Posts Tagged ‘3d’

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D

With the real 3DS Resident Evil experience – Revelations – not arriving until later in the year, it would seem that Capcom have simply opted to knock together a bonus game and charge full price for it. It’s a real shame, as Mercenaries is a cracking little shooter that can’t quite shake off the restraints of its bonus game roots.

If you’ve played either Resident Evil 4 or 5, then you’re probably pretty familiar with the objective already. You have two minutes to rack up as many kills as possible before either the time runs out or you eliminate all 150 enemies on each level. Smashing time extensions and killing enemies with melee attacks will allow you to keep playing for longer, while stringing together a combo of defeated enemies will see your score go into the stratosphere before you know it.

Enemies and levels are all taken from the aforementioned games, including classics like the Village and Public Assembly, as well as the lesser-enjoyed levels Warzone, Castle, Missile Area, Mines, Ship Deck and the Prison. The enemies are a mixture of Cultists, Majini and Combat Majini, with a few Uroboros mutations – exploding heads, the shell-like creature made of innards – thrown in for good measure

Adding to your woes are each level’s special enemies, such as the Chainsaw Majini, Garrador, Executioner, Red Executioner, Gatling Gun Majini and the utterly, utterly terrifying Super Chainsaw Ganado (remember him?). Much tougher than the regular foes, these angry bastards crop up at specific points and will kill you – or worse, ruin your score – if not dealt with immediately. Mercifully, they always make a distinctive sound before they arrive so you don’t get surprised by them – although the Big Man Majini is a sneaky bugger – but their appearance is always cause for concern.

Happily, you’re given plenty of ordnance to deal with the bad guys. Each of the eight characters have a different weapons set, alternative costumes and three slots for selected skills. Naturally, mastering all of these means playing the game repeatedly, so if you’re new to the Mercenaries experience, you may find yourself completely overwhelmed. Series veterans will be pleased to see the Chris and Claire, the Redfield siblings, as well as Barry Burton and Rebecca Chambers. Rounding out the cast are Hunk, villain Krauser and eternal nemesis Wesker. The easiest character is undoubtedly Krauser, thanks to his powerful bow and rocket launcher combo, as well as the fact that almost all of his melee attacks are guaranteed to kill.

Scores range from rank D (you survived) to rank SS (you killed pretty much everything), and the better you did, the more the rewards. These can be simply unlocking a new character, opening up the next set of missions, earning a new costume or even being granted a new skill. These are incredibly useful little perks that can dramatically alter the state of play at any given moment. There are perks for almost everything – some improve your melee attacks, some upgrade the functions of each weapon, some increase the amount of time you get from a melee kill and there are some that do incredibly specific things, like give you a time bonus every time an enemy is killed when a seven is in the time counter, or add lightning properties to your melee, or make it much easier to bring down the bigger enemies. Using each skill in a round will grant you points, allowing you to upgrade them to a maximum of three levels, at which point you are granted an additional ability. For instance, the Medic skill increases the amount of health you recover from green herbs, and at level three gives you an extra health bonus from each critical hit you score.

On top of this is an absolutely cracking online mode. While the first three missions are simply training stages designed for single players, later levels allow you to take a friend along for the slaughter, either in local link-up or online. It’s incredibly simple to find a game online as the servers are always busy – in fact, they’re so busy that many games will disappear as you click on them, so it’s easier to host a game than join one. Once you’re in, everything goes smoothly, as the vast majority of players online are utterly excellent, meaning that perfect teamwork is never far away and achieving SS ranks on every mission becomes a doddle. Thankfully, the game doesn’t mind if you score highly in Solo or Duo play, as all the rewards will come to you regardless.

For all the fun, the replayability and the enjoyment that Mercenaries offers, it still cannot escape the fact that it is merely a bonus game stretched out to feature length. Thanks to the incredibly long learning curve – eleven training missions! – the actual game feels decidedly short, with only eighteen levels where you actually get to do your thing. And no matter how many times Capcom switch the enemies, time of day and time extensions around, they can’t hide the fact that you will be playing the same arenas over and over again. What’s weirder is that the game is clearly designed as high score challenge game, so why is it that only your very highest record gets saved?

Almost as if they know that players are more interested in the forthcoming Revelations title, Capcom have stuck a short demo into Mercenaries. While this seems like a great idea, it’s shorter than any demo you have ever played. In fact, it takes longer to load than it does to play through, making it more of an interactive cutscene than a demo. The free trailer in the eshop is longer.

So Mercenaries is a peculiar bag, one that manages to be everything it should have been and yet nothing at all. It’s a cracking co-op title, a solid action game and has plenty of depth to it. However, it can be pretty much done 100% in the space of a week by anyone who knows what they’re doing – the Mercenaries target audience, for instance – so as to whether this is worth full price depends on how much you enjoyed the bonus game the first time around. A shame, really, as it’s almost excellent.

79%

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Is there anything left to say about Ocarina of Time? The game is almost fifteen years old now and has appeared on the N64, GameCube and Wii since then. Surely any power it once had has been diminished by repeat showings, and this latest re-release can only be indicative of the 3DS’s struggle to find its own ‘killer app’.

