Remember Me (Xbox 360, Playstation3, Microsoft Windows) UK release 7th June
This week I picked up Capcom’s new release “Remember Me”, if you listened into our last show you’ll know that I was both excited and worried in equal measure about this title. Its unusual to see the introduction of a brand new IP so late in the life cycle of the current generation of consoles and with more and more information about XB1 and PS4 being briefed out, plus the run up to E3 – most consumers are thinking about saving their money for the next big thing, whilst the developers are splitting their time between Next Gen launch titles and sequels for existing franchises that are not only cheap to make, but bring ready made audiences and therefore sure-fire sales. So in the midst of this rough terrain perhaps Capcom are taking a gamble with the new offering, but while the characters and story may be foreign to gamers, a quick glance at the footage reveals that this is actually a very familiar game.
We start out with our protagonist “Nilin” awaking on the floor of some kind of human-processing lab, dazed and devoid of all memory besides her own name. The year is 2084, a nod to the Orwellian themes of this dystopia where a technological implant called the “Sensen” allows perfect recollection and sharing of memories – this is publicly regarded as a form of advanced social networking, but there is an underworld where memories are being bought and sold, stolen and manipulated and monitored by the powers that be – there are no secrets. As Nilin stands in line for what appears to be a particularly painful procedure, she realises that she is about to have her brain wiped completely. Just in the nick of time, a mysterious character known as “Edge” (He doesn’t look like the wrestler, or the dude from U2 – must be another one) contacts her and helps her escape the facility. Edge is the leader of the “Errorists” a group of insurgents opposing the corruption of the Sensen system and aims to take down the Memorize empire, creators of the technology. Nilin follows his lead in the interest of regaining her own memory at the source.
Graphically Remember Me is not stunningly rendered but the environments are grand and varied. While the available paths are tapered, the ‘camera’ angles and transitions direct Nilin’s movement and as such doesn’t feel particularly limited or boxed-in during play. As I mentioned previously, in terms of gameplay there are some very familiar elements. Remember Me seems to have taken interesting components of some of the more successful games of the last 5 or 6 years, combined them, added a few extra twists and wrapped it all up in a new narrative. To give you a few examples: there are levels involving free-running and scaling buildings reminiscent of Mirror’s Edge and Assassins Creed, stealthy approaches not unlike Hitman or Splinter Cell, the melee style action scenes, combo attacks and vaulting from foe to foe made me think of Batman Arkham Asylum, the leash mechanism is straight out of Bulletstorm and the Sensen system complete with additional unlock able upgrades gave me flashbacks to Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Whilst in theory this all ought to add up to a fantastic cocktail of a game, I found myself wondering whether Remember Me was focussing too heavily being a jack of all trades rather than a master of any one in particular and rather than flowing along smoothly as one title it felt disjointed at times, awkwardly straddling a number of genres. I don’t want to give you the impression that this is not an enjoyable game – the variation helps balance out repetition which Capcom have been criticized for in the past (see PN03) but along with constant tutorial prompts through the first 4 or 5 chapters of the game, telecom interruptions from our man Edge, un-skippable cut scenes and chapter end soliloquies, I found the action often stops abruptly just as you’re getting into the swing of things.
Alongside this problematic staccato flow, its worth noting that the auto-save checkpoints throughout the game are far too frequent, hugely detracting from any sense of threat or atmosphere which is disappointing since Capcom practically invented tension back in 1996 with Resident Evil. In the scenes in tight spaces: dark sewers and deserted subways and industrial areas the sudden clank of a grate or hiss of a leaky pipe would make me jump out of my skin in any other game. The Metro 2033s and Dead Spaces of the world were enough to give you nightmares. Scaling the tallest spire in Assassins Creed (or even Spider-Man) as the music faded and the wind whistled around your ears made the acrophobic in me sweat profusely, but in Remember Me – a game which shares all these experiences, I found myself not really caring what came next because I knew if I fell off the edge of a city built with no handrails or got mauled by one of the tunnel dwelling morlocks I could just as easily restart the game from 30 seconds earlier. If anything it can be quite annoying, I got to one stage where I kept falling down the same hole and had to watch the same short “Little Red Riding Hood” themed FMV repeatedly until I figured out what I was doing wrong (just a note developers, a waypoint marker or radar might have been useful). It’s a genuine shame because that extra element of peril might have been all that was needed to really tie this game together.
Overall I have enjoyed Remember Me, its certainly a good foundation for a new franchise if that is the intention – with good ideas and plenty to build on. It does take a while to get going but once you master the combo system and Sensen abilities it really starts to come into its own and the memory manipulation levels (whilst infrequent) are a really interesting new device – its much like watching a health and safety video and spotting potential hazards, then making people fall over them on purpose.
It’s definitely worth a play through but perhaps wait a couple of weeks for the price to drop and also be prepared to hear the phrase “what blunt teeth you have” over and over again.
Final thought: In a future so that advanced we can receive phone calls on invisible ear pieces, why do we still have to shove a finger in our ear ‘oles to hear them?