Resident Evil

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Movie Trailers

‘Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City’ Unleashes Nightmare Trailer

Sony Pictures has released a Nightmare Trailer for the upcoming Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City movie. “Evil can’t be contained,” teases the video description. Watch below. The film has a November 24 release date exclusively in tears and is written and directed by Johannes Roberts, and stars Kaya Scodelario, Hannah John-Kamen, Robbie Amell, Tom

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TV News

Neflix Forgets About White Dudes In Resident Evil Live-Action Series

Netflix apparently has forgotten about white dudes as it has revealed the main cast of its upcoming Resident Evil live-action series. The main cast features a race-swapped Albert Wesker as well as four female characters, played by Ella Balinska, Tamara Smart, Siena Agudong, Adeline Rudolph, and Paola Nuñez. Lance Reddick, known for John Wick, The

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Video Game News

Sony Reveals PS5 and More Than Two Dozen Games

Sony announced details and game for the PS5 on Thursday which includes Grand Theft Auto, Marvel’s Spider-Man – Miles Morales, Gran Turismo, Horizon Forbidden West and more. Most of the games listed below will be available at launch and will be exclusives. Check out the trailer for Marvel’s Spider-Man – Miles Morales here. Check out

Resident Evil 2 Remake Thoughts
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Resident Evil 2 Remake Thoughts

E3 2018 Quick Asides: Resident Evil 2 Remake Revisiting Familiar Survival Horror with Style   Resident Evil 2 for the PS1 was the first “survival horror” game I ever played.  I remember this experience distinctly as some friends (Allan M. and Danny K.) and I rented it and tried playing it the way we had

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Movie Review: Resident Evil: Damnation

Forget “Retribution;” Damnation Shows Evil Going Global

A Film Review of Resident Evil: Damnation

By: Lawrence Napoli

 

We are DAYS away from the release of my most anticipated videogame of 2012 in Resident Evil 6 and Capcom saw fit to release its most recent CG film a week prior in an effort to prime American fans for the kind of story, action and thrills that will be awaiting us all on October 2nd.  What better way to do this than by giving the fans a prequel (of sorts) that bridges the gap between Resident Evils 5 and 6 without making any actual reference to either?  This may sound a tad curious, but I attribute that to Japanese sensitivities to the concept of plot which I will explain later.  This original film produced by the coalition of Capcom, Digital Frontier and Sony Pictures Entertainment joins its brother (Resident Evil: Degeneration) as the only two films to be part of the official Resident Evil cannon and unlike its predecessor, Damnation delivers a high fidelity experience that is sharp on looks and intense on action.

By the start of Resident Evil 5, the concept of international bio-terrorism is in full swing because the Umbrella Corporation allegedly goes bankrupt and in the process, all of its viral research and development hits the global black market.  Anyone with a WIFI connection and a few million bucks could become a bio-terrorist overnight.  Damnation further explores the investigation of B.O.W. (bio-organic weapon) sightings in an Eastern European (ex-Soviet Block) country with fan favorite Leon S. Kennedy taking the lead.  Leon arrives in this country with a very obscure status as he doesn’t represent the CIA, Secret Service or BSAA in any capacity.  The only thing the viewer knows for sure is that Leon is still some sort of US government agent as Ingrid Hunnigan (from Resident Evil 4) continues to relay intelligence to Leon via his cell phone.  Leon is in full tactical gear as the country is in the midst of a civil war and the action simply shoots through the roof once he starts jogging to his next destination.

The overall story of Damnation is much more concise than any of the games because it strictly gravitates around the plot of this one setting and main character.  However, the typical mood of conspiracy and betrayal is as consistent as any other chapter in the Resident Evil saga.  As this franchise continues to move slightly away from “horror” to feature more “action;” Damnation is yet another perfect (or terrible, depending on your point of view) example of this strategy.  The director, Makoto Kamiya wanted the events of this film to depict Leon S. Kennedy as he “descends into hell” which would seem to evoke more “horror” elements to this story.  Sure, Leon gets disarmed at some point and only has his bound fists to survive for a while, but the fact that this character IS Leon removes ANY semblance of threat because fans know he’s a mainstay of the franchise and he IS in Resident Evil 6 as a primary character.  There is virtually no element of horror to this CG film because there is no dedication to building suspense.  Doing so requires many more moments of silence to allow the audience an anticipation of fear which the bullet and explosion filled pages of this particular script are ill equipped to produce.  Oh well, I guess this just means Damnation must settle for being a really good action film with plenty of gory violence, gunplay and slow motion, close quarter combat. 

