I’ll be linking to the video review that goes along with this at the bottom of the article. Yay for new formatting!
Today, I’m taking a look at the game that started it all, Resident Evil. Well, the Sega Saturn version, anyway. That came out a few months after the PSX release.
Originally released upon the world March 22, 1996 for the PlayStation and later ported to the Sega Saturn, PC, and, much, much later, Nintendo DS, Resident Evil turned the gaming world on its head. Atmosphere and who-dun-it mystery, mixed with solid gameplay and crazy puzzle solving made the game an instant success around the world.
Let’s take a look!
Preface: Yes, I know the game is 21 years old (Goddamn, that went by fast), but I’m still making this spoiler-free because, believe it or not, there ARE people who haven’t played it yet. Also, I’m going to cover the overall story as it doesn’t really matter who you choose lore-wise, outside of some minor differences. In the end, canonically, everyone escapes regardless of how well you do, so take solace in the fact that if you failed to save anyone, they still kinda got out.
I guess. How’d you even get hired on with S.T.A.R.S.?!
Resident Evil starts with us getting recap of the events taking place on the outskirts of Raccoon City that have citizens on edge and the police working overtime. From here, we join the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) Alpha team who is sent out to find their compatriots from Bravo. While en route to the last known coordinates of Bravo in the Akrlay Mountains, Alpha spots a plum of smoke rising out of the forest and decide to check it out.
What they find produces more questions than answers.
They find Bravo’s downed helicopter, but don’t get to examine it in any meaningful detail as they find themselves under attack almost immediately. In their mad dash to escape they rush towards the only thing they see– a mansion. Once they get inside, they realise that someone’s missing. Who it is depends on who you chose to play. If you chose Jill, Chris will be missing, and if you chose Chris, Barry will be missing.
Before anyone can really come to grips with everything that’s just happened, they hear a gunshot ring out and your chosen character is sent to investigate. When they find the source, they’re met with the recently deceased Kenneth of Bravo team. This is also where we get the iconic slow-turn-zombie scene.
From here on out, you’re left to your own devices to explore the mansion while trying to survive whatever creatures haunt its halls and the traps that fill its rooms…
Resident Evil is notorious for, at least, two things: God awful voice acting and tank controls.
I’ll get to the voice acting in a minute, but for right now, let’s talk about those tank controls. Personally, I love them. To me, they make perfect sense in a game with wildly differing camera angles coming at you constantly. They’re like an anchor, of sorts, because they don’t care what direction you’re faced, they work exactly the same all the time.
I know a lot of people don’t like them and find them confusing. I feel like those people are kind of stupid, but those are both opinions, so take them for what they’re worth.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely had my share of fights with the tank controls, but more often than not, they don’t hinder gameplay in any meaningful way. At least not outside of extremely high level play (I’m talking speedrunning, no damage, and knife only games here), but if you’re playing at that level, you could probably beat the game with a banana as your controller.
Outside of debatable controls, you’ll be tasked with solving a plethora of puzzles throughout the game. Puzzles can consist of something as simple as picking up a battery and placing it in a slot two feet away, or be as lengthy and in-depth as picking up a crest in one room, going to another and playing a piano, running one emblem to another room to replace the one you used to replace it with, leading to a grandfather clock sliding out of the way for a key that’s used in the mansion.
…ok, that SOUNDS way more complex than it actually is. I promise.
Along the way, you’ll come across some bosses, some of which have multiple strategies that can be employed. Maybe you don’t want to deal with that Giant Snake, well, you can run past him, grab what you need, and run out. Well, ok, if you’ve practiced it, you can, otherwise the old Nope Rope is probably gonna chomp that ass.
And that giant spider? Make him destroy the webbing for you if you don’t want to risk fighting him.
So, something that was sorely missed and there are a few things that I could’ve done without…
In my recent play through, one of the biggest hindrances of this release, was the lack of aim-assist, the increased enemy numbers (this is partially due to playing Chris because fuck me for picking the dude), and their difficulty. This was done to arbitrarily increase difficulty and boost rentals. For me, this added a ton of unnecessary stress and made the game more of a chore to play at certain points. That isn’t meant to imply that I didn’t have fun, because it’s goddamn Resident Evil and that’s what I do, so obviously I did, but I had to employ some strategies I generally don’t use in a normal play through like the ones mentioned above and serious dodging practice that I, honestly, probably needed.
