Monday, 23 July 2007

Resident Evil Re-Visited...


"Resident Evil A piece of gaming history, as Capcom branches out from it's 2D fighter roots, and takes the gaming world by storm by virtually inventing the 3D Horror Survival RPG. Only one snag here... I could never get into any of the Resident Evil titles. Firstly, I'm shit at the game. Whether it's this initial foray into the franchise on the Saturn, or the highs of R.E. Code Veronica on the Dreamcast, I'm just shit. I want to like it... I really do, but whichever incarnation I play, I end up hating the way the characters seem to ice-skate through the game when walking... I get lost very easily, can't remember where I've been or come from, panic as zombies approach and end up with one of the undead motherfuckers taking a good old chomp out of my neck, with blood spurting out whilst I try to shake them off, wriggling about like a little girl whose been injected with smack. And those doors, those fucking doors that you have to stare at while the levels load... *shudder!*"


That was my dismissive summing up of Resident Evil for the Saturn earlier this year, and in a typically Krishna-esque U-Turn, I then became obsessed with the franchise, playing RE 4 on the PS2 to its conclusion, closely followed by RE: Code Veronica, RE:CV Gun Survivor, RE: DS and have also bought (but not played) RE (Gamecube Re-Make), RE Outbreak File for PS2 and have bought DVDs of the two movies...


However, until today, I had not actually played the Saturn's 'Resident Evil' for anything more than five minutes, before dismissing it as
a waste of time. I had intended to play through a good chunk of Panzer Dragoon, but as I looked for the game, I came upon Resident Evil.


"Should I give it another go?" I thought "Should I dip my toe into the Resident Evil waters once again?" and somewhat inevitably I decided "Yes!"

So where do I start? Well let's start at the very beginning... The game starts with a very atmospheric video, showing the S*T*A*R*S rescue team dropped in Raccoon Forest looking for their stranded 'Bravo' colleagues. This must have been so cool back in the day! The uber villain of the series, Albert Wesker, is there leading the team and its not too long before they flee from those zombie Dobermans into the Umbrella owned mansion where your quest begins...



Playing as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine (Chris represents harder gameplay) you start your exploration of the mansion and its not too long before those sinister and shuffling zombies show up, ready for you to waste...


The great thing is, thanks to playing the DS remake, I now know roughly what to expect in each room and also the layout of the mansion, so exploration is not so hit and miss. The DS remake is literally a straight port of the first outing, with a few nods to the DS stylus/microphone control system. So in a sense, even though it was played looking at the tiny screen of the DS, I have already played this Saturn game before...

Still, onto the best features... the game is HUGE for a 32 bit title. The mansion is sprawling, and there is much to explore if you have the time or patience. The graphics are superb for the time and the detail in the mansion's rooms, furniture and fittings are magnificent. The game's musical
score is superb, building up tension as you edge through those oh so slowly opening doors!


Compared to later RE titles, the action is relatively slow paced. The zombies are pretty scarce at the start of the game, with most rooms containing items rather than monsters. The inventory system, with its maps, weapons, ammo and healing devices is brilliant and the same system is being used, as Resident Evil 5 for PS3 and Xbox 360 looms upon us. One grumble is that the saving system (randomly scattered typewriters that require ink ribbons) are few and far between. You can be killed by an unexpected zombie (their attacks are pretty unforgiving) and you can be sent backwards through your progress in the game, losing large chunks of combat and discovery, finding yourself back at square one, and having to repeat large chunks of the game.

Another gripe is the aiming and firing system. A slightly wrong nudge of the D Pad can find your aim way off line (particularly when fighting the zombie dogs). It could just be me but knifing seems pretty ineffective and bullets are precious. Therefore when firing your weapon, a lot of bullets seem to get wasted, and you find yourself running out of ammo quick!

An 'easy' option would be very much appreciated (by me anyway). Take this very pertinent point from the article "What Just Happened? (Death and Defeat In Gaming)" from the wonderful (and oft cited on this site) Games TM magazine...



" The problem is that a large number of games are still made as tests of timing, tactics and reflexes, with a story forced in to the gaps between levels. If narrative is to develop and fully engage the player, then setbacks inherent in the story will have to take precedence over extreme difficulty. If story is to be told effectively, then surely there is experiential benefit in allowing the player to reach the end without too much difficulty. Replaying the same ten minutes of a story 50 times will leave you frustrated and possibly convince you that the adventure isn't worth taking."


Wise words indeed! That sums up whats happened with me and dozens of games! But when you know that a story within a game IS worth seeing through to a conclusion, all too difficult games become very frustrating. That's why games with 'easy' options, or forgiving save systems are the ones I have loved the most. (Examples include RE4, Shenmue 1 & 2, Enter The Matrix and Head Hunter.)

The Saturn version of Resident Evil is a MUST in any Saturn collection and the best way to investigate the RE franchise, if you've never played any of the titles. Playing through the series chronologically, rather than the back to front way I have approached it, is the best way to experience the joy of Resident Evil.

For some great RE resources look here, here, here, here and here!


6 comments:

NebachadnezzaR said...

"That's why games with 'easy' options, or forgiving save systems are the ones I have loved the most."

You sound like me talking :)

Since I began playing games I never liked hard ones, but nowadays, although my skill has improved greatly throughout the years, I hate them even more since I have so many games and so little time (and patience) to play them all.

Anyway, as for Resident Evil, I always liked it ever since I saw the cover but I've never actually played it (except messing around with the psx version for 5 minutes).

But I've played a lot of RE by now. Completed RE 2 for the psx, RE3 for the pc, played RE:CV (ps2 version) til the boss fight in the plane (which is somewhere in the middle of the game, I think), and RE Outbreak for 5 minutes (loved the graphics but hated the gameplay). Oh, and RE4 to the very end, of course.

As for RE1, I'm planning on getting the Saturn version, mostly for collecting purposes (since I already have 1 and 2 for the psx, and 3 for both the psx and the pc), but I'm waiting until I get in the "mood" to play it. I'm gonna need lots of patience and a walkthrough, thats for sure...

fatherkrishna said...

I'm not surprised we are in agreement on this issue Nebacha! I love walkthroughs, in fact I'm seeking one out for Tomb Raider Legends DS as we speak!

The Elderly said...

I highlighted the exact same text as nebazzar, im willing to put up with difficult bosses and make a supreme effort to get through, but it is sooooooooo frustrating to get so far and no further.......

maybe we're not unusual...

great post FK, i got rid of the earlier resident evil games, now im sorry... oh well i'll just have to collect em all again....

fatherkrishna said...

Hi Elderly *waves*. I think the snippet I quoted from the Games TM article really sums up my feelings about games in general. I know games should give you value for money, and that some gamers can whizz through the hardest of games with ease, but difficulty settings should be mandatory! I've only ever used cheats once (on Blade for the PS2) I think, but I'm looking for some unlimited health cheat for Resident Evil so that I can play through the game and get to the end. Walkthroughs are not cheats, anymore than using a map is a cheat's way of getting through a journey...

Right! I'm off to your place...

gnome said...

Excellent write-up Father. Almost convinced me to make fatherly U-turn and start with the series again, but guess I'll just stick to lurking for a RE4 Wii. Or even give RE DS another try...

J said...

It's not that big for a 32 bit title. Resident evil 2 was twice the size. and then you've got the Final Fantasy games!

This would've done better on the Saturn had Capcom released it earlier. But it came so late after the PlayStation and the PC version...