The Secret World First Impressions

I’ve recently begun to experience what seems like burn out from MMOs. I suppose I’m starting to grow tired of having to group with four misfits in order to trudge through a thirty minute dungeon just to kill a dragon. This is why The Secret World is a literal breath of fire air. Sure I’ve dabbled in non-fantasy settings with Champions Online and The Old Republic, but The Secret World aims to be the most “real” MMO out there. This game is set in our actual world. There may be magic and monsters, but there’s also London and New York. Welcome to Earth, enjoy your stay. Continue reading

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Top 5 Zombie Games

Love them or hate them, zombie games are here to stay and, if anything, look to be becoming more and more plentiful as the years roll by. Since it is the month of Halloween, I decided that it would be a great time to make a new top five list of what I feel are the best zombie games out there. If you need a zombie fixing, then these may be five very good suggestions!



A true classic from the 16 bit era. Before survival horror games were really mainstream, we had games like Zombies Ate My Neighbors, and they served as the “scary zombie games” for the mainstream gamers. Zombies Ate My Neighbors was perhaps the most notable zombie game at the time. It was an overhead action platformer game that also contained many puzzle elements. What made the game so great was the variety of fantastic enemies throughout the game’s levels. In the hedge maze levels, players would be chased by chainsaw maniacs, and in the mall levels it was not uncommon to see display items come to life and try to murder the players. Of course, none of these enemies could compare to the classic zombie foes that would hound the players continuously, and they always felt like a real threat when attacking in numbers. Making this game even better was the cheesy soundtrack that sounded as if it was ripped straight from old black and white campy horror films. It doesn’t get much better than that.




Teamwork. There is perhaps no other game to ever be released that comes even remotely close to making teamwork so important as Left 4 Dead 2. Four survivors and thousands of zombies. If even one survivor were to screw something up, the effects could be costly and, in some instances, disastrous. While fast zombies are not really my cup of tea (I prefer it when the undead shambles towards me), they are used very well in this game and are great at invoking a true sense of desperation and panic. While the zombies aren’t really terribly frightening or scary, the thought of something bad happening to your fellow survivors certainly is. Left 4 Dead does what many games cannot do, and that’s making you really care about the safety of the people with you. They’re not just “friends playing with you.” No, they are fellow survivors of a true zombie apocalypse. Left 4 Dead 2 may be the epitome of cooperative online play.




There’s a good reason why this innocent looking game became PopCap’s most successful game of all time. As they had done with previous puzzle sub-genres in the past, PopCap took the whole “tower defense genre” and perfected it, really making it their own. The premise of this game alone is enough to get your attention. What, zombies are crossing your lawn and you have to stop them using sunflowers and walnuts?! It’s certainly enough to turn the heads of most people. As is expected with every PopCap game, the gameplay is remarkably solid and the zombies are very amusing and often quite silly. The fact that many people have clocked dozens of hours into what is supposedly a simple tower defense game says quite a lot about this fun little package. Cute graphics and a silly presentation does not stop this from towering over many of the more “serious” zombie games on the market.




This little Capcom gem can brag about being the best zombie game available at doing one specific thing, and that is making you feel like you truly are in a zombie apocalypse. Dead Rising 2 is able to show more zombies on your screen at any single moment than any other zombie game on the market is able to do. Just seeing a few dozen zombies is considered a “small sighting” in Dead Rising 2, as it is not uncommon to quite literally be able to see well over a hundred zombies at once. If Left 4 Dead or Resident Evil had the ability to pull this off, they could easily be among the scariest games of all time, and not due to any lame cheap scares. Having so many zombies visible at any given time really helps the immersion of Dead Rising 2. Despite the fact that almost anything can be picked up and used as a weapon, the zombies in Dead Rising 2 exist in such high numbers that it’s not unusual to feel panicked by them and unsure of what to use against them when unarmed. Without a doubt, Dead Rising 2 is the best video game adaptation of a zombie apocalypse that you can find.




