Capcom has been very secretive about Resident Evil 7. We've seen short teasers and demos, but nothing substantial from the game itself. We finally got a look at some of Resident Evil 7's mysteries when Capcom's Tim Turi came by Game Informer to give us a lengthy demo of their new horror game.
In this segment of the Game Informer Show, watch as Ben Hanson, Tim Turi, Ben Reeves, and I share our thoughts on what we played from Resident Evil 7. Check out our written preview here.
I’ve been more scared for Resident Evil than by Resident Evil throughout the past few years. The series has progressively moved further away from horror and has suffered an identity crisis along the way. I felt that the future of the franchise looked grim as it carved out the crushing dread and tension and failed to substitute it with something better. Resident Evil 7, from what I played, looks to bring the franchise back to its terror-filled roots.
While set a few years after Resident Evil 6, the story and premise are more personal and not about saving the entire world from some lettered virus. Protagonist Ethan Winters’ simple mission to search for his wife in the fictional town of Dulvey, Louisiana is made more complicated by the previously-teased Baker family. Hostile and not quite human, this dysfunctional group quickly turns Ethan’s search-and-rescue mission into a mission to survive.
The Baker’s isolated, expansive plot of land re-emphasizes the “resident” aspect of the game’s title. The classic Resident Evil formula began to naturally unfurl once the game stuck me in the house and house-like structures. Shoving animal keys into doors with animal-shaped holes while managing resources and dodging threats are a much-needed return to form. RE 7 isn’t a radical reinvention of what the series has done before, but it is executed with confidence and proper pacing, something the past few mainline entries have lacked. This residence is very much built upon the foundation of the original Resident Evil – albeit in first-person.
The perspective shift is more than just a stylistic change since it acts like a modern-day equivalent to tank controls. The clunky movement in the Resident Evil trilogy on the PS1 was essential in creating a sense of uneasiness. The first-person camera feels like a contemporary version of that nostalgic handicap that limits your field of view instead of your ability to move. The first-person viewpoint didn’t afford me the luxury of rotating the camera around corners from a safe space and pulled me closer into the experience. The limited view didn’t feel like blinders that made the scares feel cheap, but was a fresh evolution for the series that’s in-line with other recent horror games like Alien: Isolation and Soma.
Resident Evil’s new perspective doesn’t turn the game into an action-oriented first-person shooter. Ethan is not a confident, capable cop like Leon Kennedy or a jacked, boulder-punching meat bulldozer like Chris Redfield. He’s just a regular dude, which is reflected in his combat prowess – or lack thereof. He physically defends himself like the last person to get picked in dodgeball and his run speed and stamina – especially when injured – are that of a middle-aged, out-of-shape smoker.
Moving while aiming is sluggish and Ethan’s hands tremble a bit as he tries to line up a shot. Methodical gunplay like this doesn’t let you to spray-and-pray; it wants you to worry over every bullet and the pacing and controls reflect that. There’s a real sense of weight – both physical and mental – during combat and that anxiety works in tandem with the game’s commitment to horror.
But I didn’t shoot at zombies. While the Baker family’s unnatural abilities seem like a healthy mix between the Ganados from RE 4 and the Majini from RE 5, the new Molded enemies are more abstract. These black, goopy creatures emerge from the walls and make ample use of the claustrophobic rooms and tight hallways, trapping me when I failed to run away and appearing suddenly around corners. My plan to bottleneck them in a hallway fell apart since these muck creatures folded back into the wall when I ran away. I had to fight them on their terms and it was terrifying. Killing the Molded with my back against the wall and only a few bullets left brought back the tension that I’ve missed in recent years, even though I died a few times bumbling with the heavy shooting controls and movement.
Deliberate movement makes it easy to wish for upgrades that make Ethan faster and a little less shaky, a possibility if the shop is any indication. Antique coins are hidden around the mansion and let you buy upgrade-filled syringes at some safe rooms to increase your health or stamina. Well-hidden coins gave the decision of what to upgrade weight since I could never quite afford everything, despite my thorough teardown of the mansion. Resource scarcity encourages heavy scavenging, but the upgrade coins add a more permanent incentive to search every rotting nook and cranny.
