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Resident Evil; the game that opened a whole new gaming genre! (sort of)
Resident Evil was released in 1996 for the Playstation and was a HUGE success!
The game came with an age rating of 15+, which was previously seen as a game killer. Age restricted games don't chart highly because only children play game consoles, right?
The boys and girls who grew up with the first generation of gaming-specific consoles such as the Nintendo NES and Sega Master System of the late 1980's and early 1990's were coming of age by the time the PS1 hit the shelves, and their desire to button bash had not faded!
Plus, the Playstation console was so far advanced from the Mega-Drive and SNES consoles which preceded it that it built a bridge between generations. It took away the 'geek' label and replaced it with 'cool'.
And it shifted grown up games by the bucket load!
So, the first Resident Evil was basically a live action horror movie. We play a member of the elite STARS (special tactics and rescue) Bravo team, sent to Raccoon City to investigate a series of grisly murders and track down their fellow Alpha team, with whom they have lost contact. When we take charge Bravo team are being chased by wild dogs through a forest, finally happening upon a large gothic style mansion and holing up inside.
Four members of the six strong team make it to the mansion, and once inside a decision is taken to split up and explore. A gunshot is heard, and so begins our adventure.
The game begins like any other murder mystery. We're sent to search for clues, gather weaponry (frighteningly scarce!) and solve the riddle of the mansion, uncovering the effects of the mutated man-made T-Virus and the shadowy Umbrella Corporation who are behind it.
Moody lighting and fixed camera angles not only set the tone and add to the mystery, but allow for far more advanced graphics than a roaming camera. The backgrounds are rendered in incredible detail as they are static - only our character moves. The characters are a standard 3D polygon render, allowing for very realistic movement, but quite blocky close-up detail.
We discover the fate of the Alpha team quite early on in the game and it's fairly gory. It merely prepares us for what's to come.
Enemies are fairly thin on the ground to begin with, but as we get deeper into the mansion we meet some terrifying creatures, ranging from standard 'zombies' infected with the man made 'T-Virus' to enormous spiders which roam the sewers! We must also contend with mutated snakes, dogs, plants, reptile/human spliced creatures and even a mutated shark!
None are easy on the eyes, and some are downright horrific, but easily the scariest moment in the game comes in the first few minutes of play. Running through a glass tunnel (sort of a greenhouse), the windows suddenly cave in and several rabid dogs tear through, teeth bared. The first time I played it, it was pant wettingly scary, and even now makes me jump despite knowing it's coming!
The game is a great mix of action and puzzle. Overall it's probably about 50/50 although I'd say it's heavier on the puzzle elements in the first half of the game while we're trying to unlock the various doors in the mansion, and a lot stronger on the action in the second half when we start to encounter 'boss' characters.
Most of the puzzles involve deciphering codes or matching items we find along our way to their specific uses. For example, a couple of gemstones might form the eyes of a statue, which will open a secret door when assembled. It is quite engaging the first time around, but a bit frustrating and time consuming on a second run-through since most of it is running back and forth, covering the same ground over and over.
The load times are a bit of an issue, sometimes 30 seconds or so just to open a room, or frozen while climbing a ladder as the machine loads the next area. It's par for the course, obviously, but they have been sped up considerably on the new consoles and so are very noticeable on the old machine.
Weapons and ammo are not exactly plentiful and need to be used sparingly, but there are a good selection to be unearthed for the hunters amongst us. Handguns from the standard issue 9mm up to the super powerful Magnum, shotguns and specialty weapons like a rocket launcher and flamethrower are all there for the finding. Spend some time looking for them, because you don't want to face any of the bosses without a small arsenal in your backpack!
Health items are quite easy to find scattered through the game. They are first aid sprays and 'herbs'. A neat touch was allowing us the ability to mix different herbs to make them more potent, for instance a green Herb will fill a small bar of your health meter, but mixed with an otherwise powerless Red Herb, it will refill a whole health meter to the maximum.
With two playable characters and slight twists to their stories, there are multiple endings to the game. This adds longevity and I'd firmly recommend playing through with both if you have the time and the patience. Multiple endings are the norm now, but back then they were quite few and far between so another tick in the 'cutting edge' box.
This, the Directors Cut of the game, didn't sell quite as well as the original. It was a half hearted re-vamp with a few extra features in order to pacify fans following hopeless delays on the sequel, originally titled Resident Evil 2.
Reasons for low sales were plentiful, but it mainly came down to the fact that it didn't hold enough new content to warrant a fan forking out another £40 only a year after the original. New content included a Beginners mode, where we're given more health and ammunition finds are a bit more frequent, an 'arranged' mode, where enemy locations and AI difficulties are altered for the benefit of anyone who'd completed the original, new camera angles (same reason) and new outfits for the characters.