While the original Resident Evil had a lot of charm and is fondly remembered by many, a lot of people remember it for the wrong reasons (Jill Sandwich, etc.) so it’s not unusual for me to place Resident Evil 2 here instead of the original. Resident Evil 2 fixed many annoyances from the first game. Combat felt better, the graphics were stunning at the time, and the voice acting was certainly better. There were also some very awesome cheap scares in Resident Evil 2. The one I will always remember most is the licker smashing through the two way mirror. The biggest advantage that Resident Evil 2 had over the original was that it was set in an entire city. In the original, just getting out of the mansion would let you escape the terrors within. We all know that escaping from a mansion is a hell of a lot easier than getting out of a zombie infested city, though! While the first Resident Evil was the true grandfather pioneer of modern day survival horror games, Resident Evil 2 perfected the formula and remains a gripping game even to this day.

Return to October 2010 Articles

Dead Rising 2 (Review)

“A playful zombie game that most gamers should get their hands on.”

If there’s one thing that is hard to do wrong, it’s zombies games. I’ve played plenty games that star the shambling undead, and very few have been anything less than average. Dead Rising 2, from Blue Castle and Capcom, is not just a fun zombie game but a fantastic one.

As someone who never played the original Dead Rising due to not having a 360, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. All that I was aware of was that this game was supposedly very tongue in cheek, excessively gory yet hilarious at the same time. While the story behind Dead Rising 2 is certainly very serious, the way in which the game presents itself is anything but. Think Shaun of the Dead, only without the silly jokes and with a strong and masculine lead.

Dead Rising 2 throws you in control of ex-motocross ace Chuck Greene, who is taking part in a reality show called Terror is Reality so that he can get some money to purchase Zombrex for his daughter Katey. What is Zombrex? In a nut shell, it is over the counter medication that people who have been bitten by zombies can take daily to stave off becoming a zombie themselves. Katey was once bitten by a zombie, and as a result Chuck has had to give her a shot of Zombrex each and every day since the accident.

The game show that Chuck takes part in, Terror is Reality, is essentially a show in which contestants kill zombies on bikes that have chainsaws attached to them (called slicecycles). The winner is the contestant who kills the most zombies. The player gets to control Chuck during the game show, which is the first time you get to do so. It is not a mandatory part of the game and can be skipped, but it’s best not to do so for story purposes.

Anyway, disaster strikes as somebody lets the zombies loose after the show. Security footage shows that Chuck himself did it, which we know is a lie since we were controlling him the entire time. After rescuing Katey and fleeing from the building, Chuck finds the entire city (called Fortune City) overrun. After finding his way into a safehouse, the objectives of the game are laid out for you, and then you get free control to do anything and go anywhere. While the game is an open world sandbox game, the objectives are quite rigid. Inject Katey with Zombrex each morning (you have to find Zombrex throughout the city), find out who framed Chuck and clear his name, and rescue survivors that you find throughout Fortune City.

Finding out who framed Chuck and then working to clear his name is essentially the main story of the game and is provided to you in the form of “cases” (like detective work). The story is pretty linear if all you do is follow that, but you are perfectly free to muck up the story and miss cases. This just means that you won’t get a good ending when you beat the game, and will then be allowed to restart from the beginning with everything you’ve earned (levels, attacks, combo cards, and so forth).

Rescuing survivors is a pretty big part of the game as well, as saving them will net you lots of PP (prestige points), which are essentially experience points. Earn a certain amount and Chuck will gain a level, just like in an RPG. Leveling up will grant Chuck one or two bonuses each level, such as an extra life bar, a new attack, or increased speed. Survivors are pretty fun to rescue, as you have to guide them back to the safehouse on your own. Their AI isn’t too bad and, if you arm them with a weapon, their chances of being grabbed by zombies is reduced greatly. Some survivors will refuse weapons though, or will even need to be carried. Many survivors will also ask you to do something before agreeing to go to the safehouse. For example, one survivor is starving and wants to eat something first so you have to find some food for him before he agrees to follow you to the safehouse, while an embarrassed female survivor in her undergarments will only go with you if Chuck strips to his underwear as well. You will learn about potential survivors from Stacey, a character who texts Chuck and tells him what to look out for in Fortune City. She’ll often tip the player off with locations of survivors or things worth checking out, and Chuck will have a set amount of time to look into Stacey’s findings.

