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The Walking Dead Unveils Special Edition Digital Topps Trading Cards Featuring NFL Players Turned Walkers

Posted by Debi Moore on February 3, 2017

Just in time for Sunday’s Super Bowl, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has released a special edition digital card set featuring “zombified” professional football players from the Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, and more.

Greg Nicotero, executive producer, director, and special FX make-up designer for “The Walking Dead,” has created hand-drawn walkers out of Malcolm Jenkins, Geno Atkins, Cole Beasley, Jesse James, Shea McClellin, and John Kuhn, among others, on digital trading cards that football and series fans can collect, at no charge, for a limited time.

“The Walking Dead,” now in its seventh season, is the No. 1 show on television. With “The Walking Dead: Card Trader” app from Topps Digital, fans can collect over 5,000 cards that feature favorite characters, thrilling moments, and locations from the show and trade with fellow fans around the world. The app is available in the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store with hot new digital card releases daily including never-before-seen content covering the entire history of the TV phenomenon. This special-edition set is part of a co-branded licensing effort with the NFL Players Association and made possible through Topps Digital – which is a mutual licensee.

“As far as we’re concerned, the only thing missing from the Big Game is zombies, and we are pleased to rectify that with these special edition ‘The Walking Dead’ cards,” said Theresa Beyer, senior vice president, brand activation and promotions, AMC. “As the #No. 1 show on television for five years running, ‘The Walking Dead’ has a huge fan base that includes many pro football players who enthusiastically signed up to become zombified walkers. We are committed to serving our passionate fans in a variety of ways and can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Big Game and the return of ‘The Walking Dead’ on February 12 than these special edition cards.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles: “I am a huge fan of ‘The Walking Dead,’” Jenkins said. “In fact, preparing for a zombie apocalypse is my off-season hobby. So I had to jump on the opportunity to become one through the NFLPA’s collaboration with AMC and Topps Digital. I’m excited to see how the other players’ artwork comes out. I think mine turned out pretty cool – I make an excellent zombie.”

As football season ends, “The Walking Dead” returns. The highly anticipated second half of Season 7 of “The Walking Dead” starts on Sunday, February 12th, at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. “The Walking Dead” is executive produced by showrunner Scott M. Gimple, Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero, Dave Alpert, and Tom Luse.

As for Super Bowl LI, between the Falcons and Patriots, kickoff is set for approximately 6:30 pm ET on Sunday.

 

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Celebrate George Romero’s Birthday This Weekend with a Night of the Living Dead Marathon

Posted by Debi Moore on February 1, 2017

Zombie movie lovers can pay tribute to the master of the genre, George A. Romero, this Saturday when Syfy’s official Facebook page plays host to a Facebook Live marathon of his 1968 seminal horror classic Night of the Living Dead.

Honoring Romero’s birthday, the film will play continuously for 12 hours at Facebook.com/Syfy starting at 11:30 AM ET on February 4th. In addition to the Facebook Live marathon, fans can watch a late-night viewing on air on Syfy beginning at 11:42 PM ET.

Fans can also join in on the undead social media conversation with the hashtag #LivingDeadMarathon.

In Night of the Living Dead, the recently deceased rise from the grave and seek the living to use as food. Several people barricade themselves inside a rural house in an attempt to survive the night and discover that these hordes of relentless, shambling zombies can only be killed by a blow to the head. Originally released as an independent horror film, Night of the Living Dead has become a cult classic, redefining the term “zombie” and spawning numerous sequels and imitators.

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Call of Duty Zombies – Exclusive Interview with Scott Carpenter and Lee Ross

Posted by David Gelmini on January 31, 2017

Activision and Infinity Ward today debuted the gameplay trailer for ‘Rave in the Redwoods,’ the undead survival co-op mode featured in the upcoming first DLC Map Pack for Call of Duty®: Infinite Warfare, Sabotage.

Rave in the Redwoods continues the macabre narrative of the Infinite Warfare zombies experience, taking fans through a new storyline where they’ll fight as one of four classic ‘90s characters and battle new varieties of the living dead in an abandoned lakeside summer camp full of twists and turns.

We recently sat down with Scott Carpenter, Lead Multiplayer Designer and Lee Ross, Associate Project Director, Zombies to get the skinny on the latest Sabotage DLC which is AVAILABLE NOW.

Dread Central: You’ve got some pretty cool new maps in the Sabotage DLC. When designing a new map, what are the key factors and ingredients that you take into account, and how do you combine them into something unique?  
  
