Resident Evil: Degeneration review
Leon Kennedy just doesn’t get any rest. The second he joins the Raccoon City Police, a zombie infection takes hold. He barely survives, and is immediately recruited by the Secret Service, only to go back to fighting zombies, albeit smarter ones, half-way across the world in Resident Evil 4. Now he’s just flying from one airport to another, and guess who comes knocking?
Capcom must love to give Leon reasons to hate them, and is once again pitted against all odds to save the lives of as many innocents as possible. Following the plot of the identically titled animated film, a zombie outbreak happens at the airport and it’s Leon’s job to find the source and kill it.
As Capcom’s first outing with a full, iPhone-only title, Degeneration does an amazing job considering the circumstances. The iPhone has no buttons, yet Degeneration plays just like all the other Resident Evil titles, with two hands and many a button. Movement is achieved using a left virtual analog stick. Aiming and firing is done by simply clicking on a virtual button on the right of the screen, and all the movement controls will change to targeting controls. There’s even a dedicated virtual button for a knife, though even after going through the whole game on normal difficulty, it’s something I haven’t been able to use comfortably.
It’s not graphically stunning, but for the iPhone it’s pretty damn good. Remember, Degeneration was made with the iPhone 2G and 3G in mind, not the 3GS, so it does not take advantage of the extra processing power. That said, it still plays fluidly on both devices, with only a few stutters when a large number of attacking zombies infect the screen.
Like all Resident Evil titles, Degeneration follows a strict gameplay model: limited resources, few weapons, and an ever-growing search for both and whatever objectives lie in wait. On the iPhone, there is much more leniency in terms of ammunition because aiming is much harder than with a physical controller. While the control scheme is nearly identical, simply doing more than one thing while pushing virtual buttons isn’t just impractical, it’s uncomfortable.
Almost like the animated film, Degeneration’s plot is fairly weak, but you won’t pay attention while playing. There’s a lot of empty hallways and rarely do you ever face more than two zombies at once, which seems light, and indeed leads to an eerily quiet airport, completely out of character for Capcom and the series as a whole. But hey, it’s on the iPhone.
Degeneration takes at least six hours to complete, and at least eight if you’re looking for all the secrets. Once you’ve completed the campaign, a Mercenaries mode opens up which lets players run around various maps with a time limit to hunt down as many zombies as possible.
It’s a steal for a plane-ride or many a car-ride, but it definitely is not the kind of casual game you play for 10 minutes at a time. This is a full-fledged portable console title, with checkpoints and plenty of weapons and anxiety and action. Replay value for the campaign is low, but with Mercenaries, and perhaps a player’s desire to achieve ridiculous high-scores and learn to play games fully on a touchscreen, Resident Evil Degeneration is a hit.