Scared to death

 

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis Sony PlayStation, £39.99

Scaring the living daylights out of oneself has always been a popular way to spend an evening. Horror movies have always been popular but it wasn't until people who grew up playing games matured into a more discernible audience, that horror games first appeared.

One of the first of these games was Alone In The Dark which appeared initially on the PC (a fourth instalment is due soon) but Resident Evil was among the first console games to make gameplayers twitch in their seats.

It was hugely successful and a sequel followed and this third and possibly last on the current PlayStation will undoubtedly be popular too.

The action takes place somewhere between Resident Evil 1 and Resident Evil 2 and this time you play as Jill.

Surprisingly, and unlike the previous games, you can't play the game with different characters. However, the game does branch off at certain points so in theory you can play several times and see different sides of the story. Anyone who has played either of the previous games will find everything very familiar and bar a few new moves (Jill can do a quick 180 degree turn and attempt to dodge enemies) and better graphics, this isn't very different. Nevertheless, it is a great game. There are the usual puzzles to solve and Zombies to shoot, and it does manage to fray the nerves nicely. Oh and Nemesis - he is simply dying to meet you.

GAMES, to most people, are an expensive form of entertainment, with an average game costing between £30 and £40. Some games, though, offer months of entertainment for that price and so in the long-term, games can be a relatively cheap way to amuse oneself.

However, a Website that is due to go live on May 1st promises to make playing certain games very cheap - so cheap that it won't cost you a penny. www.freeloader.com will allow users to download entire games for free. They won't be games which are currently riding high in the charts but, apparently, ones which were doing so around 12 to 18 months ago.

Pure Entertainment has already purchased the licences for several games and will fund the site through advertising. Users will be asked to fill in questionnaires and the site will use tracking methods to assess their likes and dislikes, so advertisements can be targeted accurately.[ QL]

It all sounds to good to be true. Unless games such as Grim Fandango, Grand Prix 2, X-Wing, FIFA 99, and Quake II appear, it won't be worthwhile. A recent visit to a game store in Dublin revealed a compilation of 10 reasonable games for £14.99 - and your phone bill wouldn't suffer from the huge download times of any decent game. Still, optimists should at least have a browse when the site does open.

When Microsoft releases Direct X version 8, it plans to include real-time voice technology. Multiplayer games over the Internet will never be the same if the technology works. Although most gaming over the Internet is a pleasant experience, sometimes less-than-complimentary text messages are sent, which can get out of hand. This, of course, is easily ignored but if you start hearing people (most probably disaffected teens or younger) making remarks or just being a pain, you might get a little more upset.

It does, however, lend itself particularly well to team games when typing a long-winded message in the heat of battle can be fatal and so is often avoided. Using hotkeys to transmit your intentions is a way around it, but not everybody wants to bother setting these up. Communicating via voice is obviously a lot easier but the phrase, "Watch your house!" will be met with incredulity in most cases.

gamezone@irish-times.ie