"I know what youíre thinking: youíve played this game ten years ago, and after a half-dozen more incarnations across numerous platforms, including the complete makeover on the Nintendo Gamecube, why should you bother with the latest re-released version of Resident Evil? Well, letís get to that, shall we? "
I know what youíre thinking: youíve played this game ten years ago, and after a half-dozen more incarnations across numerous platforms, including the complete makeover on the Nintendo Gamecube, why should you bother with the latest re-released version of Resident Evil? Well, letís get to that, shall we?
Concept and Story
Resident Evil was an absolutely revolutionary game for its time and spawned hundreds of clones, but few were ever able to compare. By todayís standards, itís puzzling as to why this was, since Resident Evil feels extremely archaic in 2006. The basic concept of Resident Evil was exploring a creepy and dangerous world to uncover clues and items to help you proceed and explore new areas. It actually sort of sounds like a classic graphic adventure game. However, there is the dangerous aspect of it. Across the areas youíll explore, youíll find yourself confronting dangerous and inhuman creatures, including shambling, flesh eating zombies, skinless and vicious guard dogs, gigantic serpents and other surprises. However, to many gamers, these probably wonít be surprises anymore. Or, maybe they willÖ?
Resident Evil: Deadly Silence, like the previous editions of the original Resident Evil, follows the tale of two police officers; Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield. These two operatives are part of the STARS task force of the Raccoon City Police Department. Raccoon City is small mid-western community surrounded by forest that has been haunted by things that go bump in the night. After about a dozen or so murders of gruesome cannibalism, STARS is sent into Raccoon Forest to investigate, but all of the members are either brutally killed or chased into a nearby mansion, in whichever order. After escaping into the mansion, you play as either Jill or Chris, each with highly different scenarios. Theyíll visit similar areas and find similar means of progressing throughout the game, but Chris and Jill will each meet entirely different characters with different cut-scenes, weapons, and voice-overs, so replaying the game is highly suggested to get the most out of it.
Anyone who doesnít already know how Resident Evil works, well, youíre way behind times. Instead of fully-polygonal environments, most Resident Evil games use pre-rendered 2D backgrounds, which forces the game to use fixed camera angles. This means you can only see what the game wants you to see. It makes for some very stylish cinematic shots, and works well most of the time during combat, but it can be a bit unfair as your character is highly vulnerable to off-screen attacks.
Along with the fixed backgrounds and camera angles, Deadly Silence (like most Resident Evil games) uses tank-style controls, meaning that no matter where you are in relation to the camera, your character always moves the same way. This means instead of using the d-pad of the DS to simply move your character in the desired direction, you use left and right to steer them. Resident Evil veterans will have no quarrel with this, but newcomers may find themselves at an odd with the control scheme. If youíre afraid of enemies because of this, donít worry too much. After about an hour of play, even the most of weary of gamers will ultimately feel comfortable with the movement scheme, but veterans of the series can jump right in very easily.
As mentioned earlier, you control either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine throughout the game. Aside from the obvious story differences, there are gameplay differences also. When choosing a character, the game specifies Jill as the Normal difficulty, and Chris as the Hard difficulty, and for good reason; Jillís game is much easier. She begins with a knife and gun, uses a lock pick to open certain doors and drawers, can hold eight items at a time, and can often get a helping hand from her partner Barry Burton who will give her items and help her out of tight spots from time to time. Chris, even though he can take a bit more damage from enemies before dying than Jill can, he can only hold six items, begins with only a knife, doesnít have a very useful partner (Chris has Rebecca Chambers, whom can only heal him at certain points in the story) and doesnít get the bazooka, which is an unbelievably useful weapon that only Jill can use.
Aside from the different characters, you have three different modes to choose from once you boot up the game; Classic, Rebirth, and Multi-Card Play.
Classic mode is basically the original Resident Evil, but with a few key differences. First of all, the gameís map is always shown on the top of the DSís two screens, along with precise movement of your character as he or she travels. And, with a bit of Resident Evil 4 inspiration, you can now reload during gameplay at anytime, perform a quick 180-degree turn, and draw your knife by simply pressing the L-trigger button on the DS. The knife this time around is extremely useful, whereas it is a waste of space in most Resident Evil games. Due to how easily it can used, and how it does more damage so it can drop enemies faster, makes the game more intense and enjoyable, and saves lots of ammo.
