Published on August 23rd, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
What a mansion! Getting around to Resident Evil
I have a confession to make.
It’s difficult as a certain series of posts of mine have been rather popular and still pull in most of the views of this site. So to have to say that the title that the most popular horror game of all time, I’d never actually played would be… well it would be absurd. Unfortunately it would be no less true in this case.
I have never played Resident Evil. Not the original, not 2 or 3, I’ve never even seen 4 being played. Obviously I’ve never played 5 and 6, I may be uncultured in the ways of the zombie, but I’m not that bad.
I have played; a little bit of Survivor, Code Veronica and Umbrella Chronicles.
I wanted to rectify this, so I set out to play the first game and already problems start to spring up like sprightly zombies from soft turf.
What version do I play?
The answer seems relatively simple. Play the first one.
Oh, but there’s a director’s cut! You have to play that first, you wouldn’t tell someone to watch the theatrical cut of Blade Runner would you? Of course not, pedantic hipster brain of mine, I suppose I better play that then. But then apparently the game is vastly different so you should play the first one or the remake. In the end I went with Resident Evil: Deadly Silence.
Deadly Silence has two modes; Rebirth mode, an enhanced version with added features optimised for the DS; and original mode, which is the original game with a couple of differences.
I played the original mode, which sports enhanced models for characters, skippable load screens, knife button and the all-important 60hz which isn’t in any of the other versions in the UK. These new features really improve the gamespeed, so that dying isn’t quite so excrutiating. This is good, because as it turns out, I am pretty bloody rubbish at this game
Luckily I chose to play as Jill, which is the easier of the two characters as she has more slots, something of great value in Resident Evil, whereas Chris is able to take more hits.
The game begins and we’re treated to the infamously cheesy intro video, sadly in black & white in the UK, and our heroes enter the mansion where things start to go wrong as everyone is presently split up. Jill’s story appeared to revolve a lot around Barry turning up and saving her as well as lip-curling scenes where Barry loses something or rather and cracks lame jokes. It’s like your mate’s dad has tagged along, convinced he’s in with the kids.
As the game progresses, more rooms are unlocked through exploration and adventure style puzzles, all of which are fairly easy, the only trouble being remembering all the items and making sure to check all the rooms properly before leaving. As it happens there are a number of items that can unlock the different endings as well as different choices impacting the fate of characters, this is sometimes a little arbitrary, but no more so than other games that employ such a mechanic.
Obviously the main reason we all play Resi is because of zombies and there are quite a lot in the game, however without respawning, corridors can become a little bleak and the scares are mostly underwhelming due to this. Being a self-professed ‘Survival Horror’, the majority of the thrills revolve the restriction of gun-use and knowing that enemies can cause you hassle and easily lose life. When there is a limited amount of saves this also means that you really don’t want to die, such is this that the game pushes you towards running away from enemies which are more often than not placed in the middle of areas.
With the majority of enemies being the slow-walking enemies, you can easily work out the best option to proceed, making them mostly obstacles in your path rather than sources for fear. Without specially-designed scenes involving enemies, most of them are quite boring and dull, even when there are moments that are quite tense, you can still run out of the door and try again, as the enemies’ positions will reset. The game is quite unlike Silent Hill, in that you are able to more easily weave around and avoid enemies, however they do respawn and retreading areas after fulfilling tasks means you can definitely expect some grisly wankers to be lying in wait. For the most part, in Resi nothing respawns apart from a couple of late game enemies and one shake-up with enemy types and appearances in corridors upon return to the mansion. That’s the problem, it’s almost entirely predictable, both mechanically and horrifically, the best example of a jump from me was a zombie popping out of a closet, at which I exclaimed shrilly, “Who shut the zombie in a closet?”.
The story was lacking. I know it’s about zombies but there really isn’t enough material or progression aside from one and a half treacheries (Barry’s is so half-arsed it doesn’t count as a full backstab) and about 3 different characters known only to us by indifferent diary-style entries peppered throughout the game. The immediate characters don’t seem to be experiencing the gravitas of the situation and everyone keeps wandering about and appearing at random intervals, with nobody questioning how nonsensical it is, except one bit at the start where Jill got stuck in a room and was saved by Barry, she asked why he was there and he gave a suspiciously non-committal answer. This was never expanded upon.
Overall I enjoyed the game and I’m sure the bits that I disliked were exacerbated by my having difficulty in playing the game. At the end of it I did actually have lots of guns, ammo and health, so it seems I was a little conservative with my playthrough, however I was a little unsatisfied by the overall ending which I had completed an extra sidequest to get.
It’s an integral game to not only the horror genre but the history of games in general, however the focus on survival leaves the horror element stuck at crashing through windows and loud noises phase of development and the ease and lack of puzzles means there isn’t much challenge outside of the action. If you are looking for good puzzles and scares than Silent Hill is more definitive, however if you are looking for an overall more fun and challenging experience or interesting management mechanics, Resident Evil is the way to go.