In which Capcom try to repeat Resident Evil 2’s success by resurrecting another console classic from ages past. Except this time, it doesn’t go anywhere nearly as well.
And so we reach the arguable zenith of the Civilization series, the peak from which there is only a slow decline into senescence and eventual barbarism. Civilization 4 is actually the game that triggered this whole chain of posts, as I was looking for something relatively meaty to play over Christmas that would run on the Macbook I had with me while I was visiting family. It was meant to give me something to do in the evenings in between coding, reading and writing. Instead it ended up sucking me for two games in a row, like it was just released yesterday instead of almost fourteen years ago, and it’s the only one of the series where I barely notice the seams. Civilization 4 may well be ageless — Civilization 5 has aged far worse than 4 has, for god’s sake — and that’s entirely down to Firaxis’s drive to imbue the game with some of the character it had lost in Civilization 3’s relatively sterile treatment of the world, and an absolutely stellar piece of design work on the part of the game designers, especially lead designer Soren Johnson.
Eastshade is a first-person game where you’re shipwrecked on a fantasy island and, running very much against the grain of the entire first-person genre up until this point, your primary mode of interaction with the island’s inhabitants isn’t to stab them in the face.
472 hours. That’s how long I spent playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in 2017. The game which kicked off the whole battle royale craze had its hooks in me for a good long time with its mix of small-unit tactics, orienteering, emphasis on making an intelligent choice between stealth and confrontation — it turns out that I really really like the battle royale concept, and PUBG was doing it well enough that it became my second most-played game on Steam. However, PUBG was buggy and poorly optimised and its evolution was driven by a series of hacky feature implementations and kneejerk design decisions that were tolerable while the game was in Early Access — that’s the devil’s bargain you make when playing an EA game — but which became greatly less so when PUBG hit 1.0 in December 2017; the game eventually diverged from what I enjoyed about it, and I fell out of it soon afterwards.
Most new BRs released since then have been me-too attempts to cash in by repurposing forks of existing projects, or setting out along the same Early Access path that PUBG did. None of them have the level of polish or design focus that my soured experience with PUBG made me crave, and so there’s a huge gap in the market for an established FPS developer to make something that’s designed from the ground up to be a dedicated battle royale title — something that doesn’t crash, and which has good performance, and which doesn’t waste your time with pointless make-work such as waiting in an in-game lobby for the game to start or fiddly inventory management that leads to you getting shot in the head while you’ve got it stuck inside your backpack. In other words, I’m ready for a battle royale made by somebody who actually knows what they’re doing.
Apex Legends may be that game.
It looks like there’s something up with the brightness on my primary monitor as the screenshots I took for this review are all far darker than they appeared when I was actually playing the game. Resident Evil 2 is certainly dark, but it is not this dark — I will try to tweak my brightness settings and capture some more representative shots tonight.
I don’t believe I’ve ever talked about Resident Evil on here, and for good reason: unlike what appears to be the entire rest of the world I hated Resident Evil 4 and have singularly disagreed with the direction the series has gone in since then, with the prioritisation of anime knife fights and suplexing zombies over slow-paced B-movie survival horror. (Not that suplexing zombies isn’t awesome, but it’s really not what I want out of a Resident Evil game.) Still, I wouldn’t have had a problem with that tonal shift if I hadn’t liked what the series was doing up until that point; I really enjoyed the first three Resident Evil games – especially the first one, with the legendarily terrible voice acting and the tremendously cheap live-action cutscenes — and so my reaction to the announcement that Capcom were remaking Resident Evil 2 in the Resident Evil 7 engine1 was rather mixed. The preview footage looked interesting, sure, but it didn’t look all that much like what I recognised as being Resident Evil 2, and while Dark Souls has demonstrated an appetite for the slower, more thoughtful style of the old Resident Evils I was a little sceptical that Capcom could resist the urge to (for example) put in a quicktime event where the main character punches a boulder to death.