The Evil Within is Aptly Named – for it Awoke the Evil Within Me

Title: The Evil Withinthe-evil-within-logo
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Distributor: Bethesda

Pros:
-Devilishly bloodthirsty
-Simplistic controls
-Upgrade system
-Exploration yields fruitful rewards

Cons:
-Vague storyline and plot
-Bland graphics
-Excruciatingly limited resources
-Occasionally unresponsive and slow
control system
-Camera can prove frustrating

Verdict: 5.5 (out of 10)

This year’s Destiny had a lot of hype, but after completion of the short campaign, what remained was a series of frequently repetitive occurrences that made about as much sense as an ashtray on a motorbike. The Evil Within is not necessarily in the same boat, but it certainly originates from the same dock. After watching several astounding trailers, and reading the verdicts of professional gaming companies online (Ausgamers gave the Evil Within a 10), I was expecting something considerably more entertaining. Australia’s newspaper The Age noted how The Evil Within was ‘a grand rebirth for survival horror’, and had this been 1998, or 2002, I probably wouldn’t bother voicing an argument. Today however, I would presume gamers want a little more from their games than relentless chase scenes and inexplicable gore, with an almost non-existent plot. For me, on the most part, I found the Evil Within annoying, for reasons I will explore in this post, the scariest part about the game quite possibly being its price.

Perhaps I might have found more enjoyment if the protagonist was someone a little different than Sebastian Castellanos. Although I won’t deny, I’m sure he’d make a great detective, but the lead in a horror game? He is out of his league in this alternate universe. Although he proves himself courageous in a fight, his delicate body is quite the contradiction to his character, and the fact that he, at the beginning, cannot run more than a couple dozen feet without becoming crippled with exhaustion, is frustrating. He doesn’t just stop running though – usually he has to bend over, panting like someone who just ran a  marathon, all the while, whatever thing you were running from, draws ever closer, and when battling boss monsters, who can kill you with a single hit, the distance between you and the bad guys, is precious.

Moving on, throughout the game, a majority of the levels are an incoherent mass of hysteria, and reminded me a fair bit of Painkiller, in that one level does not exactly continue on from the other, and you rather find yourself going from one random location to the next, and this similarly occurs during levels as well. Often in games, locations are meant to yield information on the plot itself, but such is forfeited by this peculiar technique. Again, like Painkiller, the environments are rather drab, with a mixture of browns, blacks, grays and (of course) reds, making up a quantity of the environment, and although everything is well constructed, the lack of any lively color makes the game look and feel like a graveyard, which does nothing to exploit the power of the new systems (I myself played this title on the XBOX One).

While exploring these strange environments however, you are able to find news clippings, audio and doctoral files from other individuals, and a back-story regarding Sebastian, and from chapter five onwards, you begin to piece together the kind of life that Sebastian has experienced. It is sub-plots like these that make you want to continue, in order to alleviate your quest for answers, however the slow pace the answers are provided means there is a lot of trekking through strange territory, that on more than one occasion seems to have no real pertinence to the shadowy storyline.

The most hectic part about the game though, is the lack of resources. This is where upgrading becomes most paramount. At the beginning of the game, the amount of reserve ammo or health-packs your character can carry is pitifully low, and you are forced to choose between making your character’s life line stronger, or upgrading the number of resources you can hold. Upgrading is done by acquiring glop from around not only the environment, but from the bodies of deceased enemies, who (rarely) drop something you can use. During each level, you may hear the sweet melody of music serenading your eardrums, which means that by walking through a mirror, you are able to enter a safe haven, which seems to exist between not only the game’s worlds, but time itself. Here, you can save the game, find information on certain back stories, restock on supplies (during the Evil Within you may find small statues which internally contain keys, that then unlock cabinets containing goods), or upgrade your character by shocking yourself in an electric chair (yes, you read that right).

Continuing on with regards to the lackluster resources, I have no problem with a challenge, as long as I receive a reward afterwards that will incentivize me to persist with the unending struggle. The reward that is received however is hardly agreeable compensation – often, a collection of new antagonistic monsters appear, sometimes even in areas previously cleansed of enemy combatants. As previously noted, enemies drop very little in the way of loot once deceased, and been forced to waste valuable resources dispatching these new creatures is a frustrating hindrance. What is most annoying though, is that you receive, early on in fact, an arsenal of powerful weapons, but you can hardly ever use them, and rather, your character seems to spend more time running from the enemy in a vain attempt to avoid as many encounters as possible, rather than using the weapons for the reason they were made. The frequency of these chase sequences reminded me somewhat of Prince of Persia, Warrior Within, in which a great portion of the game is spent running away from the monstrous Dahaka.

