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Review – Resident Evil Remake

posted on January 3rd, 2007 by christian

The Resident Evil Remake taught me a few important lessons, some about the series itself, and some about gaming in general. Let’s not waste any time and get right down to it.

First off, Resident Evil doesn’t actually suck. People love making fun of the pre-RE4 formula for Resident Evil games. They’ll complain about the cheesy zombies, the tank-like controls, and the obtuse puzzles. And yet none of these things could keep me from enjoying the REmake. I enjoyed having a good brainteaser to solve. I enjoyed blasting away at zombies with a well placed shotgun shell fired in a fairly realistic manner. I like the slow, plodding pace of the game, where survival is the only thing that needs to be on your mind, not time or points or action. And while there may not be an excuse for poor control, it doesn’t take that much practice to get used to steering your character around. In fact, after enough play you shouldn’t be running into zombies at all.

Say that it is too difficult. Say that it just isn’t your style of game. Just don’t say that it isn’t possible to be entertained by it once it all clicks. REmake isn’t the smartest game, but its formula provides a fine blend of puzzles and action.

It’s amore!

The important thing to take away from this is that it wasn’t until the REmake that I really discovered how good Resident Evil games could be. It is true that I had tried the original on Playstation years ago, but never got more than ten minutes into it. For once I have to agree with a lot of the hip game writers out there; RE1 was an early Playstation mess. The models really did look horrible, the pre-rendered backgrounds fuzzy and washed out, and the entire setup for the game seemed entirely different due to the horribly cheesy approach Capcom took. It was a lot of cruft resting on top of some good survival horror gameplay.

It is the REmake that removes this cruft and gives the game the polish it has needed. The graphics bring the mansion to life like never before, and to this day only the new Myst games seem able to match its jaw dropping pre-rendered scenes. The script is hugely improved, as are the voice actors, who actually put a little bit of effort into their work. What once was a B-movie zombie story is now a blockbuster zombie story. Still stupid, but told well enough for us to pay attention to it.

The extra content not only helps to flesh out the experience, but will keep veteran players on their toes. In addition to the new areas that no one has seen before, Capcom also went ahead and made some changes to some of the key scenes and locations in RE1. For instance, the infamous hellhound scene has been nicely tweaked to throw off players who try to anticipate it. This is a remake like no other; one that takes a game that has aged horribly and makes it into something that really is a truer, better realization of what the creators had in mind.

It also goes to show just how gullible gamers can be. While we may scoff at how silly RE1 is now, back when it was new many of us were wowed by its “creepy” sights, buckets of blood and mature themes. Even today, I can freely admit that while REmake would eventually make me a fan of Resident Evil, it was the amazing visual overhaul that initially got me re-interested in a series I had left for dead. I won’t be surprised if in ten years I look back at this one with the same contempt as the original. Throw something shiny and new at a gamer, and watch us squeal. Make what you will of that.

Capcom has never shyed away from robbing their characters of dignity.

REmake also shows us how baffling some of Capcom’s decision making can be. For instance, despite some of the massive improvements made to the game, they never fixed a few of the poorly translated lines in the inventory screen (particularly the one when you try using an item with no current use). Was that purposeful nostalgia or pure negligence? Additionally, REmake is the first Resident Evil game to implement the infamous “Type C” control scheme, which makes navigation much easier by separating forward motion and turning onto separate buttons. None of the subsequent ports of old RE games, or even the original Resident Evil 0 that came afterwards had this scheme as an option. I’m not sure how Capcom chooses what to change and what to leave alone, but at times I wonder if they rely on a dartboard in the office.

Last but not least, I think that with REmake, Capcom finally managed to craft a truly frightening game. Between the intimidating difficulty of hard mode, the chillingly realistic look of the game world, and the deceptive camera angles used to portray each scene, the REmake evokes the very best thrills of a good Hollywood zombie film. There’s nothing quite like leaving a room that was filled with frozen corpses stuffed into body bags and going out into a grimy hallway where a rotting zombie or a swift hunter is waiting around the corner to tear you to pieces.

REmake not only wants to disturb, but for once it actually can. While series like Silent Hill try (and in my opinion, mostly fail) to deliver subtle psychological horror, Resident Evil quite literally goes for the throat. If you’re not playing with the lights off, you’re not playing it right. Fun, frightening and classy in its delivery, REmake is one of the highlights of the Gamecube and without a doubt the best Resident Evil that Capcom would push out before RE4.

