Resident Evil is a series that is synonymous with “survival horror.” Despite its very obvious flaws, the first game (released in 1996) was such a massive hit, there were plans to make a movie based on it, long before the far superior sequel hit store shelves – even though that film wasn’t released until 2002. And no Jill sandwiches, either.
However, in the same year that film came out, the remake of the first game was released on the Nintendo GameCube, and I was excited as hell to play it. I was looking forward to its release for months because of the article I read in Nintendo Power (those were good times), which teased the updated graphics, new enemies and areas to explore, and even new challenges exclusive to this version. The fact that it was a GameCube-exclusive title helped me decide on my future purchase of the system.
And yes, that remake was recently remastered for almost every major current console. I, for example, platinumed the PS3 version months ago, and still play the fuck out of it. That’s how much I love this game, and that’s why this review will be focused on that version.
First off, I have to talk about how much I love this mansion, and the art style of it. Even though it’s filled with all sorts of creatures and mutants that are trying to kill me, I find myself constantly distracted by how much detail the artists put into every room and hallway. It feels like people actually lived in that mansion, and it makes me want to live there, too (without the zombies, obviously). Also, when I have to wander around those eerie caves, I genuinely feel creeped out – like something is going to reach out from the walls and drag me to my doom.
It doesn’t happen, but it still made me feel that way.
While a good number of people do not enjoy the “tank” controls in Resident Evil, they never really bothered me. I’m probably one of the few people on the planet who feels a bit uneasy playing a Resident Evil title that doesn’t have tank controls, but that’s probably because I played the shit out of the PS1 era titles. I do like that Capcom added the option of using the thumb stick to move your character in the direction you’re pressing, but I never used it much. Except for that time I went for the CQC achievement – trying to fight Crimson Heads with a knife was a nightmare. And don’t get me started on Plant 42.
The music is really good. It can make you feel restless as you traverse a macabre hallway, or cautious as you explore the eerie caverns underground, or even like shitting your pants as you try to fight off a giant spider. But it also has those few tracks where you can relax and plan your next move in a safe room, or when you’re in no immediate danger but still need to solve a puzzle in order to keep moving. Regardless, every track in this game has a purpose, and makes you feel something.
The zombies in this remake are a lot more dangerous than any other title in the franchise. Even if you kill them, they can come back later as Crimson Heads, which are zombies that move faster and bite harder. The best way to avoid this is to fill your Fuel Canteen with kerosene, douse the zombie when it’s “dead,” and light them up with your Lighter. Or, if you’re lucky, you somehow made their head explode with a well placed bullet from your handgun.
Yes, a handgun can apparently cause brutal head explosions from a distance. Somehow.
The most tension this game gave me was toward the end. There’s a puzzle that requires you to carry nitro from one room to another that’s much further away, and you can’t run or shoot your weapon, otherwise you might explode. Even though I take the time to burn every zombie and kill every chimera that would be in my way, it is still tense as shit when I carry that stuff, especially because my last save would typically be more than a half-hour ago. I think I may have a problem, because it gets me excited as well.
My biggest complaint with the game (even in the original) is with how Chris’ playthrough is handled. I’m not talking about how he only has six item slots and doesn’t start out with a gun, because anyone can make six slots work, Chris can take more damage than Jill, and he can get a gun within the first two minutes. It’s the tediousness of his playthrough that really irritates me; there’s a hell of a lot more backtracking involved (especially if you’re trying to save Richard), and I really hate that segment where you have to wait and let Rebecca practice on the piano to get the Gold Emblem – if I’ve gotten every item I can get up until that point, I’m just walking through doors to waste time, so that I can continue. It’s such a buzzkill.
One of the reasons I love coming back to this game is that making a zombie’s head explode is super satisfying. There’s this one moment, right after the first fight with the Yawn (a giant snake) where there’s a zombie standing in the corridor, with its back turned to me. So I sneak up on it with my shotgun, aim up, and blast that fucker’s head clean off. Instantly puts a smile on my face.
I also love this game because I’m never disappointed with it. I’ll start playing it again for any number of reasons, such as finally trying out a new game that turns out to be disappointing, or being bored out of my mind, or having a friend cancelling on me. Hell, I may even start playing the game again because GamerGaters and SJWs refuse to shut the fuck up on Twitter, so I play this instead of letting those cocksuckers ruin my night.
This is a game that is in no danger of being retired anytime soon. I enjoy playing it too damn much, and the only way I see myself not playing it anymore is if the Resident Evil 2 remake surpasses it – if that game doesn’t get cancelled, that is. Until such time, I will still be enjoying fighting Crimson Heads, wondering what I could do with a mansion like this one, and turning myself on by carrying high explosives.
And yes, I do recommend that you play this game. Excitedly recommend.