If there’s one thing the Saturn got right, and I really mean that, it’s that it was the first release of any Resident Evil game with Battle Mode. You’ll have to clear a set number of rooms as quickly as possible with limited ammo, but definitely enough to finish, and enemies that get continually stronger with each passing room. There’s even a special zombie floating around in one of the rooms that’s a hell of a lot stronger than any other zombie found anywhere in the game.
All that said, there’s definitely something else the Saturn got right, and that’s looking good.
There’s a very distinct difference when it comes to the Saturn version of Resident Evil and, well, basically every single other platform’s release and that is the look of the character models. In the Saturn version, it looks like the colors are far more varied, deep, and vibrant than the other versions. The skins for the characters look amazing, but due to poor lighting and really rough jaggies on the models, they’re almost ruined.
On the flipside, the other versions have much better lighting, and cleaner character models. It’s a small thing to note, but I feel like the characters look a bit beefier in the Saturn release, as well. Everyone looks too damn skinny in the other versions. Literal fucking bean poles. What do they eat in Raccoon City?
If I had to point out something I wasn’t a huge fan of with the Saturn release, it’s definitely that the character models don’t look too great. At a distance, the colors and their blending can look great, but in some instances, it looks a bit washed out or faded. At some points, the lack of lighting even makes enemies look pretty bad. Hunters, for example, look pretty strange. Instead of a decent green, they look almost black and gooey. The Ticks in the mines do too. Well, the Ticks look more like walking lumps of shit, if I’m perfectly honest.
Does it hold up today, though? Well, yes and no. The colors, for me, hold up incredibly well, but the weaker, more jagged look of the character models is kind of a pain to look at.
Atmosphere is what makes up about 85% of any Resident Evil game, something they seemed to lose sight of with 5 and 6. Don’t worry, we’ll talk about those two in the future, and no, I won’t beat up poor RE4 again. Especially not after that last review.
A major part of the game’s atmosphere comes with the music, the ambient sounds, and the sound effects that bring this world to life.
Once you have the dog’s clicking nails ingrained in your head, you’ll be jumpy as shit for the rest of your life when you hear something that sounds even remotely similar. Seriously, my brother, stepdad, and myself all still get on edge when we hear anything that sounds like them.
The music direction is great and it shows when the music is calm, subdued, and quiet, or nonexistent, and then swells to a heart-pounding, anxiety laiden orchestra of “You’d better be on your damn toes.”
Every little thing in Resident Evil has a distinct and tell-tale sound. Zombies sound like they’ve got shoes full of squishy porage, Hunters have very bass-y, thick, heavy footfalls, and of course, the dog’s clickity nails. You’ll always know what’s waiting for you after you get through a door just by the sound the enemy makes when moving.
Enemies aside, the weapons you get to use all sound like they’ve got impact and actually hold some power to them, even if they’re a bit on the weaker side. Looking at you Beretta… I love the sound the Colt Python makes, it sounds like it’s gonna fuck up whatever it hits, and it damn sure does.
Ok, ok. I know. You’re waiting for me to talk about the voice acting. Well, let’s dive head-first into this dumpster of bullshit.
Jesus. H. Christ. Who the fuck directed these poor people? I mean, there are so many factors to consider; was it bad direction? Bad actors? Both? Neither? Uh…huh, yea, right… Resident Evil’s voice acting is legendary for being some of the worst voice acting ever recorded, and with good reason. I mean, shit, it’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for the worse video game dialogue EVER. Seriously. Go Google that shit right now. I’m not joking.
I don’t even have to make jokes about it. It’s like one, long running joke in itself. It’s campy as shit and I love it.
So, bad voice acting, inflated difficulty, and questionable controls definitely put a few dents in the game’s reputation, but what it gets right and doesn’t falter with are the areas of having fun, teasing your brain, and giving you plenty of reasons to go back and replay the game multiple times.
A first timer playing the game might get between 8-10 hours out of it, and after that, your time will be cut down drastically. Hell, my last run was just under 4 hours long, and I hadn’t played Chris’ scenario in years. You can easily get a sub 2 hour run once you’ve got an efficient route. Doing so will unlock some goodies for you. They tend to vary to a degree depending on the platform you’re on, but you can always count on a Rocket Launcher with infinite ammo with a sub 3 hour run. The PC version has a special weapon for Jill and another for Chris in addition to the Rocket Launcher if you do this. There’s also the dressing room key you earn for getting the good ending with either one for some extra dress up fun.
