Review by JeanRenehiccup

Reviewed: 05/15/02 | Updated: 05/15/02

A classic story of horror and survival totally overhauled to be the way it was meant to be.

Hello, my name is J.R. (well, not really) and I would like to introduce myself somewhat, as this my first review I have posted on this sight. The only thing you really need to know is that I am a very harsh and judgmental video game critic. People are to quick to give a game a high score just because it is fun. As I see it, no game is perfect, no matter how awesome it is. In that respect, don't expect to see me giving out scores anywhere close to a 10 (If I do though, you can bet that said game is the only game you will ever have to play. Ever. Do you get why I am so strict now?)
All right, enough of my dribble, let's get to it. By now, I've probably angered a lot of Resident Evil fans with the score, but I think that it is quite fair. The premise of the game is survival. You play one of a pair of S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Squad... if I'm not mistaken), either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield. While searching the nearby forest in hopes of finding the culprits behind a string of gruesome, cannibalistic ( which means the victims were eaten alive) murders, contact with the initial team (Bravo team, in case you cared.) was lost. And that's where you come in. While playing as your character of choice, you'll explore a desolate mansion and all the surrounding areas in search for the truth.... and a way out. The story that follows it an interesting journey leading you through a nightmarish ordeal full of mutants and monsters and maybe a cruel victim or two. The rest of the plot will unfold at a reasonable pace, with many interesting twists and explanations (even if you have already played the Playstation version[s]) that you'll have to experience on you own (if you survive that long...).
The graphics are exceptional, no denying it. Everything, from the dynamic and creepy backgrounds, to the (mostly) individually unique zombies, to the other horrible monsters that you come across. The backgrounds in particular. Everything is made to be very realistic and solemn. They work to make you wonder what dangers each room entails. The outdoors are made to be especially decedent. You'll hear about games like Silent Hill using fog to set the mood, but Resident Evil for the Gamecube is the only one that really pull this off. Its something you have to see to understand. The enemies as well come across being well detailed and, in the zombies' case, very unique. Which brings the realistic point across that no to people are alike, and neither (for the most part) are the zombies. Now for the jeers. You see, with the backgrounds being so dynamic and realistic, they often come across as being grainy and littered with many (however slight) blotches and imperfections. The same goes for the enemies. The zombies especially. The idea of making each zombie unique is a pretty ambitious task, even for the Gamecube. Which leaves all the zombies looking jaggy and some looking very much alike (some seem identical). The player characters (and the peoples they interact with), however, are very well done and have a much finer visad' with very few ''jaggies'' at all.
Yes, that's right. I gave the control a 6. And no, I am not grading the control on the sheepishly small directional pad. I'm grading the games control, not the controller (If I did, it is safe to say the score would have been less.). Now before you label me as being clinically insane, let me remind you that this is a survival horror game. If maneuvering your character was easy, then there wouldn't be as much a feeling of desperation and thought. In other words, the player needs to quickly assess the situation and plan one's actions accordingly. Whether to hold your ground and attack; or to say a prayer and run for the opening. It's this infamous default that makes the game. Although, Chris and Jill move a little bit more like robots then people sometimes. And needing to make a quick or urgent action (i.e. opening a door or picking up an item) can not always be done without making a slight, and often times fatal, mistake. Not to mention not being able to open doors while running, which is another big minus.
Two words: mutant zombies. Or crimson heads, if you prefer. A major addition to the mix, these creatures further increase the discretion used in dealing with zombies. You see, If a zombie isn't cremated (burned up) or decapitated (blow its head off) it will, after a period of time, mutate. The result (Known as a crimson head, due to the creatures body tone and blood-lust.) is far worse then the casual zombie. With its uncomfortably high speed and decimating combat abilities (not to mention its horribly creepy growl <shiver>), these mutated zombies are really not something you want to deal with casually. This is good, however, in that a person cannot just simply kill any unwanted zombie they come across and be done with it. This element greatly increases the importance of avoiding enemies. Although this and a new enemy (I can't say its name, I can say it is a very important to the plot.) spice things up, this game offers the same find, shoot, and kill or be killed recipe of all the other Resident Evil games. The puzzles, as you likely have heard, have all been re-vamped or are completely new (One puzzle in particular stands out like the ''chess plugs'' puzzle of old. <cough>four masks<cough>). One, um... interesting fact about many of the puzzles is that many of them spell death for the survivalist without their wits about them. This can add both a level of frustration and even enjoyment (to the more cunning players out there). One thing that remains the same over all is the difference in difficulty between the two characters. Although the developers did make an effort (and apparently a very vague effort at that) to make their quests more evenly matched then in the Playstation original, Chris can expect a steeper degree of peril then lil' miss Jill. What, with her ability to pick locks and big papa Barry holding her hand (pulling here out of more ''fires'' than she deserves), as well as her getting exclusive use of certain artillery and having more item space (Why? The world may never know.) makes for a much easier ride then our he-man Chris. But not really that much easier that playing as Chris isn't fun, it just isn't fair. Plus, some more easily frightened or aggravated players may chose Jill over Chris because they can't handle the pressure (or the frustration).
The interesting the about the music is that there isn't very much of it at all. Although the eerie quiet suddenly and sharply broken by a sonata of dissonance can very much attribute to the ''fear factor'', I wouldn't give anyone much credit for coming up with the tunes played in this game. Even the more grandeur tracks played during boss battles and times of stirring plot twists are somewhat less then enthralling. The only thing is that the music does just what it needs to do to set the mood and shows up the composers who really didn't seem to go out of their way to make the music as complicated and unique as the graphics.
To be truthful, the game does seem to have plenty of replay value. What with all the extra modes and costumes and all. But after playing through both Chris' and Jill's adventures (both being fairly different from another), most replay value comes from trying to get certain, special, firearms. Only the truly hard-core or daring gamer would speculate playing the modes of difficulty that can be unlocked. I'm trying real hard not to outright expel any game secrets, but just imagine a mode a lot like playing Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Only you can't shoot or attack in any way the creature chasing you (And for a very good reason....). Trust me, it can get worse. But hey, a little challenge never hurt anyone. There are still others who would say such ideas are ludicrous and such things really shouldn't be implemented into a game in the first place, and after playing the game through so many times to receive these ''bonuses'' the player may not feel like going down the same path again just because it is even more difficult than before. And even though there are multiple endings, the endings are so similar to each other they can all be described as being either good or bad.
As a game, it gets a 4. As a survival horror game, it scores a 5. Its many quirks and disfunctions make it an above average game. But its horrible story line, and very terrifying atmosphere (Scariest opening cinema, ever!) makes for a very enthralling and somewhat claustrophobic experience. Which is what Resident Evil fans really want. More casual gamers looking for something new might want to test these waters with a rental.

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

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