My Vault of Knowledge
I don't know if you can search for users on IGN, although I'm sure you can, if you're still interested in the reviews I write (judging by what I wrote here, some people were), or if you care to hear thoughts on whatever else I think about, look me up. I'm going by The_Stupendous_Yappi know in reference to The X-Files, thankee-sai! My first review is of Final Fantasy VII, by the way.
I don't know if you can search for users on IGN, although I'm sure you can, if you're still interested in the reviews I write (judging by what I wrote here, some people were), or if you care to hear thoughts on whatever else I think about, look me up. I'm going by The_Stupendous_Yappi know in reference to The X-Files, thankee-sai!
I don't know if you can search for users on IGN, although I'm sure you can, if you're still interested in the reviews I write (judging by what I wrote here, some people were), or if you care to hear thoughts on whatever else I think about, look me up. I'm going by The_Stupendous_Yappi know in reference to The X-Files, thankee-sai!
I was lying in bed this morning and started thinking. What are my favorite films of the year? Well, I thought and thought and thought, and finally had my mind made up, and now its time to put them up!
Best Film of 2007- Zodiac
Best Director of 2007- David Fincher (Zodiac)
Best Screenplay- Satoshi Kon and Seishi Minakami (Paprika)
Best Actor in a Leading Role- Christian Bale (3:10 to Yuma)
Best Actress in a Leading Role- Jodie Foster (The Brave One)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role- Tom Cruise (Lions For Lambs)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role- Meryl Streep (Lions for Lambs)
Best Cinematography- Ron Schmidt (The Mist)
Best Sound Design- Tim Prebble (30 Days of Night)
Best Foreign Film- Paprika
Best Animated Film- Paprika
Best Editing- M.J. Fiore (The Girl Next Door)
Best Documentary- Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement
Best Visual Effects- Transformers
Best Original Score- Susumu Hirasawa (Paprika)
Best Use of Licensed Music- Hurdy Gurdy Man- Donovan (Zodiac)
3Jan 08I've only completed the first two missions of the game, and it's already seriously trying my patience. How pathetic is it that Acre is a million miles away, yet its still littered with enemies so plentiful, that I have no hope to survive in combat, so I have blend all the way there, which sets you at a snail's pace, and is deadly boring. This is exponentially worse than The Wind Waker's sailing. Furthermore, if a guard even sees me GET ON A HORSE I trigger an alert. If I stop blending FOR A SECOND, I trigger an alert. Half the time when I'm on the horse and blending ANYWAY I TRIGGER AN ALERT. I'm only on Memory Block 3 and already this game is killing itself. As of this moment, this game is looking like the biggest missed potential of the year. What a great start, what great moments, all bogged down by what can only be looked at as sheer incompetence.
It's nice to see that Gamespot has been exposed for the incredible shill I've suspected it of being for a long time. I never liked Jeff Gerstmann's reviews, and from what I've seen of him, I didn't like Jeff Gerstmann. He was smug, and seemingly, largely ignorant on the subject of writing a competent review. But the world is filled with people, and several of them have differing opinions. And to see an editor who's been on the payroll for 10 years, show up to work one day, see his belongings in a box outside of his office, and upon attempting to enter said office discover he's been locked out, is painful and sad.
It's been said that Jeff Gerstmann has been displaying "unprofessional review practices" for a long time. Frankly, I agree. It's been said that this is the "straw that broke the camel's back." That, I do not understand. If for several years you've been having problems with someone's style, you sack him. You sack him as soon as the problem comes up. You give him a severence package, and let him go respectfully. In my estimation, this guy has been a hack since the website started; CNET admits they've been having problems with his reviews for years, but they don't let him go until he's been in for 10 years? And when they do he comes in to work to find he's been locked out of his own office? All this, right on the heels of him writing a bad review for a much-hyped game that was surely displeasurable to an ad giant who's probably spent millions on Gamespot over the years? An ad giant who could spell fiscal trouble for CNET if they pulled support? Not to mention that the review of Kane and Lynch was actually pulled OFF of this website until an outcry of great magnitude convinced them to put it back up. Not to mention the fact that Eidos has been quoting publications like Game Informer praising Kane and Lynch, and Game Informer not only gave Kane and Lynch a tepid score of 7, THEY DIDN'T EVEN SAY THE THINGS THEY WERE QUOTED FOR.
Although Jeff Gerstmann was a polarizing figure, and I've never particularly enjoyed his work, this situation just doesn't pass the smell test. It's either bad timing and cold stupidity on CNET's part, or Gamespot has just made a suicide attempt, exposing themselves for what they truly are.
Soon I'll probably finish that piece on videogame violence, I've just been a bit busy, I'm missing class as I write this, I just felt that this was something that I needed to say. So, if you read it, thank you.
A hot debate nowadays in the gaming community is whether or not videogames can be considered art. I'm sure most serious videogamers and 99% of those in the reviewer community feel that they are, and some may remember the spirited debate between author Clive Barker (who contends that they are) and Pulitzer-Prize winning film critic Roger Ebert (who contends that they aren't with a horribly illogical argument, but one with sharp wit nonetheless). I'm here to say that before we can even answer that question, we must look at the poisoning atmosphere that comprises its context.
The videogaming review community clamors to print articles defending videogames as art in its magazines and on its websites, but anytime a videogame comes along that gets a little unwanted attention, maybe tackles a hard subject, like Manhunt, it automatically gets thrown under the bus in an attempt to distance the industry from it and put it to bed, thus ending the media commotion. Forgetting the games that actually try to make a point flies in the face of your entire stance as games as art! A Clockwork Orange and Blue Velvet come along and are hailed as beautiful and necessary films, yet they are very hard to watch. Let's even rewind the clock a few years back when films like Otto Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm and Elia Kazan's Baby Doll directly challenged the Ratings Code at the time. Were they thrown under the bus? Did they "cross the line?" No. They're classics.
The gaming community wants games to be called art, and they can bluster on the subject to no end. But that'll never happen if, should a game come along that's hard to play and asks serious questions, it isn't celebrated, but hated. The gaming community likes to pretend it doesn't exist, so they can debate on why there IS a debate on why games like Dead Rising and Guitar Hero III's status as true art is contested. They talk, but when it comes time to put their money where their mouth is and actually stand for something, they back away. Far away.
It's time a stand was taken. It's time we stood up for games like Manhunt. Or, at least, MORE of us stood up for games like Manhunt and sent a message loud and clear. We will not let this go away.
Manhunt is too violent, they whine. Thus, it gets bashed. If Hot Coffee was getting more attention before Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas came out, I'd be willing to bet the reaction to the game would have been much cooler, based off the history of reaction to these things, and the shameful reaction it got after the minigame was brought to light. I personally feel Hot Coffee should have been straight in the game from the get-go, as, after all, it does nothing that you don't see in R rated films. There isn't even any nudity!
But no. That's not how it goes around here. We're either afraid of what we don't understand, or pretend not to understand that of which we are afraid. But the quickest way to end this debate would be to stand tall in the face of hard art and embrace it, not hide it in the shadows in favor of Wii Sports.
Is there a line, though? Is there another side to this? That's what I will address in the third and final part of my thoughts on this subject.
