Category Archives: PlayStation

“Resident Evil” (1996)

Resident Evil 1 Classic Cover Art

1998. It’s been several weeks since human remains began to be discovered near Marble River in the Cider District of Raccoon City. S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team was dispatched to search the Arklay Mountains, but contact was lost, so now the S.T.A.R.S Alpha Team will investigate.

Chris Redfield, a rugged ex-pilot. Jill Valentine, an attractive explosives experts. Barry Burton, a brawny weapons expert. Joseph Frost, a small-fry in a bandana. Brad Vickers, a cocky chopper pilot. And Captain Albert Wesker, the enigmatic leader of Alpha Team with slicked back hair and dark shades.

Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine were playable characters. The developers, Capcom, must have assumed that gamers would select Chris Redfield, but Jill Valentine was far more popular, likely because she could store more weapons in her inventory. Chris Redfield was featured on the cover art of the director’s cut, narrated the prologue, and even if you played the Jill Valentine scenario, he was scuffed up far worse in the final cut scene. A miscalculation on the part of the developers.

Frost gets killed by wild dogs in the opening cut scene and Vickers abandons his team in a cowardly fashion. The survivors seek haven at Spencer Mansion. If you play the Jill Valentine scenario, she and Barry search for Chris, who has gone missing. Wesker also disappears, but not until after the first zombie was encountered. Because of the pack of ravenous dogs, fleeing this mansion is impossible. Jill and Barry split up and search the mansion for their missing comrades. Barry vanishes first in the Chris Redfield scenario.

A cinematic game with a creepy score and an eerie environment. An atmosphere which was worthy of any classic horror movie. I saw George Romero, the father of modern zombies, at New York Comic Con 2013 and even he credited the “Resident Evil” video game franchise and its many imitators as the reason for the resurgence in the popularity of zombies since the 1990s.

There were a few out of place Indiana Jones style booby-traps throughout the mansion and the secret underground facility. And some of the cut scene dialogue is pretty hokey, especially Barry’s. Besides the regular zombies, you encounters zombie crows, a zombie shark, a giant snake, and a giant spider. That seemed to be overkill. I think normal sized snakes and spiders would have been sufficiently scary for the gamers. Imagine being engulfed by zombie spiders? Terrifying. I also thought that it was odd to open up secret compartments by playing the piano.

You discover that the Umbrella Corporation had used this mansion as a front for illegal experimentations. Umbrella’s Research and Development Department had successfully maturated the T-Virus, a mutagenic biological agent. The sole purpose of this agent was to engineer an undead super-soldier with the codename “Tyrant” to be auctioned to one of Umbrella’s wealthy defense contracts. Or at least, that is my assumption. Umbrella’s insidious plots become a little convoluted as time goes on. A T-Virus outbreak occurred in the mansion. All personnel, animal test subjects, and guard dogs were infected.

In the Chris Redfield scenario, you are introduced to Rebecca Chambers, a young field medic of Bravo Team. In both scenarios, it gets revealed that Wesker is the traitor. An “insurance policy” of sorts for the Umbrella Corporation. I’d gone trick-or-treating that year as Wesker with a friend who was guised as Barry. We had yet to beat the game and were unaware of Wesker’s treachery. Wesker was supposedly killed by the game’s final boss, the aforementioned Tyrant. A rocket launcher is required to vanquish the hulking creature. Vickers finally has the balls to return and evacuate the survivors.

Chris and Jill are shown in the back of the chopper no matter what. In the Jill scenario, Barry is with them. In the Chris scenario, it is Rebecca. Chris Redfield’s sister, Claire, was the protagonist in “Resident Evil 2.” Jill Valentine returned for “Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.” Both Chris and Claire Redfield appeared in “Resident Evil: Code Veronica,” which was developed for the Sega Dreamcast and not the Sony PlayStation. Rebecca Chambers was a protagonist in the prequel, “Resident Evil: Zero,” which was developed for the Nintendo GameCube. The original game also was remade for the GameCube in 2002. A new character, Lisa Trevor, was added to the canon.

A live action “Resident Evil” movie was released in 2002, starring Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. I was disappointed with the film. A laser beam killed more people than the zombies. No characters from the games were featured sans for a little girl hologram which was the equivalent to Lisa Trevor. In the increasingly worse live action sequels, characters from the games did start to appear in supporting roles.