One other aspect of this story that demands singular recognition is the fact that the B.O.W.s being used throughout Damnation are within the framework of war.  As such, viewing classics like zombies, lickers, ganados, parasites and tyrants as alternatives to guns and grenades is a theme never before explored in Resident Evil.  What makes this exceptionally interesting is the unprecedented level of control that is demonstrated over these monsters in addition to the fact that they are used against each other on several occasions.  Ever find yourself cheering for the bad guy?  The player/audience has always seen these things as antagonists that need to be dispatched or avoided, but never as an option in combat scenarios.  It will be interesting to see if this concept is somehow applied to any gameplay mechanic in Resident Evil 6, so if it is – remember, you heard the prediction here first!   

Resident Evil has always been a character driven drama so I was expecting to learn a little more about Leon S. Kennedy, the man, during yet another one man mission against the undead.  After the events of Resident Evil 2 very little has been revealed about this man other than his continued involvement from a distance during the plots of every game and his hush-hush government training post Raccoon City.  Unfortunately, Damnation is not very forthcoming about any new details concerning Leon; maintaining his status as an ultimate bad ass with unwavering ethical integrity.  Ho hum.   

Whenever Leon is involved, it seems Ada Wong is not far to follow as she (yet again) appears to be infiltrating this particular dangerous environment as a spy working for “someone else” (not named Albert Wesker because he’s dead, at least I think).  If you have been living under a rock and have not seen any of the Resident Evil 6 trailers, Ada appears to be set up as the big bad in the upcoming game, thus working for herself all this time.  That certainly jives with her character type, yet Damnation is clear about establishing an unidentified employer backing Wong’s infiltration.  She’s still a sexy femme fatale and (you guessed it) very little else is revealed other than the fact that a more intimate relationship between her and Leon culminated prior to the events in Damnation.  She clearly cares about him, yet neither is truly smitten with the other despite an obvious attraction that was set up in RE2.

The rest of the characters in this CG film are not particularly interesting as they are dealt with (one way or the other) within the confines of this plot.  Degeneration approached its antagonists in the exact same fashion which, unfortunately, removes a healthy amount of danger and intrigue from these newly introduced characters.  I admire the Japanese filmmakers for creating this movie, but as a plot, does not stand on its own strength and really comes off as a strategic setup piece to get gamers used to the scale, scope and stakes of RE6.  These are the important bullet points I took away from Damnation:  1) Biohazards are potentially everywhere: from obscure rural communities to the largest of urban jungles in EVERY country.  2) Every variety of mutation you have seen thus far is probably going to make an appearance in the next game and the “zombies” that are supposedly making their triumphant return in RE6 are actually smart, weapon-wielding, ganados and not brainless T-virus victims.  3) Capcom’s marketing of the “3 campaign system” supposedly featuring 3 distinct play styles promising a return to “survival horror” in at least one of them is an absolute crock!  This film and the exceptional RE6 trailer attached to it cement this franchise in straight monster-slaughter action.  Accept it.

I liked parts of this film, but cannot admit to loving any of it.  The extra features on the Blu Ray disc are nothing to write home about, but the “making of” featurette is neat seeing the cast do all sorts of motion capture work on set.  I also found it interesting how this Japanese production company was using nothing but HP computer hardware for 100% of its production tools.  It’s just a simple observation.  This CG film is a vast improvement over Degeneration in almost every regard (look, sound and feel) with the exception of story.  Clearly, Capcom did not give director Makoto Kamiya the same leeway Paul W.S. Anderson had with his adaptations.  These films HAD to fit with the games and surely his options were limited.  Still, I was amazed that nothing more than the stellar action was at work in Damnation.  I wanted to see more character revelations, more connectivity with the games and overall more relevance, but what I got was more typical Eastern filmmaking that promotes style over substance; look over story.  The Blu Ray copy of Resident Evil: Damnation retails at $19.99 US dollars and I simply cannot recommend this film at that price to anyone besides serious Resident Evil fans.  If you find it on sale for $10, go for it, otherwise save that money for your pre-order of Resident Evil 6.

