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Resident Evil (PlayStation) artwork

Resident Evil (PlayStation) review


"There was a time when Resident Evil was scary. I remember it; I remember when I could walk past a large window without readying a firearm for the obligatory zombie mutts who were obviously going to jump through it. I remember when the campy voice acting and the tank controls were minor annoyances easily overwritten by the core game itself. That of a group of highly-armed enforcers being stuck in a desolate mansion cut off from the rest of the world having to survive increasingly hostil..."



There was a time when Resident Evil was scary. I remember it; I remember when I could walk past a large window without readying a firearm for the obligatory zombie mutts who were obviously going to jump through it. I remember when the campy voice acting and the tank controls were minor annoyances easily overwritten by the core game itself. That of a group of highly-armed enforcers being stuck in a desolate mansion cut off from the rest of the world having to survive increasingly hostile waves of undead.

For all of Capcomís mistakes, Resident Evil was a massive hit. While there had been horror games in the past (such as Alone in the Dark whose experience on the Playstation is best left forgotten) nothing had yet come along on a similar scale. It was instantly accessible, and, within minutes, gave you the gory deaths of the vast majority of your team. Its artwork and direction was flawless; the camera angles taken for the exploration of the macabre mansion perfect almost every single time. These fixed camera angles could come from anywhere; the corner of a corridor, the far end of a hallway or a top-down view from above. They all had one thing in common -- to make the trek to the next camera angle as tense as possible. It was the first time such liberal direction had been lifted from the big screen and pasted directly into gaming.

They led you into a dining room mere seconds after you took control, and teased you through a narrow hallway where you find your first zombie snacking on the brains of a fallen comrade. The first meeting was exceptional; it told you from the word go that anyone was fallible and, while that was sinking in, it had a rotting corpse clock you over his shoulder, gore still dripping from its mouth, then lumber after you. You ran away, or you died.

That encounter ended with cheesy B-flick voice acting and cringe-worthy lines that would forever be the most remembered aspect of Resident Evil, not unfairly, despite the fantastic work taken by the gameís director. But it came at a time when competent voice acting was an exclusive trait to PC adventure games, so the player chuckled under their breath and moved on. They armed themselves as best they could, and moved on. They failed to guess that a corpse beneath their feet must spring to life and tear off their ankles so they panicked and flailed. Then they stomped on its head, and moved on.

Then, it was an unforgettable experience, but, now, a nostalgic glance back proves fatal to even the most hardy of rose tinted glasses.

Now, when obtuse tank controls are unacceptable, and voice acting is rightfully taken seriously by the industry, overlookable flaws are cast in a whole new light. Itís obvious, that, for all the good work it did back in the day, Resident Evil only lives up to one half of its survival horror moniker. Itís simply not traditionally scary in any sense other than cheap. It wants to make you jump as another carnivorous dog leaps through another window or when crows dive-bomb you out of nowhere, and, several Resident Evil games later, these things are more expected than shocking.

Which leaves it with survival -- which the game does very well indeed.

Indeed, itís become obvious that, the more they ply their brand of survival horror to the world, the further away Capcom steer away from the genre. Resident Evil did survival so well, that it dragged its dismembered torso, bleeding and oozing, into the world of horror through the back door. Even if they donít inspire a huge amount of fear, enemies still need to be, ideally, eliminated so they donít come back to chew on your skull later. However, even though the range of firearms, starting at pistols and weaving up to bazookas, is respectable, ammunition is not. The terror, then, is in nagging doubt; it's in wandering if youíll have enough firepower to make it through the next assault. Itís that awful feeling in the back of your mind that you might well be doomed after using that last shotgun shell on a group of zombies when a murky green hunter could be waiting around the next corner, ready to decapitate you in one swing of its claws.

Resident Evil deserves recognition for what it achieved and what it brought to the table, but that doesnít mean what it does wrong should earn a get out of jail free card. It has its own sense of horror, but itís marred in mistakes no longer excusable. A remake offered out almost a decade later does its best to fix the majority of issues, but was sadly released for a console owned by no more than twelve people, leaving the majority with fond memories that can only be preserved by shunning the game that made them. The undead isnít Resident EvilĎs biggest enemy; itís time. Like the rotting sagging flesh on the bloodthirsty corpses made prevalent within, Capcomís opening attempt at horror has not aged well.

Rating: 6/10

Duo's avatar
Community review by Duo (May 15, 2010)

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zippdementia posted May 16, 2010:

I really like this review, Duo, for its honest appraisal of what made RE work then that doesn't work now.

A couple quick notes... give it a read for grammar and spelling, please! Coming across lines like "Resident Evil deserves recognition for what it accomplices and what it brought to the table..." totally takes me out of the review.

Also, be careful with your system bashing. I assume you are referring to the Gamecube as the system only 12 people bought? It's not just an exaggeration... it's a misrepresentation of the truth. The Gamecube sold extremely well and Resident Evil: REmake is considered one of the greatest and most appreciated survival horror games of all time. So I'm not sure where you were coming from on that.
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Vivi22 posted May 16, 2010:

Good review overall. I think it does well to highlight just how much things have changed and how some things got a pass back then because people were still figuring out 3D games.

I have to say though Zipp, as much as claiming only 12 people bought the Cube is an exaggeration, so is saying it sold extremely well. 22 million wasn't exactly a runaway success, and it's actually the lowest selling home console Nintendo ever produced by a wide margin. I mean, it only sold twice as much as the Dreamcast and it's life span was twice as long to match. Sure it kept pace with the Xbox pretty well, but I wouldn't call being one of the worst selling consoles in history that didn't fail a huge success either.
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zippdementia posted May 16, 2010:

That's fair. I'll admit I didn't look at any numbers. But even without looking at numbers, I know it sold better than Duo hints at and that more people played REmake than he seems to suggest.
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espiga posted May 16, 2010:

Let's also not forget that the Wii has sold an assfuckload and is 100% compatible with the Gamecube library.
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Genj posted May 17, 2010:

Let us also not forget that they even reprinted a "Wii version."
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Duo posted May 17, 2010:

I didn't expect that one throw-away line to be the cause of such discussion. As it was, when I got the chance to play REmake it was on a Wii after picking the game up ex-rental for $1. I remember the Gamecube as an abject failure as I worked in a games shop at the time and it sold dismally, so it became a running joke with us.

Thanks for the feedback on the review, I'm glad it got across most of what I wanted to say. Thanks for the typo catch, too; hopefully, I've caught the rest of them the second time around.
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honestgamer posted May 17, 2010:

Yeah, I'm not convinced that anyone with more than a passing interest in the remake would have trouble finding a way to conveniently play it at this point. I recall it selling well (by Resident Evil terms) on GameCube and now that it's on Wii--which just about everyone seems to have access to or own these days--the game is one of the easiest Resident Evil titles to experience.

GameCube was a flop by Nintendo standards, though. We can agree on that, even if we might not agree on whether or not it deserved to be. Still seems a bit like trolling to bring up hardware install base references in a review, but this was a good review so I can forgive it. :-D
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zippdementia posted May 17, 2010:

I think the discussion on that one line is a sign that those kind of lines can be distracting in an otherwise engaging and powerful review. It's something I had to learn the hard way... there's a line over which we can sometimes cross that can get people questioning our opinions rather than listening to them.

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