*Resident Evil aficionado and gamer Jonathan Parente consulted on this article written by Dominick Cappello, author of this blog. A “Resident Evil 2” article will likely soon follow, but some time will probably pass before more sequels are chronicled.

Crash Bandicoot: Best to Worst

Crash Bandicoot

Crash searches for 25 power crystals to help a former nemesis, Dr, Neo Cortex, save the Earth from imminent destruction. A rare sequel that surpasses the original with lots of fun game play that never becomes frustratingly difficult. Nor is it too simplistic. Clancy Brown (“Highlander”) voices the antagonist, adding to the credibility of the cut scenes. If I had to nitpick, I’d like to be able to play the bosses again when continuing a saved game, but you’d have to start a new game to access the bosses, which was not the case in the other early Crash Bandicoot games.

A genetically enhanced marsupial treks across three islands to save his girlfriend from a mad scientist. Since I preferred Playstation to Nintendo or Sega as an adolescent, Crash Bandicoot was my home console mascot. The first installment was lacking in cinematic cut scenes and those last few levels before the final boss were ridiculously hard. It took me longer to beat this game than the next three in the series combined. Whenever you continued a saved game, your amount of lives always returned to 4, even if you were up to 80 when saving the game to your memory card.

A sinister alien, Nitrous Oxide, challenges Crash and others to a series of races with the fate of the planet on the line. I suppose you must qualify this game as a knockoff of the Mario Kart series. The first Crash multi-player with eight playable characters to choose from, but I always selected Crash out of a sense of loyalty to the marsupial. The final Crash game by Naughty Dog, the original developers of the series.

Crash travels through time to retrieve the power crystals from historic locales before Dr. Cortex can. Coco Bandicoot, Crash’s sister, becomes a playable character in this game, which was a bit too reminiscent of the second installment. The time travel gimmick did not enhance the fun factor much, but it was the first Crash game with power-ups. What I enjoyed most were the levels featuring motorcycle races and that game would help you keep track of how many crates you’ve destroyed.

Crash and Dr. Cortex reluctantly unite to protect their home, the Wumpa Islands, from inter-dimensional invaders. The most vast game in the series up until that point, but the world can be difficult to navigate, making this installment less appealing to revisit than its predecessors. Nina Cortex, the niece of Dr. Cortex, was introduced in this game.

An evil emperor abducts racers, including Crash, and forces them to compete for their lives on his planet. It was hard to pick a favorite between this and CTR. Again, I would usually play as Crash despite having five other playable characters to choose from. For time trials though, I would sometimes give his teammates, Coco and Crunch, a try.

Friends of Crash are possessed by mind control devices, manufactured by Dr. Cortex and Dr. N. Brio. Basically, it’s a rehash of the previous game, “Crash of the Titans.” The developers improved on the “jacking” monsters concept and had real fun with the cut scenes, which each had a different visual style, ranging from South Park like animation to old black and white horror movies.

Dr. Cortex unleashes ancient mystical masks known as the “Elementals” to aid in the downfall of Crash. The first Crash game for the Playstation 2 was widely criticized for its long load times and similarities to the first three installments. I cannot defend those unbearably long load times, but the intent of the developers, Traveller’s Tales, was to recreate the style of the early games. The tagline used in the advertisements was “back to basics.” And the hamster ball levels were undeniably a lot of fun.

Crash fights an army of mutants, raised by Dr. Cortex to construct an enormous robot for world domination. Crash and company received makeovers and all the game play was overhauled. Polarizing. Many die hard fans of the series despised the new direction that the developers, Radical Entertainment, took. Personally, I find some fun in “jacking” monsters and will accept that times must change.

Crash searches an eccentric baron’s hazardous theme park for a valuable gem, which is also sought by Dr. Cortex. The races were incredibly easy and thusly not too exciting. I don’t think that mini-games where you chase some chickens and go bowling should be the highlights of a racing game. The villain turns out to be a giant mutated vegetable.

Opposing spirit brothers choose warriors, including Crash and Dr. Cortex, to represent them in battle. A knockoff of the Mario Party series. I’m just not a fan of party games. There was only one mini-game which I enjoyed, a polar bear battle royal. This was the final Crash game for the original Playstation and the only one developed by Eurocom.

*I never played “Crash Boom Bang!,” a 2006 party game for the Nintendo DS.

*Planned Crash Bandicoot games for the Playstation 3 were cancelled.