Review by Snoopdawwg22

"You won't find a better 'Cube game on the shelves"

A good week after the release date and what seemed like two weeks of searching, a copy of Resident Evil was brought to me at 11:00 p.m. on a Monday night from my bro. Now, as I’m sure you know if you’ve ever looked for a game for an extended period of time, as failure increases, anticipation does the same. Five stores down, and you’re readying yourself for a great adventure. Two days down, and Resident Evil’s going to be the king of all video games. A week of no luck, and I was 100% sure that this was going to be the best, scariest game of all time. When my copy arrived, I excitedly moved my ‘Cube from the comfortable, cozy nature of my living room to the dark, warm, red-painted room of my brother’s upstairs. The lights turned out and solo in the room, I booted up the system and prepared to be amazed. After the very entertaining opening cut-scene, I, if you can imagine such a thing, started playing. And that’s when it hit me—I wasn’t readying myself for a full-blown, exploration-filled adventure—I was preparing for a horror game that would play itself and just scare the daylights out of me. The control scheme was awkward with the fixed camera angles, and after an hour of disappointment, I went to bed. Next day I got up and went to school without much enthusiasm for the most hyped GCN game to date.

That night, I—and it seems incredibly stupid to say this now—forced myself to give it another chance. Low and behold, four hours later, I had concluded one thing: I was wrong. Resident Evil was, and is, awesome. The camera angles grew on me, I got used to the control scheme, and I was set.

You’re a member of an investigation team known as S.T.A.R.S., and your objective is to investigate a mansion in which suspicious behavior has been noticed. But once you’re in the huge place and discover that medical company Umbrella has created an incredibly dangerous virus that is infecting everybody in sight and turning them to flesh-eating zombies, your #1 priority is to get out of there. But you’re not just going to walk out the back door and jump on a bus back to your hometown—oh no, you’ll have to explore the massive building very thoroughly to find keys, emblems, and other items necessary for advancement through new rooms and areas, while keeping the infected monsters from eating you alive. You’ve got one heck of an adventure ahead of you.

You’ve got to give it time. The camera angles near the beginning of play are very, very irritating, simply because they’re different. Fixed angles are awkward because moving forward in rooms, and then having the camera switch to an angle in which your character is running at the screen, results in the player naturally switching to pressing down on the analog stick, which controls backward movement. A half hour of play will cure this problem, but the control awkwardness might turn off the more impatient gamer. The best advice I can tell you is to keep at it, and give the $50 investment at least a couple of hours before deeming it weak. There’s a reason that the game has been praised more than any other GameCube one to date—don’t deny yourself the opportunity to experience it.

Whether you like being scared or not, if you don’t like adventure games you shouldn’t come near this remake. The Resident Evil series has always revolved around item collecting and puzzle-solving to earn its spot in the hearts of gamers worldwide, and mixed those elements with dark, moody environments to provide a unique, nostalgic atmosphere. Unlike zombies when I’m through with them, you’ll need to have a good head on your shoulders to even get close to completing the game. I didn’t have to resort to guides/FAQs at all to finish, but came pretty close on numerous occasions. But the hours of unsuccessful exploration result in immense satisfaction when finding the correct way to advance. Turning to help will only dim your view on the game itself.

Unlike horror films, the fear factor is not in seeing people/zombies pop out of a window. Granted, that does happen from time to time to keep things fresh, but the real scare comes when you’ve advanced through two hours of game play and are down to the lowest health possible before death: You’re three hallways away from a save point/item box containing the coveted first aid spray, and a rabid, zombie-dog is on your heels as you slip past one of the undead and…notice that you took the wrong path. A quick turn (180, using the C-stick), and you stand face to face with the dog, backed by a fierce zombie. The beast growls, pounces, and you shuffle to the side with not a second to spare. The zombie lunges forward, and you blow his head off with two well-placed handgun bullets. You turn to the dog, and unload three bullets into its body. One more should do it…click…click click. Out of ammo, you turn around, and high-tail it out of there, opening the door to the room with the health just as the beast leaps towards you. Whew. That was intense. Breathe a sigh of relief, stretch your 10-minute-contracted neck muscles back, and save your data, get your health, and return to your normal life with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and exhilaration. That is the essence of Resident Evil. Intense. And, while I played through most of it in the comfort of my living room with the lights on, I’d imagine that it would almost be unplayably scary in a dark room with nobody home.

We’ve all heard the talk about the revolutionary graphics found in this remake. And amazing they are: shiny, reflective floors, incredibly detailed rooms/environments, very nice animation (though other would disagree), and unbelievable character models. Putting this and Code: Veronica side by side is like showing an 8-year old a bag of Oreos and a chocolate chip. Seriously, I just didn’t think it got any better than the Dreamcast’s magnificent title several years ago. I was happily mistaken.