Scott Carpenter, Lead Multiplayer Designer: The first step we take whenever starting any new map is to look back a bit. In Sabotage’s case, we looked at community feedback for the base maps in Infinite Warfare and what was working and what could be improved. A designer generally has a core goal in mind when starting out a new map. In Neon, for example, the desire was to elongate the engagements a bit and play with how advanced movement works in that situation. From there it’s just hard work and iteration. We play the early version of the maps several times a week, tweaking things along the way based on feedback from the team.

During the iteration process, map theme and art style is brainstormed. Most of the time, there is a core idea for a theme for a map and the map is designed with this theme in mind. Concept artists do their thing and take vague ideas and images and bring it to the next level. The Infinite Warfare universe has expanded our traditional battleground theaters, so we have a lot of new genre settings to mine, but we also need to weigh that with making settings both relatable and memorable.

DC: Unlike many recent AAA shooters, Call of Duty has always retained a single-player story component, and you’re adding an all new story to this DLC in the form of the chilling horror adventure Rave in the Redwoods. Do you think that it’s important for the COD franchise to always offer a strong single-player narrative-driven experience in addition to its multiplayer?
 
Lee Ross, Associate Project Director, Zombies: I think COD is a magnificent offering considering you get three games in one.  The scope of all three modes now have grown to exploding proportions and I believe strongly that fans have come to expect this from the franchise. The beauty of it is that each mode offers a completely differing experience from the next and that allows us to engage a much wider audience than say if we were just a single player experience. So, in short, yes we need strong single player narrative but we also need an engaging multiplayer and a solid cooperative experience as well.

DC: Can you describe how you came up with the idea for Rave in the Redwoods and how it went from idea to reality?  
 
Lee Ross: Bringing any of these experiences to life is always a challenge because this incredible team I have the privilege of working with has a ton of amazing ideas. Narrowing down those ideas and funneling them into a cohesive experience is where we shine. We continually challenge ourselves to bring the best experience we can with all the knowledge we’ve garnered working on cooperative games we feel like we’ve got something very special in what we’ve released and what we’ve yet to release.   

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DC: RITR also looks like it couldn’t be more different from Zombies in Spaceland. Did manage to differentiate RITR from the core Call of Duty experience without alienating fans too much?
  
Lee Ross: The team at large wanted to make a strong departure from what we did in Zombies in Spaceland both from a visual standpoint but also from a gameplay perspective. In our first Zombies endeavor we wanted to make things a little friendlier. Hence the bright lights, wide open spaces and lots of goodies to turn the zombies into mush.

Consider Zombies in Spaceland our training simulator for Rave in the Redwoods. What players can expect in Rave in the Redwoods is the same good time but with a stronger horror push and a much more aggressively designed play space. We want players to feel a bit more uncomfortable in this map and to help bring the fear factor of hanging out in a location with these horrible monsters to life. Personally, I’d NEVER want to spend the night there. Spaceland, I think I could deal with but on second thought maybe not. LOL. 

DC: Since zombies first appeared in World at War back in 2008, they’ve become such a staple of the Call of Duty series that it almost wouldn’t be the same without them. What do you think makes their addition so endearing? And do you think that zombies and COD are now inseparable. 

Lee Ross: I touched on this a little but I believe this experience is a requirement for the franchise at this point. Being able to play a cooperative game with family or friends can lead to some really great gaming moments. Not everyone is a story driven player and not everyone likes competitive gameplay. In our package, we offer something for everyone and that cooperative experience helps us satisfy that player that just wants to go to town with a buddy. And of course, if co-op is not your cup of tea, Infinite Warfare has you covered on the other fronts too.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Sabotage DLC Map Pack is available as a standalone pack or via the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Season Pass. The Season Pass can be purchased on its own or obtained as part of the Legacy Pro or Digital Deluxe editions of the game. Season Pass gives discounted access to all four Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare DLC Map Packs released during 2017 (discount based on a Season Pass suggested retail price of $49.99, and four individual DLC Map Packs at a suggested retail price of $15 each). Season Pass owners will also receive 10 Rare Supply Drops upon purchase plus 1,000 bonus Salvage Credits to craft new prototype weapons.

For more information, please visit www.callofduty.com. Fans can also follow @CallofDuty on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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Burning World, The (Book)

Posted by MF Wahl on January 24, 2017

Written by Isaac Marion

Published by Atria Books


The Burning World by Isaac Marion is the much-anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed Warm Bodies. Despite the fact that it’s a sequel, it’s actually the third book in the series, following the original and a prequel, The New Hunger.

Although Warm Bodies is a much-loved novel-turned-hit movie, I had little knowledge of Marion prior to this book. Its advertisement as a “zom-rom-com” meant I never got around to picking up a copy. I’m a huge zombie fan but prefer mine to be of the disgusting rotting corpse kind that tracks down the living and feasts upon their brains. Warm Bodies seemed to be the opposite of what I was looking for.

As such, I was dubious when The Burning World came across my desk. The premise of a zombie turned lover boy seemed too goofy of an idea for me to get behind. Especially because I remember seeing the Warm Bodies movie trailers years ago and not being particularly intrigued back then. I couldn’t imagine the sequel would be my style either. In addition to that, I wasn’t invested in the characters and world from the first book so doubted my ability to jump in feet first.

Still, I took the plunge, and at first I floundered a bit, wondering what I was missing. I worried there was vital information in the previous two books that I didn’t possess. Marion seems conscious of this potential problem though, and he introduces the reader to the characters and world at a gentle pace. For someone starting in the middle of the Warm Bodies series, I quickly found my fears were unfounded and had no problem becoming engaged.

This isn’t to say that Marion rehashes Warm Bodies. He gives just enough sense of what happened in the previous books to give context to the events and characters in this one. New readers can enjoy the story without any previous understanding of the Warm Bodies world, and the knowledge of established fans will add another layer and deeper level of appreciation for what happens.

What I really enjoyed about this book was its fresh take on the zombie apocalypse. Although Romero-like brain-eating action is often referenced, these “zombies” are for the most part no longer zombies. The Burning World is set in some fifteen years or more after the end of times; and a cure, instigated in Warm Bodies, has been spreading the world over. Zombies are slowly coming back to “life” by a magical seeming, and as yet unexplained, phenomenon called “The Gleam.”

These no longer dead “zombies” struggle to become human once again. It’s not an easy process. If they’re intact enough to physically survive, they often become “stuck” between worlds or go crazy and commit suicide, unable to cope with deeds committed as one of the dead.

Our main character, “R,” is no different, although as the first to be “cured,” he struggles to be more human every moment of his newly found life. He barely sleeps, barely eats, and can’t make love to his girlfriend, Julie. He wrestles to suppress the memories of who he was before he was a zombie and those of the victims whose brains he ate. Because of what he once was, and what he’s done, he faces bigotry and persecution from members of his own community.

Despite all this, R’s girlfriend wants to make the world a better place with him by her side. When a nearby community falls under “new management” and the nefarious Axiom Corporation shows up at their doorstep, their optimism does a belly-flop in the gutter.

R, Julie, and their friend Nora are swept away to an interrogation center to face torture and possible death, but with some help from an unlikely source and some good luck, the group is able to escape, collecting more members along their way.

The action in this book is fast-paced, and the world is vivid. Although the novel is a 500-page doorstop of a book, I found it to be tight for the most part, and there was never a time when I ran into large swaths of boring writing. The story kept me interested and wondering what would happen next. I’m happy to say there are quite a few unpredictable twists and turns along the way.

The Burning World does not serve the usual fare of smash-n-dash, all-you-can-eat brain-fests that many zombie books bring to the table. There’s action and death in every corner, but the gore is tame and the story shines though every chance it gets. It’s a great book for those that are looking for a new menu item within the zombie flavor palate. It’s well written, and Marion is a master of metaphors, painting beautiful pictures where many would think it impossible. Don’t expect loose ends to be tied in a neat little bow at the end of this book. It’s a setup for the final book in the series, which I believe Marion is currently working on.

I enjoyed this novel quite a bit and think I’m going to have to revisit my stance on the original Warm Bodies. The Burning World is a far cry from the schlocky, romantic garbage I imagined the first was, and if the rest of the series is anything like this book, I think I’ll have to read them all.

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Black Friday (eBook)

Posted by Trisha Chambers on January 6, 2017

black-fridayWritten by Craig Sawyer

Published by Amazon Digital Services


Have you ever experienced the horror of working a retail job? The zombie apocalypse couldn’t be much worse!

In this short story written by up-and-coming author Craig Sawyer, we find our hero, Zeke, working the graveyard shift in a retail hell of sorts with no idea what he wants to do with his life besides watch zombie movies, drink lots of caffeine and make fun of customers.  Then on one “Black Friday” he discovers his true calling as a bad-ass killer of the undead on the worst shopping day of the year.

