Friday, 12 October 2007

Ghosthunter: The Review

Ghost Hunter
Released: December 5th 2003
Platforms: Playstation 2
Developer: SCEE
Genre: Survival Horror/ 3rd Person Shooter
Review: Almost as obscure as ….well, as obscure, Ghost hunter tells the tale of Lazarus Jones. An officer in the Detroit police department. He is sent on a routine callout with his partner to investigate a possible break-in at Montsaye High. The location of what became known as the “Detroit school murders”. A case in which ten students were all killed under mysterious circumstances ,with no marks on the bodies, the only clue to a murderer was the school science teacher, who vanished the same night and is the number one lad suspect for the murders. The school is currently under demolition and reconstruction ,however the construction workers have states they’ve been hearing bizarre noises coming from the school and this is were the police come in to it, believing the professor broke in and returned to the scene of the crime, Lazarus and his partner have been sent to investigate.
In the bowls of the school Lazarus discovers “the array” and unwittingly opens the device, releasing hundreds of violent and murderous ghosts, specters and revenants free to roam the earth once more. If this wasn’t bad enough Lazarus finds one ghost, a woman by the name of ’astral’ has fused her spirit with his own and now Lazarus can see ghosts. His partner is captured by the ghosts, the same ghosts who committed the Detroit school murders and were incarcerated by “the professor” self taught ghost hunter, and now the same mission falls to Lazarus. Recapture the ghosts he unwittingly set free, rescue his partner, and discover the truth behind the professors disappearance and what was the cause behind the murders in the first place.
Gamely wise this game is a 3rd person shooter were you capture ghosts using the capture grenade system, think ghost traps from Ghostbusters meets a Frisbee and you get the idea, throw the grenade into the ghost and a meter appears, you have to wear down its spiritual energy by shooting it, before the timer on the grenade runs out to capture it. Whilst this alone could get boring as its pretty easy as the corridors are all wide enough to get a good camera angle this is separated by intermittent puzzles which can only be solved by using astral and flying around the level as a ghost, utilizing the abilities of the ghosts you have captured to open doors Lazarus cant reach, or lure enemies away from a doorway or something like that. Both methods of control feel solid without any problems between the controller and actual onscreen movement, move the thumb stick a little and they move only a little, this is just one of the signs that this is move than another 3rd party title just made to sell a few hundred copies.
Music wise its very good, you might be walking through a library and hearing a ghostly voice saying “quiet ,please” to walking through a haunted Louisiana bayou to a banjo number being played to really set the scene, the compositions are all in keeping with the mood of the varied levels you visit and whilst not particularly memorable, it adds to the gaming experience as a whole.
The graphics, considering its 2003 are very good, whilst some areas do suffer from being poorly textured on the whole each level is varied and a character in its own right. Ranging from a ghostly WWII galleon or an abandoned prison island like alcatraz to a ghost town in a haunted bayou or a surreal mansion full of glass tanks full of decapitated baby figurines. It ranges from disturbingly realistic, to hauntingly surreal but it’s a memorable game from start to finish.
Whilst the lack of original plot, lock on feature or any replayability factors other than starting it all over again. ghost hunter is an acquired taste that, whilst not for everyone ,may be right up your alley, and to risk a copyright infringement suit against me : WHO YA GONNA CALL?


Friday, 5 October 2007

new dementium trailer on gametrailers

Im of two minds.

On one hand it may be the most bitching horror fps ever especially on a handheld.
on the other it might be using live action footage in the ad to spice up and make what may be a mediocre shooter game appear more appealing to a post resi 4 action orientated audience.

Either way this month my game budget is this or silent hill origins, and sorry to renegade kid but im a 'hill fanboy so thats my new game for this month.

A discussion in horror theory In this thread on the horror gameing forum chris' survival horror quest. a user once again begs the question "should resident evil be considered striaght up survival horror>?". In my opinion its more sci-fi action orientated, but then the forums owner ,Chris, piped in and the topic lead to the possiblility of desensitization.
When weve been chased through racoon city by the nemesis, explored a haunted shinto mansion armed only with a camera and even venture into the depths of silent hill to confront peoples inner fears why should we be scared by anything nowadays anyway?
I brought forth the point that this could lead to manhunt style constant elavation of the shock factor to try and outdo previous horror games we are now desensitized to, in a way i might add i find particularly tasteless.
To which it was then pointed out not too many cuasual gamers play as much horror as i do, which is very true, but also there are so many games, like resi 4, cold fear or the suffering that you have no doubt in your mind that the protagonist will make it out of whatever hellish situation he or her is in with no trouble they cannot cope with. and i believe that is the sign of a horror game that is not accomplishing goal number one "initiating in the audience the idea that the character needs to "survive" not that they automatically will.
case in point obscure 2, these characters are just students, will very little chance of survival against the monsters overtaking the fallcreek campus, and in fact some of them do die through the course of the game, in cutscenes no less so they are meant to die with the narrative plot of the game which just makes you think "woah, if the jock (for exmaple) died, then hows the nerd going to make it through the same situation and live?. after all the greatest fear is death and fear of the unkown, so not knowing if your character will live is one sign of not a great but fantastic horror title, though of course the second factor is allways having a plot with enough intrigue and emotional development to allow you to atcually gain some sort of emotional attatchement to the characters you are playing as, there fore when they get closer to death, you heart beat starts to increase.
Though on that note i believe the third pillar that forms the foundation of a fantastic horror game is sound, or the absence thereof, no matter how realistic, or out of the date the graphics may be as long as the character devlopment is engrossing, the situation is horrifying and opens with many questions that will most likely not all be answered by the end and a memorable soundtrack then the game will scare and will be remembered as a great game.
Least thats the Danny Smith(aka: me) method of thinking on the subject.