In 2003, Rockstar North, famed creators of the Grand Theft Auto series of games, delivered Manhunt, a gritty and dark stealth-action videogame with shocking violence and a lot to say about society's exposure to violence and a culture desensitized to it.
It tells the story of a man who must commit a horrid, and perhaps contradictory act, take the lives of several people so that he may see redemption. James Earl Cash is put to death, or so everyone thinks. Although he didn't actually perish, he wakes up in hell. A hell tailor-made to his own design, where he, and by extension, you, must repeat his sin over and over. Murder. Cash loses his taste for the act, and decides to end this game so that he may go free, and nobody else should experience it. Manhunt IS bleak, but Cash receives his redemption in the end (evident by his burying the weapon of his nemesis, the pure and unadulterated essence of Cash's own nature, Piggsy, into the man who put him through this torment). The game was atmospheric, terrifying, and had one of the most beautiful scores in recent videogaming. It showed shocking violence through a voyeuristic security cam, reflecting the masses need for blood.
But, of course, that's not what the news media saw. They saw a cheap chance to latch onto some ratings by telling you how your own children would be playing this video game. They saw an easy mark to decry videogaming and declare society officially down the tubes. The same newspeople who, on my personal local news channel, ran a segment called Zoom Zoom Doom, about teenagers driving cars. That's not alarmist, is it? And about how SAWfest 2007 will negatively affect your children. Despite the fact that its HORRORfest 2007, and all the films are rated R, so children CAN NOT enter without supervision. And it was the same with the game Manhunt (an M rated game, for those 17 and up) since the news media and critics of video gaming like the glamorous game-hatin attorney 'Miami' Jack Thompson thrive on the lie that video gaming is still a children's toy. They contend that video gaming isn't allowed to tackle a serious subject, like Manhunt does, based simply and succinctly on their selective coverage of the game's graces. They contend that videogaming needs legislation. That's an easy case to make when they control the information. When they cover stories this way, and show the violence of tragedies like Columbine on television, they fall right in line with the point Manhunt attempted to make. The joke is on them.
In 2007, Rockstar released Manhunt 2, for the PS2 and PSP yes, but, most importantly, for the Wii. Manhunt 2 is a beautiful game. Not quite the experience of the first game, but still a beautiful and terrifying trip down the rabbit hole into the dark recesses of the mind of a man forced to do terrible things. It's a different story than the first game, speaking not so much on society (although there is a chilling section set in a television studio), but on a different level. A truly more personal level. The potential for evil in all man's hearts, wrapped up in an original conspiracy theory package. The score is there, the voice acting is there, the intelligence and wit is there, and of course, the violence is there.
Violence, it seems, is all there is to Manhunt 2 if you watch the news. They do everything they can do alarm us and wrench ratings from the game. Even down to a local reporter showing adults a poster of the game and asking them what they think it means to their kids. Even down to Charlie Gibson scowling at this motion-sensing murder simulator. I'm sorry, but that isn't even news. Whatever happened to the days of Woodward and Bernstein? The news reports are scathing and uninformed. Nobody learns anything, and the time and the platform are wasted. It is just another case of "It's 10 o'clock and your children are playing with something RIGHT NOW that will kill them in 59 minutes. More at 11." Pathetic.
So maybe society is going down the tubes. Maybe it is. But if it is, I think the cause isn't violent video games (you notice movies don't get this type of treatment). It's when news organizations, real news organizations, not fake ones like Fox News, don't take the time to know what they're talking about. It's all about the ratings, and not about the truth. They want to alarm us with the bad side of games, and not tell you of any kind of art therein. Maybe one day video games will be past this, but when the news media ITSELF is acting like the League of Decency did for early film, you know society is in trouble. Of course, there's another aspect to this. A few more, actually. They will, of course, be covered, in parts 2 and 3.
Sort of. I've decided to return to post a three part discussion on a pressing point in video gaming today, and I would really love to get some feedback from people I respect and trust, so I decided to come here. I hope you read them when they start, and I hope you give me your thoughts! Expect them soon.
P.S. Guided By Voices' song "I Am A Tree" SO deserved to be on Guitar Hero III.
G4. Remember them? They're the crock of **** that bought out the wonderful TechTv, filled with subpar shows of only one subject (video games, as if you can have an entire channel of them), and kept only a few of TechTv's old shows. Of course, they were staffed with new writers that were, apparently, brain dead. Soon the rest of TechTv's old shows were dumped, leaving only X-Play, which by now is a rotting husk of what it used to be, and The Screen Saver's reworked with snobby, cloying hosts (Kevin Periera, I'm looking at you) and titled, disastrously, Attack of the Show. Moronic. What a forced, contrived attempt to tap into the "geek" culture. They brought back TechTv's Wired For Sex, but the reruns feel more voyeuristic than educational now, thanks to the immature teenager wanking off in his mom's bathroom feel of the entire channel. From moronic original programming like Code Monkeys, Cinematech (The worst show on television, behind MTV's Next and MTV's Exposed), and the aforementioned Attack of the Show (which I'll speak a little more about in a minute), to reruns of the most irrelevant shows imaginable. I.E. FASTLANE. McG's FASTLANE. Are you kidding me? Cheaters? Cops? I thought this was, "TV for Gamers". It's kind of pathetic. Even the Star Trek reruns have a completely different feel, banking only on their poor special effects and William Shatner instead of the earnest attempts at sci-fi storytelling. This is confirmed by the scrolling chat at the bottom, frequented by G4's oh so intelligent fans.
"What is cooler, Better Graphics? Or Better Graphics?
"I think teh betta graphixx is coola becuz I can blas my cuzin at Halo."
"I think they'z coola because all your base are belong to us! Hooah!"
See what I mean?
Then we have Attack of the Show. Despite it's worthless hosts (Kevin Periera and Kirsten Holt have absolutely no business being on there. Period) that isn't the worst part. There's The Loop, where they let their unknowingly self-parodying and self-satiring "fans" with clever names like Captain Smee get on the soapbox and spout pretentious and somewhat stupid nonsense. It's really pathetic to hear these people make know-it-all statements that, in fact, do not, know it all. The only good moment of The Loop, and one of two good moments in G4's pathetic existence, is when Adam Sessler pulled the brain-slug out of his head long enough to rip Jack Thompson a new one. Of course the next time I watched X-Play he had it back in (if anyone has reruns of him with Kate Botello in Extended Play, or even the early days with Morgan Webb in X-Play, enjoy 'em). AOTS and the whole channel revel in mediocrity, giving Blades of Glory an entire segment, but I don't think I heard INLAND EMPIRE mentioned once. The next film they latch on to? My guess is Balls Of Fury. By the way, I said there were two instances where G4 showed real emotion. One was Adam Sessler vs. Jack Thompson. The other was the final episode of Unscrewed with Martin Sargent.