Between zombies and a few regular human enemies, there is a type of enemy called a psycho. Psychos are people who have gone insane from the zombie outbreak and are, most of the time, extremely difficult to kill and will trample over you with ease. Since you are allowed to restart the story at any time and keep your abilities and stats, it is best to leave psychos until you are certain that you will be able to take them down.

Going back to zombies, it is impressive how many can appear on the screen at any one time. It’s not uncommon for there to be well over a hundred zombies on your screen, provided you’re not in a very cramped location. This game doesn’t hesitate to give you the full zombie apocalypse atmosphere, and it shows. Unfortunately with so many zombies on screen at once, it’s easy to see a few clones shambling around. Even still, it seems that Blue Castle did a good job of keeping identical zombies to a minimum, as it seems like there are several dozen different zombie models to encounter. The graphics in Dead Rising 2 may not be pushing any boundaries, but they certainly suffice and the diversity among the zombies is appreciated.

In terms of weapons, it is pretty safe to say that anything that is not nailed down can probably be picked up and used as a weapon by Chuck. Common weapons include baseball bats, crowbars, fire axes, and sledgehammers. Chuck can use a few obscure items as weapons as well, such as golf clubs complete with golf balls, robot teddies, fuzzy dice, and pineapples. Pretty much anything in the game world can be wielded by Chuck, which makes exploring in Dead Rising 2 a lot of fun. Fortune City may not cover a lot of ground, but there are so many shops and rooms to check out that it feels so much larger than it really is.

Chuck can also find combo cards, which teaches him how to combine items to make special weapons. At the beginning they are rather simple, such as the baseball bat with nails in it, but eventually Chuck can do things such as combine a flashlight with gems to make, well, a lightsaber. It may not be very realistic, but realism should not be expected from a game that treats urinals as save points! It’s worth noting that the weapons Chuck makes are, most of the time, exceptionally powerful. Even the basic baseball bat with nails is a very deadly weapon that can be obtained very easily.

Also worth noting is the multiplayer. Dead Rising 2 offers two forms of multiplayer. First, there is the standard co-op mode in which you can hop into another person’s game as they play through the main story. Only the host’s story will progress, but both players in the co-op game will acquire money and PP. It’s a fun mode, and it is certainly very enjoyable causing havoc with another player in the casinos and malls of Fortune City. The zombies really don’t stand a chance against two Chucks!

The second multiplayer mode is Terror is Reality, the game show that Chuck contested in. In Terror is Reality, four players are pitted against each other in goofy minigames that all involve zombies being killed, maimed, or even just played with. One minigame involves sniping zombies that appear in random doors in front of the players, so it’s like whack a mole with guns. Another minigame forces players to don caribou antlers, which they use to throw zombies onto weights. Heavier zombies award players with more points. There are probably about a dozen different minigames in Terror is Reality to play, and fortunately most of them are somewhat enjoyable. Another bonus to playing Terror is Reality is that all of the prize money you earn playing the minigames can be transferred to the singleplayer game. Considering I’ve never finished Terror is Reality with less than $20,000, it’s pretty easy to rack up money fairly quickly which makes the minigames pretty beneficial to play.

Overall, Dead Rising 2 is a very good zombie game, and it’s not unusual to have a lot of fun laughing at the game due to crazy situations you’ll end up in with various weapons. The multiplayer is well worth it as well, as it is not only enjoyable but very beneficial to the singleplayer campaign. Dead Rising 2 is a zombie game that does not take itself very seriously, and I recommend it to anyone who needs a good zombie game to play through, or at least a game that likes to poke fun at it’s own cheesy nature.

Overall

9.3/10

Dead Rising 2/Sonic 4 First Impressions

So I’m playing two games at once right now, and they are Dead Rising 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. These two games couldn’t be any more unlike one another, and this is reflected in my feelings towards them so far after clocking about two hours in Dead Rising 2, and about an hour and a half in Sonic 4.


I never played the original Dead Rising since I do not have a 360, so I wasn’t able to experience the exploits of Frank West. That did not stop me from wanting to check out the sequel, though.

Dead Rising 2 uses the Games for Windows or Windows Live sign-in crap, which plagues so many other PC games these days. I was a little upset to see that in here, but what really irked me was the lack of any sort of key configuration options, and apparently the only gamepads that this game has support for are 360 ones for the PC. I had to go into an ini file and remap the keys manually, which was fairly annoying. It took me about an hour before I was truly happy with the controls.

