Category Archives: Survival Horror

Podcast 19: Resident Evil 2 (#92)

Format: Playstation Genre: Survival Horror Released: 1998 Developer: Capcom

It’s been quite a journey for this podcast. Way back in early 2008, right at the very beginning of the blog, Ian decided he was going to write a post about a Resident Evil game. Problem was he couldn’t decide which one. Do you go with the original? Or Resident Evil 2, the game of the series he probably played the most? What about Resident Evil 4? Arguably the best of the series… Although saying that Resident Evil 3 has its moments as well.

Welcome to Raccoon City!

So rather than make a decision Ian did what he has done so many times with this blog. He didn’t bother. Flash forward to early 2011 and there are less than 10 posts left to do. Time is running out so he knuckles down and chooses Resident Evil 2. Ian finds it difficult to write though. What’s his ‘hook’? Can he restrict himself to just talking about Resident Evil 2? What can he say that’s not been said a thousand times before? So, again, he doesn’t bother starting. Eventually Lewis suggests ‘Let’s just do it as a podcast’.

I don't care what people say, anything called 'Licker' must be friendly.

So welcome to the 19th 101 Video Games That Made My Life Slightly Better podcast. A testament to Ian’s laziness and Lewis’s limitless patience. Enjoy!

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Podcast 19 Resident Evil 2

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Oh, and before we go here’s a clip from ‘Spaced’. Other than the cheap speed and the fact the bean bag was green not blue, this is pretty much Ian at University.

Ian & Lewis

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Filed under 1998, Capcom, Playstation, Podcast, Survival Horror

#75: Resident Evil CODE: Veronica

Format: Dreamcast Genre: Survival Horror Released: 2000 Developer: Capcom/Nextech

I have a love/hate relationship with this game. Love because it’s one of the best Resident Evil games out there, with some of the most memorable characters and storylines of the series. Hate because some IDIOTIC PUZZLE with an EMPTY FIRE EXTINGUISHER meant that I WAS UNABLE TO FINISH THE F**KING GAME. The memory still haunts me now, hence the extravagant use of capitals and self-censored swearing. I’ll explain…

In our student house at uni we’d often play through games together, or we’d play the same game but using different saves. Not long after I started playing Code Veronica, Paul, my housemate, began playing through it too. We’d swap stories about good bits in the game, and I’d drop excited hints about what was coming up next. All was fine and dandy until right near the end of the game, when I inadvertently uncovered a bug that made finishing the game all but impossible.

Tense, nervous headache?

Earlier in the game, Claire uses a fire extinguisher to retrieve a briefcase that’s stuck inside a flaming room, but for some reason she keeps hold of the empty extinguisher. This either means that Claire is a compulsive hoarder, or the game is subtly trying to tell you that there may just possibly be a puzzle later on that might – just might – require an empty fire extinguisher. Seeing as Claire generally isn’t the type to push around a shopping trolley filled to the brim with carrier bags full of knick knacks and shiny things she finds in the street, I placed my bets on the latter option, and kept the extinguisher to hand.

This guy was very creepy. Despite having his hands tied behind his back, he was still able to attack you using the organic broomhandles sticking out of his back. As you do.

A bit later on, Claire and her hapless companion Steve come across the chap in the pic above, who goes by the name of Nosferatu. History doesn’t relate how he came to bear this moniker – I’m imagining the label was thrust upon him after his unfortunate transformation, before which he was probably called Alan or Dave or Alfonse. Anyway, Claire makes no bones about swiftly dispatching poor Alan (or Dave or Alfonse) and we’re treated to a cut scene in which Alexia, the sister of antagonist Alfred Ashford, awakes from her long hibernation and unleashes the full force of the T-Veronica virus on Steve and Claire’s smiling, unknowing faces – the truck they’re driving is destroyed by one of Alexia’s handy new tentacles, and  control switches to Chris, who’s just pitched up in Antarctica on the hunt for Claire.

Alfred's twisted relationship with his sister Alexia was one of the most memorable parts of the game. Here the newly regenerated Alexia emerges for the first time.

I just want to jump in here for a second to say what a fantastic character Alfred is – definitely my favourite character of the series. Wesker is always held up as the series’  ultimate villain, but he’s so incredibly one-dimensional – there’s nothing really beneath the implausible hair and the Johnny Cash sunglasses. Alfred, on the other hand, has an interesting backstory, which the game goes to great pains to relate – from his possibly incestuous relationship with his twin sister to his penchant for dressing up in women’s clothing. You almost end up feeling sorry for him in a way – through no fault of his own he was born into an incredibly screwed-up family, was ruthlessly used by Umbrella and then ended up losing his mind. Having said that, I’d have a lot more sympathy for him if he stopped trying to kill me all the time.

Claire and Steve admire a digger. Whatever you do Claire, remember to take that fire extinguisher out of your pocket before you get in...

