VIDEO GAME REVIEW: FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE GAME

Friday the 13th: The Game
Friday the 13th: The Game

By Nick Durham

After what felt like an eternity of waiting, the eagerly anticipated Friday the 13th: The Game has finally been unleashed upon the masses. Developed by Illfonic and published by Gun Media, Friday the 13th: The Game was originally being developed as an independent title called Slasher Vol. 1: Summer Camp before Gun Media managed to acquire the Friday the 13th license and have a successful Kickstarter campaign as well. After seeing numerous screenshots, test footage, and hearing tons upon tons of hype; does the game deliver the goods and manage to be as entertaining and visceral as we’ve all collectively hoped it would be? Well quite frankly, yes and no. 

Played through a third person perspective, Friday the 13th: The Game is a survival horror, multiplayer scramble to hide, survive, and escape Camp Crystal Lake from our favorite hockey-mask wearing slasher. If playing as one of the camp counselors, it’s up to you to run and hide, and be resourceful as well. This ranges from setting traps for Jason, finding weapons to combat him (and run), repair the cabin phone to call the police, as well as repair a car and boat in order to escape. If you play as Jason however, your sole mission is to kill all the horny, dope smoking teenagers you come across. Jason has special abilities, including stalking, shifting (AKA, managing to appear out of nowhere), and sensing out where the counselors are hiding. 

I will say first and foremost that after being able to spend enough time playing as both the various counselors (who thus far all seem to control and play the same) and as Jason Voorhees, I can honestly say that I’ve had more fun playing as the counselors believe it or not. Surviving and managing your resources is much more enjoyable than playing as Jason, which is a major disappointment. The first few times I played as him, I realized how much of an absolute fucking chore it can be in terms of the way Jason controls and stalks around. Maybe I need some more time with him to fully grasp it, but after a variety of sessions playing as him, I can safely say I’m not impressed.

Now as for the rest of Friday the 13th: The Game, it manages to be both pretty fun and insanely frustrating. I downloaded it at launch for my PS4, and saying it took forever to actually be able to get on to the servers and play a match is saying it lightly. This wasn’t much of a surprise considering video games are meant to be defective at launch it seems these days, but the fact that this continued for a while afterwards is almost inexcusable. Not to mention the fact the game itself is loaded with glitches, bugs, and lag time across the board. Although there is plenty of fan service thrown into this game (the various Jason looks, Thom Matthews as Tommy Jarvis, Kane Hodder providing motion capture work), too much of this game just feels flat out incomplete to justify laying down 40 fucking dollars for it.

Apparently eventually there is going to be a single player mode of Friday the 13th: The Game to be released at some point, which would be nice considering that the multiplayer-only aspect of the game thus far only has so much lasting appeal, and like I said, it isn’t really worth laying down 40 bucks for that alone. With that being said, maybe when that mode gets added, and maybe if some other aspects get tuned up, this game could be something really, really special. Until then, it sadly isn’t. Still, it has enough fun elements to be worth checking out, just don’t expect anything spectacular out of it.

Rating: 3/5

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: SLAIN: BACK FROM HELL

By Nick Durham

Do you like metal? Do you like gothic-themed gorefests? Do you like being frustrated to the point where you will throw your controller against the wall and literally shit your pants in defiance of the fucking difficult atrocity before you? If you answered yes to any of the above, than Slain: Back From Hell is the game for you. A 2-D side-scrolling romp where you take down hordes of monsters and undead, Slain: Back From Hell has an interesting history behind it. Originally released simply as Slain!, the game was hideously buggy and lackluster to say it lightly. Developer Wolf Brew Games ended up pulling the downloadable game away, and the whole thing was overhauled and relaunched as what you see before you. Did any of the so-called improvements end up making any kind of difference? Well yes they did, but not nearly enough in some of the departments where the game really needed them.

Slain: Back From Hell puts you in the shoes of Bathoryn, a sword-wielding warrior. Your mission is to take down waves of monstrous beasts and some fairly massive bosses here and there as well. There’s some magic elements as well in addition to the sword slashing combat, as well as some typical platforming elements as well, akin to classic Castlevania games of yesterday. There’s basically nothing featured here you haven’t seen plenty of times before in games like this, but holy shit at least it looks very, very pretty. There’s some really neat graphical effects here done with the game’s pixel art, and it’s quite the sight to behold. I should also mention that the game’s metal-tinged music is worth the price of admission here alone. Composed by former Celtic Frost bassist Curt Victor Bryant, this music is fucking phenomenal. 