I know most of you will agree with me that in today’s world a lot of people walk around in a zombie state as it is, but in stores like Wally-Mart for instance, the level of horror can be even more so as written in this short story.

I really dug this story for the most part but wished it had been longer as I did enjoy it immensely.  Craig’s sense of humor comes out in this story, and the three main characters — Zeke, Tommy, and Selma — reminded me of a few young people that I know so reading about them made me feel like I knew them on that personal level.   “Black Friday” takes itself seriously only in a good way and has that 80’s horror story feel to it, which made it even more entertaining to me.  Fun all the way through, “Black Friday” is a short story that’s well worth the read.

I’m personally looking forward to Craig Sawyer’s next endeavors, which include a graphic novel adaptation of police sargent turned demonolgist Ralph Sarchie’s exploits, which was a book first and most recently the film Deliver Us from Evil, as well as a board game entitled Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce.

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Zombies (2016)

Posted by Matt Boiselle on November 28, 2016

ZombiesStarring Steven Luke, Tony Todd, Raina Hein

Directed by Hamid Torabpour


Where to begin? Where to begin? My god, I truly feel as if the undead well has run as dry as the ground here in my beloved, drought-wracked Connecticut – so much that the latest zombie movie to come down the pipe, that contains zombies…was ever so thought-provokingly titled (you ready for this) – Zombies. Hold onto your wigs, umbrellas, and loosely harnessed children, everyone – this one’s gonna blow you away.

From director Hamid Torabpour and Cameron Romero comes the latest flaming bag of celluloid poo to be lit and ever so gently flung on our doorsteps. The schematic for this fecal-fest is so blatantly mapped out that even the beloved Stevie Wonder could walk this one backwards and tell you exactly what was coming around each and every corner. The film follows a couple of survivors (Luke and the icon, Tony Todd) as they attempt to not only protect the last place they’ve become accustomed to, but lead a small band of survivor-groupies to safety, all the while ducking, dodging, and digitally shooting large holes in the now-soft skulls of those zombies – just in case you needed a refresher as to the title of the film. Amid the collection of folks that need savin’, we’ve got a couple of former mattress-pals in the mix, and a bad-ass chick with a Governor-like eyepatch that holds some very odd piece of control over the undead – she walks unscathed, and seems generally at ease with her existence all the while.

Now I love Tony Todd and the roles he’s presented in the past, even met him on one occasion and thought he was quite the cool fella, but this role was like watching someone attempt to get dressed after a bender in the dark – stumbling, bumbling and needlessly wasting time as lines like “I hate zombies!” were uttered with fervent effluance. The CGI is horrifically placed, and the only true redeeming factor here is the tempo in which the battles between the living and the dead are paced, but even that grows old after, I don’t know…1000 zombie-flicks over the years? When all is said and done, there perhaps may be some fans of the undead that will chew this one up and amorously digest every low-budgeted bit of it, but for this undeniably jaded cat, these Zombies are a terrific embodiment of how I feel when watching another film like this one: DEAD INSIDE.

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Zombies!!! (CD Soundtrack)

Posted by Mr. Dark on November 11, 2016

Zombies!!! Official Board Game Soundtrack By Midnight Syndicate


I’m gonna be really honest here: I’m all zombied out.

Romero hasn’t made a good one in awhile.  I can’t stand “The Walking Dead”.  It’s a genre that’s just been done, done, and done.

You know what I never get tired of?  GAMES!  Tabletop, video, however they come, I’m all about games.  So yes, even if they involve zombies, I’m down with getting my game on.

Zombies!!! is a classic tabletop title that has just released it’s 13th expansion, so you know it has to be solid.  Played on a modular system that changes the “map” depending on what scenario you’re playing, it’s a classic zombie apocalypse survival horror romp you play with your friends, trying to escape the hordes.  It’s a game that sets and relies upon mood as much as the rules to make for a fun evening of gaming.  Until now, though, that mood has been set by the story and art alone.

Atmospheric music legends Midnight Syndicate have stepped up to the plate and created a score for the game.  The Official Board Game Soundtrack is here, and it’s a winner.

MidSyn have long been the masters of setting mood and tone, of telling stories via instrumental music and limited sound effects, but on Zombies!!! they enhance the effects and have created a score for a film that doesn’t exist.  It’s a film you’ll live every time you sit down to play a game of Zombies!!! alone or with friends.

