The Evil Within Review

The Evil Within is a third-person survival horror game released by Bethesda Softworks for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. Developed by Tango Gameworks, who were bought by Bethesda Softworks in 2010, it is the latest title directed by famed video-game designer Shinji Mikami, known worldwide as the father of the survival horror genre and creator of the Resident Evil series.

In the game you take control of Sebastian Castellanos, a decorated detective in the Krimson City Police Department, as he descends into madness after investigating the scene of a horrific mass murder at Beacon Mental Hospital, with fellow colleagues Juli Kidman and Joseph Oda by his side.

When this game was announced back in 2013 my hopes were high, I literally couldn’t wait to see what Shinji Mikami, director of some of my favourite survival horror games of all time could bring to the table for next-gen consoles. After watching the teaser trailer my excitement grew even more. I felt that this could potentially be the defining survival horror of the next generation and really set the bar for what was to come, unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

When I finally got my hands on The Evil Within, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I thought there had been some kind of mistake at the start of this game, as I was just flung into the action mid-way through. Sebastian and his colleagues were on their way to the scene of a massacre at the Beacon Mental Hospital, with no introduction to the characters or explanation of what was going on. This confusing start would become a running theme throughout the game, as I struggled to get my head around the convoluted story.

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From the offset The Evil Within felt like a Shinji Mikami game, I had to shake my head occasionally and remind myself that I wasn’t playing Resident evil 4, because at times you can barely tell the two games apart. That’s not a bad thing, I loved the Resident Evil series. From the low budget horror film feel, to the stiff acting, cliches and awkward controls, Resident Evil is a cult classic , yet that same formula just didn’t seem to work here.

Don’t get me wrong in parts, the game was genuinely unnerving and had some beautiful set pieces that I’ll remember as some of the best in the survival horror genre, but unfortunately a few poor design choices let it down. The world created in The Evil Within was brutally stark and vivid, but I felt the game went for shock value at times and there was just too much blood. My favourite area of the game was the asylum, Sebastian’s safe haven from the horrors that besieged him and the area where he can take stock and level up his weapons & abilities. The music was gentle and soothing in the asylum and was a nice change of pace after hours of blood and horror. Later in the game the madness even intrudes on this sanctuary of calmness leaving you no place to hide, taking away your only respite.

The Evil within blood

So let us touch on the story now, well what I understand of it at least. This was the part of the game that I felt really let it down. In short it was odd, confusing and at times completely unintelligible. Metal Gear Solid 2 made more sense than this and that is no exaggeration, I spent the majority of the game wondering what the hell was going on.

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The graphics are not exactly great in comparison to current next-gen games, but I don’t feel that lack of polish affects a survival horror game, like The Evil Within, as much as it would say a first person shooter. To put it nicely they’re a little bit grainy and the game also suffers from some texture pop-in issues in places. The voice acting was not exactly good either, being badly lip synced at times and don’t get me started on the camera angles. The camera angles in the this game were terrible and honestly some of the worst I’ve ever seen, especially in a game where it is important to be able to see your environment in detail. On the plus side though, it did add to the horror element, as I scrambled to get the camera in the right position so I could pick up some ammo before Box Head Man gave me a short back and sides.

Box head man

The characters, including the main protagonist Sebastian, were dry, awkward and boring for the most part. It seemed like they basically pressed the generic cop button here and threw up these three. I feel that if you want to make cliche characters work in a game like this, you have to give them a back story, flesh them out a bit. The Evil Within did not do this. This is one area of the game that didn’t live up to its spiritual predecessor, Resident Evil.

I found the controls awkward and clumsy far too often, but surprisingly I felt this added to the game-play and was in-keeping with the survival horror genre, where games are usually stiff and unresponsive. The weapons on the other hand felt satisfying and powerful. The usual suspects were all there, my favourites being the good old classic shotgun and the Agony Crossbow, which although underwhelming, overall added some interesting elements to my game-play style.

The Evil Within weapons

I enjoyed the difficulty level and felt that it was in-keeping with the genre, which many people feel has been lacking in recent survival horror games. The ammo is sparse, the enemies are tough and the bosses are seriously challenging. There was no glowing objective arrow or health regeneration and this is where the game came into its own, it really felt like a survival horror in every sense of the word. For the real hardcore survivalists out there, the game also sports Hard and Akumu modes after completing a normal play-through first, which I thought was a nice touch.

