+ Capcom makes another genre its own
+ Creepy atmosphere & music set the mood
+ The Mansion, best RE venue of all time
Genre: Survival Horror
- Leaping headhunters scare me
- Load time when switching rooms stinks
- Its’ ploygons don’t look so hot nowadays
A number of cannibalistic murders have taken place in the quiet Midwestern town of Racoon City. Local police have sent in a group of special agents called the Special Tactics and Rescue Service team or “STARS Bravo team” to investigate. When Bravo team goes without contact, STARS Alpha team is sent in to locate the members and try to figure out just what is going on in the small town.
Alpha team locates Bravos helicopter, but only a severed hand is found. Alpha team further investigates the area and is then attacked by the series now famous “hounds of hell”. Team member Joseph is killed by the hounds which sends the remaining four members of Alpha team scurrying to a nearby mansion seen in the distance. Pilot Brad Vickers separates, abandoning the team while Barry, Chris and Jill, barely make it into the mansion alive. With no pilot and the hounds blocking the only foreseeable way out, the team is forced to explore the thought to be abandon mansion. This entire Playstation opening (as well as the game’s endings) are done using full motion video and it is the first and only Resident Evil to use FMV.
I have no problem admitting that when I first stepped into that Mansion in 1996, I was frightened. The scariest thing I think I saw in gaming up to that point was a gigantic Satan sitting in his throne at the end of Ghouls n Ghosts. He did not prepare me for the “thrilling” moments or overall “creepy” atmosphere found in Resident Evil. Just minutes into the game you are given an introduction to your enemies that is now only be considered as a classic gaming moment. Poor, poor Kenneth from S.T.A.R.S. Team, he never saw it coming. Or maybe he did I don’t really know but what you will be greeted to is the game’s first zombie, gnawing on Kenneth from S.T.A.R.S. neck. With the power of the Playstation, the CG movie set the tone for the rest of the game. A scary zombie with a blood stained mouth, now coming right at you. Add the fact that at this point your knife is your only weapon, and you’ll realize your in a completely new place in gaming, called “Survival Horror.”
With little research, a lot can be found out about the game’s story. Resident Evil is 13 years old now and most people already know it, but for those who don’t, I won’t ruin it for you. Instead I’ll tell you how the game plays. You can choose Chris or Jill at the games start. Chris is stronger and can take more damage. His downfall is only being able to carry six items in his inventory as opposed to Jill’s eight. Jill, AKA “the master of unlocking” is given a lockpick by Barry. The lockpick will help you unlock some locked doors throughout the mansion and an honest opinion is, the game is slightly easier with Jill. The game’s save system requires ink ribbon’s to save at type writers found throughout the mansion and it’s grounds. Of course, the ink ribbons will take up spots in your inventory as well as herbs, which are “eaten?” to regain your health in Resident Evil. “Chests” are found throughout the game to store your items in but even with them, you’ll have a tough time deciding what to keep in your inventory, and what to leave in a chest for later.
Resident Evil’s controls feel slightly slow but add to the overall creepiness of the game. The “square” button let’s you run and believe me, you’ll need it. You’ll eventually find a gun, pressing “R1″ will aim and “X” will shoot it. You can stab with your “last resort” combat knife when things get really tough as well. When not aiming, the “X” button is used to search the games environments. Allot of the games puzzles will have you searching and finding items to place in various spots around the mansion. For instance, you’ll find a “crown shaped key” and know exactly what doors needed it and head right to them, so that rewarding gameplay experience is intact here. Granted some of the “quests” or “item hunting and placing” would now be considered “back-tracking” or “fetch quests” but at the time, the game’s feel was so new it didn’t matter where I had to go, I was going to gladly do it.
At the time Resident Evil’s graphics were awesome. Even now, the pre-rendered bitmap backgrounds look very good. The 3D polygonal characters are just, blah. As is the case with many PS1 games played now, polygon’s look blocky but overall, Resident Evil holds up well. If graphics are that important, pick up the outstanding Nintendo Gamecube remake of this version. The soundtrack on the other hand has lost absolutely nothing in time and Masami Udea score’s is still one of the eeriest I’ve ever heard. It does so much to bring you into the horror and it does it all perfectly.
The first time through the game will most likely take you around ten hours. There’s the unlimited rocket launcher and two costumes to unlock in for each character. For the unlimited rocket launcher, you must finish the game within three hours, which will take a great deal of patience and retry’s. For the costumes, well I don’t want to say due to the game’s story, but I will say there not as cool as I’d hoped at the time, but the unlimited Rocket Launcher and killing anything in the game with a single shot was definitely worth the investment time.
Just as Capcom’s Street Fighter II did for fighting games (set the bar for the entire genre), Resident Evil did the same for the survival horror. It brought imitation after imitation after it. In my opinion, none would match Resident Evil’s originality and creepiness. Fantastic enemies, and scares that literally “jump” out of nowhere stamped Resident Evil as the big daddy of horror games. With the series about to see it’s fifth entry be released, it’s had it’s share of high and low points, mostly high. As usual, none would match the experience of the first for me. Seeing those words, “You are now about to enter the world of survival horror”, and not really having a clue what to expect was one of the most memorable and frightening experiences I’ve ever had playing a video game.