Using their expertise, they’ve created eighteen short tracks that suit eighteen different moments you’re likely to run into while playing the game.  Each track effectively captures the mood of what the title describes.  “Zombie Master” has a forceful and ominous beat that you can easily imagine would herald the coming of a creature fitting that title.  “We’re Screwed” and “Adrenaline Rush” fit the frenzied dash as things start to go wrong in your escape.

It seems like there are far more sound effects at play here than in previous MidSyn releases, and that suits it well.  From the chopper overhead in “Race To The Helipad” to the zombie moans, crunching gravel, and the sound of shells being loaded into a shotgun in other tracks, the effects work enhances the feeling of the game perfectly.

This one may not be as good for independent listening as standalone releases, but I wasn’t playing the game when I heard it and I enjoyed it a great deal.  It’s well outside the standard Victorian setting of MidSyn’s work, so it has a unique feel that adds to the value to longtime fans of their work.

I dug it, and I can’t wait to play Zombies!!! or another horror tabletop game with this in the background.  As always, it’d also be a perfect fit as the score of any haunt, professional or amateur, or any other time you want to set a spooky, thrilling mood.

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Syndrome (Video Game)

Posted by Ted Hentschke on October 19, 2016

SyndromeDeveloped by Camel 101 and Bigmoon Entertainment

Available on PC, Mac, and Linux

Rated M for Mature


God damn it, Syndrome. God damn you. Do you realize how bad I want to like you? An original, stylish, true to form horror game? You could be described as, “Dead Space with more tension.” You could be described as, “Alien: Isolation with more action.” Unfortunately both of those have to come with one crucial caveat, “but bad.”

Sometimes I look at a game and struggle to find where it went wrong. That is not the case with Syndrome. It is very obvious where it went wrong. Syndrome is unfinished. Despite the plethora of clearly good ideas, this is a game that lacks the polish to be functional on a basic level. No matter how much I like the great sound design, atmospheric lighting, and decent scares, it’s impossible to overlook clipping through the level because I walked over an enemy’s head and launched into the ceiling.

Syndrome

Also, way too many of the dead bodies look like they are just chillin’.

To its credit, the premise of Syndrome is great. Waking up from cryosleep on a derelict ship, you play as Chief Technician Galen. You have no memory of what happened to the rest of the crew, and your only interaction with other humans is over the radio. But that doesn’t mean you are alone. The previous inhabitants of the ship have been turned into techno-zombies, à la The Borg mixed with Necromorphs. You’ll go through the ship deck-by-deck, repairing systems and fighting off enemies as needed. Plots will twists, backs will be stabbed, and by the end it all comes together well enough.

It’s a compelling framework for a horror game. Each of Syndrome’s decks is designed for a different function, allowing a good amount of diversity for what’s essentially eight levels. Going from the Officer’s Quarters to the Cargo Bay, the aesthetics and layout are immediately recognizably different. It’s a bit hard to tell the difference between the Engineering deck and the Communications, but you’ll have plenty of time to learn. Combat is scarce, with resources even rarer. All said and done, I think there were maybe seven pistol clips in the whole game. When it can take half a clip to kill a single enemy, it’s clear why most of the combat will be done in melee.

Syndrome

Hiding is also usually an option, since mechano-Frankenstein saw fit to replace some enemy’s eyes with more metal tubes.

You’ll usually want to avoid combat altogether. Not only do enemies not drop any kind of loot, but I’m not exaggerating when I say I died more often to bugs than enemies. Not a single combat went by where I didn’t trade just as many blows with glaring programming errors as shambling techno-zombies smacking me with makeshift bludgeons. It baffled me how frequently I would swing or shoot straight into their torso and it would fail to connect. I did some science, and it seems like if part of the foe was slightly clipping into the wall or if they were walking over a bump, hits would go right through them. That is, of course, when I didn’t encounter the previously mentioned, “launching over their head and through the level” bug.

But hey, at least this comes with the up side of easily abusable AI bugs! Almost every difficult fight can be circumvented with some type of environment workaround. Standing a foot above your enemy? Feel free to smack them without recourse. Going up against one of those blind enemies? Grab a nearby bottle and have your footsteps muffled entirely. If any of that fails, just walk backwards. Nothing will be able to touch you.

Syndrome

If only in his cyber-zombificiation of mankind, the ultimate evil had considered that maybe his minions would need to raise their arms above their shoulders.

