Second Half Of 2021 In Music

Posted in Blog, Music on June 20, 2021 by slateman

Just some upcoming music release dates for personal reference!

25 Jun – Suidakra: Wolfbite
25 Jun – Dream Theater: Images And Words Live 2017
02 Jul – At The Gates: The Nightmare Of Being
30 Jul – Lantlôs: Wildhund
20 Aug – Wolves In The Throne Room: Primordial Arcana
20 Aug – KK’s Priest: Sermons Of The Sinner
27 Aug – Thyrfing: Vanagandr
27 Aug – Obscurity: Skogarmaors
17 Sep – Carcass: Torn Arteries

Resident Evil: Ranking The Mainline Entries

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists, Resident Evil on June 14, 2021 by slateman

I’ve already discussed my completion statistics on the franchise but with Resident Evil 8 in my rear-view mirror, I thought it time to reflect on all the mainline entries and how they stack up against one another. As I stacked these and went through my personal history, there were some surprising upsets, if you will. Ultimately, however, I felt confident in my final hierarchy and while these could very well change, as of today, I’m quite happy with my results.

Foregoing any further ado, let’s leap into this list: ranking the nine mainline Resident Evil titles.

#9) Resident Evil 0

# Of Times Beaten: ZERO

Of all nine entries, this is the one I never completed. The dated mechanics, ‘meh’ storyline, banal characters and backtracking all just made this game a chore. I recall where I bailed too – I left some mandatory item somewhere because of the traditional inventory system and couldn’t remember how to get back. Quality-of-life fixes like we see in modern titles were nowhere to be seen.

I didn’t like it, I didn’t finish it and I have no regrets about not revisiting it. Let’s move along.

#8) Resident Evil 6

# Of Times Beaten: One

The Good: Leon’s story is pretty good and Chris’s is remotely positive.

The Bad: Jake’s is uninspired and Ada’s just dragged on.

Since I played these in order of my perceived quality, the game started out OK and just decayed into a chore. If I remember correctly, I only powered through Ada’s campaign just to say I beat it, over two years later.

Due to my sheer love of the franchise, I purchased the PS4 remaster but never really dove back in. Perhaps one day – if only for Leon’s campaign.

#7) Resident Evil 3


# Of Times Beaten: Three

I’m talking about the remake here and not the original as I never played Nemesis back in the day. The main gripe many had with 3make was its brevity – certainly a valid point. However, the game itself was just fantastic otherwise and unlike RE8, return to it I did – several times! My best run clocked in at 97 minutes, simply the perfect length for a one-sitting speedrun.

Sure, it’s campy but the game looked great and had the trademark powerful feel to guns and I quite liked it indeed.

Resident Evil 3: Completion Stats

#6) Resident Evil 8: Village

# Of Times Beaten: Three

Having just beaten this, it’s startling to see such a good game rank so low on this list. As always in lists such as these, it looks worse than it is.

On the upside, this game looks fantastic, feels wonderful and has virtually every element of a good RE game that I love. However, it felt scattered, possibly due to the Covid-inspired development cycle it endured. House Beneviento was not as impressive to me as it was to so many others. Moreau’s level, while cool-looking, wasn’t spectacular and thus, speedruns of those two levels felt like a chore. I did return for a collectible run, then a speedrun and then a Village Of Shadows (hardest difficulty) run, but Heisenberg’s BS fight left me annoyed and I simply abandoned it.

While the game took some of the best elements of RE4, I felt it missed the mark in many others. The village was my favorite part followed by Castle Dimetrescu leaving the second half (or latter 2/3rds even) less phenomenal IMO.

Resident Evil 8: Complation Stats
First Run: 10:11.51 Speedrun: 2:35.26

#5) Resident Evil 2


# Of Times Beaten: Two (+ Two 1998 version)

This list is now getting into the difficult-to-rank range. I played RE2 at launch in 1998 and at its relaunch almost 20 years later. The original was impressive and marked the first RE game I beat. The remake was equally impressive, utilizing Capcom’s RE Engine for a visually stunning re-envisioning. While I never beat the second campaign, the title was a spectacular return to form after RE7’s first-person vantage and the change in focus over the many years after RE4.

However, as good as it was, some would say #5 is far too low on this list. Much like RE8, I’ve never felt the compelling urge to dive back in for collectibles or a speedrun, something the next entries on this list.

