July 22nd, 2007


Mr Wombat Reviews

Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl (PC)
A free roaming FPS RPG which looks beautiful insofar as the ruins surrounding chernobyl can be described as beautiful. The plot revolves around you and your search for your identity after being found, suffering from amnesia in a pile of corpses dumped in the outskirts of the demilitarized zone. The plot is relatively compelling though you'll occasionally be wondering what the hell you're supposed to do next - which plays well into the game world where no one cares much about you to sit you down and explain your great destiny. The downside of this is that you may well end up missing big chunks of your own personal plot if you decide to sideline a mission or two until later which I suspect I did. The ending is shit though - shockingly anticlimactic and unfortunately quite definite and once you reach a certain point in the game (about an hour before the end) you can no longer go back and revisit old areas to finish it all up. Other downsides are that certain events are triggered when you enter an area regardless of whether or not you've performed the prerequisite missions which is confusing as hell.

Seven times I explored a strange ruin and some bloke I'd never met started spouting instructions at me over the radio out of ten times I explored a strange ruin and some bloke I'd never met started spouting instructions at me over the radio.

Edit: Upon reading wikipedia it seems that there are multiple endings and sure enough, I missed the main plot and got a crap one. I'll be going back to this but from the sound of it, the game might warrant an eight or nine out of ten.

Resident Evil 4: Wii edition
Good enough that I'm happily playing it again even though I finished it on the PS2. The control method is WAY better than the PS2 and my percentage hits have gone through the roof. They make it significantly easier too since you're not accidentally shunting the analogue controller forward a bit too much and shooting the floor instead of the kneecaps of an attacking zombie/parasite infested villager. It doesn't seem to contain any new content from the PS2 version which is a bit of a shame but the only legitimate complaint (you can't really mark a game down for not adding in new free stuff I guess) is that your... sidekick, as it were, is a shocking liability who tends to walk in front of you when you're trying to slash a box open with your combat knife and keeping her alive is a bit of a chore.
Nine kneecapped zombies out of ten kneecapped zombies.

Dead Rising (Xbox 360)
The main advantage Dead Rising has over Resident Evil is that while RE4 has maybe... a thousand zombies in it, Dead Rising has about 57,000 of them, if not more. You play a photographer, trapped in a mall, surrounded by the undead and you're pretty much left to get on with it from there. The mall has everything you'd expect to see, pick up and use in a mall from guns to lawnmowers and or traffic cones to garden shears and you can use them all to beat or slash the zombies into submission. For astoundingly gory violence you can't get much better than this to be honest. The downsides though are that as with many of these... sandbox type games you're left devoid of direction beyond survival and you can beat the game simply by sitting in the security office for 72 hours until rescue comes. When you DO venture into the mall you will meet other survivors who are, quite frankly, imbeciles who can't manage the very simple task of running between two groups of zombies and generally elect to try and run through one of them resulting in either their deaths or you having to go back, rescue them and probably piggyback them back to the security office because they've been so badly mauled they can barely walk, leaving you with both hands occupied and unable to enjoy belting zombies around the head with a sledge hammer. While the selection of weapons available is very varied, the attacks you can inflict with them are not and I appreciate that with hundreds of weapons, making multiple attack methods with each one would be very time consuming in development, even a couple of alternate animations would be welcome but as it is you'll be performing the exact same move every time you press the attack buttons and causing some serious RSI in your poor character - you will ALWAYs bring the sledge hammer sweeping down in the same way, you will ALWAYS swing the chainsaw the same way, it gets a bit old but since weapons wear out and become useless quite quickly it does mean you're not going to be using one weapon the same way throughout the entire game at least.. The few times you have to fight a living enemy (it happens) they're ridiculously resisistant to bullets while you continue to be pretty squishy.
I hate to speak ill of a game with zombies in it to be honest. The same attack every time thing is okay in light of how often you'll change weapons, some of them are actually very fun and innovative - the soccer ball can be used to volley off multiple zombies and knock an entire horde of them to the ground, a frying pan can be made searing hot on a fire and used to burn off a zombie's face and when you're just out and about, doing some shopping and killing zombies/time until rescue comes its great but once you get some useless twit to follow you to safety you'll be muttering and swearing under your breath a little too much.

Eight (thousand) zombies, a shotgun, a chainsaw and a silly hat out of ten (thousand) zombies, a shotgun, a chainsaw and a silly hat.