Boots’ Top 10 Video Games of All-Time #5: Resident Evil 2

The following is a part of my list of my Top 10 All-Time Favorite Games. There may be spoilers ahead, so read with caution. Please make note that I rated these games not out of quality relative to other titles but in the order of how much fun I had with each of them and how important they are to my personal gaming history.

Being a Nintendo child, I had reservations when the original PlayStation was released. It wasn’t until the summer of 1995 – seven months after its release – when I finally rented the console and two games from my local Blockbuster (!) and fired up Descent. It was a decent game, but I hadn’t quite adjusted to full 3D yet and it was a bit too much for me at that time. I decided to switch games so I popped in Resident Evil. Without going to deep into detail, let’s just say that I was instantly sold on the console from that point on.

Fast-forward to early 1998. Resident Evil had been largely critically lauded and the inevitable sequel was finally released. While I’m not sure how soon I was able to play it, I am certain that once I did, it was everything I could’ve hoped for and then some. The graphics were much improved over the original and the setting of the city and Police Station were magnificent. Along the way through the game, new characters were met and the corruption of the Umbrella Corporation was revealed to be far worse than imagined.

Kaboom!

Nothing a little grenade launcher can’t fix.

I vividly recall my first encounter with a Licker. I tried my best to take it out, but the pistol was mostly useless. It brought me back to my memories of the original game’s Hunters and how quickly they’d jump around, dodging my attacks. My fear and frustration levels toward the sequel were vastly elevated at this point.

Later, I was separated from a little girl I was trying to help named Sherry (not to be confused with my Minimum Requirements co-host). I was given control of her so that she could find a key that I needed to advance, so I sent her into the sewage plant. Little did I realize that there’d be THREE ZOMBIFIED DOGS waiting to eat her face. Of course, playing as an 8-year old girl, there was no way to attack the pups and I was forced to book it past them a few times while searching. Again, a very tense moment, with many more to come in my future.

Sherry

I don’t think he has any candy, little girl.

Resident Evil 2 was far more forgiving with the ammo drops for newcomers, but I also was aware of how the franchise’s mechanics worked so I wasn’t wasting too much ammo this time around. I made my way through the different puzzles, occasionally crossing paths with Leon and we’d exchange info about what we found in the station. In the end, I neutralized William Birkin and escaped the city with Leon and Sherry… but I wasn’t finished.

In a truly innovative move, RE2 allowed players to go back and play through the game as the other character from their perspective. Using the save data from my run with Claire, I was now in control of Leon’s side of the story. New scenarios popped up as well as different characters and a returning old friend from the last game. Even the ending was extended past the point where Claire’s had cut off, giving me what I still feel is one of the greatest credits music in all of gaming.

Needless to say, I was in love with this game. The original pretty much wrote the book on video games being a cinematic experience and the sequel held true to form. After finishing my Claire/Leon run I quickly restarted and did a Leon/Claire playthrough. It wasn’t much different, but I still enjoyed it. Of course, I later discovered that getting a good rank on your finished game stats would open up a couple secret scenarios, so I began playing over and over to improve upon my final score.

It got to the point where I was able to beat both characters’ quests in under 3 hours each, and with minimal damage (using First Aid Sprays hurt the ranking). I had memorized where to go to get items in order of need along with knowing when I’d need to visit each Item Storage box for maximum efficiency. Those S-Ranks were eventually mine and I played through a scenario as Hunk, an Umbrella-hired mercenary tasked with retrieving a sample of the G-virus for the evil company. Later, I was also able to play as a lump of tofu armed only with a knife. No, I’m not even joking.

Tofu

Not a healthy alternative to brains.

There is just something about this game that holds my attention super tightly that I often think to play it again on occasion. I’ll remember a quote from the script or a certain point of the game and think of how much I loved my time in Raccoon City proper. It was nice to see such a great improvement over the game that first drew me to the original PlayStation and I will never not sing its praises. I could literally play that game everyday and continue to love it so. It is never not fun, and that’s why it is at Number Five on my Top Ten.