So, is it worth buying? Well, you can usually find a copy of Biohazard (the Japanese release), which isn’t just arguably better, it completely is, for $15-$20USD. The US release doesn’t seem to want to go for anything less than about $60USD for the DISC ALONE. Considering the drawbacks the US version has compared to the Japanese version, do yourself a favor and get the Japanese release.
Unless you actually still own a PlayStation in some form (PS4 currently withstanding because Sony are being fucking stupid about letting PS1 Classics roll out on it, but that’s a rant for another day…), and in that case buy the Director’s Cut Dualshock Version. Yes, that exact one, because the regular DC Version has god awful music. You can probably find the disc pretty cheap if you’re on the PSX/2 and it’s definitely cheap digitally on the PSN. I think maybe $10 on there, for it? I haven’t checked in a very, very long time. Anyway, pick this bad bastard up and go shoot some zombies and mutant freaks!
That’s all for now.
Take care and watch your backs out there. I’ll see you out on the streets of Raccoon City!
Link to the video (hammy acting by yours truly) below!
Things are coming along pretty well with the Until Dawn review. The text version has been done for a few days, but since I’m still working on the video (which, for the record, I’d forgotten how much work goes into videos), I’m holding off on putting it up.
I’d also initially planned for the video review to be almost verbatim to what the written one says, but I figured I could say a lot more in a lot less time in the video so I’ve been going that way. I’m aiming to have it up Friday at the latest, but hopefully sooner. Then, I’ll have a few days to record some footage for a Let’s Play or two that I’m wanting to do while waiting for the big name we’re all waiting for: Mass Effect Andromeda.
Anyway, I just wanted to toss something up and break the radio silence since it’d been a few days and I had a few minutes.
Don’t forget to head over to the YouTube channel (right here) and toss a sub my way (because I’m your favorite, right?). Being as the video kinda has to go up before the written review with how I plan to have it formatted, you’ll get to know as soon as it’s ready!
That’s all for now, I’ll see you guys tomorrow evening with the next list of Steam Weeklong Sales!
Here is a link to my new channel.
I decided to just give it its own post instead of having it buried at the bottom of some random other post.
Why not go ahead and toss a sub my way over there? It’ll be fun, I promise. I’m going to be putting up videos for the reviews I do, Let’s Plays (some alone and some co-op), and any streams that I do will be going up there, as well. I’ve got a lot planned for this, so why not come along with me on this exciting excursion?
Alrighty, I’ve still got a lot of work to do to finish my Until Dawn review and its video. I’ll see you guys whenever I come out of the ol’ cave!
So, reason being, and my old regular readers (are you guys even still around?) know that I almost never post my personal life stuff on here, but I got married, started a family, switched careers, and haven’t had much time to even think about the poor blog. That said, things are starting to stabilize and aside from PC reviews, I plan to start putting in some current gen console reviews as well. I’ll get into that later.
Before I get any further, I want to give a huge, from-the-bottom-of-my-black-heart “thank you!” to an awesome blogger that goes by mh4wp. You can find his blog right over here! He nominated me back in June of last year for the Liebster Award and it means a lot, so I wanted to really say thank you again. Not just in a comment tucked away in an old review or some obscure place. Also, he’s got a book in the works about the political science of video games, which sounds awesome. I absolutely encourage you, not only to check out the book, but also the blog. Again, thank you so much for the nomination. It put me over the moon, even if I was 8 months late to the party.
In less exciting news, the console reviews I mentioned earlier will focus on Playstation 4 and its exclusives. Don’t worry, I won’t shun the multiplatform games. I won’t be able to review Mass Effect: Andromeda (and its glorious, juicy multiplayer co-op) if I do something as silly as that. Side note: I believe I also heard rumors on the wind of Marvel Heroes coming to consoles? It’d make sense given their beta testing phase of controller usage. If it does go through, I’ve got my fingers crossed for the ability to link my PC account to my PS4. I really don’t want to level 3/4 of the cast to 60 again. I mean, I would, but I don’t want to.
Ok, ok. Let’s address the big, fat elephant in the room. The Nuzlocke. Yes, I know. I FUBAR’d that one yet again. I just don’t think it’s been long enough since the original. I don’t have the drive for it again…yet. I know it was probably the most popular part of this blog. I also know I’ve horrendously failed Lord Emperor Branga by not completing my end of it and leaving his mud puddle garbage frog to rot in its PC storage bank indefinitely. It’s ok, though. Charles wasn’t exactly going places anyway.
