The day was September 13th, 2001; Capcom dropped a bombshell on Resident Evil fans worldwide. They announced that they had plans to release an updated version of the original Resident Evil exclusively for the GameCube. Die-hard Sony fans scoffed at the idea while would-be ‘cube owners rejoiced. Capcom methodically released screenshots to the gaming media as the months drudged on and with each new piece of insight into this highly anticipated title, gamers began to accumulate an unsightly pool of drool on their keyboards from their gaping slack-jawed mouths. “This batch of screenshots highlights how real-time elements such as blood blend seamlessly into the game’s pre-rendered backgrounds.” “This batch of screenshots show how you can target specific body-areas, like blowing off a zombie’s right leg and rendering it helpless.” It seemed like it would never end. Capcom kept releasing new media and touting it’s many enhanced features while slyly grinning and saying it wouldn’t be released for nearly a year. Well, the wait is over and gamers everywhere have finally gotten their grubby mitts on the game to experience it first-hand. The jury is unanimous, the verdict is in, and Resident Evil for the GameCube rocks!
Upon choosing to play as Jill or Chris and watching a super-detailed and entirely impressive cinema screen, the first thing you will notice as you begin the game is that the original control scheme is fully intact and hasn’t noticeably changed a single iota, for better or worse. Delving a little deeper into the gameplay mechanics you’ll notice that all the marginal control improvements that the series has received over the years are included. Gamers who have been spoiled with new-fangled point-in-the-direction-you-want-to-go controllability may initially be turned off at RE’s awkward slow-paced method of controlling your character. Seems Capcom spent all their time updating the visuals and not enough time on tweaking the gameplay, but they say they wanted to stay true to the original and I guess I can respect that, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Luckily, there are some mentionable additions to the gameplay that effectively add a heightened sense of strategy to the experience. The most notable addition being the inclusion of ‘defense’ items that can be used to ward off attacking zombies before they get a chance to gnaw on you. Each of the two playable characters has their own unique defense item; Jill uses a high-powered taser to stop baddies in their tracks while Chris stuffs a hand grenade down the zombie’s pie-hole. Each character can also plant a knife in the opponents dome. Knifes are strewn throughout the mansion and are relatively abundant. Defensive items can be set to automatically trigger when trouble gets too close or manually to be used at your discretion.
To contrast the newly added offensive additions, Capcom integrated more powerful zombies into this remake. This time around you can’t simply plug a zombie with a few shots and leave it for dead because some of them come back to life. If you don’t smash their head or burn ‘em to a crisp, they will wake back up with renewed powers and a far more aggressive demeanor.
The various scenarios and rooms from the 1996 original have been reworked considerably; expect new puzzles, rooms, cut-scenes, and modified enemies. The modifications make RE feel almost like an entirely new game, but with enough familiarity that it induces a high sense of nostalgia. In a scene where you’re expecting to jump out of your seat, there may be nothing. Likewise, in a scene where nothing happened in the original game, an enemy may burst into the scene causing you to nearly soil your trousers. The squeamish gamers out there might want to think about investing in some adult-diapers before venturing too far into this game, not only to prevent unwelcome leakage and potential damage to your threads but also because you won’t have to take any of those obnoxious bathroom breaks that mess with the consistency of your gaming flow … ok, that might be a little too hardcore, but you get the idea.
Taking it’s inspiration from an old game with outdated mechanics, there is inevitably a few glaring issues with the system. You’ll still die way too frequently, causing you to repeat boring tasks multiple times. Backtracking occurs way too often, and you’ll find yourself being unable to pick up required items because your inventory is full, causing you to have to run alllll the way back to an item-chest and then allll the way back. Also, the scavenger-hunt aspect of the game makes a triumphant return. Collecting jewels, batteries, and other miscellaneous objects is an absolute requisite in order to progress throughout the game. Luckily, the gorgeous visuals and newly added sequences help to keep the pacing of the game feeling fresh and new.
The most exciting aspect about RE is the jaw-dropping visuals. Throw all your expectations out the window because this is possibly the most beautifully rendered game for any system, ever. The atmospheres are utterly stunning; pre-rendered backgrounds mesh perfectly with real-time graphics. The meticulously crafted backdrops require very little horsepower and allow the system to focus almost entirely on character models. It’s an ingenious way of wringing the most graphical splendor possible out of the Gamecube. Every object, every piece of organic matter found in the game was given pain-staking attention to detail. Expect real-time reflections from mirrors and water, dust that realistically bounces up from old wooden floors, shadows that cast realistically on the atmosphere unlike any game before it, and loads of impressive volumetric fog. The blood and gore found in RE is possibly the most impressive facet of its graphics. The way blood splatters onto pre-rendered backgrounds looks unbelievable, and I can’t even put into words the brilliance of what it looks like to watch a zombie’s head literally explode into a million independent pieces after unloading a shotgun blast from point-blank.
Excellent use of Dolby Surround sound was used for RE. You can usually accurately estimate the location of an incoming enemy just by paying extra attention to the direction of the sound of its grunts. Music, while fitting, is not very diversified and only a few musical tracks were included. Voice acting is considerably improved over the original game and lip-syncing is near perfect. Atmospheric sound effects do a great deal to enhance the overall enjoyment of the game. Rustling branches in the distance, thunder clapping, and creaky floors; you’ll literally be immersed in aural niceties.
Resident Evil offers plenty of game-time considering the multiple modes of difficulty, nearly a dozen unique endings, and a multi-tiered storyline that changes according to your in-game actions. And the fact that you can play the game with two different characters just lengthens the overall enjoyment of the game even more. Who would have thought that a visual makeover and a few gameplay tweaks could render an otherwise obsolete game into a incredibly entertaining experience that defies all expectations? Any ‘cube owner would be well advised to pick this game up. Just remember what I said about unwelcome leakage.