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Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

Awful, Just Awful

A Film Review of Resident Evil: Retribution

By: Lawrence Napoli

 

I don’t particularly care for Paul W. S. Anderson’s work as a filmmaker during his tenure as Capcom’s official Hollywood adapter of the Resident Evil franchise.  I believe Mr. Anderson only has a cursory understanding of the overall storyline which has afforded him the gall to write all of the iconic characters as secondary support roles that do not impact the story in any way shape and form.  Anderson has been quite blunt with his need to generate original characters that drive his vision forward which is why most of his main characters have been conjured out of thin air: Alice, Rain, K-Mart, L.J., the Red Queen, Luther West, etc.  I don’t mind the concept of expanded fiction referencing characters from the source material.  In fact, a great example would be The Walking Dead video game by TellTale Games.  The problem I have with Anderson’s use of character is twofold: 1) his original characters are quite flat and 2) the iconic characters are basically cannon fodder for Alice.  This is not good, not good at all.

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Warning: gratuitous cleavage shot

Resident Evil: Retributionis a perfect example of a writer/director’s ego gone wild.  Anderson’s tunnel vision in using every film (including this one) to further explore and expand the bloated importance of the character of Alice has forced him to severely limit his options in terms of plot and the story suffers for it.  I will rephrase that last comment.  The story is perversely warped as a result of it.  Fans of the game series see a story in the film adaptations that is simply not Resident Evil.  Those who aren’t fans will experience this film as a sci-fi, action film unconcerned with details like “who are these people?” “where do they come from?” “what is happening here?” and “why is any of this important?”  It is true that Retribution opens with its signature review of the plot thus far in the previous films, but even with that refresher, the audience will be completely confused by the relevance of anything they are seeing that doesn’t involve Alice running away from monsters.  Despite frequent expository scenes that spoon feed the story, none of these moments address some of the basic viewer questions I mentioned earlier. 

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The “S” stands for “suck-ass”

On top of Anderson’s failings as a writer, his degrading ability to get decent performances from his actors is obvious.  Sienna Guillory apparently forgot how to act all together as her awkward line delivery made Jill Valentine look like she was in a high school musical.  Bingbing Li may not know the English language as all her dialogue seems like it was post-dubbed, thus making Ada Wong look like she was pulled out of a cheesy kung-fu flick.  Colin Salmon could not be persuaded to get in shape for this film and his performance as One in the first Resident Evil was Academy Award winning material in comparison to this.  Johann Urb’s rendition of Leon S. Kennedy seemed more concerned with the placement of his hair than coming off as a suave badass.  And Michelle Rodriguez should not be a professional actress in the first place. 

There are some shining lights to this film in regards to the performances.  Milla Jovovich will never win an Oscar, but she is quite comfortable in action films and the confidence she shows in Alice works for that character.  I still tend to snicker every time Alice tries to be poignant on screen, but then she punches someone in the face and it’s suddenly all better.  Aryana Engineer’s (an 11 year old) performance as Becky (Alice’s “daughter”) is uncharacteristically moving amidst the various degrees of anger-filled rage from the rest of the cast.  Her chemistry with Jovovich onscreen is charmingly sympathetic.  But the best performance is displayed by the (once again) underused Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker.  The attitude, the snide remarks, the accent: this man simply embodies every inch of Wesker and for the life of me; I cannot understand how dense Paul W. S. Anderson must be to not feature this actor/character more.

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More of me would have made more millions for this movie

The action and effects in this film actually take a step back from the last film: Resident Evil: Afterlife.  The audience was treated to a slew of super human activity between Wesker and the Alice clones in that film and when compared to the bigger monsters and standard mass shootings of various zombie hordes in this film, I’m left unimpressed.  Hopefully the viewer isn’t turned off by slow motion as the visual effects company, Mr. X abused “slo-mo” in every, single, action sequence.  It was too much of the same old, same old.  As for 3D; DO NOT PAY TO SEE THIS FILM IN 3D!  The 3-4 instances of “things flying at the screen” do not justify the inflated ticket price to see a movie like this.  No other film franchise has taken advantage of the 3D scam more so than Resident Evil.  It is a major contributing factor for explaining how this saga could be described as “the most successful series of films based on video games.”    

