Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna: The Golden Country – Switch

Xenoblade Addam vs Malos

For all the cool, anime-esque shots of heroes and villains fighting, I’d swear this game was directed by my seventh-grade mind.

All right…time to stall for more time while I work back towards Resident Evil. As it is, I’ve been planning on Xenoblade II, uh…Two, ever since I finished Xenoblade II One. And yeah, I know that reviewing a game that’s less than a year old on a retro blog is a bit like passing out purity rings at an orgy, but there are hundreds of youtubers getting millions of views playing through the latest and greatest games, and here I am pitching day-old bread through the medium of solid text, the form of entertainment most likely to incite nerd-beatings. Let me have this one!

Xenoblade - Jin Mask

I’ve got it! Jin is Jareth, the Goblin King from Labyrinth, re-imagined as an anime character!

Okay, so I wanted to start off this entry with “Torna: The Golden Country, wherein I get bored of taking screenshots of Mythra’s tits and instead snap shot after shot of nopon,” but looking through the folder of screenshots…nope. Mythra’s tits are still heroically perking out on center stage. I just happened to have plenty of noppon shots also.

Mythra Tits

Yes, of course…I just wanted to…I mean, I was wondering…if you…or……I’m sorry, what? I wasn’t paying attention.

Xenoblade Nopon

Sure they’re cute now, but from 11:00 pm to 5 am when you’re just trying to sleep and they won’t stop using their damned wheel…

The game begins 500 years before the first Xenoblade II, allowing the player to track the lives of Addam, Jin, Lora, Mythra, Brighid, Aegeon, and uh…Hugo (whoever that is) as they journey through a fantasy cliche of “all the important characters knew each other intimately in the past.” Ostensibly, we see the tragedy of Torna through Jin’s eyes, probably to make us understand how he came to go all angry-black-guy while still being white enough to make a Clorox commercial feel inadequate. And yeah, the game does an excellent job of showing him bond with Lora while coming to grips with the fact that he’ll never remember her and simply get passed on to the next driver like Mississippi chattel. But honestly, as soon as Mythra’s bust shows up, there isn’t room for anything else. Addam, playing more of a father-figure to the Aegis (compared to Rex’s younger-brother-with-incestuous-undertones), is desperately trying to teach her to reign in her power, harnessing it so she doesn’t end up going on tour as a Hiroshima impersonation act, while simultaneously trying to curb a serious case of Asperger’s and encourage her to interact with people on a level higher than an America’s Got Talent auditioner trying to shout down Simon Cowell. And there’s also Hugo, the boy emperor of Mor Ardain, for all those Nial fans who desperately wanted to play as a prepubescent Scottish overlord.

Xenoblade Noble Hugo

Said no one ever.

Likely only ever meant to be DLC, Torna does quite a lot with existing assets and a few new areas. As Addam travels about, connecting with his people, we get to see ancient Torna in all its glory…which turns out to be a few trees, two giant holes in the ground, and a single city, all on the periphery of a perilous, monster-infested desert. A little underwhelming, to be honest, if you want to make its destruction into a tragedy of the ages. I mean, yeah, it’s still a tragedy, but only like a Hindenberg tragedy or a Titanic tragedy, not like the Holocaust / Civil War / Nagasaki level tragedy.

Xenoblade Mythra Cooking Blurred

I love that Mythra’s cooking is so bad they have to treat it like a dick in Japanese porn just to be 100% clear that no one watching wants it inside them.

But seriously…the game feels full. It’s a populated world except for the villages conveniently reduced to cinders to reduce the workload of the designers. I went from level 0 to 65 in a reasonable time frame, never felt monsters were too easy or too difficult, and found a reasonable variety in the world. Anne is depressed that they dropped the Pokemon aspect of blade collecting, but they’ve drastically improved the battle system from the first (er…second? I’m really not sure how I should count Xenoblade games) game. One of the big drawbacks to Rex and his literal army of blades was that if you wanted to pull off any of the fancier combos, you had to hunt down an enemy strong enough not to bleed out while you set it up. Battles in that game tended to be a mixture of buddy war movies (“Don’t die on me, man!”) and Rob Zombie films (“…so I can murder you horrifically.”). But battles here are far quicker and combos are easier to set up and more worthwhile to pull off.

Xenoblade Quick Time

Press B to feel more engaged in battle

Xenoblade Mythra Portrait

I swear I haven’t had it this bad for a video game heroine since Marle. At least using Mythra doesn’t feel like charging into battle wielding a dampened sponge.