Or so you’d think. As it turns out, there’s a lot of life left in Ocarina, widely regarded – and rightly so – as the greatest game of all time. The game’s ability to surprise might have been diminished in the thirteen years since its release – the plot twist is the gaming equivalent of ‘I am your father’ – but it’s lost none of its power to leaving players gasping in awe.

If you’ve already played it, you don’t need to the story recapping. If you haven’t, then you are the envy of all the others. You have no idea what awaits you – the scale of the quest, the incredible bosses, the spellbinding music, the dizzying dungeons and temples – everything here feels as fresh as it did on that day in 1998.

Except it’s been given a lick of paint, thanks to the development team at Grezzo. Nintendo’s masterpiece has never looked as good as it does here. Facial animations have been updated, characters now look exactly like the pre-release art detailed them, backgrounds are no longer blurry and distant, textures are sharp and clear and everything looks so real you can almost touch it. The Master Sword now sits in gloomy darkness with a single mystical light thrown down from an overhead window – the sight of which brings shivers of anticipation. The game looks like it could have been made yesterday. Jabu-Jabu’s Belly has never looked so slimy.

On top of this, Grezzo have thrown in a few new features. Completing the game once unlocks the staggering challenge of the Master Quest, which is now even harder than before. Not only are the puzzles more difficult, but enemies deal more damage and everything in the game is mirrored. The other new feature is the excellent Boss Rush mode, activated by going to sleep in Link’s bed. Here you are challenged to fight all the bosses again, one after the other, in one sitting. It’s an outstanding feature, especially given that many of Ocarina’s bosses remain some of the greatest in the series’ history.

Grezzo have even found a way to put the gyroscope to good use. You can now tilt the 3DS to look around at an area, aim with the bow and search for targets with the hookshot. While this may be an acquired taste – for instance, horseback archery is a damn sight harder this way – for many it will present a fun new possibility, and it’s faster to use.

As for the 3D effect, this is perhaps its most staggering use yet. The vast expanse of Hyrule Field, the scale of the bosses, leaping from Zora’s waterfall, making the jump across Gerudo Valley on horseback – these sights were all amazing the first time around. Seeing them in 3D is even greater.

Of course, none of these improvements would mean a thing if the game underneath them wasn’t so good. Ocarina might be showing its age a bit now, with some clunky puzzles, gameplay that was refined even more by the next three titles, the irritating guardian fairy pointing out the obvious every five minutes, but the sheer sense of joy is totally unrivalled. The game is older than most whole franchises, yet the title screen alone still strikes a chord and floods the player with waves of nostalgia. There is nothing on earth like this.

Should you buy Ocarina? Yes, undoubtedly. If you’ve played every single re-release to date, this might be a tough sell as there’s little new here except for a change of depth. However, this is the best version of the best game of all time. If you’ve ever wondered how close games have come to perfection, this is proof.

99%

Clash of the Titans 3D Review

Summer’s here and it’s time for blockbuster CGI-fests to roll out and show off how big their budgets are. Or, rather, summer’s not here yet and it’s time to roll out those potential blockbuster CGI-fests that would get trampled underfoot in the more crowded months. This second category sums up Clash of the Titans quite nicely.

Perseus (Sam Worthington) is the result of a union between Zeus (Liam Neeson) and a human queen, a failed abortion attempt by enraged King Calibos and a childhood under the steady hands of humble fisherman Spyros (Pete Postlethwaite). Life is going well for Perseus until the King of Argos offends the gods and Hades (Ralph Fiennes) kills Perseus’ family.

Hades then persuades Zeus to punish the mortals for their arrogance and delivers Argos with a choice – sacrifice Princess Andromeda or be destroyed by a titan known as the Kraken. So begins an epic quest to defy the gods.

This movie is so stuffed with big ideas and scale that it’s a wonder there are any human characters on screen at all. While all characterisation and dialogue is strictly paper-thin, the action unfolds on such a grand scale that it might accidentally inflict brain damage on anyone trying to take it all in at once.

The easiest way to describe the cast is thus: Gods, bastards (who become good guys), hero character, woman, bastards (who stay bastards) and exposition girl, played with typical blandness by Gemma Arterton. The macho men spend their time on screen running from encounter with big CGI monster to encounter with big CGI monster without really every pausing to do anything except ask Gemma Arterton stupid questions that require explanation.

In spite of that, Clash of the Titans doesn’t suck as hard as it maybe should. The action is choreographed magnificently throughout, with every bump, thrust and blow feeling like it makes one hell of an impact. If action was the point of the film, it succeeds admirably. The CGI is outstanding, managing to look realistic in spite of the inherent silliness of the visuals. Giant scorpions, half women-half snakes, a winged horse – all these are both visually different to each other and look as if they’re almost there on screen.

That’s not to say that they look like they’re coming out of the screen – the 3D technology is probably the weakest yet in films. Clash of the Titans was not designed to make full advantage of this (the 3D tech was something thrust upon the film a month before release) and so it doesn’t make any difference. In fact, you could quite happily sit there without the glasses on and not notice anything besides a slightly blurry background.

On the whole, it’s an experience that might not provide complete satisfaction, but then again it’s a big, dumb movie that plays Connect 4 with Greek mythology. At least with this big, dumb movie you won’t be left feeling like your wallet has been sexually abused.

3 stars