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In this episode, I talk about the character of Duke Nukem and what he meant to me. From growing up as a kid playing Duke Nukem 3D to being an adult playing Duke Nukem Forever. Please be advised, mild language is used in this episode.
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- Danny Q
Back in Action
In true "In Defense of" fashion I will talk about why I believe Resident Evil 5 is not as bad as some people think. A few points I am going to go over is A.i, gameplay mechanics and tone.
Ai Companion vs Ai Partner
From my experience, I never really saw a problem with the A.I. When I played RE5 solo I just made sure to equip Sheva with a few good weapons and some healing items. I knew that I couldn't rely on her to completely wipe out enemies but Sheva was more than ready to help distract a boss, stun an enemy and heal me when I was injured. When you play with the A.I partner on you just have to take the lead.
I understand that Ashley is not supposed to be a soldier. She is just a normal person that can't defend herself. Sheva on the other hand is a BSAA agent. When I played RE4 I didn't think less of it for having Ashley, that wasn't a negative aspect of the game. The same goes for when I played RE5. Having an A.i partner wasn't a hindrance to me or my experience playing through the game.
When it comes down to it, I just can't really see a reason why people would just completely hate the campagin. So you have to walk around with an A.i. that can at times be mildy frustrating. The same thing happened in RE4. If anything having your A.i. companion help you in battle is a plus.
Gameplay: 4 vs 5
Shots Fired! Ammo, not so scarce
One of the things people would associate with the survival horror genre is a lack of ammunition. Resident Evil 4 never left you completely dry. Through all of my playthroughs I found that I was always handed out just the right amount of ammo, I never found myself high and dry.
I remember watching a friend of mine play RE4. He was only using his pistol, despite having 45 shotgun shells, 20 sniper bullets and 100 TMP bullets. He just used the pistol. He kept playing RE4 as if he was playing RE1! As if ammo was a problem. It drove me crazy! If you were reckless with your bullets/accuracy you would be in a world of hurt but for the most of the game the only gun that was ever hurting for ammo was the magnum! Bullets for the pistols and TMP were plentiful and the shotgun had a decent amount sprinkled about. This, to me meant that RE4 was moving into a more action oriented direction.
Ammo isn't abundant but it can easily be found inside of crates/barrels/chests and off of the corpses of defeated enemies. RE5 has the same melee combat that RE4 had. You could fire a bullet into the leg of an enemy and cause him to fall to a single knee, when this happens they are open to a melee attack that will usually defeat them. A smart player can conserve a lot of ammo this way.
Resident Evil 5 kind of operates in the same way. You do need to play smart, but you are rarely in a low ammo scenario. During my play through I did run low or out of ammo during some of the more challenging boss fights, but this was a rare scenario.
This mechanic adds a layer to the Co-Op gameplay that other Co-Op games just simply do not have. Having to split ammo, weapons and health items adds a meta-game that makes the game a much deeper and engaging experience.
One thing that both games do an excellent job of doing is introducing different variety of enemy types. Different creatures and monsters require different approaches and certain weapons are best suited to deal with certain enemy types. So if a player was foolish enough to burn through all of their shotgun shells they might find themselves quickly overwhelmed by crowds of enemies. If a player used up all their sniper ammo taking out lesser enemies, the mini-bosses will quickly make them regret that. Different enemy types are plentiful in both games and they make the player vary up their strategy and approach.
No time for Quick Time
Another complaint people had with RE5 was it's use of QTE. RE4 was my first time being introduced to QTEs and at the time I thought they were brilliant! I mean, you could never put the controller down during a cut scene anymore! Well when RE5 was coming out QTEs had already overstayed their welcome and a lot of people were getting tired of them.
* Video of Leon escaping the giant statue was uploaded by youtube user Pizza-Hero.
In fact, there is a sequence in RE4 which has Leon running away from a giant robotic(?) statue as a bridge collapses. I didn't think anything of it at the time but in retrospect, what?
The QTEs aren't intrusive. If an enemy grabs you you shake the left joystick...which is the same joystick that you use to walk/move. It isn't a three button combination or some other nonsense.