Xenoblade Mythra fighting Malos

So, yes, she does strike a chord with me, vaguely resembling the girl I was just friends with in high school, but given the choice between the two of them…sorry Katie.

Xenoblade Mythra Interest of Science

Yes. “Science.”

Xenoblade Omnom Nopon

If my cat could talk.

Xenoblade Literally Killer Tart

See, as Mythra’s cooking, the name serves on two different levels..

 

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Onimusha Series – PS2, XBox, PS4, XBox One, Nintendo Switch

Onimusha
Shit! People are reading now…and they seemed to like the “Every Game In The Series” stunt I pulled with Resident Evil. What other series do I have? Mega Man? Nah, they’re all the same. Final Fantasy? Goodbye, next five years of my life. Fire Emblem? Where were you when I did that the first time! Damn it! I’m just not ready to be done with Resident Evil! I need more! Isn’t there anything like those classic games, where you wander back and forth through a haunted mansion looking for keys and solving puzzles? Screw this! I’m playing Onimusha.

Onimusha 1

Sato Castle…Feudal Japan’s version of the Raccoon City Police Department

Onimusha, if you didn’t immediately catch the joke, is a game set in feudal Japan where a samurai, Samanosuke, wanders back and forth through a demon-infested castle looking for keys and solving puzzles. It’s survivally horrorish, except that a mainstay of survival horror is the conservation of ammunition. As one tends not to reload a sword all that often, the game adopts a more adventure-y feel.

Onimusha Fortinbras

I am Fortinbras! Japanese demon king who has a penchant for naming my underlings after characters from Hamlet for some reason!

One of the more interesting aspects of the game is that it was based on actual historical figures and locations. Oda Nobunaga really did fight the battle at the beginning of the game, and then laid siege to the Saito clan’s Inabayama castle. He was, as we find out in the third game, finally defeated at Honno-ji, by Mitsuhide Akechi (uncle of the fictional protagonist, Samanosuke Akechi), possibly over a contention with another of Nobunaga’s retainers, Mori Ranmaru. Of course, saying that Onimusha is based on historical events is on par with saying that William the Conqueror won the battle of Hastings with a contingent of trolls and a magical amulet provided by Doc Brown and his Delorean. The real Nobunaga is respected as one of the great unifiers of Japan, while the Nobunaga of the Onimusha series is basically the child born after Hannibal Lecter raped Satan at Auschwitz. And also, I’m pretty sure he didn’t make a pact with demons after they resurrected him and drink the blood of a Saito princess from her own skull. But I wasn’t there. Don’t quote me on that one.

So the game plays out pretty much like a Resident Evil game with a little faster pace. The only complaints I have are that the game feels too short, and also that the sequels played with this design like two monkeys flinging shit at each other. For instance, the second game, Samurai’s Destiny, takes the God-of-War-2 style cliffhanger from the first game—Nobunaga, imbued with fresh demon powers, menacingly approaching Samanosuke after he transformed into the Oni Warrior—and runs it through an industrial garbage disposal, washing it down with a steady flow of sulfuric acid. They never come back to that. It feels like that game where you tell a story one sentence at a time, and then pass to the next person for the next sentence, except one of you is trying to write a Game-of-Thrones sex-murder scene while the other one is channeling the more conservative parts of Jane Austin.

Onimusha 2

Highlight of the game was playing with the stacked Asian chick with the European fighting style.

To be fair, both Onimusha 1 and 2 are good games, but in the way where Final Fantasy 7 and Grand Theft Auto are both good games; you’ll play them both, but when someone tries to tell you they’re related, you react the way you do to the people who accost you on the street to tell you that Jesus is returning in his flying saucer as soon as the shadow government decides to release flux capacitor technology to the public. Samurai’s Destiny just straightens out the map like it can’t waste time wandering around some damn haunted house because it’s got somewhere to be. And then it ramps up the difficulty to ensure it won’t get there on time. In my defense, though, I made it all the way to Nobunaga’s final form before I collapsed like a pavlova with bad knees and lowered the difficulty. So…almost good enough, I guess?

Onimusha 3: Demon Siege is where things start going hilariously off the rails.

“You know what we need in our epic historical samurai series?”

“Is it it modern day French guy?”

“Close.”

“Is it a modern French guy and 21st Century France?”

“You know me so well!”

“Hey, isn’t there a tough guy in France?”

Onimusha Frat

It’s amazing how thousands of miles away and 400 years apart, the secret frat handshake still works.

And so they hired Jean Reno to play—wanna guess?—a bad-ass French cop…who was chosen by the Oni clan to fight Oda Nobunaga, the great unifier of Japan and accused demon colluder. Meanwhile, Samanosuke gets a well-deserved vacation in 21st century France, chumming around with Reno’s son and girlfriend, helping them resolve some deep-seated resentment between the two. Because the core of any game about surviving an onslaught of demons is a relatable, human conflict about the potential usurpation of an absent mother. And what better vehicle for resolution than a hapless time-traveling samurai who somehow speaks fluent modern French? And while he’s there, Samanosuke gets to take in the sights: Notre Dame, the Arc D’Triumph, Mont-Saint-Michel, and the Eiffel Tower, all of which currently suffer from a Genma demon infestation.

Meanwhile, Jean Reno (what was his character’s name? Give me a moment. I have to look this up…Jaques Blanc. Wait, seriously? Jack White? Did Capcom literally name the only European in Japan “White”? I’m sure there’s also a White-Stripes-Seven-Nation-Army joke in there somewhere, but I’m too lazy to find it right now.) Anyway, Jaques gets dropped into feudal Japan, where a radioactive KISS fan tells him to go slaughter the head of state, and Jaques signs up without so much as checking Wikipedia for potential historical ramifications. But hey, to prevent any zany cultural mishaps (you know, other than murdering their de facto shogun), they send Jacques on his way with…Navi.

Onimusha Aku

I hate you already.

Well, not quite Navi, but basically the same thing. A tiny little girl (ostensibly a tengu, but actually a discount Barbie with wings) who buzzes your head like a mosquito at a rave. Because those first two games were apparently so terrible that they needed to add the only character more obnoxious than Slippy Toad.

Onimusha Siege

Demon seige. Or, rather, melee, which is the complete opposite of a siege, but points for trying.

And…honestly, I can’t even begin to describe how weird this is. Your obnoxious guide spontaneously gains the ability to travel through time and carry objects back and forth, but not Samanosuke or Jaques. You land on a 17th century ship in Japan sailing to an underground Shinto temple in Paris. Jaques’ motorcycle appears out of nowhere for no reason other than a kick-ass scene where he guns it off a dock and onto the departing ship. And the Genma somehow build a device on the Eiffel tower to fold time. I’ve had more coherent mushroom trips.

So yeah…the hole in my heart left by squishing zombie heads was sadly not filled by Onimusha. I guess I have no choice but to plod on and hope RE7 goes back to its roots, as they say. And now for something completely different…

Resident Evil 6 – PS3, PS4, XBox One, XBox 360, Switch, Microsoft Windows

 

RE6 Sherry Jake

They’ve known each other about a week and she’s already giving him the “I’ve got a headache” excuse.

Hello, everyone. I just wanted to pop in to say something unheard of happened in the last two months since my RE5 post. We’re talking alignment-of-the-planets rare, the birth and death of stars rare, something of Big Bang or otherwise astrological frequency; someone started reading me. And not just one person…like, four or five people subscribed to Retrocookie. So you have managed to drag me back here, away from my play script about the secret agent convention. Probably for the best. My writing style was dangerously similar to a torrent stalling out at 93%. I’d make myself promises, come up with deadlines, then sit down and type out two or three lines per week. But hell, with that work ethic, I could be sitting on top of the next Song of Ice and Fire book.

So thank you to those of you who started following me. Sorry that it might take me a while to get myself running at full capacity, but I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve; take time off from work, drink a nice cup of high-end tea, and blow in the cartridge a bit (note: don’t actually blow in your cartridges Your connection pins aren’t dusty, and we’ve lost too many classic games to Dorito spittle). Good news is, Anne’s black belt in Demanding Toddler style kung fu has beaten me down enough to buy a PS4. So after writing about a few games I’ve played in the interim, I’ll be right back to finish the series with Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 7.