Then we have bias. One thing I cannot abide at a video game publication. I canceled my subsciption to Nintendo Power many years ago, and decided to never again read a fanboy rag, that only mentions one company at the expense of others. And that's why I don't mess with OXM or PSM either. They don't count, in my book. I can't abide bias in other places either, when it comes at the expense of another system. Case in point, wait for it, this place. Right here. They're treatment of Nintendo's Wii has been pathetic since the start. Horrible reviews written by horrible reviewers (ever since Greg left it all went downhill, and fast) like Jeff Gerstmann. Shoddy coverage, and unfair nitpicking in their reviews and previews, while Microsoft and Sony have been given preferential treatment. It's pathetic. Just like all those websites who champion the Wii as the sole worhtwhile video game system anymore. It's not and you know it's not. It's different, yes, it's innovative, yes, it's a load of fun, I do believe, and I think so do most, but let's not forget other great games on other great systems. I, slowly and slowly, have begun to like IGN more and more thanks to Matt Cassamassina being a crack reviewer and reporter. Today I trust them over the mess that this website has become. I even picked up a subscription to Game Informer. While, yes, there are some editors I don't particularly like (Joe, I'm looking at you), and they clearly have a bias toward the PS3, they don't neglect the Wii or the X-Box 360, which is beautiful. At CaptainDingo's suggestion, I've moved on to GameTrailers, and I strongly suggest anyone ready to hear some straight talk again, come on over. I may stick around here long enough to track comments on this particular entry, if there are any, but this is it. I'm finished. The internet is too vast and large to be stuck in a dead-end like this.
To Saruman, Evil_Tab, FernandoDante and everyone else I've had the pleasure of corresponding with these days (except Ownage_GOD)
I bid you adieu.
First off, I watched Aqua Teen Hungerforce Colon Movie Film for Theaters- 8/10, I also watched Superbad- 9/10, Fallen 7/10, Interview With the Vampire- 9/10, INLAND EMPIRE- 10/10, sounds great so far, right? Then Bachelor Party Vegas (I knew it would suck) 3/10, Species 4/10, Species 2/10 (What garbage! You know a movies bad when it stars Marg Helgenberger, Michael Madsen, Peter Boyle, Mykelti Williamson, Natasha Henstridge, James Cromwell, and Richard Belzer AND I STILL GIVE IT A TWO OUT OF TEN! ARRGGHH)
Anyway, here is part two of the list, and if this offends anyone, you have my apologies, but I will not take it back.
Sean Hannity- I don't know if I've ever seen someone so misinformed so smug.
Bill O'Reilly- He doesn't do much but lie and talk about himself. And lie about himself.
Michelle Malkin- If she tells you she's not a racist, laugh.
Rush Limbaugh- That he would stand for morals and be hooked to goofballs sayssomething. That he would make fun of Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's Disease says a lot more.
Jack Thompson- Go figure.
Ron Luce- This guy is truly scary. He looks like a modern day Jim Jones, and his followers look really scary.
Margaret Perrin- She's a GOD WARRIOR! Seriously, though, she's good for a laugh.
John Gibson- Look up what he said about Jon Stewart.
Ann Coulter- What a pathetic jerk she is. Someone threw a pie at her once, which I feel is stupid. It's a waste of pie.
Dr. Phil- I'll be honest, I agree with him 0.001% of the time.
Judge Judy- Don't you have to like...be elected to be a judge?
Oliver Stone- He makes great films, but I wholeheartedly dislike the man.
Spike Lee- See Oliver Stone.
90% of all film, music, video game, and book critics- I don't think it's rocket science to see why this is.
Karl Rove- Elite Effete Snobs? Who are you, Spiro Agnew?
Everyone involved in the making of the film Are We Done Yet.
Mr. Bean- He's kinda creepy if you ask me.
Uwe Boll- Not only is he a jerk, he doesn't even make good films! What a crock!
Alberto Gonzalez- You know, actually, I can't recall why I don't like him.
Rupert Murdoch- Don't you see that taking newspapers with a liberal bias and making them newspapers with a conservative bias is a bit....uh...hypocritical?
Terry Goodkind- What a pompous snob. I'm gonna let you in on a few secrets. You aren't W. Somerset Maugham, so drop the charade. Your books aren't that deep, so drop the charade. I count more spelling and grammar mistakes in your novels, Mr. Goodkind, than most other authors. That being said, why do I keep reading them? The characters I guess. moving on...
Ayn Rand- Intelligent, but I completely disagree with her outlook on life.
Barry Manilow- No Barry, you don't make the songs that make the whole world smile. Just the people that hear them in the elevator.
Flavor Flav- But am I really even supposed to anymore? Flavor of Love is a long way from Fight The Power.
23Aug 07What has the Gamespot User review system turned into? I can't assign scores unique to the categories? I can only go on a .5 basis? This is idiotic. I find sufficient time for Internet Access for the first time in several months and this is what greets me? Please tell me there was something I missed somewhere.
Once upon a time I made an entry concerning licensed music in films, and suggested that in the future I may do a post concerning original scores. Well, here is the list of my favorite original scores.
The RZA and Robert Rodriguez' work on Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films. Just like the films themselves are like night and day, so are their respective scores. Just like both films are wonderful, so are their scores. RZA did a wonderful job on Kill Bill Vol. 1, creating a fierce blaze of hip-hop and electronica that merges with Tarantino's writing and visual flair to push the samurai genre, kicking and screaming, into a new age. Some of the tracks are classics, including one that is now used in a phone commercial, and whatever that awesome song is you hear when Lucy Liu is walking down the hallway with her escort that you hear during sports games and stuff all the time now. It's a blast to listen to, just as the film is a blast to watch. Of course, Kill Bill Vol. 2 is a little different. It's much slower paced film, richer and more complex, allowing truly deep and intricate new characters into the forefront, and allowing old characters to grow. It's also a different genre. Kill Bill Vol. 2 is the most inspired western since Unforgiven (and just about the only western, at that). So, Robert Rodriguez was paid the grand sum of $1 to score the film with his band, and what a job they did. It doesn't feel like a song written to emulate the old western songs, it is a new western song, just as new and as enjoyable as Morricone's work several years before. Tarantino's epic is an odd beast, and one only he can make, but it's a classic, through and trough.
The Dust Brothers work on David Fincher's Fight Club. A truly inspired score that sets a very strange tone for the film. Fight Club is a film that could have gone several different ways. An oppressive character study, an action film, or a dark comedy. Somehow, The Dust Brothers music managed to capture the spirit of all three with their sharp sounds that meld into a rush of electronic beats in split seconds. I think the Dust Brothers saw what was really at the heart of this film, and wrote their music accordingly. It's a comedy, so they wrote some funny music. It's dark, so they wrote some slower pieces, and it's got quite a bit of action, so they wrote some fast pieces. It's hands down one of the best scores I've heard in recent years, and it's as wondrous and as barrier-breaking as the film itself.
Climax Golden Twins work on Brad Anderson's Session 9. The film has a very strong sense of claustrophobia and thick tension, even when our group of characters are at their friendliest. It's everything good about Hitchcock, De Palma, Argento, and Fincher. It's down-to-earth look and struggling, ne'er-do-well characters help to draw us in, and Climax Golden Twins' atmospheric, experimental score shuts the doors behind us. Their music could stand on its own to unsettle you, much like the score of the original Silent Hill videogame. However, instead of Silent Hill's industrial rage, Climax Golden Twins take a much more low-key approach. Soft sounds broken by sharp, loud, breaks, sustained notes, and simple escalations in tone work well with the film to create one of the most unsettling atmospheres I've ever experienced. It's a great score, and I'd like to see them do some more work.
