Some words from my brain to yours about whatever game has been occupying my time over the last 7 days. Once a week, EVERY week for the duration of 2015. God help us.
I never would have guessed that my favourite thing about a new Resident Evil game would be smashing a gigantic floating coin into dust by roundhouse kicking it out of the air.
But that’s certainly the case. Kicking that coin (it’s actually a BSAA emblem, fact fans) is the way that you end the round in Raid mode, the supplementary chunk of gameplay that’s included with Capcom’s latest (and episodic) entry into the ever-tangling knot that is Resident Evil canon. Taking its cues from Resident Evil 4 and 5’s Mercenaries mode, Raid, which first featured in the original Revelations (stop talking at the back) is essentially a score attack game where you have to kill as many zombies, hooded executioners and 8ft tall, metal-masked barbarians as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to level up and boost your characters skills and perks. Post-Resi 4 the series might not have been to everyone’s taste, but you can’t deny how tight that combat system is. Fluid yet precise, balletic yet chunky and with the sort of resounding gun feedback that would make a firearms protester excited. Raid presents you with an opportunity to just have fun (still nail bitingly tense fun, its worth saying) with Resi’s gunplay and schlocky violence. And my god. It is glorious.
It’s also delightfully weird, too. Once you’ve started a round, stuff happens on-screen that you normally wouldn’t see within a core Resident Evil game; like how the zombies now have visible health bars. Or how some enemies have a gigantic, pulsing energy shield around them which links to other enemies via a spindly electric line, buffing their defence. Or how some enemies have elemental buffs, like the enormous hammer-wielding, end-of-level dude I fought who was charged with fire, glowing like an ember as he crashed around, causing me damage every time I got too close. And, of course, that ultimate addition to a satisfying feedback loop – having numbers pop out of enemies as you shoot them. It’s turns what feels like a standard chunk of Resi combat into a brilliantly absurd arcade game that doesn’t really give a shit about making much sense.
This sense of fun carries over to the way you unlock weapons too, which are earned by opening the huge treasure chests you’ll find within a round. From these chests you’ll earn a vinyl LP with a picture of a gun on it. To then be able to unlock the gun and actually use it, you’ll need to have it ‘evaluated’ at a jukebox. Naturally. Once evaluated, it’s then added to your arsenal where you can decide to keep it or cash it in. It’s such a long-winded and nonsensical way of earning a new weapon that I can’t help but love it. Cap this off with the ludicrous character gestures (there’s something deeply unsettling about seeing Claire Redfield do the ‘Hip-Hop dance’) and you’ve got a game that is solidly built, dripping in unlocks, drenched in blood and, crucially, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Not bad for what is essentially a free mini-game.
Oh yeah, RE:REV2’s campaign. Um… it’s alright.