The addendum that enemies don’t normally stay dead unless set alight is another conundrum faced, and since matches are even more scarce than ammo, you are forced to choose who you purge with fire delicately, as you never know what lies around the next corner. That is even if Sebastian lights the enemy up at all. On several moments, the game refused to let me set an enemy alight unless I stood in a certain position, and by that time, the target had already begun to drag its gory remains to its feet, forcing me to repeat the entire process all over again. If you happen to die moreover, upon returning to the game (there is a checkpoint system, alongside the opportunity to manually save your progress), resources will either be different, or not available at all. There was one moment when I uncovered several bullets from inside a container, but when I returned after having died, it was completely vacant.

On this note, a number of the resources are hidden in boxes, containers and cabinets, and you are forced to demolish these, making unnecessary noise that alerts nearby foes. Occasionally, you are also required to work with an NPC (non-playable character (for the uninitiated)), and their clumsiness in knocking over items is aggravatingly brutal. They might as well put up a neon sign. On the subject of lighting, Joseph is allowed to carry a lantern with an unending shelf-life, however the light is just as much a monster magnet as the unfortunate onset of sound, which can be triggered by bumping into a table, or stepping on some glass, which adds a good deal of realism to the game. Sounds can however, when properly employed, be used as devices of distraction, which can allow you the opportunity to sneak up on unsuspecting foes, and stealthily kill them without the use of ammo. Going into a fist fight with an enemy is seldom a recommendation judging by the amount of damage a single combatant can inflict, but stealth kills offer a solution to this quandary. Stealth kills are not impossible, but the chance that the enemy will turn and see you is very likely, so careful precision is always a requirement. Of course, the fact that the crouch button needs to be held down, alongside the addendum that Sebastian cannot use firearms while crouched, makes this all the more complex. Additionally, with regards to stealth, Sebastian can, rather than kicking a door open, slowly push it forward, the eerie squeak of the door being questionably loud. The point I’m making by including this assessment is with regards to the camera angle during this stealth tactic. As Sebastian opens the door, for several seconds, you have no control over the camera’s location, and instead of seeing what threat exists in the following area, you have to wait until Sebastian is in the room to regain control, putting the character at unnecessary risk.

Returning to the subject of checkpoints, occasionally, they fail to reboot the player where the checkpoint was received. There was one moment in particular, where I received a checkpoint behind a condemned building, but after having died, I rematerialized atop a flight of stairs, in plain sight of an enemy, who then proceeded to hurry after me. With regards to the enemy in general, although they are capable of detecting the player by sight and sound, they don’t appear largely intelligent. On one occasion, I was chased into a room by a cluster of creatures, who then proceeded to run amok, bumping into one another in a frenetic attempt to acquire me. Not only was I able to escape without taking any damage (which was a rare occurrence, I must say), but witnessing the creatures blindly bumping into one another like a gaggle of brainless bots was certainly something to behold.

In general, most enemies appear much the same; humans who have endured a wealth of torture, with bits and pieces hanging off their bodies. Although the graphics render their mutilated forms in vivid detail, which you cannot help but admire (when you are hidden, at least), most enemies are simply reminiscent of zombies, and after having seen one, you have, on the most part, seen them all. Although on occasion you find creatures that are very different, and the boss encounters are certainly reminiscent of this, such is rarely commonplace, rendering the excitement of been pursued by yet another zombie-like creature moot after it occurs for the sixteenth time that hour. Despite a lot of creatures requiring little more than a wealth of firepower in order to have their existence brought to a close, sometimes creatures require a degree of strategy. Not long into the game you encounter a certain enemy that has the habit of becoming invisible, and so you are required to watch the environment; if a puddle of blood is disturbed, or an item is inexplicably knocked over, the chance the creature is near is very high.

Besides enemies, there are also traps that players need to be on the look out for.  One is unable to stroll confidently into a room, else the chance they will be turned into a pile of bloody innards from an unexpected device is quite likely, and these become all the more frustrating when you are been pursued. Bombs, bear traps, electric wires, retractable spikes, among other contraptions, await you in every single level, and unless you have your wits about you, a lot of cheap deaths await the novice traveler. Alongside traps though, there are also puzzles, the act of solving them moreover proving to be quite fun. Occasionally dire ramifications await those who, for instance, happen to incorrectly put things in the required order. Puzzles can involve applying knowledge found in a picture or diagram into a real world scenario (like looking at the picture of a body, and then cutting open the mutilated flesh of some poor sap in the location specified by the drawing).

