Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories review

Developer: Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix

Game played on: PS4

Release date: December 2, 2008/ March 28, 2017 (PS4 re-release)

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Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories has an interesting history. While not the second numbered title in the series, it is in fact a direct sequel to the first game. It was also not originally released onto home consoles, but debuted instead on the Game Boy Advance. A remake for the Playstation 2 was made titled Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories.

I am not a fan of this one. Every problem people have with the Kingdom Hearts series, I believe, can be traced back to this game. It is not a spinoff, but a main entry into the series. The plot of this game is vital to understanding what is going on in Kingdom Hearts II, yet it was originally released on a handheld instead of a mainline console. This just made the series difficult to get into, as it meant that someone would have to spend money on more gaming systems than they may have wanted. But even forgetting the poor release philosophy of this game, the plot is mostly just setup for the next game and the gameplay is a boring chore.

Taking place after the first game, Sora, Donald, and Goofy follow Pluto to a large and mysterious castle named Castle Oblivion. When they arrive, they are confronted by a mysterious figure in a black cloak who warns them that Castle Oblivion takes away a person’s memories the further they go into it. But, a person Sora cares deeply for is in it. Yet this person is not necessarily who Sora thinks they are. With this serving as motivation, the trio decides to press on into Castle Oblivion, even as their memories are in danger of fading away.

I’ll give Chain of Memories’ plot this: it has interesting setup for Kingdom Hearts II. It ignores the crossover elements of the first game in favor of expanding its own universe and characters. The new villains of Organization XIII are genuinely cool and mysterious, as well as entertaining to watch. This game gave us Axel, one of the most interesting characters of Kingdom Hearts. The main antagonist Marluxia is a pretty good opponent for Sora and company, having more of a presence than Ansem did. He’s cunning in his own right, and not afraid to get his hands dirty when the time comes.

However, most of the game’s plot is too focused on setup for it to be interesting on its own. It’s also very poorly paced, going on for way too long. Compounding the length problem is the half of the game where you play as Riku, and the levels all being less well designed, boring rehashes of the worlds from the previous game. Said levels also end with Sora giving obnoxious and childishly written monologues to the characters about whatever lesson they were supposed to learn. It would’ve been better just to have the game’s levels be entirely in the castle. The levels end up merely being padding, rather than working with the narrative.

Chain of Memories makes a big change in gameplay by going from the action combat of the first one to card based strategy combat. Sora and company can no longer attack and use magic at the press of a button, but now have to use a card system to combine cards into attacks and special moves. Enemies play by the same rules you do, where the one with the higher number can cancel out your cards for an attack, or just draw a zero numbered card as a backup. I’ll be upfront and say I have no interest in games that operate by this system, but I did give it a chance. However, the gameplay falls completely on its face as you play. Eventually, all you’ll have to do to win is combine the right cards for the right number to do the Sonic Blade move, which locks your enemy into a string of attacks. Just have cards to resupply the ones you draw and you’ll be pretty much golden. There’s almost no real or fair challenge to the system whatsoever, and combined with the length of the plot, makes for a very boring experience. Also, for the above mentioned Riku section of the game, you’re unable to customize your deck, and must make due with the cards you are given for each level. Because that makes things so much more fun. Just play on easy mode to get things over with,

The music is for the most part returning tracks from the first game, and a few new additions involving Castle Oblivion and the Organization XIII members. It’s nothing special but points for not taking step backwards in that department. Haley Joel Osmont’s performance as Sora is jarringly different from what it was in the first game. It hasn’t been long at all since the events of Kingdom Hearts, but here it sounds like Sora has already hit puberty. Quinton Flynn as Axel does well, managing to make both a loveable yet threatening villain out of him.

Re: Chain of Memories isn’t overall a bad game, but it is definitely the weakest game I’ve played in the Kingdom Hearts series. I’ve heard that the original game for the Game Boy Advance is better designed, so maybe this is just a case of a remake being lesser than the original. Whatever the case may be, Chain of Memories overall does not work either on its own, as a sequel, or as setup for the next game. A very disappointing, and average misfire.

Score: 5/10

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My Most Anticipated Games of 2019

2019 is here, and it’s got a lot of games coming. From what I’ve seen, 2019 could be just as good, if not better than 2017 was for video games. This will be one hell of a way to end the decade for the gaming industry. To note, I will only be including games that have release dates at least confirmed for 2019, so Cyberpunk 2077, Death Stranding and Doom Eternal will not be on this list, even though I am excited for each of them. Let’s start!