If you do decide to actually engage in combat like Syndrome wants you to, good luck. This is supposed to be a simple melee/block/counter system, but it only works 70% of the time. Blocking takes at least half a second to start, so reaction time doesn’t matter. Even if you do block and deflect a blow, there’s nothing to guarantee that the enemy attack won’t instantly swing again and hit you anyways. If they do recoil from a block as intended, there’s no guarantee that your follow-up blow will actually stagger them. All the while, keep in mind that the enemy might just saunter into an area that renders them entirely unhittable. There’s clearly an intended flow to combat, but it just doesn’t work.

This is taking a lot of willpower, but let’s say that I can live with all of that. I can live with subpar combat if the rest of the game is great. It’s not. When you hear of the multi-deck, exploration gameplay, Metroid comes to mind. I guess it’s kind of like Metroid in the sense that you do things that unlock previous rooms. The problem is that there’s absolutely no freedom or logic to this. You run back and forth between decks just because the game tells you to.

Syndrome has the most blatant attempt to extend gameplay without adding content that I’ve ever seen. At one point, I had to go to the Medical Bay to get a key for the Engineering room on another floor. After finding the key in Medical and running back to Engineering, I found I needed to scan a person’s hand to get into the Engineering room. I ran to the Security Office, only to learn I had to go all the way back to the Medical Bay to find the hand. To recap, I had to go to Deck Five to grab a key for Deck Four, run back to Deck Four, head to multiple rooms in Deck Four, just go back to Deck Five and grab the second key I need to get into Deck Four. If you think I just missed it and could have gotten the hand my first time, you’re wrong.

Syndrome

It streamlines significantly in the last act. For example, I only had to run back through the level twice to chop this guy’s head off.

This is the entire game. It’s not an open, exploration driven adventure. It’s a single line that just snakes back and forth for hours. There’s no reason that they couldn’t have streamlined this. Running between the decks is tedious, with a constantly depleting stamina bar and long load times hampering you at every turn. The decks rarely change, with only a handful of encounters the entire runtime. It does nothing to help your immersion or build tension. The backtracking only exists to bump the four hour runtime up to 12. Yes, there is that much backtracking.

There were a few things I really liked about Syndrome. Atmospherically, whoever designed this is a genius. The way that lights click on when you enter a room or a hanging body will silhouette a corridor is the stuff of sci-fi nightmares. Distant screams hint at persistent danger, while the constant hum of machinery reminds you that you are somewhere unnatural. You feel constantly trapped by the metal corridors and dull industrial lighting. It’s thematically genius.

Syndrome

This is the kind of gorgeousness we saw in the Aliens: Colonial Marines trailer and nowhere in the Aliens: Colonial Marines game.

The concept of a single, persistent ship is also great. Rooms have a specific function, meaning that you aren’t likely to find health packs in the turret control room. Most supplies are located in designated storage rooms, somewhat centralizing your searches. There are some scattered supplies in the various key locations, but as I said before these are few and far between. The positive is that the game feels more realistic, with the obvious negative being that many searches prove fruitless. For a game that leads you so strictly on a leash, it just didn’t work. All of the empty rooms just further reminded you of how little freedom you actually have.

It’s easy to forgive an indie game some flaws on the promise of concept. But Syndrome is $25. This is at best a $10 game, and even that’s stretching it. I simply cannot recommend this game. If it goes on sale for $5, pick it up and be genuinely wowed by the atmosphere. If you pay any more, you will be severely let down.

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Tony Todd Battles Zombies!

Posted by David Gelmini on October 4, 2016

Thanks to EW we’ve got a look at the blood-soaked trailer for Zombies (what an original title eh?), in which Tony Todd goes up against the living dead.

Zombies is directed by Hamid Torabpour and also stars Steven Luke, Raina Hein, and Aaron Courteau. It opens in limited release on October 21, and until then you can visit its Facebook page and official website.

Synopsis:
A Virus leaves the World in shambles and plagued by Blood-thirtsy Zombies. Will Luke and his Crew have enough strength and ammunition to stay alive long enough to outlive the undead?

zombies-tony-todd-film-1

Zombies

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Resident Evil 4 (Video Game)

Posted by Ted Hentschke on September 27, 2016

Resident Evil 4Developed and Published by Capcom

Available on Every System Ever Created (Xbox One Review)

Rated M for Mature


You know, I was kind of unsure when Resident Evil started doing this reverse Star Wars thing. They announced Resident Evil 7, then released 1, 0, 6, 5, 4? Pretty crazy! Hopefully, by the time 7 comes out, we’ll have Resident Evil 3 and 2 and know the full story. They hint that Leon was in some kind of crazy “Racoon City” incident, so I hope to get a chance to see what that was all about! I also respect their dedication to the “going retro” vibe, with the visuals actually degrading in each prequel release. It reminds me a lot of Mega Man 9 going back in time to bring the series into the future.

