There will be blood

Horror fans needn’t wait until next Halloween for terrifying titles

By Chris O'Neal 11/11/2010

Splatterhouse, Nov. 23, $59.99 Xbox 360/PS3
NeverDead, Dec. 31.,
Xbox 360/PS3
Dead Space 2, Jan. 25, 2011, Xbox 360/PS3

Halloween is over. Children and adult man-children shamble through the streets, empty bags in hand and masks hanging by threads around their sunken shoulders. What is there to look forward to for fans of spookiness?

Thanksgiving? Turkeys may be terrifying, but there’s only so much horror they can impose. Good thing that developers have no holiday calendar, and horror-themed adventures are just around the corner.

Take Splatterhouse, a re-imagining of the original PC and arcade game in which you play as Rick, a student whose girlfriend has been kidnapped by terrible monsters. Fortunately, Rick has been killed and transformed into a very large, very terrible monster capable of making the other creatures run in fear.

For fans of gore and violence, Splatterhouse packs more blood per frame than there is in a human body. With the ability to destroy enemies in various creatively evil ways, socially maligned players will find endless entertainment as the game switches from a full 3D environment back to 2D, a kind of retro-gaming experience reminiscent of the original. In either dimension, oh yes, there will be blood.

Often I find myself awake in the wee hours of the morning, reminiscing about my experience watching the movie Event Horizon. The old cliché is that in space, no one can hear you scream. Everyone can still watch you cry in silence, though. Dead Space 2, the follow-up to the 2008 title for the Xbox 360 and PS3, will be released this coming January, and already it’s providing images that will incorporate themselves into space-themed nightmares across the country.

Whereas the original Dead Space was strictly set on a space ship in the middle of nowhere, the sequel dishes up our hero, Isaac Clarke (Asimov + Arthur C. = many of the themes found in the series), on solid ground, having been the victim of dementia and now the target of the government. A little action, a little adventure, and then come the terrible aliens known as the Necromorphs, who more than live up to their names.

What the original lacked, and what fans of the series have been asking for ever since the semi-sequel release for the Nintendo Wii in 2009, is multiplayer, and finally their wish has been granted. Two sides compete in up to five different modes, always humans vs. Necromorphs. As a human, one can play as an engineer, which is how one would play in single player mode, and use powers similar to Isaac Clarke’s.

As a Necromorph, new modes of combat and play are introduced. Play as a spitter, lurker, puker or pack, in an attempt to stop humans from building a bomb, reaching the escape pods or carving the Thanksgiving turkey. Players will finally get to experience removing limbs from one another, as what made Dead Space unique to begin with (the ability to sever limbs with various weapons) becomes a quirk of the online experience. In other words, make sure to keep plenty of stitching nearby.

The most unique of the lot is NeverDead, a game in which an undying zombie with the ability to amputate any and all of his limbs is your ally as you battle against a horde of dead and dying. Fans of dark humor will enjoy the repartee between the two main characters, the other being an attractive blonde female detective who is either digging the zombie’s flirting or is putting on a good show. Expect a fairly decent shooter with the unique twist of being able to shoot from the mouth (literally), with a few grotesque dismemberment scenes thrown in here and there for comedic effect. What’s not to love about a fall-apart partner?

This winter, when crafting a chalk outline of a body with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, cheer up — the macabre is always just around the corner if you’re a gamer.

Chris O’Neal is a writer living in Camarillo, waiting for the day when he can move on up to the east side.


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