Angelo Badalamenti's work on David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. For most of Lynch's career, standout pieces of music in his work were either licensed (The Adagio For Strings in The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet and In Dreams in Blue Velvet, Wicked Game in Wild At Heart, Song to the Siren in Lost Highway) or original songs, but distinct deviations from the normal score (In Heaven in Eraserhead, Mysteries of Love in Blue Velvet), and although Mulholland Drive does have a standout moment (Rebekkah Del Rio's Lllorando), the rest of the score is just as, if not more, mesmerizing. This is, in my opinion, Badalamenti's best work (aside from maybe Twin Peaks). His dark, seductive evocative music fits the tone of the film to a T, and helps it pull on your emotions and senses, which is what David Lynch does best. He's done great work on most of Lynch's other films, as well as films like Cabin Fever and the videogame Indigo Prophecy, but Mulholland Drive is his personal peak.
Damon Albarn's work on Antonia Bird's Ravenous. Some people may know who Damon Albarn is. He was the lead singer of Blur for a long time (I think they've broken up), and is also the lead singer for the band Gorillaz. They may not know of a wonderful score he made to a little independent film in 1999. Ravenous is a strange horror story that takes place just after the Mexican-American War in the early 1840s. The films "hero", played very well and very low-key by Guy Pearce, is a coward who stumbled onto the enemy's command station, and captured. He is promoted in rank, but demoted to a nothing fort in the middle of nowhere, where he meets the strange denizens of the fort. It's strange film about cannibalism and the legend of the Wendigo, and is original and innovative in every sense of the world. It's given a darkly comedic tone thanks to Albarn's old-tyme score, which is done in a strange time signature, and seems like it was indeed written 150 years ago. It's a hidden gem for a very talented person, and stands out even among Blur's Parklife and Gorillaz' Demon Days.
Tomandandy's work on Alexandre Aja's The Hills Have Eyes. I didn't like the original The Hills Have Eyes, and was originally disgusted by the thought of a remake. Then I got some hope when I heard it was to be helmed by Alex Aja, as I had liked his film High Tension, even if the film abandoned all story logic near the end so they could get some wonderful imagery. I still wasn't sold, but when a friend of mine went to see a matinee, and Tomandandy's huge, glacier, almost siren-like chords boomed in the first few seconds, I was sold. This continued throughout the film, to be honest. I was always being rocked and glued to my seat with the way the music enhanced what was actually happening in the film itself to such an exponential degree. By the time things take off, I was squirming with a sick feeling in my stomach and my heart was going out the window. I couldn't predict anything that was happening as the film was whirling by me, it was all I could do to keep up, and I think it was the score that kept me from my throne of scrutiny. The score has a hint of spaghetti western in it as well. Or maybe Sam Peckinpah, which could be since I also got a whiff of Straw Dogs in the character Doug. Tomandandy blossomed into one of my favorite acts for musical scores.
Clint Mansell's work on Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream. This film is one of my favorite films, and Clint Mansell's horrifying score cements the experience. Aronofsky makes films you need to surrender yourself into in order to fully enjoy, and this is no exception. While its story and characters sink deeper and deeper, so does the score. It goes from dark but kind of optimistic, which really pulls at you when you picture what's going on, to dark, which really pulls at you when you picture what's going on, to scarier than several movies, just as the film is. It takes just about the warmest, nicest sounding instrument on the block, the violin, and makes it into a sharp object of aural anguish. Combine that with the extreme imagery of Aronofsky's masterpiece, and you have a film that is, quite simply, dangerous.
Jaye Barnes-Luckett's work on Lucky McKee's May. May is, for me, the best and most interesting horror film in the last ten years, and I'm a better cinephile for having seen it. It's not about the shock, or the horror, it's about the heart. May is about making you care and feel for its characters, and then breaking your heart. Lucky McKee has already became one of my favorite directors, after a resume of just three films and one episode of a television series (which will appear later on this list). One of his chief talents is his ear for music, and it certainly doesn't help that the person who writes the music for his films is one of most talented musicians in recent memory. Jaye Barnes-Luckett is a great writer. Her songs carry a lot of weight and emotion, just like Lucky's films, and when they combine, the experience is two-fold. Rob Zombie, Alexandre Aja, Eli Roth, Neil Marshall, and Richard Kelly are all great up-and-coming horror directors, but Lucky McKee is the strongest of them (except maybe Richard Kelly, if he can keep cranking them out as good as Donnie Darko he has a good shot), and is the true future of the heart of horror, even if the others (once again, Richard Kelly is the possible exception) are the future of the art of the scare.
Clint Mansell's work on Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain. The Fountain was nominated for some prestigious awards, but was greeted with mixed reaction from critics, and somewhat better reactions from audiences. Well, it's one of my favorite movies. There. I said earlier that Aronofsky makes "experience" films. What does that mean? It means you have to let the film wash over you, don't appraise the film, don't judge it on one certain thing, because its greater than the sum of its parts. The story, imagery, acting, colors, sounds, everything is meant to be taken as a large...well...experience. A large part of the experience is the music. This is some of Mansell's best work, but then again, most of what Mansell does is his best work. He's quite talented. This movie really had me going, it pulled on me and threw my emotions around like a rag doll, but not to such terrifying levels as in Requiem For a Dream. Mansell's warm, organic score is simply beautiful. And I mean beautiful.
Jaye Barnes-Luckett's work on Lucky McKee's Masters of Horror: Sick Girl. Sick Girl is my favorite Masters of Horror episode because it doesn't contend to be anything other than what it is. A 50s-esque goofball romantic comedy turned evil bug movie. But it's done with Lucky McKee's distinct sensibility. My interest in this was originally that of Erin Brown. I've been a fan of hers for quite awhile and was ecstatic to hear she was making the attempt at a crossover into serious acting, and she apparently did a good job on this. Then I saw May, and learned that Lucky McKee directed this, so my anticipation for the DVD release was two-fold. I was seriously excited. So I started going out and buying various MoH episodes, until I got Sick Girl, then I quit caring about them when I couldn't find Miike Takashi's Imprint ANYWHERE. Anyway, Jaye Barnes-Luckett is a one woman band, and May was done under her band Alien Tempo Experiment 13, with a friend named Angelo Metz. She changed the band name for Poperratic, and Sick Girl was her first Poperratic score I do believe. Ben Boyer (who pops up in Lucky's latest movie Roman) also contributes a great song, as well as a French-Canadian band called Plywood ¾'s. The music in the hour long episode is outstanding. I mean it is simply stellar. Better than May? Certainly no worse, that's for sure. The weak Lucky McKee score is The Woods, but Poperratic didn't do that one. The Roman score is pretty darned good as well.
Well, there you have it. My favorite original scores in film. If you stuck it out with me, I thank you very much for reading.
Undone (The Sweater Song)- Weezer
Where is my Mind?- The Pixies
Stairway to Heaven- Led Zeppelin
Purple Haze- Jimi Hendrix
Eruption- Van Halen
Bloody Cape- Deftones
Song 2- Blur
Do You Love Me Now?- The Breeders
Communication Breakdown- Led Zeppelin
Southern Man- Neil Young
Rockin' in the Free World- Neil Young
Laura's Theme- Angelo Badalamenti
The Perfect Drug- Nine Inch Nails
A Million Ways- OK Go
Who Are You?- The Who
Black Hole Sun- Soundgarden
Nobody Loves Me- Portishead
Cheap Sunglasses- ZZ Top.