OK, back to the story. After the fight with Alan*, control switches to Chris, and the difficulty steps up a notch. The Antarctic facility is infested with various horrors, including a giant spider that has somehow managed to survive the freezing temperatures, and these fiends quickly take their toll on Chris’s ammo supply. As I limped to the final showdown with Alexia, I was down to just a few assault rifle rounds and a couple of clips for my handgun, but I was finding plenty of ammo for the magnum. So where could the magnum itself be hiding? Wait, there it is, behind that wall of flame. No problem, I’ll just fill up my empty fire extinguisher with that handy extinguishant refill device nearby… Hold on, the extinguisher isn’t in the space/time defying inventory box. Wait a sec, didn’t Claire have it in her personal inventory when she got whacked by that tentacle?

Bugger.

Don't worry, he's 'armless.

With no access to fresh weaponry, it was impossible for me to defeat the final boss, and instead I watched impotently as Paul went on to finish the game. I suppose I could have used one of his save games to go and fight the final boss for myself, but by that point I was so rankled by the whole fire extinguisher thing that I couldn’t bring myself to do it. And anyway, I would have been finishing his game, not mine.

Yet, like a middle-aged man trapped in a loving but turbulent marriage, I still have a soft spot for Code Veronica, despite all of the seething resentment bubbling below the surface. It was denied the suffix ‘4’ by its creators, but in my mind the game stands proudly with its numbered brethren, and possibly slightly above them.

Lewis

*I’ve just found out that Nosferatu was actually Alfred’s father, who went by the name of Alexander, not Alan (or Dave or Alfonse). This is slightly disappointing in some ways (I would have preferred Alan), although I’d forgotten just how convoluted the backstory to Code Veronica is, particularly the history of the Ashfords. You can read about Alfred Ashford’s creepy upbringing here: http://residentevil.wikia.com/Alfred_Ashford.

(Screenshots from http://uk.gamespot.com)

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Filed under 2000, Capcom, Dreamcast, Nextech, Survival Horror

Podcast 9: Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (#74)

Format: GameCube Genre: Survival Horror Released: 2002 Developer: Silicon Knights

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic fantasy film scripted by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry. The film uses elements of science fiction, nonlinear narration and neosurrealism to explore the nature of memory and romantic love. It opened in North America on March 19, 2004 and grossed over US$70 million worldwide. This podcast is not about that film.

Instead Lewis and Ian discuss the well respected but not massively well known or successful GameCube game Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. Well, Lewis does. Ian spends most of the podcast calling it Eternal Sunshine.

 

The original hero and villain, Pious.

 

WARNING – We ramble more than usual on this one, including such conversational vignettes as an appraisal of British actors playing Nazis, whether you can ever watch Eddie Izzard in a film without thinking ‘That’s Eddie Izzard’ and what it would be like for Lewis and Ian to share a bath.

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Podcast 9 Eternal Darkness

Beware… THE PILLAR OF FLESH!

Ian & Lewis

(Screenshot from http://www.uk.gamespot.com)

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Filed under 2002, GameCube, Podcast, Silicon Knights, Survival Horror

#27: Silent Hill

Format: Playstation Genre: Survival Horror Released: 1999 Developer: Konami

This game deserves an honourable mention simply for scaring the bejesus out of me. Looking back at it now, you’d find it hard to believe that the slightly shonky graphics and shambling animation would be enough to scare anyone, but somehow the game succeeds in creating a very creepy atmosphere indeed.

Silent_Hill_PAL_box

The key to this creepiness is the sound. Early in the game the hero, Harry Mason, finds a radio that seems to be broken. However, after being attached by some sort of naked mutant pterodactyl, he quickly realises that the radio emits static whenever a monster is nearby.

The radio is a stroke of genius. It means that you know a monster is coming long before you actually see it, allowing the anticipation to build and build and causing you to imagine things that are probably a lot worse than what’s actually around the corner. Couple this with your relative helplessness (unlike Resident Evil, you spend most of the game with nothing more lethal than a crowbar as your weapon), and you’ve got the makings of a real nerve-jangler.

A naked mutant pterodactyl, yesterday.

A naked mutant pterodactyl, yesterday.

The stand out moment for me occurred right near the beginning. I was taking it in turns to play the game with my university housemate Chris. Chris was in control, and we were exploring the elementary school. The school seemed deserted, but after we passed by one particular door, the radio started going crazy. Chris looked at me.

“Shall I go in?”

I gave the nod to open the door.

The room seemed empty as Harry swept his flashlight around, until something moved in the corner…

“WHAT THE HELL IS IT????” Chris shouted.

It was a baby.

A ghost baby.

And it scared the hell out of us.

silent hill larval stalker

The Larval Stalker (just about visible as the black shape). Brrrr.

We fled the school room in terror, only to gingerly step back in, crowbar at the ready, to ascertain the nature of this malevolent beast. As it turned out, it was completely harmless (I later found out that these creatures are called Larval Stalkers – stupid name if you ask me), but the game designers did a fantastic job of scaring the willies out of the both of us.

It seems utterly ridiculous now that we were both terrified of something so trivial, but it just goes to show that the scariest stuff is what actually comes out of your own head – the imagined terror will always be worse than the reality.

Lewis

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Filed under 1999, Konami, Playstation, Survival Horror