Resident Evil 2: Completion Stats

#4) Resident Evil VII: Biohazard


# Of Times Beaten: Two

7 better than 2? I dare say, “yes,” emphatically. And here’s why…

While RE2 was a tremendous game in both its releases, neither was as powerful to me as RE7’s newness. The first-person perspective and new protagonist, the escape from Raccoon City and familiar faces were all welcome changes, but it was the decaying house and ambience that proved the most poignant. That the opening 30 minutes shocked the hell out of me, surprising given the series’ history. The fact that the entire game is playable in VR only exacerbates the discomfort and potency of the franchise’s ambience.

While the second half lost some of its luster, it didn’t stop me from getting every trophy but the hardest difficulty one (I couldn’t beat Mia, I think I could’ve done the rest of the game were I able to!) and then penning a speedrun guide on the title. Whereas RE2 was more of the same – only bigger and better, RE7 was a huge overhaul and a more impressive experience for me personally.

Resident Evil VII: Completion Stats

#3) Resident Evil


# Of Times Beaten: Three?

Oh, the classic! Now, I didn’t beat this PS1 game originally, though I played through most of it before having to return it to a friend. I also failed to complete it when it was remade on the Gamecube as the game was too terrifying. I certainly beat it on the PS4, however, and followed it up with several additional runs.

The revamped title retains much of the old-school feel while functioning so much better. After completing the game, I’m certain I returned for a speedrun. Though I haven’t returned to it since, nostalgia ekes into my opinion of this game. Coupled with quality-of-life fixes, I found this game the perfect blend of old and new. Unfortunately, it’s not my favorite entry in the franchise despite my long history with the game.

Resident Evil: Completion Stats

#2) Resident Evil 4

# Of Times Beaten: At least six

My expectations were a bit low for RE4 when it was announced as a Gamecube exclusive. After a few minutes, however, all those concerns were dashed when I first faced the chainsaw-wielding man and experienced the grotesque death that followed. In fact, this moment joined those damn dogs in the original title among my favorite moments in gaming history. In the end, I’ve played this game on the Gamecube, PS2, Wii, PS3 and PS4 – a true testament to my opinion of it. And let’s face it, the impending VR game, if it comes to the PS5 and its upcoming VR unit, will mark the sixth time I play this.

As for why I’ve played the game so much, it just had a fantastic blend of pure action, ammo restriction, a little Ashley hand-holding which upped the tension remarkably and a fantastic setting. The setpieces are intense, the firepower is immense and the runthroughs are rewarding. However, not fantastic enough to land at #1 on this list.

RE4: PS3 Stats RE4: PS4 Stats

#1) Resident Evil 5


# Of Times Beaten: At least seven

Now this is an unpopular opinion, but my playtime is my evidence. While I played RE4 on more platforms, I spent way more time with the rock-punching Chris and sexy Sheva than fair-haired Leon and his babysitting pal Ashley. The game’s save system ranked you by each chapter and allowed for quick sessions and continuous improvement. I played the co-op game twice with other humans and loved the mix of secrets, powerful weapons and traditional RE nonsense.

My original stats from the PS3 game show that it’s the only Resident Evil I platinumed/100%ed. I S-ranked almost the entire game and clocked in a full 60 hours – before playing it all again on the Xbox 360 and again on the PS4. Perhaps one day I’ll revisit it and its luster will have faded. But as of 2021, it remains my favorite RE experience and thus lies atop the heap as my favorite title in the illustrious franchise.

Resident Evil VIII: Village Complete!

Posted in Blog, Games, Resident Evil, Reviews on May 27, 2021 by slateman

After a 10-hour journey, my first playthrough of Resident Evil VIII is complete. I mention ‘first’ because I have already mapped out subsequent runs: collectibles, a speedrun, infinite ammo preparations, trophy cleanup and so forth. It’s important because while I did not like RE: Village quite as much as several of its predecessors, the franchise’s post-game roadmap is often just as fun and rewarding as its first experience the game run.

It’s hands-down one of my favorite things in gaming: enjoy the game spoiler-free and fresh before returning to dissect it entirely and finally powering through it with an absurd arsenal and beating it in a fraction of its original duration. Village took me only 10 hours – and that included scouring every corner and exploring every nook and cranny. I’m not sure where it sits among my traditional first-run times, but it felt about right.

Unfortunately, it felt far less cohesive than other Resident Evil installments. I realize people are less fond of VII’s second half, but I quite enjoyed that game throughout. The broken-up nature of each individual area left the latter half of this game as a substantially-different experience than the first half. The crumbling village at the steps of the elegant castle were my favorite areas of the entire game. The house of dolls has ruffled feathers of many but I found only slight unease at the environment. Heisenberg’s stronghold was my least-favorite but longest section of the whole European adventure.

