Resident Evil: Dead Aim
Last time Capcom sent me a light-gun shooter I had finger cramps for a week. To be honest the human hand just wasn’t made for first person light gun shooters like Dino Stalker. Not only did the player have to maneuver around the environment with the stiff and unforgiving D-Pad, but also had to strafe with the inconvenient side buttons while pressing the trigger at the same time. The game needed three hands and as most of us know, humans only come with two.
If anything the game had promise, the premise was decent and the action really wasn’t all that bad, save for the massive hand cramps. This is why I’m glad to see that Capcom didn’t give up on this innovative line of games and opted to produce this above average game. Make no mistake about it, Time Crisis 2 is still king, but this series of titles is slowly creeping up on Namco’s aging franchise.
What makes these games so interesting is that it gives the gamer a reason for their plight. Instead of throwing them in the middle of a heated conflict and saying “here, take this gun and shoot everything that moves” Capcom instead says “here, take this handgun, uncover this mystery and if you can, kill some zombies for us on the way out.” Because of this, gamers are more inclined to devote more time to this game as opposed to playing it in short spurts.
Don’t expect an award-winning storyline but at least be thankful that there’s one here. Told via a combination of in-game letters and pre-rendered cutscenes, Dead Aim tells the tale of a cruise gone horribly wrong. It’s no coincidence that the ill-fated ship that has ties to Umbrella, the company that unleashed the initial T-Virus in Raccoon City. When the player begins he’ll find dead bodies strewn about the cabin, after that it doesn’t take long for them to rise for a small snack. Looks like generic blond hero is the main course of today’s menu.
Unlike Dino Stalker the game shifts out to a 3rd person perspective when the player is maneuvering about the environments. When the trigger on the GunCon 2 is pressed the view shifts to the more traditional first person perspective that lightgun lovers have come to love. To ease the aiming burden a little more the game has a semi-auto targeting system that will turn the vantage point to the next closest enemy. This makes killing hordes of zombies easier, especially when the sneaky bastards try to sneak up on your blind spot.
As the game progresses players will pick up bigger and better weapons. The arsenal ranges from the initial semi-automatic pistol to automatics and shotguns. Strangely enough the game features a silenced pistol early on but it doesn’t do much considering it’s not possible to sneak up on enemies. I guess some of the designers were eager to get their Zombie Gear Solid on.
With the GunCon 2 gameplay is fairly intuitive and solid. Headshots still don’t quite work properly, sometimes the screen will indicate that you’ve hit the zombie on the head but it’ll just brush it off and rush headlong towards you. When it does register the zombie will be sent flying across the room but it’s random at best. Most of the time you’ll have more than enough ammo at your disposal so this hiccup doesn’t quite ruin the experience.
Surprisingly enough we found that playing with the Dual Shock 2 was actually much easier than playing with the GunCon 2. This is due to the on-screen cursor that accompanies those who opt to play with the gamepad. There is less margin for error and as a result, it’s much easier to ensure that the bullets hit their targets, especially when it counts. If the option is available the GunCon 2 is still the way to go, but if you’re having trouble stopping the zombies you might want to switch to the gamepad for a little while. We also had some issues with the actual calibration of the gun itself as it never felt as accurate here as it did in Time Crisis 2.
In true Resident Evil tradition this adventure calls for gamers to solve puzzles in addition to ceasing the zombie infestation. While not quite up to the scope of a Resident Evil Zero or even a Dino Crisis, there’s much more exploration and backtracking than one might expect from a game of this genre. Thankfully the puzzles are pretty simple (usually ones where you’ll have to search for a means of unlocking doors) and won’t stand in your way all that often.
Where the game differs from the other entries in the RE series is in terms of atmosphere. The other Resident Evil titles were so successful because they kept the gamer on edge throughout the entire experience. Remember how it felt when those dogs jumped through the windows and scared the hell out of you in the first RE? If you’re like Bart, you probably wet your pants and cried to mommy each time you had to pass through a set of windows. That’s the main problem with Dead Aim, there aren’t any genuine chills. With the exception of the whole T-Virus and Umbrella Corp thing there’s not much relation to the core series of games. The RE license seems plastered on just in order to garner a few extra sales on the basis of name recognition.
In another deviation from the franchise’s watermark, Dead Aim doesn’t look all that great. Player and enemy models are blocky and bland. With the exception of a few nice lighting touches, Dead Aim looks like a high-resolution last-generation PSOne game. Most rooms feel woefully generic and feature very little to differentiate themselves from one another. Textures are of low-quality and are usually blurry or unrefined. Most of the CG cutscenes are done pretty well but they won’t be winning any awards anytime soon.
It’s hard to get the audio wrong in a lightgun shooter; after all, how hard is it to replicate a gunshot over and over again right? The trademark voice acting and zombie noises are here in full effect as well. While the effects are decent, we couldn’t help but think about what could have been. This is one of the rare instances where Dolby Pro Logic II would have made a world of difference. Sometimes you’ll hear a zombie pop up but since the audio is encoded in stereo it’s a little difficult to discern just where exactly the noises are emanating from. Had there been support for positional audio the player would have had an easier time turning to meet their enemies.
Dead Aim isn’t without its share of problems; for one the game is surprisingly simple. In most circumstances the gamer can simply run through their enemies en route to the next destination. See that room full of zombies? Don’t worry about taking them out, just run around them. Apparently zombies still haven’t learned how to turn a doorknob.
It also gets boring and tedious at times. Most of the exploration and puzzles are simple enough to solve, but they just seem too tedious to be in this kind of game. There are far too many pockets of quiet time where nothing is being killed or blown apart. This means that more time is spent maneuvering with that unforgiving d-pad on the back of the gun than pulling the trigger.
Even with these problems Dead Aim comes with a recommendation. Casual lightgun shooter fans may want to think twice about picking up Dead Aim while GunCon 2 owners should make this a priority on their lists. In a market filled with hordes of clones and “me-toos” Capcom has done well to differentiate itself from the masses. It’s refreshing and different enough to seem unique, yet simple and familiar enough to be appealing for casual gamers. Beware though, if you hated Dino Stalker and Gun Survivor you’ll want to avoid this one at all costs. If you had even the slightest bit of fun in either, then by all means, pick this one up.
Surprisingly decent light-gun shooter. Capcom has done well to improve upon the deficiencies of its predecessors while adding a few interesting features. A must-own for GunCon 2 owners.
Rating: 7.3 Average
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.
It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.
It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.
When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."
As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.
When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.
Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile