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Resident Evil

Review By:  Siou Choy

Developer:  Capcom
Publisher:  Capcom
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Survival Horror
ESRB:  Mature
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  8-20-02

Gamecube owners should be very happy right now. Nintendo diehards who’ve had to suffer the scorn and shame of owning some of the worst systems on the market over the years (did the SNES really hold a candle to the Sega Genesis? Did the N64 hold a candle to anything?) finally have a reason to hold their heads up proudly and thumb their noses at Playstation 2 and Xbox owners. The reason? Give ya a hint, and it’ll only take two words: Resident Evil. The popular survival horror series from Capcom that defined the genre has arrived on the Gamecube in a big way. OK, strictly speaking, RE isn’t exactly a "new" game: the GC’s Resident Evil is a fairly accurate remake of the PlayStation's original 1996 Resident Evil. But don’t let that discourage you - there are enough changes in the game to make it feel, though naggingly familiar, like an entity all to itself. And that’s not to mention the graphics, which easily blow away anything released to date, irrespective of system or genre.

As you might expect, the plot of the GC Resident Evil is pretty much the same as the original. You play as the lovely Jill Valentine or wimpy pretty boy Chris Redfield ("Jill, let me have my moments too!"), of the Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) Alpha team. Your team has been sent to investigate the disappearance of the S.TA.R.S Bravo team, who had been investigating the unexplained disappearance of numerous people in the Arclay Mountains just outside Raccoon City.

The first thing you’ll notice about Resident Evil is the absolutely stunning graphics, which have been given a complete overhaul for the Gamecube. Reflection maps litter the entire mansion. Particle systems, real-time lighting and shadows, highly detailed textures and high polygon models give a highly realistic feel to the game. The monsters look scarier than ever. The people move almost like real people move (no more instant quick turn or hitting x to descend or ascend stairs here). The sounds are more true to life than you’d imagine. I particularly liked sequences like in the main mansion stairwell, where if you stepped on carpet, it would give a muffled crunch, but a little to the side (where the carpet did not extend), you would hear the echo throughout the hall as you trudged down each marble step. Sequences involving creaky stairs, rotting wooden attics and old dilapidated cabins, not to mention earthen graveyards, windy grass laden treks through the woods and watery basements all proved nearly infallible in their sonic accuracy. The tracking on character's movements and lips to voices is pretty damn good – certainly a huge improvement over the original’s much-derided standard. In fact, everything in the GC Resident Evil is jaw-droppingly accurate. You’re likely to spend as much time in awe of what you’re seeing as involved in actually playing the game. The most telling aspect of the overhaul is how the opening FMV has been remade in 3D rather than the live action original – and you hardly notice the difference. Wow.

Increased realism aside, gameplay remains essentially the same as in all Resident Evil games. Which is slightly disappointing. A few adjustments here and there to give increased control of the character to the gamer would have been a welcome addition, particularly in areas where precision and timing is required. I can’t speak for everybody, but as a veteran of all 5 Resident Evil games on 3 different systems, I will officially state for the record that, generally speaking, I cannot make Jill or Chris run in a straight line to save my life (or theirs). Aiming weapons proved far tougher than in any of the RE games to date, thanks to an annoying auto-aim feature that causes your character to automatically fire at the "closest" enemy. Of course, that enemy is usually not the most dangerous one or the one you want to fire at. Too many times I found myself firing at a fallen (but slowly sitting up) zombie while a crimson head or hunter was racing directly at me. Tapping the L button is supposed to switch your aim between enemies, but generally speaking, that doesn’t prove to be the case.

A few changes have been added to make the game more challenging (and trust me, it is). Any zombies that you kill which have not been properly disposed of via burning or headshot will return as a "crimson head". If you thought normal zombies were bad (and you will, after facing your first few in the GC version), wait until you run into a crimson head. The easiest (and easily cheesiest) way to describe them is that they’re "super zombies". They move much, much faster (to say the least), are even more relentless, and have a nasty pair of claws to disembowel you with (and they will). How fast the average zombie turns into one of these double nasties depends on whether you’re playing in easy or hard mode (is that really a choice?) and if a significant game event has occurred. What’s craziest about the GC Resident Evil is that some enemies will not only chase you down stairs, but also actually throw doors open to get you!

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