Designed & Published by Capcom
It’s very weird switching on my Nintendo DS and seeing “This game contains scenes of explicit violence and gore”, but then Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (see what they did there?) is a weird game. The first weird thing is the choice of system. Who’d have guessed we’d be seeing Resident Evil show up on the DS at all, let alone before any PSP version has even been announced? I guess rumours of the series turning its back on Nintendo were just that, as Nintendo nets another exclusive game.
Well, kind of exclusive, given that the game is part port and part remake of the original Resident Evil that was released on the Playstation ten years ago. It’s a bit of a ten year celebration apparently, which is their excuse for not basing the game either on the GameCube remake of the title, nor on one of the later games in the series that hasn’t received a second version.
It’s not just the decision to base the game on the original Playstation game that’s a mite confusing, but that so much of the flawed design of the classics should be rolled out again in this post-Resident Evil 4 world. There is a nod to RE4, with the addition of a quick knife shoulder button like that game had, which knife fans should really appreciate (the game can be completed with only the knife for those that didn’t realize it), but most unforgivable of all is fact that, despite the fact that Resident Evil Zero and Resident Evil 4 both did it, we’re back to being stuck if our inventory is full and we try to pick up a health item. In those games, you could still heal yourself, or combine the item with one in your inventory. In this one, no dice.
Since the game is split into three main parts, “Classic”, “Rebirth”, and Multiplayer, we’ll address each in turn.
“Classic” mode is what it sounds like; the original game with only a couple of minor differences. That means you play as members of the S.T.A.R.S. alpha team searching for the downed helicopter of the bravo team, when things go pear shaped and they have to take refuge in a mansion filled with monsters. Your goal is to escape and to figure out what the hell is going on along the way.
You still get to choose from two characters, Chris and Jill. Chris is still “hard” mode, but now they at least say as much on the menus. Chris can only carry six things, doesn’t get the powerful weapon Jill gets really early on, and has to contend with an extra key since Jill can lock pick certain doors. Jill gets eight item spots and because of her lock picking skills, less keys to worry about carrying around.
Jill, Chris and the rest of the characters have all been visually improved. They’ve been given higher resolution textures and higher polygon models. The better resolution textures are especially nice as it really hides the fact that the DS doesn’t do any texture smoothing. It’s not normally that noticeable in DS games on the small screen, but here it’s practically invisible.
The top screen doubles as a map and as health indicator, pulsating the colour of your health, should you be injured. The status and inventory screen is brought up by hitting start, and works just the same as it ever did, though now if you prefer you can also use the touch screen to select and combine items.
Examining items has the 3D rotatable models from later versions of the game too, which is always a nice addition. Oh, and aside from the quick knife L trigger, you can press down and run to do a quick 180, like most games later in the series allowed.
Apart from that, it’s just as you remember it. The same badly written and badly acted dialogue, the same puzzles, the same rooms and scares.
In many ways, it’s a flawless port of a ten year old classic. Fans of the series that already have a DS will probably beam at the thought of having the game in their pocket, as I do. To be able to flip open the DS and show people the hilarious opening video is a charming idea, though shamelessly it’s still the cut version America has been lumped with for the past ten years, something I was hoping would be fixed. Resident Evil 4 was uncut in America but cut in Japan, so why are we still getting the inferior version of the opening video? Perhaps for posterity… but I’m still disappointed. At least it isn’t as cut as the European version of the original was, and hopefully our European friends will get this version with in-game exploding heads finally reinstated.
Videos play with noticeable compression, especially in the smoky opening film, but are few and far between, so it’s not a huge problem. Sound effects and music fair much better. They mightn’t have improved the terrible voice work, but the music and sounds still hold up really well apart from that, especially given that the game is running of a cartridge a little larger than a postage stamp.