The gameplay so far has me hooked, and I can’t really fault it much. My only gripe is having to find Zombrex for Chuck’s daughter. I don’t even know where to start looking since I always have, literally, dozens of zombies lumbering after me at once. Taking the zombies down is a lot of fun, and is even downright gruesome in a few instances. If you have a fire axe, you can slice a zombie in half – and I mean VERTICALLY, so from the head and down. Ouch.

The characters are pretty good. Katey (Chuck’s daughter) isn’t too interesting, but the rest of the supporting cast is great so far. Rebecca is pretty much the most blatant use of sex appeal I’ve ever seen in a video game of this kind, but she’s also a well developed character personality-wise, so she has the looks and the character. Sullivan is cool too, I definitely like his no nonsense approach to things as he manages the safehouse/shelter. I’ve only talked to him a few times and he’s already changed his feelings towards Chuck twice. I like this guy.

I haven’t played the game enough to write a review, that’s for sure. Still coming to grips with a lot of things in Dead Rising 2, but I predict a pretty good score for it.


A new Sonic game in the original series, what’s not to like? Unfortunately, a lot. The game isn’t that bad, don’t be misled by what I just said. The problem with Sonic 4 is that it feels like the developers don’t know how to design Sonic levels anymore.

The Splash Hill levels were pretty decent, but they felt far too large and I never really knew how far into the stages I was. There are too many routes and secret passages, and it’s just far too overwhelming. Big levels are good in a lot of instances, but these levels are just too big.

I actually felt like the casino stages were really frustrating. Far too many stupid gimmicky props and such, and a few things, such as the cannons that shoot you around, really annoyed me. I felt that, in the casino stages, I was mostly just being pushed through the levels by the huge abundance of springs and other devices that would propel Sonic forward. Honestly, it’s a little questionable when you barely even have to press any buttons to progress through a level. In the casino levels, the game progressed Sonic for you.

The ruin levels seem promising so far, but I’ve only played the first one. It was a little Indiana Jones-esque, which I actually enjoyed. In a few instances, I had to flee from rolling boulders and then ride smaller boulders over bottomless pits. With the slower pace and the game not relying on springs and such to shoot me forward ALL THE DAMN TIME, the first ruin level was actually pretty enjoyable.

Aside from the weird level design and the game’s reliance on devices that constantly shoot you around the level, the other thing I did not like is the placement of enemies. A lot of them are positioned in places where, unless you’ve already played the level and know what’s coming, you’re going to get hit and lose all of your rings. A few enemies come out of absolutely nowhere and are positioned in spots where you are destined to hit them unless you are a remarkably fast thinker and can take them out in half a second. Unlikely.

It’s still early days for Sonic 4, so my feelings may change. At the moment, I’m going to say that this game is just fairly average overall. Despite it’s flaws, it is still fun. It’s just not memorable.


And that’s about it for these two games so far. I’ll be writing more detailed reviews on each later in the week. Sonic 4’s review should be Friday, and Dead Rising 2’s review will be over the weekend sometime.

Return to October 2010 Articles

Top 5 Favourite Resident Evil Enemies

Resident Evil has become quite an old series and, as such, we’ve seen some pretty cool enemies over time. Since it is October, the month of Halloween, I decided to shine a light on my top five favourite Resident Evil enemies. The list may be pretty predictable, but that alone surely says something for my choices.


It just wouldn’t be Resident Evil without the slow, shambling undead. Resident Evil 4 tried to shake things up by removing zombies, which I feel was a bit of a mistake. This very mistake would be repeated in Resident Evil 5. Fortunately there’s still a plethora of Resident Evil games that feature zombies. One on one they were not very intimidating, but in groups? Oh, you knew you’d have a good fight on your hands if there were several! Not to mention hearing the shuffling of feet or a dead groan in the first few games was always enough to freak out a few gamers.


It’s hard to attach a human name to the “thing” that William Birkin eventually becomes. There was no cooler encounter in Resident Evil 2 than the stand-offs with the mutating G-virus creator. His mutations started off threatening enough, and were very clearly intimidating looking. By the end of it all, Birkin’s final form was pretty much just a gigantic blob of mush. Looking at his mutation become something so powerful only to degenerate into such a pitiful form makes me feel a little sorry for the poor man. He served as a great antagonist though, and gave many gamers some fond memories of Resident Evil 2.


