Reviewed by Adam McCabe
Available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Developed and Published by Capcom
What’s up, Redfields and Valentines? Adam here!
Capcom’s zombie driven poster child finally lurches its way into the next era of gaming and I’d like to say the horror video game genre will never be the same … but I can’t. Not because Resident Evil 5 isn’t genre defining, but because it’s such an extreme departure from everything the zombie-infested franchise has ever been that I can’t figure out what kind of game RE 5 actually is! Is that a bad thing? Hell No!
For most, Resident Evil 5 will feel like a successful evolution of the series and a fantastic continuation (and in a lot of ways, conclusion) of the saga we’ve been following for over a decade. You know that battle between Chris and Wesker we’ve always wanted? It’s here. Want to know where and how the T and G-viruses originated? It’s here. This … *dramatic pause* … is the Metal Gear Solid 4 of the Resident Evil franchise. For those of you who know what that means, your stomach just dropped a little. Soak it in. It’s a good feeling.
We begin our tale in a fictional region of Africa known as Kijuju. Our hero, Chris Redfield, is sent in to investigate the experiments of a power-hungry corporation who are continuing the work of the now-defunct Umbrella Corporation. Before you can say “That dude has blood oozing out of his eyeballs!” … you’re teamed up with your new partner, Sheva, and swarmed by some of the most spine-chilling baddies this side of Raccoon City. What follows is a spiraling vortex of lies, deception, and explosive action that will blow your mind and leave your muscles tightened with suspense … but it won’t scare you.
That’s right, gore-hounds. One of the biggest departures for this game is that I often found myself describing it as Indiana Jones with Zombies … a description you wouldn’t normally think to associate with a series renowned for scaring the daylights out of you. Building horror is replaced with tension and paranoia.
Capcom really went out on a limb with this one, but it’s so stellar in its execution that you’ll find very little to complain about. Some of the puzzles are a little too easy and the split-screen play looks a bit awkward, but I rate games on their fun factor. Is this game fun? To that question, I reply a resounding YES, and then I do three back flips and throw glitter in the air. That’s how I react to fun things. Don’t judge me.
Continuing on the subject of departures, Resident Evil 5 is a game clearly built around co-op play. You and a friend will rock-paper-scissors for who gets to be Chris, and who is stuck with “the chick“, and then off you go! There really is nothing quite like being backed into a corner by a group of crazed, infected villagers, only to see them suddenly blown to pieces by your buddy on a nearby rooftop with a grenade launcher. That is truly the heart of RE5 and it’s pulled off flawlessly. No worries, rogues. You still have the option to play solo and the Artificial Intelligence works very well … for the most part. Sometimes “A.I. Sheva” will get a little trigger-happy, but she’ll never steal your ammo or call you a “n00b“. Also, upgrading her weapons and making sure she’s taken care of is, believe it or not, an awkwardly satisfying experience. When I upgraded the amount of critical damage Sheva’s gun can unleash and set her loose on the battlefield, I got that feeling of “Yeah … that’s my girl!” as she exploded heads left-and-right.
As far as gameplay options go, you can chose to turn “friendly fire” on or off and have the option to randomly match yourself with a partner online. It’s like E-Harmony if the weirdos who spam your e-mail were replaced by zombies! Wicked!
The controls are almost identical to Resident Evil 4, but tightened and a little more fluid. You still aim over-the-shoulder and the targeting system (along with melee attacks) are crisp as ever and thoroughly engaging. Capcom has always been consistent with the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” principle. RE5 sticks with what works and exceeds expectations in the areas that needed a significant change. As different as this entry is, it feels like a natural and worthy evolution of the beloved franchise. That is a hard feat to pull off and Capcom boldly steps up to the task, guns-a-blazing.
I decided to cover “style” last because this is truly where the game excels above all others (thus far) in the current generation. As epic and insane as this story is, it still has that B-movie feel that defined the series and kept it light-hearted. The characters are nowhere near as deep as those in games like Metal Gear and our heroes seem in-no-way fazed that they just fought a giant, foaming bat-scorpion. They just move on in an “all in a day’s work” kind of way. I love it. Personally I’d be like “DID YOU JUST SEE … WHAT THE HECK WAS … OMG DID *pant pant* GAH THAT WAS RIDICULOUS!!”, but I digress.
Then there’s the graphics. They are nothing short of mind blowing. Everything from lighting textures and mouth movements, to Chris’s facial hair breathes virtual life into RE5. It seriously isn’t fair to compare this to other games. It’s just that beautiful.
If you’re looking for classic “boo” scares, you won’t find them in RE5. If you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure that plays incredibly well and consistently challenges your elite gamer super-powers, this is your title. Resident Evil 5 provides something fresh and innovative for both veterans and casual action-adventure players while setting the bar for the next generation with stellar visuals. Weather you’re with a friend or going it solo, Resident Evil 5 is an experience you absolutely can not let pass you by. This is a must buy!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back in my air-boat and mow down some infected zombie tribesman. Play it. You’ll know what I mean. WIN.
4 1/2 out of 5
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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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