The problems lie mostly with how badly the original game has aged, and how unsuitable it is for portable gaming. Having already been improved in every single way by the GameCube remake, which added a lot more content, numerous new boss fights and puzzles, as well as much nicer pre rendered backdrops, it’s very hard to walk into an area that was so impressive in the remake and not lament what could have been. Every missing doorway and area, and especially the basement in the guard house, spring to mind. What was a fantastic set piece in the remake is again reduced to just pulling a lever.
Then there’s everything RE4 fixed to contend with yet again. Item boxes, ink ribbons and type writers… These things really don’t work in a handheld title. You can’t just pick it up and play for five minutes, or put it down at your convenience, which is something handheld titles all ought to have. Fortunately it does have a sleep mode so you can walk away if you have time to come back to it, but it’s really a shame that you can’t save whenever and wherever you want.
For console horror titles, I have no problems with limited save systems, because they add to my enjoyment of the title, but for a portable game, it hurts more than it helps.
The controls… Up makes you walk the way your character is facing. Left turns you to your character’s left, right to their right. Back makes you walk backwards. You hold a button to run, and you hold the right trigger to ready whatever gun you have equipped, and the left trigger to ready your knife. You can only turn with a weapon readied, and pushing up or down aims up or down. You might have only played RE4 and be wondering how that’s different to what you had in that game, but where it really confuses people is when the camera angle changes, and the direction you’re running on screen does a 180.
I don’t mind the controls… and if you’re reading this, you either played RE4 and are wondering what the early games are like or you already have a good idea of whether or not you mind the controls. In a way, without an analogue stick it’s harder to criticize the controls, but for the most part they’re make or break. If you’ve played any game in the series with these controls they should be a non-issue, but they are what they are and for a lot of people, they’re a brick wall between them and any enjoyment they might get out of the title.
The controls carry over into every mode offered… so be warned.
Unless you know the original game like the back of your hand, I’d recommend you play “Classic” mode before dipping into “Rebirth” mode, because there’s really no draw to play “Classic” mode after trying “Rebirth”.
“Rebirth” contains all the new stuff, and for those people that aren’t happy to just have Resident Evil in their pocket, this is what you’ll be looking to. A lot of the puzzles have been changed into touch screen-based brain teasers, and while most of these aren’t anything especially novel, or something that couldn’t have been done on a joypad, just having different puzzles to contend with is rather nice, and some are even based around the microphone.
Then there’s the knife slashing action sequence mini games that happen fairly randomly as you’re exploring. After going through a doorway, you’ll find yourself in a first person viewpoint holding only your knife with a number of enemies shambling, flying, crawling or running towards you. You have to knife your way out of it before carrying on.
They make fun diversions for sure, and use the touch screen rather well. The only thing is that they do feel separate and tacked on. I wouldn’t do away with them, but when you can still go into your inventory and see your guns, it does make it pretty obvious that this is just an add on, though admittedly a fun one; it just sticks out a bit. Finishing the game on “Rebirth” unlocks the amusingly named “Master of Knifing”, which shows at least that Capcom have a sense of humour about the awful voice work in the game.
You’re also going to find a lot more enemies and a lot more ammo in this mode. This really does change the feel of the game as it has new scares and because, unlike “Classic” mode which almost always only ever throws one kind of enemy at you at a time, “Rebirth” likes to mix things up. Facing crows, dogs and spiders all at the same time really demands you change your strategy. If you didn’t like those little spiders, you’re going to have problems playing “Rebirth” mode, which often throws a couple of dozen at you at once. Personally that’s one of my favourite changes.
For the most part, you’re going to find everything in the same place as you remember it. The old scares haven’t been messed with as they did splendidly in the GameCube remake, but as you progress you’ll find things getting increasingly different, culminating in a very scary moment in the library which leads to a jaunt back to a location you don’t normally revisit, with a surprising encounter waiting for you there. Definitely a highlight of “Rebirth” mode.
My biggest disappointment with “Rebirth” mode, though, is how little seems to have been changed in the closing moments. When you power up the elevator and descend down to level 4 of the labs, from their on out it’s just a few different enemies in the corridors. No fancy first-person knife battles, no extra touch screen puzzles, identical boss fights. Seems like a missed opportunity to really catch the player by surprise at the very end of the game.
