Review by Admodieus
"The perfect example of what a GCN should be."
Resident Evil was the game that made the survival horror genre a goldmine many years ago on the Playstation. Using 'shock' effects such as dogs crashing through once stable windows, RE scared hundreds of gamers that dared to venture into that mansion. Capcom continued the series to RE2 and then RE3: Nemesis, which oddly enough, came before RE2 in the storyline. Then came Resident Evil: Code Veronica and Survivor. After that, Capcom pledged its Resident Evil franchise exclusive to the GameCube, save for Resident Evil Online which will launch with the PS2 online plans. Capcom remade the first Resident Evil game and totally revamped it - graphics, cutscenes, the layout of the mansion to a certain extent, and more. After it all, only the storyline and controls stay intact. With plans to release the all new Resident Evil 0 this fall, remakes of RE2, RE3, and RECV on the way and the perhaps the last game in the series, RE4 coming soon, it's not so easy to put the kiddy label on the GameCube anymore.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the next generation of videogame graphics. Those of you who have played through Rogue Leader (especially through the Battle of Endor) must have gotten a taste of it; to finally see a game that does not make compromises in its visual presentation. Similarly Resident Evil is a gorgeous looking title where you will have a very hard time finding a graphical flaw.
The character and monster models are the best that I have ever seen in a videogame. With the power of Gamecube, tt is to be expected that the faces are of CG quality, but seeing every single strap, button and buckle on Chris and Jill modeled geometrically was a surprise. Just to illustrate how good these two characters look, at a certain point in the game when I entered a room with the camera zoomed straight on to Jill, I waited for the FMV to get rolling for a few seconds before realizing I was still playing the game. The supporting characters are not less impressive; when the camera zooms in on Barry, you will notice the amazing facial hair, individually modeled teeth and expressive eyes. Wouldn’t want to spoil the surprises by explaining the cooler details on the monsters, but just trust me, they look better than any real-time models ever seen in a game.
As with the first three titles in the series, the backgrounds are pre-rendered, but not only have the quality of the static images been improved to look nearly photorealistic, Capcom has also pulled off a few effects that make the settings come to life. The animated, reflective water behaves the way water should. Grass sways gently (and ominously) with the wind. Fog swirls around your feet. Even more impressively Capcom has placed dynamic shadows that respond to a variety of light sources such the flickering of flames and a light source located behind a rotating fan. To achieve this effect, the static backgrounds were wrapped with invisible polygons that are used in calculating the required shadow movement. In short, a lot of effort has been put in to breathing some life into the settings and this has paid off to create one of the most chilling atmospheres in videogaming history.
The gameplay in Resident Evil has not changed too much over the last four games in the series. You will explore some very unnerving locations, solve a dozen or so puzzles, fight off monsters and collect clues as to what went wrong in this part of Raccoon City.
The characters in the game are still controlled like tanks, where pressing left or right pivots the characters in the respective direction. This also is the case when trying to shoot at a target, you have to slowly (very slowly) pivot towards your target. Some improvements have been implemented, such as the quick turn button (first introduced in RE 3) and a control scheme that allows the player to use the right trigger button to move forward. But moving about and fighting enemies are still a pain. To help matters somewhat Capcom has added really cool defense items for both characters. While they both can carry (one time use) knives to jam into zombies as they wrestle to bite a chunk out of your flesh, Jill was given a tazer (great effect) and Chris was given flash grenades that he can stuff into the gaping zombie maws.
But the gist of this game does not lie in rushing into rooms and eradicating the enemy, the joy of survival horror is the investigating, solving puzzles, opening up new areas while trying to make it out of tight spots without losing too much blood. And there are quite a few tight spots in RE, doors will fly off their hinges, monsters will break through glass at the worst times and some gigantic bosses will pin you into the corner.
The sound in RE is good, but not very memorable to gamers who have played through the previous titles. What was probably a very chilling audio experience when the genre first got started, comes off as servicable at this point. On the positive side there is good variety in footsteps and different damage effects.
The game will take roughly 15 hours to finish the first time around, with enough differences between characters to encourage playing it a second time. Finishing the game will reward the player with alternative costumes and finishing it within a given time (5 hours for the Samurai Edge gun and 3 hours for the unlimited rockets) will reward the player with bonus weapons. The whole package is slick enough to be played multiple times, but keep in mind that the joy of solving the puzzles and discovering revelations in the storyline can only be experienced the first time around (slightly different between the two characters).
Capcom has put in a lot of work into RE to make it the best in the series, despite the fact that it is a remake. Although I will argue that the two parallel stories in RE 2 were more captivating and that Code Veronica felt more dynamic, RE for the Gamecube is the best package in the series. The graphics are really amazing and this creates a truly awe inspiring atmosphere. The game mechanics are still frustrating and there is still too much running around due to the limited inventory, but all the changes have been for the better. Although the voice acting isn’t much better than the original, the dialogues have been improved. The defense items are both cool and useful. And most importantly the adventure and survival aspect have polished for a truly entertaining experience that should not be missed by any Gamecube owner over the age of 18.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 05/21/02, Updated 05/21/02
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