Tomb Raider review, RE5 pt2, and LE Review

Well, Sunday’s earlier than last week’s, haha.

New Games

Holy Crap! The list is empty! Well, kinda. I did buy some games, they just haven’t arrived yet. Lunar & Lunar 2 for the original Playstation are en route, as is Deus Ex: The Conspiraracy for the PS2. I’m also planning on purchasing Deus Ex: The Invisible War for the original XBox this week at Gamestop (its $3). Deus Ex, like the original Half-Life is one of those games I knew about but I never played, mostly because its on the PC. The sequel, Invisible War, recieved positive reviews, but came burdened with complaints about it being shortened and dumbed down for the console audience. Whether true or not, complaints of games being dumbed down for consoles annoys me to no end and reeks of PC elitism.

I’m also looking at picking up a copy of the original Timesplitters for the PS2 (also $3) to complete the series. I have Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time pre-ordered on Amazon and I’m considering buying the soundtrack on Play-Asia since they have it at $5 off at the moment. After that, I’m also looking at getting Samurai Shodown Anthology for the Wii. I really love SNK’s willingness to compile their series like Metal Slug, King of Fighters, and now Samurai Shodown.

Its nice that they’re releasing many of their games individually on the Virtual Console and compiled at retail. I’d personally love a retail Castlevania compilation with CV 1-Dracula X (both Rondo of Blood and the SNES version). Of course, I’d also love CV64/Legacy of Darkness included on there, but I’d probably be the only one. A Final Fantasy Compilation would be just as awsome, collecting FF 1-6 on one DVD and VII-IX on another. I’d also like a compilation of the original Tomb Raider games from 1-Chronicles. I guess I’m just a sucker for compilations.

Speaking of Tomb Raider, however

Tomb Raider: Anniversary (Wii) Review

Click on the title above the video to link to my full review of the game. I’ll just drop a quick summary here.

While people still bash the Wii for its lack of real games, they also seem to overlook a lot of the ones the system does have (all those people that say they only have like 3 games only do so because they don’t look for good games and just buy what’s advertised or hyped). Tomb Raider Anniversary is one of those games that, I think, can stand toe to toe with the traditional versions of the same game. The developers clearly took their time to make the Wii version its own thing, that much is clear. On the user end, It seems hit and miss.

Looking at Eurogamer’s review (the lowest review of this game on Metacritic), it seemed that the reviewer just couldn not physically control the game. Having the locked-on camera move independantly of both Lara and her targeting reticule just seemed too much for this particular reviewer and he apparently died 10 minutes into the first level. I personally never had that probablem and actually enjoyed the whole game quite a bit.

Unlike many other games released for both the Wii and the HD-consoles, Wii owners won’t feel like they’re missing out on something by picking up this version of the game. It controls well (if you’re at least mildly coordinated) and it adds several small features specific to the Wii version. Not enough to make it an entirely different game, but enough to let you know that the developers put some effort into the porting of the game.

Resident Evil 5-part 2-Mercenaries

Before moving on, I’d like to take a moment to cover a little more on Resident Evil 5, this time, the Mercenaries mini-game.

The Mercenaries returns nearly identical to the game in Resident Evil 4. You’re basically dropped into a location from the game, slightly modified, and are tasked with killing as many enemies as you can within the time limit. Bonus time extensions are strewn throughout the level, giving you more time to rack up points.

While most of the game is just as enjoyable as it was back in RE4; the levels are interesting and the action never lets up, but some of the imperfections in RE5 come back to make the game a bit more frustrating this time around. The real-time menu was one of my biggest complaints in the main game and it rears its ugly face to hurt the Mercenaries here.

In Resident Evil 4, your attache case allowed you to swap weapons, mix and use herbs, and arrange item pick-ups over the pause menu. In RE5, just as in the main game, everything has to be done in real time. Meaning that if you need to change a weapon it either needs to be set to a shortcut button, or you have to open your menu, select it, equip it, then wait for your character to draw the weapon. While this was annoying in the main game, in the Mercenaries it is doubly so. While your menu is open, you cannot move your character, so you’re basically helpless until you get your weapon selected and get put back in the game. While in RE4 you could quickly switch your weapon to suit the situation, here everything uses up time so you find yourself sticking with one weapon longer just so you don’t waste time or risk leaving your character helpless.

Things are just as frustrating on the healing items side. If your inventory is full, and at only nine slots it usually is, you cannot pick up another item, like an herb, to mix it with an herb in your inventory even if it would leave you with the same number of filled slots. What ends up happening is that you either skip over the item, which means you can be dying very soon, or waste time looking at your menu, deciding what item you can afford to drop and lose forever, selecting the item, then selecting to discard it. All the while you’re standing around helpless, and you still have to pick up the herb, combine them and use them. Just like the weapon switching and reloads, you cannot move while your character physically uses a healing item, meaning you’re vulnerable then as well.

There are undoubtedly people who will defend it by saying that it makes the action more intense and they may have a point. It does force you to think fast but I cannot say that it makes the game more enjoyable, only more frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, there is still fun to be had in the mini-game, and I’m sure a lot of these frustrations can be reduced with more practice and experience with this version of the mercenaries but frustration is frustration.