Oh, jumping back to the console reviews and such (tangent thinking, even when you think you’re on the train after it hops off the rails, you’re not. Yay.), given that I can record video and take screenshots easily with the PS4, I’ll be using both features for future reviews on the system. I absolutely intend to make some videos for my YouTube channel (yea, I’ve got one of those. It’s right over here! Yea, it’s pretty small still.), such as Let’s Plays and, possibly, reviews. We’ll see how the video reviews go, I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time. Anyway, my first target in this whole new, crazy plan is the PS4 exclusive: Until Dawn. I know, it’s old at this point, but honestly, it’s a huge part of why I bought my first PS4 a few years ago. Of course, that one got sold, and the game hadn’t even been released yet, so no harm, no foul, I suppose. Anyway, with the new PS4, Until Dawn, and a huge amount of love for both, I’m setting my sights on it. I might also try to shoe in some older Resident Evil reviews, too. RE2 and Nemesis, most likely. I wouldn’t mind doing Code Veronica, too, if I could. Oh, and REVII, you’re on my list too, sucka. Better what yo’self.
I think that just about covers everything for now. Yes, I’m going to try and keep myself in check and the blog alive this time (my wife will crack the whip if I don’t). It should be infinitely easier now with the hours I’m working these days. No more wild and crazy schedules for this guy.
That’s all for now. You folks have fun, take care, and I’ll see you next time.
Before I start this week’s review, I want to give a big “Thank you” to my buddy Monger who donated this game to me (actually, it was quite a while ago that he did…). He’s got a YouTube channel here with some Let’s Plays and other things. He also streams regularly, you can find that right here. If you follow me on Twitter (Monger’s is right over here!), you might’ve seen me promoting his recent return to streaming, so give him a follow or two or three and come join us for the streams. They’re a hell of a lot of fun.
Another side note: Being incredibly sick this week, I totally forgot to get screenshots for this review, so in lieu of that, here’s the trailer!
Breach & Clear was originally developed by Mighty Rabbit Studios, published by Gun Media, and released for iOS in July of 2014. It was later ported to Android, Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and the Playstation Vita. Following up the X-Com review, it’s a tactical strategy game that’s actually quite a bit of fun. So, without further ado, let’s, well, breach and clear!
I’m gonna just jump right onto the game play, ok? Good.
It’s totally different to any tactics game I’ve played in the past. Mind you, I haven’t played a whole lot of them, but I really like how it works. You’ll start off with some number of doors you can stack your team on. Everybody on one door? Sure. One guy to flank the back while the others move in from the front? You can do that too. It’s flexible. Very, very flexible. I like it.
That’s not the main part of what made it feel so different to other tactics games for me, though. That would be the fact that you plan out your entire turn before anything happens. You chart your soldiers’ paths, even giving them the ability to stop, do something, then continue on. While you’re doing this, you can decide which way you want them to face, so if you need coverage over a few doors that aren’t open yet, you can get it.
After you’ve set all this into motion, you, well, literally set it into motion and watch the turn play out. Your team moves in, sweeping the area, taking down any enemies they come across. I really, really like the way this works. It feels a little more thought-out, I suppose is the phrase, than other systems. When I say “thought-out” I mean that I feel like I put a bit more thought into what I was doing while I was planning out my turns than I do with, say, X-Com, where I just try to move carefully and spend more time moving slowly and cautiously. I guess it’s a bit more action oriented.
Either way, enough rambling. The game lends itself very well to people of all tactics experience ranges.
Eyes Open, Rookie
Given that the game started out as an iOS game, it looks fairly decent. The animations are smooth and clean, they look really nice.
On the flip side, the character models look a bit generic, the portraits you can choose for your soldiers are pretty hilarious, and the bullets…oh man, the bullets. They look less like they come from a military based game, and more from something akin to the opening of A New Hope. Actually, that’s a pretty good analogy for how the game usually plays out.
Really, if you set the opening scene from that movie to play as you’re playing Breach & Clear, pause it between your turns, and then watch them both play out, I promise you it’d be eerily similar.
So, now that I’ve managed to mix Star Wars and modern military tactics, let’s move on!
Honestly, there isn’t much else to say about this one. It’s entertaining, there’s plenty to do, there’s soldier customization, loadout customization, some RPG elements, but it’s all so similar to itself that sometimes it’s hard to distinguish exactly what you’ve done.
That said, I’d put over an hour into the game before I’d realized it and even though it felt like I’d only done three or four missions, I’d actually done about twelve. This is good in the sense that it means the game had me engrossed enough to be engaged and keep playing. It’s bad in the sense that I didn’t actually feel like I’d had any variation. After I stopped playing, I felt like I should’ve been exposed to a bit more of the game by that point, but hadn’t.
