Resident Evil: Dead Aim – Excellent Light Gun Zombie-Blasting Mayhem
Resident Evil: Dead Aim offered maybe the greatest zombie-blasting action the series has ever seen. While not the only game in the franchise to use a light gun, this one offered just the right mix of exploration, action, and fear to really shine. There was just something about using the Guncon 2 to skulk through the halls of an undead-filled ship that created a horror experience that was fun, exciting, and frightening.
Morpheus Duval, a former Umbrella employee, has stolen samples of the T-virus and contaminated a ship with it. Duval also intends to launch the virus all over the place, causing all sorts of trouble for everyone. The usual Resident Evil gang is a bit busy, though. So, the US calls upon Bruce McGivern, a member of an anti-Umbrella task force. to save the day. China isn’t keen on Duval’s actions, so they send their own agent, Fong Ling. The pair of you, and a few thousand rounds, should hopefully be able to shoot all of the dangers on the boat and save your respective countries.
Resident Evil: Dead Aim feels pretty similar to many earlier games in the series. Tight hallways, luxuriant rooms, and lots of zombies roaming the halls. Your character moves around in third person, letting you see when trouble is nearby. Your character controls like a tank as well. Up and down move you forward and back. Left and right turn you in those directions. If you’ve played the earlier PS1 releases, these controls will be familiar to you.
What’s different, and makes things far more exciting and involved, is doing so with the Guncon 2. There is a D-Pad where the hammer would be on the gun. This allows you to use your thumb to move the character around. There are buttons along the side of the gun to access your menu and use items. The trigger will pull you into a first-person viewpoint so you can aim by pointing the gun. Finally, there’s a button that sits where you’d load the magazine on a real firearm. You tap this button to do a reload when your ammo’s run out.
Now, shooting at lumbering zombies makes for tense, yet exhilarating gameplay in pretty much all Resident Evil games. Resident Evil: Dead Aim just makes the experience feel more connected to you with this control scheme. When the zombies are coming at you, you’re seeing them in first person. You get to really take in their gory details as they get close, allowing for a bit of panic to settle in as you fire away. They keep soaking up bullets. They’re not slowing down. While you normally watch this happening to a detached avatar, here, they’re walking towards you. This worked quite well in Resident Evil: Gaiden, but it’s tremendously frightening here.
This can play with your aim in interesting ways. If you have shaky hands when you’re nervous (I do), this can result in some of your shots missing the mark. You might find yourself scrambling to aim at a weak spot as one of the bosses bears down on you. Getting a bead on an enemy could always be challenging in other games in the series, but having to physically aim the gun yourself added a layer of difficulty to it. If something startled me while playing previous controller-based games, that rarely threw off my aim. I’d have to hit a button to mess that up. Here, if I jump, my hands move. Now, I’m aiming at nothing. And I’m still in big trouble from the five or six zombies trudging my way.
With the ability to swap between views and aim directly using the gun, Resident Evil: Dead Aim also gives you some quicker enemies to deal with. Past games in the series up to this point (this game came out after Resident Evil Zero, but before Resident Evil 4 really changed the series) often featured slow foes. This gave the zombies time to make you nervous with their presence. It also gives players time to move and take aim more effectively. Being able to aim just by pointing a gun meant your character could move faster. To compensate, the game would throw more enemies at you, or faster ones. This lead to many chilling boss fights as you’d dart around to avoid hits. Squeeze in your shots when you could.
And there was a definite thrill in the gunplay in this game. Pulling the trigger to shoot the zombies made the experience feel more connected to you as the player. Physically having to aim the gun made you feel more involved in the experience. Mingling that excitement with the fear as enemies grew near created a sensation that the other games never quite matched. While I felt more fear overall in playing most other Resident Evil games, this one felt more built around fun. With a little fear to add to the excitement.
The feeling of reloading by hitting the button at the base of the grip really ramped that feeling up. While manually aiming and firing was a great addition to the series, and it made me feel connected to the action, it was that act of reloading that made it even better in Resident Evil: Dead Aim. Mimicking what (I felt, as I’ve never actually held a real gun) it would be like to slam a new clip into the gun while slavering undead bear down on you, that button really ties the whole experience together. Whether I was mowing down zombies or cowering as I struggled to reload, hitting that button felt intuitive and brought me deep into the action. The act of pulling an actual trigger and slamming that reload button just made the whole experience feel more connected and real.
While I tend to come to this series more for the horror than the action, Resident Evil: Dead Aim was a fantastic side story. It drew from the up-close tension of the series, but took it in a direction that focused on more of the action side of things. Mixing the series’ movement style with light gun combat made for a stellar title that I just wish was a little longer. Just be sure to play it with the Guncon 2 if you want the real feel of this fantastic game.