The biggest drawback of Slain: Back From Hell is that the game is unforgivably difficult. Like seriously, this game is so fucking hard it’ll drive you mad. Now normally I don’t mind hard retro-themed games like this because I’m a professional and grew up on this kind of shit, but Slain: Back From Hell is just plain fucking unfair. There’s so many cheap deaths and the game’s checkpoint system is practically a joke. Not to mention the fact that the game’s combat controls feel like there should have been more in terms of dodging enemy attacks and the like. The unrefined controls combined with the unfair difficulty really make this game much more of a chore than it has to be, and that is a damn shame considering the rest of the package is so close to being flat out brilliance.

All in all, Slain: Back From Hell is a disappointing horror-themed side scroller that looks great and features a beautiful metal soundtrack. It’s worth checking out if you can download it at a good price, just go into it expecting an infuriating experience that will probably leave you broken inside, and with a broken controller. It’s available on the Playstation 4 (which is the version I’ve played), Xbox One, PC, and now the Playstation Vita as well, though I’ve heard that version of the game features an extremely choppy frame-rate and a few other glitches to boot. My advice is to stick with either console version or the PC version instead.

Rating: 3/5

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: RESIDENT EVIL 7

By Nick Durham

Hard to believe that the Resident Evil franchise has been around for over 20 years now isn’t it? In that time what started as a video game series evolved into countless other media, whether it be the now long-running live-action film series, comic books, novels, toys, and more. In that time frame, the video game series all this sprouted from has seen numerous sequels and spin-offs across a variety of consoles and platforms. The main numbered series of games has reached a bit of stale note however in the past few years, with the last truly great game in the franchise being Resident Evil 4 from 2005. Resident Evil 5 and 6 were more concerned with action-oriented gameplay than true survival horror elements, and besides being littered with bugs, glitches, and other annoyances; were chores to play through. We did get the Resident Evil: Revelations spin-offs, which were relatively fun on their own, but they didn’t reach those lofty heights that longtime fans of the series were yearning for…until now.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard isn’t just a glorious return to form for the staggering series, it’s a landmark entry in the franchise that makes it feel every bit as fresh that Resident Evil 4 did over a decade ago. Like that game, Resident Evil 7 changes the main gameplay itself, this time around dropping the third-person, over the shoulder gameplay of the past few entries, in favor of a first person perspective. Now this isn’t the first time Capcom has tinkered with giving the series an FPS treatment (and the less said about 2000’s Resident Evil: Survivor on the original Playstation, the better), but unlike back then, this is exactly what the series, and what we as fans and gamers, have been waiting for.

The storyline of Resident Evil 7 ditches long recurring characters like Chris, Jill, Leon, Wesker, and more in favor of giving us something new. Instead, it focuses on a man named Ethan who receives a message from his thought to be deceased wife Mia. Ethan is led to a run down plantation in Louisiana where he encounters the family that reside there, and it doesn’t take much to figure out that there is something seriously wrong with them. This is confounded by the fact that there are regenerating enemies and other horrors lurking in this house; along with some flat out terrifying secrets for you to uncover.

The biggest strength of Resident Evil 7 is that it is in first person view. This in itself ratchets up the scare and “holy shit” factor all the way through the roof, even though cheap jump scares are surprisingly minimal. Being in this view makes the game’s horror elements feel absolutely primal and insanely freaky. It may sound like a promotional line for the game, but if you don’t jump playing this fucking thing, you should probably check your pulse. The environment you navigate through help make this game even more freaky, with claustrophobic areas that are incredibly well designed. The tense atmosphere, combined with the brutal, gory violence and increasing sense of dread throughout the proceedings are what survival horror video games should be, and this game succeeds mightily. I should also mention the game’s boss battles range between being pretty damn epic, and pretty damn frustrating, so that at least continues the old Resident Evil tradition.

