In many ways, the GameCube remake of Resident Evil marks a return to where it all began. The original PlayStation release popularised the budding horror survival genre, and the events that took place at the mansion were, for a time, at the centre of the series' universe. The moment that gamers boot up the GameCube remake of Resident Evil, they'll wonder why there isn't more of this today.
At its core, Resident Evil is a third-person action game, but it manages to take elements from a variety of genres and make them all fit together as if that was the way it was always meant to be done. The central theme is survival, and the game is set in a scenario that wouldn't seem out of place in a horror film. The experience draws influences from the mansion-set Sweet Home, a Capcom-developed Famicom game that was never released outside of Japan. Resident Evil uses a mixture of pre-rendered static backgrounds and polygonal 3D characters, which made possible a much greater level of detail than technical capabilities would normally allow while limiting players' interactions with their surroundings. Asides from the aesthetics, Resident Evil also draws from classic horror films like George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead: the theme of bio-engineering underlies the potential apocalypse of man, and the characteristically slow movements of the zombies certainly add to the horror of being under attack. It's like a disease. Which is more horrifying: a condition that kills instantly, or one that slowly devours the victim?
Resident Evil's narrative starts off fairly straightforward: a police task force known as S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) is sent out on a search and rescue mission to locate and extract a fellow team from the force, missing since embarking on their own mission. Trouble is, they were last seen in a part of Raccoon City that's endured attacks by groups that have reportedly been eating their victims. What starts off as a relatively routine task mutates into a bizarre fight for survival.
Before the player begins, they must answer a brief psychological question that changes the difficulty level according to how adventurous they claim to be. Depending on the player's response, the game will determine how frequent enemies will appear and how plentiful ammo clips are, as well as a number of other factors. Once the game begins, players are given the choice of controlling Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, with the former offering an easier experience due to the inclusion of a lock-pick and a 9mm pistol, which are equipped by default, while Chris only starts with a knife and less spaces in his inventory.
The term "survival horror" will forever be used to describe the franchise; Resident Evil cleverly combines puzzle-solving with a narrative that contains enough twists and turns that will keep gamers interested and using their heads, though some of the puzzles might seem a bit easy. The game is a marriage of lateral thinking and the typical brawn of an action title, and the overall tempo of the experience has been selected very well, providing for the game's very enjoyable pace. One would think that veterans of the original will be able to predict when something frightening will occur and therefore feel slightly immune to the game's scary points, but the designers have used this prior knowledge to their advantage. The order of events has been modified, and the areas in which enemies appear have been changed. Capcom claims that around 70 percent of the game is new, and when the player progresses though it, that percentage actually feels too low to be true. With enough familiarity for old fans, it plays just like a new game thanks to the added content and narrative strands, though new fans without any prior knowledge will have the pleasure of enjoying it to the fullest.
Players that are well-versed in the original will notice several new elements in the play mechanics. Defence items – like the dagger, battery pack, and flash grenade – are now available for those moments when enemies get a bit too close. Should monsters manage to cling onto the character, these are a last resort to prevent them from sinking their teeth into the protagonist. The tank-style controls might feel clumsy at first, but when players adapt to this method of movement, they'll realise it's the most appropriate way to navigate through the static scenes of the game. A new 180 degree turn can now be performed as well to make evasive action more convenient, and the character's health status is not only represented by the graph on the menu screen; the way that they walk or run is also an indication of how much health is left before reaching the charming "YOU ARE DEAD" screen. Nothing like kicking someone when they're down! Another addition is the use of petrol to incinerate defeated enemies to prevent them from returning in a stronger and faster form. Decapitating them with a well-aimed shot will also prevent these crimson-headed super-zombies from having a second chance at ending a player's life, but when their marksmanship fails them, a fuel canteen and a lighter are as handy as it gets.
