When it comes to cutting edge trouser-spoilers, Resident Evil is still the daddy. Continually bending the rules of survival horror, the fourth game in the series was not only one of the best games on PS2, but probably one of the best games ever made. And yet… while they could certainly lay claim to propelling horror gaming forward with arse-clenching frightfests like RE Nemesis, Capcom can’t claim to have invented the genre. That honour goes to Alone in the Dark, originally developed by Infogrames, which squeaked out in impressively spooksome form as a PC game – and then 3DO conversion – back in 1992, a full four years ahead of RE.
But in classic horror movie fashion, Alone in the Dark isn’t just back from the dead, it’s back bigger, better and more dangerous than ever. The fifth game in the series, developed by Test Drive Unlimited coders Eden and penciled in for a March release, is a hugely ambitious, brain-hurtingly large-scale ghost story.
Above: All shots from the PS3 version
You play Edward Carnby, paranormal ‘tec and – in his present guise, at least – lawyer-baiting twin of ex-Kylie squeeze, Olivier Martinez. The story, penned by Sleepers writer Lorenzo Carcetera, has been sealed off like a crime scene, so how Carnby (who, according to Eden, is the same Carnby that turned up in the original Alone in the Dark – a game set in 1923) ends up crossing time, and why he’s busy stoving in faces in Central Park, remains to be seen.
Big claims, of course, but Eden have made huge strides to distance themselves from RE by creating a tightly focused adventure that also offers bags of freedom. It’d be wrong to label the game ‘open world’ – you can explore at will, but this isn’t GTA, as the plot keeps funneling you toward a definite conclusion – but in mapping out Central Park, Eden have delivered a vast play area, and an inspired choice of setting. With the game entirely set at night, NYC’s city-swallowing greenbelt becomes an eight hundred acre pant-shatter, full of human-shaped foes, creature-shaped foes… and foes that don’t really fit into either category. You’ll be wandering through its Zoo and castle as often as you’ll be jogging along its paths and around its lakes, and along the way, you’ll have a stack of missions to complete, various puzzles to solve, unusual people to chat to, and – in what promises to be one of the game’s greatest standout segments – cars to steal.