Graphically speaking, Resident Evil 7 is a sight to behold. The game’s sounds are creepy and it controls pretty well for the most part. From a gameplay perspective, Resident Evil 7 is practically flawless, with the only faults lying within the game’s story. As the story progresses, things take an insane turn, and you’ll either be all in along for the ride, or you’ll completely tune out because of the sheer ridiculousness. That aside, it doesn’t change the fact that this game is fucking terrifying to put it lightly. There’s a couple different endings depending on your decisions and such, which adds to the replay-ability, and that’s a pretty nice touch. There’s also a playable VR Mode for the PS4 version of the game available now out of the box, while there will be a future mode available for the Xbox One and PC versions sometime down the road. I didn’t play this version because I’m poor and don’t own a VR headset, but I’d imagine that in itself is a terrifying experience all the same. 

All in all, Resident Evil 7 is an absolute must own for fans of the series. Once again, Capcom has managed to reinvent the franchise with a new, bold take on it, and it succeeds wonderfully. Let’s just hope that the next installments of the franchise don’t take this formula and beat it into the ground with staleness, which often tends to be their forte with the Resident Evil games. Oh well, pick this fucker up and scare the shit out of yourself; you deserve it.

Rating: 5/5

HORROR GAME VAULT: ALIEN TRILOGY

By Nick Durham

Besides a whole film franchise, the Alien series has spawned a whole multimedia brand that includes numerous comic books, toys, and naturally video games as well. All together, there are a fuck-ton of Alien-themed video games, ranging from side-scrolling action/platformers, stealth-based adventures, arcade beat ’em ups, and first person shooters as well. There’s good games and bad games alike, but I want to take a look at one of my personal favorite games that the franchise birthed. Published by Acclaim Entertainment (who released a slew of licensed video games in the 90s) and developed by Probe, the game was released in 1996 for the original Playstation, Sega Saturn, and even DOS (yes, fucking DOS). Alien Trilogy is a first person shooter that despite not aging all that well over the decades, is still a lot of fun, and manages to do a number of things quite well that do justice to the franchise. 

Even though the title implies Alien Trilogy encompasses the events of the first three films, what it really does is feature is the locations based on the films instead. The story of the game is more like the universe of Alien in an alternate reality almost, as you play as Ellen Ripley (who is somehow a Colonial Marine here) and travel to LV426 to find out why contact was lost with the colony there. This leads you through the infested colony, prison facilities, and eventually the actual crashed Space-Jockey ship as well (I don’t care if they’re called Engineers now, they’ll always be Space-Jockey’s to me). There are about 30 levels that feature the usual assortment of facehuggers, chestbursters, Xenomorph warriors, dog Xenomorphs, and a handful of Queens thrown in as well that serve as the game’s bosses. 

Gameplay-wise, Alien Trilogy appears to be a basic mid-90s Doom clone. It features all of the usual FPS elements of the time such as strafing and a multitude of weapons at your disposal, including the Pulse Rifle from Aliens and a flamethrower. There’s even a shoulder lamp and motion tracker to use as well, so the game actually manages to utilize these elements well. The game’s environments are creepy and almost claustrophobic, and the various monstrous enemies you’ll encounter are well designed and animated for their time. There’s CGI cut scenes peppered throughout the game, which are kind of funny to watch here because the characters almost look kind of like marionettes in motion.

The graphics during gameplay can be fairly blurry, but that’s mostly because playing this game on an HD TV today isn’t exactly ideal. Not to mention the fact that for being a console FPS game from the mid-90s, the controls haven’t aged well either. Modern console FPS gamers don’t know how lucky they are to be able to play first person shooters with controllers that have two analog sticks. Back in 1996 when this was released, we had a D-pad and face buttons, and had to make the most out of them in terms of moving around smoothly (Jesus fucking Christ I sound old). The game boasts some super eerie sound effects and has a pretty good atmosphere as well, so it still delivers the goods in terms of action and fright elements.

All in all, if you can find Alien Trilogy for cheap (which is more than likely, the PS1 version is fairly common), it’s definitely worth picking up. For a mid-90s Doom clone, it does things pretty well and captures enough elements of the Alien films to make fans happy. If you remember playing this 20 years ago and enjoyed it, I’d recommend going back to it if possible. If you never got to experience it back then, I say check it out. You can do a lot worse with first person shooters based on the Alien franchise, such as the next game we’ll focus on in the next installment of the Horror Game Vault…Alien: Resurrection.

