Resident Evil 7 - The First Impressions
They say that you have to capture an audience within the first couple of paragraphs in a book, within those opening scenes in a film and sell a house within the first 30 seconds of viewing. I'm not sure what the critical time limit is for a video game but last evening I spent an hour venturing into the dark world of the newly released Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
. You only have one chance to make a first impression and so far, it's been rather fun - considering the subject matter.
Graphically, the game looks fantastic and brings the world realistically to life. Outside, the colors are vibrant. Sunlight streams through the leaves and branches of trees and shines and glistens on the watery surfaces. As idyllic as this may be outside, the added realism makes the inside of the house as foul and gloomy as you would imagine it to be. As the darkness envelops you, the sense of foreboding becomes oppressive. There is a massively stark contrast with the opulence of the Spencer mansion in the original title and the decomposing decrepitude of the Baker house. When you first enter the Spencer mansion it's a refuge from the horrors outside. The Baker residence is anything but, and never feels welcoming at all.
It's not only the graphics that trigger this feeling, sound plays a critical part too. There are creaks and groans within all of the walls and from each of the doors. Your own footsteps and breathing increase the tension and the unexplained noises are unnerving. The soundscape perfectly complements the realistic visuals.
This all means that the atmosphere quickly becomes unsettling. Being familiar with the pacing of early Resident Evil
titles, I didn't expect to be thrown into anything too horrific at the start, but with the atmosphere becoming increasingly uncomfortable, I didn't feel entirely certain of what to expect. Each footstep was made with an increasing level of apprehension and trepidation.
Ironically, it was the discovery of the first videotape and the video player that provided a little relief. This was the same sequence that was played during the demo so at least I was familiar with that part of the story. However, what happened next was not expected. It deviated right away from the demo and ramped up those fear levels once again taking you to new and unexplored areas.
Without giving too much away, the first hour also introduces you to your first taste of combat. It's not entirely intuitive, certainly for the first time. Melee combat in first-person always feels a little hit and miss, and this first fight was a little clunky switching between defending and attacking. It didn't feel smooth, but it was certainly intense and quite stressful. Fortunately, it wasn't too difficult, but I'll have to get used to the controls before some of the tougher boss battles that feature later in the title.
Three achievements popped within that first hour. I perhaps could have popped a couple of others but I wasn't playing with an achievement list at hand - and probably won't - as some of the titles and descriptions can lead to spoilers. The first achievement though was a freebie. It popped after the first cut scene of the game and felt a little cheap. It felt like it was a thank-you for starting the game. I've never been a fan of those achievements. I feel like you should have to work for it or it's not an achievement but that's just my personal opinion.
After this first hour, I have to confess that the game feels more like a cross between Silent Hill
and 'The Blair Witch Project' than a Resident Evil
title. The color palette, the setting and the trick with the telephone lend to that feeling of Silent Hill
. The videotape clearly evokes memories of 'Blair Witch'. To be fair, neither of which are bad examples to follow. Comparisons have been made too, with Outlast
, probably due to the title being played in first-person, but so far I have to say that I've not had that feeling - possibly because I've not yet had to run for my life.
Overall, it's been an intriguing first hour. The time flew by. It felt like only five minutes and given the tense atmosphere, it can only be a compliment that the time passed so quickly. No doubt there will be sterner tests ahead, more frightful, stressful and deadly encounters but so far, Resident Evil is shaping up well.
New Year Resolutions I've No Intention Of Keeping
Usually during this time of year, we all make promises to ourselves in order to improve our health, well-being or some other aspect of our lives. As gamers, we do something similar, making promises to improve our gaming habits. Unfortunately, just like all of the other resolutions we make, they tend to get forgotten or broken within a very short time frame.
