Resident Evil: Dead Aim
By: Matt C. on June 30, 2003
With three 'Gun Survivor' games under its belt (not including this one), you would assume the folks at Capcom would have perfected the series by now. To be fair, truly compelling light-gun games are difficult to develop, but Resident Evil: Dead Aim brings such a small list of improvements to the genre that it seems Capcom didn't even put all that much effort into this title. For example, there are two playable characters, but both of them control almost exactly alike. None of them offer any noticeable advantages over each other.
With that said, do I think Resident Evil: Dead Aim is a total waste of time? Nope. The good news is that Dead Aim plays very similar to previous RE titles. When you are not in first-person "gun mode," you can move your character around just like any other RE game. Even the inventory screen makes a return. It looks a bit different, but it serves as the same function as before. When you need to actually fire your gun, all you need to do is squeeze the trigger once to enter first-person mode, and then point your gun at the TV screen and shoot as usual. Traditional light-gun games that force players along a pre-determined path are nice and all, but I simply love the fact that Dead Aim gives the user full movement around the environments, and shooting segments just like Sega's The House of the Dead and Namco's Time Crisis franchises.
Despite this feature, Dead Aim's gameplay sadly boils down to simply collecting ammo/weapons, searching for keys, and killing zombies and other freakish creatures. Aside for about four explosive boxes/canisters in the entire game, the environments are not interactive at all. Objects can't be pushed or shot down to crush or damage nearby foes. You can't even shoot out lights, windows, and bottles filled with alcohol. Sure, something as simple as breaking bottles wouldn't make a huge impact on the gameplay, but at least it would make your surroundings feel more realistic.
Another disappointing feature is that limbs and heads cannot be shot off -- even when you use the shotgun at point blank range. Bodies will fly back 5-8 feet and a satisfying amount of blood will splatter against the wall though. In addition, if you shoot a zombie's leg, he or she will actually limp even more than usual, slowing down its approuch.
To add to the list of problems, enemies cannot follow you from room to room, which was possible in Resident Evil for the GameCube. Zombies cannot ascend or descend stairs either. It is possible to make your character move slowly so he or she won't be attacked or noticed (this is supposed to help you save ammo in Normal and Hard difficulties), but with enemies who don't have the intelligence to operate a door handle, using stealth is practically useless. Running past them is a better technique.
I know I mentioned a lot of problems with Resident Evil: Dead Aim so far, but to be honest, I still enjoyed the game from start to finish -- twice. However, the aspect that really killed Dead Aim for me was the amazingly short length. My first time through, I managed to complete the game in 3 hours and 2 minutes. Sadly, I am the type of person who likes to explore and take in all the details. I would often take time to look out all the windows and check out all the stuff on the walls for any easter eggs and such. For people who are not quite as observant as me -- you can easily finish Dead Aim in less than three hours.
Naturally, the short length wouldn't be a problem if there are plenty of goodies to unlock, but this isn't the case with Dead Aim. Depending on the ending rank you earn, you can start out with more weapons (if you are curious, there are four types of pistols, one shotgun, one grenade launcher, one assault rifle, and one particle rifle available in Dead Aim), or if you are really good, you can earn unlimited ammo the next time you play the game. You can also start out with the other lead character if you wish, but it doesn't affect the gameplay at all. Unfortunately, that's it. A couple light-gun mini-games would have been nice.
I was initially turned off by using the d-pad located on the GunCon 2 to control my character's movements, but luckily, you can plug in a regular ol' Dual Shock 2 into controller port 1 and use it to guide your character around using your left hand. Then, when push comes to shove, you can use the GunCon 2 in your right hand to do all the shooting for you. This setup works surprisingly well, it is comfortable, and it didn't cause any problems at all for me.
Resident Evil: Dead Aim takes place in a cruise ship that has been affected by the infamous T-virus. The lights are almost always dim, so much like Silent Hill, your character carries a flashlight around his or her neck. This creates a nice spooky atmosphere, although there are very few moments that are will actually frighten the player. The cruise ship is well designed and the textures on walls and such look nice. Mirrors don't give off a reflection, but its not a huge deal. About halfway through the game, you'll become stranded in a water-treatment plant, which offers environments that are a bit on the dull side, but it is a nice change of pace from the cruise ship.
As for the enemies, they are well animated and their movements are convincing. At times, you'll face at least 7-8 zombies at once, with no noticeable slowdown (mowing them all down with the assault rifle is super fun). Too bad there aren't more types of foes, because Dead Aim only has a total of four different creatures to battle (not including the bosses).
The sound effects and music in Dead Aim are presented in typical Resident Evil fashion. Zombies moan and groan, bosses make weird noises when you shoot them, and "relaxing" music plays when you reach a room with a typewriter to save your progress (no storage boxes though -- w00t!)
In the end, Resident Evil: Dead Aim will provide at least 3-5 hours of enjoyment for most people, but you won't get much more out of the game, as the amazingly craptacular unlockable extras and the short length flushes the replay value down the toilet. Needless to say, buying Dead Aim for full price at $49.99 is a complete joke. Its almost like buying a sealed DVD movie for $17.99 that only has half the film on it. If Capcom makes a sequel to Dead Aim (which is practically a given) and fixes all of the flaws, I'll be in heaven. Until then, keep this one as a rental consideration.
Note: If you do decide to rent Dead Aim, a GunCon 2 isn't required, but some type of compatible light-gun is a MUST if you plan to make the most out of your $5.00 (plus tax) renting fee.