A Romantic Night In With Resident Evil

As you can probably tell by the fact I’m writing a blog about video games, I’m rather partial to them. It’s a love affair that goes right back to the days of the Sinclair Spectrum (if you’re wondering kids, it’s like an Xbox 360 that refuses to load any games), and if anything I’ve got more fascinated with the world of gaming as I’ve got older. Far from growing out of my hobby, gaming has grown up with me, and now it’s extended its reach to a far wider demographic than I would have ever thought possible – even my girlfriend’s mother has a Nintendo DS.

The reason I love games is that they can offer an experience that’s utterly unlike anything else – the very best games can transport you into another world where you can lose yourself for hours, or even days. Games like Fallout 3 can tell a story equally as well as any film, but with the added bonus that you can decide exactly how deep you want to delve into the plot. Even better, your actions will determine the story’s ending, for better or for worse.

But not every game has to be a complicated epic to be worthy of playing – my favourite games are the ones that demand attention through their sheer imagination (Katamari Damacy, BioShock) or their stunning depictions of another world (Okami, Enslaved). With every new generation of game consoles, the games on offer have got bigger and better, and I’m excited to see where games will go in the future – if games have evolved this much in 30 years, what will they be like when I’m 60?

The world of gaming really is a wonderful, surprising place to lose yourself in, so it’s only natural that I’d want to share my experiences with other people, and especially the person closest to me – my girlfriend.

But alas, it’s not always that easy…

It’s not that she’s averse to playing games per se – she grew up playing Sonic The Hedgehog, and throughout university she was addicted to Mario Tennis. But when it comes to finding games that we can play and enjoy together, it’s been a long, hard struggle. Along the way I’ve brought home many a game that I thought might fit the bill, but only a few have stuck. Wii Fit raised some initial interest but was soon relegated to the cupboard, and Wii Sports‘ charms have long since faded. Lego Star Wars was a surprise success but was over too quickly, and Punch-Out!! was initially a huge hit, but eventually proved too frustrating (we’ve still to finish it). I even thought Sega Superstars Tennis might rekindle her love for the Mario Tennis of old, but it’s barely been played since it went back on the shelf.

Turns out though that I’ve been wasting my time with all these family-friendly games – what my girlfriend really likes to do is shoot stuff.

Enter Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles. As I encouraged her to give it a go, I wasn’t quite sure what she’d make of it, but it was an instant hit – there really is nothing like blowing the heads off zombies to bring two people together. The Darkside Chronicles may not be a complicated epic or a tour de force for the imagination, but it IS goddamned fun.

The beauty of it is that there’s none of the complicated controls that act as a barrier for entry to most modern games – just point, shoot, and you’re done. It’s the recipe for blissful hours together spent mowing down the armies of the undead, joyfully shouting “Use the grenade!”, “Aim for the weak spot!” and “No YOU’RE blue, I’M red!”

Yep, just pure, unadulterated enjoyment in a little white case.

But despite its simple gameplay, The Darkside Chronicles is actually somewhat of a complicated beast under the hood – the labyrinthine plot of the Resident Evil games is legendary, and this game is packed to the rafters with information about the backstory behind the main games… Although to be honest, I think it was only me who was interested in learning what Leon Kennedy got up to between Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4 – she was (rightly) more interested in blowing up the various mutant beasties lurching out of every corner.

Sadly, it’s all over now. The 7 or 8 hours of gameplay went by in a flash, and we were both sad when we reached the end of one of the few games we’ve both loved equally – thank God we still have The Umbrella Chronicles to play through. There’ll be more romantic nights in with Resident Evil to come…

[As dictated by Lucius Merriweather – see The Mantelpiece]