And to round off the very distinct mood, RE sounds great. Following the lead of horror movies, background music sets the tone for surprises. You’ll be walking down a hallway, notice the rhythm of the music speeding up, and suddenly hear glass shattering and a zombie tumbles into the room. Woo, better pause the game and catch your breath. As always, the game play provides a basis for great action and adventure, and cut scenes magnify the experience. And with a high number of them to take a look at, voice acting had to be done very well. Indeed, it seems Capcom has done very well with that aspect. There are certainly times in which the lips don’t match the words at all, but for the most part they’re all done well. Foot steps, gunshots, and door creaks also sound spot on, and the acting, aside from Jill’s poor over-expression tone, is great. Fellow S.T.A.R.S. member Wesker’s dialogue is very believable, and Chris’s has a natural sound to it also.

Out of the way, Action. Step aside Mr. Adventure. Please make way for a new challenger, Sir-vival (is that creative pun or what?) Horror. In this one, puzzles take the center stage—for me they did, anyway. Capcom, more-so than any other developer I can think of outside of Nintendo, perfects the art of making a game that players think they made themselves. When you’re successful and uncover new little secrets and accomplishments, you’ll definitely be considering yourself an incredible explorer—and I respect Capcom for having the ingenuity to do that. Let me tell you, when you solve one of the many challenging puzzles, you’ll be pumpin’ your fists in celebration and reciting, “Go [your name], it’s your birthday, go [your name],” before you know it. Puzzles range from actual jigsaw-like puzzles to clue-and-try style ones. And man oh man, with the amount of thought put in and satisfaction taken out, I’d think it beneficial for schoolteachers to use the game as a teaching tool—it’s just that good. I rather like feeling smart. And while the majority of them aren’t all that difficult when analyzed, you won’t feel that way when playing.

On to new additions to the series. Now, zombies that are simply shot to “death” will not stay dead at all. You see, unless you blow off the enemy’s head, or use gas and a lighter to burn it, they’ll return as very quick, vicious creatures known as “Crimson Heads.” And unless you’ve got a first aid spray and a magnum with you, these things aren’t fun to mess with. Definitely more frightening than the classic slow-moving mummy-like zombies, this new addition is more than welcome.

A good selection of weapons can be found in RE. You’re not going to see a 007-style choice of weapons, but each individual one, whether it be a handgun or magnum, serves an individual purpose. For example, the handgun doesn’t pack much of a punch, but an abundance of ammo can be found for it. So, for enemies that can be knocked down with a single shot of any gun, the handgun is favorable. Then there’s the shotgun: aside from being an awesomely cool weapon to shoot, the shotgun is great for taking down semi-quick enemies that the handgun can’t handle. However, shotguns can only hold six shells at a time. And for bosses and crimson heads, the magnum is works wonders. But come across a regular zombie, and you’d wish you had a shotgun or handgun out. In addition, more weapons can be unlocked after playing the game multiple times. All are very cool, stylish, and some of the ones found late in the game really pack a punch.

You’ll have to explore a huge mansion, along with about four other sub-locations, to get through this one. And being the huge land area that it is, maps are a necessity. And thankfully, Resident Evil sports some helpful, easy-to-read maps. It’s simple, but very effective: a white arrow/triangle indicates the player, and the pointed end shows direction. A white line is found on every door that you haven’t opened yet but is not locked, blue lines show doors in which you’ve been through, and red lines mean that you haven’t opened it, and is locked. Similarly, rooms with a tint of orange are ones in which items remain to found, while white/gray-indicated rooms mean that you’ve found every item—whether it be health-restoring herbs, bullets, keys, etc. And without accessibility to the helpful map, I bet it would have taken me 60+ hours to finish. Don’t underestimate the power of the map.

As with any other of the series, ink ribbons, in bundles of three, are the tools for saving game progress. When at a typewriter, these can be used to…save your progress. And regardless of what the instruction manual packed in with the casing says, do NOT save often. There are times in which I’ve gone 2+ hours of exploring new areas, passed two new typewriters, and didn’t have a single ink ribbon. Now, the first time this happened everything went well, and I deemed the lack of ink ribbons an intensifier. But later on in the game, I had gone 90 minutes or better, advancing to new areas, and ended up dying at an enemy that knocked me off the ledge of a “cliff.” This can be rather irritating, but as a whole I think the lack of ink ribbons actually boosts the experience.

As a whole, Capcom's expanded upon its previous efforts and kept the Resident Evil franchise alive with this remake.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 06/29/02, Updated 06/29/02

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