Thursday, 22 April 2021

Resident Evil - Digital Zombie Brains 2: The Return of the Revenge


Who here has not heard of this revolutionary title? Where Alone in the Dark broadcasted survival horror for a group of people, Resident Evil (or the Japanese title Biohazard) broadcasted it to the entire world. This launched a franchise that is still going very strong two decades later. The gameplay is easy to learn but especially hard to master. You don't need prior knowledge to learn how to beat it, but you'd better be thinking on your toes and you also need to master the controls in a big hurry. 

Right off the bat, you can see that the graphics in this game aged like a opossum. It's grimy and ugly, especially compared to ahem other ports, but if you really care that much about graphics, what are you doing here? This is the mid-90's and graphics mean about as much as a stain glass window in a church. It's nice to have, but there are plenty of other things you should be focused on. One of those things is staying alive by killing zombies that come your way. Right off the bat, the game throws you into the fire and sees how you react. 

This game is very unforgiving, especially if you don't know any of the mechanics coming in. The feeling of panic starts when the zombie locks eyes with you and starts its ferocious attack on your flesh. Knowing your controls and knowing not to waste bullets on the first enemy is key to your success. Now, you're proud of yourself when you figure out that Berry is more than willing to help you kill it. Then the game says "Sorry! Here's some dogs to keep you company! Have fun!" These are even faster and harder to kill because of how their AI just runs ragged to, once again, chomp at your jugular. 

This is the first five or ten minutes of the game, depending on how fast you are in figuring out where to go. The rest of the game does not take it easy on you, either. It throws you a bone here and there but you've got to know when to use the healing items and when to use your ammunition or run away from the danger. That's why the key phrase is "survival", but it doesn't stop there, either. There's also puzzles and secrets that you need to solve in order to continue throughout the mansion. You didn't think it was going to be that easy, did you?

No, this game is hard! The combination of unforgiving targeting, knick-of-time combat reflexes and general "Now, where the hell do I go?" game mechanics have sent several poor gamers home crying because they couldn't save without a typewriter. That's right, if you don't save your game as you go, you're going to be replaying a lot of sections that you spent a lot of time trying to figure out. If you start the game and don't get to a typewriter before an enemy takes you down, you start from the beginning. 

The key factor in all of this is that you learn from your mistakes and you learn where to go and what to do with each of the enemies that you face. The feeling of panic and fear is real when you are down to the red health bar, two bullets in the clip and needing to rely on the knife as your sole means of defense. It forces the fear into you and it does not let up for anyone! That's one of the biggest things that fans latched onto with this series and kept them coming back for more when the sequels started rolling out.

The puzzles aren't especially hard, but on top of everything else, they could possibly trick you and make you wonder what you're doing wrong. Sometimes, you'll kick yourself for not figuring it out yourself. This is okay, it's what the game is meant to do. Keeping you on your toes and guessing when the next zombie pops out of nowhere is a mechanic you're going to see throughout. That's not even including the boss fights or inventory management! Choosing what goes into your pockets is absolutely crucial to your survival. Knowing what ammunition you'll be needing in the future along with what health items to keep or leave behind has driven players bonkers! 

You'll leave behind a box of shotgun shells, and then in the next room, OH GOD WHAT IS THAT?!

The game throws you yet another curve ball! Its gameplay is disorienting on purpose. It gives you a fair chance but only just so. If you don't know how to control your character very well by now, you may as well rely on the save feature, and good luck with that. That is not going to get you far, I can tell you that for free.

Then there's the dubbing to take into consideration. This game's English Dub is infamous for being some of the most tripe garbage and hilariously terrible dialogue this side of the Atlantic. It has been parodied, mocked and the laughing stock of the gaming industry, but us old school gamers would have it no other way. There was a remake of this game for the Gamecube that fixed the dialogue and voice acting but many will attest that it wasn't worth the effort and a great many fans don't play the remake for that very reason. Lines having to do with sandwiches, mastering the unlocking and blood have flooded meme chats and forums throughout the internet, it is impossible not to find some good ones for a hefty laugh. 

The tank controls are perhaps the biggest weak point in this game. They have been defended by purists and panned by gaming critics and the back and forth still continues to this very day. They take some serious getting use to. They are one of the biggest obstacles to overcome with this game and for good reason. I won't go into too much detail here, but you will need to give yourself a moment to figure out how to equip items, use items, aim your gun and run away in the proper direction without hitting walls or chairs over and over again. If you're running away from something and you can't seem to stop hitting the grandfather clock, you should probably give yourself another moment to figure it out.

This is an absolutely solid game through and through. There is very good reason it has stood the test of time, because it set the bar for survival horror as a genre and very few games have met it in the ring. Silent Hill 2 is a contender for sure, but even the sequel games being made to this day have either been too easy or just not scary when they're tagged with the same title and genre. When you give your game the Survival Horror category, you'd better be able to bring up the goods. Resident Evil is a hard bar to reach, but it is always good to try your best to do so. Gaming companies have fallen into cash-grab crunch mode and forgotten what it is like to make good games, but at least they gave us games such as this one before they fell into that well. While you're down there, why don't you start making complete games and fill my bucket with water?


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