Resident Evil was a huge hit on Playstation back in 1996. It introduced the gamers to the world of survival horror, a practically unknown genre - although a certain blonde-headed woman had already ventured through a dark, zombie-infested mansion alone in 1992. As expected, none were able to resist the haunting call of the bloody newcomer. If Infogrames had created a bastard-child of nearly impossible difficulty level with Alone in the Dark, Capcom had created a puppet of perfect balance with Resident Evil. Last year the remake version of the RE saw it's dawn of release exclusively on the Nintendo GameCube. The ol' Zombie was back with a make-up more frightening than ever.
...when The Raccoon City Police Department sends a Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) team to investigate the Arclay Mountain area, located on the outskirts of the city, in hopes of gathering information about a strange phomenon plaguing the place. People seem to be disappearing left and right. Contact is soon lost with the unit, however, and another unit - the Alpha team - is sent to investigate the whereabouts of the previous team. If they had only known that everything was bound to go wrong...
The story unfolds in a nice FMV Sequence which tops the clichÃ¨d opening of the original by far, and soon the Alpha -team - or what is left of it - enters a huge, old mansion, being driven there by a hungry pack of freakish dogs straight from hell. Chris Redfield, a tough-as-nails police officer or Jill Valentine, a cute-eyed lil' agent, serve you as your play-mate according to your previous selection. Each one brings fresh elements to the table with slightly altered stories and few differences to boot. Chris starts with nothing but a knife, while Jill equips a pistol. Jill's inventory can house two extra items, while Chris's head can take in ( approx. ) two extra blows.
First I should mention the controls. If you have played the original, you have pretty much seen everything the control-scheme of the Remake has to offer. Slow turns and only three diagonal aiming-levels - feels like a hang-over. But this is how it is meant to be, or so it struck me, at least. There just would be no 'surviving' in the 'horror' if the game had fast, Marioesque controls, now would there? Anyway, these are the basics: Both Chris and Jill either run or walk ( there is no in-between ) by the analog-stick. The R-button will pull the characters into the offensive-position. If your character has a gun equipped, he / she will be aiming with the analogue stick, ready to fire the weapon . (A) button will unleash the ammunition of the weapon, slice the knife and work as the general 'execute' -button ( by opening doors, pulling switches, picking up objects, etc. ). The remaining buttons are assigned to bring up the in-game map and inventory screen. You can also do a quick 180-degree U-turn with the C-stick. This is the "recommended" control-theme, although I would prefer the Control Type C -setup. Without going into detail, I advice you to try the different control-setups and go with the one that feels comfortable.
The premise must be familiar to all of you. You control your character through a zombie-filled mansion and try to make it out alive. Sounds simple, now doesn't it? Believe me - there are many twists, turns and gory events to keep the story far from simple, and surviving far from easy ( this depending on the difficulty level you choose - do not be fooled by their names as Mountain Climbing is definetely harder than Hiking ). As I never played the original through myself, I can not really compare the two - but everything I have heard from my Resi-freak friends has been positive. They have claimed the Remake to be much bigger and much better. Graphics-wise the game just could not get any prettier. Beautiful, pre-rendered backgrounds, amazing light-effects, detailed character-models and monsters occupy the TV-screen. This game will not only make you scream, it will make you drop your jaw in amazement. Do not let the graphics fool you, for you are going to bump into a variety of freakish opponents whom wouldn't care whether they'd still be in the Playstation -game. You will see creatures ranging from dogs and zombies to hunters and boss-monsters. You might laugh at first - but wait until those ammo-clips empty, and you will learn to fear them. Your weapon-arsenal includes, for example, a head-exploding shotgun and a comfortably powerful grenade-launcher. Resident Evil isn't an all-out action-fest, though, for your wits and nerves will be tested more than your trigger-finger. Many puzzles await you, ranging from easy to hair-whiteningly hard. So forget the walkthroughs - RE is a relatively short game if you know everything in advance.
Resident Evil is not only a feast to the eyes, it also serves as honey to the ears. The audio generates half of the atmosphere, and the music - although quite repeatitive at times - suits the mood perfectly. Every monster has a distinguishable war-cry and the safe-rooms have a comfortable melody to aid your horrified mind. If you can, grab a pair of head-phones. You do this at your own risk, though, and I would recommend some extra pampers and handkerchiefs to be placed nearby if you haven't visited the bathroom in awhile. Watch out for those windows...
All in all Resident Evil is, and will be, one of the must-buy-titles for GameCube. It is a 10-15 hour experience the first time through, and very rewarding at that. You will come back for some extras, though.