It really wasn't a lot to go on, but the big seller (the reason I picked it up) was the playable demo of the long awaited sequel! It was only a few minutes long, but people were so eager to try it out that it alone sold thousands of copies.
The Directors Cut is now really quite collectable because not many people could justify owning this as well as the first edition. (Although it was the definitive version to buy for newcomers to the game, and so still moved 2 million copies worldwide.)
The game underwent a full overhaul for the Nintendo Gamecube six years after release (2002). The graphics were almost flawless and the series gained a new wave of fans, though the couple of Nintendo/Capcom collaborations that followed were pretty poor.
Talking of poor - the voice acting in this game is awful! The 'actors' are wooden, flat and simply not believable. Their delivery of lines ALMOST ruins the atmosphere of the entire game, it's as though they're reading a slow moving auto-cue with zero preparation as to what is expected of them.
Fortunately the criticisms were taken on board, and shortly after this period in gaming real actors were drafted in to voice games.
I still smile while playing the game at how my friends and I mocked the actors when it came out.
The game was so popular that it inspired a novel, based almost entirely on game events but delving deeper into the mysterious Umbrella Corporation with a couple of new characters inside the company.
Following on from the success of this game, there were 5 direct sequels and a handful of secondary sequels of varying quality. I have played all apart from the hand-held versions of the games and I have to say that I'm not too happy with the way they have stepped away from horror and into action/adventure over the years. 1, 2 and 3 were definitive Resident Evil, with the sequels all taking a small step away from the original premise until the new Resident Evil 6 game barely resembles the survival horror genre at all.
In 2002 a movie version of Resident Evil hit the silver screen. It followed strong elements from the first two games and was quite successful. I was a huge fan, though again they have stepped further and further away from the horror aspects with each sequel...
Resident Evil and Resident Evil: Directors Cut still play well now. The fixed camera angles make for a more sedate pace which some modern gamers won't quite be able to settle back into, but for those who can it's a retro treat. Despite the blocky graphics, it really doesn't look or feel its 16 years old and is a breeze to settle back into.
Given its slow progression, it's a game best played in blocks rather than dipped in and out of in my opinion. I stick it in the tray and it doesn't come out until I've completed it, usually a week or two in short sessions. For a hardcore game fan, it can be finished in a couple of marathon sessions (20-25 hours total give/take).
Since the Playstation consoles are backwards compatible, this can be played by a PS1, PS2 or first generation PS3 owner. The fact that you don't necessarily need to go back and buy a specific console to play this game is a huge plus, it means any playstation owner can have this taking over their lives for under a fiver!
However, for those huge RE fans, I'd have to say - pick up a Nintendo Gamecube and check out that version of the game...it's far superior to the playstation version graphically despite playing almost the same.
I'd still stand by the 15 cert, but I was only 14 when I got my hands on it and it hasn't affected me in a negative way (ummmm...). Just be aware that it IS quite gruesome, and there ARE some very scary moments along the way, though the 90's graphics 'cartoonise' the violence somewhat.
This is another firm favourite in my collection and any gamer should really check it out, especially if the originals passed you by and you came of age during the rule of the newer games in the series.
Resident evil was one of the first ever survival horror titles released for any computer game console. Although resident evil didn't technically invent the genre, it defiantly perfected it.
Bizarre murders have occurred through out the outskirts of a tiny city known as Raccoon city. The victims were apparently eaten....... The Raccoon police department decide enough is enough, and send in the special S.T.A.R.S team, to investigate who or what is causing these horrible deaths. The S.T.A.R.S bravo team are sent in first to investigate the area of which the attacks have taken place. After a while bravo team send a distress signal to the alpha team members. Alpha team are then sent into investigate bravo team's sudden disappearance, alpha team eventually find bravo team's downed helicopter and S.T.A.R.S handgun, with the hand still attached to it. Then suddenly alpha team are attacked from what looks like wild dogs, accept something is very different and unnatural about them. Alpha team manage to take cover and escape the beasts in a massive mansion. Now the survival horror has begun!
In the game you get to choose between two characters: Jill valentine (normal mode) and Chris Redfield (hard mode.) Their mission is to explore the creepy mansion and find out what happened to bravo team and what the hell attacked them in the first place! Resident evil is not quite a full action game, you will find any bullets you come across will be precious for you survival, and it's not always the best thing to waste your precious rounds on every single enemy you come across. In fact there are just as many puzzles as action set pieces in resident evil. But that's what the game is about, it's designed to make you tense and scare you with the enemies you face and the many traps in the mansion you come across. This is why there are many times you find yourself out of ammo or with very little amount left. The game does this to make you tense and to make you fear what's round the corner. There are puzzles which if you get wrong can kill you, traps which if are set off can kill you and of course the many different unnatural creatures roaming the mansion can kill you!
Resident evil is such a different and amazing game to play, even now the only good survival horror titles I can think of is the resident evil games and the silent hill ones. Thanks to the tense atmosphere the game brilliantly generates, from the creepy mansion, the enemies and the music. You will find it hard to sleep for weeks! But once you complete the game, you will want to do it all over again.
This is the Directors Cut of the original game and a classic on the original Sony PS One console that is sdtill as much fun to play today as it was on first release. Everyone knows the plot by now or has at least seen the movie but for those who haven't, these are the basics....
You play one of two S.T.A.R agents, a special Task Force based in Racoon City, called out to investigate strange happenings in a mansion on the outskirts of the city. Your helicopter is brought down and you are forced to take refuge inside when you are set upon by savage dogs. Once inside, you quickly determine that the mansion is owned by The Umbrella Corporation and that they have been conducting experiments with something called The T-Virus in the labs under the house. But now, that virus has broke lose with devastating consequences and not all of your team are playing on your side!!!
This is one of the original Survivor Horror games and is still one of the best with some great shock moments and lots of zombie blood and gore! Along the way you will also encounter zombie sharks, killer plants, giant spiders and of course lots of walking dead as well as a big boss character who is a bit of a frakker to beat unless you are quick with your thumbs!
Seeing the story from two sifdes is also a very clever and unique idea whicxhj adds extra longevity to the game. The script is very chesey in places and the voice-acting is often non-existant but this still one of the best older games around and is not to be dismissed easily.
A whole host of sequels and inferior games based on this premise followed in the wake of Resident Evil's success and of course there are the books, films, action figures etc that all go along with it. But the original Resident Evil still packs a punch and it is well worth digging it out if you still have a console that will play it!!
The game which launched perhaps one of the most successful survival horror franchises of all time. Resident Evil was, at the time, a unique awe inspiring and down right brilliant game which, given its age, doesn't do too badly in today's world either.
Following perhaps one of the most appallingly acted inro sequences in the history of everything, the player is thrust into either the role of STARS members Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine (depending on who you selected) with each taking you on a slightly different route through the story to uncover the horrible truth.
The games main location is a huge mansion which has clearly been built by someone with a security complex. Pretty much every door and lock you need to get through is only operable with the use of a key or object placed as far away from that location as possible and only attainable by solving a complex puzzle. But that's what this brand of survival horror is about. You search rooms and areas for clues about how to access the next while all along fighting your way (with limited ammo) through hoards of zombies and other mutated creatures.
Every now and again the action is interrupted by some more plot, which on the whole is hilarious to listen to (A particular favourite of mine is when Barry Burton jovially says to Jill "you almost became a Jill sandwich" after a particular puzzle goes wrong and the ceiling lowers nearly squashing our heroin).
But one thing to remember all along is that this is the game which launched the franchise. This is the effort which led to other mainstream survival horror titles being created (Silent Hill series, Dino Crisis series etc) and for that we have to be incredibly thankful. What this game now lacks in terms of story, graphics, sound and voice acting must be forgiven as 1996 was the year that a new era of gaming took place and arguably took over.
With that in mind 1996 was a very good year for games and Resident Evil was a very good start to an incredible gaming genre.
Capcom Production Studio 4
Westwood Studios (PC Port)
Nextech (Saturn port)
Virgin Interactive (Europe and PC version only)
Nintendo Australia (Gamecube and DS)
THQ Asia Pacific (Wii)
Producer(s) Tokuro Fujiwara
March 22, 1996
Resident Evil: Director's Cut is a special edition version of classic survival horror puzzle game Resident Evil 1. It was released VERY shortly after the original title (which was an excellent game, see my review of it for more info,) but was seen by most as a cheap cash-in from Capcom.
The name would imply more levels, more cut-scenes, bonus content and perhaps even the introduction of new plotlines or characters, but it really doesn't deliver at all. The only new items are a few different costumes for the two playable characters, and a quirky mod to the engine that means you'll occasionally be able to kill a zombie in one shot.
A new beginner mode is also made unlockable, when what the game would have benefited from was an extra hard mode, and the placement of items and enemies has had a total overhaul. Putting zombies in unlikely places like this just makes the whole game feel that little bit shoddier, and nothing new is brought to the table by any stretch of the imagination. There are no graphical updates, no new weaponry, and no new enemies. All that's really been done is the movement of items and enemies to more random locations, and that's not even nearly enough to justify a new edition of the game.
This is a fairly rare, almost special edition of the game, and is a bit hard to come by cheaply. If, in this day and age, you're actually going to go out and buy Resident Evil to play on your PS1 or PS2, you'd save cash in the long run by buying the classic version - Resident Evil. Also, it's much better. I do not recommend Director's Cut, it's a waste of time and a total slap in the face to Capcom's loyal fans.