Alright, enough of that. I’m so fucking tired of trying to analyze remakes/releases/cuts/masterings/deathinitive editions. I thought it would be a good time trying to review Resident Evil 4 as though it had just come out. Hell, the game has been getting a pass for a long time as “one of the best in history.” So why not take the piss out of it? It’s not like I need to make my Capcom overlords happy. If I was going to get blacklisted for trashing re-releases, it would have happened back when I verbally shit on Resident Evil HD REMASTER for three straight pages.

I decided to drop the act because this release of Resident Evil 4 gives me the interesting chance to review the game in a modern context. Often the question is asked, “Does game ‘X’ hold up so many years later?” It’s an inherently unfair question, because all games are a product of their age. It would be silly to ask Alone in the Dark to compete against The Evil Within. Luckily, Capcom asked that question for me when they released RE4 on the Xbox One and PS4. Hurray! Now I don’t have to pull out my PS3 to play the PS2 version that was a remake of the GameCube original!

No word yet on a port of the chainsaw controller

No word yet on a port of the chainsaw controller

Booting up the game for the first time in over half a decade, there was definitely an adjustment period. I’ve been spoiled by years of being able to move and shoot at the same time. For about an hour I was struggling to position myself and land shots. My girlfriend was watching me play during this awkward phase, and after the third wildly missed headshot she turned to me and said, “Wow, this game sucks.” So after disposing of the body, I took a moment to consider the validity of her statement. From the standpoint of a noob, it must seem very poorly designed. As a God damned professional, I bit the bullet, got used to it, and was lining up sick frags until the credits rolled.

Resident Evil 4

The game very quickly demands that you stop sucking.

There’s a whole other article I can (and will) write on the legacy of Resident Evil 4, but my point is that it feels like a relic of another age. There was a period where every horror game coming out was basically just Resident Evil 4, including Resident Evil 5 and 6. 11 years might not be that long in the grand scheme of things, but in video game years that’s two console cycles. From the tank controls to the rough voice acting, it’s clear that this game wasn’t made recently. What’s crazy is how little that ultimately matters.

For all that the series has morphed into cover hopping, machine gun firing, run-and-gun zombie action, it’s amazing how well the archaic tank controls of Resident Evil 4 stand up. Standing still to fire your gun sounds bullshit, but it works when the whole game is built around it. There’s plenty of action, but the game kind of cheats to give you some space. Enemies sprint up to you, stop a few yards short, and move into range at a slow walk. It doesn’t make a whole lot of logical sense, but it gives you a chance to take aim. Enemies that break this rule are that much more threatening, and the slowly approaching hordes make every engagement feel menacing.

And shit, I forgot how menacing these enemies feel. RE4 gets a bad rap for being “not really horror,” which is a pretty ludicrous statement in retrospect. Blasting a villager in the head only to have him keep walking towards me as a squirming Plagas parasite bursts forth from his stump has actually showed up in my nightmares. Enemies are durable, taking upwards of seven pistol shots to down, and there are often dozens of them. It only gets worse as the game goes on, with your expanding arsenal met with an equally growing roster of monstrous horrors. 11 years later, I still remember where every last Garrador is. And yes, I did save my magnum ammo for them.

Resident Evil 4

People acting like the over the shoulder camera makes these regenerating nightmare monsters not scary.

For a game this old, you would expect the graphics to be a big issue. Quite the contrary, the relative datedness of RE4’s visuals remind me of a time where games actually wanted me to know what I was looking at. There isn’t a ton of detail in the various shacks and castle halls, but I was never confused as to what was important. See a shiny object? It’s worth something. Looking at Resident Evil 6, there’s just so much shit on screen that I wouldn’t even know where to begin hunting for treasures. We’ve gotten so obsessed with “realism” that we’ve forgotten how to make a game fun and accessible.