The Evil Within Nope

Although flawed, a part of me enjoyed this game, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. The Evil Within is a mix match of borrowed mechanics, game-play and imagery of the survival horror greats, but its character design just doesn’t quite live up to the titles it aspires to. The story is also completely insane and not in a good way, which brought the game down overall. There were large portions of this game I enjoyed, I just felt it was let down by a few glaring faults. On a positive note though, there is a lot of potential for a sequel here, so long as the developers address the issues that tainted an otherwise solid survival horror game.

So if you’re looking for some classic survival horror action and don’t mind a few faults, The Evil Within may just give you the thrills you’re looking for.

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Why so much hate for Hatred?

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Hatred is an isometric shooter currently in development by a Polish development team, called Destructive Creations. The game, in which you take the role of the antagonist, is about the character’s hatred for humanity and his genocidal quest to kill as many people as possible.

Just by hearing the description of the game, you can kind of get a feel for why it has received such a strong reaction.

Over the last five days since the trailer’s release, Hatred has been at the centre of a storm of controversy, concerning the amount of violence in the game and the fact that, so far as it is known, the only objective of the game is to kill as many innocent civilians as possible.

The trailer has seen a largely mixed reaction, from the gaming community and the general public. You need only to look at the likes and dislikes or the comments section of the trailer on YouTube to get an idea of the split opinions and sort of discussions this game has raised.

Take a quick look at the trailer if you have not already seen it, be warned though, it does contain violent themes;

So as you can see, this game is raising a lot of questions, the main one being, is this too far?

I personally think not, but then again I might just be some emotionless, warped maniac, desensitised to violence, due to years of video-game exposure.

The way I see it is, video-games let you experience narratives and worlds that you otherwise would not be able to, similar to all the other forms of entertainment. They are virtual, not real. When I die on a video-game I do not drop to the floor in real life, this is because I understand the difference between reality and non-reality.

You need only look at films, books and TV shows to see that, massacres, shootings and murders are an interesting and dare I say, entertaining subject. So why is this theme so shocking in video-games?

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Is it okay that this game lets you live out these blood fueled fantasies and experience horror from the perspective of the killer? Well I feel that yes, it is. I agree this game is pushing boundaries as to what is acceptable. It also raises an interesting debate, as to where the line is, but on the face of things, I think the fact that it is a video-game and not say a book, or TV show is what has caused the uproar.

The trailer was obviously meant to provoke a strong reaction and that is what the developers got. Personally, in my opinion, I see this as just a video-game and in no way anymore sinister than other forms of entertainment.

I believe video-games, much like the other entertainment industries, can sometimes hold up an uncomfortable mirror to society and they do not like what they see. The mistake some people are making, is to assume that the game is portraying and encouraging this behaviour as good and the main character as some kind of hero, when they clearly state on their website that the,

“player takes the role of a cold blood antagonist, who is full of hatred for humanity. It’s a horror, but here YOU are the villain”

The intention here is to reverse roles, to play the game from the perspective of the antagonist, instead of the hero.

It also appears that the game is in some ways making a statement, a stand if you will against the social justice warriors trying to censor video-games as an entertainment medium and hold them responsible for societal problems.

Some gamer’s reaction to this game has not helped to dampen the flames of the politically correct, social justice movement that is currently attacking the video-game community, with comments such as,

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This is where I think you have to differentiate between a troll and the video-game community. So much as one game does not represent the industry and its fans as a whole, a few hateful comments posted online by trolls does not represent how the video-game community think or feel.

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Here is what Destructive Creations have to say in their own words. Although intentionally provocative, I feel this is fitting for the current climate video-games are in,

“The question you may ask is: why do they do this? These days, when a lot of games are heading to be polite, colorful, politically correct and trying to be some kind of higher art, rather than just an entertainment – we wanted to create something against trends. Something different, something that could give the player a pure, gaming pleasure”

Whatever people think about Hatred, I feel like it has opened up a discussion about violence in video-games and what is acceptable for the medium and overall I see this as a good thing.

Do you have an opinion about Hatred? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Rainbow Edition just went legit

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Capcom has recently released a video at TGS 2014, showcasing a new free DLC coming to Ultra Street Fighter 4, called Omega Mode.

From what they’ve shown so far of the gameplay, Omega Mode seems comparable to Super Street Fighter 2’s Rainbow Edition, which was an illegal mod of the game, created by pirates, that circulated arcades throughout the early 90’s.

Looks like rainbow edition just went legit people and it’s every bit as crazy as it was. Enjoy the video guys.

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