Review by Halron2

Reviewed: 07/22/02 | Updated: 05/05/03

'Itchy itchy Scottie came ugly face so killed him. Tasty.'

Upon hearing first word of an upcoming remake of Resident Evil, the question that came to mind was: why play the same game all over again? Resident Evil was one of those games fated to become classics, the first in a whole genre (not counting Alone in the Dark, that is) as well as the first in one of the most popular gaming series nowadays, and its classic status made a remake seem unnecessary and destined to be a failure in a gaming point of view and a success commercially. But Capcom proved these expectations wrong and, with a few new elements added to the game, created one of the best survival horror games ever. Needless to day, a great re-start for the series and the perfect way to re-introduce the game to a new gaming generation.

The story is practically unaltered. You still choose to play with whether Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, members of S.T.A.R.S., who are sent on a mission, along with others, to search for missing members of another S.T.A.R.S. team, who disappeared while investigating the outskirts of a mansion where strange deaths had occurred. Obviously (for us, that is) the house is infested with ‘zombies’ and other mutated creatures (giant spiders, snakes, plants and so on). Your character must solve puzzles, find items and kill a whole lot of monsters before being able to leave the mansion alive. The game basically remains the same in that sense (the ending is also unchanged), only with new locations, enemies and a little bit more of detailed information on the Resident Evil world, found on notes, letters, diaries and the like, which makes the game even more dense and deep.

The main goal of a Resident Evil game is to be scary. In this sense, the remake is immensely superior to the original. The first one wasn’t really scary, it was more of an action/adventure game. The remake invests everything in taking away the brightness of the backgrounds, adding details to heighten the tension and building up the general horror mood that is essential to its success. Such was the achievement that it’s not likely that anyone who has played this remake will ever think the same way about the original game.

The Resident Evil gameplay remains basically the same in this new version. The controls, that recall a remote controlled car, are still a little confusing for newcomers and the same old thing for more experienced players. You have buttons to examine, run, open the inventory, aim, fire and so on. There’s also a good variety of items and weapons to be found, combined and used throughout the game. There are new elements added to fight the monsters: the defense weapons, which are used only when a zombie grabs your character and are intended to free the character and inflict varied damage to the enemy (depending on the weapon equipped) and the lighter and fuel canteen, intended to burn the zombies that, otherwise, are reborn as the ‘Crimson Heads’, a faster, stronger and harder monster.

Otherwise, additions to the gameplay appear in the form of new puzzles and locations. None of the puzzles are extremely hard and there are always enough hints to get past them. They are very well constructed and inserted into the pre-existing game. The new locations and enemies also fit in perfectly well and their existence is justified and explained in the files found during the game. One of these new enemies, a boss named Lisa, is particularly well inserted into the whole story, and so rich and involving in its story and depth, that it becomes hard to imagine the game without it after playing it.

Resident Evil is not an excessively hard game, but it can get quite tricky to players who want to complete everything in it. First of all, the game is really harder to play with Chris than with Jill, not only because her inventory is two slots bigger (a huge advantage, I can assure you), but also because Barry (another member of S.T.A.R.S.) helps her all the time, leaving items for her and aiding in killing monsters. Second, the game may be easy in easy mode, but in normal and hard it starts to become a good challenge. Also, to unlock some special features of the game, time limits for beating it are required, turning into quite a challenge to do every single thing in the game.

In terms of graphics, the game comes close to perfection. The game’s intention is to build a realistic background of terror and the developers achieved it with rare precision. Everything, including characters, monsters, backgrounds and all other kind of details, is done wonderfully and it’s simply impossible not to be impressed by the game’s visuals. The characters look absolutely realistic, specially during the cut-scenes, the monsters look downright terrifying and the background are so detailed and beautiful that, cliché of the cliches, the house actually becomes a character in itself, creating a huge part of the tension in the game. Everything is done to construct the horror atmosphere and the game looks absolutely scary, creating a wonderfully tense mood.

The sound department is also wonderful. Developers took a wise decision in making most of the game silent, that is, without music. The tunes play only in the most tense moments or other situations that need to be highlighted, making these parts more memorable. Fortunately, the themes that exist fit perfectly in the situations during which they play. All sound effects also take part in creating this mood, specially when no music’s playing. Worthy of mention are the sounds of monsters, that warn players of their proximity, but everything, from guns firing to thunder roaring, is pretty well done. Of the new elements in the sound of the game, the most welcome is the new voice acting. Although the actors aren’t totally convincing all the time, the whole thing is much better than the terrible original’s. The voice acting is good enough not to get in the way of the overall quality of the game.

The final result is a much better and much more intense game than the original Resident Evil. All new elements fit in perfectly the intention of the game and the old elements have been reworked to be even better than they had been previously. But the greatest achievement of this remake is that it manages to convince and even surpass the original and already classic game, even if it isn’t as groundbreaking as a game. Surprise of all surprises, the remake is definitely far better than the classic.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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