HORROR GAME VAULT: CASTLEVANIA: BLOODLINES

By Nick Durham

I have a lot of love for Konami’s Castlevania franchise, and have since I was about six years old or so. At that age I had discovered the original trilogy of Castlevania games for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (aka, the NES) and immediately fell in love with them, despite the fact that they’re incredibly difficult games. The gothic atmosphere, endless hordes of monsters to slay, and the incredible satisfaction felt by obliterating them with your whip and various sub-weapons made me a Castlevania fan for life. By the time the 16-bit generation was upon us, I had no luck in getting a Super Nintendo console, so I sadly missed out on the glorious Super Castlevania IV until much later. What I did manage to land was a Sega Genesis, and in 1994 the console was graced with the exclusive Castlevania: Bloodlines.

Unlike previous games in the series, Castlevania: Bloodlines doesn’t have you playing as a member of the Belmont clan. Instead you choose to play as either John Morris (son of Quincy Morris from Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel) who wields the Vampire Killer whip, or Eric Lecarde who wields a big-ass spear. The game’s storyline revolves around Dracula’s niece Elizabeth Bartley, who orchestrates World War I as part of a plot to resurrect her deceased uncle. John and Eric travel to Europe to confront her and her hordes of undead minions, concluding (of course) with a final battle against the resurrected Dracula. 

The first Castlevania game to not fully take place in Dracula’s castle (instead you travel throughout various parts in Europe), Castlevania: Bloodlines is mostly typical side-scrolling Castlevania fare. After Super Castlevania IV on the Super NES a few years prior allowed you to control firing your whip in any direction, this game returns you to the standard one-way whip attack, although there are a few times when you can switch up what direction you’re firing. The Item Crash feature from Castlevania: Rondo of Blood returns here as well, although it isn’t quite implemented as well here as it was there. Where this game really excels however is in its graphics and especially the music. The Sega Genesis wasn’t as powerful as its competitor the Super NES, but Konami really put their all into making this game look and sound wonderful. It’s still one of the best looking and sounding games to ever hit the Genesis, and remains one of the best games to ever grace the console. There’s interesting graphical effects including water reflections and multi-jointed/animated bosses. 

Like the previous games in the Castlevania franchise, Castlevania: Bloodlines is challenging as hell and will push you to your limits, but it’s still a massively fun and entertaining title. As I said, it’s one of the best games in the Genesis library, and one of my personal favorites in the Castlevania franchise. If you’re a retro gamer looking to pick this up, be prepared to drop a good amount of cash for a complete copy. 

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: AXIOM VERGE

By Nick Durham

In my youth, one of the video games I used to often find myself going back to was the original Metroid on the Nintendo Entertainment System. There was so much to do in terms of exploration and secrets and for an 8-bit game, it was pretty damn creepy. This formula would end up living on for years with various Metroid sequels and spin-offs, and even be adopted by Konami’s Castlevania series from the classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night onwards through a majority of their franchise. Because of this, this genre of gameplay would be dubbed “Metroidvania” by fans, and has helped birth other games throughout the decades; albeit they’ve often been too few and far between. Axiom Verge, from independent developer Thomas Happ Games, is probably the best Metroidvania-type game to be released in the past few years. We’ll be taking a look at the Wii-U version here.

 

The story of Axiom Verge revolves around a scientist named Trace. After an explosion in his lab, Trace awakens to find himself in a foreboding alien world where he has been tasked with helping the local populace in destroying a madman that is hellbent on obliterating all civilization. That’s all I want to say about the story, because there are so many twists and turns throughout the proceedings that this will keep you playing alone. If you finish the game with a high completion rate, you’ll see an additional ending. This alone ups the replay value and encourages even more exploration in a game that is all about exploring and survival.

