Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Raw Shark Texts & Resident Evil 5 (demo)

The Raw Sharks Texts by Steven Hall
****1/2 (of 5)
There is so much to say about this book, and yet, there is so little I can say because I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. It's kind of like House of Leaves mixed with Jaws, with tinges of The Matrix and Memento, if that makes sense. The book is so out there, and everything feels like it needs to be interpreted and studied to get the complete feel of the book. The title itself is a play on Rorscharch Tests, which adds a whole new aspect to the story now that I've finished.
I loved the interaction of the main character, The 2nd Eric Sanderson, with those around him, including The 1st Eric Sanderson who we learns about via notes left from the latter.
The book starts as a journey as 2nd Eric tries to figure out what part of his memories are gone and why they left him. During this investigation, he stumbles upon conceptual fish, fish that steal people's memories, alter moods, change attitudes, feed on desolate minds, etcetera. After an attack in his own home, 1st Eric's letters lead him on the trail of Dr. Trey Fidorous and into the arms of Scout, who may be the 1st Eric's girlfriend Clio, supposedly dead from a scuba accident in Greece. She has her own reasons for capturing whatever is chasing 2nd Eric.
The last quarter of the book is basically Jaws, only on a conceptual plane, as the three (and Ian, 2nd Eric's ginger cat, along for the ride and none too pleased) try to kill the Ludovician, a conceptual shark that has been hunting 2nd Eric, and may have been the cause of 1st Eric's demise.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around the plot and who was what, when and where, but I loved reading this book. The unique print style (with shark attacks being visualized with word pictures) and the way 2nd Eric jumped around in prose, from letters to maybe-remembered memories to the 'here and now'. The references to books, people, history and old films boggle the mind, and I'm sure further research could add depth to the book. I found The Annotated Raw Shark Texts wiki, and I'm totally going to read the hell out of it and see if what I think happened, actually happened.

Resident Evil 5 (demo)
I've been excited for this game ever since it was announced 2+ years ago, and yesterday, a demo finally appeared on PSN, so of course I downloaded it immediately when I got home. I'm still a newbie to PS3 (and I never really owned a PS2) so the button configurations still confuse me a lot of the time. Apparently, the controls of RE5 are similar, if not the same, as RE4 (one of my personal favorite games, although I played on the Gamecube, so I'm even more unfamiliar with the controls).
The demo consists of two scenarios, one in a Public Commons area after a rather bloody execution, and the second in a desolate Shanty Town with a rather wicked boss at the end. I started with the Commons area and it was apparent immediately that I would need this demo as practice if I were ever to get the buttons correct. I died pretty horribly that first go through, but by the third, had completed the section (by running from the Executioner and shooting him outside rather than in the house where the action starts), although with very little ammo or life left.
I never fully beat the Shanty Town area. It's quite long for a demo level (at least 15 minutes) and the boss at the end is a pain. I never did beat him. He's a play on the Chainsaw Guy enemy from RE4, although scarier and a LOT faster. I think you're supposed to kill him by exploding gas barrels near him, but I couldn't quite get the hang of it.
I think I'll really enjoy this game. The AI of Sheva (your in-game partner) is spot on, other than she's a bit more of an ammo hog than I'd like. I liked being able to set her to either attack other enemies on her own, or cover me as needed. And the partnering up to solve problems was refreshing, after the drain Ashley Graham was in RE4. I was sort of sad that I couldn't damage Sheva, but I guess it makes sense when she's always so close to you. The equipment storage solution for this game is unique (real time, I guess they call it) in that you don't go to a separate screen to get items from your briefcase, rather you use buttons on the direction pad, or you open up your inventory in the middle of the action and dole out ammo/change guns/heal yourself. I'm not sure how much I like not being able to take a break to heal, but I guess it adds to the ambiance, right? And unlike a lot of people that have reviewed the demo, I actually prefer not being able to move and shoot at the same time. I inevitable run in, guns blazing, and get myself horribly killed with games like that. With RE5, I'm able to actually focus and aim, running just adds to the frantic-ness.
I already pre-ordered the game (the super special edition, even) and cannot wait to wait in line at midnight and race home to play the full game!

No comments: