FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 17, 2009

Day 16: "I hope this is not Chris's blood..."

Okay, so for today's dose of SHOCKTOBER madness, I'm cheating a little bit. Rather than simply watching & reviewing a movie, I decided to talk about a subject near and dear to me old ticker: horror-based video games. It's been a while since my last big installment- three and a half years, holy crap- so I figured it was time to run down a few of the titles that have sucked me in and consumed hours of my life in the last few months.


BioShock is one of the most fascinating, best-looking games I've seen in my long, long life. The alt-history underwater city of Rapture is an art deco paradise lying in ruin; the utopia based on the philosophy of Objectivism crumbled as gene-splicing became a way of life, transforming the city's inhabitants into hideous mutants. In this first-person shooter you're Jack, a man with no memory who made his way to Rapture after an oceanic plane crash...and now must find a way out in the face of Big Daddies, Little Sisters, and all other manner of psychos. Ayn Rand, stem cell research, body modification, for the whole family!

Dead Rising

Yeah, I know I actually reviewed this game once upon a time, but you know what? I'm still playing it, and it's still all kinds of awesome. Zombies, zombies, many zombies in the mall. There's also creepy-mask-wearing, knife-wielding cult members and psychotic clowns with chainsaws and and and...Dead Rising is like a love letter to my crusty old horror movie-loving heart.

Dead Space

I have one major complaint about Dead Space: it's too damn short! I want more more more! This game is like Resident Evil meets Event Horizon, and it's absolutely one of the scariest games in the history of the history of ever- yes, it's that scary. You've got to repair your disabled ship while fighting off mutated crewmembers- of course there's an alien flu bug goin' 'round. Standard stuff, eh? Well, Dead Space utilizes sound and light like no other game since Silent Hill, and it's downright terrifying, to the point where I hit 'pause' on more than one occasion just so I wouldn't have to continue on into a pitch-black hallway where something was moaning. The score sounds straight outta Kubrick's The Shining, and it helps sink you into a never-ending state of heebie jeebies. Oh, if only there was more of it...ooh, there's a new Wii-bound prequel, a 6-issue comic mini-series, and an animated feature film prelude, as well. Sigh, I suppose those will have to do.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

While it wasn't a major hit, this oldie but goodie Gamecube release is a favorite amongst nerds in the know. Explore the mansion that belonged to your recently-deceased grandfather as you try to unravel the mystery of his death. Find chapters from the "Tome of Eternal Darkness" and engage in a little time-travel...and then Eternal Darkness really starts fucking with you via the "sanity meter". The more scary stuff Alexandra encounters, the nuttier she gets...and the nuttier you'll get. You'll be in the middle of a boss battle when suddenly your controller no longer works...or the game cuts to the title screen...or Alexandra ends up on the ceiling- the game really messes with your head as a player. There's nothing else like it. Hey, now you're a nerd in the know!

Fallout 3

I'm tempted just to write "Fallout 3 is effing AMAZING, go play it!" and leave it at that. Here's the wiki synopsis to further tempt those of you who haven't become completely absorbed by the game:
Fallout 3 takes place in the year 2277, 200 years after the nuclear war between the United States and China that devastated the game's world in an alternate post-World War II timeline. The game places the player in the role of an inhabitant of Vault 101, a survival shelter designed to protect a small number of humans from the nuclear fallout. When the player character's father disappears under mysterious circumstances, he or she is forced to escape from the Vault and journey into the ruins of Washington D.C. to track him down. Along the way the player is assisted by a number of human survivors and must battle myriad enemies that now inhabit the area now known as the "Capital Wasteland".
Your morality is up to you as you travel the wasteland and encounter religious wackadoos, raiders, mutants, ghouls...I can't even begin to adequately describe how massive- and how massively awesome- this game is. Fallout 3 is effing AMAZING, go play it!

