Review by Andy787
Reviewed: 05/12/02 | Updated: 05/12/02
Better Than Pie? Not quite.
Capcom is a strange company. They're a company that has really set some precedents and industry phenomenons, sparking some huge critical and financial success stories like Mega Man, Street Fighter, and of course, Resident Evil. Yet at the same time, they're a company that will apparently put their creative prowess on hold, porting said franchises to every platform they can manage, adding 'SUPER,' 'TURBO,' 'DIRECTORS CUT,' or any other synonym for 'PORT' they can think of, milking the proverbial cow of gaming goodness until the cow is dead. But then again, sometimes Capcom will get a port right, and do the very name 'port' some good. This is one of those times. Capcom has taken the original Resident Evil, and instead of slapping an 'ULTIMATE' or a 'SPECIAL EDITION' to the end of it, they have totally reinvented the game in large part and made it new for another audience of gamers to enjoy. Capcom has done Resident Evil good.
Starting with the story, which is one of the areas that remains mostly the same as before. As the story goes, in the small rural town of Raccoon City lies a huge, mysterious mansion within Raccoon forest. Lately in Raccoon City, there have been reports of people missing, last seen near the spooky forest. As suspicion arises, the Raccoon City Police Department sends their elite special forces team -S.T.A.R.S Bravo Team- in to investigate the mansion in hopes of finding clues pertaining to the missing persons reports. All contact with Bravo Team is lost. With no other alternative, Raccoon Police sends in Bravo Team's sister organization, Alpha Team, in to investigate and find out what happened to Bravo Team.
Alpha Team spots Bravo's downed helicopter and sets down to check things out. To Alpha Team's horror, they find most of Bravo's team slaughtered, and no trace of the rest of the members. In the distance they hear a terrible noise, and turning their heads to look, see the beginning of their nightmare taking shape, watching, numb, as they see dogs scavenging through the bodies of the fallen Bravo members. These aren't any dogs mind you, they're.... ZOMBIE DOGS!!! Fearing for their very life, Alpha Team runs as fast as their legs can carry them, making it to the mansion within the forest, seconds before being ripped to shreds by the dogs. Now you, along with the rest of your team, must do whatever is possible to escape from the mansion alive. But it will not be an easy task, as countless inane puzzles, hoards of zombies and other monstrosities are out to make sure you never see the light of day again.
Getting into the game play, which sadly, also remains largely the same as the original, making it one of the game's weakest points. Before you start your game in Resident Evil, you're given the choice of which S.T.A.R.S member you'd like to play as, either Jill or Chris. The story is changed a bit for each character, but the main difference between them are the tweaks in their game play experience. For example, Chris can take more damage than Jill, while Jill can hold more items. Also effected are the item placement, Jill having a lock pick from the start, Chris having a lighter from the start, as well as each character's most powerful weapon; grenade launcher for Jill, Flame Thrower for Chris.
Now the bad part. The controls. Resident Evil controls like ass, and has done so since it first started way back in '96. In short, you control your character with the analog stick, holding up to run forward, and moving the stick left or right to turn left or right. The problem here, is that you're ALWAYS holding up to move forward, and given the game's dynamic camera angles, this can get disorienting pretty easily (just imagine pressing up on the stick to move your character toward you, I think you get the picture.). Not helping things in the least, is the game's terrible collision detection. This isn't your run of the mill, punch-goes-through-face collision detection, no, this is the kind of thing that will stop you flat in your tracks as you're running. Accidentally glance over that window pane sticking an inch out of the wall? You're not moving anywhere buddy!
Aside from the controls, the premise behind most of RE's game play relies on puzzle solving. Now I'm never too keen on games that rely too much on puzzles, but RE is among the worst of the puzzle-laden offenders. If you haven't played an RE before, what this means is that you will be back tracking half of the game to place that one gem in that one hole to find the right key to unlock that door you walked by on your trip to powering up that one elevator. Sound confusing? It is. Sound tedious? It is. Another problem this opens up is the fact that you will constantly be carrying tons of items that you have no idea what to do with, and you will almost always be carrying just one item too many, making return trips to the nearest item storage seem like a dose of double-back tracking. Would it kill Capcom to give you a bit bigger inventory?
To veer away from the negative, the game play still isn't all bad. The puzzles, while annoying, do give a great sense of accomplishment. Also, there have been a few enhancements to the original's game play. Most notably are defense items, which save you from taking frontal damage from a zombie once, and the quick 180 turn from previous RE installments.
Speaking of enhancements, undoubtedly RE's biggest enhancement are it's graphics. It goes without saying that RE's graphics are incredible. Some how, Capcom has managed to mix pre-rendered back grounds with FMV (seemingly) to make pre-rendered-quality detail and realism, with the life that polygonal graphics offer. The result is just beautiful, and especially evident in outside areas, where you can literally see FMV quality plants and trees swaying back and forth realistically, streams splashing down between the cracks of rocks, and brilliant lighting and shadow effects. Also worth mentioning are the unbelievable water effects found in RE. Without spoiling things, let's just say this game has the best water effects ever seen on a console game. The game also has some of the best character models I've seen, each character with individually modeled and extremely detailed items hanging off of them, unbelievable detail on cloths, and excellent animation (including some good ol' bouncy bouncy courtesy of Miss Valentine if manipulated correctly ^_^).
The graphics are not without their faults though. RE is victim of the terrible jaggie monster, as much of the game, especially characters and their shadows, are quite the jag-fests. The game is also accompanied by a really annoying filter that seems to make the whole picture grainy-looking on purpose (similar to the effect of Wreckless for the Xbox, thought not to it's level of sheer grain-ness). Even with these problems though, I'd still have to say RE is among the top 5 best looking games currently available, and they single handedly make this easily the scariest of the REs.
Like the graphics, the sound in RE has also received some major enhancement, and all for the better. The back ground music is pretty much non-existent for much of the game, but really it's done to enhance the ambient mood of the game, as you'll see the music picks up just at the right times. The sound effects, however, are where things really shine. It's not often where you will find a game whose sound effects outshine the actual music by such a large margin, but it does in RE. The sound effects for the various guns (excluding the shot gun) really aren't that impressive, but it's the sounds for your foot steps and the enemies that punch some feeling into things. For example, for EVERY different terrain or surface you walk on is a totally different sound, and each sound is absolutely perfect, everything sounds exactly like it should in real life. It may not sound too outrageous in text, but once you've heard it, you'll be mighty impressed.
Other than the music and sound effects, it's also worth noting that RE has been completely re-voiced, so gone is the cheesy, no-emotion voice overs of the original, and in are the not-so-cheesy, no-emotion voice overs of the remake. It's a fair improvement, but still nothing to gawk about :P
All in all, Resident Evil comes together to form a great package. It has some faults with the control and game play, but it doesn't hold things up enough to make the game less fun, which it is tons of. If you're a GC-only gamer, RE should be right up your alley if you need a new game for the little purple box. If you've got other systems, you may consider just giving RE a rent, because while definitely a very fun game, it only clocks in at about 12-15 hours. Either way, you should definitely check out RE.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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