Resident Evil: Retribution inspires little confidence in the franchise and even less in a software company as significant as Capcom.  Eastern developers have recently been falling behind the west, but when you couple questionable business moves like handing the Hollywood adaptation of your most prominent IP to some dude who happens to be married to Milla Jovovich must reflect disintegrating stock value.  As ridiculous and contrived as many of the moments in the Resident Evil game history are, none of them come close to the absurdity of Paul W. S. Anderson’s take on zombies.  If he plugged Star Wars characters into an Indiana Jones story, he’d genuinely believe he invented Episode VII!  This film is a pass.  Go see Expendables 2 if you need action, but you’re simply better off waiting to buy Resident Evil 6 for your Xbox or Ps3.  That is, of course, if this film doesn’t make you want to march to Capcom’s corporate headquarters and set semtex to the whole building.

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Movie News Reviews

Video Game Review: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

Is This Game Garbage?

A video game review Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

By: Lawrence Napoli

 

 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1051:]]A little while ago, my crew of gaming and pop culture experts came together in a podcast to discuss the best video games of 2011, and how 2012’s lineup was apparently going to blow its predecessor away.  Well, you know what they say in regards to “the best laid plans of mice and men,” right?  Ninja Gaiden 3, the next chapter in a very popular series of ninja-action games has fallen flat on its face for having a completely irrelevant story and virtually no challenge.  Mass Effect 3 has sold an insane amount of copies, but this has led to a larger pool of passionate fans polishing their axes and pitchforks to lay siege to the offices of BioWare for concluding an epic fiction with one of the most controversially disappointing endings of all time.  This brings us to Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City or ORC, and I must remind the reader how this game was just about the hottest destination at this past year’s New York Comic Con.  The demo was brief, the booth was small and the line was long, but the game was fun; it was set in the Resident Evil universe and it featured the 4 player co-op slaughter of zombies. 

Fast forward to today, and the “full” game has not exactly hit the ball out of the park with critics and consumers.  What went wrong with this game?  What has been going wrong with 2012?  Have our expectations of worth in games swelled to such galactic proportions that “good” or “ok” games should all be mercilessly curb-stomped, and the studios that created them sent directly to bankruptcy hell?  I’m one of the worst people to play devil’s advocate in regards to the overburdening “higher standard,” as I frequently demand it in my film reviews, and specifically refer to Hollywood’s ever degrading standards as the sole reason why video games will one day replace movies as the dominant media entertainment art form.  People crave entertainment, and with limited resources, normal people cannot indulge in everything — which is why I write.  I provide the service of suggestion as passionately as I can in hopes of describing something that resonates with the reader not to make up his or her mind, but to highlight the good and the bad in everything.  That being said, ORC has no shortage of both.

Story

ORC is a game that attempts to recapture the lightning in the bottle that was Capcom’s first 3 entries in the series for the PSX that revolved around the Raccoon City incident which introduced the world to a man-made zombie apocalypse.  Resident Evil’s 1, 2 and 3 all involved gruesome tales of survival, betrayal, conspiracy and horror that spawned a rabid fan base, a series of novels and a somewhat successful film saga.  As convoluted as many of the plot points have been in every game, it remains an ever intriguing story driven forward by an incredibly diverse cast of interesting characters that sets men and women of action against the corporate/new world order agents of chaos.  ORC has absolutely none of these story elements at work for itself.