Haunting Ground

Here's another game that got little attention, but horror fans should definitely bust out their PS2s and give it a whirl. At the start of Haunting Ground, you wake up in a cage (!!!) on the grounds of Castle Belli, and you've got to figure out what the eff is going on and how you can escape. Eventually you team up with a white German Shepherd named Hewie to solve puzzles and defend yourself as you search for a way out. What sets Haunting Ground apart from other survival horror games is that your character wields no weapons...just about all you can do when confronted by an enemy is run and try to find a good hiding spot. Sometimes these hiding spots work, and sometimes they don't...but you can never use the same place twice. It's incredibly tense to be crouched behind a curtain while someone is in the room, actively looking in all the corners for you. While there's definitely too much backtracking (and man oh man does the story get a bit perverse), Haunting Ground boasts one of the greatest, scariest video game villains ever in Daniella, the creepy-ass maid (pictured above). I'd say they should stick her in a movie, but we all know how movies based on games tend to go...

Left 4 Dead

Surviving the zombie apocalypse has never been more fun. What Dead Rising is to George Romero, Left 4 Dead is to Zach Snyder. These walking dead aren't walking at all- they're running really fast because they want to eat your face. There are hundreds and hundreds of them, along with "special" zombies, upgraded with all sorts of new ways to kill you. My favorite is the Witch, the goth-looking chick who sits around in her underwear, crying...until you get too close, and then she's up and clawing your eyes out in a flash. Reminds me of college!

Resident Evil 5

I've told you time and time again, I loves me some Rezzies. I'm gonna admit, though, Resident Evil 5 was a bit of a disappointment. On the one hand, it was a delight for an RE nerd like myself (Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Albert Wesker are all present and accounted for) and the co-op gameplay was cool. The graphics were amazing and the action was non-stop...but that was, perhaps, the problem. Since the incredible Resident Evil 4, the series has been moving away from the solve the puzzle and read the diary in the dusty, zombie-filled house angle that I love and geek out on so much. The developers should bring the series back to its roots because I want them to. Who's with me?

Silent Hill: Homecoming

It pains me in my heart place, but I'm starting to think that the Silent Hill series may be on its last legs. I enjoyed Homecoming, but it felt like more of the same, you know? Somehow it's missing the magic of the earliest games in the series- it feels like an imitation. The franchise was handed off from Japan to America, but that can't be the only reason why it's stale. Maybe it's just stale altogether...ugh, it hurts to type that. And who am I kidding? Silent Hill: Shattered Memories hits next month, and I'm sure I'll pick it up...and it'll be okay, but I'll have the sads 'cause it's just not like the Silent Hills of my yoot. Then I'll cry, then I'll play something else, repeat until I'm dead.

The Thing

Did you know that there's a video game set right after the events of John Carpenter's The Thing? There is, and it's pretty good! You can imagine how it goes: after contact is lost with MacReady and company, the military sends teams to investigate...alien parasite hijinks ensue. While you've got to battle the creepy-crawlies, you've also got to battle the rising worries of your teammates as they become increasingly paranoid: no one trusts anyone. Dudes get scared and they kill themselves, or they try to kill you. You may have an infected teammate in your party. It's a lot like the game, except no one wears weird, giant sideways cowboy hats- and that's a pity.


Anonymous said...

I confess, in spite of my love of horror films, horror video games are an all together different matter. I don't hate them, but they tend to freak me out.

Although, I have Fallout 3, I started it, had to put it down for the day, and never got around to it. I am not sure why, though. I was having fun, I just got to busy and ten the next time I had an opportunity to "game", I had bought Infamous. and was playing that none stop.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, and I keep wanting to by Dead Rising, especially that it is now about $20...but I am sure it will freak me out...I tried a Resident evil game for my WII, and I had to stop.

Koompa said...

Dead Space was kinda ruined for me. Yeah it was a blast, but I was playing it during a gaming marathon with one of my buddies. It's hard to let yourself get taken into the atmosphere when you're too busy cracking wise and insulting each other's gaming skills. But man, THE ENDING... It still haunts my dreams.

Kensington said...

I've played (but not necessarily finished) all but one of these games (Haunting Ground), and I share most of your opinions on them.

Because of that, I feel confident recommending a couple of horror games that you may well enjoy.

1. Siren (PS2). It's Japanese survival horror with a heavy emphasis on stealth. A lot of people don't seem to have the patience for this, and it can be fairly unforgiving, but this is a real gem. The tension it ratchets up as you're trying to sneak past zombies is nerve-wracking, and it's "sight-jacking" technique (which allows you to see through the eyes of the zombies that are stalking you) is unlike anything I've ever seen in a video game.

