Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: Resident Evil Unleashed


Details 
Title: Resident Evil Unleashed
Creator:
Soldat 555
Length: 7 Levels
Level Format: Continuous (Alternate Pathways)
Story: New
Graphics: New
Sound: New
Special Features: Log Files, Merchant System, Fog, Animated and Directional sprites and much more.
Dos/SDL: SDL


Initial impressions
Ron: You play as Billy Coen, an ex-marine who was framed for a crime he didn't commit. He was to be executed, but escaped during a zombie outbreak with the help of Rebecca Chambers. Years later, he gets a call from a mysterious woman informing him that Rebecca needs his help. It felt like a trap, but he couldn't let Rebecca down. However, things go terribly wrong when Billy's aboard the train to a 'rural town' in Maine (Stephen King reference?). It's from here that the player picks up. The train has been destroyed, and you have to find your way through the woods. Immediately the right tone is set by the darkness and the use of fog. Apart from the fact that this game is called Resident Evil, you can tell from the level design that things will be bad very soon: a crashed train surrounded by fire, followed by dark woods. And it isn't long before you meet your first enemy; and indeed they are quite scary. Not only because of their appearance, but because of the surprising way they can attack you as well. That goes for another enemy as well. It's smart trick that enhances the horror feel of the mod.

Dean: Straight off the mod looks very atmospheric and immediately gives the player the feeling of unease and a sense of carefulness as you just feel like something is going to jump out at you at any second and scare the sh*t out of you... and then it actually does! I found the fire near the start too damaging too quickly though, I barely touched it and was killed almost instantly. The status bar is nicely recoloured and laid out well, I like the 'Doom' style look of it and it's also a bit easier to read than I've found  in some of the creators other mods.
My main issue is with the strength of the pistol, it's weak, ineffectual and basically useless, what a waste of a weapon. It's far more beneficial to use the knife on melee enemies and simply use the pistol (and an enormous amount of ammo) to try to keep armed enemies at a distance from killing you.
I'm not much of a Resident Evil fan, so I don't know how faithful this was to the original games, although this certainly didn't look anything like the movies in the series I've seen!

Gameplay
Ron: Based upon the fact that this is a Resident Evil mod, I expected there to be more elements of survival horror. As it is now, it is more of an action mod with horror elements than survival horror, something the Resident Evil series is known for. This isn't a problem, as it is enjoyable nevertheless. There is a nice variety in enemies. I personally really liked the stationary, deadly tentacle in the water. It was an original way for an enemy to 'attack'. And there is another enemy that is really freaky, I won't spoil it but even for a mod where the pixels are limited - it was quite scary.
In this mod, unlike 99% of the other Wolf3D mods, you have to pick up items yourself. Weapons and herbs needed to be picked up manually. This was a nice addition that really makes the mod feel like its own thing. Potentially, this could be used to add more elements of survival horror to the mix - limited ammo, limited capacity to hold weapons etc. I hope to see more of this in a sequel.

Dean: The gameplay is great and the shading has been well done which really adds a lot greater feeling of gloom and surprise to the mod. The environments look decent, although it did remind me a lot of Majik Monkee's 'Halls Of Stonehenge' game. This is obviously because a lot of the walls and sprites (and even some enemies) have been used, thankfully it didn't all look like the same colour blends like HoS did. The shading can make things a little difficult to see at times but this isn't a bad thing and this is probably the best use of directional sprites, mainly the fences, that I've seen used in a mod for a while.
The lying down guards are a great idea although they do become predictable after a while and easy to handle, I'd just fire shots at them from the distance killing most of them before they were even activated.

Mapping
Ron: The environments were varied, and overall these were brought to live quite well. I liked the incorporation of the black floor/ceiling texture with the black wall; it is the most convincing way I've seen height being incorporated into Wolf3D. However, some environments are more limiting for a mapper, and I think the asylum is a good example of this. While a good level, in an asylum you do need 3x3 rooms for the different patients. It is a case of realism forcing a map to be fairly straightforward - a disadvantage of creating a mod with more 'realistic' graphics and environments. However, this is only a tiny nitpick - overall I enjoyed the mapping.

