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“Resident Evil. The game that redefined the survival...”

Written on: 14/09/2005 by TOMLEECEE (121 reviews written)

Good Points
Set pieces

Bad Points
Door opening/loading screens
Inventory is too small
Lots of backtracking
Sometimes a bit unfair/hard

General Comments
Resident Evil. The game that redefined the survival horror genre on the 32-bit consoles is refined, polished and redesigned for the Game Cube. Resident Evil certainly wasn't the first survival horror game ever released, that accolade must surely go to Alone in the Dark, but it was Resident Evil that introduced a thrilling storyline, and tension by the bucket load. Resident Evil made its debut on the PlayStation in the mid nineties, and caused something of a stir with its glorious pre-rendered backdrops, stunning sound and head scratching puzzles. It's also spawned a multitude of sequels (there must be over ten Resident Evil sequels and spin-offs), and a couple of films in the process.

The Game Cube version is essentially the same game, but with totally new graphics, new objectives and new sections. At heart, Resident Evil is an adventure game. You play as one of two main characters, whose story lines vary slightly.

It goes like this: In the woods surrounding the fictional Raccoon City, hikers and climbers start to go missing. Pretty soon, other walkers report finding the mutilated remains. The local police department send the Bravo team of its Special Tactics and Rescue Squad (S.T.A.R.S.) into the woods to check the situation out, but they also go missing. With Bravo team missing presumed dead, Alpha Team is sent in, and it is as two members of Alpha Team that you can play the game. A downed S.T.A.R.S chopper is spotted in the woods, and Alpha Team set down, only to find the pilot dead and the rest of Bravo Team gone. Then it kicks off - Alpha Team is attacked by hideous rotting dogs and the Helicopter takes off without them. Surrounded by monstrous zombie canines and stranded at the back-end of nowhere, the four team members (Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton and Albert Wesker) make a dash for lights seen through the trees. The lights turn out to be a huge mansion in the midst of the woods, and with the dogs in hot pursuit, it seems like the perfect place to take shelter

And that's where you start the game. Choosing to play as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, you set off on an almost cinematic adventure throughout the Mansion, discovering that it is actually infested with zombies. The story unfolds with you stumbling across open diaries and journals and crossing paths with the scattered members of Bravo Team ,and occasionally bumping into your comrades from Alpha Team: the trustworthy and honest Barry Burton and the slightly sinister and 'too cool for his own good' Albert Wesker - the leader of the outfit. You'll also come across team members who have met their end at the festering hands of the zombies - some of which you can help, others that have already become the un-dead with a taste for your flesh

Resident Evil is played using a static third person perspective that changes depending on your position in a room. It gives a claustrophobic air, and there are some incredibly tight shots that will leave you struggling to avoid the outstretched arms of the coffin dodgers running rampant through the house. The Mansion itself is actually quite an enormous structure, complete with balconies, bedrooms, kitchens, and a bar, and of course - an unholy amount of locked or broken doors for which you must find keys or alternative routes. The graphics of the pre-rendered backgrounds really are something of a sight to behold - each location is intricately detailed and lovingly shaded. The real time shadows are also pretty nifty, as are the newly modelled playable characters. The zombies are also well crafted, and the animation is really quite special. The whole feel of the game - the abandoned mansion, the mustiness of it all, the mysterious nature of what is actually going on - it's all done to superb standards.

There are also a good amount of puzzles thrown in to frustrate you, and a map that shows you where you have explored and where you are still exploring - something a godsend when you are lost or not sure what to do next. You are aided in your quest to escape the Mansion by your ability to carry some excellent weapons (the shotgun downs zombies with ease and style), and you also have a new defence technique so that if a zombie gets it's teeth into you, you can stab it through the head or put a grenade in it's mouth. Lovely.

All in all, Resident Evil for the Game Cube is an incredible adventure game, although it isn't without its faults. For a start, there is the woeful sequence that kicks in every time you want to go through a door. In the original PSX version, it would initiate a short cut scene of a door opening while the console loaded up the next room from the CD. With the technology inside the Game Cube, this isn't necessary, but apparently it was left in to add tension. This is ridiculous when you know where you want to go - a journey that should take 5 minutes, instead takes 10, just because of the stupid cut scenes. Also, the default weapon (the Beretta) is just too puny to see off a room full of zombies, so you'll often die simply because your gun is too weak (and ammo for the meatier weapons is so scarce).

Another thing, is that you only have a limited amount of space in your inventory, so it is a pain choosing which things to take with you from your storage chests (these are dotted about the mansion in 'safe rooms'). Ammo and weapons take up 2 slots each, so if you want to carry two guns and ammo for each, you only have two slots for things you may discover along the way (herbs for health, items for puzzles etc). You save your game by finding ink ribbons and then typing on typewriters, which is novel, but the ink ribbons also take up valuable inventory space. I suppose it could be argued that this method of inventory forces you to be resourceful and forward thinking, but for the most part will just serve to annoy.

These things aside, Resident Evil is a superlative example of how survival horror should be done - maybe the movie producers should have actually played this version before they sat down and wrote their (awful) script. Because it was a launch game on the Game Cube, it's also pretty cheap now, so there's no reason why any self-respecting 'Cube owner should be without it.

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