To keep this section simple. Quick Time Events are present in both games. Resident Evil 5 does it no better and no worse than what RE4 has established. The bar was set and RE5 made not attempt to improve on it.
Tone - Survival Horror vs "Tense Action"
People seem to categorize Resident Evil 4 into the “Survival Horror” genre. As I mentioned before I never felt like this made a lot of sense. You had access to weapons, either by constantly discovering them or by simply purchasing them from your friendly local merchant(s?). You have a decent supply of ammo and for the first time ever in a Resident Evil game you're not fighting the controls.
Personally, I always hated the controls to the first few games. I felt that the games have a forced horror element because the controls were so bad. I mean, you try to run from and you begin to spin in place....Some people might not agree with me but I always felt that poor controls were not and should never be considered an element for a horror game.
Note: I just wanted to mention that Resident Evil 5 has an excellent DLC that plays more like a traditional survival horror game. On the hard difficulties the enemies are nearly impossible to defeat and you must solve puzzles and survive in a mansion that is a recreation of the Spencer mansion from Resident Evil 1.
If we were to look at the design of the level known as Public Assembly we can find lots of tight corridors and bottlenecks. These are not here by mistake, they are meant to be there so the enemies can swarm and surround the player to apply the pressure.
So how tight are these corridors? I went back and played RE5 and found that the narrowest of these corridors to be about 2 character sizes in width (I was using Chris BSAA costume). Now, compare this to a game like Gears of War where most stair ways, door ways, hallways are spaced to be 3 to 4 character sizes wide (mostly to support the combat) or bigger.
Tight corridors in combination with enemies that swarm or block your path (enemies such as the Reaper, Executioner act as living blockades that force a retreat) really bring that tension home.
No Longer the Black Sheep
Resident Evil 5 will always be one of my favorite games. I came to the conclusion that the game isn't just a simple rehashing of it's predecessor, it is a natural evolution to the series. From it's enemy designs, game mechanics and gameplay this game was a step in the right direction, despite some of it's flaws.
- Danny Q
I have been wanting to write about this for quite some time. Duke Nukem is an Iconic character, an amalgam of 80's action heroes. He is full of one liners and bravado and in his most recent iteration something went horribly wrong. Duke's status of "All American Action Hero" has metamorphosed into something vulgar and generic.I am here to say that all is not lost, there is still hope. I am hear to defend Duke Nukem's character.
From my 8 year old perspective Duke Nukem was a strong, smart, witty, lone wolf that was systematically taking back LA from an alien menace. Now you might be saying “Well you played the 64 version of the game. The drug references and sexual innuendo were really toned down”. You're right about that, I didn't get that "Vitamin X" was supposed to be steroids or that the women covered in goo was supposed to be suggestive of anything. At the time all I understood was that Duke Nukem was saving these women and kicking alien. I loved this game because it let me play the action movies I loved watching as a kid.
When Duke Nukem 3D was released on Xbox Arcade I replayed the entire game. As you may know this version of the game is the uncensored version that was originally released on PC. Even playing through this time around Duke kept it pretty tame. The game is focused on fast paced action and combat. Anything suggestive is more or less in the background.
Before He Self Destructs
The new Duke Nukem needs to be more like a Brock Samson (Venture Bros.). He needs to be humanized. Brock is a great character and for so many reasons. Not once in the series do you think of Brock as an idiot or a jerk. Everything he does is for a reason, he has a purpose and he has motivation. Duke needs to update his resume a bit, just going out there to Kick ass and save babes just isn't going to cut it anymore.
Not A Complete Meltdown
Duke still has some good in him. He can still be saved and I know that there are plenty of talented people out there that can make it happen. I just hope that if they ever do decide to make another game they can right the wrongs of Duke Nukem. Don't take the low road with the humor, don't just ignore that fact that women also play video games and don't want to be objectified. People have given up on Duke Nukem but I haven't.
- Danny Q
I am an Indie Game and Level designer, Consultant and host of Divercast.
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