That design split is what fundamentally makes Resident Evil 4 more enjoyable than most modern titles. The entire game is designed with a fun first approach, making realism take a seat several rows back. Why is the key for this door at the end of a broken mine cart ride? I don’t know, but it was a sick mine cart ride. Why is there a magma room with fire-breathing dragon sculptures in the middle of a castle? Sorry, too busy fighting fire-breathing dragon sculptures to care. Why do enemies drop random bullets and herbs? So I can keep killing them, duh.

Resident Evil 4

Someone actually took time and budget to design a single room that is a arcade claw grab mini-game. That’s what I call commitment to fun.

Resident Evil 4 never forgets to make every encounter both A) memorable, and B) rewarding. Beat a boss, and get a reward. Kill a special enemy before he runs away, get another reward. Explore the environment carefully, figure out how the treasure all fits together, and get an even bigger reward. Every single thing you do rewards you with something, big or small. Even upgrading the guns all the way rewards you with a special secret unlock. It makes playing the game an immensely satisfying experience. When you willingly decide to fight multiple bosses just for the reward of beating both, the game is doing something right.

One thing that has not held up so well is the plot. Resident Evil has never been known for its intelligent narratives, but holy shit is this game dumb. You play as Leon Kennedy, protagonist of Resident Evil 2 and part of a special unit dedicated to protecting the president’s family that conspicuously is not the Secret Service. After getting a tip that the president’s daughter Ashley has been spotted in an unnamed European country that speaks Spanish, you head out to see if you can find her. You are immediately attacked by the locals—who are 100% not zombies—and from there the game spirals into madness.

I have played through Resident Evil 4 over a dozen times, and I cannot tell you more than vague generalizations just what the fuck is going on. Lord Saddler, why with an army of cultists and monsters do you decide that kidnapping the president’s daughter is the best way to further your nefarious goals? Sure, the ransom money might be nice, but your army is mostly equipped with pitchforks and crossbows. A single helicopter blew up a base full of about a hundred dudes, and I guarantee you that the United States armed forces has more than one helicopter. Also, why don’t you just kill Leon during one of the half dozen times when he is totally incapacitated? You seem to think the best course of action is to infect Leon with the parasite and just wait for it to hatch. Meanwhile, Leon roundhouse kicks his way through all your dudes while taking all your pesetas. It’s typical Bond villain logic, sacrificing countless men for the sake of some insidious plot when a tentacle spike through the chest would solve the problem just fine. Like I said before, when you stop questioning why there’s a lava room in the castle, you kind of just go with it.

Resident Evil 4

This is a dude so comically villainous that the hallway leading to his throne room is rigged with deadly lasers.

I had also forgotten how bad the dialogue is. I remember the one-liners being better than “hasta luego” and “bring a knife to a gunfight.” When disposable character #725 Luis Sera comments on Ashley’s “ballistics,” I actually cringed. With the curse of age and experience comes the ability to see all the horrible writing.

It all boils down to super minor criticisms, since it’s all in service of more fun. None of the plot makes sense when you really think about it, but it constantly serves up new entertaining villains and situations for you to blast your way through. See a giant statue resembling the bad guy? Hell yeah it’s gonna chase you. Tired of the same old cultists? Don’t worry, there’s invisible vomiting bug monsters in the next room. And of course they have murderous pendulum traps. That too easy for you? Well, get ready for the parasitic medieval knight monsters a few rooms later.

Right after killing Chief Mendez in Chapter 2 and leaving the village, you’re introduced to Ramon “Zombie Napoleon” Salazar. The two characters are totally different, which normally might make a game feel inconsistent. Since we’ve already established that cranial explosions are no longer fatal, it just doesn’t feel so strange. Besides, it’s all in service of a sick jet ski escape finale.

Resident Evil 4

Not to mention the kick-ass unlockable Mercenaries mode.

When I first played through Resident Evil 4 over a decade ago, I immediately started a New Game+ run. Given all the games I had, there just wasn’t another I wanted to play more. A couple years later I spent a summer studying in England, and bought a GameCube for £30 just so that I could play through it again. I did it again on the Wii a few years later. I’m sure my nostalgia is blinding me a bit, but I will argue that I’m nostalgic for a reason. This is an incredibly well designed game. There’s a purity to its commitment to fun that modern game devs should learn from. As I said before, Resident Evil 4 spawned an army of imitators, but they all focused on the wrong thing. Just copying the control scheme doesn’t make you on the same level as Resident Evil 4. Because Resident Evil 4 isn’t about the transition from survival horror to action horror. It’s about making a great game.

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