 

The gameplay of Axiom Verge mixes the previously mentioned elements of Metroid and Castlevania and even sprinkles a little bit of Contra and Blaster Master in here as well. There’s side-scrolling shooter mechanics mixed in with the constant exploration and backtracking. The alien enemies you encounter range from easy to blast to pieces to being absurdly difficult to put down, but thankfully there are a ton of items, power ups, and gun upgrades to find along the way. The game offers a handful of enjoyable boss fights as well, even though they’re fairly formulaic in terms of memorizing patterns and exploiting said patterns to take down the bosses. If you’re a veteran gamer from the 8/16-bit eras, you’ll have little to no issues getting through this game.

 

Graphically speaking the environments of Axiom Verge look to be inspired from H.R. Giger and are creepy as hell. In fact, the atmosphere of Axiom Verge is one of horrific dread to say it lightly. You never know what’s around a corner and graphically speaking the whole thing looks pretty damn spooky and dark. The game’s music however is the best feature about Axiom Verge; a blend of synth and ambient sounds really help set the creepy tone of the game. The controls are good and there’s a lot of replayability here in terms of split endings and fully exploring the game’s large map. There’s even a speedrun game mode which encourages you to get through the game as fast as you can with as high of a completion rate as possible. I’m not trying this mode because I will undoubtedly fail miserably.

 

It goes without saying that if you grew up with Metroid, Castlevania, or other games of this type, you should go download Axiom Verge. It’s available on the Wii-U, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Playstation Vita, and PC. For its budget price it offers a very rewarding experience and enough replayability to make you come back to it. Download it, turn off the lights, and strap yourself in for a super dark and creepy adventure.

 

Rating: 4.5/5

RETROSPECTIVE PART TWO: HALLOWEEN ON ATARI

atari-2600-halloween-game-with-game

By Nick Durham

Remember that shitty video game adaptation of Texas Chainsaw Massacre that came out on the Atari 2600 we talked about? Well, Wizard Video Games weren’t quite done yet, as the following year in 1983, they released Halloween on the same console. That’s right, they made a game based on John Carpenter’s seminal slasher film for shits and giggles, and just like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre game before it, this game was pretty much an adults only game too. Thus, most stores wouldn’t carry it, unless it was behind the counter, and subsequently the game didn’t sell too well. Nowadays, just like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre game to come out the previous year, this game goes for quite a bit of cash these days.

 

Unlike the Texas Chainsaw Massacre though, Halloween is actually kind of playable without being overly annoying. In Halloween you play as a babysitter trying to protect the kids in the house from a knife-wielding maniac. Now notice I don’t say Laurie Strode or Michael Myers here, because the game manual goes out of its way to not label either character as who they are. This is really kind of odd don’t you think? Was Wizard Video Games not allowed to use the fucking names? I mean for Christ’s sake the box art is the Halloween movie poster, so what’s the problem?

 

Anyway, the game itself is pretty much a cat and mouse chase game, with a glorious Atari-flavored rendition of a few notes of the Halloween theme song playing over and over again. The game itself doesn’t look too bad for its time (it definitely looks better than the Texas Chainsaw Massacre game) and it’s actually kind of fun in small spurts. Also the animation when either you or a kid gets killed is absolutely hilarious. Ever see a headless Atari person running around with blood spurting out of where their head used to be? Well, you will here, and it’s quite a sight to see.

 

Halloween would be the last game to come from Wizard Video Games, since the sales of both the games they released were so abysmal. In fact, if you go out looking for the Halloween Atari cartridge, you’ll either find the cart with a label or without a label. The carts without label instead have a piece of tape on the front that just says HALLOWEEN. Not to mention the fact that those copies of the game that actually do have a label is the exact same label that Texas Chainsaw Massacre game, which is the logo of Wizard Video Games themselves. Could you tell not a whole lot of money or effort was put into these games and their productions?

 

Like I said earlier, Halloween for the Atari 2600 is a rare game that is going to cost you plenty if you decide to track down a copy. Unlike the Texas Chainsaw Massacre game, this one is actually kind of fun here and there. I recommend trying to find an emulated ROM somewhere online to give it a try, if for nothing else getting to see the animation of a headless babysitter running around spurting blood while kids get slaughtered.