Crafting is also important for character progression, albeit temporary. Chem fluid quickly became the most valuable item in my pack because of its flexibility. Combining strong or weak chem fluid with an herb yields a health kit while mixing it with gunpowder gives additional ammo rounds. Deciding how to allocate craftable items is a fitting, stressful dilemma that gave me more control over how I wanted to play.
In its first few hours, Resident Evil 7 has a focus: creating an unsettling, looming layer of tension. Everything in the demo served that thesis. Whether I was sneaking around the twisted enemies or shooting at them, I felt on-edge; panicked at the mere thought of one wrong move or one missed shot. Constant – but well-paced – surprises meant I could never rest easily while tiptoeing around the mansion searching for keys and supplies. I didn’t get to leave the Baker’s hellish house, but I left the demo with a renewed sense of hope for Resident Evil. If the full game can consistently maintain this level of quality and confidence, it could be the refresh the franchise has desperately needed for years.
For a video version of our impressions of the demo, check out our video segment with Capcom's Tim Turi from the Game Informer Show here.
EA and BioWare released a briefing video today that provides a few details about Mass Effect: Andromeda's intergalactic colony ships and the game's new version of The Citadel, known as the Nexus.
Ark Hyperion are the ships that each carry 20,000 citizens across the 2.5 million light years between the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies over the course of several centuries. Once they've arrived, they'll assemble the Nexus, which the video describes as a streamlined version of the Milky Way's Citadel station. The Nexus will function as a center of government and diplomacy, a living area, as well as a base of operations for the Pathfinders, who act as pioneers for new homeworlds.
When we last saw Lt. Karl Fairburne, he was causing problems for German tank production plans in North Africa. As Sniper Elite 4 begins, Fairburne and his collection of rifles find themselves in nearby Sicily, where the local militia is fighting Nazi occupation. This means it is Fairburne’s job to thin out the local Nazi population, primarily by means of Sniper Elite’s signature long-range shooting and cartoonishly gory slow-motion kills.
I explored the game’s second level, Bittani Village, for about an hour to get a sense of what has changed for Sniper Elite during its transition to current-gen exclusivity. Prior to beginning the level proper, the first big change from Sniper Elite 3 is front and center. Fairburne now has a hubworld to return to between missions where he can talk with resistance NPCs and fellow OSS officers who provide tips and intelligence about the area ahead. One character suggested looking around the church cemetery, while another warned of a dangerous German sniper. These tips and optional objectives are penciled onto your map when you set out on the main mission.
Once I arrived in the true mission area, the action became familiar. I could see Nazi patrols at the edge of the village as soon as I stepped off the dinghy on Bittani’s nearby beach, and I had the choice of whether to start shooting right away, eliminate them quietly, or sneak around. Fairburne carries the standard loadout of rifle, submachine gun, pistol and knife, as well as a selection of grenades or mines.
While it is possible to charge ahead guns blazing, it’s usually not a great idea. Enemies can hear gunfire from a long way off and will investigate in force when it sounds like bullets are flying. Fairburne can use this to his advantage, though, by leaving mines and tripwires in likely paths before causing a ruckus.
The third Sniper Elite featured more open levels than its predecessor, and Sniper Elite 4’s Bittani is a further improvement. Bittani is much larger than any locations in earlier games, and there are far more possible paths through it. I started the level on a small beach and in the distance I could see a large church, and several large plazas. There’s a ton of verticality to the level as well, as Bittani rises from the shoreline up along a hillside.
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After creeping through Bittani and helping the anti-fascist Partisans fight off a German attack on the church, I headed east and out of town. I was worried about moving around much with that enemy sniper on the loose. The eastern road led out through a large archway, passed a vineyard and over a bridge across a steep sea inlet. Pulling out my binoculars, I spotted the likely sniper nest: an old three-story stone watchtower that overlooked the beach below. Two German soldiers were standing near its base, chatting and oblivious to my approach. Crouching behind a handy bush, I dropped the first with a bullet through the neck, and the second barely had enough time to squeeze off a couple rounds in my direction before he was down as well.