Overall, it didn’t sully my experience, really. I still had fun with it, and I’ll still play it when X-Com delivers too many “That’s X-Com, baby!” moments for me to handle. As of writing, the game is sitting on Steam for a cool $14.99 (actually, it’s on sale for $2.24, remember that weeklong sale post I did earlier this week? No? Well, you would if you’d read it.), which to me just feels like too high a price point for what you get. I feel like $9.99 might be a better price for it, and anything under that (again, that weeklong sale), or even under $4.99, is definitely a green light to pick it up.
So, in the end, the game is a bit repetitive, a little generic, and somewhat bland, but, honestly, it’s a lot of fun. Go buy it. Right now. It’s on sale. Go!
That’s all for now.
You folks have fun, take care, and I’ll see you next time.
Ah, Alpha Protocol, you silly bastard. For the longest time, this game either didn’t run, or ran in the same way a cow tumbles down the side of a rocky mountain. This doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore, so it’s time to take a crack at a game I’ve had quite a bit of fun with.
Developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Sega, Alpha Protocol was released in the US on June 1, 2010. It landed on Playstation 3, XBox 360, and Windows. It’s an action-RPG with some stealth thrown in. Think of a cross between, well, any RPG and Metal Gear Solid. Yep, there you go.
So, does it stand well with the genres it’s taken parts from? Let’s find out!
Wake Up, Alice
Alpha Protocol follows the story of Michael Thorton who happens to be the newest agent for the titular agency. He wakes up in a medical room after being drugged and moved to Alpha Protocol’s hidden location. From there, after doing a number on the guards, his sights are set on places ranging from Saudi Arabia to Rome to Moscow as Mike is tasked with hunting down and eliminating the leader of the terrorist group known as Al-Samad. But that’s just the beginning, as it is with any good espionage story.
Plenty of twists and turns will keep you guessing at who’s pulling the strings, whose strings are getting pulled, and if any strings are being pulled whatsoever.
It’s good, crazy, fun story telling.
Before you can start your adventure with Mike, you get a few options to check out to help decide what kind of skill set he’ll have.
Will he be a Field Agent? Capable of being a sneaky, sneaky little bastard that engages enemies on his terms, talking his way out of a bad situation if he has to?
Maybe a skilled combat veteran? Maybe Mike came from a more hectic combat background and doesn’t have any issue being loud to solve his problems.
There are a few other choices you can go with, like the archetype that focuses on gadgets or one where he’s more akin to what most people might consider an actual mercenary, going for blind and big bucks.
The game also offers a really neat option for people that want a more open starting set. Recruit offers you the ability to start with 0 ability points, meaning you’ve got no skills and have no points to work with, unlike the other options.
While the starting builds are fairly varied, I do feel like everyone winds up dumping enough points into the stealth category to unlock permanent Awareness. It provides you a visual of where enemies are looking (which isn’t too easy to read at first, honestly), their alarm level, and roughly how far away they are.
Slap that on just about any class and you either have things to avoid, things to quietly take down, or targets so bright you’d better rock some Ray Bans.
Handling Your Agent
Firstly, Mike controls fairly well overall. The movement and combat controls are responsive, but there are a few issues here and there. Climbing ladders can be a pain in the ass when Mikey can’t decide what the hell to do with them, like they’re the second coming of Christ. On occasion, the cover mechanic can get you caught and raise alarms, but I haven’t had this happen too often, personally. It does feel like it could’ve been smoothed out just a tiny bit more for a bit more of a fluid feel, because as it stands, it almost feels like Mike has a magnet in the back of his vest and he’s just slammed into the cover.
Some of the menus, however, are a different story. The gadget and weapon menus felt clunky most of the time, and don’t seem to have been thought out exceedingly well. I mean, they aren’t horrible, they’re actually pretty standard cross menus, but something more akin to what MGS does, would’ve been leagues better than what they wound up with. That might be more of a minor nitpick, though.
Outside of combat and menus, you’ll have to make quick, very quick, decisions during conversations, and work some mini-games to advance and gain intel and extra cash. The conversation bit is pretty straight forward, hit the corresponding button to the reply type you want to give, and Mike does it. The conversations themselves are very important as they can lead to dossier info, leads on your mission, and some extra fun stuff.
The mini-games are a good bit of fun, too. Picking locks, hacking computers, bypassing electronic door locks, and disabling alarms are what you’ll need to watch out for.
