Adam Freeland’s ‘Fear’ is an inspired anthem for the push into Rez’s fifth area. The true expression of its ideas, Rez uses its slow opening tempo to kick start a metaphor for the beats of early life, the sample ‘Fear is the mind killer’ scratched over the vacant landscape of a vast digital world as you blast a squadron of enemy planes out of the sky. The techno-trance composition builds as the environment does, the basic geometry evolving terrain and developing an ecosystem of flora and fauna. But it’s also a lyrical representation of its central theme. Rez is a sensory saga of sound and light, a metaphor for the pursuit of knowledge and the quest for enlightenment.
For a decade across the 8 and 16-bit generations, Mega Man had been an action-packed dynamo, but after some twenty odd games, his aging framework was in need of some vital upgrades. Powered by the PlayStation hardware, Keiji Inafune and his crew of robot masters successfully forged a new Blue Bomber, translating his action concepts onto a three-dimensional world.
The new 32 bit tech gave the series a chance to break away from the techno-future aesthetic found in both the Classic and X series with their cities dependent on robots for manual labor. Mega Man Legends is an adventure in a world covered in endless water where diggers explore the ruins of a lost civilization amongst the scattered land masses for Zenny and treasure.
Videogames were changed forever when Bungie released Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001. In that seminal release, the world met Spartan II cyborg Master Chief as he is awakened from cryo sleep to fight against the alien Covenant. We also met Cortana, the AI that would accompany Chief and become the voice in his ear as he fights. Among many of its revolutionary ideas was its holy trinity of combat that mapped guns, grenades and melee onto an intuitive control scheme that provided a deep and flexible options and allowed players access to large maps and vehicles. As the series progressed, it implemented a suite of online features and pared down gameplay into tighter design. At the end of Halo 3, Master Chief re-entered cryo sleep aboard the UNSC’s Forward Unto Dawn as it drifts aimlessly through space with Cortana watching over him. The trilogy complete, Bungie flexed their creative muscles on Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach, two games that would expand the structure with new modes and matchmaking options.
When I try to make a concrete decision as to what my favorite game of all time is, the answer tends to change from day to day. More often than not, however, Bioshock is the first thing that comes to mind. My initial arrival in Rapture was a swift kick to the face, forever opening my eyes to how it feels to be in an atmosphere so thick I could taste it. Not since that precious moment so many years ago had I experienced a world so fully realized and enticing as presented in victorian Dunwall.
Fifteen minutes into Resident Evil 4, Shinji Mikami and his design team test your comprehension of the mechanics they’ve been invisibly teaching you since you selected ‘New Game’. Former rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy had just fought his way through the Ganado’s Village and now finds himself catching his breath on an old dingy farm. Stray slightly from the beaten path and you’ll find a radiant pearl necklace enticingly suspended above a barrel of putrid water, patiently waiting for you to find it. Retrieving this necklace is your test. You can’t just reach out and interact with it, so you draw your handgun and shoot it loose- and immediately fail as it falls directly into the barrel of sludge beneath. When you pull it from the filth, your inventory lists the item as ‘Dirty Pearl Pendant’, its picture a grimy mess. Looking back at the barrel, you notice the 2×4 propping up the lid, so you shoot that next and watch it create a cover. Since you didn’t learn the lesson before, you do now: Resident Evil 4 rewards tactical gunplay.
Let’s study the notes:
Syndicate’s future world is about divisions; the divisions in the economic and political landscapes, between consumer and outcast where people are interfaced with the Datascape through neural chips that feed them a constant stream of data. That world is run by the mega corporations who plot, steal, manipulate and sabotage for the sake of patents, personnel and profit and each employs its own military and special agents to safeguard its bottom line. The original Syndicate from the mid-nineties offered a bleak, violent cyberpunk world- one perfectly suited to the brutal and creative skills of Starbreeze Studio’s.
After he viciously slaughtered his way through the mafia family run by his Uncle Paulie, Jackie Estacado had vowed to never again use The Darkness. The demon had given him great strength, but had manipulated and twisted the young man. When we meet him again as he walks into a family run restaurant at the beginning of the Darkness 2, we see that he has prospered, the family is strong, its members loyal- and then they are attacked by an unknown group who want The Darkness for themselves. The scene acts as a well-designed introduction to the world and mechanics- Jackie’s leg is destroyed and he’s pulled to safety, nothing but a pistol to fend off his attackers. Where once he was an invincible god, he’s broken and dying, now just a man. It’s been two years since he’s given in to the Darkness.
When The Darkness came out in 2007 it was an enigma of a game. While it was received extremely well and was successful enough commercially, it was almost immediately evident that it would quickly exit stage left and fall into the realm of the occult.
Hard Reset has leap-frogged over the decades worth of design that has evolved the modern FPS. Its about relentless, single-minded gunplay not about varied mixture of combat styles. Flying Wild Hog’s first game is a passion project from a developer made up of former employees of People Can Fly and CDProjekt Red.
The story is a Cyberpunk adventure where the human streets of New Bezoar are built with cold steel and product advertisements assault consumers from the walls and shine down from the sky. The world is beautiful; its vibrant with signs of the life that existed days before. There are fully realized plaza’s and run down apartments. Look out any window and you’ll see an impressive skybox filled with dead buildings. Routinely will you look out and be stricken by how well the entire thing was rendered.