Which is off topic by a mile, but does resi 4 count in the same genra niche as silent hill 2, resident evil 3 or obscure?, well i guess theres no diffinitive answer as everyone sees a game, as like a piece of cinema the different way so its never set in stone, which is why chris' list is constantly changing but oh well, if we didnt bitch about stuff like this thered be no reason for internet forums anymore.

and then were would we spend our time?, outside in the real world, no thanks, the real world blows.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Obscure 2: The Review

Obscure 2
Released: September 2007
Platforms: ps2, pc and Wii
Developer: Hydravision
Genre: Survival Horror
Review: The sequel to the hard to find cult classic obscure/mortifilia. The sequel , which will be released next year in the states as Obscure 2: The aftermath, Continues the nightmarish story of the students who escaped leaf Moore high.Unfortunately for them the horrors they thought they left behind 2 years ago are back with a vengeance. The sequel takes some of the past characters and a good deal of new ones in a similar situation at Fallcreek University.
It starts simply enough, the frat boys of delta theta gamma are throwing a kegger and the protagonists decide to go and indulge in some binge drinking and teenage hijinks. Yet the crowd on campus has been experimenting with mysterious black flowers that induce hallucenagenic effects which have been growing on the grounds and as the party gets in to full swing all hell breaks loose.
To begin this review I must point out that this game was quite lucky to make it onto the shelves at all. Including theme’s on STD’s, unprotected sex, drug use and the usual gore and violence. Obscure 2 also includes the play stations first teen suicide and as such has been taken off GAME’s shelves altogether so unless you can find a game station, forbidden planet or mom ‘n pop style game store id say your luck is out on this one.
Now onto the game play. Right off the bat the creatures are no longer photosensitive. So any attacks based on light are largely useless, whilst light grenades and torches do still hurt them, this does not make your projectile weapons do any more damage. As well as changing how they attack without a cover of darkness the developers have also vastly expanded the creature repertoire for the sequel. One of the biggest disappointments of the fist obscure was the lackluster 5 enemy types, this has been remedied in the sequel and there are now 10 different types, ranging from hulking ,tumorous blobs to flying banshees or even scuttler spawning “womb” monsters that all have different attack methods and ,as such, different tactics to dispatch them. whereas the original was just a shoot till they drop afair. You can now utilize tazers to stun the enemy and let the other player, computer controlled or a friend, move in to finish them off.
The characters have lost there “press square” abilities in exchange for new forms of character traits. Gamer Mei can hack into security systems to open doors, and Amy’s no ‘dumb blonde’, as her puzzle decrypting skills will attest These range from lock picking to feats of strength or acrobatics. All must be used to fully complete the game and are so well balanced it never feels like a gimmick and allows for move variety than the resident evil gameplay style of “walk and shoot your way from point a to the end” which is a breath of fresh air into what has become something of a stale sub genre. The camera, when walking or aiming is controllable by the right thumb stick, though can be left to drift on its on if you so wish, and when aiming with the gun it goes into a 3rd person mode a lot like ghost hunter or silent hill 4 which is another improvement over the poor, and at times confusing camera angles of its predecessor.
Plot wise this is something unique. Its predictable, yet at the same time its done in such a way that it doesn’t make you roll your eyes, but rather pulls you in to the story more and I commend the writers for taking a chance and doing so. The characters personalities are slightly bland, but all well balanced and genuinely seem like kids stuck in a horrifying situation than the likes of Leon in resident evil 4, a hardened government agent who reamins capable in any situation. With this believability comes a greater amount of emotional attachment to the characters and a higher scare factor as the characters genuinely seem less likely to survive, even though the protagonists now number 8 instead of 5. Though larger. this group is never all concentrated at one location, in fact one major feature of obscure 2 that gives it a greater feeling of the teen slasher movies it is homaging is that characters can become isolated and different events take place at different locations at the same time. As the original was slightly odd with 3 characters staying put at the meeting point rather than helping there friends find a way out. In fact you could complete obscure using only 2 characters, yet in the sequel you must and in fact do use all 8 in equal measure to complete the game. This gives the game a much more fluid and complex atmosphere and adds more variety to the games events, yet another improvement over the original.
The graphics are, to say the least, very impressive, they push the ps2 to its limits, rivaling games like indigo prophecy/ Fahrenheit or Tony hawks American wasteland with ease. The characters are far more detailed and the locations are incredibly varied, ranging from a bloody frat house massacre or an abandoned university complex to crossing highways and fog laden woodland and exploring abandoned tunnels and even heading back to leafMoore high itself, The locations are varied and all have a character and charm that seems genuinely like the set of a Hollywood horror film.
The sound, like the original, is again a joy from start to finish and the artist has even been good enough to allow you to download it for free from his site ranging from soft rock guitars to a haunting French choir backed by violins and cellos to orchestral music this game has it all and whilst maybe not on par with the fantastic work of akira yamoaka for the silent hill series, it easily out does the bland and uninteresting music of resident evil. It helps set the scene allowing for the perfect mise-en-scene in a cutscene or particular location and it just wouldn’t be the same game without the soundtrack.
The game does suffer from a few faults however. The are no extras to speak of, nor is there a choice of difficulty, though there was always enough ammunition and health packs to make it through. I did have to reset the console about 4 or 5 times through the game from dying, though this means its just a fair challenge.
My biggest fault was the fact that save points could only be used once and were at some points 30 mins between each other which meant replaying a section a few times if you kept dying, this could have been remedied, however aside form that I can find no other major fault with this game.
Obscure 2 is much lengthier than its predecessor and should clock in the best gamer at around 7 hours, compared to the 3 and half for the original obscure this means essentially more bang for your buck, with more locations and horrific situations to survive in.
To surmise Obscure 2 is a fantastic horror game that I hope will not live up to its name like the original did, the story is intriguing, if a little cliché’. The game play, graphics and sound are all superb, the characters are average enough Joe’s to be more memorable than a hardened action hero and the co-operative multiplayer game play mode allows for more replay value than if you played it alone and it was simply a joy from start to finish that I can give a hearty recommendation to any gamer for.
If you like movies like the faculty or scream, and like games like silent hill or the suffering Obscure 2 and its predecessor might be the games for you.

