Review by Alterwolf
Reviewed: 05/04/02 | Updated: 05/04/02
An awesome remake, but still the same old same old.
I have no idea why I keep buying these survival horror games, I hate the scares where crap jumps through windows, or trying to listen for what's coming around corners, and being forced to run from everything.
Ah well, it's one of life's mysteries, and I once again have parted with my hard-earned cash for another survival horror game I probably won't totally finish until I get Gameshark cheats for it and can blast everything to pieces.
I don't really need to explain what this game is if you're reading the review, but just for the sake of completeness..
This is a full, flat-out remake of the original Resident Evil that was one of the earliest and biggest hits for the PSX. The pre-rendered backgrounds have been redone in absolutely astounding detail and resolution, things have been rearranged, and the character models probably have about 15-20 times the number of polys.
For the most part this is a graphical remake, but Capcom has thrown in a couple additions, the most notable being some slightly reworked controls (the very useful quick turn from RE3 has been added), and the rearranging of some items and rooms in the mansion.
Now, on to the actual review.
I've already said this is mostly a graphical remake, but wow, what a remake.
The pre-rendered backgrounds are probably about as photo realistic as you can get within whatever development time Capcom gave the crew that made this game. Nothing reeks of 3D Studio Max templates, and only on a few rare occasions can you spot the ''black line'' effect when one of the live rendered characters is half behind a pre-rendered feature. The rendered objects like items, movable furniture, monsters, characters, and other rendered background objects seamlessly blend together with the pre-rendered backgrounds, keeping everything very solid and realistic looking.
The character models are probably some of the most realistic I've ever seen in a game, and minus some slightly off-looking facial features on a couple characters, beat out the models of Silent Hill 2, which set the bar not long ago. This time around the characters are animated quite fluidly, and move -very- humanlike up and down stairs, around corners, on top of objects, etc. The only thing that could have made it better are more convincing still animations and if they made the characters waver when they aim their weapons.
The only noticeable problem with the graphics are the at times nasty jaggies that cover the models. I guess Capcom decided against anti-aliasing, since for some reason the engine they wrote seems to really tax the GC. Either that or they just didn't have the time. Also, the framerate is locked at somewhere between 50-55 FPS, which gives the game a somewhat film-like look to it, but may bug some PC-loving graphic whores like me who don't like anything that doesn't scream at 60FPS. The graphical quality for the models seems to alternate for some reason to my eye. In some areas, the models are crisp and smooth looking, with nice rounded off shadows, and at other times a mess of jaggies with blotchy, blocky shadows that don't cover the backgrounds properly.
Knowing my luck it's a problem with my GC.
A big surprise for many fans of the original though is the sheer darkness of the environments compared to the original. Everything has a very claustrophobic, tomb-like feel to it now, much akin to the exercises in paranoia that we were submitted to in the Silent Hill series. Lights provide at best tenuous, flickering illumination to small parts of halls, while darkened, faded wallpaper peels off the walls. The mansion feels easily a hundred years old, rather than the Frank Lloyd Wright feel of the PSX version's mansion. Very atmospheric, but thanks to the pre-rendered backgrounds locking you into specific camera angles, this makes one of the original game's problems more annoying (I'll get to that later).
The sound is perfect. Lots of ambient noise, thunder, and much nastier zombie groans. This game could empty some bladders when played on a good surround sound system in the dark. Not much to complain about here.
The overall control and gameplay is the -exact- same as the original, with the addition of the quick turn, and 'defense items', which are one-shot items that characters can use if they are grabbed by one of the game's many enemies to prevent taking damage. The rest of the game is mostly run here, get this, take this there, get key, open door, item box run, repeat ad infinitum. It's not a bad gameplay system, but it may bore people who've played the original and want something new.
The only real problem I've had with the RE series overall are the cheap hits you sometimes take due to the camera. Many times you walk around a corner or a camera change point to discover a zombie you would have been able to see a mile away if you could see in first person. Not terribly realistic, and annoying as hell when you take cheap hits because of it. This is my only real major grievance with the RE series overall, ignoring the logic arguments which would make the game incredibly easy if fixed.
i.e. How can a rotted, atrophied zombie overpower you and bite through those fashionable metal shoulderpads? Any physically able person could beat a zombie barehanded without much trouble, and a good knife fighter could carve them up like they weren't even there... And then there's the traditional door problem. Why are you risking your life to find a key to open a wooden door when you have a shotgun, grenade launcher, or rocket launcher? The list goes on and on. Sorry for the ranting.
To get to the point, Resident Evil Cubed is for big fans of the original RE series, and a treat for people who haven't gotten to enjoy the game that brought the genre into the major leagues. Buy it, play it, piss yourself, gripe at it, beat it, and show it to your friends.
+ This is about as good as a mix of rendered and pre-rendered graphics can get. Just some anti-aliasing and some tweaks and you have perfection.
- The momentary lag between scene changes, the odd framerate, and the somewhat hit and miss graphical quality slightly mar one of the best looking games out there.
+ Perfectly ambient music and sounds. Creepy stuff.
- This game probably requires a good sound system to appreciate fully.
+ It works, that's what counts.
- The cheap hits due to the camera are still there, and the gameplay is really quite old at this point.
Replay Value: 5/10
+ There's an absolutely insane sounding 'invisible monster' mode, two characters, and all the old bonuses, like new costumes and such.
- If you've beaten the original there isn't all that much that's new here.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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