5. Devil May Cry V

I’ll admit I have never played any of the Devil May Cry games. I just always found something else that caught my interest. But the series’ latest entry has finally caught my eye. The gameplay looks like a blast, all the while maintaining 60 fps and looking beautiful. I’ll definitely get around to playing the previous four games before tackling it (no I won’t play the failed reboot).

4. Resident Evil 2

I’m not a diehard Resident Evil fan, but I have nothing but love for the games in the series that I have played. The announcement of this remake at E3 2018 was the best kind of surprise, and given how great the remake of the first game was, I have no reason to think this one will be a failure.

3. Metro: Exodus

I have played the previous two Metro games and I have a review up of the first one. While I think Metro: Last Light is good, it doesn’t reach 2033’s level. Metro: Exodus has the potential to be the best game of the series, and a great potential finale to a trilogy. It’s going to be non-linear without falling into the pitfalls of open world game design, thus preserving the tight narrative the series works best with.

2. The Outer Worlds

A new Obsidian RPG? Count me in! Obsidian Software is responsible for two of my favorite RPGs ever: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and Fallout: New Vegas. Will it reach the heights of those two great games? Probably not, but I still anticipate it to be a breath of fresh air given Bethesda’s fumbling of the Fallout license as of late.

1. Kingdom Hearts III

Yep, it’s happening. Five years after it’s announcement in 2013, Kingdom Hearts III is finally upon us. It has the responsibility of tying up all the loose ends of a convoluted story that started with the original back in 2003. I think it will pull it off, at least as best it can. It has big shoes to fill, with the best of the series being Kingdom Hearts II. From what we’ve seen, III may very well equal, if not surpass II. The gameplay is finally going back to the style of II, while also integrating aspects of previous games such as Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance. The level design also seems to be emphasizing exploration like the first game did, creating a game that wants to have all the best parts of its predecessors while leaving behind the weaknesses. My hopes are high, and here’s hoping that Kingdom Hearts III lives up to the wait.

The games, films, etc. of 2018 that stood out to me

Normally I would just do separate lists for my favorite games and movies of a year, but due to college and such, I didn’t play as many games as before, but I saw the same number of movies. So I’ll just group them into one.

Video Games:

The Shadow of the Colossus remake was extremely good, though I am a bit disheartened not many people will feel compelled the play the original because of its existence. I am happy that it exists and hope that more old games get remakes, so newer audiences can experience them.

https://willsreviewsblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/11/shadow-of-the-colossus-review-part-2-the-remake/

Spider-Man for the PS4 is the Spider-Man game that was always waiting to come out. This game more than any other before it, managed to capture the spirit of the character. It has a story that’s better than even Spider-Man: Homecoming. And while the gameplay may borrow a lot from other properties like the Arkham games, it executes the gameplay so well it doesn’t matter.

https://willsreviewsblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/22/spider-man-ps4-game-review/

Red Dead Redemption II is a masterpiece. I really can’t go any further than I did in my review. Rockstar should not make another game in this series, at least involving these characters. This game is just too hard to top. It can’t be done.

https://willsreviewsblog.wordpress.com/2018/12/17/red-dead-redemption-ii-review/

Movies:

My four top movies of 2018 are as of right now: Hereditary, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Avengers: Infinity War, and Annihilation.

Hereditary is easily one of the decade’s best horror films. It’s the first film in years to genuinely terrify me. It’s also an emotionally exhausting experience featuring unforgettable performances and skillful filmmaking. Watch it at your own discretion.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of the best comic book movies ever. Why nobody has thought of doing something like this for a comic book movie is beyond me. Animation as a medium can do what live action can’t. This is a comic book movie that looks like a comic book brought to life. I am praying that this film makes a profit and can be a stepping stone for other films like it to be made.

Avengers: Infinity War was the culmination of years of buildup in the MCU and it was worth the wait. What will happen next I don’t know, but I am cautiously optimistic as to how they’ll follow up this.

https://willsreviewsblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/02/avengers-infinity-war/

As far as sci-fi movies go, Annihilation was one that did not get the attention it deserved. A thought provoking and disturbing film with an ending that will leave you scratching your head as to what happened, but in a good way.

https://willsreviewsblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/annihilation-movie-review/

A few honorable mentions are A Quiet Place and Deadpool 2.

