Keith's Crappy Videogame Blog


Evil Resistance (PC, 2008, Russia): Russkies Do Romero? Yup.
July 18, 2011, 5:10 pm
Filed under: Evil Resistance (PC, 2008, Russia)

I’ve played some real junk in my lifetime. I mean, anyone who is a serious gamer has done so, either because we were seeking a guilty pleasure or because we didn’t know better. In either case, the sign of a hardcore sucker is whether or not, after suffering through an entire trainwreck of a game, do we feel regret? If you don’t, then I salute you!

I’d say probably half of the posts on this blog are thinly veiled excuses for games that are, frankly, just hamfisted, confusing, cancer-inducing junk when you get down to it. But as I’ve said before, I am forever beguiled by playing these trashy titles and attempting to find some redeeming quality about them. Shine that turd up! Why? I really don’t know—I need to ask my therapist about that. Probably has something to do with the fact when I was a child, no one had very high expectations of me. Eh, they were right.

Anyway, why not add another excuse to the pile? This gem is one I would almost guarantee you’ve never heard of. And if you have heard of it, then you probably wouldn’t admit to spending the 5 or 6 hours playing it (like I am admitting here, since I have no sense of self-worth). Ponder this: What kind of game would be produced if a low-rent, no-name Russian developer with minimal talent and tech wanted to ripoff a stinking (but lovely), subpar western turd like “Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green?” Well, of course, something like that would never happen, right?

Except it did happen. And because I am now convinced it is an actual REQUIREMENT when discussing eastern European developers trying to market their earnest wares here in the west, the westernized title of “Evil Resistance: Morning of the Dead” (huh?) pales in comparison to the actually OK original title of “Moscow and The Dead.” Anyway, that’s the game I’m discussing in this post.

Regardless of what title you play it under, it’s a pretty rough-hewn, graphically challenged, zombie shooting “Hey didn’t I already do all of this in another crappy George Romero FPS?” affair. The story can be summed up accurately in three rambling statements: Natalia Budnik, a motorcycle-riding, hard-shootin’ policewoman, is on her way to her new station assignment outside of Moscow. On the way, everyone somehow turns into zombies, and from there you shoot them—on the road, in a police station, in a parking garage, in a warehouse, at a shopping center. Then the game ends by showing you (well, actually it just tells you) in a final scene with jets flying into an orange sunset what happened to create the zombie-hordes…go figure, it was a 10-kilometer-wide industrial accident involving radioactive waste and some experimental chemicals being developed by the army to change human DNA that poisoned the air and mutated about 2 million people, all of it ending in martial law. (Oh, P.S.: The only way I know this is because I’ve now added this to the list of illustrious Russian-language only titles that I spent a wee bit of time translating just so I could play it. If you, intrepid English-speaking player, plan on diving in, you might want to pick up the translation files hosted on 3D Shooter Legends at http://www.4shared.com/file/WJMZL3zZ/evilresistanceenglish.html ).

Sound original? Nope. That’s why I love it. So I bet you’d be surprised if I told you the game was original after all? Yeah, you’d be surprised. And unfortunately I’d be lying. This game not only doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it is so roughly constructed, it is actually only sort of playable. You know how sometimes you come across a retail game that feels like a mod made by one person, but it isn’t? That’s what we’ve got here—but it is not a mod. It is a retail title developed by Openoko Enetrtainment (never released domestically in the west, of course…and the chances of that happening are seriously zero.) So, here’s the expected caveat: Only if you have that zombie-shooting gene in your bloodstream should you fiddle with this game. But if you DO have that zombie-shooting gene, then hold your nose against the stench and give it a go. You might actually enjoy it. For me (I have the ultra-mutated super-zombie-shooting-gene, so resistance is futile), something about the simplicity of the game, and the fact that it has no air of greatness about it at all, means it provided a diversion for a little while without too much damage being done.

Actually, that’s an understatement. Shamefaced, I must admit that for at least a few hours, this game had me under its spell. This is because it uses one mechanic very well—this game’s single trick (which it uses relentlessly, until all the magic is gone) is to pile hordes of zombies at you (usually in waves of 5 to approximately 20 at a time on screen), right in your line of fire (sort of like a freight train coming straight at you) so you can mow them down with any number of weapons without having to aim too much (the trick is to reload at the opportune time)—rifles, shotguns, pistols, staple guns, and a plethora of melee weapons like electric drills, swords, butcher knives, golf clubs, boards, and bats are at your disposal. Every zombie, just about, carries a weapon, and when the slaughter is over, the ground looks like a weapon supply store threw up all over the place. And although I didn’t count, it seems as though you can pick up and carry every single weapon you encounter simultaneously, which is nice (though cycling through them all is a bit of a pain and time consuming in the heat of battle).