All in all though, while it still has all the flaws of the classic game, it has more to enjoy. The touch screen puzzles may almost all make poor use of the touch screen, but they’re fun and simple to control, and the couple that do make good use of it stick out. The knife battle is a much better use of the touch screen, though I still feel that adding in the ability to use your guns here would have been even more enjoyable. The changes lengthen the adventure which isn’t a bad thing. There’s even a different set of alternate costumes waiting for you in the secret closet once you finish the game… and they’re even more amusing than normal.
I’d definitely reiterate that if you’re going to pick up this title, and aren’t already sick of doing so, that you play “Classic” mode through as at least one of the characters before playing “Rebirth”. Like the remake on GameCube, “Rebirth” works best if you already know what to expect.
Finally there’s a Multiplayer mode. Basically whether you’re playing the co-op mode or the competitive mode, you’re in a world of your own. You can influence what happens in other people’s worlds, and flags indicate where the other players are, but you’re still fighting through the same locations by yourself. Also, everyone has to own a copy of the game due to the large amount of data involved. It’s always a shame when a game doesn’t offer any single-cartridge multiplayer.
The competitive mode is a race to see who can escape first. Certain highlighted enemies cause the enemies on other players games to increase in strength. Co-op is more interesting. Everyone shares the same health, and it’s the same for enemies. So, if I kill an enemy on my DS, that enemy dies on everyone else’s. If players are all in the same room, their attack power increases. If you or anyone else in your team dies, you all die. Only one person can pick up certain key items, and while players can switch items in chests, this doesn’t apply to keys.
It’s a shame that Capcom couldn’t achieve something more like Resident Evil: Outbreak, and have all the players in the same world, fighting the same enemies, but it’s still something that adds value to the game if you know other DS owners with copies. Finishing the various modes of the single player game and completing all three co-op missions unlock various different characters for use in the multiplayer, and I think Resident Evil fans will get a kick out of playing as some of these characters, just as it was a kick to use the different characters on Resident Evil 4’s “Mercenaries” mode.
So really it comes down to a question of whether or not Capcom added enough icing to the ten year old cake to make it edible. The answer is yes… but only just. If you couldn’t sit down and play the original PS-one game after playing the remake on GameCube or Resident Evil 4, then you’ll want to give this a miss. If you haven’t played the original and are willing to spend a bit of time adjusting to the odd controls and static camera angles, you’ll find it ultimately rewarding, so long as you can stomach the lousy voice work and writing.
If you’ve never bored of the old style of Resident Evil game, and still pull out the original every now and then, you’ll definitely want to take this for a spin.
One final thing; knowing that this is the first horror title on the Nintendo DS, I have to make a point of saying this. Resident Evil: DS is not worth buying the system for. The DS has a rather silly number of fun and original titles for a system that’s only just turned one year old, but there are no other M rated games, and nothing that comes close to being “horror”. Hopefully this title will prove that such games can sell well on a Nintendo handheld, and lead to more in the future.
Discuss Resident Evil: Deadly Silence in our forums!
Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review
Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne
Directed by Charles Martin Smith
I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.
Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.
Now let’s get to it.
First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.
Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.
I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.
Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.
It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!
And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.
Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.
This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.
And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.
Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!
In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?
That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.
Rockstar lighting for days.
Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.
Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.
More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.
Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcorn, and if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.
Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.
All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!
Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!
Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.
AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters
Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill
Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk
** NO SPOILERS **
It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.
To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.
That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.
Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.
Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.
Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.
Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.
But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.
But let’s backtrack a bit here.
Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).
And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.
Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.
With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.
Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.
I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.
Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!
Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.
Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?
On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.
That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.
In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.
While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.
Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.
Bring on season 12.
The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.
The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror
Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro
Directed by Nicholas Woods
The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).
The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.
The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.
The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.
The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.
The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.
- Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
- Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
- If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
- “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
- The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
- As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
- “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
- The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
- Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.
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