Lock picking isn’t too bad if you’re using a control, you apply just enough pressure to get the line where you need it to be and hold it steady while you hit the other trigger.
Hacking is definitely the one I like the least as it kind of disorients me, as I think it does for some people. You’re presented with a massive columned square with almost every single box changing whatever is in it rapidly. Your task is to find the two lines that don’t change at all in this shit storm of numberical-alphabet soup, and plop your lines of code in there. It’s not too bad, but like I said, for me, it’s a bit disorienting. Bypassing electronic locks shares this mini-game.
Disabling alarms is pretty straight forward. You’re shown three boxes, each with some pathways that lead to a number, and all you have to do is go from one to whatever. This one is probably my favorite of the bunch.
…or you could just say “fuck it” and put a point into Sabotage and carry an assload of EMP grenades to knock out most of the locks.
Watch Your Tongue, Boy
Like I just mentioned above, conversations are a pretty big part of the game. From unlocking more info for your dossiers and missions to getting extra bonuses from your handler back at AP, it all hinges on how you talk to people.
Your reputation with individuals will rise and fall depending on the tone you present to them. Thankfully, you have dossiers on most, if not all, of them, so you can study up before-hand and know how to handle them instead of them handling you.
End Of Alpha Protocol Dossier
So, is Alpha Protocol the best espionage/stealth game around? No, no it isn’t, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Well, at least it is, provided you can get it to run. I hadn’t tried running it on Windows 8.1 and still haven’t, but it seems to run fine on Windows 10. The only issue I’ve had, and I’ve had it with a few games, is the sound cutting out. That might just be my speakers, though because, honestly, they’re old and kind of shit.
As it stands, it’s sitting on Steam for $14.99USD. I expected it to be $10.00USD at most before I checked, but would I say it’s still worth the $15? Yep, but considering the issues a lot of people have had with it, maybe wait for a sale, and if it doesn’t run, there’s always the option to do a refund on Steam. If you have one of the consoles it’s on, buy it for that from Gamestop or Amazon. You’ll probably be able to find it for $5 or less, that’s what I did before the days of Steam refunds when it wouldn’t run for shit on PC.
In the end, Alpha Protocol offers up a lot of fun and some great options for people who really want to do some role-playing. It does have some issues with somewhat awkward menu controls and the occasional jank during ladders, but I don’t feel like it’s enough of an issue to detract from the overall enjoyment of the game. It certainly wasn’t for me.
Ok, Agents, go out there and kick some ass!
That’s all for now.
You folks have fun, take care, and I’ll see you next time.
Well, I did mention I had some news about a Nuzlocke in my last post and I hope you guys are ready for this one…
I received a message from a friend of mine the other day and it went something like this:
“To The Avian King,
I would like to officially challenge you to a Nuzlocke battle! I propose that we each complete a Nuzlocke run on our respective ORAS cartridges, and then battle after the game ends (so after completing the Delta Episode) to see who is the better POKEMON MASTAAAAAR!!
Standard Nuzlocke rules will apply, with the following additions:
It’s up to you whether or not you’d like the Safari Zone to count for one ‘area’ for the purposes of first Nuzlocke capture, or if you’d like to split them into their 4 areas, which would allow capture of one Pokemon per Safari Zone area. I am happy with either scenario. Let me know what you prefer.
I’ll be starting my run sometime today or tomorrow and will keep you updated on my progress.
Good luck, Avian King, and prepare for the pain.
There you have it. The only additional rule I’ve asked about is the duplicates clause, so I’ll have to wait to hear back about that one.
Otherwise, I’ve accepted Choke’s challenge and will be starting my run soon. It’s all going to end with a battle for the ages where we do battle and then share the code for the battle video for you guys to see the final outcome.
That’s all for now, time to get to work on this week’s review.
…and no, I have no idea why the featured picture on the left is ridiculously sized. That happened with some of my really old review’s pictures, too.
X-Com Enemy Unknown is the 2012 remake of the 1994 cult classic of the same name (sometimes referred to as X-Com: UFO Defense), and a reboot of sorts for MicroPros’ 1990 series in general. It was developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K Games, released on November 9th 2012 to the US for Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows. It was ported to iOS and OS X the following year and found its way to Android and Linux in 2014.
With this being a turn-based tactics/strategy game, you’d think it’d be something I’m going to be totally crushed by, but surprisingly, it’s literally one of two tactics/strategy games I can play with reasonable competence. I know, I was just as shocked as you are.