10 Comments

  1. Matt said on January 3, 2007:

    Yeah, this was definitely an awesome game. I loved the crimson zombies. I think that added a lot to the gameplay, making you plan out which ones you killed in what order. I still think Resident Evil 2 is the best old-style RE, though. It had a little more linearity to it, (like the trek to the underground lab through the sewers) and I liked the contemporary setting more.

  2. Christian said on January 3, 2007:

    RE2 is certainly a classic, and defintiely where Capcom figured out how to nail their formula. However the "creepy mansion full of monsters" just gives me such a warm, fuzzy, "House on Haunted Hill" horror flick feel that I never grow tired of.  Plus the REmake visuals still blow me away.

  3. Matt said on January 7, 2007:

    Yeah, the graphics for the REmake are phenomenal. Still better than some games now, and that’s saying a lot. 

  4. jay said on January 7, 2007:

    I’m actually a bigger fan of RE1 than 2. The second game had too many zombies, which in turn made them feel like standard enemies. When I walked into a room with four zombies I though, "more enemies." In the first game, when I only had five bullets (the second gives you much more ammo) and walked through a handful of unoccupied spaces to find that one lumbering zombie, I’d always think, "Oh shit, a zombie! Will I make it?"

     

    Basically I think the second turned the series into action games, but not good action games. RE4 was necessary for that. 

  5. TerrawindX2 said on December 27, 2007:

    I find it saddening that it was a GameCube exclusive, and wishing it was on the PS2. But I’m getting a Nintendo Wii soon, so I’ll play this if I have the chance.

    Meanwhile, I resort to Silent Hill, 1, 2, 3, and 4 and now aiming for Origins on the PSP.

    And to tell you the truth, Silent Hill also makes and excellent complement to your Survival Horror collection, and you it does deliver psycho horror unlike what you said. You have to pay full attention to grasp it. Try the 2nd and 3rd and avoid the 4th and anticipate the 5th.

    Now the Umbrella Chronicles, a RE4-style remake of the first game is coming out soon, and we will soon see the mansion in its polygonal beauty.

  6. Christian said on December 28, 2007:

    Thanks for the comment Terrawind

    I have played the first three Silent Hill games, and will play Origins out of curiosity. For the Record, I love Silent Hill 1 to death, and it is my clear favorite in the series. Most people enjoy 2 the most, but it doesn’t do anything for me. The symbolism is such that everyone seems to have a different analysis of the game, and most importantly, the enemies are not that difficult even on the hardest settings. Having that radio around makes life a lot less scarier, because it lets me know to just lock on to an enemy off screen and fire until the radio turns off.

    SH3 just seemed to preoccupied with phallic symbols.

    Long story short, SH games do try to achieve psychological horror, I just didn’t find it particuraly well done after the first game, which was the only one that could scare me (and damn, it scared me like the dickens).

    On the other hand, I wrote this back when I had bad experiences with Silent Hill fans who would not give RE a chance. They seemed to play the games with a jaded, “You can’t scare me” attitude, and I think that might have caused me to go into SH with the same feeling. That is precisely why I am looking forward to Origins, as I hope to go into it with a clean state of mind and let it do its thing. If it succeeds I promise you that I’ll replay the 2 and 3 and see if I have changed my attitude.

  7. sean said on February 6, 2008:

    good review of RE1 remake

    chris
    lol i hav also play SH for the reason of IM NOT SCARED OF YOU
    played (3, 4, and origins 3 scared me the most cus its controls were like RE only this was like shit
    espesualy the hospital an last place
    when i played origins i through its was a different kind of sanitarium like toilet water or food not a CRAZY HOUSE

  8. Chris said on August 12, 2009:

    i think the new remake was amazing but like all resident evil games way too many different things at once, ill always appreciate RE 1 AN RE2 because it was mainly zombies, in the new games its crazy village people or gone crazy Africans, i miss the real zombie terror an REmake definitely gives me all my needs in the Resident Evil series. So 10/10!

  9. Chris said on August 12, 2009:

    Plus cant wait to see what they have in store for RE6(if their smart enough to make one….)

  10. David said on August 20, 2010:

    REmake is the best but I love all the old style RE games especially this, number 2 and CVX RE4 was very fun but not the same and RE5 was dissapointing but for the Co-op which was lots of fun in a more Gears of War way not in a Resident Evil way.

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