For now, let me amuse you by interpreting the notes I made over two months ago:

1. Sherry’s jiggles – Yes, this is the little girl from RE2. But she’s all grown up now into a mature, highly-trained BSAA agent, just waiting to be objectified by thousands of lonely teenage boys. Although Capcom gave her a reasonable athletic figure, her small breasts happen to jiggle as though she’s replaced the standard bullet-proof kevlar vest by stuffing her bra with ballistic gel. It’s actually a nice touch that they thought to bring her back, and to make her a playable character, and create a missing son for Wesker so they riff on classic archetypal themes of redeeming themselves for their father’s sins of mutating their genetics until they become aggressive mutants hell-bent on mass murder. Unfortunately, they just didn’t. I guess breast physics were considered a bit more meaningful. And to top it all off, while both Sherry and Wesker’s son, Jake (Grammar nazis, note how I skillfully avoided any Oxford Comma confusion there!) are playable characters, the game just assumes you’ll want to play as the beefy, muscle head that no one has ever heard of instead of the established character with a feminine deficit of testosterone.

RE6 Sherry

This is a designer hospital gown. You know…if your ass hanging out isn’t good enough, this way your tits can come loose in any of a dozen directions. Although looking closely, I think that’s a push-up hospital gown.

2. Off screen deaths – Yeah, sorry, but the T-Virus (or G-Virus or Plagas or Oroburous or whatever Sesame Street villain is sponsoring this game) must have been developed from cat DNA, because if a character dies off-screen, you’re not fooling anyone. He’s coming back. Hell, if a character dies on-screen there’s about a 75% chance they’ll just shake off that drill through the torso or rocket blast to the face with a good nap.

3. China falling apart? – Was I making a note here or commenting on the state of global affairs? Not sure what I wanted to say here.

4. Lava rooms – for definite deaths – Okay, whatever I said earlier, we all know as soon as you step into a room full of lava, that you’re ready for an epic showdown. Sudden, inexplicable rooms full of magma are the Chekhov’s Gun of video games.

5. Not dead–just very badly burned – Okay, sorry…forget what I just said. In addition to liquid hot mag-ma, we also have a character who isn’t dead…just very badly burned. Capcom is now taking inspiration not so much from classic Resident Evil games, but from classic Austin Powers movies. Groovy, baby.

RE6 Leon

Ever fire two guns whilst jumping through the air?

6. Leon, he’s obviously a zombie – Arguably, no character is as bad-ass as Leon Kennedy, now on his third Zom-pocalypse (fourth, if you count Resident Evil Gaiden. I don’t.). So then why does his scenario opened with this seasoned horror veteran trying to reason with a man who obviously has nothing on his brain except other brains?

RE6 Pres

They turned the president into a mindless beast ready to devour those closest to him to satisfy his own monstrous hunger. And Sci-Fi continues to be prophetic.

7. Villain dressed like a plantation owner – Umm…well, he is. I remember that. But why? Is it to make some statement on how zombifying two major world powers is akin to enslavement? Or, more likely, plantation owners are both well-dressed and historically confirmed douchebags.

8. Hours of credits – Seriously, you’re going to give us four different scenarios, and then make us read through your entire marketing and design department staff roster each time?

9. Resident = Whole world – We have now reached the loosest definition of the term “resident” here, as we are no longer confined to a haunted house, castle or city. Our heroes are now cleansing evil from the U.S., China, and parts of Europe as well (convenient, at least, that all three apocalypses have the decency to unfold concurrently). Before I make any assertions that, even if Capcom isn’t playing by the rules anymore, we can still believe that we are all residents of the earth, let me wait to see if they put RE8 on fucking Mars.

RE6 Sherry 2

Who is more mentally ill? Sherry for squeezing into the exact outfit she wore in RE2, or the guys who actually want to see her do that?

In sum, Resident Evil 6 is a game that can appeal to everyone. For those of you who want a traditional apocalypse filled with zombies and confined spaces, you can play through Leon’s scenario (although you will have to put up with a segment where Leon quite literally jumps a shark). For those of you who enjoyed the thrill of running from Nemesis through Racoon City, Sherry’s scenario will keep your heart beating. Meanwhile, for those of you who don’t like Resident Evil at all and would much rather be playing Call of Duty, Chris has a scenario that might be more up your alley. And finally, if stealth, subterfuge, and espionage is more your thing, you can play as Ada wong. This multi-scenario system ensures that the only people who will walk away frustrated and disappointed, are fans of classic Resident Evil games.

RE6 Chris

For those of you who loved Chris’s wits and strength to get out of horrific situations, enjoy him with a team full of army dudes and lots of guns!

Pick a target audience, game developers. If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up with a game that disappoints everyone.

