Resident Evil
By: Tristan Jones on October 7, 2005  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Platform: Nintendo Gamecube
Developer: Capcom
Players: 1
Year: 2002
OFLC Rating: MA15+
Just before I started high school, my friends and I had heard vague word of a game that was so violent and horrific that they wouldn't sell it to anyone who looked under 16. We didn't believe it at the time, we had managed to get our hands on other supposedly 'mature audience only' games so we figured this would be no different. Man where we wrong. The original Resident Evil was everything we'd heard it was, and it brought with it one of the biggest turning points in gaming history, creating the now immensely popular subgenre of games… survival horror.

The original Resident Evil was everything it claimed to be, gory and scary. I have very fond memories of sitting in my dark room in the wee hours of the morning listening to horrible groaning and being jolted by cheap jump scares. But the game dated very quickly, the voice acting was terrible and the live action cut scenes were porn worthy in terms of production values. Soon Resident Evil 2 was dominating the sales charts and made the first look positively woeful. Fast forward a few years and many sequels, spin-offs and rip-offs later, Resident Evil came full circle and Capcom released a remake of the classic title that started it all.

Now for those who don't know, where the hell have you been the past nine years? Sorry, anyway, Resident Evil follows Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, two members of an elite paramilitary police unit called S.T.A.R.S. who've been called in (along with the rest of Alpha Team) to find out why they lost communication with Bravo Team in the Arklay Mountains just outside Raccoon City. None quite know what to expect (except for a couple it seems) and they soon find themselves embroiled in the secret viral research of a mysterious company gone horrifically wrong.

Six years after I played the original game, I found myself bursting at the seams with the same feeling of excitement as I loaded the disc into my Gamecube. The only difference was this time I thought I knew what I was in for, having played the original through. Good God was I wrong.

Immediately, I find that the shitty live action sequences were replaced with fully animated 3D sequences that put the Final Fantasy movie to shame. The opening sequence of the original simply showed a bunch of bollocks actors poncing about in a field at night and suddenly running from terrible puppet zombie dogs. The redux had the works. News reports, crime scene photography, and an incredible action sequence as S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team discover the wreck of their missing sister team before entering a desperate battle against uber-real Doberman zombies.

The first time you play the remake, you find yourself constantly retrieving your jaw from the ground. Everything about the game is beautiful. The character models are the same as those used in the cut scenes, so there is a seamless transition between playing and watching, and the mansion is staggering. Now, earlier I said I thought I knew this game. Stepping into the mansion again was incredible, but discovering that this mansion held greater secrets than it had previously was even more incredible. Added puzzles and rooms made this mansion feel completely new and entirely new subplots made the whole franchise shine in a new light altogether.

The remake introduces a number of great little gameplay mechanisms too. Probably the best out of all of these was the introduction of 'defence weapons'. Playing as Jill, you can obtain batteries for your tazer, playing as Chris, you get frag grenades. Both characters can pick up daggers as well. Whenever an enemy catches hold of you, simply tapping a button would make your character pull out their weapon and launch a counter attack. The frag grenades always make for an amusing watch. Also, make sure you burn any zombies you fail to decapitate; otherwise you'd better be ready to run!

Graphically, the remake is flawless. It's clear that Capcom has gone to pained lengths to make this everything it can be, and the result is there to behold in all it's glory. While the original had two different zombies that were repeated all through the game, this has at least seven different variations, different sizes, weights, hair, wounds and so forth, and each one is given a randomly selected outfit. The amount of detail in even the more ludicrous monsters is such that you forget it's not possibly real and buy into its existence completely.

Story wise, the Resident Evil games have always leant a little on the convoluted side, but having had three sequels published before the remake went into production, a number of the loose threads left in the sequels are tied up or given reference to in this. There is a particularly disturbing new subplot involving the daughter of the man that owned the mansion which for me was probably the highlight of the redux.

Mind you, with all this said, Resident Evil doesn't always make everyone feel at home playing it. The control system has been untouched, which has always been a big detractor for some people unaccustomed to the often clunky controls that the titles have employed. However, controls are only a minor thing and you do become adjusted to them after a short while. Once you do become adjusted, you're pretty much set for the rest too.

The remake still stands as one of the best games on the Gamecube, and you can pick it up cheap anywhere nowadays, so if you haven't gotten around to getting this one, then shame on you.
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