This review only covers Enemy Unknown, even though I own the complete pack that includes Enemy Within, but Enemy Within is a review for another day.
Something else of note: There is multiplayer, but I won’t be touching on that in this review as I don’t have anyone to play it with.
We’re Definitely Not Alone Out Here
As someone who isn’t very well versed in these types of games, I’ve got to say, they made it very, very easy to jump in and figure out what’s going on without too much holding you back. It’s fairly easy to jump into, but like any game that revolves around strategy, is hard to master. Things like figuring out where to situate your base in the very beginning is a bit weird if you have no idea what any of the particular bonuses mean or how they’ll effect your game. The combat itself is quick, intense, and nerve-racking at points. At others, it’s calm and quiet, giving you a moment to catch your breath, but nothing in this game kicks you in the ass to pay attention quite like turning a corner into two giant Mutons that’re hellbent on smooshing your flimsy humans into paste.
That said, a well placed shotgun round can solve that problem relatively quickly, or you can flat-out miss your 95% chance to hit shots and get completely creamed. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen very often.
Either way, someone usually winds up as a puddle on the floor. I know that it’s a percentage chance, but how many times in a row is my guy gonna miss his shot? Oh, right, usually just enough to be critically wounded or dead. That minor complaint aside, the combat is simple enough to use and doesn’t take too long to get used to. This is great for people like me, who don’t generally play these types of games.
The only real issues I’ve had with the combat are weird, janky grenade throwing targeting, the rare 95% chance to hit but miss instances, and the awkward raising and lowering of the camera. I can never quite tell if my camera is at the height I’d intended it to be or not. Which can be frustrating on certain maps where gaining elevation comes in handy.
Moving through the field of battle, like the rest of combat, is simple and straight forward. You can move within a certain number of blocks and still have an action available, or you can go for distance and enter blocks outside that reach by “Dashing.” Dashing leaves you unable to use any action in most cases, but gets you around the map a bit faster. You might think I’m downplaying the depth of the combat sections, but don’t worry, if you put someone in the wrong spot, they’re fucked.
There’s certainly more to the combat, but I don’t want to spend the entire review writing about that!
You’re Not Even Safe In Your Own Home
While combat does make up a good portion of the game, it’s the base building that probably takes up the most time. It’s where the magic happens. A place to recruit, promote, and train your soldiers. Testing them for Psi abilities, scanning for any invasions or places of interest where the aliens might be, and research and development happen here too.
R&D is one of the key components to succeeding in X-Com. You can probably get by without it (Maybe? I dunno, I’m not skilled enough with this type of game to try it, but I’m sure someone has), but where’s the fun in that? You get to interrogate aliens, reverse-engineer their toys, and make some of your own! And the armor. Oh man, the armor in this game looks amazing. Every piece of it has a really cool, unique look to it.
I love the look of the armor here. In most cases you can even add some flair to the armor by choosing some minor variants in the customization menu. That menu also allows you to choose from a selection of helmets, faces, hair, races, nationalities, and a few other things.
Even the starting armor is cool looking.
Another key to success is making sure that you’re taking care of the countries around the world that keep getting hit with invasions. You’ll have to make choices when it comes to protecting the world, and weigh in the panic level of each country. If Australia happens to get to a full blown code red panic, they’ll pull funding from your X-Com project if you don’t help them and go at it alone. Of course, the less funding you have, the less you can do when you get your monthly income.
One big thing to pay attention to during this is what you can gain from protecting a country. Some might give you money, others might give you scientists or researchers to help your R&D area. You’ll have to carefully choose who to help and when so you’ll get the maximum effect.
I really enjoyed playing around with the base building aspect and the ability to dig up some dirt and place power generators wherever I could. It’s good to have something besides the R&D and running around shooting up aliens.
Like I mentioned earlier, some of your troops can test positive for having a Psi proficiency. This gives them some extra options on the battlefield and can really cause some fun times! Things like removing panic from allies, or out-right controlling non-robotic enemies come in handy the further you get into the game.
Have a nice kill box set up with your soldiers? Mind control that big baddie into walking into the center of it and getting annihilated. Everyone gets a laugh out of it!
There really is a lot to be done in the base that effects what happens on the battlefield and how your fights can turn out, so definitely spend some time there.
Know Thy Enemy
I haven’t touched on the story, so let’s go there next!
Honestly, it’s a pretty standard sci-fi alien invasion story. Aliens attack Earth, the world’s military forces join together, and work towards fighting off the menace.