Well, folks, here it is, the end of the line. It's crunchtime. Both series' are tied after our first three installments, so it has to come down to this, right?
Silent Hill 4: The Room. This game was not, originally, to be a Silent Hill game, but Konami was unwilling to start a new franchise, and commissioned Team Silent to make it into series canon. They succeeded. The game tells the story of Henry Townshend, a man living in Apartment 302 in the city of South Ashfield, a neighbor to Silent Hill. Henry begins to think there may be something seriously wrong with his room after a week of being shut in due to mysterious chains on the inside of the door, barring entry or exit, the sudden halt to his electrical appliances, his appetite, and his need to go to the restroom. Not to mention the fact that a gaping hole has appeared in his bathroom. So yeah, I'd say things have become pretty screwed up. He finally decides he needs to get to the bottom of this, and crawls through the hole. Once he's crawled through the hole he finds himself in Silent Hill (for most of the time, anyway), and in Silent Hill he begins to unravel the mystery behind the mysterious goings-on with his apartment. He begins to believe that a curse has been placed on his apartment, and it may involve a convicted serial killer (mentioned in Silent Hill 2, no less). How does all this connect with his voyeuristic tendencies? How about the people he meets on his journey, who seem doomed to perish horrible deaths in front of him, with numbers carved into them? The story of Silent Hill 4: The Room is hands down amazing. It's the type of work Luis Bunuel would have been proud of, and anyone who's seen The Discreet Charm of the Burgeoisie, That Obscure Object of Desire, or Virdiana can tell you, that's quite a feat. It really does feel like Alice In Wonderland, travelling down the rabbit hole into worlds both mystifying and terrifying. Next to Silent Hill 2, Silent Hill 4 is the best story in the series, and works to close the overall arc of the story up to this point. If the major plot is a collection of attempts to stop the Silent Hill cult from bringing Sammael into this world, it seems that Henry Townshend is out to spoil their last shot at their goal. It seems the story, in its current condition, can continue no farther than this point. Maybe that's why the next game up is a prequel? Anyway, a story this good is the perfect way to end it. It's also interesting to see Team Silent continuing their theme of Silent Hill reaching out to its victims. This time it reached out to a shut-in voyeur. His excursions out of his apartment symbolize his coming out of his shell, of course in Silent Hill's distinct
The visuals aren't quite up to the level of Silent Hill 3, which I don't really understand, as this game came out later, but is above the level of Silent Hill 2. Sometimes the images did indeed scare me (think Eileen's giant head in the Hospital World), but it wasn't on the level of deep-seated, subconscious terror as Silent Hill 3. The sound, however, was up the stratosphere. No kiddin'. It's the best music in the series most likely. Which I guess is a decent trade-off with the fact that less music was recorded for this installment than any other. Melissa Williamson is back, and Akira Yamaoka is as sharp as ever. The gameplay, however, is a mixed bag. During the time you're in your apartment, the game is in first person. This isn't a bad thing inherently, but once the novelty wears off, you'll find the that the FPS controls are rather clunky. It's an experiment, which is what the gameplay of Silent Hill 4 is all about, but it doesn't pay off as well as some other things in the game. Not only that, your diary in your apartment is your only save point, and there is also a Resident Evil
treasure chest to put unneeded items. Since you can only carry so many, this is needed, but not necessarily enjoyed. Especially since picking up two boxes of ammo takes up two slots in your inventory. That's just stupid. On the upside, there is some fun little things you can do in your apartment. Look outside your window can actually be quite fun, when you watch the strange people that are also in your complex. You can look through a hole in the wall at your beautiful next-door neighbor, and you can look out the peephole for some strange exchanges involving a character named Frank Sunderland, whose son went to Silent Hill 2, and hasn't been seen since (hmmmm...it's possible this ties James from Silent Hill 2 in with Douglas from Silent Hill 3 as well. They'll never find him, since *SPOILER ALERT* he successfully gets out of Silent Hill and starts a new life). Back to the save point deal, it starts to such when, late in the game, your apartment gets haunted by life-draining poltergeists. This sucks for two reasons. One, it's a witch to save. Two, your apartment heals you just for being in it up until it gets haunted, and three, healing yourself sucks because of a distinct lack of healing items. You can also see, through pictures on the wall (Henry is a photographer) that he's been to Silent Hill. So, it's really not all bad in your apartment, but it's this mixed quality that permeates the game. Outside your apartment, things get somewhat familiar, but a lot more smooth. Controls are fluid and more finely tuned than ever before, you can charge your attacks, Henry is more accurate than ever before, the enemies aren't quite as dangerous as in Silent Hill 3, and you have a health bar. I lika du health bars. The puzzles are quite good, and there are some genuine frights to be had by a particular enemy in the Water Prison world (it continues the Bunuelian surreal-horrific atmosphere to the extreme, and gave me freakin' heart palpitations). In fact, that gameplay in Silent Hill 4 is just as fun, if not more fun, than ever. When it's good. But when it's bad...it's baaaaaaaaaad. First off, the first world you enter, the Subway World, is so devoid of fun in any way, shape, or form that if you can make it past that, you will join an elite brotherhood. Despite nice little hommages to Stephen King and David Lynch, it's an absolute frustrating bore. You'll hate playing it the first time, and the last time. HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT. I get sick just thinking about it. Strangely enough, every other world in the game is pure fun. Until you come into contact with ghosts. Whose idea was it to have enemies that don't even have to come into physical contact with you to hurt you, and cannot be killed? Huh? Whose? They can only be held to the floor with special swords that are impossible to find, or held off with candles that are only slightly less rare? Seriously? I know you're tying to mix it up, guys, but somebody should lose their job over this nonsense. Having to run from room to room when one is after you (and they can go through walls) completely takes all (fun) tension out of the game, and replaces it with the frustration you get when you can't play the game at your own pace, and you'll probably miss something because you don't have a sword, and you check the room, and go all the way back to the puzzle to find you're missing something, then have to run all the way around, looking for it, just to find it in that room you were rushed in because you were taking damage because an enemy was two yards away, and then have to run it all the way back, which makes you want to throw the game out the window and become a monk, or somebody far removed from all videogames. Silent Hill 4: The Room goes to an extreme with its quality, yet then goes right around to the other extreme with its poor thinking.