The approach to the tower was unguarded now, so I slunk forward, keeping to shadows. A final panicked dash from the woods to the tower’s base and I was out of the danger zone. Inside, the rickety stairs had rotted, forcing me to climb the outside walls to reach the top. Once I managed to pull myself up, I saw that my rival sniper hadn’t seen me coming at all. He was scanning the shoreline far below. Careful not to make a sound, I inched up behind him and planted a knife in his neck. Danger eliminated.
The sniping is still the main draw and Sniper Elite’s over-the-top X-ray death camera is back in force. The game rewards good shooting with a slow motion trip alongside your bullet as it travels from rifle muzzle to the opposite side of an enemy cranium, smashing jawbones and eyeballs on the way. Close-up stealth takedowns now can trigger this gruesome X-ray vision too, but as with the game’s aim-assists, players can adjust or disable this feature if it proves to be a bit too much.
Sniper Elite 4 doesn’t seem to be making massive changes to the series’ established formula, but the adjustments it does make – bigger environments, a more open world – all look like improvements. The game will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC February 14.
Life is Feudal is an upcoming MMO centered around living and surviving in the Medieval era, and it is entering closed beta soon.
The game features (or will feature, rather) terraforming, crafting, preset and modular building construction options, survival aspects, no-target physics-based combat, and a unique formation system. 1,000 players are going to be welcomed into the closed beta which begins on December 14. You can find more about the game on its website here.
For a 2015 trailer for the game, check out the trailer below.
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For a more recent video look at the game, check out the video below.
George Orwell, the author of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, is the sort of writer whose work is unlikely to ever feel irrelevant or unimportant. Although his writing is only explicitly mentioned a few times in Orwell, the game questions modern surveillance techniques and the security of online communication in a way you'd imagine the author would were he still alive.
You play as an “investigator” with access to Orwell, the ironically named surveillance system used to accumulate data on suspicious individuals. Your first day on the job opens with a bomb detonating in a public park, and the next five days, spread between five chapters, are dedicated to working out who was behind this attack and preventing further incidents. This is all done by collecting information about suspects from their digital presence, both public (blogs, comments, social media) and private (bank account, phone calls, email, their home desktops).
The Orwell program has an “Ethical Codex” that requires each piece of intelligence found to go through a two-step process. Data you find can be sent on to an “adviser” who does not have access to the same systems you do, cannot have a conversation with you, and must judge evidence impartially. This system means that you need to really pay attention to what data you’re sending through and what you’re choosing to ignore.
As you peruse the evidence available to you, certain pieces of text will be highlighted in either blue or yellow, corresponding to suspects in the case. The blue-highlighted text can immediately be uploaded to Orwell, but it can be misconstrued. Send through an innocent joke between friends about one torturing the other, and without the proper context, the adviser is likely to think the person is unhinged. Yellow-highlighted text denotes a contradiction with another piece of text, and it’s up to you to study these contradictions and figure out which piece of information to send through. Not being able to go back on your poor choices feels like a gameplay constraint rather than something that makes sense in the narrative, but being forced to commit to your questionable choices ramps up the game’s tension as you search for details.
Orwell simulates the busywork of an office job to tell a larger story about surveillance. You soon find yourself investigating “Thought,” a mysterious collective made up mostly of young activists with awkward Internet histories. As a game focused on searching through in-game websites for dirt and details, Orwell lives or dies on the strength of its plot and characterization. Thankfully, the writing is consistently lively and intriguing. The depiction of a surveillance state feels extremely relevant; it’s made clear that the obvious advantages of being able to easily track terror suspects online come with a disquieting loss of privacy for innocent civilians. In an age where so much personal information is willingly released by so many, Orwell brilliantly explores the implications of this data being misinterpreted.
