Tried and tested

EDGE - - DISPATCHES PERSPECTIVE -

Res­i­dent Evil 4 was born in an ex­plo­sion of in­no­va­tion that re­de­fined third­per­son shoot­ers and sur­vival hor­ror, but al­most a decade later those in­no­va­tions have be­come a tem­plate even by its own cre­ator can’t es­cape. Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within (p34) is a slave to his own in­flu­ence, but finds room for new ideas by blend­ing Res­i­dent Evil’s fa­mil­iar com­bat with a fo­cus on stealth and eva­sion that re­freshes a re­li­able but stale genre.

When game bud­gets are in the tens – if not hun­dreds – of mil­lions of dol­lars, it’s good to have a safety net, and noth­ing is safer than fa­mil­iar­ity.

EVE Valkyrie (p38) is a grand vir­tual re­al­ity ex­per­i­ment an­chored by a trusty old space shooter, and while the genre has been out of favour since the late ’90s, it’s well cho­sen. The early-adopter en­thu­si­asts likely to buy a Rift head­set are the same play­ers who spent their teenage years play­ing Wing

Com­man­der and their 20s lob­by­ing Lu­casArts for more X-Wing Vs TIE Fighter. If only a hand­ful of play­ers will own the hard­ware to play Valkyrie, CCP can at least rest as­sured that those who do will want its game. Even the most ob­tuse in­no­va­tion can be ap­peal­ing when at­tached to some­thing play­ers un­der­stand. Dou­ble Fine’s Hack ’N’

Slash (p46) makes a game about pro­gram­ming palat­able by wrap­ping it in Nin­tendo’s bul­let­proof Zelda frame­work. Within the con­fines of the fa­mil­iar, the game’s con­ven­tion­ally re­pel­lant in­no­va­tion be­comes your boomerang or your bow – just an­other weapon in the ad­ven­turer’s ar­se­nal as you use real cod­ing skills to re­shape the world around you.

Be­ing rad­i­cal is brave, but the road to suc­cess is paved by the bod­ies of in­no­va­tors, and trod­den upon by de­vel­op­ers savvy enough to weave their in­no­va­tions into some­thing com­fort­able. Res­i­dent Evil 4 kick­started a new gen­er­a­tion of ac­tion-hor­ror games, but it could never have sub­verted the genre with­out a decade of tried-andtested suc­cesses in sur­vival hor­ror at its back.

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