Occasions like these, not to mention the inexplicable wealth of blood, appears to be the frightening scenarios players were promised upon purchasing this title. Unlike in Alien Isolation, where the terror is in your face, watching Sebastian being torn to shreds by creatures is hardly anything to become squeamish over, and for the most part, I found myself chuckling at the sight of limitless violence. When other ‘frightening’ scenarios are produced, they are normally cliched and predictable, and it is nothing you wouldn’t have seen before. In conclusion, as the title of this post suggests, the only ‘evil’ I found was my own, after becoming rather angry with myself for having bought this particular product. Although I won’t deny, there are some impressive moments, these are so fleeting and minor, that between the lacking resources, pathetically weak protagonist, and bland locations, they are unable to satisfactorily save the Evil Within from itself.

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Doom3 BFG Edition – is this the Biggest Friggin’ Game in the Doom franchise?

 

Last week in Australia, our shores were graced by the arrival of no, not more ‘boat people’, but by Doom3 BFG Edition, which comes equipped with the original Doom, Doom2, Doom3, the mission pack, Doom3 Resurrection of Evil, and a new campaign consisting of eight levels titled ‘the Lost Mission’.

Doom3 in itself was a terrific action shooter that went out of its way to make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, and boy did it succeed! The high definition reboot of the action classic is graphically sublime, and cannot be faulted in any way with the seemingly stupendous visuals that it throws at you in every frame. The in game movies have been beefed up along with the general gaming experience to fully immerse you within a realm that has been graphically redefined.

The monsters look absolutely terrific, and some, especially the Pinky Demon seem especially grotesque in their appearance.

The sound is in your face, exploding out from the speakers with an unrelenting fury as it envelops everything within the vicinity.

Moreover, the game itself has not been changed, so gamers will be able to expect all that they once endured and suffered at the hands of Hell’s demon spawn to once again suffer some more.

Suffering is the right term though for those of you who think I have lost my mind. Playing the game on Veteran – I had forgotten just how difficult it could be. It is easy though – as long as you don’t get hit by anything. After a couple hits you’ll find your character lying on the ground with his legs and arms in the air, so you need to be extra vigilant whilst exploring the UAC Mars Facility for the enemy can come from everywhere and anywhere.

There is also the fact that id decides to teleport in a demon or too into a room if you fail to leave in an unspecified time frame, or you decide to begin retracing your steps in an attempt to find some health or are looking for the cabinet that wouldn’t open before because you failed to have the right combination.

However, one will not suffer at the hands of the boss monsters. As one will recall, the boss creatures from the Doom games are never that complicated – all you require is ammo – you can never have too much of it. From the original Doom, in which you blasted the Spider Mastermind a couple times with the BFG to make ‘im blow up till now, the bosses of Doom have never offered the worst challenge imaginable, and most of them (minus the guy at the end of Resurrection of Evil, unless you have the strategy down) will be taken out on your first attempt.

The multiplayer experience moreover for those enjoying the game on console is strictly for online multiplayer, so don’t expect to go round fragging your friends in a split screen game.

However, id compensate for this by allowing the original 2 Doom games to come equipped with such a function.

Yes, Doom and Doom2 can be played on all platforms now, which is really impressive, although don’t go expecting the graphics to be any better than they once were. Hailed as the greatest graphics ever conceived back between 1993-95 when the games were originally launched, now they seem rather obtuse in comparison to games of today, but the fun they will provide has not at all been extinguished. What’s more, both the Doom games come equipped with all of the add on packs that were conceived, so for Doom you have all four original terrifying episodes, and for Doom2 you are granted the ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ game as well.

What is a little upsetting for the biggest Doom fans might be the fact that Evilutions (which wasn’t exactly the best Doom game ever) and the Plutonia Experiment (or, as I like to call it, the hardest Doom game ever – people may remember a secret level filled with Cyber Demons!) are not included in this limited edition reboot.

However, as previously mentioned, the multiplayer is capable of allowing gamers who experience BFG Edition on console the ability to either play the campaigns co-operatively or in a death match via split screen. Massive Doom gamers will no doubt remember the fun that Doom multiplayer provided back in the day – I mean, it was what, the first ever game that allowed people this opportunity?! That fun has returned and is exceptional!

It feels incredibly fun to once again blast your enemies away in these original Doom conceptions, although at the same time the music and the sound of all the items respawning is no doubt capable of making your brain turn to juice as you slowly but surely lose your mind.

I guess the only negative feature of the original games is the weapons – the keys to select which one you wish to use are incredibly fiddly and never will you properly get used to them, which becomes especially annoying during a massive fire fight. If that’s not enough, not all of the weapons are in the order they once were on PC all those years ago – you would expect the Super Shotgun to come after the Shotgun? Nope, it comes in as one of the last weapons.