Resident Evil 4 brings the story back around to Leon S. Kennedy from Resident Evil 2. I was glad 'cause I always liked Leon. It seems he's joined the Secret Service, and his job is to protect the President's family. Lo and behold, the President's daughter goes missing as soon as he takes the job, and its his task to find her. He's lead to a remote Spanish village, and his investigation reveals horrific results. The story of Resident Evil 4 is easily the most fast-paced in the series, and hearkens more to action than horror. It's scary, but in a different way. What you see here is so aberrant its reminiscent of John Carpenter's The Thing more than Romero's zombie movies, which works great BECAUSE THERE ARE NO ZOMBIES. Crazy, huh? But it works. Plus you're up against impossible odds. That's the scare factor, and I didn't even realize it until I was playing the game through for a second time, and was escorting Ashley out of the Spanish village. Something about nighttime and me sticking her behind me while I defended her in a doorway made it click. There are some interesting characters, but at first you may think that this game has no relation to the series aside from Leon's involvement. Until you encounter Ada, and later learn her purpose here. When Wesker becomes involved, everything reaches a terrifying reality. What Wesker is trying to do will completely turn the tide in the story. Not only for the characters, but for the world. I like also that Wesker's plans are never specifically mentioned, and must be inferred by Ada and another character named Jack Krauser's actions. The story contains some social-sentiments, like the U.S.A.'s desire to police the world, but they never sacrifice the action. There is a bevy of things you can do after you complete the game, even play as Albert Wesker! I would have liked to see how multiplayer would work, if it works. If it doesn't (a la Metroid Prime 2), you just don't have to play it. The visuals are impeccable. Of coure every now and then some small, insignificant glitch happens, but come on, it's a video game. Everything is smooth, and the enemies are just icky. It's not as terrifying as Silent Hill, but then again, Resident Evil never was. It still looks better. The sound is also great, but once again not quite on Silent Hill's level. The save theme is super-magnificent, though. Where Silent Hill 4 falls apart, Resident Evil does exactly the opposite. This is the best gameplay in the best survival horror game ever. Period. Did you see that period there, followed by the word period? Does that explain? Period. The behind the back camera allows for maximum funcionality, the controls are honed to a sharp point, as opposed to unwound, like in all previous additions, and the hit zone aiming system is very impressive. It's much better than low, mid, and high. Leon now holds a shotgun against his shoulder as well. I guess it took years in Special Forces and Secret Service training to drill that into his skull. Better get Chris on the line. Plus, I'm not exactly sure WHY a shotgun in a poor, dirty, remote Spanish farming village has a laser sight, but I'm not complaining. The boss fights are gigantic and memorable, even if Dos Gigantos gets a little annoying, and Saddler is a little easy. All in all, as I said before, this is the best survival horror game ever made. At least up to this point, and this standard is unbelievably high.
Silent Hill 4: The Room- 8.1
Resident Evil 4- 9.9.
Seven points below average and seven points above. So our average will have changed accordingly.
Silent Hill- 8.8
Resident Evil- 9.2.
I crown the winner Resident Evil! Despite Silent Hill being scarier, more disturbing, deep, symbolic, meaningful plots, and having consistently better production values, it doesn't quite compete with RE's crazy wraparound series plot, impressive lighting, and just plain fun gameplay (Resident Evil 4, I'm looking at you). As of now, it's Resident Evil, but Silent Hill's future looks bright, with two more releases set for the next 5 years. Of course, has anyone seen the trailer for RE5? For winning, Resident Evil gets a hug and a Square 1 TV sweater! For being runner-up Silent Hill gets a firm handshake and a Square 1 TV sweatshirt! Good job, guys! Keep up the good work! And thanks for reading this stuff, guys, I appreciate it.
Well, after day two we find the two leading survival horror franchises tied at a 9.1 out of 10. Pretty good huh? Well, let's keep this train wreck a-rollin. Today its down to Silent Hill 3 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
Silent Hill 3 tells the story of Heather Morris, a young girl living somewhere outside of Silent Hill. So when the world starts turning all Silent Hill on us...we are understandably freaked. This is the first instance of evidence that Silent Hill can PHYSICALLY call out to someone as well. That's big. Not only that, but the story of this game begins to set up an arc, much like Resident Evil, only not quite as continuous. Silent Hill 3 establishes the series plot line. A group of people endeavoring to stop an evil cult from pulling Sammael (from the first game) into this world. These people are all connected in some way, at the very basis through Silent Hill itself. Harry, James, Heather, etc. are all pawns. Maybe they're guided by a higher power themselves, like in Stephen King's Desperation, or perhaps they're just the ones that wouldn't go down in the face of the horrors of Silent Hill. The story is told in a much more orthodox way than the first two, that being said, this is the first one where the formula really begins to switch up. The idea of starting outside of Silent Hill, and working up to that point, creates a nice sense of anticipation and really ups the atmosphere for the finale. After all, you spend a long time outside of Silent Hill, and by the time you get there, you are there to kill someone. This is their town. You are now close to them. Get it? The characters are still as odd as ever in that wonderful off-kilter way Silent Hill is getting to be known for (there's more than just a little Twin Peaks in this series, you can tell). However, the story of Silent Hill 3 can occasionally feel belabored, or dragged on, and there is one far too hard boss fight that we come to find out is a complete non-issue early in the game. I don't know what to call that, either a cheap trick from the creaters to trigger an emotion, or just an easy way out after writing yourself right into a corner. Either way, that part stinks. On the whole though, while not quite on the level of the first two, Silent Hill 3 still tells a story that stands up. Aesthetically the game switches things up in some areas, while in others only improves upon its already gruesome, visceral imagery that has become the true calling card of the series. No longer does the strangely provoking air raid siren (I get afraid whenever I hear air raid sirens now, seriously, even on TV) has been replaced with an ominous figure called Valtiel, turning dimensional valves. Due to the new graphics engine, walls pulsate with perverse life, and glow inhuman colors at times. In fact, I think its safe to say that in terms of sheer subverisve, psychologically damaging imagery, Silent Hill 3 not only takes the cake of the series, but probably all survival horror. I don't think films can do a sense of slow moving terror, complete and utter depseration, just by showing you scenery so mundane, and then twisting it into hell. Simple office corridors feel alive. That's the only word I can describe it. Like the very structure is pure, living terror and hate. That you're lucky not to be swallowed up at any time. The sound has taken a remarkably different turn, changing from its hateful industrial swirls into more melodic trip-hop, spearheaded by great writing, production, instrumentation, and the occasional vocals of Mellissa Williamson (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) who has a set of pipes on her to be admired. The music is still scary, especially when paired with the visuals, but this seems like Akira Yamaoka's simultaneous mainstream bid, bid for artistic credibility, and bid for control of his own product, and the outcome is a rare success on all fronts. The gameplay remains mostly unchanged, but what new additions that are there are quite tasty. You can block now, which is seriously a good addition, you can lure monsters away from you with Beggin' St...I mean dog food, which is genius because the difficulty has been ramped up. Not so much the puzzles, but the combat situations. The enemies are harder to kill than ever before, Health Drinks have lost almos all use, and overall, health and ammunition is scarce. The game really sets you up for the conservative gaming of Resident Evil, and is all but shouting at you to avoid as many enemy encounters as you can. This one is all about getting away from the creatures. At least until you get the katana. Now there's a great weapon. Best melee weapon in the series? Probably. It's only arguable competition is the Emergency Hammer from Silent Hill 1. Silent Hill 3 is not quite on the level as its predecessor, but few games are, and this one seriously makes the attempts. And for the most part, succeeds.