Everything else:

Devilman Crybaby, Aggretsuko, and the second season of Castlevania were some pretty good rides. This was also the third and final season of the Netflix Daredevil show. They ended on one big high note at least. If they do bring the series back in some way, I hope they bring back all of the original cast and showrunners.

The Books I Read In 2018

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

I read this book in anticipation of its film adaptation. I was absolutely enthralled and unable to take my eyes away from the pages. In my review of the film, I stated that the adaptation worked better as a story structurally and with more developed characters. In hindsight, I think that was unfair to the novel. Both of them are equally good, they just work in different ways. For its atmosphere, prose, and managing to both horrify and make me think all at once, Annihilation is a very good book. I’m definitely paying attention to what other works Jeff VanderMeer has in store, and will read the other books in the Southern Reach Trilogy.

https://willsreviewsblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/annihilation-review/

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Can’t say the same for this one. Is it terrible? No, but it is bad. The protagonist is both insufferable and boring, and the plot is basically just an excuse to reference properties from the 80s. It has interesting concepts, but there is no real development of any of them. I did enjoy the film adaptation at least, so that does show there was the potential for a good story in here.

https://willsreviewsblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/03/ready-player-one-review/

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Easily the best book I read in 2018 and a new favorite of mine. I’ve been meaning to review it, but until then I’ll say this: it’s great. The characters are all deep and believable, the writing style brings the world and time to life, and the descriptions of not just the locations but the battle scenes and internal feelings of the characters are simply beautiful. My words don’t do this book enough justice. Just go out and read it. I hope you’ll be able to feel what I felt while reading it.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Disturbing, maddening, tragic, and kind of funny all at once. The minimalist writing style combined with the first person perspective helps make this book feel like someone is recounting a story. Everyone knows the twist by now, but going back to earlier passages from the book show that it wasn’t just thrown in to shock the reader. It was very carefully foreshadowed and planned. Read it before you see the movie, so that you can properly appreciate it.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

It’s good, but I wouldn’t say its great. It just felt lacking a bit. Maybe if I give it a re-read sometime down the road, I’ll have a different perspective on it.

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

I can clearly see why this is such an influential work in science fiction, but it has really not aged well. While Asimov’s concepts and ideas such as psychohistory are interesting, they’re just that: ideas. The characters are flat and unmemorable, and the writing style is extremely boring. Most of the novel just consists of two people having very boring conversations with stilted and dated dialogue. Even the worldbuilding, which was revolutionary in the genre for a time, has been surpassed by works such as Dune. A very important but dated work.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

The source material behind Stanley Kubrick’s controversial masterwork, Anthony Burgess’ novella is as enthralling and disturbing as the film adaptation. The first person narration combined with the phonetic writing, and the violent content makes for an unforgettable reading experience that I have never been through before. I must say though that the film’s ending is stronger. The novella ends on a chapter that has Alex making an out of nowhere exit from his violent ways. The chapter before, where he fantasizes going on a killing spree after the Ludovico Treatment wears off, is much stronger.

It by Stephen King

This is the first Stephen King novel I have ever read. It is a very hit or miss read. While it has many moments of brilliance, it is dragged down by the adult sections, the anti-climactic ending, and poor pacing. If he had just kept the parts where the characters are children, it would have been a stronger read.

Rankings:

  1. Atonement
  2. Annihilation
  3. A Clockwork Orange
  4. Fight Club
  5. The Old Man and the Sea
  6. It
  7. Foundation
  8. Ready Player One

Red Dead Redemption II review

Developer: Rockstar

Publisher: Rockstar

Played on: PS4

Release date: October 26, 2018

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Red Dead Redemption II is the kind of game that, years ago, would be thought of as unthinkable. Rockstar is one of the most lauded developers in the gaming industry ever, and rightfully so. Bully, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto V; Rockstar have made some of the best open world sandbox games in history. The first Red Dead Redemption is a remarkable game, but I don’t think it quite reached the potential it had. Red Dead Redemption II is the game Rockstar has long wanted to make. It is their new masterpiece, and a watershed moment for video games.

Red Dead Redemption II, despite the title, is actually a prequel to the events of Red Dead Redemption. The story is about the decline and fall of the Van Der Linde gang, with our protagonist now being Arthur Morgan. On the run from the Pinkertons and federal agents, the gang goes on the run from town to town in hopes of making a big, final score in order to get out of dodge and live out the rest of their days in luxury. Thus begins an epic journey across the American frontier in its last days.

Red Dead Redemption II, despite the epic scale of its setting, has a plot that is focused primarily on the individuals in it. It also, I believe, earns the word redemption in its title. This game is half about a group of people falling from grace, and another about a man who is struggling between good and evil, and the time comes for him to choose which side will win. There are as many intimate, small moments as there are big gunfights and explosive robberies. It’s a long, slow burning story that still manages to be exciting and thought provoking.

Arthur Morgan is one of the most memorable, well written, developed, and fully realized characters I have ever seen in a work of fiction. He is as complex and multi-dimensional as any character from an acclaimed novel or film. He is not a good man, and he knows it. He has anger issues, he’s a criminal, he’s a murderer, a thief, he beats people up for loan money, and is generally not a pleasant person. That said, he’s capable of compassion, charity, and is very aware of his flaws. The Arthur Morgan at the beginning of the game, and the one by the end are so different. He is by himself an achievement for Rockstar. Not even John Marston was this well realized. The heart of the game’s plot is Arthur’s struggle with his own morality. He’s lived his whole life knowing nothing but violence, raised by a man who espouses freedom from the evils of civilization. Yet as the plot progresses, he comes to question the choices he’s made and the life he’s led. It makes the honor system for the first game make sense, as players can decide what kind of man Arthur is by the end of the story. This choice does not get in the way of the Arthur’s development however, as either way he is not the same man he is at the start of the story. I will say that the plot seems intent on pushing the player towards the high honor route, but I must also add that it produced some of the most memorable story moments and character interactions not just in the game, but games in general.

The rest of the characters are no slouches either. Everyone is more than their initial appearance indicates. The men and women of the Van Der Linde gang are people you will grow to love, or in some cases loathe. Dutch Van Der Linde is a charismatic and intelligent leader, but the pressure of his situation and failures slowly eat away at him as the game’s plot progresses. He’s as dynamic a character as Arthur is. The John Marston we see in the beginning is not the one we are familiar with in Red Dead Redemption. Every character behaves not like a caricature, but a human being. There is not a single forgettable one, and with such a large cast that is incredible.

Red Dead Redemption II’s world is perhaps the most immersive, realistic, and detailed in gaming history. Games such as Deus Ex and The Witcher 3 have tried to replicate the feeling of living in a real world, but not even they were able to reach this level of immersion and authenticity. NPCs aren’t just NPCs, but real people with distinct personalities and daily schedules who remember how you behave. Fast travel is severely limited, and has to be earned or paid for. This could have been an annoying hinderance, but it is pulled off so well, because there is always some interesting sight or area to explore on your way to a quest; a stranger to help or an animal to hunt and skin. If not, then travelling gives you time to take in the sheer beauty of the world. While I never tried out the option myself, there is an option to disable the mini-map and HUD entirely, requiring players to follow road signs, get directions, and use landmarks to find their way. You have to pick up individual items and open drawers. Hunting animals requires you to carefully choose what weapon you’ll use and where you’ll shoot them, in order for their pelts to be in pristine condition.

Speaking of shooting, it’s for the most part the same as it was from the first game. That means its pretty fun, but nothing you haven’t seen from other third person cover based shooters. The Dead Eye System is substantially upgraded here however, with improvements such as highlighting enemy vital spots. If you wish, you can change perspectives from third to first person at anytime.

I haven’t even touched on the customization options yet. Arthur is Rockstar’s most customizable player character yet. He can get fat or skinny depending on how much you eat, he can grow a beard and let his hair grow out, or you can trim and stylize his hair however you want. There are plenty of clothing options for you to choose from as well, from your hat to your boot spurs. But it doesn’t stop there. You can customize the appearance of your weapons, giving them special engravings and changing everything from their metal type to handles.

No game set in the Wild West would be complete without a good horse for your cowboy protagonist. Horses in Red Dead Redemption II aren’t just a method of transportation however. You need to brush your horse when it gets dirty and feed it to maintain its health and stamina. The more time you spend with your horse, the stronger your bond with it. The stronger your bond, the higher your horse’s stats. It’ll have higher health, stamina, and speed. It’s appearance is also customizable. The care you have to give it may seem obtrusive and unnecessary at first, but its designed so that you actually become invested in your horse’s well being and survival.

