The Glory Days of Survival Horror Video Games

Written By: Seebz

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If you were playing video games in the late 90’s to the early 2000’s, then you know that was the glory days.  We were introduced with so many amazing titles that still carry on sequels to this day.  It was the birth of many classic genres that we’ve come to know and love.  One genre, in particular, has always been my favorite and to this day. I’m having trouble finding a newer title that gave me that same feeling of intimidation and terror while playing as a kid.  I am of course talking about survival horror games.

RE2_N64_PALI got my first taste of survival horror when I bought my Nintendo 64 console.  The game in question was Resident Evil 2.  I know that it’s odd to start off with a sequel to a game but RE 2 was rereleased for N64 and I was always being told by my friend how scary and amazing it was.  The moment I booted the game up and was brought into a zombie-infested city surrounded by enemies, I knew this wouldn’t be an easy game. RE2 was one of the most challenging games I have ever played to this day.  At the time the surprises around every possible corner had me jumping to the point where I couldn’t even play the game at night.

The thing that made this a true survival horror game is that you had to ward off enemies while solving puzzles, finding keys to unlock doors, or open secret passages to move on in the story.  This required a lot of searching for clues and jumping from one room, to another, and back again. It also required a lot of reading when you found files lying around on desks that gave hints to where items were or what the lock combination is.  You just don’t have that anymore with games these days as it is more starting point A to finish point B with a few scary surprises.

Resident Evil was the poster-child for survival horror during the early 2000’s.  It had such an impact on me that I bought a PlayStation with my birthday money just to get the first Resident Evil game, and wait for the highly anticipated third installment by Capcom Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.Nemesis_Brad

To me Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was the peak of survival horror.  No game ever topped Nemesis for this genre.  It had the same familiar environment of Resident Evil 2 but with a twist.  The twist being a new enemy that would give most kids nightmares after playing.  Nemesis was an enemy that would follow you around the entire game and show up randomly while you were trying to solve a puzzle or just get through a congested street.  The most cynical part the developers did was have music that accompanied Nemesis, so you knew that he was lurking and it made the anticipation even worse because you didn’t know when he’d pop out.

My second favorite survival horror title was Dino Crisis.  Dino Crisis had all the familiarity with Resident Evil except you substitute dinosaurs for zombies.  The first Dino Crisis was a true survival horror and I loved it. The scarcity of the ammo and the puzzles gave you that true dino-crisis-1-psx-screenshot-run-regina-runfeeling, like Resident Evil, that you may not have made it. You were no match for the giant T-Rex so you’d better run.

Dino Crisis 2, although a favorite of mine, was a title where I saw the first sign of survival horror losing its original formula.  Dino Crisis 2 lost a lot of the elements of true puzzle solving as the developers made it easier to move quickly through the story line and added a lot more action as it seemed to be a shoot up type of game where you earned experience points to upgrade skills and weapons.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved having extensive ammo to mow down raptors but again the whole point of survival horror was to conserve ammo because you don’t know when or how much more you’d find.  I remembered that I had to completely start Resident Evil 2 all over again because I used so much ammo that I only had a knife left for the final boss battle and it pissed me off to no end.  But that was the beauty of survival horror.

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To close, survival horror was a golden age to me in the late 90’s and early 2000’s that would scare me and excite me in ways that you can’t replicate anymore with games today.  Maybe it was because of my age that it had an impact or maybe it was the actual structure of the game that seems to not exist anymore in modern games.  To end with a poll, what was your first, and what was your favorite survival horror game that you ever played?

 

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