Friday, October 9, 2009

"I've been waiting for you, Leon..."

Over the past year, there has been a surge in shooter games on the Wii. This may not come as a surprise to many, as Nintendo really tried to advertise their Zapper gun as incentive for developers to choose their system over that of Microsoft and Sony. And while Call of Duty was one of the first franchises to jump on the bandwagon with this idea of the player actually holding a virtual gun, the shooter genre is being reinvented by motion-controlled horror games.

House of the Dead and Time Crisis used to be the pinnacle of game design at arcades just a little over a decade ago. Even Duck Hunt utilized a similar technology, years ahead of its time. So why would game developers revert to a rail-style shooter based on motion controls for horror games? Simply put, it makes the game scarier – a lot scarier. Resident Evil 5, though it garnered plenty of positive reviews, received a lot of criticism for not being very scary. Left 4 Dead, though it may be filled with an unrivaled amount of zombies at any given time, gives the player a plethora of semi-automatic weapons and a nearly limitless amount of ammo. This makes staying alive seem like a cakewalk, and while protecting yourself with a molotov cocktail may create some cool results, it also makes the zombies seem a lot less menacing.

The first title in the horror genre to really stand out for using the Wii-mote successfully in a horror title was, ironically enough, Resident Evil 4. The title was first released on the Gamecube (later ported to the Playstation 2 and iPhone) and was one of the more successful titles on the system. Many gamers and critics felt that, all though they had played the game before, Resident Evil 4 felt more engaging on the Wii. Not long after, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles debuted and wowed gamers with a retelling of the original Resident Evil, as well as tying up some loose ends in the series. Zombies would spawn at random locations in varying numbers, and while advancing through a level was predetermined by the game, the player could take alternate routes each time. This combined with the dark moody atmosphere and the nostalgia of the original cast of characters gave gamers a truly terrifying and enjoyable experience.

With the success of Umbrella Chronicles, Capcom quickly started work on a sequel, entitled Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles, which will be released next month. Darkside Chronicles will cover events from Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica, offers even more enemies, and brings back some familiar boss fights. Judging from their formula so far, I’d say it’s a safe bet to assume that Capcom will continue releasing these retellings of the series for at least a few more years. Also in the works in a retooled version of Resident Evil 0, originally released on the Gamecube, though largely overshadowed by Resident Evil 4. It will follow a similar formula to the Wii version of Resident Evil 4, altering the control scheme but maintaining the same game at its core. Also onboard with the rail-shooter revival is EA with Dead Space: Extraction. And even though it may not utilize the controls in the same way, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories makes excellent use of the Wii-mote to solve puzzles and navigate through the game. While I am looking forward to Bioshock 2 next year, I don’t think it will be as chilling as Darkside Chronicles.

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