertaining rather than challenging, though, and even the hardest areas you’ll find are unlikely to trip you up for longer than a few minutes. But this is to the game’s advantage–it’s accessible to inexperienced and young players, and I never felt like the game would have been more enjoyable if it pushed me harder. Piku’s weird, wobbly walk, his awkward jump, and the force of his kicks mean that just moving through the game world is inherently entertaining.

Your ability to kick everything and everyone is crucial, and much of the puzzle solving in the game comes down to kicking an object from one place to another. The kick mechanic is great fun, with objects reacting differently depending on the angle and distance you hit them from, although there are occasional moments of frustration when, for instance, a box gets wedged into a corner and is tricky to get out. Getting stuck for a moment kicking something out of a corner, or dealing with an object that isn’t behaving how you’d like, can interrupt the flow of gameplay.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

You can kick every character you meet in the game with no real punishment, which rarely stops being funny. In a few other instances Piku needs to don different hats or use items he has collected to push forward. Again, the mechanics around this are quite simple–if you see a blooming flower, for instance, you know that you need to use the watering can hat on it because a silhouette of that hat will appear above it. This makes it easy to keep track of what you might now be able to do or unlock when you find a new item. It’s not the deepest mechanic, but it means that finding a hat or item can spark immediate excitement when you already know what it’ll do.

Pikuniku throws little minigames and oddities at you among all the platforming to mix things up. At one point early on, you’re asked to draw a new face for a scarecrow using the analog stick; later, you need to win a button-matching dance-off against a robot. There’s even a Dig Dug parody, which amusingly devolves into a little joke about how some retro games don’t age well. There are boss fights, too (there’s no combat in the game otherwise), and while they’re not super involved affairs they use the game’s simple mechanics to good effect.

No Caption Provided

Pikuniku is a funny game on numerous levels–the script often undercuts tension and plays with tropes in amusing ways, the goofy way you flip when you jump is a constant source of amusement, and the game will often throw you into strange situations without much explanation. Mess with a toaster in someone’s house, for instance, and you’ll be hurled into the “toast dimension,” which is essentially a dungeon area that you can escape by completing the simple platforming challenge within. In another instance, you enter a pottery store that is clearly begging you to smash everything inside it–it’s a clear Zelda homage, but the real delight is in the merchant’s zen approach to your destruction. Pikuniku is playful and mischievous. Even the soundtrack is wonderfully kooky, and often faintly reminiscent of Koji Kondo’s work with Nintendo.

However, Pikuniku doesn’t last long. You can jump back in after the end credits, which roll within about three hours, and enjoy the aftermath of everything you achieved, but even mopping up the last few missions and trying to collect all the optional trophies scattered around the game world doesn’t add much. The world you’re exploring is compact, and it doesn’t take long for you to feel like you’ve seen everything there is to see. Pikuniku is so charming, and so much fun, that I wanted more time with it (even though the ending is great and absolutely bonkers). The game wrapped up before I was ready to leave it behind, and more story content, or another village to explore, would have gone a long way.

No Caption ProvidedNo Caption Provided
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Pikuniku also comes with nine two-player levels, as well as a multiplayer version of Baskick, the aforementioned basketball/soccer hybrid featured in the campaign. These levels are divided between co-op challenges where Piku and his identical friend Niku need to work together and competitive levels where you race one another. You can play with two detached Joy-Cons, and the game holds up well on the smaller screen if you’re playing in portable mode. This is not a major component of the game, though, so don’t expect a whole second campaign. You’re unlikely to get more than an hour out of these levels, but its simplicity makes it ideal to play with a younger relative or someone with little gaming experience.

While Pikuniku is a light experience, it’s got enough charm and verve to stick with you well beyond completion. From Piku’s weird wobbly gait and looping jumps in the opening right through to the game’s funny, bizarre ending, Pikuniku is more gripping than its simple aesthetic and playful tone would suggest. It’ll make you feel like a kid again.

Source: GameSpot Reviews]]>

The Shrouded Isle is a horror game about making bad decisions

Learning to fail in your own way

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Source: Polygon]]>

How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wound up on a Donkey Kong 64 Twitch charity stream

H.Bomberguy’s Twitch fundraiser started out of ‘spite,’ became something bigger

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Source: Polygon]]>

Anthem: 55 interesting details we’ve gleaned from the tweets of its creators

Anthem’s developers answer any and all questions on Twitter

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Source: Polygon]]>