When Resident Evil came to the Playstation back in 1996 it made huge waves. Nobody had seen a game that really set a new standard for the horror genre as it pertained to console games, and even computer games for that matter. At that time nothing really captured the player and brought them into the environment the game was attempting to scare you in. Albeit, it wasn't that scary, but nonetheless, it still had a huge impact on what gamers would expect at minimum from anything that would follow.
Resident Evil for the PSX was truly a landmark. Capcom noticed this and continued the story and spanned it over many titles; I think we are on Resident Evil 19 or something like that. So, when it was announced that the games would all be either re-created or ported to the GameCube people were shocked. Would Nintendo really accept something this violent (by Nintendo's standards it was really violent)? If so, would they tone it down, and if not, how could you ever improve the game?
Well, Capcom tackled both of these problems, and managed to pull off a new iteration of the series that even I was impressed with; trust me, that is hard.
As many of you may know, I am really critical when it comes to graphics. If you proclaim that you have stunning graphics, you had better having stunning graphics. And, well, Resident Evil is the best looking game I have seen to date on the GameCube, not to mention other systems. The sheer amount of detail that went into creating this game boggles my mind. It also draws the question, why can't computer games do the same? More on that later.
Anyway, the first thing you will notice about the game are the character models. Easily the best models I have ever seen on any game. Capcom have really outdone themselves this time. The sheer number of polygons that had to be in each of those models, they way they move, the blinking, the facial expressions all flow perfectly. The movement of the characters is superb as well. None of the characters look like the are made of playdough nor do you see dis-proportionate bodies; ala Tombraider, but hey, who can complain.
The next thing that will catch your eye is the environment itself. Capcom decided that have static backgrounds would be much better looking then having a 3D rendered environment, and I would have to agree. A lot more detail can be put into each and every place in the mansion then ever before.
When you walk into room and just look around you see some things that you would normally overlook because they are rarely found in games, and when they are they are advertised on the box, thus ruining the surprise. I can see dust float in the air, shadows moving when lighting strikes, dust moving into the air as I walk across the floor, and I can see my character breath. Very cool indeed.
Furthermore, the static backgrounds are not really static. There are
swinging lights, animating monitors, fans and so on that all draw you more into then environment then if everything was simply "just there". This is something that I really enjoyed about the game, because I felt as if I was in the game. I know I know that sounds completely stupid, but it's true. I completely forgot about where I was because I was focused on the mansion and nothing else.
The only gripe I had with the graphics department were the slowdowns.
Although they were sporadic, they were still nonetheless. But nothing that really took away from the game that much. But when it did happen I was taken back for a moment, which made me sad.
Sound is another thing that this game that helps with game pull off all the tension that you experience while playing. Many a time the game's music is just so creepy that I left rooms because it was scaring the crap out of me. Several times, the music wouldn't play, but you would hear a thump or door open behind you. Then all of the sudden music up and your under attack. Just beautiful.
The music and sound really brings you into the game and complement the graphics in the perfect way that it all blends together perfectly. Playing this game with the volume up and alone in a dark room really scared the crap out of me. I was constantly fearing the next moment something would jump out and go BOO at me. The best moment I can think of was my first encounter with a Crimson Head.
So, I head up stairs on the opposite entrance of the hall way you find the first zombie. I walk through the door and hear this fast pitter patter across the floor boards. The camera was facing towards me character not allowing me to see what was coming at me, just behind me. All of the sudden this freaked out zombie attacks me! That scared the crap out of me. It is things like this that I waited yet didn't want to happen, but when they did happen it made the game that much more appealing.
The only thing that somewhat disappointed me was the lack of surround sound, however, since I do not have the setup I really cannot knock the game for not having this. Nonetheless, the game still pulled off all the sound effects perfectly in stereo mode.
I am not one to spoil the stories that really make a game, but, since this game has been out for a while I don't see any reason not to. Basically it all boils down to the inner workings of the hugely successful Umbrella Corporation. With corrupt suits, much like our corporate suits -- the similarities are eerie I tell you, investigating in underground research pertaining to biological weapons and mutation.....stuff.
You, being either Chris or Jill, are sent in with the rest of the team to investigate what happened with the previous team that was sent in. Sounds lackluster, but really it's not. As you progress through the mansion Capcom throws little table scraps at you only feeding your need to find out what is really up on that table for you to have.
The story really draws you in, mainly because it is somewhat plausible, but also the fact that it is so interesting. The whole basis for the story is really compelling and you want to progress through the mansion in search of something that will solidify what you already know. This is where I have my only gripe.
The story is somewhat vague. Not that I had any problem understanding it, just the fact that it leaves a lot up to the imagination. Often times I read miscalaneous notes that were lying around on a end table and left wondering what it actually had to do with the overall plot. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story thus far. So don't ruin it for me!
As far as actual gameplay, I really really enjoyed everything about the game. From the defense moves where I can firmly implant a knife into a zombies brain, to watching them pop like popcorn from my stun gun I wasn't left bored for one second.
I have always griped about games focusing more on graphics that what it is really about, gameplay. I am a sucker for a game that really gets me into it, because everything flows just like it should, and this is something Resident Evil did for me. I felt right at home, everything seemed logical, and every puzzle that I accidently solved made me think, "OH! That makes sense!"
Speaking of the puzzles, I found most of them rather elementary and some of them overly frustrating to say the least. The two that stick in my mind as the most annoying would have to be the roaster puzzle where you had to point the roasters in the correct direction to open the gate and the second being detaching the arrowhead from the arrow and placing it on the gravestone statue. Both were kind of annoying; alright I regress, the latter of the two was mainly me being a moron, but was I the only one who thought the whole arrow fit into the imprint?
Lastly has to be the AI. The AI in this game was completely and utterly stupid. But, thats ok, seeing as the zombies can't use their brains, there is no reason for them to do anything but act retarded. I was often coy with the zombies tempting them with my perky breasts. Much fun.
Overall I loved every minuet that I was playing this game. Although it was daunting running back and forth so many times, in hindsight, I can think of why; I didn't plan. If you plan your routes you will have much better success.
People have always complained of the way Capcom setup the controls. When you first get control of your character you will inevitably walk to wrong way, run into walls, get attacked by zombies because you pressed the wrong direction on the control stick, but to all those people I have to say "get over it!"
Sure the controls suck to holy hell, but after you get used to them it is second nature, at least for me. So I ran into a couple of walls after playing for several hours, but, hey, I was having fun. Personally I believe the crappyness that is the controls fits Resident Evil perfectly.
Although somewhat of a gameplay issue, I must concur with the fans on the inventory system. What a pain in the ass. If my character fan operate a fully loaded grenade launcher, why must I set my lighter to my left hand in order to start a fire? Furthermore, why do I even have to have it as an inventory item? It's so small.
I often found myself angered when I had to run back to an area where I had to pickup something that I couldn't afford to pickup when I ran by it because my inventory was full.
Oh well, nothing is perfect.
Resident Evil is a solid, well developed game that deserves to be in every GameCube owners collection, no question. So go get it now.