Oh well, now we can move onto something quite a bit more enjoyable,

Biohazard 5th Anniversary Special Pack- Nightmare Returns

BH5th

 

An import package from a few years back that includes:

  • Biohazard
  • Biohazard 2 (Dual Shock version)
  • Biohazard 3: Last Escape
  • Biohazard – CODE: Veronica ~Complete Version~
  • Wesker’s Report
  • Pewter Pen
  • Pewter Ring
  • Keychain
  • Dog Tag
  • Gatefold Disc Case
  • Aluminum Briefcase

Biohazard 1-3: Copies of the first three games in the series with new labels that identify them as 5th Anniversy Reprints.

Biohazard – CODE: Veronica ~Complete Version~: Also known as CODE: Veronica X. Unlike the PSX (I’m old school like that) games, this is just a retail copy of the game included in the package. Just like in the US, the game also include the Devil May Cry demo disc.

Wesker’s Report: Unlike the US version, which came in a cardboard sleeve, this copy of Wesker’s report comes in a traditional DVD case. Like the US version, this disc contains the 20 minute Wesker’s Report video plus a trailer for the CODE: Veronica re-release. Not included in the US version, is a roundtable discussion with various members of the production team from the different games. What they talk about, I don’t know since I don’t speak Japanese.

Pewter Pen: A relatively heavy pewter pen. The pen is intricately detailed and includes the RE2 Eye encircled by the words Biohazard 5th Anniversary below a crow with the year 2001 below the whole thing, a recurring symbol throughout the set.

Pewter Ring: A pewter ring that once again re-uses the Eye/Crow symbol. I’m not sure what ring size it is. The ring comes in a small velvet sack.

Keychain: A pewter/leather keychain with the Eye/Crow symbol on the front and the words Biohazard 5th Anniversary etched on the back of the leather.

Dog Tag: A dog tag with the words Biohazard 5th Anniversary 2001-March Capcom Co Ltd engraved into it as well as the unique edition number of your unit (mine is 06352).

Gatefold disc Case: All the PSX games in the pack come in a gatefold disc case that holds six discs. The PSX games all combined are four discs. The last two empty spots I assume are meant to hold CODE: Veronica and Wesker’s Report.

Aluminum Briefcase: An aluminum briefcase that, while obviously made specifically to hold the items of this edition, isn’t made exclusively to hold this edition. There are spaces to hold a few more pens, and space to hold documents and other items. There is a pocket specifically for the PSX games’ instruction manuals and an extra large pen slot to hold the pewter pen. The pockets, zippered section, and the top of the briefcase itself all repeat the Eye/Crow symbol and there is a tag on the inside that repeats the edition number. The case has two locks on the outside and two keys are included as well as an optional shoulder strap.

Wow. (the same way I started this section in my last LE Review) The Japanese really do get all the cool stuff. This pack was released, as you might’ve guessed, for Resident Evil’s fifth anniversary in Japan, and I have to say they honored it well here. The suitcase itself, while not specifically from any game itself, looks like it could be a prop from any of the games. Its sleek and its aluminum body makes it look like something an Umbrella Exec would be carrying with him but its the contents that really make this thing for me.

First off, I know I’ve said I’m not a huge fan of trinkets and this case contains a few. The thing is, the package doesn’t rely on trinkets the way the RE5 CE does. Trinkets are part of the package, yes, but they’re not meant to be the meat of it. Instead, the meat here is the entire main series (up until that point) collected for you. Oddly enough, I’m sure most people willing to drop the cash for this pack probably already have each of the games already, but it doesn’t take away from the beauty of having an entire series of games recollected for you in a beautiful package.

Second of all, almost everything in the pack is specifically made for the pack. The Eye/Crow symbol is stamped all over the interior and tastefull once on the outside of the briefcase, as well as on the little trinkets. Even the PSX games have been reprinted with the words Biohazard 5th Anniversary around the disc’s hole. Its unfortunate that CODE: Veronica and Wesker’s Report weren’t likewise customized for this set but its still an amazing effort, regardless.

Also, while its rare for the North American region to get actual limited editions in terms of video games, it seems a lot more common in Japan. This set was limited to a set of 10,000, which is fairly large considering the Dead Space LE was limited to 1,000 in a much more populous country. Still, the fact that this was released in Japan means there are significantly fewer available in North America.

I purchased this about four years ago on eBay for about $300 and the gray market value seems to be holding until this day. There are currently three copies of this available on eBay’s US site. One, shipping from Japan is going for $270, one going for $339, and another, still with its original cardboard box, is going for for $500. Its a beautiful set and it is definitely worth a spot in any collector’s collection, especially if you’re a fan of the series.

Well, that’s it for this week. I’m considering doing an article on the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series for my next entry, briefly covering each game in the series and whatnot. Weekly game lists will hopefully return next week. The next review will likely be MadWorld and as usual, LE review requests are welcome. If not, I just pull out a random one and review it.