Resident Evil: Degeneration Review

Anyone see the direct-to-video Resident Evil: Degeneration movie that came out a few months ago? It was pretty bad, from from cheesy voice acting to mediocre plot (even by video game movie standards).

Right on its heels is Capcom’s tie-in iPhone game. It’s straight up Resident Evil, right down to the clunky gunplay, slow zombies and awful dialogue. But that’s what we love about Resident Evil. And, thankfully, the game is better than the movie.

Not in the face! Not in the face!

The plot involves a jetliner full of zombies crashing into an airport, unleashing the T-virus on unsuspecting travelers. After the government locks down the premises, it calls in special agent Leon Kennedy to rescue the survivors, among them his Resident Evil 2 companion, Claire Redfield. The plot is largely delivered through text-based cutscenes–forgettable and skippable for the most part.

The game plays from a third-person, over the shoulder viewpoint, as in Resident Evil 4 and 5. As in those games, shooting can only be done while standing still, and movement is tied to a D-Pad. There’s no sophisticated aim/look mechanism, just run-stop-shoot-run.

To be fair, Resident Evil’s developers have always said the clumsiness of the controls is to build the tension of the combat and the scenes. But this iPhone version’s controls seem a little too clumsy with movement. Trying to navigate a narrow, winding hallway is more frustrating than it should be. Throw in a few zombies, and it can be maddening.

Combat is handled fairly well, though. By requiring Leon to stand still, aiming is about as easy it could possibly be, especially with the laser sight on your guns. There’s a slight auto-aim function built in, as well, snapping to heads and chests.

Coupled with the tricky movement controls and the necessarily slower gunplay, zombie fights can be especially challenging in narrower parts. Leon’s melee attack is surprisingly effective, though it does seem like a bit of a copout for the subpar movement controls.

Resident Evil: Degeneration seems like it can’t decide if it wants to be an action shooter, or an old-school survival horror/puzzle game like its predecessors. The fact is that it does neither particularly well.

As an action shooter, it’s simply too clumsy, especially compared to superior genre titles like Gameloft’s Terminator Salvation. As a survival horror game, it’s not scary and does little to evoke the mood. Its puzzles, which mostly involve fetching keycards, are a far cry from what used to be one of the franchise’s hallmarks.

That’s not to say it’s not fun, though. There’s enough detail in the gameplay to please older fans of the Resident Evil series. The challenge of managing items in the limited inventory, upgrading weapons and the slow, methodical stumbles of the classic zombie are all there. But those new to the series will find the presentation lacking, especially when compared to similarly priced titles at its $6.99 price point.

In the end, Resident Evil: Degeneration is a pretty satisfying zombie blaster, despite its faults. Fans of the series will find $6.99 worth of action here. However, those indifferent to Resident Evil might want to consider waiting for a price drop.

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