We see this guy in a few games, and he’s always pretty menacing looking! I like Mr. X because he defies the rules of what makes a Resident Evil enemy. Mr. X doesn’t moan or shuffle, nor does he have any weird pulsating body parts. With that stone cold face and gigantic frame covered by an old trench coat, Mr. X had a very original look that gave him a very clear identity in the Resident Evil series. It’s also worth mentioning that he was pretty tough to fight in a few instances! This guy could take rockets to the face and still keep moving. Considering the fact that he’s often a persistent threat, his durability makes him perhaps one of the most fearsome enemies in the entire series.


Resident Evil 2 gave us one of the most beloved enemies of the entire franchise, the licker. Skinless, giant tongues, brains exposed, huge claws… What’s not to love? The licker is just so disgustingly awesome! When they first appeared in Resident Evil 2, they were a bit of a big deal. These “things” were not the slow moving zombies that we were used to, oh no! Lickers were stealthy predators that possessed terrifying agility. Gamers who weren’t too skilled at playing Resident Evil games would find themselves dreading every single encounter with lickers. They’ve also provided us with a few scares throughout the series. Who could ever forget the licker jumping through the two way mirror in Resident Evil 2?


Pure evil in human form, figuratively speaking Wesker was Satan. His build up from suspicious ally to eventual prime antagonist of the entire Resident Evil franchise was a stellar ride, and his huge role in Resident Evil 5 was bittersweet. Wesker was truly manipulative as well as fiendishly intelligent. Many events throughout the series can be blamed exclusively on Albert. He became even more of a badass in Resident Evil 5 when he brainwashed poor Jill, and then went on to show Chris and Sheva his awesome abilities. Wesker’s fiery demise was a little saddening however, because I felt upset to see the greatest villain in the series finally perish. RIP Wesker, you made Resident Evil what it is.

Return to October 2010 Articles

The Most Epic Video Game Ever

So while I was cleaning myself up for work this evening, an idea hit me for a game that transitions between genres. In essence, it would be a game that has no defining genre. Imagine the following being shown at a demonstration at E3, the Tokyo Game Show, or some other conference.

The demonstration opens with what seems to be a futuristic racing game. Heavily armored jet-tanks (think Wipeout on steroids) barrel through a jungle landscape dotted with high tech ruins. An NPC portrait appears on the screen as the player speeds through the jungle, informing them via radio to pick up “abandoned weapon cores” laying around the environment. By running over one, players acquire high powered laser/missle weapons that anihilate the opposition when fired. The NPC urges the player to “hurry and beat that bastard to the checkpoint, the safety of the world depends upon it! Use any necessary force!”

The player immediately realizes that the message told the player to throw attack after attack at their opponent. After taking enough damage, the bad guy’s vehicle suddenly explodes, but it turns out that he ejected from the seat at the last moment! The NPC on the radio tells the player to “get the hell outside and stop him from getting away!”

The player gets out of their vehicle and gives chase, quickly catching up on foot. The bad guy feels their presence and turns around. He then indicates that, “You just don’t give up, do it? Fine, let’s settle this now. Like men.”

The camera transitions out to view the two men from a side view perspective as two bars appear at the top of the screen. And then it happens…..

Round one. Fight!!

The game goes from combat racing game to what seems like a full fledged fighter! The two characters go at it, performing combos, linking moves to form chains, performing breakers and parries.. And so forth. After two rounds of highly stylized fighting, the player wins.

As those watching expect a “(CHARACTER NAME) WINS!” message to flash up, they instead witness something else.

Victory! Mission Complete!

An experience bar appears as a score that is calculated basd on performance in the race and then the fight are converted into experience points. The bar fills. LEVEL UP!