For a GameCube game, Resident Evil still looks gorgeous. It begins in a mysterious mansion and as you progress, new areas and buildings become accessible. The mansion is perhaps the most iconic location in the whole franchise and probably the most psychologically manipulating of them all. Flashes of lightning are projected onto the interior walls through uncovered windows and the lighting effect is nothing short of lush. The game's pre-rendered backgrounds blend beautifully with the polygonal characters and the result is an immersive visual absorption into a wonderfully-crafted game. The static camera shots add another layer of suspense as players are unable to change the view; the game creates a sense of helplessness as players are left to wonder what's round the corner – which a free-floating camera would have trouble matching. Mikami and the design team have done a wonderful job as the game has the cinematography of an award-winning Hollywood film. The skewed camera angles at times perfectly mirror the imbalance of the characters' security; one moment everything seems fine and tranquil, the next, a bipedal mutant frog with an upper body more ripped than a gym junkie is trying to slash off your head. The mixture of close-ups and long shots has been chosen nicely and further enhances the level of isolation that the protagonists experience. The cutscenes look absolutely amazing, and the high quality renderings and motion capture make the majority of the segments look like live-action set pieces.
It's not all about the visuals, though, as the sound design is as emotionally-charged as it is authentic. The military weapons utilise believable sound effects that really make the player feel like they are pulling the triggers of their firearms. The moans and groans of the zombies make them sound as creepy as they look, and the growls and howls of the more extravagant monsters emphasise the unnatural tampering of their DNA along with their urge to kill. More subtle elements of the audio design include the sound of footsteps on different types of ground: gravel has a distinct crunchy sound compared to the softer contact of boots on carpet, and the reverb of running across a marble floor in an open room plays an important part in immersing the player and suspending their disbelief. When the player realises that they are treading on broken glass, the question becomes – no matter how briefly – what caused this damage, and will it be back? The voice acting is significantly more plausible than that of the original, taking away the unintentional humour and replacing it with a polished performance from all of the characters. Additionally, the soundtrack can be as exciting as it is mysterious. Ambient tracks that utilise classical instruments can often trick players into a false sense of security, and it's this mixture of up-tempo songs with slower more melodic compositions that really makes things unpredictable.
The game offers an tremendous amount of replay value. Depending on which character the gamer plays as, different events will take place and different characters will be encountered. Certain choices lead to an array of endings, and you can unlock different play modes that make replaying both a must and a joy. Throughout the game are inventory boxes that allow players to drop off items, and are all interlinked, meaning that items can be retrieved no matter which one they are using. A special Real Survival mode takes away this ability so that items can only be picked up again from the very box that was used to store them. This, along with the removal of the auto-aim, increases the game's difficulty and further provides a more intense experience for the more advanced and fearless gamer. Another mode has a "special" enemy that relentlessly follows the player around and, if shot, the game will end. This forces the player to flee instead of kill and at times really gets the heart pumping. Other treats include costumes, invisible enemies, and new weapons, which are unlocked by completing the game in specific ways.
Resident Evil pairs up many binary themes: danger vs. safety, natural evolution vs. bio-engineering, trustworthy characters vs. suspicious comrades, and brains vs. brawn. The designers have managed to mix all these elements together to form a game that feels unique, regardless of how original the genre is. There are also numerous text files within the game that offer reading material for players to more fully understand the story. These provide a nice break from all the action and offer insight into the backgrounds of people and events. Some are in the form of diary entries, and their writing puts players into the mindset of the characters very well, offering logical reasoning behind their often insane-seeming actions.
One of the games to play alone, this Resident Evil remake lived up to and exceeded all expectations. The amount of backtracking is actually a pleasure at times, and the possibility of encountering new monsters prevents things from becoming too repetitive. The updated photorealistic visuals and extra content make it worth revisiting for old fans as well. If you are one of the few to have not played Resident Evil games before, buy this game. If you are one of the lucky many to have played Resident Evil games already, buy this game.
I definitely need to replay this as I've only beaten it once with Jill back in 2002...if only I wasn't so scared by it everytime I play it. ^^
I could never stand this game when it came out (the original, that is), but, for some reason, I was able to get through RE0, and I loved it. Maybe if I go back and try this one again now I'll like it.
