Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Attrition In Resident Evil Code:Veronica

Resident Evil has been a large part of my life since I had a white knuckle ride through the second installment. My nerves were strained as every "opening door" load screen teased me with blackness behind it. I used to hold the aim button just so I knew I was ready to fire on the other side.  I got the experience this experiment in survival horror all over again the past few weeks. Recently Resident Evil Code Veronica received an HD upgrade on the PS3; obviously I was playing it the second it was available.

There is something I had forgotten about Resident Evil and gaming in general. It used to be a hell of a lot harder. In the first five minutes of the game, I found myself out of ammo and limping because zombies love to give me hugs. The zombies don't move fast; they are just placed in difficult locations. Sure the controls have never been too great for the Resident Evil games. That isn't what made them hard, it was attrition. Everything is limited, even game saves. Code: Veronica makes good use of attrition almost to the point of frustration.  In fact, I found myself quitting after I died when a long time had passed since my last save. Game producers now calculate when people quit because of frustration as "drop off points" and make games easier.

That is why I can play all of the Uncharted games on the hardest mode without breaking a sweat. You sell more games if people don't die a lot. This concept is pretty upsetting. I love the feeling of getting so goddamn frustrated with restarting a level that I promise myself that it won't happen again. This creates a respect for the games. When I think back on playing any Resident Evil pre-4 or Diablo 2 on Hell Mode, it is like reminiscing about combat with a worthy adversary who you understand a lot more because you were in such a extreme struggle of wills that you now see each other on a deeper level.  Being on this level helps make Resident Evil Code: Veronica so effective.

Why else would waiting through a load screen of a door get your heart pounding? Because on the other side you may get gnawed on by a slow ass zombie and have to use that last green herb you were saving for the tyrant fight. I'd say the most terrifying experience in Resident Evil has always been the dogs. They make scary noises as their toes hit the ground, you waste a lot of ammo trying to hit them, and you get your ass kicked every time they leap at you.  They encapsulate what Resident Evil used to be. 

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