In the days before remaking classic media for a quick profit became the ‘in thing’. One console was reinventing a classic the proper way – to show off the capabilities of a gaming machine’s Texture EnVironment engine for a sumptuous atmospheric experience.
Resident Evil (Remake) took the familiar story from 1996′s original Resident Evil game and spruced it up. They also added new subplots, situations and enemies to the adventures of Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield; resulting in 10 different endings to the game, to extend the replay value.
The first thing to notice was the jaw dropping graphics; from the intro FMV’s (which actually matched the ingame graphics for a change) to the game itself. Resi used the Game Cube’s graphic processor to its full potential with detailed rendered backdrops and lovingly detailed character polygon animation, at 30 frames per second.
The engine combined this with dynamic real world effects including : shadow casting, lighting and particle SFX.
Overlayed on this detailed world were much superior AI’ed up enemies from the original; everything from : Zombies, in all shapes, sizes and various states of decomposition (and undress), to Hunter’s (sleek frog like lizard killing machines), mutant shark’s, dogs, birds, snakes, worms, bio-weapon bosses and a few new enemies thrown in, for extra shock value.
The zombie’s themselves were suitably rendered in decomposed detail. Your damage counted too, if you blew a hole in one but left it standing, it would still be battle damaged on your return. The effects came into their own here with blood and brain parts splattering all over the walls of the environment, as you took each one down.
That said, a new twist on the zombies in this version was that shooting them once was not enough. If you didn’t completely decapitate them first time, (as you only had your trusty pistol). You had to literally incinerate their corpses, using either fire or a nice grenade shoved in their gob/headshot combo (Chris Redfield move).
If you didn’t incinerate their corpses, at some point later in the game they woukd stand back up and come back after you, this time running, all snarls and long claws – these Zom’s were known as ‘Crimson’s’ or ‘Crimson Head’s’ and were much harder to kill. They even followed you from room to room, that oh-so Resi trick of escaping from a room to regroup, didn’t give you restbite with these undead upgrades.
It added a nice strategy element to your zombie disposal, you didn’t always have high powered weapons for decapitation or enough incendiary devices to incinerate them. So you had to choose to incinerate only the ones which lay within your main required thoroughfare through the mansion.
As an added challenge, some of the doorhandles snapped off after using them meaning that particular route was cut off. This might have been in the original Resi also, but I can’t remember.
Plug the Game Cube’s sound cable into a surround system and you had a nice stereo surround sound effect, which added another layer of creepiness to the game. Especially the succession of moans and shuffling from behind you, as you negotiated the mansion. It wasn’t dolby pro-logic surround sound though, and it could of been – which was poor and a limitation of the software then (2004′s Resi 4 came out in Dolby Digital). But the stereo served the atmosphere presentation reasonably well.
The controls weren’t much of an improvement over the 1996 version and were a little clunky, but to their credit, they presented as much as a challenge to the negotiating of the corridors and rooms, as the game itself. One added improvement over 1996 Resi, was the added incorporation of a quick 180 degree spin, which could be utilised when running away from an enemy. Its not easy to use but it can be mastered with enough playtime.
Talking of playtime, the game can be beat in a minimum of 5 hours, but this needs an intimate knowledge of the mansion, to negotiate the required enemies and puzzles in the most efficient timed route.
You can play as either Chris or Jill, and both have markedly different adventures. Jill, as in the 1996 original, is accompanied by Barry for some of the game, you even get to play as him for while.
Players will remember pushing statues around, over pressure pads to activate secret doors, etc. But step out of the mansion, into the gardens; and the player will have a whole new area to explore which just goes on-and-on. This eventually results in a visit to “Lisa’s house” (a delapadated shed at the bottom of the Mansion garden’s) just as Lisa returns home, the most disgusting cross bred bio-hazard I have ever seen, which made my blood literally freeze, as she pushed open the front door and limped towards my character. This was a really nice touch, especially to me, a seasoned Resi gamer – definately the scariest Resi moment I have ever witnessed!
Finally, one of the other jaw dropping moments I remember from this game was when you got attacked by zombie sharks. The sharks were so beautifully rendered, you couldn’t help but stop to marvel as one bites your character clean in half!
This remake’s one teensy let down is that for all of the polished presentation, the voice acting and character facial movements are still a little on the wooden side, not quite as lame as the original but still quite bad. This maybe was intentional though, to add to the B-movie-ness of the whole experience – so I can let this go!
Resident Evil (Remake) ticks all of the boxes, it honours the original game paying its dues and then adds sone really good new layers to the mythos, without ever ruining it. Infact, I love the remake as much, if not more than the original and I think that is testament to the makers.
Definately, a post watershed moment in remake gaming. Their followup – Resident Evil Zero didn’t quite hit the mark in the same way, more of that in a followup Classic Gaming Review.
Gamecube emulator’s are not that reliable so you have to be careful with the one you pick. A list of allegedly reliable Game Cube Emulator’s can be found here.
Resi Remake Overview – courtesy of Youtube user : myduis