And of course two timely Resident Evil traits have made it here; the herbs and the item boxes. Herbs are the primary source of healing in Resident Evil. There are three kinds of herbs; green, red, and blue. Green herbs heal your character, red make green herbs stronger (so they heal more), and blue herbs cure the poison status effect (slowly drains your life) which youíre most likely going to become victim to eventually. Item boxes are the magic storage unit of Resident Evil. There are quite a few item boxes throughout the game, but it wouldíve been nice to have a few more added. It kind of sucks to finally find that key or crest you were longing for, but only to be full on items in your inventory. This forces you to backtrack to a save point where most of these chests are located. Fortunately, all of the chests are really the same chest in a sense, since no matter what you drop in or take out of one chest; it counts for all chests in the game. So, once again, Resident Evil veterans will cope very well with this, where as newcomers to the series will still turned off.
The second mode is Rebirth, which also contains the new gameplay mechanics featured in Classic, along with some new surprises. The biggest of these new features is the knife battle mode. Sometimes when entering a room you will be thrown into a sort of pseudo first-person view. Make no mistake, the backgrounds are still 2D, so you are completely immobile during this mode. When this happens, swarms of enemies including zombies, crows, dogs, and the clawed reptilian apes known as hunters will ferociously attack you. Here, you use the DSís touch screen to hack away at your foes from virtually any angle using your knife, and enemies have different reaction animations depending on how you slash them. You can chop horizontally, diagonally, vertically, or tap the screen to perform a quick jab that can be repeated in rapid succession. You can also perform a critical attack. When an enemy is right on top of you and readying his attack, slashing at the right time will launch the foe backwards in a one-hit fatality. The bodies will even react accordingly if there are any obstructions in the environment they hit. For example, in one of the first areas, critically attacking a foe will send him flying painfully against the pedestal of a statue in an art gallery. What is so great about these battles is that, while they are scripted, theyíre also random, so they reoccur while you backtrack across areas. And since you donít waste valuable ammunition, itís a harmless way to have fun once you get the hang of it. And youíll be rewarded with prizes like ammunition and healing herbs. However, while this may sound like a screen-swiping easy mini-game, some of the later ones, including one boss battle fought in the knife battle mode, can get shockingly difficult. And to make even more use of the touch-screen, you can use it as a defensive move also. When a zombie grabs you, you scratch the screen to have Jill or Chris perform a damage-inducing kick in retaliation.
Another great new addition to Rebirth are the new enemy combinations. Youíll fight enemies in areas that you might have thought were once safe in the original and youíll battle more interesting enemy varieties. Something that is a little trait of Resident Evil is that when you fight something, itís always that same thing. Meaning, you wonít fight two different enemies together. In Deadly Silence however, you may end up fighting spiders and zombies, zombies and crows, dogs and hunters; all kinds of challenging and nifty bouts. If you canít already tell, Deadly Silence is certainly more action-oriented than the original. Youíre going to fight way more stuff, way more often, and itís fun and keeps the game exciting and at a good pace.
However, Deadly Silenceís Rebirth mode still boasts other smart additions, including all new puzzles that make fine use of the DS touch screen, including some chests youíll find commonly that have a puzzle lock you must solve to obtain the prize inside. Or you can use the microphone to simulate CPR while reviving a teammate. Keep in mind that on-screen icons show up while performing these events, so youíll always be aware of what to use and when. There were quite a few times where a simple task from the original was quickly elevated into a life threatening crisis in Rebirth mode.
It is a bit disappointing to know that the old typewriter save system in intact. This is a portable game, and some kind of quick-save feature would have been much appreciated. The DSís sleep mode (close the DS without turning it off) works great if you need to halt progress before reaching a typewriter though. Still, having a limited amount of saves seems like an extremely dumb idea, since thereís always more ink ribbons than youíll ever need to use.
Any Resident Evil veteran will know exactly what to expect, and when they hear things like ďtank controlsĒ, ďitem boxesĒ or ďfixed camera anglesĒ, itís more like music to their ears. Resident Evil newcomers should assume some difficulty adjusting, however. But itís still a fantastic way relive or dive into the one that started it all.
The graphics in Resident Evil: Deadly Silence are, as expected, pretty similar to the original on Playstation save some few key differences. The background lighting is much brighter now (which allows more contrast between colors so environments look less bland, but more vibrant), the character models are vastly improved (tons more detail, more vivid colors and far less clipping issues) and many of the animations have been redone so they too look more up-to-date. Itís definitely an impressive piece of eye candy for the Nintendo DS and a substantial improvement over the original. When facing off against the undead in the knife battle mode up close, the models really do look quite spectacular.