While I wouldn’t call the AI smart by any means (they walk right into your line of fire after all), the game uses a technique that really spooks you. As you are focused on mowing down the oncoming train of stiffly walking/running zombies in front of you, another train has started up behind you, or just beyond your peripheral vision—so before you know it, you are dead but not sure why. This takes some getting used to, and it is a challenging way to do combat and creates a kind of frenzied, paranoid environment that forces you to frantically scan in 360 degrees pretty much constantly. Backing yourself into a corner quickly becomes your best defense.

Another perhaps unintended effect is this: A horde of 15 zombies stands behind a door (they’ve forgotten how to use doorknobs, thankfully), and as you approach said door, you can hear the awful ruckus behind it. All them know you are there, just waiting to be eaten, and you can hear their trademark shuffle and tortured cries through the door. That makes you not want to open it—but you have to in order to proceed (it is, obviously, a linear game). The fun of this is holding your breath, positioning yourself as best as possible, opening the door, and hitting the trigger to mow down all of the beasts trying to exit at the same time. It’s creepy fun. I imagine this effect is why the publisher (Akella, of all companies) even bothered with this low-rent, bottom-feeder at all.

Oh, the shortcomings are severe and will stop all but the most brave and tolerant from even attempting to play this. Let me enumerate some of them. First, the character you play from first-person perspective, Officer Natalia Budnik, walks like a damn drunken sailor. The vomit-inducing camera movement is the pits, plain and simple. Whoever in the world thought this seasick-swaying perspective was a good idea needs to lay off the Meclizine. (Meclizine is the main ingredient in motion sickness pills. See, if the devs were popping them regularly, then they wouldn’t see the camera movement as a problem. OK, so I guess it’s not a good joke if you have to explain it.) Anyway, her movements are so back-n-forth that at times I wondered what direction I was actually travelling in and whether or not she could make it from point A to point B—on a flat surface no less. She can get easily hung up on incidental flotsam, like pieces of paper on the floor, or a broken floor tile, and this most assuredly means death. There is a run function, but she tires quickly and cannot shoot while running (the gun lowers automatically). The animations of the zombies are no better—they are stiff, awkward semblances of people –and we’re talking way beyond rigor mortis setting in. Interestingly, in a few of the chapters, you come across NPCs who are not zombies and who attempt, in some nascent fashion, to fight alongside you. But they, too, look more like mannequins on wheels than actual human beings, and all of them die almost instantly when a chapter opens up. Their help was not requested and is not necessary.

Graphically, the game is dark (I have lightened up the images here some so at least they can be viewed), which is, of course, on purpose. Darkness equals scariness, or something. To provide illumination, Natalia carries flares which can be launched for some temporary light, and she also finds and uses nightvision goggles (in green). But I didn’t bother with either of these much, and just decided to squint instead (and play with all the lights out). To complicate matters, in addition to the dark environments, the graphics have a slightly fuzzy, Vaseline-lens haze to them which can be headache inducing.

While those issues are trying enough, what really makes this game a test of endurance is the fact that THERE ARE NO SAVES. More accurately, the game consists of 8 or 9 chapters, and you must play through the entire chapter from beginning to end without dying. If you get chomped, back to the beginning for you—even if the finish line was one drunken lurch away. As you finish each chapter, it is permanently unlocked, and you can go back and play any of them again if you wish (yeah, like that’s going to happen).

In sum, “Evil Resistance: Morning of the Dead” (I like “Moscow and the Dead” sooooo much better) is one of those games that the bad presentation and implementation actually becomes part of the tension while playing it. Will you die due to the poor game mechanics, wonky movement, blindspots, and confusing directions? The tension created by these realities may not be intentional, but it undeniably adds to the horror of it all. You just have to decide whether to accept it as part of the package. Chances are, you won’t play this game. Hell, here in 2011, only 3 years after the game was made in 2008, I doubt you’ll even find it lurking around on torrent sites for too much longer. But if you are a self-diagnosed zombie-shooting completionist, then I hate to say it, but you’re obligated.