Final Score:

Chris B
Sherry B
Leon A
Ada ?

RE6 Monsters

Resident Evil 5 – PS3, PS4, XBox One XBox360

 

RE5 Chris and Sheva

Sheva displaying her assets in profile.

Hi guys! It’s been a few weeks. I’d like to feed you the old line, “I’ve been focusing on bigger projects lately,” but yesterday the only thing I did was think up funny announcements you might hear at a conference for spies. So here’s the fruit of my labor:  Will the owner of a blue 2020 Aston Martin with the rotating license plates LQE601, 689GMW and XPZ755, please report to the valet? Your headlight machine guns are on.

I’m reaching home base on this project. Well, let me rephrase that. I’ll reach home, providing no one minds that second base is literally nowhere to be found and the distance between 3rd base and home plate is only half its regulation length. I don’t have anything that can play Resident Evil 7 or the RE2 Remake, and the only used game store around here, EB Games, won’t sell anything older than one generation back, making New Zealand the Logan’s Run of the video game world. Technically, I could call it quits after this post, as already wrote about RE6 as one of my first entries, and I don’t really think the Mercenaries needs its own post. But for now, at least, let’s deal with Resident Evil 5.

RE5 is notorious for not only forcing yet another unwanted partner on the player, but for giving that partner an intelligence only slightly higher than a blackface minstrel show held face-down in a toilet for a good seven minutes. My first run of this game, the only one I had done until now, I took all the critics’ warnings and forced Anne to play alongside me. Playing through it solo this time, I’ve come to the conclusion that either A) they’ve patched the partner mechanics in the intervening years or B) Anne has the motor control and reaction time of a sunflower on a frosty morning.

RE5 - Monty Mole

Monty Mole must have been hard up for work after Super Mario Bros 3

Was Sheva perfect? No. But judging by multiple introductions where the camera opens, fixated on her chest as though it might treat us to a good motorboating, the developers weren’t actually aiming to build a skilled warrior. But be it patches that introduce Cover and Attack modes, or just plain old ingenuity, I found that what she lacked in her contributions to combat, she more than made up for as a sturdy pack mule: load her down with empty weapons and ammo for guns she doesn’t have and make sure you get to the herbs before she does or she’ll smoke them faster than those college students who dug up the parsley in Anne’s herb garden.

It’s not exactly doing much to improve on accusations of racism, Capcom, to have your black character a drug-crazed idiot whose best use is physical labor.

Is Resident Evil 5 racist? Well yes, but honestly it’s no less racist than sending a pretty white boy to shoot up an underprivileged hispanic neighborhood. It wasn’t even the white-on-black violence that really pushed it over the edge for me. It was the fact that Chris pillages his way through Africa, appropriating cultural artifacts to sell for his weaponry addiction. If there were any more capitalistic exploitation, he’d have to wear a monocle and carry around two giant sacks with dollar signs printed on them.

RE5 - Chainsaw

This guy can take a gun store to the face and still have the wherewithal to slice your neck cleanly.

Okay, but really…ignoring the kum-ba-yas and social justice warriors…is it a good game? Can it compare with the masterpiece that was Resident Evil 4? Be assured that Capcom noted everything that gave RE4 it’s uncanny-valley sort of charm–the lonely, unnerving atmosphere, the chill of night, the weirdly cockney merchant–and chewed it up and shat it out, in favor of doubling down on quick-time events and babysitting an obnoxious partner. Okay, okay, I’m being a bit unfair to Sheva, who seems to have studied medicine under Dr. Arthur Fonzarelli, and has the power to (usually) come over when you’re dying and give you a good, swift pound in the chest to fix you right up.

They also repeated one of the more annoying story moments in Resident Evil 4. Remember that cut scene of Saddler on the island, telling a new subordinate to prepare to fight Leon, and then they show Krauser in a dramatic reveal, as though we’re supposed to know who he is? They do that again. All of a sudden, the mysterious ninja plague doctor who’s popped in and out of the story pulls down her cowling to reveal a blond woman in a skin-tight blue bodysuit. While I’m reeling from the wonderment of how Samus Aran wound up in 21st century Africa, the game tells me it’s supposed to be Jill.   