Dean: The mapping is decent, although a little mazey, and I sometimes felt some rooms were there just for their aesthetic appeal rather then their practicality as there are often large, good looking rooms sitting just completely empty. Some rooms were a little too packed with sprites and it just made moving through them frustrating.
The use of the animated water was well done as was the balcony looking type areas, although I would have liked them to have been used more. Some of the mapping items don't work in certain places (especially those that seemed lighter than the others or not affected by the shading) but most are well chosen and used nicely, I like the statues and how they were used, although the fountains seemed out of place to me.


Likes
Ron: I'm a big fan of Resident Evil 4, in fact I would say that it is one of my favourite games of all time. So it was a joy for me to come across the merchant. This was such a tiny, fun element of RE4, and it is incorporated here in such a seamless way. It's an original way to make use of the high score, and for those who care about the high score it might provide a few tough choices. I also loved the way the log files were used to expand upon the story. It was totally optional, for instance the painting at the beginning of level 2, but it added some further detail to the story. And finally, overall I would say that the horror feel is conveyed quite well in this mod. Everything adds to it - the use of shading, the enemies, the environments and last but not least - the music and sounds. The music was very effective and added to the tension of the level, while the sounds had the capacity to make some of the gruesome enemies even scarier.

Dean: The Music and Sounds are fantastic and really help impact the tension and impact of the mod, although I did find them a bit loud compared to the music and was forced to turn them down a bit in the menu controls.
The artwork is extremely well done in this, I like the use of the enemy from Blood and I really like what the creator has done with the dogs. The edited sprites look great and the dogs look and sound much more fearful than the cute little puppies from Wolf 3d.
The Environments are done quite well and you feel like they are really different when playing through them, I thought the balcony areas worked really well, but some of the wallpapered rooms looked a little too much.
 
Dislikes
Ron: The 'corpse faking dead' trick was effective at first, but after a while I got the hang of it. It was used a bit too often for it to remain as scary as it was in the beginning of the mod. It could use some more alternate scares; the graveyards and the water were good examples of this, but I still feel that it could have been used in more ways. Dead patients on the bed that come back to life, or a creature bursting out of a closet, etc. One final, literally tiny nitpick: the keys were really small. I had a tough time seeing them, and my eyesight is still intact. This might give the player troubles - in a frustrating way, not a challenging way.

Dean: The pistol is utterly useless in most scenarios. Also, I personally don't see the benefit of having the most powerful health item in the game not give you some immediate health benefit. The 1up, or health 'spray', only gives you an extra life, and if you're a good player you may not even need that, basically rendering it useless.
I was able to get through the Silver door (quite easily actually) on Level 2 so was able to skip 3/4 of the level (although I did go and play the whole level anyway) but this is something the mapper can control in most situations and a shortcut a lot of players will take, I feel it might be best to try to avoid these types of situations occurring and can usually be eliminated through testing and remapping.
Some of the sprites seemed to be a lot brighter then others and looked weird, I'm not sure why this was but it was almost like the shading didn't affect them or something.


Ratings
Ron's Score: 8/10
Difficulty: At times challenging, but not too hard 
Best Level: 3 
Worst Level: 5 

Dean's Score: 7/10
Difficulty: More difficult than original Wolf but not too difficult
Best Level: 3 (Ashford Estate)
Worst Level: 5

Wrap-up
Ron: A great mod that is atmospheric and feels focused because of its small number of levels. Soldat_555 gets better with every release, but I would encourage some more variety in gameplay in order to prevent a mod from becoming a bit stale.

Dean: A decent mod, with some really well done elements and a few that just needed a little extra work, The environments and sounds were a stand out and I'd like to see those things used in different ways in more of Soldat's mods as I feel he's really nailed how to use them perfectly. Well worth a play, especially if you are a Resident Evil fan, you'll probably get more of the connection behind the mod than I did that way!

Where Can I get it?: You can download the mod HERE or by clicking on the screenshot at the top of this post.

You can also view the trailer HERE, or watch it below;


Disclaimer: All reviews are only our opinions when playing the mod and are not intended to discredit anyone or the hard work they have put into creating their mod.

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