a little tidbit possibly confirming obscure 3

When wiki'ing obscure 2 for cast info for my review (see my next post for that one folks) i clicked on a link which lead to the site for voice actor joshua swanson: which under the list of his "gig's" includes his voice work as kenny adn stan in obscure to including the phrase "i live on in obscure 3", whilst this may be on one hand just a comment on stan surviving at the end of the game. but on the other it might just be a little bit of news about obscure 3.
The 2nd ends slightly openly and could certainly be worked into a new outbreak for a 3rd game.

i for one hope it does.

Monday, 1 October 2007

games im playing this month, my take on obscure so far.

So i decided to sit down and have a good long stint in Obscure 2 im now at the dam doing the turbine room bit..and failing. im waiting to finish it to think it over but its pretty well outdone its predesecor by miles, the graphics are spectacular for the [;aystation 2, outdoing tony hawks american wasteland on the xbox 360 by a long way , the soundtrack is superb adn the mise-en-scene of the locations just cannot be beat. The only thing that bugs me is you go through areas at no time at all, even though theres lots to do in each, though i guess thats meant to go with the fast paced teen slasher style. it just means you dont really get to appreiciate the areas as much, though they easily make up for this by being far more vibrant and busy looking than the leafmoore high of the origional, which whilst cool suffered from the origional resi mansions blandness, it looked okay but you never really stopped to appreciate how cool it was.

oh and so far the twins and kenny?, didnt see that coming.

-.....if you aint played up to the dam you could read something totally different into that,lol.

Dementium: The ward

two link ot put forward on this ,they being and .

News on this ahs been pretty quite, a few screenshots on kotaku but thats about it, and i think thats basically because noone was actually looking, a quick google search comes up with these two sites by the developers ,renegade kid, and i must say what ive seen is actually impressive.
Hotel dusk showed us how the ds could quite capably utilize a smooth flowing fps 3d enviroment and given by the way the creautres move fluidly, albiet there models are blocky, This is looking to be ,if nto the next silent hill series, then surely the next suffering, though it is highly reminicent of the cancelled gamecube horror title "the ward" which was pretty much the same scenario only the protagonist whent in there to take part in a game show, possibly the games developers are connected but right now thats unkown though the similaritiys are striking.
But right now all i can say is im pleasantly surprised at how this is turning out and it looks liek good fun.

...unfortunatly its being launched the same week, in the uk, as silent hill origins for the sony PSP, adn im afriad that, ebing only able to afford one by moneys going on the series i know and have grown to really enjoy, and i doubt im the only one with this frame of thinking, which is a shame as its not a good sign for what looks liek a fantastic handheld horror title that may fall without a trace.