Game Review

Resident Evil: Deadly Silence Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

A good adaptation with obsolete game design

It's tough to judge the classics, especially one like the original Resident Evil. Ground-breaking when it first hit the PlayStation in 1996, many of the game's mechanics are downright antiquated by now and can be off-putting to gamers who missed out on the series until Leon Kennedy shot up half the population in an unnamed European village. As a new game, Resident Evil: Deadly Silence isn't that great, but as an adaptation it works out very well.

This here is the original '96 mansion adventure, complete with hokey dialogue, obtuse puzzles and trademark typewriter save system. If you've never played it before then it's worth experiencing, and if you've mansioned yourself to death then there are a few twists to keep it somewhat interesting.

There's been a rash of bizarre, cannibalistic deaths on the outskirts of Raccoon City, and the police department sends in Bravo Team of the Special Tactics And Rescue Squad, or S.T.A.R.S., to investigate. Contact with Bravo Team is lost and Alpha Team, a squad that notably includes Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, Rebecca Chambers and Albert Wesker, is sent in to find out what the hell is going on. Alpha Team is attacked and is forced to flee into a nearby spooky mansion, and that's where you step into the shoes of Valentine or Redfield.

Of all the hardware currently out there, the DS is probably the one to make the original Resident Evil feel least dated. Oh, it certainly shows its age quite spectacularly in the dialogue and live-action cutscenes (still present and cheesy as ever), but graphically the original is on a par with most 3D DS games and the lack of an analogue stick justifies the obsolete tank controls. However, the game design is very much handheld hostile – saving your game can only be done at one of the typewriters littered about the mansion and only if you have an ink ribbon. If you play primarily while commuting, for example, you'll wind up wasting a lot of ink ribbons due to short trips and, especially if this is your first time through the game, there's the risk of running out of ribbons. It was a slightly annoying system on consoles but even more so when portable; playing without the time constraints of a bus ride alleviates this problem, but beware otherwise.

Equally annoying can be the pre-determined camera angles; while this enabled Capcom to render some truly impressive (at the time) environments, they get in the way of combat and can be a huge pain in the zombie to navigate. Yeah, sure, they help set up frights and allow monsters an element of surprise, but it's still frustrating to enter a room and not have any idea of how many goons are there until you run forward to change the angle and then get jumped by a mob of flesh nibblers. It felt cheap in '96 and it feels even cheaper now.

While you can still plug away at the vanilla classic all you’d like, the remixed Rebirth mode is the main draw. Typewriter ribbons and ammo seem a little more abundant and there are new sequences that take advantage of the new hardware functionality. Every so often and without warning you'll enter a new room in a first-person view, and the only weapon available is your knife. Slashing and stabbing works well enough, and we suppose they break the action up somewhat, but these sequences don't really amount to much more than a DS gimmick. The new puzzles are as arbitrary as you'd expect from the first Resident Evil, and the microphone is used for things like blowing away incoming poison. As with the first-person sequences, these new additions aren't radical game-changers but nice to have regardless.

Also improved are the character models, which are a wee bit more detailed and sharp than on the PlayStation. The pre-rendered backgrounds also benefit from a smaller screen; while the resolution may not be too different they appear less pixelated. Not improved is the voice work, dialogue and live action FMV, and we wouldn't want it any other way. To call these things "cheesy" would be doing a great disservice in describing just how terribly tacky and campy they are; the Master of Unlocking, the opening cut scene, it's all here and will make you cringe (in a good way). Nothing has been cut on the presentation side, although the FMV is noticeably compressed, but kudos regardless to Capcom for cramming in everything on the double-disc set into a tiny DS cartridge

Capcom also saw fit to include a multiplayer option for up to four people, which feels kind of shoehorned in. The game wasn't built for more than one player, and you won't actually see other player models running around on your screen; they're relegated to a map icon. Competitive play pits you in a race to the exit; the cooperative mode also has you exit-bound but now, obviously, working together. It's a nice bonus if you've got a friend or three with copies of the game, but it's no big loss otherwise.

Conclusion

Resident Evil is an essential part of gaming history and as such deserves to be experienced at least once by anyone with a penchant for horror, but it's tough to simply ignore all of its faults that have only gotten worse with age. It's fun to revisit the game that kicked off the entire series, but there's a reason it evolved.

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User Comments (26)

jkgatling

#1

jkgatling said:

never liked the RE games before 4... altough I rented and played through this, was ok

Sean_Aaron

#2

Sean_Aaron said:

I'm impressed they delivered this on the DS, but not being a fan of the RE games "proper" I'll give it a pass. Nice review Jon!

Kirk

#3

Kirk said:

I've played it and it's ok but it would be nice if they made a version of RE2, the best in the series imo (well the ones based on the classic RE style and control anyway), and fixed all the little issues with this conversion of RE.

RoyOfTheRovers

#4

RoyOfTheRovers said:

I loved the PS1 version but never beat it. Since then I have bought it again during my PS2 days but didn't get round to playing it again and was tempted by the Wii-make but didn't pick it up.

If I find this version cheap enough I may give it a crack.

DrakeStaff

#6

Drake said:

I finally picked this up recently and love it because it's practically a perfect port. It's also the only way to play the "original" RE1 on a Nintendo system.

RichieTheSignPainter

#7

RichieTheSignPainter said:

one of the first games I got for my DS. I absolutely loved it. I get that some of the mechanics are dated but I still couldn't put it down.

Ren

#10

Ren said:

very much an important milestone for gaming. I still remember my first PS1 play through and how exciting it was to get some real scares from a video game. It sure felt dated in this version but it's nice that it's ported so faithfully. I've been spoiled by more recent games, though, so I couldn't even get through this one again it's very slow moving.

#14

said:

I dunno what is wrong witt this game. It may be weird to control like a tank but it still works. I mean is not The Last Ninja.

I'll give it an 8

madgear

#16

madgear said:

Ah this was one of my first DS games. It's a perfect port of the PlayStation version with all the speech and FMVs intact. Great fun.

Moco_Loco

#17

Moco_Loco said:

While the portable-unfriendliness doesn't give me many opportunities to play it, I always get absorbed whenever I play this game. I prefer this to the remake version because it is a little more straightforward and I only occasionally hit a point where I can't figure out what to do next. With the remake I was actually playing along with a YouTube video because I could never figure out what I was supposed to do next!!!

Always having the map visible is also a big help. And you gotta love the cheese!

MrMartinLee

#18

MrMartinLee said:

I played this alongside the GC REmake, and enjoyed it a lot. It's really held up surprisingly well for a 10+ year old game. And the DS version is the only one that lets you skip the door-opening loading screens. Nice to see a review!

Chunky_Droid

#19

Chunky_Droid said:

Wow, certainly sounds decent enough for the DS, I have the Gamecube version.

The character select screen has me intrigued, there's a lot of ????? on there

advance_melee

#20

advance_melee said:

My Review - 6.6

Had a lotta fun with this portable resident evil. i feel it could use more polish. Great review NLife

noname875

#23

noname875 said:

this game is fun, but the backgrounds are a little grainy. But the basic gameplay is the same, if you can find this rare gem, get it :)

ToxieDogg

#25

ToxieDogg said:

Meh. I've got it (bought it back when it was launched) and it's the original Resident Evil, no more, no less....the DS 'enhancements' don't really make a difference to it, though it can be annoying in 'Rebirth' mode having to quickly hold the DS differently and get the stylus ready to swipe at the screen if your viewpoint suddenly changes to First Person mode without warning. Still a classic though, and it's great being able to listen to the old 'You were almost a Jill Sandwich!' style lines of dialogue whilst out and about. :)

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