ESRB Rating: M(ature)
Spaz: This week we have two survival horror games for your drive-in viewing pleasure: Blue Stinger and Carrier.
Twitch: Wait a minute, I don't want to review those games, I want to review Tony Hawk 2, dude.
Spaz: We can't. First of all, it's not an adventure game, and second of all, Randy said that we have to review spooky games for the rest of the month since it's October.
Twitch: Man, I'm sick of doing what he says 24/7, who does he think he is anyway?
Spaz: Uh, like he owns the site and he gives us all these free games to play.
Twitch: Like I was saying, I love survival horror games, the more the merrier.
Spaz: This whole survival horror craze on the console systems started with Capcom's Resident Evil. Since the success of RE, we have been inundated with survival horror games. The Dreamcast especially has taken advantage of this craze, with at least six survival horror games currently available and many more on the way.
Twitch: For all you computer geeks, survival horror has both an adventure game's puzzles and exploration and an action game's fire power. The main theme is usually a cross between the paranoia of a 1950s sci-fi film and the flesh-eating zombies of George Romero's Night of the Living Dead.
Carrier, by Jaleco, is a perfect example, set in the 21st century. The Heimdal, a peace-keeping spaceship, has been instructed to retrieve and quarantine an ancient organism discovered on an isolated island in the South Pacific. An explosion aboard ship looses the organism amongst an unknowing crew. After the ship goes into radio silence, an emergency investigative team is sent to search the ship and promptly disappears. A second team is dispatched, which includes Jack Ingles, the brother of Lieutenant Robert Ingles, a pilot aboard the doomed Heimdal.
Carrier is a claustrophobic tour-de-force that borrows freely from the basic plots of such films as Alien and Pitch Black. The exploration of darkened spaceship corridors searching for survivors gradually becomes an exercise in fear as mutated crew members hide in the darkness for a chance to attack. There are some monsters in this game--like the soldiers with Venus Flytrap heads that snap at you or the zombies who open their rib cages and emit long, spiky thorns--that can only be described as bitchen'.
Spaz: You can't say "bitchen'," dude, this is a family site.
Twitch: Geez, okay. Then there are some monsters in this game that will make you go poo-poo in your Pampers.
Spaz: Thank you. If there is a downside to Carrier, it is that there is quite a bit of running back and forth that is meant only to extend the gameplay. Saves also can only be made when you find a data recorder, an outmoded system that should have been left behind in the first Resident Evil game.
In true survival horror fashion, not all infected crew members are readily identifiable, so a scope must be used to weed out those who can be evacuated and those who must be destroyed. Most of the game is played from a third-person perspective until you use the scope; it then becomes first-person.
Ultimately, Carrier is a satisfying game with a nice balance of firepower and exploration. Auto-mapping is a welcome feature, and the data and equipment menus are easily accessible. Unlike most survival horror games, the main characters have personalities that allow for some emotional attachment.
Twitch: Ah man, you're making me all watery eyed here.
Spaz: Our second feature on today's double bill is Blue Stinger, a survival horror game that pits you against dinosaurs.
Twitch: But Dino Crisis this game ain't!
Spaz: While Activision should be commended for attempting to take the survival horror genre in a new direction, Blue Stinger is proof positive that a game needs more than eye-candy to excel. The biggest problem with Stingeris a lack of tension. Wide-open areas in a horror game tend to dispel any feeling of fear; not to mention that whenever you kill a creature in Blue Stinger you are awarded a dollar amount which can then be used in vending machines to purchase healing kits and ammo. There is never a need to keep a careful watch on your resources since more are always available for the right price. Mr. Twitch, could you tell us a little of the story, please?
Twitch: My pleasure, Mr. Spaz. After an island emerges from the depths of the ocean in the exact spot of a meteor shower 65 million years earlier, scientists name it Dinosaur Island since the island is inhabited by, you guessed it, dinosaurs (them are some smart scientists!). For the next 17 years, classified research is conducted. A city is built and a biotech corporation establishes itself on the island. Eliot Ballade, a member of an organization specializing in sea disaster rescues, is vacationing off the coast of Dinosaur Island when an unknown object falls from the sky and places the entire island under a mysterious dome of energy. Trapped on the island, Eliot's attempts to escape are compounded as he soon finds himself followed by Nephilim, a blue-glowing, angel-like being.
Spaz: Good job, Mr. Twitch. Overall, though, what could have been a fun game turns into the same old kill a few monsters and then face off against a boss figure. The character animations are jerky, there is too much backtracking , the personalities are stereotypes, and there are timed missions that add nothing to the game except to provide a new weapon or item.
Twitch: On the plus side, there is auto-mapping, and you can switch between characters for different game areas. Plus there is a cool missile launcher that makes for some nice explosions.
Spaz: If you really have the urge to tackle some dinosaurs though, then watch a few episodes of The Flintstones on the Cartoon Network. At least Fred and Barney knew how to have a yabba dabba doo time.
Twitch: And besides, that Pebbles was a real babe when she grew up.
Spaz: Dude, your fascination with virtual women is beginning to worry me. 'Til next time, I'm Spaz, he's Twitch, and we'll see you in seven.
Blue Stinger: C