So this year I'm taking a look at the usual resolutions that I make but with the view that I have no intention of keeping them whatsoever.No More Pre-Orders or day one purchases
Chance of Failure = 100%
I say this every year and I fail every year. It's not so bad if the game is good and playable from the get-go but I've been stung in the past by pre-ordering a game that's been absolutely terrible even after day one patches. Last year too, I bought The Evil Within
and I've still not touched it or any of the content unlocked by the Season Pass that I also purchased as part of the bundle. I pre-ordered Fallout 4
and have still only completed the first couple of missions, and this year I pre-ordered the digital deluxe version of Forza Horizon 3
and now wish I hadn't.
The thing is, I want to get the games and discover them for myself before all of the comments and eventual spoilers hit the web. However, what generally happens is that I don't have time to play them or I'm busy finishing something else, and I'm only reminded when they appear in the sales at half of the price that I originally paid or worse still, for free as part of the GwG monthly deal.
This year, the resolution is doomed to fail almost immediately with the release of Resident Evil 7
which is simply looking spectacular and terrifying at the same time. Naturally, I still want to discover the horrors of the title for myself, so it definitely has to be pre-ordered and quite possibly in it's super deluxe digital format with useless DLC and Season Pass - see below
.No More Season Passes
There doesn't seem to be a game that is released these days without some sort of Season Pass as an option. Quite often this promises new missions, multiplayer maps, cars, tracks, costumes or characters. It's all very nice but it bumps up the price of the initial package and as some of us have discovered, it's not always going to deliver quality content. Additionally, by the time that the final content from the pass arrives, you've usually moved on to other games, left the original title behind and no longer have the interest to go back and pick it up again. Finally, if you wait long enough - coincidentally a similar length of time that the game usually ends up on the backlog - Season Passes are generally reduced in price in the sales.Chance of Failure = 100%
I might have made this if it weren't for Resident Evil
and Sniper Elite
having Season Passes bundled. I still want to pick up Assassin's Creed Syndicate
pass for the additional missions - despite not finishing the base game - and I know that there will be a car pass for Forza Motorsport 7
when (if) it releases later this year. Sadly, another hopeless resolution.No more useless DLC
Chance of Failure = 100%
A quick search of the Microsoft Store reveals over 12,000 add-ons for Xbox 360 and Xbox One games. That's a surprisingly big number, although the cynic in me thinks that 11,000 are simply costumes for the female fighters in the Dead or Alive
franchise. Whilst I'm happy to report that I'm not into costume packs - even if Resident Evil Revelations 2 came with a large bundle - I have to confess that I have bought innumerable car and track packs for Forza
over the many years. I've bought mission packs for titles that I've not finished, including Dead Rising 3
, The Evil Within
, Alien: Isolation
. Do I really need all of the add-on's just to enjoy the base game? It's an expensive business and I should stop wasting the money and save for real games or expansions.
Doomed! Sniper Elite 4
contains a mission to assassinate Hitler. Kunos have already announced their expansion plans for Assetto Corsa
, and Forza Motorsport 7
will no doubt release with additional cars. I should just concede that DLC is as unavoidable as ever. Complete Earlier Installments of Games before buying the next
Chance of Failure = 100%
A direct consequence of not having enough time to complete games and leaving on the backlog with the eternally broken promise to get back to them as soon as game xyz is done. Inevitably, they get forgotten, left on the shelf, and we're only reminded when suddenly the sequel is announced. It's not quite so serious when games are standalone installments but when continued storylines are involved, you really need to finish the earlier installment first. It's a crime that I have perpetually committed against every installment of Dead Rising
, Resident Evil
and a number of AAA titles to date. With only a few key titles, Outlast 2
, Sniper Elite 4
, and Resident Evil 7
on my radar for this year, you'd expect that this would not be a problem.
