Remakes, reboots, revamps and HD collections. It seems every game from yester-year is being dragged into the current gen for a new audience, for the experience, of course and in no way just to be a quick cash-in on older titles. Remakes are not a new thing however. Films are always being remade. Some need it – for example a lot of John Carpenter films are good ideas but not that well made, and the remakes usually end up being quite good. And the same can be said about the PSOne game.
Resident Evil was one of the PSOne’s original new breed. An early release on PSOne (and Sega Saturn), Resident Evil introduced the world to proper survival horror. It was a great game at the time, but it was not without its flaws.
The GameCube version arrived in 2002, six years after the original and its amazing to see just how far games moved on in, that relatively short period of time. The GC version is obviously technically far superior to the PSOne version. Graphically the game even now is eerily atmospheric. The GC still has a hint of that graphical blur that plagued N64 games, but here the softer edges give the game an almost hazy, dreamlike look and it adds (probably unintentionally) to the tension that comes with creeping around that now infamous mansion.
One thing the original is fondly remembered for, is its terrible, no, horrific dialogue and voice acting. Count the times characters say ”What is this”, and ”That was too close”. “You were almost a Jill sandwich.” type quotes helped to make the originals dialogue so bad, that the GC versions voice acting and dialogue were completely built from scratch, and its much better for it.
Another element that held the original back were the controls. Using the tank system in which characters turn on the spot and then move forward, just didn’t lend itself to making quick escapes from the zombie hordes. The GC game was slightly more fluid, though it did retain the turn and move mechanics, the addition of the 180 quick turn on the GC pads C Stick and the ability to run, helped to speed up character movement and the pace of the game in general.
The game still retained a lot of back tracking due to puzzle pieces and keys being scattered all over the mansion and surrounding areas, and this can grate after a while, especially in those moments when supplies are in short supply. However, the game is so wonderfully detailed and cinematic, these gripes are soon forgiven.
The original and remake still have their flaws which it seems like I have focused on here. But the game, and in particular the remake, is a bonafied classic. As mentioned, what you have here is the original brilliant idea, made better. CG cut scenes replaced the FMV originals, and noticeably improved the games presentation, which helped to beef up the story and gives the whole game a much more cinematic feel, and those classic Resi moments (the licker encounter, the shark, those damn hell hounds in those windows) are all the more memorable. Some new areas were added such as the graveyard and the woodland path, the latter was very dark and occasionally lit up by impressive lightning flashes, and was a stand out moment.
If somehow you’ve never played Resident Evil, or never played a survival horror game before, the original Resident Evil is the place to start. But don’t let your nostalgia go as far back as the PSOne version. The Gamecube version will make you want to play the rest of the series, and is a cracking game to play on Halloween night.