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: DARKSTALKERS RESURRECTION

darkstalkers-0

By Nick Durham

Anyone here remember Darkstalkers? Anyone at all? It was a fighting game from Capcom from some of the crew behind the Street Fighter games; the only difference being instead of playing as warriors from all over the world, you play as various monsters. Darkstalkers was a franchise that while moderately successful, it never achieved the same kind of recognition that Street Fighter or other fighting games would. Despite that, the franchise has always had a loyal following, resulting in three arcade games (with various ports to home consoles) and characters that have appeared in other Capcom games as well (including the scantily-clad cat-chick Felicia and busty succubus Morrigan). In 2013, Capcom decided to grace us with an HD collection entitled Darkstalkers Resurrection, which represents a pretty damn near perfect rendition of the arcade games for the PS3 and the Xbox 360. The game is downloadable from Playstation Network or Xbox Live Arcade, although in Japan the PS3 version received a physical disc copy.

 

Darkstalkers Resurrection compiles Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge (the second game) and Darkstalkers 3. The original game sadly isn’t included, but that’s not really a big deal due to the fact that the second and third games are balanced much better than the first. In both games you can choose to play as various characters such as the aforementioned Felicia and Morrigan (both of whom are pretty much the faces…and let’s be honest, the boobs…of the series), as well as others such as Bishamon (an undead samurai), Demitri (a vampire), Talbain (a werewolf), Lord Raptor (an undead guitarist that looks like Iron Maiden’s Eddie mascot), Rikuo (a merman), Sasquatch (do you really need a description?), Donovan (a dhampir monster hunter), B.B. Hood (a Little Red Riding Hood knockoff with a machine gun in her picnic basket), and many more. The characters are very unique and fun to use, and are undoubtedly the most memorable thing about the franchise.

 

There aren’t a whole lot of differences between the two games included here. Darkstalkers 3 introduces some new characters and specials, but other than that, both games are more or less the same. That isn’t such a bad thing mind you, because they’re both extremely fun. The games remain very well-animated with colorful backgrounds and lively character animations, helping these 2D games stand the test of time. Control wise the games are very tight and easy to pick up and play. If you’ve ever played a Street Fighter game, you’ll be right at home as the controls are basically identical in terms of special moves and super moves, combos, etc.

 

Capcom threw in some bonus content with Darkstalkers Resurrection, including HD filtering that allow you to play the games in various viewing formats. This ranges from making the games resemble playing them at a real arcade cabinet with borders, playing it widescreen, or playing it at a normal resolution with side panels that list in-game achievements. Accomplishing these in-game achievements allows you to unlock bonus content, which includes exclusive artwork, concept art, videos, and much more. There’s also an option to upload gameplay to YouTube, and lobbies for online fighting (although good luck finding someone to play with these days).

 

I’ve always loved everything about Darkstalkers and always will. I downloaded Darkstalkers Resurrection when it was originally released, and I still play it to this day. For me, it’s just that damn fun, and the franchise as a whole remains one of my absolute favorite fighting game series’ of all time. Maybe it’s because of the monsters and boobage, but deep down it’s because of its strong fighting game mechanics and very memorable characters.  Check it out while you can.

 

Rating: 5/5

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: DEAD SPACE: EXTRACTION

deadspace

By Nick Durham

I’ve genuinely enjoyed EA’s Dead Space series much more than some other famous survival horror series the past few years, as recent installments of Resident Evil and Silent Hill have left me pretty damn disappointed. Now I’m aware that this franchise kind of went off the rails a little bit after Dead Space 3 and the series has been dormant ever since, but it doesn’t change the fact that the franchise offers so many scares and unforgettable, blood curdling moments that it’s hard not to admire the series as a whole. Dead Space: Extraction was kind of a side trip of the franchise when it was originally released for the Wii back in 2009, and it remains one of the most enjoyable games for the console to this day, and has been dreadfully underrated since its original release.

 

Taking place before the events of the first game, Dead Space: Extraction isn’t a survival horror game like the others, but is instead a horror-themed rail shooter, a la House of the Dead (minus the campiness). You mow down hordes of necromorphs as the story progresses, setting things up for the events of Dead Space and Dead Space 2. There’s a lot of interesting backstory given on the mythology of the mysterious Marker that turns those around it into psychotic monstrous freaks, and the game being told from a first-person perspective allows a very healthy amount of shocks and scares to occur.

