Haven't I seen you somewhere before?
Mix a little bit of Dino Crisis
with Metal Gear Solid and
simmer until luke-warm, add a serving of Onimusha
with a slice of Silent Hill,
stir briskly, set in warm oven for one hour and serve with a garnish of your
favorite grade-B variety survival-horror movies. Don't forget to slather it
over with a heaping helping of day-old Resident
Evil, and there you have it: Extermination. It's the most recent
in an ancient breed of mildly entertaining vehicles which shamelessly "borrow"
-- not only from all the popular horror /sci-fi movies ever made -- but from
every other survival-horror game that has predated it.
As usual, you have to have some kind of military or civilian law enforcement
training; this time you get to be a member of the U.S. Marines Special Forces
named Dennis Riley. You have been sent to the obligatory remote and deserted
location - this time it's a research facility in Antarctica and your mission
there is to find out why they've lost contact with the outside world.
Of course, you know all hell's already broken loose long before you arrive
and by the time you show up the place is crawling with a host of pernicious
mutants with a "social disease" - a virus they are all too willing to give away.
Is this sounding familiar?
Extermination is not heavy on puzzle elements. It manages to set puzzles
in front of you in the form of locked doors and blocked passageways, but then
it solves these puzzles on its own. If the solution to the puzzle is not obvious
enough to knock you in the head, someone will invariably happen along and tell
you what to do, or Riley himself will tell you. It may aid in the forward
momentum of the game, but it removes any real sense of initiative from the gamer.
Everything in the facility has the virus and they all want you to have it,
too. You will get infected with the mystery virus during the game and you will
spend a fat chunk of time seeking a cure...only to be immediately reinfected.
In addition to your standard life bar, you have an infection meter which basically
indicates how desperately you need treatment before your vision blurs, you develop
a gnarly back zit and then drop dead.
Gameplay consists mostly of running away from just about everything since your
weapon will run out of energy in the least opportune situations. Although there
are rechargers scattered throughout, it's not always convenient to retreat from
an ass-whooping to juice up your gun.
Riley has a single firearm, the SPR4, a gun that upgrades into several more
powerful weapons. Instead of lugging a bunch of guns around with you, you merely
select which feature of the gun you will use. This is a welcome relief compared
to games with goofy inventory management systems which make you have to leave
weapons behind in order to pick up something as small as a lighter or key.
The bad thing about Riley and his gun is the fact that he cannot move while
he's holding it upright. Yes, that's right. This wannabe action hero gets rigor
mortis in his legs every time his gun is raised. That's one lame feature they
should have left in Resident Evil's wallet when they were rifling through
When the gun is out of energy, you can rely on your trusty knife...but Dennis
Riley is no Jet Li with
a blade. He has a couple of stiff, wooden-looking attacks which are practically
useless on some of the things you will come up against and just about good enough
to get you killed a lot.
some features of the control were borrowed from Resident Evil and it's
many clones (the right trigger aim, for example), Extermination departs
from the standard RE-style D-pad control in which pressing Left or Right
on the D-pad results in the character merely revolving in the same location.
In Extermination, pressing Left or Right makes Riley turn and move in
that direction. This gives Extermination sudden, jerky and imprecise
control. There is no strafe button, no sideways movement and no opportunity
to do a lot of fancy dodging when the poop hits the fan.
Control is focused on the X button. Everything from crawling to jumping to
swinging to rolling is reliant upon this one button. It's the kind of streamlined
control that makes it unlikely for players to get stuck. You can basically go
up to any obvious looking object and press the X button and eventually you'll
figure it out on your own. Unfortunately, it also dumbs the game down a bit
and removes any element of exploration.
The graphics are your standard PS2 fare, but inconsistent and on the whole
not very impressive, although the weather effects like the blizzard are well
done. Apart from an assortment of nicely animated (though less than truly creepy)
mutants, it is the camera which is, without a doubt, your surest and most able
Apparently locked in free-chase mode, the camera almost never faces the direction
you are heading. When you enter a room you will find yourself looking into Riley's
face or the top of his head. You have to adjust the camera manually just to
see what you're doing and if you turn a corner you'll have to adjust it again.
I don't know about you, but if I'm running around in a room full of contagious
mutants, the last thing I want to be looking at is my own left ear.
It is no exaggeration to say that the camera will get you killed. For example,
there are segments of Extermination that will have Riley maneuvering
among steep, icy ravines'and we all know what happens when you're rock
climbing in a blizzard and can't see where you're going.
Despite it's obvious problems, Extermination is not a bad game if you're
hard-up for another RE clone. The multitude of enemies, unique implementation
of the SPR4 and a few nicely done weather effects make for a solid experience,
though this is ultimately undermined by the twitchy control, awful camera and
lack of free movement. This is Resident Evil in a parka. But RE
was a Playstation game and this game is several years and a generation beyond
that - yet only chronologically. One thing's for sure, Extermination
won't be winning any medals for Sony in the system wars.