This might have just succeeded. There is certainly enough time to finish Sniper Elite 3
before Sniper Elite 4
arrives. Similarly, it should be possible to finish Outlast Achievements
before Outlast 2
hits the stores. However, given that Resident Evil
arrives in on January 24th, and the fact that every single installment including Origins
have not been finished, this resolution is doomed.Complete the Games
How often are we still busy working our way through titles, especially the longer time-sinks, when the next big, overly-hyped title comes along? Over the years I've learned that January and February are busy times with releases, and September through to November is always an avalanche of new releases. This means that incomplete games get dropped, so we can try something new, with the promise that we will go back and finish the title at some point, which rarely happens, resulting in an ever expanding backlog. If I were to spend time actually completing titles it would probably stop me pre-ordering new titles, or additional DLC and Season Passes that I, ultimately, don't get around to finishing either.Chance of Failure = 100%
This year starts with two games on my wishlist being released only a few weeks apart. There's little chance of finishing one before the next is released. Outlast 2
is also penned in for Q1 this year just to make things complicated. In September there will be Fifa 18
, followed by Forza Motorsport 7
, and possibly Red Dead Redemption 2
. Throw into the mix that Project Cars 2
is also due some time this year, there's not much chance of me completing any of those in time, although in my defence, can you really *ever* finish those titles?Work Through the Backlog
When I first got my Xbox One - imported from the UK a year ahead of the official release date in the Netherlands - I vowed not to let the inevitable backlog of games grow. This might have been possible if I hadn't, almost immediately, added a 2GB external drive allowing me to continually install new games.Chance of Failure = 100%
So the backlog has grown and as I scroll through occasionally I keep reminding myself that I have still to finish certain titles and in some cases, actually play some titles. I've genuinely lost count of how many games are installed and how many are in the backward compatible queue. It's impressive and depressive at the same time.
The backlog now is simply massive and there are some big time-sinks on there too including Fallout 4
and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
. Couple this with my real gaming plans for this year and the writing, blogging and youtube stuff, it's just never going to happen. There are a couple of exceptions that I *really* want to complete this year, other than that I can't see anything but the backlog growing ever larger.
Winter sleep is coming - so what to play?
With the clocks going back this coming weekend, I feel – mentally at least – that my yearly body clock is winding down for the year. I’m preparing for my hibernation through winter – I love the dutch word for hibernation ‘Winterslaap’ literally Winter Sleep, so much more evocative. Obviously it’s not a real hibernation, but social engagements and outside activities are fewer which presents me with more opportunities to sit behind the desk writing and, of course, more time to work on the gaming backlog that’s accumulated over the past year … and this year it’s a lot.
I pre-ordered the full Fallout 4 Achievements
bundle – season pass included – and after completing the first mission and establishing my first outpost I put the game outside with the intention of making it my sole focus for the dark nights. It seemed like a good plan, until I saw the rest of the backlog.
The 2TB external drive is beginning to fill. There are games that I’ve bought and not started. There are titles that are half finished. Dead Rising 3 Achievements
was one of the first titles that I purchased and I’ve barely scratched the surface of that one and the sequel is already on its way. It’s the same story for Watch_Dogs Achievements
. There’s two complete Assassin’s Creed
titles. The Evil Within Achievements
complete with DLC – untouched and not begun.
There are also the latest triple-A titles such as Gears of War 4 Achievements
, possibly my favourite franchise and multiplayer shooter of choice. That’s almost crying out to get online with gnashers and ‘nades. Additionally there are classics still on the Xbox 360 and backwards compatible titles to compound matters further.
Admittedly, the darker nights encourage the darker games. There’s a number of good horror titles, Outlast Achievements
, Alien: Isolation Achievements
, Layers of Fear Achievements
and Resident Evil
remake bundle. These are games that I never have the inclination to player on long hot summer nights. With the night’s drawing in and Halloween just around the corner, it’s extremely tempting.
So I’m stuck with a dilemma, go for one of the big meaty time-sinks, turn myself into a nervous wreck or chip away at some of smaller games and get them off the hard drive? Through into the mix that I need to practice FIFA 17 Achievements
before the annual Christmas humiliation at the hands of my teenage nephew, and the need to feed my own addiction to sim-racing. A three month wintersleep is clearly not going to be long enough.
Fortunately, it’s next week when the clocks go back, I still have a week to formulate my strategy, but to be honest, I can’t see the dilemma being anywhere near solved by then.