2. Fatal Frame (PS2). There are three games in this series, and I've played the first two. It's basically a haunted house crawl with only a camera to protect you from rampaging poltergeists. Lots of good scares here, and much replay value.

Kensington said...

One more thing. I'd love to get through Dead Rising, but I don't have a high definition television, and it's almost impossible for me to read the onscreen text through a standard definition television. That makes Dead Rising the most frustrating game I've never gotten to fully experience.

Stacie Ponder said...

Good call, Kensington- I talked about Fatal Frame and Siren in my first horror video games post, linked at the top of this post! In fact, I'm playing Fatal Frame 3 right now...good stuff.

And I'm with you on the HD/SD thing- Dead Rising is about the worst as far as that goes, but the text on Dead Space is pretty difficult to read as well. I kind of can't wait to play them again someday in the far-off future, when I've finally upgraded my old TV!

Kensington said...

Hey, Stacie, I just read your old post and saw that you gave up on Siren. Can I encourage you to give it another look? I had the same issues you did, but I realized at some point that, although the game is difficult and exacting, it became less so after I realized that it's okay if you get spotted sometimes or have to resort to non-stealthy means of survival.

Once you figure out that you can run away if you get spotted (because they tend to give up on following you if you can turn a couple of corners), or you can afford to spend a couple of bullets putting one of them out of commission for a few minutes, it becomes a lot more manageable.

You won't really even have to do that very often, but knowing that you can gives you some psychological breathing room that just makes you more capable.

It took me three serious attempts to get through it, and I'm glad I eventually saw it through to the end.

jmcgu1 said...

completely agree with your point on Resident Evil, would love to see that series go back to it's roots (survival horror > action horror)

the2ndsuitor said...

I am in the process of deciding between PS3 & Xbox. I think these are all XBox games, right?

Stacie Ponder said...

Kensington- I may give it another shot someday, but unfortunately I traded in my copy long ago. I'm big on trading in stuff I'm not gonna play a zillion times...usually that works out, but every once in a while I come to regret getting rid of games.

Here's a breakdown of what games go with what system, off the top of my head:

BioShock: 360/PS3
Dead Rising: 360
Dead Space: 360
Eternal Darkness: GameCube
Fallout 3: 360
Haunting Ground: PS2
Left 4 Dead: 360
Res Evil 5: 360/PS3
Silent Hill: 360
The Thing: Xbox/PS2

Not sure if Fallout & Silent Hill are on PS3 as well...they may be. I know PS3 is backwards compatible with all PS2 games, so that's a major selling point; 360 is only backwards compatible with SOME Xbox games.

In my opinion, the 360 has a better selection of exclusive games than PS3 does, which is why I'd go with that system if you have to choose. I heart my 360.

gord said...

I LOVE The Thing game. It is so damned fun as a fan, and surprisingly, very well made. Also, ditto the opinions on the RE series beginning to fade, and well mostly your opinion on all the other games here. Have you ever played Phantasmagoria? While not a masterpiece, it was my introduction to the horror game scene many years ago. I remember it being very creepy, but having not played it in forever, perhaps my thoughts are blurry.

Stacie Ponder said...

Never played Phantasmagoria, but it's been recommended / mentioned to me before, so your memory is probably fine! I'm strictly a console girl, though.

Jaakko said...

Currently playing Galerians for PS1, and so far it's one of the best survival horror games ever, like Resident Evil meets Scanners. The only thing that could make this game any cooler would be the G-virus, but I guess you can't have everything

Renae De Liz said...

GREAT list, Stacie! Haunting Ground was so much fun! And Dead Space will always be a favorite. I love me some bloody alien stompin'!

If you can ever download it onto a console (not sure how those Xbox's work) but you should play Blood. It's old but awesome!

kaiyn said...

I love Eternal Darkness! Lots of fun to play, even though the Sanity Meter thing can get damn irritating.

I don't know if you've played it, but Clock Tower 3 (PS2) is pretty similar to Haunting Ground, where you're able to hide. But this one does allow you to have weapons, mostly holy water though. Still not a bad game.