Release Date: January 20th, 2015
Platform [Reviewed: Xbox One], Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Genre: Survival Horror
Rated: M for Mature
The original Resident Evil is a genre defining juggernaut that brought the survival horror genre in the eyes of mainstream gaming and was a hit with critics and gamers alike. In 2002, Resident Evil made its way to the Nintendo GameCube under the same name as a fully remade title featuring vastly improved graphics, reworked audio and voice acting, and implemented new areas, enemies, and gameplay mechanics. Now almost 13 years since the Remake’s release, a new generation will experience the game that set the bar for modern-day horror games while veterans will relive the terror in high definition.
S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics and Rescue Service), a special force division of the Raccoon City Police Department split into teams “Alpha” and “Bravo”, are deployed to investigate a series of unusual cannibalistic homicides. However, while on their investigation, contact with Bravo team was lost. Sent to a seemingly unending ocean of forest in search of Bravo team, Alpha encounters ravenous dogs and run towards a mansion beyond the veil of trees. With your only way out blocked, you must brave the claustrophobic corridors of the Spencer Mansion and discover the origins of the horrors that stalk your every step.
Being a mix of puzzle-solving along with the constant moments of “fight or flight” is what Resident Evil was known for. Players will have to observe their current surrounding for points of interests in order to pick up certain objects like emblems or keys. These items don’t always have an obvious use, either not being useful until later on or must be combined with another item. When in the item menu you can “Use”, “Examine”, or “Combine” objects. Items like healing items can be used as is, but as aforementioned, you can combine certain items like magazines into its appropriate weapon or combining herbs to create more effective medicine. Examining items may yield secrets that you have overlook at first; if you’re stuck on a particular part, and you don’t know what to do next, try examining the items you have collected, you may just find what you were looking for.
Your character’s inventory space is limited to only six slots at any given time and managing your items is a big part of surviving. Once you come across the first storage box you have a near endless space to keep all of you items, but you will still be plagued by filled pockets when wandering the mansion and seeing another item that you’d much rather have. Having you to go all the way to drop off items and come back may seem like a waste of time, and at times it does, but you will need to stock up on essentials no matter what.
Players will be equipped with a 9mm handgun and a survival knife as they begin their journey. When confronted with zombies aiming your weapon will lock on to the nearest threat in the vicinity. When taking aim you get into a stance to shoot and can’t move until you stop aiming. You can’t shoot at a specific point of an enemy’s body so it takes a varying amount of shots to take a single foe down. Not all combat will happen on your level and there will be creatures that will climb on the wall or hug the ground; you can aim your weapon upward or down to pick them off.
In the original Resident Evil, players had to be cautious when dealing with zombies – just because they went down that doesn’t mean that they’re dead. Even when you made sure that they’re dead, the zombies will pull an Obi Wan Kenobi and become more power if not properly taken care of once and for all. If a zombie is not taken out with a headshot or burned soon after with kerosene and a lighter, they will resurrect as Crimson Heads that are much faster and more powerful than your standard zombie. Handguns have a slim chance for pulling off a headshot, but once you get your hands on a shotgun, aiming up and pulling the trigger once a zombie is just about to attack will have a higher chance of decapitating them.
If you popped in a copy of the first Resident Evil remake you will see that it is still a stunning looking game, so much so that it was one of the reasons why I got a GameCube (the main reason being Wind Waker). Now in 1080p, 16:9 aspect ratio, Resident Evil shines with a new layer of polish. I was terrified the first time I played the 2002 version – I never made it past the dining room – but when I started up Remaster I had that same terror wash over me. The fixed camera that restricts your field of view and the moments of utter silence when you just expect something terrible to happen, but never does, is one of my most unnerving gaming experiences in recent memory; you don’t really get that in modern games today.
Anyone new to Resident Evil will find its new control scheme of directly moving their character in the direction of the thumb stick natural and is much more intuitive than the infamous tank controls of the past. This gives players a slight speed advantage over enemies and you could even get out of a scuffle unscathed if you’re quick enough. Some downsides of these new controls are when transitioning camera views and how easy you can avoid enemies.
The change in perspective will confuse players the first time around and can become frustrating when trying to escape danger and you end up running in circles because you’re constantly trying to hastily adjust your direction with the view. Resident Evil purists will have the chance to try these new changes, but if you’re feeling nostalgic you can always change the ratio to 4:3 in the menus and use the d-pad to instantly use the tank controls (which I used to remedy the camera dilemma). When using the new controls you can outrun most foes without being caught, but the narrow passages will ensure that you will have a hard time taking advantage of the fact. The game is still very challenging, more so when dealing with multiple foes at once, but some bosses like Yawn become trivial when it can’t even catch up with you.
I never got a chance to play the original release, and I may have wussed out the first time I played the 2002 version and never went back, but playing this time around was an absolute treat. The masterful gameplay is only enhanced with the new controls and the inclusion of 5.1 surround sound will have you scared stiff and too afraid to advance forward as you hear moans and other unsettling sounds off screen. And for players intimidated by the difficulty, a Very Ease mode will introduce the gameplay and challenges while making the enemies weaker and providing plentiful amounts of ammo. You can even choose to play as the original S.T.A.R.S. or the new BSAA versions of Chris and Jill, which is strangely awesome all on its own.
Resident Evil requires intuition and a sharp mind to progress instead of just senselessly picking off zombies. It is the standard that horror games should try to meet, yet sadly many do not. Now today’s players will know why Resident Evil is one of the quintessential games that no horror fan should pass up, whether you’ve played the game before or if this if your first visit to the mansion. Now let’s hope for a Resident Evil 2 HD.
Overall Rating: 4.75/5