MM takes a trip to Manchester’s resident gaming bar, Kyoto Lounge, to drive fast and kill dead people with copies of Forza Horizon and Resident Evil 6. Here’s what we thought of the harrowing ordeal...
Resident Evil 6: Out now, available on PS3 & X360
The latest instalment of Resident Evil creates a sense that a once great survival horror is succumbing to the mediocre third-person shooter craze.
Much of the feeling of dissatisfaction with the experience stems from the developers attempts to meddle with a successful formula in search of a wider audience.
Speaking to MCV, Capcom’s Head of Marketing, Dave Turner, said: “The dream would be that the millions of Call of Duty that are enjoying these fast paced online games are attracted to this Resident Evil.”
Unfortunately, this desire to attract more gamers has meant that Capcom have forgotten what made the game so enjoyable in the first place.
The game unfolds via a seemingly endless series of quick-time events, where players are required to mash one button or wiggle a stick to survive or progress.
While the use of quick-time events can add to a game, in Resident Evil 6 they occur at an irritatingly frequent rate which often impedes the games development and feel.
This creates a sense that gamers are not so much involved in playing the game, as blindly following series of orders which allow for no human input or variation.
Short bursts of play time are soon interrupted by another button-bashing sequence which leads to a flash of light, impeding you from seeing the culmination of the event itself.
The unremitting use of button-mashing or stick-wiggling moments means that gamers are never able to fully immerse themselves into the cinematic.
The atmosphere created throughout the game is at times tense, with suspenseful exploration, though this rarely has time to take effect due to the relentless cuts back to action.
The theme of short bursts of action interspersed with banal “press x to win” segments is evident right from the off, and their excessive presence detracts from whatever gameplay there is.
The game chooses when and where players can run, when you can draw a weapon and what routes to take through scenery, akin to being in a rat maze rather than a game.
The camera angles and movement are equally frustrating, often players find themselves unable to see where they are going and the movement itself is jerky.
On top of this, the games preferred brightness level makes vision nearly impossible and accentuates the gaming mantra of heading for the light when lost.
While the engulfing blackness adds to the sense of tension in some ways, in others its key effect is to mask the games visuals and add to the players feelings of confusion.
On the up side, the game’s narrative follows an intriguing pattern spread over multiple campaigns which reveal different elements of the story.
The action is well put together when it occurs, and the close quarters combat throws up some interesting visuals, as well as satisfying head-crushing.
However, while there some positives to be drawn, gamers are left with an overriding sense of disappointment as the elements that made the series so good have been forgotten in pursuit of a new audience.
Forza Horizon: Out now, available on X360
The newest game in the Forza motorsport series sees a departure from the clinical, disciplined world of track-racing to an open world free-roam at a bizarre music festival.
The Forza franchise is best known for providing players with a gaming experience that highlights the harsh, unforgiving reality that you are, in fact, NOT a driving god.
Turn 10’s simulation-level physics have been a long-standing staple of the games, but the latest instalment is a little more lenient on the automotively challenged.
Pairing up with new kid on the block, UK-based Playground Games, Microsoft have crafted a very accessible arcade-style racer with plenty of customisation.
From the paint shop to the tune-up garage, every facet of your car’s mechanical make-up is customisable.
Spark plugs can be swapped out to boost engine power by 3hp, or brake disks can be upgraded for better handling in the corners.
But for those who aren’t self-proclaimed virtual greasemonkeys, there are simplified options to upgrade cars using stock packages – extremely useful if you just want to race.
The racing itself has bootloads of options to vary the difficulty from virtual (braking assist, automatic transmission) to virtually impossible (ABS off, clutching and manual gear shifts).
Races come in a variety of formats to liven up the tried, tested and tired “beat other drivers” formula. For instance, certain “PR stunts” see you race against a biplane, helicopter or hot air balloon.
Despite being a pure racing game, they have still managed to slip in a vague plot around an imaginary festival with dialogue that doesn’t make you cringe at how forced it seems.
The Horizon festival hosts huge name bands from the global circuit alongside no-holds-barred racing around country roads, dirt-tracks and highways – which for some reason still have civilians pottering about on them despite the festival’s apparent occupation of an entire state.
Horizon becomes only the third game to be set in the lush, varied landscapes of Colorado, joining titles such as Homefront and, of course, Pac-Man.
Roads wind through badlands canyons, opening out into verdant fields lined with corn before rushing through a city and up into the Rockies.
The graphics are impressive for a generation of consoles at the end of their life, and attention to detail, such as oncoming road-users flashing their lights, really enhances the immersion.
Further improving the immersion are the radio stations – all three of them. Though there’s not a lot of musical choice (if you’re not into electronic indie, heavy bass or “rock” you’ll be out of luck) what is there is well-suited to the high-adrenaline dashes for the line.
But what really sets the stations apart from the usual game soundtrack is the DJs. From broadcasting talk of hidden cars nearby to rumours of a fresh-faced rookie climbing the ranks, the radio banter really makes you feel like you’re a part of the festival.
Overall, the whole experience seems very organic and inclusive, allowing racing veterans to tailor the game to their liking while leaving the door open for newcomers.
The only downside is a lack of local multiplayer, but as a racing sim or arcade, it’ll take a lot of effort to beat Horizon to the line.