The characters feel real and familiar, without ever drifting into cliche. Investigating their lives and relationships means getting to know them and figuring out which characters are actually committed to the ideals they claim to hold. You never meet any of these people, but the characterization runs deep. Suspects like Harrison, an angry idealist with an attitude problem, an inflated sense of self-worth, and a clear willingness to sell-out on his ideals, feel genuine. The game’s writers have a strong grasp of how people communicate online and how rhetoric shifts between personal and public conversations. It’s also interesting how personal bias can seep into the gameplay--I often found that whether I wanted to hide or release certain information depended on how much I liked the person I was investigating.
The changes brought about by your decisions and discoveries are significant, and while they won’t upend the entire plot, there were noticeable differences in my second playthrough. Subsequent runs are unlikely to be as satisfying as the first, though, if only because solving the central “mysteries” of Orwell signposts which decisions are likely to be “good” or “bad” on a second attempt. I found myself needing to purposely reach conclusions that I knew were incorrect, role-playing as a bad investigator just to see what would happen. But even knowing the “right” answers isn’t always enough--I tried hard to change an outcome at the end of Chapter 3 on my second playthrough, but the thing I’d been trying to avoid still happened, albeit for completely different reasons than I’d experienced on my first playthrough. Orwell’s twists and turns are surprising and exciting, even when you have some idea of what’s coming. There are a few minor issues with Orwell’s current build--the game hard crashed on me a few times, or refused to load images--but each issue I had was fixed with a reload, and because the game saves constantly, I never lost progress.
Orwell is a hard experience to pull back from, even as the dirtiness of your job sinks in. It uses simple mechanics to tell a complex and engaging story, one that feels particularly relevant right now. This is a game where your choices matter and resonate, and which will leave you with plenty to think about once it’s over.
The sequel to 2012's Retro City Rampage is Shakedown: Hawaii, and there's a shiny new teaser trailer for it just in time for PSX.
Retro City Rampage was a labor of love for indie developer Brian Provinciano, and the same appears true for his latest project.Shakedown: Hawaii looks like it features similar homage-heavy gameplay to the first game, with an updated look and some Metal Gear and Magnum, P.I. references thrown in for good measure. In fact, even this piece of promotional art may look familiar to longtime Game Informer fans...
If you dig the old-school art style, wait until you see it in action in the trailer below.
Developer Lion Shield is made up of Pete Angstadt and Michael Peddicord, who have worked on games like Abzu, Journey, and Spore. The two have banded together to create Kingdoms and Castles, a game that borrows heavily from the Maxis school of city-builder games.
Although the game focuses on having you build up your town house by house, several elements can get in your way. Weather changes with the seasons (Winter can be a rough season), vikings and dragons can attack, and your population can starve. You can watch a trailer for the game showing Pre-Alpha footage below.
Defiant Development has revealed that Hand Of Fate 2, the sequel to the indie collectible card game/RPG hybrid from 2015, is now coming to PlayStation 4. The game was previously announced for both PC and Xbox One.
Defiant Development also revealed that a new companion character named Estrella Fiore (pictured above):
Captain Estrella Fiore will be a terror at range, and while her interests align with the player's, a fearsome companion. However, should the player find themselves on the wrong side of the Empire, Estrella will have some hard choices to make. On the tabletop, her unwavering persistence will also grant a second attempt during the new Pendulum minigame, designed to test precision and timing.
Our heroine will lean on Estrella and other companions for support as she clashes with all-new enemy factions, including the new Greed and Frost suits. The Greed faction employs deadly assassins and alchemists to hound the player with swift attacks and evasive maneuvers, while Frost’s Northerner Giants leverage brute force and deadly homemade weapons to deal massive amounts of damage.
According to Defiant, we'll find out more about Estrella during PlayStation Experience.
If you want to see a trailer showing off some of the game, you can watch it right here:
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The original Hand of Fate received a score of 8.75. You can read Daniel Tack's review of the game here.