From a narrative standpoint, it’s hard to find fault – this is Resident Evil after all! However, the main nemesis, Mother Miranda, was absent in all but name until the end and the most-used foe Heisenberg, was generally pretty weak. Gigantoid Lady Dimitrescu and her daughters were my favorite creations, sadly relegated to the opening hours. The other boss had a great section, the Bloodborne-inspired windmills and crumbling houses and his hideous design was quite disgusting indeed.

As a total package it felt short of prior installments, but removing said comparisons, it presented a fantastic experience with ample post-game offerings. Contrasting to a title like the original The Last Of Us which had a far superior tale but which I never wanted to revisit – one wonders what the better game really is? Like everything else, that truly depends on what you’re looking for in this medium.

This post comes several weeks after its original publication date and in the time since, I went back to do a collectibles run followed by a speedrun. The hard-mode run (Village Of Shadows) was marred by an annoying-as-heck boss battle with Heisenberg. Coupled with Ratchet & Clank’s release and my impending move, that playthrough was shelved and I likely won’t revisit it. On the plus side, the subsequent playthroughs were rather enjoyable, particularly with infinite weapons and my opinion of the game grew – enough to place it as #6 on my list of favorite mainline Resident Evil games. For now, here is my usual gallery of spoiler-filled snapshots.







Resident Evil Trophy Progress

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, High Scores/Accomplishments, Resident Evil on May 3, 2021 by slateman

This image is equal parts cool and pathetic. Here’s my PSNProfiles collection of Resident Evil games. Of course, this only catalogues the Playstation 3 and onwards – but even still, this is a hefty list! My curiosity was borne out of me purchasing Resident Evil Revelations (Again!) As it was only on the PS3 (well, and several other platforms), I knew I could never play it on modern PS consoles. One drunk, $8 click later and it was mine (Again!) In the light of Resident Evil VIII coming out soon, I wanted to see what my history looked like visually. Well, for better or worse, here it is! From my first platinum (RE5) to now…that’s a lotta RE!

In all? 375 trophies across 17 games.

[Note] This has been updated with RE8 statistics. Stuck on Heisenberg on Village Of Shadows difficulty. Yeah…think I’m done with this game!

Resident Evil VIIlage: So Excited

Posted in Blog, Games, Resident Evil on April 24, 2021 by slateman

Resident Evil Remake in 2002, Resident Evil 4 in 2005 and Resident Evil VII in 2017. All were my games of the year and that doesn’t even include Resident Evil 5 which, were it not for that underappreciated Uncharted 2, probably would’ve won as well. It goes without saying that the eighth numbered installment is high on my radar of 2021 releases. After the first half-hour demo, I’m already sold – though I was buying this day one either way. Tomorrow will be the second timed demo and I endeavor to check it out. Again, it doesn’t matter; I’m buying it when it comes out in two weeks.

It’s one of those intimate relationships with a franchise you have when you get to my age. My experience with the franchise dates back 25 years – to when I was a mere 20 years old. In that time, it’s moved up to #4 on my best gaming franchises lists. In the end, REVIII is gonna be great. If all goes well, I’ll beat it in standard form before progressing to a speedrun. Of course, we’ll see, but I’m tremendously excited about this release.

Valfaris: Running & Gunning – METAL Style!

Posted in Blog, Games on April 17, 2021 by slateman

I’ve been keeping Valfaris on the backburner despite it checking a lot of the boxes of games I like. This old-school-style, side-scrolling 2D run-and-gun action game presents a stiff challenge to go with its retro-inspired look. While you genuinely know what you’re getting into here – an ultra-violent Contra clone at heart, the game’s soundtrack simply makes you want to tear into more foes after each disappointing death. I’m only a few hours in, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the consistent influx of power-ups, the satisfaction of improving and the pulsing rhythms of metal blaring in mine ears. This is definitely not one to sleep on and despite its high difficulty, it’s entertained me a great deal so far!

New 4×4 Record: 1:43.62!!!

Posted in Blog, Cubing, High Scores/Accomplishments on April 2, 2021 by slateman

When I broke my four-year-old 4×4 record last month, I was rather thrilled, securing my first sub-2-minute solve in the process. I was quite content with the accomplishment and immediately felt satisfaction and zero motivation to improve upon the time. However, as I’m on spring break right now, I’ve been tinkering around with the puzzle and it’s so spectacular! The magnets are just wonderful and as I was running through things, I noticed two things. First, my centers are done in about 20 seconds. Second, I’ve been getting better at edge matching. First, I match white edges and then move on to yellow. These high-contrast pieces are much easier to keep track of and instead of lining up several edges at once (like the pros do), I just wing one at a time and keep track of other edges which is actually more productive.

