James Troughton, Newcastle upon Tyne
It's fitting that I'm playing Resident Evil 2 amidst a global pandemic that has pushed us into self-isolation, but that doesn't mean that Leon and Clair are locking themselves away.
On the contrary, they're knee-deep in puzzles, exploring their tight-knit semi-linear locations and fighting the undead. Resident Evil 2 challenges you mentally and mechanically, pushing you to think and to act, which is a refreshing change of pace from the beat-em-ups that I've been hoarding.
To be clear, I've never played a game in the Resident Evil franchise, and so when I saw the remaster of the second entry on sale at Winter, I couldn't help but nab that sweet, sweet deal. Now that we're locked away for who-knows-how-long, it's paying off in spades, and I'm already planning to buy more from the series, to complete my initiation into the Resident Evil fan-club.
Related: Review: Resident Evil 2
It starts off incredibly strong, with an eerily quiet gas station obscured by fog and rubble. At this tucked away diamond in the rough, you stumble upon your first encounter with the undead. From this point, things get overwhelming and it doesn't slow down, and even though the primary focus is horror, it's a game filled with heart and passion, although the daunting sense of paranoia that stems from Mr. X's footsteps lingers beyond the realms of the virtual experience.
Alex Darbyshire, York
The clock in Newcastle’s town center struck 19:00 as I said goodbye to my friends, who I likely wouldn’t be seeing for quite some time. I headed home, trying to keep my emotions crammed in my head. I needed to relax, and forget for a while. What a beautiful coincidence that Animal Crossing: New Horizons had released that very same day.
This game is a marked improvement over New Leaf, Happy Hope Designer and Pocket Camp, but seems to incorporate elements form all three. What I want to focus on most is the captivating game feel. The music, the colours, the ambient island sound effects. It’s almost like Nintendo knew this game would be coming out in a fearful time.
Relaxation is baked into every line of this game’s code, right down to the animations, which are all adorably cartoony, only helped by the higher framerate of the Switch. I can’t call this a review, having only played for a day, but New Horizons definitely achieved at cheering me up when I was feeling low.
George Boatfield, Newcastle upon Tyne
The Courier office can often be a place for moments of confession. Some admit an adoration for unspeakable things, while others might test their luck on that week’s ‘question corner’. I, however, keep things controversial - I’m a gaming editor that, regrettably, plays very few video games.
It’s a wonder I’m still on the team, and therefore understandable that I’m counting this feature as a silver lining to the dreaded coronavirus. The calendar is as empty as my fridge, and that can only mean one thing: video games ahoy!
I’m going to kick things off with a game that recently featured in our commemorative look-back on the PlayStation 2 - Japan Studio’s Shadow of the Colossus. Specifically, I’ve decided to work my way through the PS4 remaster/remake by Bluepoint Games.
Before even reaching the prompt to begin a new game, the intro cinematic sets an imposing tone as the game’s protagonist, Wander, ventures across picturesque regions in search of a forbidden land at the ‘ends of the world’, just as he does in the PS2 original. Although, structure is the only similarity that remains in this introduction. This is the first showcase of the new visuals, allowing players to truly appreciate the framing, pacing and music originally set out by Japan Studio.
It’s amazing to see how far the technology has come, and this is honoured in the roots of what powers the game. It was only once I had left the new game screen and gained control of my character that I uncovered the special sauce to this version - it feels exactly like the PS2 original. The secret? The original source code is running in tandem with the new graphics engine, creating a best-of-both scenario.
This makes the task of destroying sixteen colossi throughout the game world comfortably familiar. In my time with the game today, I managed to venture out and destroy the very first beast. A mark of progression as clear as that will surely bring me back during this quarantine period, satisfying my inner adventurer and providing that familiar, nostalgic feeling.
Featured image credit: IGDB & IMDb