As with the horse, no open world game would be complete without some content outside of the main story. And there is a lot of content. This game has some of the best sidequests I can recall in an open world game. My personal favorites are the ones where Arthur bonds with an old war veteran, helps a writer out with a biography, and one which I won’t spoil, but is around the final chapter of the game; and Arthur tries to make amends for a wrong he committed.

Red Dead Redemption II is without a doubt a technical milestone for gaming. The facial expressions are amazingly detailed. And while every voice actor does an outstanding job, Roger Clark as Arthur Morgan gives one of the greatest vocal performances in a game ever. The sound design is also impeccable. Cutscenes are beautifully shot with breathtaking cinematography, like something out of a film helmed by a master director. Tiny details like snow sticking to animal fur, pelts getting spoiled if they get wet or you take too long to sell them, and bodies decaying overtime make the world seem even more lifelike than it already is. Mud will stick to Arthur’s face and clothes if he rolls around in it, requiring him to get a bath or wait for rain to wash him off.

Sometimes, the level of detail and realism works against it. Arthur’s movement is rather clunky and it caused me to mess up a stealth section at one point. The game really is not for everyone, even fans of the first game. The first couple of hours of it are very slow, taking time to introduce gameplay mechanics to the player. Patience is required, but if you stick with it, then you’ll be rewarded handsomely.

It’s almost unfair to other games for the soundtrack to be as good as it is, but here we are. The music in this game is as memorable as its plot and characters. Tracks like “That’s The Way It Is” and “Unshaken” drive home the emotional impact of scenes, whether they be triumph or heartbreak. This game’s music makes even building a house fun. It completes the game’s objective of making a gamer feel like they’re in a Western.

Fair warning: installing this game is a long process. It’ll take hours for this game to fully download. It’s a big game, so make sure you have the necessary space in your console for it. Rockstar could have done a better job of condensing everything to take up less space. Being as massive and ambitious as it is, it can’t always handle all the moving parts. I had some screen tearing, framerate drops, and other minor bugs in my many hours of playing. Luckily though, I encountered no bugs that outright broke or froze the game. That itself is an accomplishment, given the scale of the game.

To those that say video games cannot be art, this game is one of those games that seems designed to prove such naysayers wrong. Red Dead Redemption II is a once in a generation accomplishment that may never be topped. There are people who may call it overrated or even boring. I just couldn’t disagree more. Despite some flaws, what many would view as weaknesses I argue are strengths. It is Rockstar showing of their mastery of the open world game genre, an epic Western that tells a moving story of redemption, and is an unforgettable experience. Play it.

Score: 9.5/10

Resident Evil 4 review

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Played on: PS4

Release date: January 11, 2005/ August 30, 2016 (PS4 remaster)

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(Meant to get this up by Halloween but better late than never)

There have been very few games as influential and acclaimed as Resident Evil 4. More than any other game in the franchise, this is the one that people look back on with the most fondness with maybe the first remake rivaling it. It changed not just the franchise, but the third person shooter genre. Uncharted, Gears of War, the rebooted Tomb Raider games, none of them would probably exist without this title. The cherry on top: not only is Resident Evil 4 influential, it still holds up all these years later.

Resident Evil 4 is a fairly good place for those unfamiliar with the series to enter. You just need the bare minimum knowledge of the series lore to understand what’s going on like I did. The plot completely stands on its own, outside of some returning characters from previous games. Leon S. Kennedy is sent to rescue the president’s daughter after she was kidnapped, last sighted somewhere in a Spanish speaking part of Europe (but not Spain itself). The mission doesn’t go as planned as he stumbles upon a spooky cult and a new kind of enemy called the Gonados.

Even by the standards of this series, the writing reaches new standards of campy stupidity. It’s all the better for it though. It never takes itself seriously, always having a subtle wink and a smile towards the player. Leon is the perfect American action hero saving the damsel in distress while spouting off one liners out of an 80s action movie. The villains are just as ridiculously fun, devouring the scenery with every line and appearance. The most memorable one is definitely Salazar, the right hand of the main villain Saddler. Salazar has a more immediate presence throughout the plot, the most memorable lines and scenes, and his appearance is so off and disturbing. He’s a twenty year old with a child’s body but an old man’s face. The insults him and Leon trade with each other are some of the greatest in video game history purely from their childishness and sincerity. It finely balances chest pounding scares with campy plot elements and outrageous action set-pieces.

