You are currently viewing an archival version of GF!

Click here to return to the current GamesFirst! website.

Questions? Suggestions? Comments?
Contact us at:

logo.gif (12014 bytes)

star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)

by Infogrames

2-01-01.jpg (6082 bytes)Let’s be frank here: the survival-horror genre has gone through some cool innovations since the genre took off back in the mid-nineties (remember those days?), but at its heart it is still the basic situation. We’ve all been there-- stranded on an island/mansion/deserted town where devils/zombies/mutants roam free and demon dogs snipe at your heels (every survival-horror game’s gotta have a demon dog). For some video game characters, it’s an average weekend romp. So, don’t play Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare for a new twist; play it because it does everything established in the genre right. With a compelling story line, kick-arse graphics, and sound effects that make you want to wet your pants in fear, Alone in the Dark delivers a good time. Unfortunately, it also falls into the trap of having terrible voice acting and impossibly difficult-to-kill enemies. This bumps the game down to a three star rating

screen17-01.jpg (5655 bytes)The fourth in the long running series, Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare continues the spooky if non-original style prevalent in most survival-horror game’s story lines. Shadow Island is the location where Edward Carnby, the series hero, must go when he finds out his best friend has been found dead. Aline Cedrac, a cute doctor of archaeology, tags along with Carnby to also investigate the disappearance of Obed Morton, a famous yet creepy archaeologist. On one fine dark and storm night, Carnby and Cedrac decide to fly to the island, but as they pass overhead, something stops them mid-flight, and they are both forced to jump from the plane. Carnby lands in a forest and Cedrac lands on (gasp!) a creepy haunted mansion. From that point on you get the choice between Carnby and the babelicious Aline Cedrac; both have different paths through the same old game.

1-01-01.jpg (6083 bytes)The graphic quality and detail are AITD’s most impressive features, especially from a PC port. Like most games of its kind, scenery and backgrounds are pre-rendered. However, due to the high resolution of the Dreamcast, the differences are negligible between the moving polygonal characters and the backgrounds. Your main heroes of choice are rendered in awesome detail; you can even notice patterns in the fabric of the clothing. Like most sassy heroines of this genre, Aline Cedrac comes ready for adventure in her stylish leather jacket, low-cut tank top shirt, and a pair of jeans that must have been painted on her. Every single female I showed this game to reacted in disgust as Cedrac walked down spooky hallways while inhumanly swinging her hips to and fro. I got a kick out of it myself.

3-01-01.jpg (6261 bytes)The effects that really shine (pun semi-intended) are the light source effects. You start off with a flashlight that can be aimed in any direction you want, and it actually illuminates objects. The lighting source is fantastic and adds realism to an already detailed game. However, when there’s an important object in a room that needs to be examined, it usually sparkles like a beacon—no matter what the object actually is. You spend most of your time shining your light in random directions hoping for a sparkle from some grenades, not very realistic at all.

4-01-01.jpg (6360 bytes)Gameplay in AITD is pretty standard. If you have a powerful gun, you shoot things; if you don’t, you run away. The original games in the series were based on hardcore puzzle solving and true supernatural enemies. Resident Evil, released just three years after the first AITD, has set the standard for survival-horror games. To be frank, AITD: The New Nightmare plays like a modified Resident Evil: it looks better, responds quicker, and adds a flashlight. Other than that, you’ll swear you’ve seen the monsters in other games and its like déjà vu’ all over again when you find keys randomly scattered around. AITD, the great innovator back in the early nineties, is now following the trend.

5-01-01.jpg (8258 bytes)It’s a good game nonetheless. Because of the whole theme of "darkness", some of the creatures in the game can be scared off by your flashlight, which offers at least a different way of disposing of enemies. Light carries an important meaning throughout the game as some of your weapons are based off of light. Sometimes your flashlight can help you solve the few puzzles there are in the game. Eventually the "gee-whiz" factor of having a flashlight wears off, and you just wish the flashlight worked on the bigger zombie-looking guys.

Like stated above AITD follows the Resident Evil bandwagon and controls are no exception. I’ve never played a game of this genre that didn’t have semi-sluggish controls, and it’s a real atrocity when slow sauntering mutants maul you because you back up too slow. At least it’s easy to compensate (avoid corners). The menu system, while not intuitive, does give you more control. With the press of a button, a mini-menu pops up that lets you activate your walkie-talkie, map, or inventory. The inventory is grouped into convenient sections for easy access to any weapon or item. A single button click gets you out of there, too. Pressing the R trigger button automatically readies your gun for shooting, and auto aim is also implemented to make shooting a semi-breeze.

Enemies aren’t plentiful but they always show up at the most inconvenient times. They come in three main sizes: annoying demon dog like creatures, annoying zombies, and insanely cheap bosses. Enemy AI, overall, is viscous and unrelenting. Once you’re in the same room as an enemy, they’ll pester you until you leave. There’s a strange bug, though: sometimes creatures get stuck in certain spots and, well, just spin in circles or attack a wall. Ammo is strewn all over, and this gives the illusion of being equipped to handle the situation, but all is not as it seems. It takes a lot of stopping power to even escape from a sticky situation. The magnum you get at the start of the game becomes a little popgun not far into the game. The weapon you’ll use the most is a triple barrel shotgun, and that means three times the amount of ammunition used. With this much ammo lost, it’s better to run than fight.

Horrible voice acting is used in this game and not sparingly either. All the in-game movies include either flat monotone voices or way overacted ones. Some people say this gives it a "B-movie" feel, but I say someone is just cheap and won’t hire good actors. More than any other game, AITD pours on the sound effects. You’ll hear random groaning and howls, even some that get louder as you get closer to a room. Usually, you can hear an enemy before you even see it, though a lot of that is because of some wacky camera angles that can cause a wall to occupy half of the screen.

AITD fails to be innovative anymore, with much of its features having long since been done to death in previous games. This DC title, however, is a steal at $19.99. If you can’t find Resident Evil: Code Veronica, give this game a whirl. Just don’t expect much.

Van Davis   (11/27/2001)


Ups: Classic survival horror genre; great story; nice graphics; excellent sound.

Downs: No innovation; terrible voice acting; incredibly difficult.

Platform: Dreamcast