The screen fades to black and the player receives a save prompt. After saving, a cutscene plays with the player character entering what looks to be a military operations base. The NPC who previously spoke to the player in their racer is here, revealing himself to be “the General” and the guy who tells the player what to do. The General informs the main character that they may have taken one one of the evil corporation’s main henchmen, but there are still several out there. The General brings up a map, pointing to an area of structures and saying “this is where we are, in this base.” He tells the player that they have to push northwest to a research station that likely holds some valuable information that they can use against the evil corporation. The main character tells the General that he can count on him and leaves the room… And then the game loads into what appears to be an RTS map. The player takes control of the base, building structures and training units to destroy the evil corporation’s defenses near the research station. The main character, as a unit, must survive and be the one to capture the station.

After capturing the research station, the main character enters and finds one of the evil corporation’s henchmen inside. He is waving a disc and saying, “looking for this?” he escapes in a racer. The player hops in one as well, and a sequence similar to the jungle race plays out. After the player fires enough power-ups into the bad guy, his ship will appear to start exploding. The bad guy laughs and says that he isn’t going to give up and… ESCAPES IN A POD INTO THE SKY! The General orders the player to pursue! With the press of a button in the racer’s console, it turns into a flying vehicle and flies into the sky!

The camera angle shifts to the side as the player gains control of the vehicle in the air. Reinforcements from the evil corporation arrive in the form of enemy aircrafts. The player, flying forward the entire time, must shoot them down and salvage their weapons before they explode. After destroying several waves, the player finds the bad guy in a giant robot that he retreived from the evil corporation’s base. Resembling a ship at least a dozen times larger than the player, the bad guy’s ship is capable of firing huge volleys of deadly projectiles. After getting in enough shots, the bad guy’s ship begins exploding. The General begins to congratulate the player when the bad guy cuts them off with, “NOT SO FAST! I’M TAKING YOU WITH ME!” The bad guy fires one last shot before exploding. The shot hits the player’s ship as the begin to spiral out of control. The General urges the player to land safely, but it is impossible. After spinning well of course, the player makes a light crash in an abandoned area.

The player crawls out of their ship to survey the damage and see where they are. As they are examining the hull of their ship, there is moaning… Shuffling feet… The player turns and looks back and there it is! A zombie!!

Suddenly playing like Resident Evil 5, the player is tasked with getting the hell out of what appears to another research station where all hell broke loose. With each zombie killed, a “+1 XP” message flashes over the fallen corpse. Eventually the player gets to the end of the station. Just as they are about to leave, a huge zombie horde attacks! As all hope looks lost, suddenly two people burst in and push the zombies back. Allies from the command base! After defeating the zombies, they introduce themselves as Sergeant Brock and Captain Sharp. They agree to get the hell out of there with the player and then this message appears..

– BROCK AND SHARP HAVE JOINED THE PARTY –

The party then leaves. Victory! Mission Complete!

An experience bar appears once more as a score that is calculated basd on performance in the race and then the fight are converted into experience points. The bar fills. LEVEL UP!

An overworld map appears. The research station they were at is greyed out. Ahead is a sparse plain. The player selects it and enters. The game shifts to a location that looks and plays like the Archylte Steppe from Final Fantasy XIII. The player’s destination is marked on their map as they must traverse through the open wilds. If they are unfortunate enough to bump into one of the local critters, a dramatic battle transition occurs. Rather than going to an RPG battle screen, the fighting system from before returns! Brock and Sharp appear as what seems to be tag-team partners (think Marvel vs Capcom). The creatures that the player is fighting? A series of wolves! While the player has three characters to alternate between, each with diverse move sets and special attacks, the opposing force is made up of approximately twenty wolves. The player characters seem able to take about ten hits from a wolf before dying (though it would be more if they gained more levels), but each wolf can only appear to take about four or five hits. After defeating all the wolves, each character is awarded experience points based upon how much they were used and how beneficial they were in determining the outcome of the battle. The player then continues, trying to avoid as many fights as possible….

And that is as far as my imagination went. So, what did we include here?
Racing? Check.
Fighting? Check.
RTS? Check.
Retro shooter? Check.
Survival horror? Check.
RPG leveling mechanics? Check.

How would something like this be defined? What genre would it fit under? I had an idea to add in a sort of Civilization or Sim City element to this game idea as well. Would that have been overkill? No, the “playable sports league minigame/diversion from the main story” probably would be, though. Or maybe functional online multiplayer?

Okay, that’s enough. I’m stopping now, I promise.

Return to August 2010 Articles