However, do not let this little addendum cause you dismay; the original games are just as fun as ever before!

Moving back to the Doom3 series, although Doom3 in itself looks fantastic (although once or twice you can see something’s a little off but that happens in all games), when it comes to Doom3 Resurrection of Evil you can clearly see a difference when you start to play – it is as though whoever was involved in rebooting this particular campaign into high definition lost their passion after being involved rebooting its predecessor.

The graphics in game do not look quite as beautiful, and the cinematics – they have not even been changed. These parts of the game, of which there are quite a few mind you, look exactly as they did back in 2005, which isn’t all that bad – but when you compare it to Doom3 you can clearly see the graphical differences and feel a slight ping of disappointment.

Again, when playing Doom3 and its sequel the keys to switch the weapons can be a little annoying, but less so in these particular games than they are in the originals. Upon acquiring the special artefacts found in either game, these can be accessed just by pressing the left button on the D-pad, although it is annoying when the game fails to register your pressing need for the artefacts and so decides against giving them to you – often resulting in a rather unpleasant death.

As for ‘the Lost Mission’ and the eight ‘levels’ of entertainment that such a campaign provides – I’m sorry, but I have to ask – what’s the point? This particular campaign will take you less than two hours to complete on Veteran difficulty, and the supposed ‘levels’ (hence the reason why I put such a word in quotation marks before) are incredibly minuscule – in fact to even call them levels is a downright insult to the levels in the other Doom3 games which are by far larger in size than what you shall experience in this campaign.

In this new campaign you find yourself in the shoes of a member of Bravo team after this small militarian group were attacked by ravenous demons in the Empro Plant. Waking up to find you only have half your health left, if you are anything like me, you begin by thinking ‘what’s the point?’ (as previously stated).

In Doom3 and the sequel, the games both focused on you bringing a stopper to the invasions that had taken over the base. The objective, as you will find later on in the second level, is as follows; a scientist is in need of your assistance. Believing himself to be the only person who has survived the invasion, he needs you to be a good boy and go into what he calls ‘the other realm’ (why can’t he just call it Hell?) and switch off a teleportation system there that is still online and linked to the UAC Mars Facility. Worse still, the demons could use it as a means to travel directly to Earth! Good times!

Much of what you shall find in these eight levels look to be rehashed from the Doom3 experience. Segments in the Empro Plant and the Mars City Underground will leave you with great feelings of déjà vu, and the secret ‘Exis Labs’ that is supposed to be capable of bettering the Delta Complex upon completion looks exactly on several occasions like sections of the Delta Complex that it is supposed to be bettering!

A couple sections in the game are new, including running around, trying to hopelessly find the code to the cabinet with the double barrelled shotgun in it; fighting a couple of the enemies that appeared in the mission pack; the updated looking teleportation units, which look considerably impressive mind you, and at one point using the ‘Grabber’ to send energy from one pylon to another (think Portal, but less challenging).

When you eventually do find yourself in the midst of the ominous ‘other realm’, this I have to say does look very different from previous experiences in the Doom3 games – if anything, it looks a lot like Hell did back in the original Dooms, which classic fans will no doubt be impressed by. The final boss is nothing special though, but the big bastard will have you on your toes on a few occasions, but as long as you run and gun you will eventually prevail with very little injury on your first attempt.

All three campaigns for Doom3 furthermore will take you less than ten hours to complete on Veteran, however, don’t do what I did and play them all one after the other in a row, else you might find that you suddenly become Doom3’d out!

Long story short – you simply must buy Doom3 BFG Edition as to partake in the HD Doom3 campaign. The multiplayer aspect in the original Doom games is an additional reason to add this game to your collection, whilst the rest of the Doom experience seems a lot more like random bits and pieces that will mildly entertain you if you have nothing better to do.

All in all, a quick little appetiser to entice you for Doom4, which is supposed to come out on the 31st of December this year, but who knows? What can be said about id is that their games are always long awaited and very fun, with no bugs to speak of. However, never have they been really good at keeping to their schedules, i.e. Doom3 – meant to come out August 2004, then September and then October, and then eventually came out mid 2004. And don’t even get me started on Rage!

In summary:
8/10

-Doom3 graphics are sublime

-Doom3 cinematics are beautifully articulated

-Doom and Doom2 multiplayer is fun

-Doom and Doom2 graphics remain unchanged

-Doom3 Resurrection of Evil graphics seem less than exceptional in comparison to Doom3

-Doom3 ‘the Lost Mission’ seems pointless and trivial, yet flawlessly presented graphically

-Doom3 multiplayer strictly online

-Switching weapons is a lot like putting a red hot iron down your trousers – it’s a risky business

-Many levels, but rather short in all