Monday, December 10

Resident Evil Remake Review

I played on: Gamecube and PS4
I paid: £6 Gamecube (Ninja Game Den), £29.99 (PS Store bundle with RE Zero)
Available on: PS3, PS4, Gamecube, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
Notes: N/A

Resident Evil on the PS1 may not have been the first survival horror game but it was the first game to perfect it. Polishing Alone in the Darks basic gameplay down to a mirror shine removing all the trail and error gameplay and replacing it instead with difficult but solvable puzzles. The enemies ranged from slow-moving zombies to the lightning-fast wall crawling Chimera. It’s one of my favourite games on the PS1 so this remake has a lot to stand up to. The thing is, this remake does more than just compare to the original classic, it surpasses it.

Many call this the best remake ever made and nothing shows this like the updated gameplay. While you still use tank controls, manage a lack of resources with very few safe areas and have to uncover the puzzles and mysteries of the strange mansion some additions have been made. As well as guns and ammunition you now have defensive weapons such as daggers. When you’ve been grabbed these can be used to avoid taking damage but once used they are gone forever so it’s up to you to judge when it’s best to use these as they are far and few between. On top of this is the addition of having to burn downed zombies to avoid them reanimating into the more powerful Crimson Heads. Zombies are burnt using fuel and a lighter but fuel is limited and it won’t be possible to burn all zombies so it’s up to you to judge which ones are the largest threats. This adds a whole new layer of fear and unease because you know that at any second a previously defeated foe could come back with an even more nasty bite than before.

The controls can be a bit clunky and when combined with the fixed camera. I found myself getting stuck on the odd bit of scenery. This was never a major issue and never caused me to take damage or slow me down so it’s the smallest of nitpicks. I also don’t understand why your character doesn’t run all the time as I found myself always holding down B while playing on the Gamecube. This has been updated and fixed in the HD version with more modern controls. These come with their own set of minor issues however as you can get turned around while moving because of the fixed camera changing. Despite this, I found the updated movement much more pleasant. If you don’t it can always be changed in the options. Unlike the original game, Zombies will bash through doors and move around the mansion looking for you. This is not a common thing to happen and every time it did I found myself jumping out of my skin and I love it. Nothing gets my heart pumping more than thinking I’m safe only to have a zombie burst through a door making me throw the Gamecube controller into the air.

The mansion has the same layout as the PS1 original but that’s hard to tell because of how much better the graphics are. The wonderfully detailed pre-rendered backgrounds allow this remake to look on par with modern games on the PS4 even when playing on the Gamecube. It’s mind-numbing that this game is over a decade old now. This is still one of the best looking games I’ve ever played and it’s all down to the creative use of lighting, artistic talent and clever coding. Although it’s a visual delight it doesn’t let down when it comes to audio with many creepy background noises that will always keep you on edge. The moaning of a zombie as you enter an area puts you on guard right away until you have found it and determined if it’s a threat or not. Although this game has little in the way of music when the score does make an appearance it perfectly fits the updated tone of the game like a glove. While still cheesy like its 1996 original it’s more Gorge A Romero cheese now instead of the originals Sam Rami. This is to say it’s very dark and dirty feeling but still manages to have a sense of levity and humour once in a while.

While the plot remains mostly the same as the PS1 classic some small updates have been included. Such as more background on the mansion and its architect as well as his family. This allows the game to tie in more closely with later entries in the series. The best thing, however, is that they fit in with the basic story so well that unlike most retcons to a series these do not feel forced or unnatural in any way. In fact, I think the tragic story of George, Jessica and Lisa Trevor is some of the best lore to come out of the Resident Evil series. It genuinely makes me feel both upset and terrified. During the second half of the game, you will be able to see what little remains of this family and the way it tells such a heartbreaking story with only the environment and a few notes is brilliant. This is video game storytelling at its height.

Although this game gets most things right there is one major thing that it gets wrong. When you die you’re brought back to the main menu. Exit points in games are points where the player is able to turn the game off and leave. Positive exit points will leave the player able to exit without losing progress and eager to return. As autosaving has become more and more common since the late 6th generation of consoles with the PS2 these have become less of an issue. Autosaving allows players to simply turn off their console or the game without having to worry about saving or losing progress. It’s such a good example of a positive exit point that it’s now the standard for most modern games. Resident Evil, however, uses saving as a resource that must be managed with the use of ink ribbons. You have limited ribbons and when you’re out you are unable to save, this works really well with the game and is a feature I love. The thing I dislike is death in Resident Evil. If when you died the game auto loaded your last save or prompted you to load it would encourage players to continue and push on past that difficult part. When the game kicks you back to the main menu it’s giving you a negative reason to exit the game. This means that when you think about coming back you will remember that difficult section of the game that may have been annoying you and in turn, this decreases the chances of you coming back. It took me years to finish Resident Evil 2 because when I was a teenager playing it these negative exit points just lead to me turning the game off in frustration and not returning. With a game as fantastic as both the classic Resident Evil and this remake, this is a dire shame.

Despite the use of negative exit points when you die Resident Evil is still such an outstanding game that I have to recommend it to any fans of horror. The way it tells its story, the fantastic graphics and gameplay, it gets so much right. Although the Gamecube original and the HD port are both fantastic I would recommend the HD version. This is simply due to the sharper visuals and expanded gameplay options including the new movement controls. Truly this is horror gaming at it’s finest!

Recommendation Rating: 10 out of 10.

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