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.

Game Log – The Walking Dead: Episode 1

WARNING: This is a game log. I will be talking about key plot points that I find in games as I play them, so consider this a SPOILER WARNING of the highest intensity.

I’m in the back of a police car. The cop seems to think that I might not have committed my crime. He asked such, but I told him it didn’t really matter since I was on the way to prison, anyhow. He began regaling stories of past passengers and how a number of them would just kick and scream like infants crying to their mamas, trying anything to convince the man of their innocence.

I listened with half of my attention; the other half was listening to the police radio chirping up like a nest of newborns. Other cop cars sped in the opposite direction past us on the other side of the highway. When I asked about the chatter, the officer explained that sometimes he just would ignore it or he’d go crazy. He continued with more stories of criminals he drove around. As he was deep into the worst of the bunch, he turned his head back toward me to make a point. That’s when I noticed the man on the road.

“LOOK OUT,” I exclaimed, but it was far too late. The car sent him flying and the officer panicked, overcorrecting hard on the wheel and sending us through the guardrail and over a short cliff. I awoke hours later and kicked out the window of the now toppled car to get out. I stood up and noticed the sharp pain in my leg. It was badly hurt. The officer was lying unconscious on the ground a good 15 feet away. I figured getting out of my cuffs would help so I reached for his set and used them. I fumbled the keys and had to pick them up again, but I was free of the restraints.

The cuffs hit the ground. That’s when I hear a groan. The cop is alive. He moves a little but then lunges at me hard, pushing me to the ground. He’s… not alive! I back away all the way to the car in a frenzy and grab the shotgun and try to load the shell I had picked up before, but it slips from my hands. I have to rush to grab it again and slide it into the gun. “Don’t make me do this,” I yell as my attacker approaches. He’s not stopping. I have to do this. I squeeze the trigger. The policeman’s head is gone. His body lies motionless.

Don’t miss!

This is my introduction to The Walking Dead: The Game. It’s more of a point-and-click adventure than anything. I’m one episode in and I’m digging what I’ve played. It’s got some great characters and seems to be very faithful to the comic’s tone, which I am a huge fan of. After that initial scene, there’s some time spent on a farm. Things seem calm but they ramp up very quickly. I was faced with a choice to either save a young boy or the son of the farm’s owner. I chose the boy because he had no other way to defend himself. The other victim died. His father was NOT happy.

Oops…

Choices like that make this game special. That feeling of consequence weighs heavily when you have to choose and it brings you into the world more than most games can, especially having to look after a young girl. Later on, I let a guy punch out another for being a prick and I showed mercy to a woman by allowing her to shoot herself after being bitten by walkers. It felt like the right thing to do. I also died a couple of gruesome deaths because I wasn’t paying attention, so I like that it forces you to focus.

I’m only one episode in, but I can already tell that I’m going to love this game. Some people criticized it for not being a true game, but whatever. I enjoyed my time with it and feel that it will stay immersive and fun. Sure, it has its adventure game-like faults, but that’s ok. I’m also playing with all of the indicators off, so it’s expected a bit.

Anybody know where the lightswitch is?

Next week, I tackle Episode 2. I just hope I don’t look as tasty then.

Take A Look, It’s In A Book…

I’ve been trying to read actual books, lately. Shocking, I know, but I figure it will inspire me in some fashion. Besides, it makes for a good pastime while I reign on the Porcelain Throne.

Where I rule with an iron… fortitude. (Not my actual toilet)

I’m about halfway through Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas, which has actually been quite entertaining. It was recommended to me one night while on a Skype call with a group of friends and so I decided to give it a shot. The book tells the story of its titular character and his gift of being able to see the undead spirits around him; both the good and bad kind. It’s also a fast read, which I am happy for in my onset adult illiteracy.

Another book I recently picked up from the library is Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell. I had heard a bit of buzz about this one when it came out in 2010 and I figured – being about video games – it would be a title that is right in my wheelhouse. Little did I know what a struggle this book is to digest.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still planning on finishing it. However, I’m currently on the third of nine chapters and all I have gathered at this point is that the author hates video games. Everything he points out about them, especially when talking about extremely successful and popular titles, seem to give him a huge sense of shame and embarrassment. Even when he talks about a game he loves, Left 4 Dead, he finds a way to shape it into a down moment.

I’m hoping this elongated stretch of negativity is his version of a “rope-a-dope” and that things will eventually turn around in the end, but for now, his tone makes it a challenge to trudge through his work. It’s like having that friend who complains about everything and yet never does anything to fix it while you sit idly by, wondering what it is they actually do to have fun.

So far, all you’ve told me is why you don’t want them to matter.

For example, here is the final paragraph of the third chapter:

I once raved about Left 4 Dead in a video-game emporium within earshot of the manager, a man I had previously heard angrily defend the position that lightsaber wounds are not necessarily cauterized. (His evidence: The tauntaun Han Solo disembowels in The Empire Strikes Back does, in fact, bleed.) “Left 4 Dead?” he asked me. “You liked it?” I admitted that I did. Very, very much. And him? “I liked it,” he said, grudgingly. “I just wish there was more story.” A few pimply malingerers, piqued by our exchange, nodded in assent. The overly caloric narrative content of so many games had caused these gentlemen to feel undernourished by the different narrative experience offered by Left 4 Dead. They, like the games they presumably loved, had become aesthetically obese. I then realized I was contrasting my aesthetic sensitivity to that of some teenagers about a game that concerns itself with shooting as many zombies as possible. It is moments like this that can make it so dispiritingly difficult to care about video games.

If you knew me at all, you would know that an opinion like this makes me rage with high intensity. If you hate the medium and/or the surrounding culture, then why be involved at all? If it’s that tough for you to care about games because you have to justify them to others, then stop. Stop playing, stop partaking, stop torturing yourself and do something you actually enjoy. Also, try not to criticize others’ physicality in the process. It doesn’t add anything to your point, sir.

There’s so much critique out there of this nature spanning multiple forms of media that I consciously neglect so that I, in turn, won’t become of similar thought. I love video games. I always have and always will. Sure, there are some I don’t like very much, and I will discuss that when I feel a need to, but I will never let a differing opinion affect the way I enjoy the things I like. My enjoyment is mine, and I refuse to be embarrassed of it.

I just hope I can enjoy this book before it ends.