Even after all these years, Resident Evil 4’s gameplay manages to be at a level other third person shooters and horror games have difficulty matching. Shooting requires you to stop and aim, rather than move and aim freely. This creates a tense game of cat and mouse where the player has to carefully choose their position, which will affect what weapon they may prefer to use in that instance. Shooting different enemy body parts will have different effects as well, like shooting legs to stall the enemy, or shooting them in the head to stun them and give them a swift roundhouse kick to knock them down, which will allow you to go in for a melee attack to preserve ammo. This system makes the game perfectly suited for both survival horror and intense action set-pieces. Going over the shoulder was a decision that was clearly not made lightly, and the game makes the most of its new perspective. Unfortunately, this game has the dreaded quick time events sprinkled throughout, and they’re very hit or miss. Some of them are fair, and you have enough time to see what buttons you need to press to survive, but others give you no margin to error, and failing will force you to start the whole scene over. When they happen during gameplay they’re fine, but they’re a hinderance during cutscenes. Especially since these cutscenes are energetically directed and fun to watch.

The boss fights are for the majority of the game fairly challenging and fun to play. Saddler’s boss fight is easily the best, especially for having an outrageous design and it being so satisfying to finally put him down. One of the later fights however is a miserable, drawn out chore. It happens near the end of the game, involving two “El Gigante” (giant monster) bosses. One El Gigante already takes quite a bit of ammo before their weak spot is revealed, and there are two of them in this case. You can take one out mercifully early via a trapdoor, but only one. The area where it takes place barely gives you enough ammo to deal with even one of them. I was amazed at having survived, so maybe that was the point. Regardless, it could’ve been done better. The rest of the Gonados are very well designed and threatening, with memorable body-horror designs that reminded me of the anime Parasyte: The Maxim, and even the weaker ones being able to take a good chunk of health off of you if you aren’t careful. Later ones will even be carrying firearms and wearing body armor. Certain ones will have grotesque, large parasites sprout from where their heads used to be once they’re shot off. The variety of enemy designs help make the game a fresh and fun experience even after over a decade.

Surprisingly, the escort mission aspect of the game is one of its most well executed concepts. Eventually you’ll find Ashley, and she’ll need your help to survive. She’s not nearly as much of a pain as you would expect. Her AI is fairly intelligent, if she loses health you can heal her, you can command her to hold back or find a hiding spot, and you can increase her health using the green-yellow herb combination. If the Gonados do capture her, you have more than enough time to save her from being carried off. She also proves to be useful at various story moments, so Leon isn’t just carrying the entire mission by himself.

Superb level design combined with the very well crafted combat are what help raise the game to greatness. Areas are often varied in layout, with multiple ways to approach enemies. The first area of the game is very open and allows the player to take advantage of its verticality and wide space to keep them alive and fend off enemies. Eventually you’ll make your way to a medieval castle that is an even more ridiculous version of Spencer Mansion, being a ludicrously designed deathtrap that constantly surprises you. This is where the game peaks I’d say, as while not bad, the later areas of the game don’t have the same level of imagination and care put into them.

Resident Evil 4 is still a very nice looking and smooth game, no doubt thanks to the HD remaster on the PS4 that I played. Facial animations still hold up, and the environments have a good level of detail. The voice acting is very well executed for the tone they were going for, with every character spouting off the most ridiculous of dialogue with complete sincerity while still being aware of the script’s absolute stupidity. Paul Mercier as Leon is a rightfully legendary voice performance for this exact reason. Saddler and Salazar’s voice actors are also the highlights, chewing up the scenery with psychotic joy with every letter.

After you beat the main story, there’s still plenty to do. There’s Mercenaries Mode (a mode that is just pure combat for points), and a game mode where you play as Ada Wong, one of the recurring characters. If only modern games would give you this much extra content without making them paid DLC or pre-order bonuses.

Resident Evil 4, even over a decade later, does things right that most games fail to do. It manages to balance hair raising scares with heart racing action. It never falls prey to grimness, despite its grim setting. It’s a campy horror-action game that rightfully earned its claim to greatness. Even after being imitated by the wave of third person shooters that followed in its footsteps, the game still is in the upper echelons of its genre.

Score: 8/10

Initial thoughts: Red Dead Redemption II

The level of detail is awe-inspiring. Not just in the graphics, but the moment by moment gameplay as well. The world and its inhabitants behave so realistically it’s almost scary. This has the potential to be Rockstar’s crowning achievement and one of the greatest open world games ever created.