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Evil returns! Capcom successfully re-invents the survival-horror genre with Resident Evil 4

Earlier this year, Japanese developer Capcom released the eagerly anticipated survivor horror game “Resident Evil 4” for the Nintendo GameCube. The latest instalment in the series once again trusts you in the shoes of U.S agent Leon S. Kennedy who has been dispatched to a European city in order to locate the president’s kidnapped daughter. Upon his arrival to the city, Agent Kennedy (who survived the horrors of Raccoon City in Resident Evil 2) soon realizes that he’s not welcomed and is mobbed by a group of possessed locals.

Prior to Resident Evil 4, the famed Capcom franchise grew tired and gamers started to feel the strain. Instead of progressing, each entry in the series had the same gameplay elements. From sequel to sequel, the sense of déjà vu remained, and the franchise became bland and unoriginal. The sixth entry in the series (Capcom released the series prequel Resident Evil 0 and a spin-off entitled Code-Veronica) almost followed-up with the same dull formula, that is until the development team behind the game decided to scrap the project and restart the undertaking with a new vision in mind.

Sure, the latest sequel is still very much a Resident Evil title at its core. You’ll still have your fair share of puzzles to solve and backtracking to do, but the game is now more action oriented. Instead of trying to avoid a nasty slew of zombies in order to conserve ammo, your character is actually encouraged to bring down his foes in order to survive his latest ordeal. The game also does a great job in distributing ammo as you will not only find your ammunition scattered throughout the levels, but downed enemies will also reward you with additional slugs on occasion.

Resident Evil 4 also features a new angle that replaces the clunky camera angles of past iterations. This time around, you follow your character around from a behind the shoulder third-person perspective. The new viewpoint allows you to see more of your surroundings, and also helps you get through the game’s faster-paced action sequences with ease.

Resident Evil 4 is one of the best-looking video games of this console generation. The visuals have a cinematic feel and are reminiscent of modern day horror movies. The ambiance set forth by the backdrops adds to the surreal impact of the game. The elemental effects are utterly outstanding. The rain and fog effects are spectacular and add to the creepiness of the game. Resident Evil 4 definitely manages to push the GameCube’s processing power to its limits, and remarkably does so without any noticeable frame rate issues.

The game also features a solid soundtrack that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The latest Resident Evil title also features some top-notch voice-acting that is backed up by one of the series’ most entertaining plots.

If you own a GameCube, there’s no reason not to own Resident Evil 4. The game is one of the console’s premier titles and delivers a gaming experience that’s worth checking out. You don’t have to be a fan of the horror genre to enjoy what the game has to offer. Forget about the previous instalments in the series and try out Resident Evil 4, you’ll definitely be satisfied by the results. A watered down version of the game will be available for the PlayStation 2 later this year.

Andre Barriault lives in Dieppe and is currently a contributor for the Game Invasion channel on Chris Pirillo’s Lockergnome technology network. You can check-out Andre’s game-related blog at www.gamingcult.com.

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Metal Slug 3 An Entertaining Blast From The Past

MetalSlug_1

Retro gaming is hot these days. Everybody’s jumping on the re-release band wagon and many recycled concepts are brought back for nostalgia purposes or to introduce them to a new generation of gamers. Some reiterations fail to capture the glory days of gaming, while other titles, such as SNK/Neo Geo’s Metal Slug 3, bring out the best of a dying 2D art form known as the 2D side-scroller.

The Metal Slug franchise was first introduced in 1996 as a Neo Geo arcade title. The series received numerous sequels that appeared initially in the arcades then on the Neo Geo home console. The game was also introduced on the Playstation (Metal Slug X) and Neo Geo Pocket (Metal Slug First & Second Mission) in the late nineties. Until the recent Xbox release, the franchise was heading towards the forgotten realms of yesteryears.

​Metal Slug 3 is your typical 2D side-scrolling action shooter where your goal is to eradicate everything that’s on screen while rescuing a few hostages in the process. The gameplay is quite similar to Konami’s classic Contra in the late eighties. Like Contra, the game is extremely difficult and might require several feverish attempts before finally being able to surpass a particular area in the game. To make things even harder, the developers decided to implement a system where gamers can’t continue where they left off. Instead, you’re forced to restart your mission upon your demise.

​A total of five different missions appear in Metal Slug 3, with two extra mini-games that are unlocked upon completion of the game. Depending on your skill level, the game can be completed within hours. But as noted previously, the game’s difficulty can stretch out the gameplay for quite some time.

​The game also features an old-school two-player co-op where teamwork is the basis for survival. For the current generation of gamers, this form of gameplay can be quite unfamiliar and might pose as an additional challenge. Still, the two player side-scrolling undertaking is quite enjoyable and will have new and hardcore gamers smiling in no time.

​The game’s controls are quite rudimentary. Your character movements are achieved with the use of either the left-thumb stick or the archaic directional pad. The X, A and B buttons are reserved for shooting, jumping and throwing bombs, respectively.

The game’s graphics are somewhat dated and feature a 16-bit throwback sprite-based engine. Still, comparing the game’s visuals with today’s 3D movement is like comparing apples to oranges. Metal Slug 3 features great character animations that are projected on stunning backgrounds that seem hand drawn at times.

​Metal Slug 3 is an Xbox only title, but a PS2 sequel is in the works and is slated for an early 2005 release. Game Boy Advance owners will also be excited to learn that a new Slug title is in the works for their beloved portable. The new game, dubbed Metal Slug Advance will feature new missions that are exclusive to the system. The GBA version is due out in August.

​Metal Slug 3 is a near perfect port of the Neo Geo coin-up that hardcore gamers will appreciate. The game also serves as a perfect franchise introduction to the current generation of game enthusiasts. This is a difficult title that will surely get a lot of play time in your console as you’ll constantly try to outdo yourself in order to get a better score. Another worthy addition to any Xbox collection.

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