Anyhow, as I have noticed an improvement, I figured I go for time. My best average-of-five now resides around 2:07 with a new record a full 10 seconds faster than my prior record! Pretty damn cool, I have to be honest. I can’t see any huge change coming in the future, but I may keep trying. \m/

Following Day Update: I haven’t come close to my 103-second solve, but it was not for a lack of effort. In the process, I managed a 2:05.28 average-of-five. it’s hardly disappointing: 2:05 would’ve been my personal best before last month!

New 5×5 Record! Sub-5 Minutes!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing, High Scores/Accomplishments on March 25, 2021 by slateman

I haven’t really tried for a 5×5 record in ages. I purchased my ShengShou way back in 2012 and promptly broke my record. However, while the puzzle itself is pretty good, I only rarely returned to try to break my just-over-five-minutes standard.

For Christmas, I made a massive order of puzzles. I got like a dozen or something and among them were three magnetic puzzles: a 3×3, 4×4 and 5×5. Now, I’ve already proclaimed my love for these last month when I broke my four-year-old 4×4 record getting my very-first sub-two-minute solve. Today, with some extra time on my hands, I figured I’d take a stab at the 5×5, a puzzle I haven’t improved time on in eight-and-a-half years.

The stickerless, magnetic ShengShou is a great puzzle. It never locks up, those magnets help tidy up those quick turns and it cuts like a dream, so I’m rarely ever stuck between layers. My first solve was almost 5:30 – not too bad with no practice and my second was 5:07, a mere five seconds off my record. Solve #3 was it: my first sub-five-minute 5×5! Clocking in at 4:51, I beat my old record by 11 seconds!

After a mess up and another 5:something time, the stars aligned and…OMFG??!! 4:12.93! That is fifty seconds better than the record which stood since October of 2012. FIFTY SECONDS! I don’t even know what to say! Beating this would require some serious dedication but, like the 4×4 before it, I’ve accomplished what I’ve always wanted to: a sub-five. The four-minute finish line feels way too far off. I think next up will be a new 6×6. Still rocking the V-Cube 6 I bought in August of 2011. Urgh.

Final Fantasy VII Remake – Revisited

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games with tags on March 6, 2021 by slateman

One JRPG down – another to go? And to think…I bought this game on launch day way back in 1997. Remember it vividly too. Bought in the morning alongside the strategy guide. Then had school and work all day before I could even play. It was my first Final Fantasy game and, really, my introduction to JRPGs. Dunno if I’ll have the fortitude (=patience) to complete this game but hey… 1) it’s free and 2) the music will be nostalgic-lane for me. Let’s go!!!!

Einherjer: North Star – Disappointing

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music, Reviews on March 6, 2021 by slateman

My first spins of Einherjer’s latest record were underwhelming, but we all know that happens from time to time. It takes a few plays to really sink in and become the classic album it endeavors to be. However, while this isn’t uncommon, subsequent plays only reaffirmed my dismay.

The band’s breakup following 2003’s AotY contender, Blot was succeeded by a reformed union and 2011’s Norrøn, a solid, if flawed, record. With diminished expectations, I proclaimed the follow-up, Av Oss, For Oss, 2014’s Album of the Year. The pristine blend of viking, retro rock and melodicism, it was well deserving of that year’s crown.

Unfortunately, its follow-up, 2018’s Norrøne Spor left me with a tinge of disappointment. It’s hardly unfair – the successor to an AotY record is always held to a higher standard than any ol’ record. Thus, 20201’s arrival of North Star theoretically should be held to a somewhat-reduced level of scrutiny! Even with that, this new record only issues forth several memorable songs to mingle with its entirely-forgettable ones. To contrast with Av Oss, For Oss, this new record’s closer is simply unlistenable to mine ears. A few songs are worthwhile, but the true test is by re-listening to the back catalogue.

I’m not even talking classic Einherjer here. I listened to the last one – the so-so Norrøne Spor had some real bangers and ones I’ll return to. Both Spre Vingene and Døden Tar Ingen Fangar are catchy, riffy and metal-as-fuck. Moving backwards more, my aforementioned AotY still stands up, with memorable sections, headbangy choruses and viking-up-the-ass atittude.

Unfortunately, this new one only has a few I might ever wish to return to: The Blood And The Iron, Higher Fire and maybe one or two others. It’s heart-breaking and makes me wonder if the truly great album from Einherjer is the exception, not the norm. *shrug*. AotY this is not. :(