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Resident Evil (GameCube) artwork

Resident Evil (GameCube) review

"The Survival Horror peak of the Resident Evil series"

In 1996 the genre known as Survival Horror was defined by a single game called Resident Evil -- sure, Alone in the Dark and other titles came first but everyone and their mother knows Resident Evil popularized the genre and had the term coined. Since then the genre got quite a bit of attention and received a nice cult following, Resident Evil continued to prosper with the next three installments of the series. After Code Veronica it seemed that people were starting to feel that the formula was growing a bit stale. Despite that, the game still sold very well and the series still retained it's popularity. Shortly after the Gamecube's announcement, Capcom also had an announcement, they planned to release five exclusive titles for Nintendo's new system known as “The Capcom 5” well…we all know how that went down by now, but that isn't important.

The point is one of the promised titles for Nintendo's new system and one of its first generation titles was this game, Resident Evil. It turned out to be a reimagining and remake of the first game from graphics, to gameplay mechanics to the story and level designs themselves. To me this game is the peak of Resident Evil's survival horror formula and gameplay, and it is in my opinion, the best game in the series.

The game's options and such are very basic and standard for Capcom titles, especially Resident Evil ones. At least it's giving you options to change your button configuration which some games just don't do anymore nowadays. The real boon of the presentation part of this game is the story and overall sensory experience. The script has been re-written and the characters have new voice actors, so the line delivery and story don't sound nearly as stupid as it did before, helping to get you into the story and suspend your disbelief for a moment. But that's not all that is new to the story.

Resident Evil (GameCube) image

Parts of the narrative from the original game that were cut due to time constraints were re-added, such as the architect of the Spencer Estate, George Trevor's plight. You find diary entries from him scattered throughout the grounds shedding more light on Umbrella's plot. All this combined with the top notch production values with the graphics and sound especially make a great experience you won't forget, even if you have played the old game.

In terms of control and gameplay this game's mechanics have received a tune up with elements that were introduced in previous games, it's still the basic Resident Evil gameplay which consists of you running around, finding items and solving puzzles, fighting monsters with limited ammunition (which is more limited than usual in this game). The main thing being the quicktime feature which helps you get out of sticky situations, the reloading outside of the inventory screen and inspecting items in your inventory. The camera has reverted back to the fixed angles so it doesn't move with you like it does in Code Veronica but to be honest I've always preferred this as it gave more of a cinematic feel and it definitely fits this game.

One thing that this game added that was new and something that hasn't been used since is the introduction of Defensive Items. As you went through the Estate you find items like Daggers, Batteries for a Stun Gun and Flash Grenades when you do you equip one of them and when you are attacked by the various monsters in the game, if they pin you down or capture you, you could use these to escape and deal damage to them. Sometimes the attack would even kill them which is a big help.

Resident Evil (GameCube) image

Most of the other big gameplay changes have to do with the redone level design, while the mansion resembles the old one it isn't completely the same. New areas have been added to the estate and none of the puzzles are the same except for a select few. Nearly all of the puzzles are completely different from the original game and some of them will actually punish you if you solve them wrong. One more addition to the game was that of a few new monsters. One of them has to do with added story elements.

It's a shambling mutated mess of what appears to be the remnants of a human being that was experimented on. Much like Nemesis in Resident Evil 3, it appears throughout the game a few times to harass you and it's actually impossible to kill until a certain point in the game, so your only option is to run from it. Another one has to do with the zombies in the game, which makes this game the one that has the most dangerous zombies. When you kill the zombies, their bodies will still be where you left them which will make you wonder what's going on because usually monsters will disappear after you kill them. But, after a while, the zombies will rise again as “Crimson Heads” which are much faster and more dangerous monsters. They actually run at you and can even open doors and chase you around if you're too careless. There is a file that shows you how you're supposed to dispose of the zombies properly so they won't come back but Jill will have an easier time than Chris would have with dealing with them because of her Grenade Launcher.

With all these little and big changes it is the same game that we're familiar with and it isn't at the same time which is an interesting dichotomy. Regardless this game is one of the more fresh installments in the series. For instance, it went back to using the pre-rendered graphics for its backgrounds and really I wouldn't have it any other way. The backgrounds in this game are absolutely gorgeous and VERY realistic looking. Sometimes you'll catch yourself just closely looking at things or observing the details on the various walls or windows or what have you. After playing through this more recently it made me wonder what is possible on newer consoles if developers decided to try out pre-renders because this game is one of the best looking of its generation and it holds it pretty well to even current console generation games. Pre-rendered backgrounds is not all this game has to offer on the graphical side of things though.

Resident Evil (GameCube) image

The character models are highly detailed and are very well animated. It looks like there was some really good motion capture work done because every living person in this game at least moves very naturally. One of the other really strong pluses this game is its lighting engine which is one of the best I've seen in a game ever, period. There are various kinds of lighting levels, fixtures and colors throughout this game and each one offers very realistic lighting effects, shading and shadowing be it from an oil lamp, moonlight from outside through a window in a dark corridor or lighting from a thunderstorm brewing outside coming through the windows.

As I said before, while the old voice acting is quite hilarious the new voice cast is a godsend, the dialogue sounds completely different and hiring competent voice actors really shows the difference. The sound effect design in this game is also done very well, the monsters sound quite scary and unnatural as they should the footsteps on various surfaces sound perfect as well, it really rivals Silent Hill in the sound effect department. The music while very understated most of the time in the game is very effect and chilling, this game pulling a Silent Hill again it seems. If you have a surround sound stereo system available to you, play this game while using it, it's great!

The replay value of this game has a lot of the same appeal the old one had with the multiple play throughs with both characters and speed runs to unlock items. There are also a couple of bonus modes to unlock such as Real Survival in which all the item boxes in the game aren't connected…which sounds like a real pain if you want to put a dumb handicap on yourself. Or there’s One Tough Zombie…which features a zombie, Forrest from the main game, that chases you around but if you shoot him he explodes and you die. If those two aren't masochistic enough for you there is also invisible enemy mode. Really, I'm fine with my multiple endings and speed runs but if you need something more this game certainly offers it.

If you are a fan of the original game you owe it to yourself to play this version of it. If the first game was your favorite you must play this one if you never did. If you've never played the first Resident Evil, please do yourself a favor and pick this copy up for the Gamecube or Wii. I realize it being a Gamecube exclusive for a while probably gimped its sales a little bit so there are still a few people out there who haven't touched it. This game to me is one of the few frightening experiences you'll have playing Resident Evil but it's also a beautiful game to look at and play. I was crazy enough to get a Gamecube for this game alone when I heard it was exclusive (along with a few other titles that did eventually come out for the system) but you'd be crazy to not at least try this game out if you never have.

Project Horror 2016
Project Horror saw one (1) horror review submitted every day through the month of October. This review was part of that effort.


zork86's avatar
Community review by zork86 (October 08, 2016)

Sometimes, Zork reviews something other than Resident Evil games. And when he does, he gets the hose again.

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