 

The gameplay of Dead Space: Extraction makes the player use the Wii-mote for aiming and shooting, along with being able to use the Nunchuk for melee attacks. The Wii Zapper peripheral can also be used if you feel like actually toting a gun in your hands, which is actually kind of cool. You also get a degree of freedom in terms of looking around and such, which is a rarity for a rail shooter/light gun arcade game. Graphically the game looked pretty good for its time for a Wii game, and there’s some great sound design here and wonderful atmosphere.

 

In January of 2011, EA ported Dead Space: Extraction over to the PS3 with some updated graphical effects and the choice to play the game with either the standard controller or the Playstation Move wand. This version plays practically identical to the Wii version, albeit some bonus features and modes from the Wii version are missing for some dumb reason. Considering it’s from Electronic Arts, I’m really surprised the missing features and modes weren’t made available as DLC at launch. Money hungry fucks.

 

Anyway, whether you play the original Wii version or the slightly updated PS3 version, Dead Space: Extraction is one of the best games you’ve never played. It was massively enjoyable in 2009 and is still a hell of a lot of fun today. If you still own a Wii or a Wii-U, pick this game up. It’s fairly cheap as of right now considering it didn’t sell too well sadly; or if you have a PS3 you can go to the Playstation Store and download it right now.

 

Rating: 4.5/5

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 AND 3 RETURN

The_House_of_the_Dead_2_&_3_Return_Coverart

By Nick Durham

I’m a sucker for arcade light-gun rail shooters, and even more of a sucker for Sega’s House of the Dead franchise, which we’ve established plenty on here already. I decided to give Sega’s compilation disc for the Wii a whirl, House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return, for the first time in a long time recently, mostly because I wanted to play House of the Dead 2 without plugging in my Dreamcast. I had relatively fond memories of this compilation, but it turns out those memories may have been seen through rose-colored glasses.

 

The title of this disc sums up what you get here: you get the second and third games in the House of the Dead series on one disc. They’re enjoyable and pretty whacky arcade fun with hilarious voice work, which the series has always been well known for. Translating them to the Wii however has been a little problematic. House of the Dead 2 looks and feels like an actual step down from the Dreamcast version which came out practically a decade before this compilation was released for the Wii. I mean it’s not awful by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s something with the Wii-mote that feels off. Not to mention the fact that the game as a whole just feels kind of sluggish too. I actually did end up digging out my Dreamcast and popping my old copy of House of the Dead 2 in just to see if I was right or not, and it turns out I was. This game on the Wii runs slower, and it’s noticeable. It’s still fun though, but you’d figure that porting a game over to a more powerful console that came out a decade after its initial release would be as close to arcade perfect as one could hope.

 

House of the Dead 3 however runs just fine here, with little issues whatsoever. It doesn’t look as good as it did in the arcade, or as good as it would end up looking on the PS3 a few years after this was released as a downloadable title. I’ve talked plenty about the third installment of the game already, so there really isn’t that much else to say about it. The problems I had with the Wii-mote and with aiming on the second game aren’t an issue here with the third game at all, which is a bit odd. Maybe House of the Dead 2 was just the victim of shoddy programming during the porting process? Who knows?  It’s funny because back in the day I remember people saying the port of the second game was relatively flawless and the port of the third game had problems, but I’m finding the opposite effect here. Weird right?

 

There’s damn little in the way of extras for House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return, which is also a damn shame. When it comes to video game compilations, there’s usually some array of extras thrown in to sweeten the package. While we do get a boss rush mode, some mini-games, and an unlockable extreme mode for House of the Dead 3, that’s pretty much it. I would have loved to see some other features here as well, but alas, there aren’t.

 

All things considered, if a Wii or Wii-U is your only method of playing any of these games, I suggest picking up House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return to have some fun. It’s pretty cheap to pick up right now, and even though it isn’t a perfect representation of either game in the franchise, it’s still an enjoyable blast regardless. That being said, if you own a PS3 too and already have House of the Dead 3 downloaded, there isn’t much here to justify picking this up, unless you’re a diehard fan of the second game and don’t own a Dreamcast. You should really own a Dreamcast though, everyone should.

 

Rating: 3/5