Saturday, January 3, 2015

1PanelReview Resident Evil (2002)

In 1996 Capcom left a mark forever in the history of the survival horror genre.

In 2002 they decided to revisit it on the GameCube...

What it is: Resident Evil (2002) also known as Biohazard (GameCube) or Resident Evil: Remake or Resident Evil: Rebirth and also Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil or simply REmake

Which is: A Survival Horror game
Created by: Capcom Production Studio 4/Capcom
Year: 2002
Available on: GameCube, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and PC

Originally developed for the Nintendo GameCube as part of a deal for Nintendo along Resident Evil 0 and Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil (2002) (aka the REmake) is an enhanced remake of the original 1996 Resident Evil game by Capcom. The original Survival Horror game that coined the title of the genre. It was part of an original deal Capcom made with Nintendo to produce several exclusive titles for the GameCube in the style of the old NES era, which spawned these three exclusive (back then) new Resident Evil games. It also saw the return of both original developers Keiji Inafune and Shinji Mikami back on the franchise (one last time before all the creators involved would part ways around the release of RE4). This GameCube exclusive would get a Wii re-release in 2008 following several RE ports on the system under title "Resident Evil Archives", and another last current slightly improved HD port is coming out soon.

What's Good about it: This where it all began! Resident Evil offers a great mix of tense action, careful slow-pacing exploration, survival and management of your resources and puzzles. It's one helluva difficult game compared to later installments in the series, there's very little ammo and health around, so you have to plan ahead and be careful all the time.
As always Jill Valentine allows the easier more intuitive scenario while Chris Redfield offers the more challenging gameplay, only recommended for those who have already finished the game once and are familiar with the RE series.
There's lots of replay value and secrets to discover, from alternate modes once the game's beaten to more weapons and secret costumes, such as Jill's RE3's appareance (and as of the upcoming HD re-release on the "next gen" system, Chris and Jill's awful current appearance from the last games in the series... but really, did they need to add that? Ugh...). The Real Survivor mode for example will offer a closer experience to the original game, with no auto-aim, and item boxes not connected anymore forcing you to backtrack all the time (which is kinda reminiscent of RE0's dropping-system).
Shinji Mikami wanted at least 70% of new and different content from the original game, not a simple port with fancy new graphics (hear that Capcom??? I'm talking about the new HD version or all those lazy ports of any other game in the series). The REmake brought in all-new voice acting, new CGi segments replacing the old FMV and more!
All the abilities added over years like the body language showing your current health, the ability to quick turn at 180-degree, the auto-aim, etc. were all added to the original RE. There's also a lot of new areas inserted in the game, originally cut from the 1996 RE game such as an entire section in the middle of the woods and a graveyard. Enough new additions to even surprise the older fans of the original.
A couple of traps and puzzles moved around, and even completely changed. A couple of zombies put instead of extra ammo and vice-versa. Which offers a nice change of pace for fans of the series.
The most notable new addition is the all-new feature of zombies being able to turn into deadly "Crimson Heads" if they're not decapitated or burned down. It usually takes them around one hour of gameplay (shorter if they were already found dead). Which really adds to the tension, it makes you fear to having to backtrack, when it's not a new wave of enemies introduced in the manor as the story progresses.
What the REmake really has going for it are the all-new improved graphics and sounds. The game still makes a similar use of pre-rendered backgrounds (now in real-time 3D as of the HD version), with glorious dynamic lightning and gorgeous interactive animations. The improved character models are also gorgeous.
This 2002 version of Resident Evil is still to this day one of the better examples if a video game remake out there. It's not just a slightly upgraded port like those countless HD ports but actually a complete revamp of the original game, completely remade with improved graphics and slightly altered gameplay.

What's Bad about it: It's not all perfect, though. The game seems to hand you around more so than the original ever did. What with the way the story seems to force a once-pretty open investigation around the manor into a forced path now clearly more visible. Even the cutscenes seem to hint were you have to go next, probably to help more the players that used to get pretty confused and lost in this daunting exploration game in the past.
While the addition of the Crimson Heads is pretty fun, it also feels like a useless way to make you waste two slots of equipment through the entire game just to be sure you always carry both the zippo and the kerosene to burn it down... It's a kinda annoying extra gimmick if you ask me.
I also kinda miss the old B-movie tone of the original reminiscent of old 1980s horror films and those goofy cheesy fun FMV sequences. Sigh.
Finally, tank controls are still tank controls. Which means you either embrace them or you'll complain about them like there's no tomorrow. It still takes some getting used to. (And the first game still uses a ton of distracting cinematic angles, unlike the Silent Hill games.).

Overall: A flawless classic, still captivating and updated for a new generation! Highly Recommended! It just goes to show the original is easily still the best Resident Evil in the seris to this day. It had such a unique fun atmosphere (and it still feels like a Japanese adaptation of Alone in the Dark in my eyes). Long before the series' convulsed storyline took the games into an over-the-top and silly action direction.

This REmake had such great production values and visible a lot of care was put into the attention to the details. From the great new animations to the entire sound department. Really great work all around! They put so much work into the creepy music, setting up the atmosphere and sounds such as footsteps and the ambient sounds.

This new iteration of Resident Evil 1 was received by a fantastic reception at the time, which helped renew the interest in the series and helped the new titles like Zero back then (much like RE4 would do the same a couple of years later). Thanks to its visually impressive visuals and tone, it remains easily one of the best looking and scariest survival horror titles out there.

A slightly upgraded port called "HD Remaster" is set to be released this month for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC. And is Well Recommended just like the original. Another reason to go back to the old Spencer Mansion. If anything it was the occasion for Capcom to dig back into the series' roots and not forget how to make an actual survival horror tile. And the series was in big need to have a look back to what RE used to stand for.

While I will always personally prefer the original Resident Evil over the REmake for the tight stressful gameplay and slightly B-movie-grade atmosphere, I gotta recognize how great and fantastic this remake turned out like.
I give it: 2.5 / 3 Quacks!

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