How can anyone say that the Psone original was better? That's just absurd, it's like saying that a drawing of a 4th grade student beats Rembrandt. Graphics, sound, sound effects, atmosphere and basically everything are miles better in GC remake.
If a 4th grade student had a particular creative idea before Rembrandt, who would afterwards basically just do the same with some improvements, then one can argue that the original is better in a way and that's what WaveBoy is alluding to. He's played the original first, so the remake (while technically being better) felt weaker to him, because it relied to heavily on what had already been done. He's even saying that if you haven't played the original yet, you should go for the remake, so what's your point of arguing, Faron?
yeah, I agree with WaveBoy. The remake looked beautiful and was pure fanfare, but I wouldn't call it the definitive version just because it looks better. the remake didn't really improve anything apart from the visuals, and aside from a new area, the games were identical.
I loved this game, for me the atmospheric effects drew me in and terrified me, The Crimson-Heads were a huge part of that, having to light enemies on fire and such. Definitive edition or not, this is one of my favorites, absolutely, and I've never been so scared playing a game by anything since, except for certain moments in RE4.
One hell of a game, but when Resident Evil 4 came out, I was forever spoiled and can now never turn back. Essencial stuff for anyone with a GameCube or Wii.
'Chunky Droid was almost a Jill sandwich!'
that, I probably wouldn't complain too much about
Though the Gamecube vs PSOne version debate for me falls with the Gamecube version, simply because it tells the story better.
Now it would be wonderful if they remade Resident Evil 2 & 3 to improve upon the acting, story and atmosphere.
Still need to play this one (as with many, many games). But I loved the DS version and played that one a lot.
I prefer the Playstation version, but they're both classics.
This was one of the first games I bought when I got my GameCube all those years ago. The experience was particularly intense because it took me awhile to realise that you had to hold the B button to run, so I spent the first few hours of the game walking very slowly away from the zombies. It added a whole new level of scary to the game. I'm glad I discovered running before the Crimson-Heads started popping up. A fantastic game.
After playing this for the first time in 2002 I could never go back to the original PS version. It makes that game look prehistoric in comparison. The graphics on this thing still impress the hell out of me.
I think this game is the only work of entertainment that ever made me GENUINELY scared, unlike any other game, book, movie or music I've experienced.
Great game. 9/10 is right. I've only ever played this and no.4 GC and no.4 Wii of the Resy seris. I actually think RE4 Wii Edition is the best though
lol, there is absolutely no possibility that the original static background + tank control RE games are even close to as good as RE4.
They are if you're looking for Survival Horror game, not an action game.
Thanks for reminding me to play this game in October. Anyone finding the game too difficult you should know there is a very helpful Grenade Launcher Glitch. But try to stick it out without cheating and save the glitch for a second run through.
Double yes! This game was, and still is amazing. The first RE game I played through was the RE2 on the PSX, so I nabbed this right when it hit the GC. It has to be one of the prettiest games on the system, which is funny because its also one of the most gruesome. Awesome review Trev, I'm loving this month of Spooks!
Now this was how to do a remake of a game... and Capcom changed the position of the dogs... bad Capcom, bad! Which provided a new round of surprises for people...
I'll be replaying REsident Evil and Zero on my Wii between now and the end of the year. The Remake felt like and entirely new game and I've played the original, Director's Cut and DS versions as well.
The Gamecube is THE system for Resident Evil. 0,1,2,3, Code Veronica, and 4 were all released for it. I still haven't played the remake though I own Zero & 4. Zero is nice but the inventory system was just frustrating. I'll pick up RE:Remake as soon as I come across it.
I like the Resident evil games where you can actually play with another person, playing alone is really scary.... or creepy >_<
the ds re is the best re game to date
^ Nu-uh, the Director's Cut's the best!
This is a REMAKE!!!!! Awesome
I still think RE4 is the best but this one is VERY high on the list.