At least, that’s the basic, boiled down version of it. More or less, you find out the lore of the aliens by interrogating them, examining their weaponry and gear, and spending time in R&D. I suppose it’s really more your story, your squad’s, and how they come out, if at all, in the end.
Yes, you caught that “if they come out of it at all” bit, didn’t you? X-Com features perma-death, and it’s no short supply. If you’re the type of player who builds a story around your troops, this can lead to some really upsetting moments when they die, or absolute panic when you see them taking shots and getting critically wounded.
In my case, I lost every single one of my original crew, save for one soldier. Jack “Hazard” O’Brien. He’s the guy showcasing the red suit of armor in one of the above screenshots. He’s survived 69 missions with one more to go before retirement, he’s also the last surviving member of his original squad. He’s a heavy drinker thanks to what he’s seen out in the field and runs into combat as if he has a death wish. Even if he does die in that last battle before retirement, he can die happy knowing that his apprentice Digkale will take his place and shred the alien menace. She’s got a natural knack for the kind of work they do, she’s quite a badass, and she’s even better at doing what they do than O’Brien is.
Yep, that’s about it for the story. It’s pretty simple and outside of the lore, you can make up your own backstories and whatnot for your troops if you’re into that kind of thing. I didn’t really get too into giving my soldiers stories until after my OG squad got almost completely wiped out. That’s when O’Brien’s story came around. After that, though, every so often I’d see one of them doing fairly well and start working on a story for them. Inevitably, they’d die. For whatever reason, O’Brien has the Devil’s luck and can’t seem to be killed.
Even though he’s got a nasty habit of getting mind-controlled almost every mission, is in situations he has no business being in, ones that would kill any other soldier, and has zero regard for himself.
Either way, I’m glad O’Brien is still with us. I still pour one out for ol’ Moose, though. He was the true OG. He was the only one who survived the very tutorial for me. That poor guy wound up being a neurotic mess up until it got him killed on a mission. I probably shouldn’t have sent him, but Moose was too valuable to have benched at the time. The mission he died on was the one that took out everyone else, except O’Brien.
Hmm, I guess that’s my story with X-Com. I just filled in the gaps, y’know?
Wubwubwubwubwub “Did You Hear That?!”
This game has some pretty awesome sound design, let’s just start with that, ok? Good.
The human starting weapons sound very much like they should. The shotgun is especially satisfying when it fires and connects. The alien’s laser weaponry has its own, somewhat standard, sci-fi sound, but is nonetheless just as satisfying.
The voice acting is no slouch, either. Some of the accents do sound a bit silly, but c’mon, it’s a campy sci-fi game and it’s fun. That said, the soldiers sound great. From smooth and cool when things are going well, to panicked and worried when they aren’t.
Every so often, you’ll hear alien chatter from a direction and might even get an indicator for it that the soldier who hears it will point out. It’s a pretty cool way to give you a bit of a hint as to which direction the enemy might be hiding.
Did We Win, Sarge?
Yes, yes we did, son.
X-Com comes from a genre that I typically don’t play, am not very good at, and don’t really care much for. So with that in mind, the fact that I actually got to the end and finished it really shows how easily it can be picked up by anyone interested in it. There’s something there for the occasional, casual tactical strategist like me, but there’s absolutely a lot more to be dug into for people who are hardcore fans of the genre. Now, I’m sure anyone who’s a mainstay in this genre already owns it, but for the folks like me, it’s definitely worth a look. X-Com 2 came out recently and I’m just waiting for it to get a nice big discount on Steam so I can snag it.
At the time of writing, the game is sitting at $29.99USD on Steam, which isn’t bad at all for what you get right out of the box, plus the ability of mods like Long War. If you’re like me and want to have the entire collection, you can get the collector’s pack for $49.99. That one includes all the DLC, as well as Enemy Within (which might even get its own review one day).
So, in the end, is $29.99 too much for me to suggest an out-right purchase? Not entirely. I logged 30 hours with it before I even realized what had happened. If you ever see it on sale, though, get it. Absolutely get it! And the complete pack? Would I say pay $49.99 for it? Oh, c’mon, my regular readers know me better than that! Of course not! The complete pack goes into “It’s a damn steal” territory at $25.99 for me.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done a review of this magnitude. Hell, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a review, and it could’ve been much, much longer, but I’m not trying to write a novel here. Anyway, X-Com was a wonderful romp through a genre I tend to avoid. I keep going back for more just because of how much fun I have and how accessible it is.
That’s all for now.
You folks have fun, take care, and I’ll see you next time.