Resident Evil 3 is a prequel of sorts to Resident Evil 2, but still a sequel to Resident Evil. It takes place between the two games (obviously) and tells the story of former S.T.A.R.S. operative Jill Valentine, and her attempt to escape from the doomed Raccoon City, with a dangerous creature nipping at her heels. It is the Nemesis, and while it was buthered in the horrible Paul W.S. Anderson film atrocity, its a scary beast here. its purpose is to kill all the S.T.A.R.S members from the mansion incident as possible, and Jill is no exception. In fact, it almost seems to relish coming after you. That is probably true, or maybe its my highwired brain looking for an excuse to this torment. New layers of plot are added, but really not as much as the first two, and as the first installment in the series, especially one coming from such well-obtained lofty ambitions like Resident Evil 2, you really expect much more. However, for what it is (a very extensive side-quel almost) its brilliant, and sets up a great avenue for Jill away from her Easy Mode waste in Resident Evil 1. She proves she is a serious badarse in this installment, and proves it well. Not only that, we're treated to Carlos Oliviera and a cameo by good ole' Barry! Brad, too, I think. Anyway, the story is a definite step down from the first two in its complexity, but lives right up to the rest in terms of its sheer entertainment value. Aside from the Nemesis, and the slightly faster pace (maybe due to the Nemesis) the gameplay remains largely unchanged. In fact, more or less completely unchanged. This is the point where it becomes apparent that Resident Evil is going to have to start to evolve. This is the last game where they can keep this up, and I'm glad to hear that Code: Veronica is revised, and I know Resident Evil 4. This current progressive trend seems to be carrying into Resident Evil 5 as well. Which is great. A series gone from the outskirts of stagnation to the most innovative series around. That's what I'm talking about. Like the story, although there are no major improvements, it still does what it does extremely well. Which is invest in you a sense of dread (in fact, maybe the Nemesis makes up for the lack of a nice new Mansion ,sure you go back to the Police Station, but that doesn't really count) and presses you into its ultra-conservative play. It's visuals are the best the game has had to offer up to this point on the PlayStation, and continue to do what Resident Evil is famous for doing. Keeping you scared, and keeping the angles beautiful. This game is seriously beautifully shot. Anyway, the games problems are the things Resident Evil is infamous for doing. The tank characters, the limited inventory, and the impracticality of those same beautiful camera movements. None of these things keep RE3 from being a great game, even if it does feel like a solidification of what the series is known for, instead of a forward step.
Once again, Silent Hill has won. Resident Evil 3 is great, but the weak part of the series so far (the canonical series I mean, Dead Aim was absolute crap, and Gun Survivor wasn't much better).
We're still tied, so this ones going down to the wire. By the way, there's a good chance I'll have to keep you waiting for the epic conclusion until Sunday or even Monday, but thanks for sticking with me on this one, guys. Keep up the comments! I'll keep reading.
I guess I forgot the scores.
Silent Hill 3- 9.0.
Resident Evil 3- 8.7
Silent Hill- 9.0
Resident Evil- 8.96 = 9.0.
I coulda swore I typed those out.
In related news, I recently purchased Resident Evil Code: Veronica X for the PS2. However, it will not figure into my competition because it upsets the balance. Maybe if Silent Hill: Origins was out, and I had a PSP, I could compare them, but no such luck. I also want to thank everyone who commented. Keep it coming!
Today I compare Silent Hill 2 with Resident Evil 2.
Silent Hill 2 tells the story of James Sunderland, a tormented man who suddenly receives a letter from his dead wife, telling him she'll be waiting in Silent Hill. Silent Hill 2 isn't nearly as ambiguous as its predecessor. Everything is NOT tied up into a little bow, but things progress from plot point to plot point with good explanation. Silent Hill 2's story is perhaps the best written, most meaningful and symbolic tale ever told in the videogame medium. It hits on a personal level like film. James pain is your pain, even moreso than Harry because James is a more detailed, fleshed-out character. You can tell from the start James is a broken, twisted man. This, paired with the realization that Silent Hill serves as a punishing ground, and Silent Hill gives James the opportunity, through you the player, to be judge, jury, and executioner, will already set you going. If Harry Mason is comparable to Humbert Humbert of Lolita, then James is comparable to Job, as he descends deeper into a world of torment, detailed specifically for him, by him, even if he doesn't know. He meets equally unbalanced people in his journey, whose lasting presence, personal torment, and symbolism give a feel of Alice In Wonderland, or perhaps The Third Policeman. Both comparisons are applicable here. Silent Hill is a sprawling nightmare you cannot wake up from. Silent Hill 2 is a world of personal pain, hate, and suffering, the likes of which have never been placed into a videogame so well. Silent Hill 2's visuals continue and improve upon the mark of the original, giving an artistic and horrifying impression of isolation in a hostile world you cannot escape from. Silent Hill 2 seems less influenced by the work of Francis Bacon, and more influenced by the work of surrealist sculpter Hans Bellmer, with its largely female enemies, whose contortions are reminiscent of vicious sex crimes. Is this done to torment James or is it random attacks by the vicious punisher known only as Pyramid Head? Although Pyramid Head is clearly to blame, in what is perhaps the only rape scene in videogame history (aside from Custer's Revenge), it is in no way random. Why does Maria look exactly like James' dead wife, and why does she put him through more torment than anyone else? It's no coincidence, trust me. This is a surrealist masterpiece in terms of story, and visuals. This is one of the cornerstones in the videogame as art debate, and if Christophe Gans even comes somewhat close to the majesty of this (and if he sticks close to the game he probably will) he will have my full respect. The sound in this game is beautiful as well. Akira Yamaoka reels in his scoring a little bit, adding a little more artistry and beautiful, slow compositions (even some rock pieces) to the all out industrial rage of the original games OST, which contained just a few deviations, all of which are highlights of the album. The voice acting has increased exponentially in this piece as well. What quirks does Silent Hill 2 have? Not many, and certainly no real big ones. Ammo is still plentiful, and you'll do fine with your melee weapons. The puzzles are intellectual and challenging without becoming obtuse. In fact, Silent Hill 2 does this mold of survival horror about as well as any game ever has (it has a few equals, and no successors). The gameplay has good balance, the game is story driven and rightfully so, and its artistic merits are on a level most will never see (how's that for a Devil's Rejects reference!)
Resident Evil 2 is a direct sequel to the first game. The T-Virus has spread from the mountains into Raccoon City itself, the majority of the characters of the first game are either presumed dead (Wesker), die in this installment (Brad), or just left town (everybody else). Resident Evil 2 tells the story of Leon S. Kennedy, a rookie cop on his first day, and Claire Redfield, Chris' sister, who has come looking for him. Unlike the first game, where Jill Valentine was shoe-horned in to create a woman PC and an easier mode of play, Claire and Leon's paths actually go seperate ways. You're still doing the same stuff for the most part, but still, the story goes a little differently (if you do the Second Scenario for the other character after completing the game with one). Resident Evil 2 is really the game that blew the doors open on his story as a full-fledged saga. The story is the perfect escalation from the first game, and its simple concept with layers underneath is remarkably clever. As you find out more secrets with new characters, everything starts to take a little more shape (and its a shame that RE game fans are patient, yet Lost TV show fans **** when everything isn't handed to them on a silver platter), yet still raise several more tantalizing questions than it answers, while leaving everything open for a sequel, or two, or three, or...you get the picture. The writing isn't the greatest. It's a step up from the original Playstation version, a LARGE step up, along with the voice acting, but it really smarts heading off of the GameCube remake. The gameplay is truly much better than the original, without really deviating from the norm. It expands everything enough to fit the scope of the story, and evolves just enough to avoid stagnation. In fact, when I mentioned Silent Hill 2 had some equals in the gameplay department, this was one of them. The other is Eternal Darkness by the way. The gameplay does contain a few flaws, like the tank-like character movements, and the cinematic angles can sometimes be minorly irritating, and while Silent Hill 2 doesn't have a camera problem, the epic scope of this game makes up for it. Anyhou, the visuals still aren't on the artistic level of Silent Hill, but continue to retain the same atmosphere and sense of dread the original managed to conjure, and since this is a step back to the PlayStation, that's something to behold. The music continues in the same vein as well, good, but not Silent Hill good. Not much music IS Silent Hill good.