I couldn't get into it; felt way too clunky and some of the design elements were torture for me. Ah well, I only paid $10 more for it and Zero when I got the 25th anniversary edition; I just wanted 4.
Referring to @22: I believe the Grenade Launcher glitch only works on this version, the actual GameCube game. If you have the Wii version, you're out of luck.
As for the game, I enjoyed it, but I actually got bored with it after a while. It was creepy and had some genuine scares, but it was sometimes hard to figure out where to go without a walkthrough. I had an easier time with the DS version, but honestly my schedule these days has me playing faster-paced pick up and play games rather than involved games like this.
People may be all for the PSOne, mostly because it was the first for its kind for many... so a remake doesn't give the same feeling.
That's the loyalty of nostalgia.
However, the PSOne version did have one advantage: its original graphics. Sure the improved graphics on the GC are grand, but the jaggy graphics of the original actually gives a much creepier feeling than the pretty pixels of the GC. ...lack of graphics can be used rather well as an atmospheric effect, whether intentional or not.
However, if that doesn't affect you... there's no reason to say the PSOne was better. Nostalgia is a crappy excuse to prefer a game. The original Metal Gear Solid CAN BE considered better than the GC, because of the lack of super-skills that the GC's cutscenes seemed to give Snake. Goldeneye for the N64 is a quality game not just because of the nostalgia, but because it's still a darn good multiplayer FPS - and the graphics were good enough to not make one throw-up (as opposed to many PSOne graphics that tried too hard and got too many jaggies in the process).
It ain't about nostalgia people, it's all in the game.
Nostalgia is a good enough reason for the person who has to actually play the game.
"the remake didn't really improve anything apart from the visuals"
Sorry but that's nonsense. The atmosphere and level of immersion was improved in the REmake because of the improved graphics and sound. Improved graphics may not mean so much in some games, but in survival horror games, they can have a huge effect on the experience.
The Saturn version is clearly better, it has Zombie Wesker in the battle mode.
OK, maybe not 'better' with its blocky graphics and lengthy load times, but worth checking out for fans of the series.
I like the gamecube remake but it does lose some of the B-movie cheese appeal of the original game, looks amazing though and action replay lets you play as Rebecca.
"I like the gamecube remake but it does lose some of the B-movie cheese appeal of the original game"
And that's why I prefer the original. I'd take a cheezy horror flick over a terrifying and immersive one any day.
You're absolutely right about the nostalgia factor of the Psone original, now that i think about it: i can still remember how it felt to play an actual horror game for the first time. Somehow Resident Evil 4 managed to wake something similiar in me when it was first released, especially the beginning stages of the game.
Excellent review, in my opinion. To all those interested in playing this for the first time, though, I recommend using control type C in the options. Movement is much more manageable that way.
While I do think the Resident Evil series' campy dialogue and shoddy voice acting adds to its charm, it still breaks your atmosphere when playing. I also wish the GC remake would've had better voice acting, because while the dialogue is better, the acting is still B movie.
The first time I really got into Resident Evil was from playing this GCN version, I dabbled in the PSone game, but the visual presentation of the remake was brilliantly atmospheric and sank its teeth into me.
Gameplay additions like setting the monsters alight to avoid crimson-heads rising back up and feasting on you, plus the use of pacing to stagger the scares, was masterful.The flashes of lightning and creepy mansion footstep sounds have been well created in the extra 'Lost in Nightmares' level in Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition (PS3), too. Mikami's expertise should rightly continue to influence the series, even though he is no longer with Capcom.
Excellent review Trevor, I really like your description of the opposing themes in this game at the end of the review, too.
Have to get this soon I already got RE Zero and RE 2
There's nothing like exploring around a Mansion in RE 1
Not that I am disappointed in the review at all, but this definitely deserves a 10! One of the best and most classic videogames ever crafted and arguably the best in the series. I can't think of many other games that were such ahead of the graphics of their time, than this game was. It still looks gorgeous more than a decade after its original release.
Best game of the series, perhaps the best game on the GameCube.
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