I’m crazy excited for the arrival of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but I’m also understandably a little frustrated I won’t be able to grab either console as soon as I would like. My therapist told me I shouldn’t bottle up these emotions, otherwise I’ll return to my dark place and black out, only to wake up three days later covered in pig’s blood (at least I think it’s pig’s blood) with odd, almost alien markings covering my entire body. Since I’d rather that didn’t happen to me again, I’m going to express my emotions the only way I know how, by writing to you.
All this week I’ve been celebrating the end of a wonderful console cycle with features covering the best horror games of this generation — from AAA blockbusters to smaller indie efforts — as well as a recent look back at some of the most disappointing games.
Since I’d rather not end this on a such a sour note, I’ve decided to extend this celebration with a look at some of this generation’s best horror-themed DLC and expansions — see my picks after the jump!
Resident Evil 5 was a pretty big deal for me. I had high hopes for it since it was following up Resident Evil 4, and in the months leading up to the game’s release I had written a bunch of features for the site I was writing for at the time writing about Resident Evil 5 as if it was the biggest thing to ever happen to video games. This glowing coverage led to my becoming friends with Capcom’s PR team, which invited me to their midnight launch party in San Francisco. The event was open to everyone, but I was allowed to interview some of the voice cast, including Roger Smith (Chris) and Karen Dyer (Sheva), as well as the game’s producer, Jun Takeuchi. That was a moderately big deal for someone who had only begun his “games journalist career” three months earlier.
Now, I enjoyed Resident Evil 5 a lot. I know some of you didn’t, but that wasn’t the case for me as I spent well over a hundred hours with a friend enjoying its hugely addictive co-op. That’s not to say I wasn’t disappointed by a few things, like the incredibly short campaign that can be completed in about three hours and the overall lack of scares, but that didn’t ruin it for me. Far from it. Capcom eventually threw their horror fans a bone with Lost in Nightmares, which followed Chris and Jill as they B&E’d their way into Spencer’s other mansion, a big house that happened to look eerily similar to the one where the original Resident Evil was set.
Lost in Nightmares is creepy, builds up the tension in that classic survival horror style, is brimming with fun nods to the original game and has some genuine scares, especially if you play it on the hardest difficulty where the radar is deactivated. If you feel burned by the series’ more action oriented direction, this is worth checking out.
I immediately fell in love with Undead Nightmare, even though I’m not the biggest fan of Red Dead Redemption. It’s a great game, it just isn’t for me. Red Dead Redemption felt too empty. Every time I tried to play it I was overcome by an overwhelming feeling of isolation, which eventually turned into boredom. Thankfully, this standalone horror-themed expansion is anything but that.
It’s humorous, in a self-aware sort of way, lengthy and manages to be different. Sure, it has zombies and yes, zombies are overdone, even in late 2010, but Undead Nightmare transformed a bright, spaghetti western into a scary post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested western that’s worth playing because it’s fantastic in every way. It also has a Unicorn.
I didn’t think it was possible, but when Infinity Ward turned all of Duty into the biggest gaming franchise of this console generation with Modern Warfare, Treyarch was the underdog. Every other year they’d give us a game that was solid, even though it never quite reached the level of quality of Infinity Ward’s next game released the following year. Since then, the tables have turned, with Treyarch giving us the superior Call of Duty experience as Infinity Ward rests on their laurels, churning out the same game every year.
Part of the reason for this switch is Treyarch isn’t afraid to be silly. They embrace silly. They’re willing to think outside the box, to get creative and take risks. The zombie mode introduced in World at War was brilliant and it immediately took off because it was unexpected. With each new entry they’ve expanded on it, making it bigger and better with each new Call of Duty. Black Ops II’s zombie mode is basically its own game at this point.
For me, the greatest thing they ever did came in the Escalation pack, which added a new map titled Call of the Dead. In it, you took on the role of one of four survivors — Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy), Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) and Danny Trejo (Machete, Predators) — as they battle a horde of the undead led by George A. Romero. It really can’t get any better than that.