PS – This game introduced the character of Ada Wong to my world, which became a whole different tangent in my life. A story for another time, perhaps.

PPS – Tyrants are still fucking scary.

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Boots’ Top 10 Video Games of All-Time #9: WCW/nWo Revenge

WCW/nWo Revenge

The following is a part of my list of my Top 10 All-Time Favorite Games. There may be spoilers ahead, so read with caution. Please make note that I rated these games not out of quality relative to other titles but in the order of how much fun I had with each of them and how important they are to my personal gaming history.

Wrestling games were always hit-or-miss back in the day. Too many different developers worked on the many iterations of World Wrestling Federation-licensed games and most of them presented the combat more in the vein of fighters or brawlers. Sure, it worked fine, but it never really captured the right feel of what I was seeing on the television.

See, I was a on again/off again fan of “sports entertainment” for a long time in my childhood. I was maybe seven or eight years old when I saw my first wrestling Pay-Per-View, and I remember loving every minute of it. A couple years later, The Undertaker debuted at a Survivor Series and I was captivated. The guy had presence, mystique, and he somehow instilled a fear in me that nothing had at the time. It was a turning point in my interest level, for sure.

Fast forward to the late 90s, when the nWo storyline began in World Championship Wrestling. Former WWF greats were leaving that company and heading over to Ted Turner’s promotion, but the angle was that they were intending to overthrow everything that WCW was. They cut promos like they were truly rebellious of the system, pissed off the right “good guys,” and even turned a few over to their cause. The movement was infectious.

The nWo

These guys were just…too…SWEEEEEET!

The WWF also began what is know as “The Attitude Era” during this time in response to the competition. This saw the beginning of Degeneration X, the growth of Stone Cold Steve Austin, and the rocket-like rise to power of Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock. It was a grand time, and I grew to appreciate the medium for what it is; a display of charisma mixed with physical prowess.

But the games never reflected this, and it was difficult to deal with. There were a couple titles that got close, but didn’t quite get it right. Then, out of nowhere, a miracle happened…

The Nintendo 64 ushered in a new era of wrestling game thanks to publisher THQ; one that was unmatched in quality and customization while doing a wonderful job of capturing the atmosphere. Graphically, not very impressive, but it was the wrestler creators in the latter titles that I fell in love with. After setting up the basics, diving into the move list was worth the effort. So many of the roster’s signature moves were available and I loved being able to pick the best that fit my character. Nothing was better than beating my opponents down and putting them out with the Outsider’s Edge; a move pioneered by the great Scott Hall.

Hey, yo.

There were a few games made of this type. The original was WCW/nWo World Tour which was great, but featured a roster filled with fictional characters. It would be its follow-up, WCW/nWo Revenge, where the games found their stride. A roster consisting entirely of real grapplers, the ability to build custom characters, real theme songs… everything just came together perfectly to make for the greatest games to feature the wars within the squared circle.

Which takes us to the in-ring action. The devs of these games did such a fine job of making them easy to pick up and play. Reversals were a simple button press as long as you timed it just right, and the grappling system was perfectly designed. Press A for light, hold for strong, and then a direction plus A or B to execute a move. This gave each wrestler 16 basic grappling moves, not to mention strikes, turnbuckle, and special moves. I had many a battle against friends and never hated a second of it.

When the WWF regained their supremacy among the companies, THQ moved over to them for the final two games of this style, but Revenge will always be the one that I consider my favorite. If you have an N64 and any interest in the “sport,” I implore you to check out this game. It’s a total blast and, as Diamond Dallas Page would say, you’ll certainly feel…the…BANG!!!

DDP

He teaches yoga, now. I’m not kidding.

I just wish they had made a proper kickass Extreme Championship Wrestling game. That would’ve been sweet.