At the end of today's competition, I have to give it to Silent Hill 2. Resident Evil is one of the highest points of Survival Horror gaming, but so is Silent Hill 2, and it shines just a little brighter, but brighter still.
Silent Hill 2- 9.3
Resident Evil 2- 9.2
Day Two Averages:
Silent Hill- 9.05 = 9.1
Resident Evil- 9.1
So, as of today, we're tied.
What's this? Two posts in the same day? Heresy! I know, but this was something I was thinking about, and I was just interested to see the opinions of anyone who may read this and feel they'd like to post.
The two big names in the world of Survival Horror have, for quite some time, been Silent Hill and Resident Evil. Silent Hill was known for its submersion into terror, its breathtakingly morbid, disturbing imagery, it's beautiful soundtrack, and somewhat Lynchian plots.
Resident Evil was always known for its ability to play and sit well in campy environments or serious, dark ones. In fact, as the series progressed it became less and less campy, which I like. It's known for its wickedly original whacked-out storyline, and its George Romero feel.
Sure, there are other horror franchises out there, like Clock Tower, Fatal Frame, etc. but these are the two people think of when they think Survival Horror. So I've decided to give a personal analysis of the series' and offer my answer on which series is, currently, my fave.
First things first, by Resident Evil, I mean Resident Evil 1, 2, 3, and 4. No bad ones, no online ones, and no unreleased ones. No Code Veronica 'cause I haven't played it. By Silent Hill I mean 1, 2, 3, and 4: The Room. Not the Play Novel, and no unreleased ones. What I'm going to try to do is simultaneously compare the games one by one and the series as a whole. It's a little ambitious, but I think I can manage.
We start with Silent Hill (PS) and Resident Evil (GC). I know that may seem unfair, to put Silent Hill up against the REmake, and not the original, but did I mention I don't like camp? I only implied it, so let me state it here. I don't like camp...usually. RE is no exception. So we'll compare the fulfilled vision of each game.
Silent Hill is about Harry Mason, a man searching for his missing daughter in the town of Silent Hill, and comes face to face with struggle, and perhaps an immoral past. Now, Silent Hill has a great story in theory, but the way it unfolds walks the delicate balance between purposefully vague, and content advised by some upper force (probably Konami). All references to Satanism are replaced with Sammael, who is indeed a religious figure, in Judaism if I'm not mistaken. The references to Harry's purported molestation of his daughter is very subtle, in fact almost imperceptible. I'm sure Team Silent would have left this vague even if they'd been allowed to come right out and say it, but I suspect Konami told them to keep that on the DL, or completely out of the game. Why? Because that's some heavy stuff, for one. For two, nobody (excepting Take-Two it seems) would want the controversy that kind of stuff could bring on their hands. Third? It's kind of hard to identify with, relate to, and sympathize with a child molester. So it's very subtle. The character of Harry's original name was to be Humbert Mason, an obvious reference to the character Humbert Humber from the novel and film Lolita, who falls in love with the titular character, who is 13. Not only that, when you sit down and think WHY exactly is Harry being punished, there really isn't much else to think. But honestly, I think this ambiguity suits the game quite a bit. It leaves so many things open that the film is open to interpretation as most work of David Lynch (excepting maybe his shorts and Eraserhead), who is one of the biggest influences on the series. Silent Hill was one of the first games to really get your noodle going as far as symbolism and characterization, as it throws you right into the thick of things with almost no backstory or resolution. The development of the characters is also very subtle, and Harry's is very dependant on you as a player. I know that for the first few hours of the game I was quivering with fear, and thus, so was Harry. But by the end of the game I had conquered my fear, and was willing to greet the coming darkness head on, and so was Harry. A lot of this has to do with atmosphere, and not only the thick blanket of fog surrounding the fog, the mindbending enemies, and gaping chasms where the road should be, it is indeed the visuals and soundtrack. The soundtrack is an industrial wail that scares me when I just put the OST in my CD player. The soundtrack of Silent Hill is easily the angriest section of this game, and are a driving force in the sense of terror and a perverse beauty. These visuals are for 1. Disturbed and 2. Invested with a strange sense of power that transcends terror and horror. These images also resonate dim emotions of recognition, melancholy, and punishment of the games lead character. However, these last emotions are much harder to place a finger on until after you've finished the game, and have taken the time to ruminate on just what it all means. Once again, like David Lynch, and also in this case, Jacob's Ladder, an Adrian Lyne film, and the work of painter Francis Bacon. These elements all combine to create a whirlwind experience, horrifying, oddly touching, and definitely surreal.
Resident Evil is about a group of police officers known as S.T.A.R.S. They are answering a call involving some murders in a mountain community, and stumble onto a seriously screwed-up mansion, and a conspiracy involving an International Pharmaceutical Enterprise known as Umbrella. This story is equally as gripping, albeit maybe not as personal, but in an entirely different way. With Silent Hill there is a driving need to solve a mystery just to make sense of the insane world you've found yourself in. In Resident Evil you want to solve the mystery because its so strange. You just know there's crazy twist after crazy twist after crazy twist, and you want to dig through all the complex layers until you find the truth at the end of the game. One of the best things about Resident Evil's story is that its pretty darned epic for just a first act. You go through a lot with Chris and Jill, just to find that your secrets set in motion a much larger turn of events. This is also present in Silent Hill, and I'll get to evidence of both later, but it's much more impressive here. This game also sets up an atmosphere with its brilliant cinematograpy and lighting. This is the work of the best filmmakers, and the character models are nearly life-like in their splendor. Sure the characters walk like a tank with a broken tread and take some getting used to, but Silent Hill has its unfun quirks as well. The tension in this game isn't jacked up by the Alice In Wonderland meets Dante's Inferno of Silent Hill, but instead is driven up by the impossible odds you've found yourself in. When zombies are just the tip of the iceberg, you know you're in for a treat. As you meet several other nature defying genetic freaks, you'll soon find yourself realizing something drastically important. You absolutely WILL NOT have enough health and ammo to get through this game as you'd like. In Silent Hill ammo, health, and saving is no problem. For Resident Evil, even saving is compromised. You have just a limited amount of ink ribbons to use to save. This also adds a new nail into the pit of your stomache. Have I done enough to warrant using one of my beloved ribbons? How are my bullets and health? How badly was I injured against these horrible creatures? These are all things you have to take into account, and that's what Resident Evil is about. The soundtrack is good, even if not on the level of Silent Hill, with the sole exception of the series famed Save Room music, which is always something beautiful and soothing, to take your mind off the horrors that wait just outside.
At the end of it all, I give a slight edge to Resident Evil, based off its more seamless gameplay, and beefed up visuals for the gamecube. I know that seems unfair, but trust me, Silent Hill will have its days.
Silent Hill- 8.8
Resident Evil- 9.0.