The effects are where the game kind of falls short. Gunshots, explosions and blood spurts are all shown through cheesy over-sized 2D pixels. Really, the blood effects just look downright silly. Capcom could have halved the size of the clouds of gore, and in the process make them look much nicer (less pixilated) and more realistic. Itís a minor complaint, but an annoyance nonetheless. And even though the live-action FMV cut-scenes (yes, played by real-life actors) look great on the DS, the CG FMVs look like total garbage. The compressions methods used on these scenes were a bit too harsh.
Thank God Deadly Silence uses the score featured in the original instead of the awful remixed tracks in the Playstationís Resident Evil: Director Cut Dual Shock Version. The music is by no means fantastic, but it is still quiet and mellow enough to help settle in that creepy, atmospheric feeling, but when things heat up during boss battles and such, the intense and exciting music can sound a bit silly.
The sound effects are pretty weak also. Footsteps are satisfying and passable, and the sound overall is extremely sharp and clear for a DS game, but gunshots and crunching sounds all echo pretty inanely. Gunshots sound too weak, and zombie munching just sounds too fake. However, enemy roars such as zombie moans, hunter screeches, and dogs barking and growling all bleed through the DS speakers in great fashion.
And you saw this was coming; the voice acting. It starts with a truly awful script, and is propelled into worldwide famous hilarity thanks to the characterís truly unforgettably bad delivery. Jill will sometimes seem to change voice tone and even accent mid-sentence, as if she was bipolar and double voiced. Chris sometimes seems happy when being attacked or faced with extreme danger. Barry canít keep up with the conversation well enough to stay consistent to the topic, and will inexplicably spout randomly dumb things. Really, Resident Evil: Deadly Silence is a treat for the ears. A B-treat, but a treat nonetheless, and is arguably the best aspect of the game. You and your friends will get a kick out of this.
Thatís right, multi-player. Deadly Silence contains two full-fledged multi-player modes for two-to-four players. Cooperative mode is pretty self explanatory, but also the more compelling of the two. In this game mode, you and your friends choose one of nine (!) characters to work together and escape one of the three areas you can select from in less than fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes may seem strict, but youíll soon realize some of the maps can be completed in less than two minutes. Also, exploration and ammo conservation is kind of discouraged actually since when you face boss creatures in multi-player, they die when they take enough total damage, or when the team runs out of ammo. Walk into the battle with one pistol bullet and fire away; that Tyrant is no more.
In competitive, the same rules apply, only youíre indirectly fighting the other players to the escape the area, also in under fifteen minutes. There are some nifty versus mode gimmicks such as killing special enemies that will enemies for the other player much more aggressive, or nasty status effects such as giving other players the inability to run.
Resident Evil: Deadly Silence has a lot to offer to help justify that thirty-five dollar purchase. In addition to the first six-to-eight hour completion time, this leaves another character to play as, and more goes at the game via Classic, Rebirth, and Multi-Card play. There are also unlockable costumes, a knifing mini-game with a ranking system, an infinite ammo rocket launcher and seven unlockable characters for multi-player. Plus, Resident Evil is probably the most popular games out there among speed runs (the art of finishing the game as quickly as possibly possible), and with the new ability skip cut-scenes and loading screens, expect all new world records. Can you beat my Jill/Classic record of 40:10?
Resident Evil: Deadly Silence is the perfect purchase for that hardcore Resident Evil fan. The simple fact that itís Resident Evil on the go done (almost) right makes it a worthy buy, but even with the new Rebirth mode there still isnít a whole lot of new content here thatís accessible for newbies. The multi-player mode most likely wonít be enjoyed by too many people since each player requires their own copy of the game, and the chance of not only finding someone who owns a DS, but also this game, is kind of slim. And despite how enjoyable the game is, itís obviously a cash-in. The original Resident Evil has been ported time and time again so that everyone and their mom should have played it by now, and anyone who hasnít probably isnít reeling in to their local EB Games to play this version. There are a few nice changes done to the game that make it more friendly to newcomers, but everything they hated about Resident Evil before is still intact, so this wonít bring many new fans to the table. So, what was Capcomís objective of even making Deadly Silence? To blatantly exploit the DS owning Resident Evil fans out there, of course. It really does pain me to buy this game and give it such a high score since all Iím doing is encouraging the milking that Capcom is known so well for. Regardless, it is a high quality port of a high quality title, and itís just as enjoyable as it was ten years ago; I canít deny that.
Community review by trojanman (February 11, 2006)
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