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Adventures in Engineering
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2003-06-23 22:47
  Subject:   So I'm sure you're just dying to know what I think of Resident Evil: Dead Aim. ;]
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I'm only about halfway through, but I think I've played enough to make some relatively solid judgements...

Pros:


  • Fun (provided you like RE style games).
  • Immersive.
  • Light-gun aspect definitely adds to it.
  • Good challenge level: hard enough but not too hard. (Though see caveat below...)
  • A few cool GFX, but I won't spoil them. Suffice it so say you never could have done some of this stuff on the PS1.


Cons:

  • Levels just too damn dark. You absolutely must play this game in a dark room to enjoy it at all. I mean, heavy curtains and almost nil ambient light. Playing during the day without heavy curtains is pointless. You won't be able to see a damn thing, or hit a damn thing, and you'll be zombie food very quickly.
  • Need a big TV. It's only barely tolerable on a 27". I have to sit about 4' from the screen. Though it's a nice consolation prize that I can turn the TV on and off with my toe without having to move my ass from the chair.
  • Control scheme not so great. They got close, but just didn't quite get it right. There were obviously some tradeoffs that had to be made, but they also obviously decided against letting you do certain things (like look up or down) on purpose that you really ought to be able to do.
    To be fair, it's not as bad as I thought it was at first. For creeping through darkened hallways and taking the occasional potshot at a zombie, their scheme is pretty darn good. For boss battles though, it's absolutely loathesome.
  • Totally pointless without the GunCon2. The game is almost purely an unoriginal rehash without the shooting element.
  • They very blatantly stole one or two ideas from Silent Hill.



You more or less have infinite ammo for your handguns in this game, as you can pick up as much handgun ammo as you can carry at every safe room I've seen so far. However, ammo is still catch as catch can for the better guns in the game.

Surprisingly, infinite handgun ammo is actually pretty nice, and not nearly as game unbalancing as you might think. Health has very much been the greatest limiting factor for me so far, so infinite ammo hasn't ruined the game at all. I think this is mainly because it's not as easy as you might expect to hit zombies consistently with the light gun - at last not without getting munched on. The zombies stagger and sway a lot in a very exaggerated fashion, and they move around jerkily enough to make your life fairly difficult.

Now, you can just shoot for center of mass and you'll hit them almost all the time. But you'll also have to empty about two clips into each zombie. Shooting for the head is much better, but it's MUCH harder to hit consistently. There is also nothing sweeter than sneaking up on a zombie so it doesn't notice you and then hitting it with a sniped shot right to the head. SPLAT! It goes flying across the room, splatters its brains on the wall, and you only had to use one bullet! You have to have pretty darn good aim to pull it off though. Some zombies seem more vulnerable to it than others, too.

Level design wise, the cruise ship is pretty cool. Feels fairly original. Later on in the game you start to get a little more bored with the "we've seen this a hundred times before" corridorry/laboratory levels, so enjoy that first 1/3rd on the ship.

Bosses. Hm. Hard to say as I've only been through 2 of 4 so far. Fat Blind Tryant was a little bit easy, but that's only because I read a FAQ and learned the strategy to make him easy. By contrast, the first boss (Tentacle Tyrant) is too hard in my opinion. He takes a tremendous amount of damage to kill, has long range attacks, and does plenty of damage up close too. And you're under a pretty short time limit to take him out. Add in those controls that don't work well at all for boss battles, and this is a tougher fight than the first boss should be.

Speaking of controls, let me tell you how I would have done it. My big gripe is mainly that it's impossible to turn around quickly. This is very important for Tentacle Tyrant. It would have been quite easy to implement a Spyro the Dragon/PS2 Shinobi style control scheme, where whatever direction you push the stick, that's the direction your character goes. This would have made it trivial to turn around quickly - just tap the stick back. Instead we're stuck with the typical RE "push left or right until your character manages to face the direction you want them to, then push forward to go." And since you always begin shooting the direction you're facing, and moving left and right in shooting mode is SLLLOOOOWWW, by the time you get aligned, you're boss food. :P This is real annoying and it would have been pretty easy for them to do it better.

The "enemy to your left/right, let me auto orient you!" thing is almost always annoying. They should have give you a way to turn it off but leave the "enemy to your left/right" warning bars.

My only other gripe, and it's a small one, is that you have to pull the trigger on the light gun to get into shooting mode. Look guys, the PS2 quite obviously KNOWS when the gun is pointed at the screen and when it isn't. Go to the "aim" option in the options menu - see the PS2 telling you right there whether you have the gun pointed at the screen or not? When the gun is pointed at the screen, you should be in first-person shooting mode. You could of course still use the control pad to move around. When the gun is not pointed at the screen, you're in third-person movement mode. These two things together would have made this game significantly easier to control, and therefore more fun since you wouldn't be fighting the game engine to get where you wanted to go, or blaming it for losing you a boss fight six times in a row. :P Some might object that doing this would screw up things if someone were to have the gun in their lap, pointing at the TV. All I have to say is that anyone playing that way can almost instantly adapt to putting the gun cross-ways in their lap. It's actually faster and easier to pick up that way, too.

Playing as Fongling is fun. If you're playing on Normal difficulty, enjoy her assault rifle when you have it, since you may not get it at all as Bruce - not having finished the game I'm not sure yet. (Apparently you do get it fairly early on playing at the Easy difficulty level.) However, remember that you'll play Fongling several times in the game, and her inventory carries over, so don't waste ALL your assault rifle ammo the first time you play her.

As far as the GunCon2 goes, I was pleasantly surprised by the weight and trigger pull, among other things. The GunCon1 was nose-heavy, leading to wrist fatigue after extended play. (Yes, I suppose that IS more like a real gun, but humor me...) The GunCon1 also had a fairly long-travel trigger, which left you sore on the inside of your forearm after long periods of play. The GunCon2 is smaller, lighter, and the trigger pull is short but still crisp. Nicely done, Namco.

Some people have complained that the game is too easy, too short, etc. I haven't found it too easy, myself. See that whining about Tentacle Tyrant up above there? Too short? Well, I'm not a fan of 100+ hour RPGs. PS2 Shinobi was just about perfect in my opinion, perhaps even one or two sub-stages too long. I have played Dead Aim for about 10 hours so far, though some of that was reloading and redoing bits. If I'm a little past half, I should wrap this up in just less than 20 hours. Not too bad. If this game isn't worth the $35 new price (and it well may not be), then in my opinion it's because of the poor control scheme and recycled level designs, not because it's too short or too easy.

And that's about it for now. I'll post a quick wrap-up review when I'm done with the game...


-Ben
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