ORC is a really expensive “what if” production inspired by Resident Evil, but is in no way connected to the gaming fiction’s canon.  The events of ORC explore the Raccoon City incident of the late 1990s from the perspective of the antagonists: one of Umbrella’s highly trained team of spec-ops mercenaries charged with eliminating all incriminating evidence of the corporation’s involvement with the murder of an entire city’s populace.  I must admit that this starting point had all kinds of potential, but this lackluster tale of “fetch this,” “dodge that,” “kill this,” and “destroy that,” couldn’t have been delivered by a blander cast of characters.  Sure, the spec-ops team all look cool in their black combat suits and night vision masks, but there is no variance to any of them beyond what you see.  These mercs could be robots, and it wouldn’t make one bit of difference to the player.  Heck, they could even be really smart zombies.  Point is, there’s a whole lot of blah, blah, blah in ORC that any attempt at a story is met with immediate annoyance on the part of the player because nothing is really at stake, none of the characters really care, and it seems fitting because the only interesting thing going on the entire time is killing zombies.  You would think people in a fictional zombie apocalypse would be more emotionally vested in actually surviving. 

Game Play

As yet another 3rd person, cover based shooter, ORC does nothing exceptionally well or anything egregiously wrong in regards to its controls.  Shooting guns is really fun as there is a noticeable difference in firing pistols vs. rifles vs. shotguns vs. SMG’s.  Effective range for each weapon type is vital to progressing through the game especially at higher difficulty levels, so don’t expect to be pulling off many headshots from a mile away with a shotty.  Aiming, however, is not quite as satisfying.  Once the player tightens in for precision, shifting the crosshairs tends to get a tad blocky which might be the result of lag, but more likely inadequate frame rate.  Tossing grenades is a bit of a disappointment because there is no indication of a throwing arc to gauge where the explosives will actually land.  Aiming and then throwing results in a general landing zone, but doesn’t take low ceilings or obstructions into account, and often results in grenade tosses that bounce back in your face.  Melee attacks have been significantly downgraded in terms of speed and power that I witnessed in the demo at Comic Con.  Still, learning the proper timing of CQC chaining into brutal kills is quite fun, but requires trial and error because there is no ability to lock on to targets, so “aiming” your knife attacks works in tandem with the movement analog stick.

General navigation is not crisp.  Sure, this is the first Resident Evil to solve the inability to shoot while moving conundrum, but that doesn’t mean movement amounts to a victory here.  Sprinting is fairly responsive, but changing course mid-sprint requires an all out stop, redirect and re-sprint in a safer direction.  The volume of threats on the screen will require a healthy amount of awkward “stops” and “turns” because staying in cover won’t save you.  Speaking of the cover system, the only way you can do this is by depressing directional control to literally move your character into various objects.  I would be a fan of any action title doing something with button execution that didn’t involve one button being responsible for every single animation, but ORC’s scheme is NOT the answer.  Going into and out of cover requires the precision of pressing a button.  Sometimes there is a slight delay in one’s character actually going into cover which may result in death, but the same can be said of a button-cover control scheme if the response time isn’t instant.  Moving in between cover is actually quite smooth, but not recommended during firefights because a defensive combat roll doesn’t exist in ORC.  Your character practically stands up straight when leaving cover which, once again, rings the zombie dinner bell serving up some tasty morsels of Umbrella spec-ops.

Action

Action is the one and only name of the game in ORC, and it’s a good thing too because the constant need to shoot things and run away is one of the few good things going for this game.  The scale of zombie opposition is nowhere near the intimidating sea of undead one can witness in Dead Rising 2, but the utter frantic chaos that ensues more than makes up for it.  Most of the environments that the player navigates through are tight interiors which generate a decent amount of tension during shooting sprees.  This is only amplified at higher difficulty levels where friendly fire can inadvertently put down teammates in a matter of a couple stray shots. 

Unfortunately, one of the primary mechanics to this game actually detracts from the overall action: always having a full squad of teammates and the terrible AI that controls them.  This criticism is null and void if the player has three additional friends to fill every spot where discussing tactics and directing movement lead to the professional dispatching of undead opposition.  AI teammates, however, constantly block doorways, run directly into your line of fire, walk blindly into traps, infrequently use their special abilities and have no means of reviving the player if he or she goes down.  Yuck!  How on Earth could this AI be worse than Resident Evil 5 where the player could give an AI Sheva the most powerful firearm in his or her collection, and she would proceed to do nothing but knife zombies?   

