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Forums > Submission Feedback > bloomer's Resident Evil review

This thread is in response to a review for Resident Evil on the GameCube. You are encouraged to view the review in a new window before reading this thread.

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Author: radicaldreamer
Posted: August 18, 2009 (10:47 AM)
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I was looking for new reviews by you for my reading pleasure, since it seems like you kind of fly under the radar for some reason. (Perhaps it's a combination of not being in competitions and not talking very much.) I chose this one since it was for a semi-modern game, but it obviously reads less like a review, and more like an academic paper on the horror devices and techniques of Pre-RE4 RE games, and how they affect the player. In a sense I was disappointed since I wanted to see your current reviewing abilities, but I think what I got was actually more interesting.

I wrote a hyperbolic negative review of RE2 many years ago, in which I complained about many of the elements you talked about in your paper. The reasons for my complaints were from a very strict gaming perspective, mostly along the lines of how they make for a clunky, mechanically frustrating, and poorly controlled experience. My initial interest in the game stemmed from the fact that it was a critically acclaimed game, so at the time my extremely negative personal experience with it made it extremely difficult to understand why it was critically acclaimed. At the time, the horror effects of these elements didn't even occur to me, and even if they did I doubt I would have been able to view them favorably, because they clash with what I ultimately look for in a game. I guess it doesn't help that I don't like horror very much as a genre at all in any medium, be it game, movie or book.

This piece really got me thinking a lot about how as players we bring our own individual expectations and desires to games. For me, a third-person camera situated slightly above and behind my character at all times just seems like common sense. There are times when I am willing to forgive something else, so long as it doesn't get in the way of control or the flow of play, such as the camera perspectives in God of War. While I appreciate atmosphere when it's done well, in general I find myself more concerned with control and being able to actually do things than with scene-setting or mood creation. As a result, a lot of my reviews focus on mechanics, more so than, well, most other writers around here to be honest. I remember in the 2005 TT both Johnny Cairo and I used totally different Manhunt reviews in the same round. Besides the fact that his was positive and mine wasn't, his was about the story, atmosphere, and the effect the violence has on the player, while mine was about how the controls and mechanics make it difficult to enjoy the game even given the effectiveness of the other elements.

In a sense, I think I look for more "democratic" games, and while RE as a game may be democratic in comparison to other artistic mediums, I think it is less so in comparison to many other games. I enjoy random PS2 games like Psi-Ops and Transformers, which are less about using devices to have an impact on players and more about giving players tools to play around with.

There are times when I enjoy something different. Lunar 1 and 2 are two of my favorite games of all time, and it is certainly not the mechanical experience of playing that makes them so. I don't feel that it is constricting in the way RE is, but it's mostly about the experience of the writing and the development that has an effect on me as a player that makes them my favorites. If I had to review them I would have to not talk about mechanics (or mention them only briefly), and instead focus on story and characters, and all that bullshit. I would probably be out of my element since I'm so used to just talking about mechanics and their relation to the playable enjoyment of the gaming experience.

So uh, anyway, that's my rant, and I need to get back to my job. Really good and interesting piece, even if it's not really a review. It also convinces me of the viability of gaming as an academic discipline in the same sense that film is. It's just that the overwhelming majority of gamers probably have very little intellectual, academic or writing merit.

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Author: bloomer
Posted: September 26, 2009 (05:53 AM)
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(months later)

Thanks very much for this extended response Rad, I appreciate it and found it interesting.

Sorry, I'd have replied ages earlier but I developed huge RSI injuries a few months ago and had to stop almost everything in life - especially typing, and being at computers. This has been the reason for my extended silence here. I'm just getting back to a minor typing now, still cautiously, and I've typed enough this eve.

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