There is of course only a limited number summers one experiences before life finally turns in upon itself, forcing itself from the present into the half-existent past. Therefore, it would seem more pertinent to be out there experiencing what many of us name Life and not instead be turning in slow circles in order to shoot Eastern European scary-humans before they grab you and start shouting! Also massive Eastern European chainsaw guys! And weird magicians or something! I've been playing Resident Evil 4 which is making me want it to be winter again.
A couple of years ago people started to complain about the scarcity of colour in recent (or current-gen) games such as Gears of War, Resistance, or Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise: they clearly have never played RE4. This game is all kinds of brown. It's also grey sometimes. But mostly brown. Of course this is great for the game, which sets itself in the brownest corner of what I imagine is the Racoon City equivalent of the Białowieża Forest in Europe. A grim forest (in RE4) whose trees don't so much sprout leaves as more twigs. In fact it's a very twiggy game - maybe a contender for most twigs in a game. While this fits the game's schlocky Lovecraftian horror plot, it does leave the environments looking very mushy and sometimes hard to really appreciate or even, at times, properly see.
But it's nothing that you don't quickly forget, or just accept, as the rest of the game is very engrossing. But yes, very schlocky. It reminds me a little bit of a film I recently watched called The Shrine, which had an equally silly story of Eastern European cultists (what is it with those guys? jees). The setting and plot do however make a change from the sci-fi-urban-zombie-apocalypse of the first three games; giving the sense of this being a contained narrative, mostly free from the usual convolution. In many ways this game foreshadows the culturally specific horror which would cause the series problems in RE5, channelling fears of the primeval, isolated culture, but here it feels a lot more comfortable - compared to the rabid, spear wielding African menace of RE5 - this kind of Eastern European community being a more traditional setting of the horror story (Count Dracula and all that jazz).
Game play wise I love RE4. Whenever I play a RE game I always start by bemoaning the controls but end up loving them - they make being proficient at the simplest manoeuvre (such as turning around) incredibly satisfying. This does sometimes frustrate, in the boss battles especially, but weirdly - and completely incongruous to the story - this becomes part of the game's challenge. How do I manoeuvre Leon so that he doesn't just stand there and die? Frustrating? Yes, but ultimately satisfying. It also makes playing any other game which actually allows you to move like a capable human feel like a gift from the gods.
So I've been loving RE4. As well as this I've been playing another revered classic, this time of the RPG genre. A Link To The Past might well be the most well designed game ever made. For me it perfectly captures the fairy tale, fantasy children's epic. The land is full of surprises and secrets, and really rewards exploration and experimentation.
It's also one of those games which, when playing it again, still feels fresh in my mind from when I played it years ago. There have been a few puzzles though which I seemed to have forgotten and as such, similar to The Secret of Monkey Island, leave me feeling like a handfed moron. Why am I so quick to jump for the walkthrough? It's a real struggle to make myself experiment and try stuff out instead of just giving up and looking on youtube - especially since I'm playing the game on my laptop!
Oh well, I'm far less patient then I was as a child. I also think that A Link To The Past might be something of a Summer Game, if there is such a thing. It's so bright and light hearted - yet deep enough to keep you genuinely interested.
Alongside these electronic computer games I've also been playing a bit of Backgammon. What better way to pass the time with a friend on a lazy, sunny afternoon? I sometimes find it a bit frustrating due to the fact that luck can really alter the outcome of a game, but if you're feeling in a relaxed mood and don't worry too much if your opponent getting all the bloody doubles! Well yeah, it's fun and can be pretty strategic. Also I'm shit at Chess so what else is there? Polish guys with chainsaws!