I don’t know. It’s okay, I guess. And the Mercenaries mini-game is always worth playing. But I just can’t get around the fact that the story is the least atmospheric of any RE game, being set in broad daylight, or the fact that both Chris and Sheva have a sort of shared tourette’s syndrome and can’t help but shout out the word “partner” at odd intervals. At least Africa was built with plenty of doors that require two people to turn a key simultaneously, otherwise we might not know how useful a partner could be.

RE5 - Gutter

Chris and Sheva…minds in the gutter.

Final Grade…shit, did I miss this?

Resident Evil Revelations – 3DS, PS3, Switch, PS4, XBox 360, XBox One, Wii U

RE - RevelationsThere are some tell-tale signs that a TV series has jumped the shark: they introduce new characters that no one cares about, they send the cast off to a tropical resort or cruise, they start writing convoluted multi-episode arcs that require a synopsis at the beginning of each episode, or they have a character physically jump over a great white shark to heighten an absurd sense of tension.  Coincidentally, this week we’re discussing Resident Evil: Revelations, an RE spinoff game with a slew of boring, nameless playable characters set on a Mediterranean cruise ship and released episodically with a “Previously on…” recap at the beginning of each chapter. (What? You expected me to work in all four scenarios? Don’t you remember Resident Evil 1? By that standard, this series literally jumped the shark in the first installment. Yes, that is the series I have decided to play in its entirety.)

RE - Characters

They team you up with Parker “Jowles” Luciano, apparently a middle aged man given a new lease on life after suffering a heart attack and an unexpected divorce. Or so I assume from his fat face.

Despite taking place between Resident Evil 4 and 5, the game was released in 2012, shortly before Resident Evil 6.  At this point, Capcom had stopped designing realistic monsters and just started putting blobfish in the microwave for a good, stout turn. Among these is a particularly obnoxious monster just called “Rachel,” who appears as a common enemy who, we are supposed to understand, is the same monster in every single encounter, one who will not die in spite of carrying around enough lead in her lungs to build a bomb shelter. Also, they brought back hunters. Of course they did. And to make them piss me off even more, they made them invisible. So in a game in which ammo is scarce, I have two monsters who suck in metal like they’re going to build an SUV out of it, but one of them also has the power of the One Ring.

RE - Monsters

This monster clearly represents how I feel after eating at Burger King.

But actually, in spite of that, there’s not too much to complain about.  There is the constant reminder that each mission was released episodically, and every single one still retains the “Previously on Resident Evil Revelations” like a daytime soap opera where instead of the characters getting cancer, the cancer comes to life, grows to hideous proportions, and tries to saw them in half with a circular saw.  Unfortunately, with the usual convolution of Resident Evil writing, such a recap helped me understand the plot about as well as Chinese subtitles.

Mostly As and Ss

Accuracy 80%    A

Deaths 23        A

Clear Time 6:56’26”

RE - Parker

This picture looks like Parker overcoming some deap-seated childhood trauma that has forever made him fearful of defending those he loved through violent means. Or maybe I’m just reading way too much into his fat face.

Resident Evil 4 – PS2, Game Cube, Wii

 

RE4 - Garrador

Unfortunately, he didn’t have the same talent for music as Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles

After nuking Raccoon City and moving Resident Evil games to exotic locales—like the frozen wastes of Antarctica—Capcom decided it needed to up the ante and asked themselves “What’s more disgusting and repulsive than a zombie caused by a virus?” Then, presumably after pulling a worm out of a dog, they had their answer: zombies caused by parasites.

RE4 - Chainsaw

I get that the parasites control their hosts to spread to more hosts, but why do they put sacks over their heads and reach for the chainsaws?

Resident Evil 4 takes place in a small Spanish village that unearthed some bad prehistoric sushi. Despite being locked in fossils since the time of the monsters from Tremors, one particular parasite has his sights on global domination. This granddaddy hookworm takes up residence—presumably evilly—in the brain of Osmund Saddler, and founds an oppressive hierarchical cult, complete with its own mindless followers, fanatical zealots, and a militant branch that would make even the strongest banana republic dictator shit his pants. You know: everything a good cult needs—assuming Jim Jones had mixed his kool aid with malaria instead of cyanide. Essentially, Capcom got tired of using a tyrant as the boss for every previous game and instead chose to make the boss of RE4 a tyrant.

RE4 - Ashley

Because we all want to play as a whiny, helpless teenage girl.