Multiplayer

As I wrote before, maximum entertainment value gets squeezed from ORC IF (and only if) you play either the extremely short campaign or various online competitive formats with friends.  If the reader has played an online competitive shooter before, the formats of death match, capture and return to base and survival modes will all be familiar with the exception of one: heroes.  Hero mode involves every player to select one of the iconic personalities from Resident Evil’s 1-3 and control them in a death match type competition with one important wrinkle.  Heroes (good or bad) absorb a TON of damage, so much so that 5 grenade launcher rounds followed by 2 minutes of uninterrupted melee attacks cannot put a hero down permanently.  Fan boys of the series may find the current selection of heroes to be bittersweet as “the master of death,” HUNK is available, but neither Wesker nor Chris Redfield are to be found.  Perhaps more characters and formats will be available via DLC.

There’s plenty of stat tracking for the player’s performance in campaign and online modes, but not in the way most people are used to in CoD shooters.  Kill/death ratios include every kill during competitive formats, which means that if someone on your team is terrible at killing human competition, he or she can still be useful killing zombies littered about every level while contributing to the team’s score which ultimately determines the winner.  But the NPC (non-playable-character) fun doesn’t end there.  BOWs (bio-organic-weapons) like tyrants and hunters make their way to the battlefield, and taking these bad boys down will yield as many points as killing human competition.  I like that getting owned by the same douche-bag in death match is something that the player has more control over by going to a less populated section of the map to focus on zombie kills.

Aesthetics

ORC is the proverbial mixed bag when it comes to graphics.  Character models are extremely well detailed for Umbrella spec-ops, US Special forces and some BOW’s.  The same cannot be said of the level design.  The one exception to that criticism is the underground research facility, but otherwise, all of the hallways are dark, most of the open areas are bland, and the memorable locations (like the Raccoon City Police Department) simply do not generate wonder at any level.  I liked the damage effects on zombies.  If you take a shotgun to a zombie’s arm, head or leg at close range, BOOM!  It’s gone and the appearance of ripped off flesh remains.  Unfortunately, the overall look of the zombies themselves had a distinct copy/paste appeal to them.  Comparing the level of detail between Resident Evil 5’s majini to ORC’s zombies is like comparing the mastery of the English language between Shakespeare and George W. Bush.  

Final Thoughts

I cannot help but think that ORC is more of a well produced demo/beta rather than a full and complete video game worthy of the $59.99 price point ($69.99 for those of us lucky to get the extremely rare “Special Edition”).  The scope, game play and overall look of this video game are far too limiting which is quite ironic seeing how this series stood out from the crowd for being an expansive fiction.  It’s like developing a game about US counterinsurgency efforts in the Middle East while focusing only on the compound raid that ended Bin Laden.  Cool idea, but awfully brief and not very immersive.  It is important to note to the reader that this project wasn’t 100% Capcom.  Yes, Capcom published the game, but Slant Six Games developed it in Canada, and their only history of game development is with SOCOM games for the PSP and PS3 and none were considered to be massive successes or monumental fails.  Their games walk the fine line between good and mediocrity so much so that even I, an ardent fan of every Resident Evil game cannot give ORC a glowing endorsement. 

This is not an instant buy for most consumers because it simply is not refined enough to be worthy of having “Resident Evil” written on its cover art.  However, I cannot describe this game as garbage.  If the reader/player enjoys the action-packed slaughter of zombies everywhere and in multiple formats, ORC is at least worth a rental.  I continue to have a blast with this game because I have several real friends who jump into my squad in order to own zombies together.  If you find yourself with similar means, I would seriously recommend purchasing this.  If what you want out of this game is story, relevance or an intriguing take on the Resident Evil mythos — do yourself a favor and pass.  I would even go so far as to recommend forgetting this game ever existed if the reader/player doesn’t have any actual friends to play with, because matchmaking (even for campaign mode) often results in drop outs, leaving the player with an extremely handicapped team of AI that makes this game a chore. 

afterlife-review
Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Afterlife

When the fetus is born, its placenta begins a physiological separation for spontaneous expulsion afterwards and for this reason is also called afterbirth.  The Resident Evil movie franchise (in relation to the video game mythos) can be described as such.  The one person responsible for all this is Paul W.S. Anderson and he has committed

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