- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2003

Superhero and cartoon character have become integral parts of the electronic entertainment industry.

Around the world, youngsters and guys who can’t get dates spend countless hours in front of their computers and video-game systems.

With this in mind, I salute the melding of pop-culture character and Silicon Valley with a look at some …

Comics plugged in

The 7-year-old survival horror video-game franchise that turned into a multimedia sensation returns to its roots in Resident Evil: Dead Aim ($49.99). Capcom challenges one PlayStation 2 owner to take control of two heroes as they unravel a new plot surrounding Umbrella Corporation’s insidious T-Virus through a combination of first-person action and third-person exploration in a nightmare-inducing world of the undead.

What’s the story? Raccoon City, a Midwestern town in the United States, was destroyed when a substance known as the T-virus leaked throughout the town. However, Umbrella, the corporation developing the virus, refused to abort the project — and once again the threat of biological terror was thrust upon the world.

A large amount of T-virus was stolen three days ago when a terrorist group led by ex-Umbrella researcher Morpheus D. Duvall broke into the Paris branch of the Umbrella Pharmaceuticals Development Center. Yesterday, one of Umbrella’s luxury cruise ships carrying a party of VIPs was sea-jacked and contaminated with the same virus. U.S. Strategic Command agent Bruce McGivern has been given the assignment to stop Morpheus and regain control of the lost vessel.

Characters’ character: The game becomes an ode to the destruction of genetically modified monsters as McGivern and Ling Fong, who eventually becomes the covert operator for the safety department of China, use multiple weapons acquired throughout the cruise ship to stop ghastly creatures that wish to murder and munch on the protagonists.

Gone are the days of calmly searching through airy mansions and infected towns familiar to other Resident Evil interactive events. They are replaced instead with a claustrophobic terror haven masquerading as a cruise ship. The game demands that a panicked player search every room for entry cards to unlock areas and clues to Morpheus’ whereabouts while acquiring life-sustaining upgrades such as healing herbs, game-saving typewriter ribbons, munitions and informative files.

The game will be very familiar to resident evil fans because of its simple inventory system, an electrocardiogram to monitor a player’s health, maneuvers to avoid confrontations, and plenty of moans and groans. The first-person perspective throws in a wonderful twist.

Players looking for the complete melding of the game within a darkened recreational-room environment can attach and calibrate Namco’s Guncon 2 ($39.99) peripheral to their PlayStation 2 to control characters and have the ability to point a pistol at the screen and blow away the very ugly and bad guys in an all-too-lifelike experience.

How would Lt. Frank Drebin fare? Now we have a game the fine officer of the law can sink his teeth into. Unloading a clip into the noggin of a perpetrator looking to extinguish his avatar made perfect sense. With the help of a map, plenty of ammunition for pistols, shotguns and grenade launchers, and easy-to-reload weapons, the lieutenant had a blast revealing the latest monstrosities of the T-virus. He does, however, warn players not to run out of bullets unless they want to face a grisly demise.

Dudley Doo-Right’s blood-pressure meter: 200/180, toe tag and body bag the poor fellow. Only humans without heart conditions, the strong of mind and those over age 17 should dare delve into this gory fright festival. Imagery such as decomposing corpses, spurts of blood, shotgun blasts to the cranial area and a glutinous ghoul boss left Doo-Right sickened by the action-packed — but thankfully short — ordeal.

What if I feel like reading a book? DC Comics’ Wildstorm imprint has kept the biotechnology conspiracy alive in sequential-art form with last year’s 144-page graphic novel “Resident Evil: Code Veronica” ($14.95). Originally published in Hong Kong, the book features art by Hui King Sum and finds Claire Redfield continuing the search for her missing brother, Chris.

What’s it worth? A grossly grand addition to the Resident Evil legacy, Dead Aim should quickly take a bite out of a mature gamer’s wallet.

Pop bytes

A brief review of game titles that didn’t have time to get fully plugged in:

• Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick, by THQ (for XBox, rated M, suitable for players 17 and older, $49.99). Still on the topic of zombies, Ash, the hero of the “Evil Dead” film franchise, once again jumps into the video-game world to make mincemeat out of a horde of deadites trying to take over his beloved town of Dearborn, Mich. It’s a hilariously sick but fun third-person puzzle adventure.

Armed with an enormous amount of weaponry, including his signature shovel, Gatling gun and favorite toy, the chain saw, our hero must slash, shoot and even flame-throw his way though massive environments to take on an almost insurmountable amount of decomposing characters.

Features to the extremely bloody challenge include visiting Colonial, Civil War and postapocalyptic versions of Dearborn to destroy the undead; the voice of original star of the films, Bruce Campbell, adding bellyaching dialogue; plenty of creepy organ music; and the chance to take out a ton of frustration by dismembering some worthy opponents.

The twisted title carries an M rating for good reason, with an obscene amount of graphic and violent action turning the streets of Ash’s town into a sea of red pixels.

For more information, Dark Horse Comics released a three-part sequential-art adaptation of the third part of the “Evil Dead” trilogy, “Army of Darkness” in 1992 (priced at $2.50 each) that should be available through only the most well-stocked comic-book shops or online stores.

Zadzooks! wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016, fax 202/269-1853, e-mail [email protected] or write to Joseph Szadkowski at The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002.

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