Review by miffo

Reviewed: 07/03/02 | Updated: 07/03/02

Experience the fear all over again.

Note: This is a review of the Japanese version of this game.

I should start off by saying that I’ve never played the original Resident Evil, so I can’t give an honest comparison of this to the original. I know for a fact that there are new areas, puzzles, and enemies, but I don’t know anything from experience. But approaching this as a completely new game: wow.

Before this, the only Resident Evil game I had played was Code Veronica. I didn’t have a full understanding of the story, so Capcom’s decision to remake the original game is great for people who want to get into the series, but never did. And because things have been changed around, even veterans of the original should play it again. Of course, the incredible graphics don’t hurt it either.

The story begins after an increasing number of reports appear about the enigmatic deaths of citizens in the area. “Victims were apparently . . . eaten.” A crew from the S.T.A.R.S. team goes out to investigate one night and is chased by vicious dogs into a mansion. Four of the members make it to the mansion alive. From here the story varies between the two characters (Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield), but whomever you choose will have the same general goal: staying alive. After only a superficial exploration of the mansion you’ll discover that it’s filled with the living dead, and you’ll have to evade it long enough to solve the mystery of what’s happened and get out of there. Both characters have a very limited amount of ammunition and weaponry to combat the zombies, dogs, and other monsters that always find a way to show up right when you don’t want them to.

Controls haven’t changed much at all in this game from previous Resident Evil games. You have the D-Pad setup where you push it in the direction that you want to move from the character’s perspective. Or you can use the joystick—both are equally frustrating. The joystick simply doesn’t feel right for this, and the D-Pad is so small that I frequently find myself trying to run around a zombie my fingernail. This makes it much more difficult to run around enemies, and it’s not a good sign when a game’s challenge comes from the control configuration. The rest of the controls are fine, at least. A is used as the main action button and B goes back in menus. By pressing Y you bring up your control screen where you can use items, view files, etc. and Z is a shortcut for the map. To use your weapon, you must hold down R and then press A to fire. While holding down R, you can aim up or down. You can use defense items—a feature new to the GameCube version—with L, or you can set them to be used automatically. A quick, 180-degree turn can be accomplished by pushing the C-Stick in any direction.

The game is composed of puzzle-solving, zombie-fighting, and several cutscenes that allow you to watch the story unfold. The voice acting is decent, but still cheesy in some spots. But it wouldn’t be a Resident Evil game without cheesy acting, right? The cutscenes are well-done, and they provide smooth transitions throughout the game. Puzzles are usually fun, but some are a bit too tricky . . . it would have been nice if I didn’t spend so much time aimlessly wandering. Granted, I was playing the Japanese version and there were likely clues that I couldn’t read.

In order to progress through the game, you’ll need to solve the puzzles to unlock a door of some sort, so you can proceed to the next area. But in between that, you’ll be fighting enemies—some are minor; some are big. The most common of the enemies are the standard zombies. They’ll try to eat you if you get too close, but they’re slow enough that they’re not a huge problem. Because of the very limited amount of ammo you have, most people will just evade the zombies whenever possible. It normally takes about six handgun bullets to take out a zombie, although occasionally I happen to cap one right in the head which kills it instantly. There are some new enemies to the remake that will give you more trouble, however. There are enemies called Crimson Heads (Zombies with blood-red heads, as their name suggests) which are complete opposites of the regular zombies. They move faster than you and stay on you until they’re dead, or until you’re dead. They’re hard to kill and hard to evade, and they’re likely to give even veterans of the game a scare. And of course you have bosses every once in a while to make sure you don’t get too relaxed!

But while you’re blowing holes in the zombies’ heads, you’ll also be drooling over how pretty they look—yes, even bloody zombies look good in this game. Capcom did an amazing job with the graphics, and I’d say that this is one of the best-looking games I’ve ever played. Turn the lights off, turn the sound up, and you’re ready to roll. Pray that you’re not afraid of the dark . . . .

The character models are incredibly detailed and move realistically. Sometimes I’ll stop playing just to stare at the graphics in awe, and it doesn’t stop at the characters. The backgrounds look good as well, and several special effects have been put in. If you run by a window, you can see your reflection in it, and you can see your reflection on the floor of the main hall. The way leaves blow in the window, and how the lights sway and cast realistic shadows across the room, and the tiny details like moths flying around lights . . . all of it looks beautiful, and really adds to the game. I’ve had friends watch me play for hours and not even request to play themselves. The colors and lighting match the mood of the game perfectly, and so do the sounds—you can hear bugs crackling as they fly into lanterns, and your footsteps moving across the floor. You almost always hear a zombie scuffling around before you actually see it, which only heightens the tension. And the stationary camera angles are positioned perfectly, so there’s always something you can’t see until it happens. My only complaint about the graphics is that it seems to freeze for a split second when switching camera angles. It’s not especially noticeable once you’re used to it, but it makes the game feel choppier than it should.

At least you can feel safer to an extent if you’re carrying a couple of defense items, which I mentioned earlier. Both characters can get defense knifes, which they’ll stab a zombie with as it lunges for you. Jill can get stun pistols, and Chris can get grenades, which are my favorite. If a zombie gets a little too close for your liking and you have a defense grenade equipped, Chris will stick the grenade in the zombie’s mouth and pull the pin. A few seconds later the zombie will be dead. How fun!

With everything new that’s been added, I think even people who’ve already played previous versions of this game will still be able to enjoy it. But like I mentioned, I don’t know exactly how much is new. But this I can say with certainty: if you’ve never played Resident Evil before, buy this game. It’s worth it. Looking at it is fun enough, but it’s even better to play. There’s nothing more satisfying than finally figuring out a puzzle and avoiding death at the same time! And with two different playable characters, both with alternate endings, this game can be played over and over again. The sweaty palms, the dried up eyes, the constant fear . . . it’s worth it. Yes, you should get this game.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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