But they still spend the entire opening sequence recapping the events of the original game for us, even though it has about as much to do with the story as a solid understanding of offshore drilling safety regulations. I actually found this backstory narration hilarious, as they expect us to believe that the American government would even consider shutting down a major corporation for something as minor as a zombie apocalypse that resulted in the deaths of nearly 100,000 people and the complete obliteration of the city. Hell, realistically they’d let Umbrella write off the whole affair as a deduction on their taxes.

RE - Gun

Why get up when you still have a bullet in the chamber?

They seemed to get everything else right about America, though: our constant need to meddle in foreign affairs, the president’s potential for becoming a parasite who makes everything he touches feel like they need a long shower in hydrochloric acid, and even Leon’s preference for applying firearms to otherwise simple tasks, like pulling a necklace off a hook a half a meter in front of him.

RE4 - Ashley Armor

I don’t know…including this costume in the game seems like an admission of guilt to me.

I don’t actually have much else to say. It’s a famously good game, and I really have no comp—quick time events. FUCK quick time events! Oh, and constant baby-sitting missions. If they didn’t know that was obnoxious, why did they put an alternate costume for Ashley that stops bullets like a concrete wall and prevents crazy plagas monsters from carrying her off?–Anyway, like I was saying, it’s a great game and I have nothing to complain—actually, you know what? It’s a little too linear. Minor complaint, yes, but I’d like the option to return to old areas to look for items. But other than that, I have—actually, the unlockable weapons. I honestly don’t like how overpowered they are. You play through the game two or three times trying to purchase these things, and suddenly the game is boring.

But really, it’s a pretty good game.

Resident Evil – Operation Raccoon City – PS3, XBox 360

RE - USSEnough of these Resident Evil games that force me to play as heroes! It’s high time we had a game that put us in the dark black combat boots of the true underdogs—that’s right! The true victim of this whole Racoon City affair is the little, downtrodden, mom-and-pop multibillion dollar megacorporation so hell-bent on destroying the world for a few bucks that their company slogan is, “We put the ‘harm’ in ‘pharmaceuticals.’” Operation Raccoon City follows Umbrella-hired mercenaries as they root out the true threat behind the Zom-pocalypse, any survivors who might impeach Umbrella’s good name.  What’s that? A game where you hurt innocent people in order to save the reputation of a faceless corporate entity? It makes sense, in a way. I mean, that whole “hero who saves the world” trope does have a sort of inherent liberal bias, so it’s about time they started making Republican games, too.

RE - GameplayAt the beginning of each mission, the player chooses one of six cartoonishly villainous rogues, who all wear masks, presumably to prevent them from obsessively twirling their moustaches in the same way you put your dog in a cone to keep him from biting his stitches. And if the facelessness didn’t clue you in that they were evil enough, one character is literally named after James Bond’s nemesis organization, SPECTRE.  You then have a standing mission of erasing any evidence that Umbrella caused the outbreak in the city, as though in the wake of a zombie epidemic, people aren’t immediately going to turn to the mad scientists in charge of creating biological abominations for the U.S. government. “Mom! Dad’s turned into an undead cannibal!” “Oh Christ! Is this because we didn’t throw out the romaine lettuce?” “I don’t know. We better check his blood pressure pills. GlaxoSmithKline might not have been honest about those side-effects!”

RE - Ada

Your mission: kill a cameo hero that we know will escape unharmed.

Of course, this game does more than simulate rooting through your house looking for that iPod you’re pretty sure you kept.  Most missions have some sort of main-series cameo, the likes of which include William Birkin, Nikolai Zinoviev, Claire Redfield, Ada Wong and Leon Kennedy.  Umbrella tasks you with murdering most…well, all…of them, but since each character has to die in a different game or survive indefinitely, they’ll usually just run away until your team gets distracted by some shiny object and abandons the assassination to look at a statue of a raccoon. There’s even a mission where you have to fix the broken Nemesis, although since it’s an action-shooter game, “fixing” Nemesis somehow involves riddling him with bullets. A case of “every problem looks like a nail,” I guess.

RE - Nemesis

Arrgh! What I wouldn’t give for a good aerrating!

The game is actually pretty fun.  It’s a bit on the easy side, but some games have to be. At the very least, it’s not much of a time commitment, although in the spirit of corporate power, Capcom seems to have locked half the game behind DLC.  Without that, Operation Raccoon City feels a bit anemic, so I wouldn’t expect a feast.

Containment: C

Corruption: B

Lights Out: S

Gone Rogue: A

Expendable: C

Redemption: A

End of the Line: B