Resident Evil. Probably one of the biggest game franchises today, with a PS One trilogy to die for, the critically acclaimed Code: Veronica and the naff gun game. Of course, no saga would be complete without a crap movie, and now Resident Evil has on of them. Is there no stopping it? It doesn’t look like it. It’s good news for GameCube owners as they now have the name as an exclusive on the console and to kick start its Nintendo career Capcom have gone back to the beginning, back to where the terror began, to bring you the original Resident Evil in next generation glory. It’s already caused a storm in Japan and now it’s our turn Europe. Hold on to your pants as we go back to RE mansion.
For those of you unfamiliar with Resident Evil, where on earth have you been? However, this bit is most probably for your benefit, as the gameplay remains relatively unchanged from the original.
As either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, you must navigate the mysterious mansion, which you have been sent to. Your mission is to find the team that went missing investigating the strange reports from the house. Little do you know that the mansion has been a breeding ground for hideous freaks and killing machines and you are forced escape all manner of flesh eating ghouls. Crumbs, better pack your night light…
During your investigation of the mansion you must complete copious amounts of fiendish puzzles, some more taxing than others. At the beginning of the game only a few areas of the mansion are accessible and you must find keys to all the other areas done by completing the aforementioned puzzles, to find an object to complete a bigger puzzle, to find another object which… you get the picture? It sounds boring but as you will find out, it is far from it. The puzzle play and exploring is the most in depth of any series and completing a puzzle without help is extremely satisfying, however, there are instances where you may not know where to go or what to do and when this happens the game becomes frustrating. You’ll need patience and a sharp mind.
During your exploration you’ll find the pieces of the mansion’s background and goings on will fall into place with the help of cut scenes and objects you’ll find lying around such as diaries and newspapers.
On your way around you’ll meet up with several cleverly designed monsters and zombies, some of which will prove to be extremely hard to defeat, creating an air of frightening unpredictability. Most of the time it is a good idea to avoid confrontation, as ammo and weaponry are hard to come by. You won’t want a confrontation either as monsters pounce on you with complete surprise after suspense building sounds such as creaks and knocks, making the hardest man wet his pants with fear. Health is also hard to come by, adding to the fear of being attacked any moment, from any direction, by anything.
Around 70% of the game is completely different to that of the original game so those who played it to death can still get some satisfaction out of this title. However, the puzzles are still frustrating and sometimes dull and the mansion’s layout also serves to annoy you at every possible opportunity. Nevertheless, to the Resident Evil master the layout can prove to be a big asset in conserving health and ammo. Multiple routes are on offer, thus there is no need to pass that threatening zombie a second time with little ammo and low health. It’s still easy to get lost though and the mansion map is useless to those who can’t read them, generally most of the population.
The main improvement over the original Resident Evil for Sega Saturn and PlayStation is most obviously the graphics. I’m sure most of you how played the original remember the first FMV where a zombie is found munching on your mate, well think of that, then you’ve got a good idea of the in game graphics. Yes, it really is that good.
Your surroundings are traditionally pre-rendered and done in an immaculate, highly detailed moody way, however you’ll hardly realise that they are pre-renders, because the visual effects and models are so good they fit perfectly in place. No more beautiful backgrounds and blocky zombies. Unfortunately there are some jaggies around the player models but they’re hardly anything and everything looks so good that you just won’t care.
Visual effects include impressive clouds of dust rising off the floor as you run and gore that isn’t far off from what you see in horror movies. No doubt you’ll also be very impressed by the flame effects, especially when seen coming out of the flame thrower. I don’t think you’ll have ever seen fire done so well and roasting a zombie with it just adds to the perfection. The lighting around you and on your chosen STAR is also affected by open fires, candles and this dangerously addictive flame thrower I’m on about. The lighting is moody and dull, creating a tense atmosphere surpassing anything seen before. Flickering bulbs and lightening will have you gulping with fear at instances, yet make you unable to overt your eyes from the pure magic.
The detail on the zombie foes and other hideous creatures also adds to the tension, drawing you into the resident evil world, swapping you reality for one you’d probably wished you never stepped into.
There’s only one problem I can think of with the graphics and it’s the minimal slowdown that is sometimes produced. Resident Evil GameCube really does keep everything true to the original but unfortunately the slight jerks between camera frames have still been included. This must be due to loading the backgrounds and it’s very minor but it would have been nice to see it perfectly flowing. Basically it’s so hard to pick fault with the graphics here that this is the only thing I could think of, that and the extra minimal slowdown during explosions.
Resident Evil is one of those games that gamers will feel hard to put up with if they don’t know what to do. It’s easy to overlook something simple and be running around for ages looking for solutions that won’t be there. At this point Resident Evil is easy to put down.
When you do know what to do however, and you complete puzzles off your own back, the game is very rewarding and satisfying. Progression is fun as your excitement of seeing new monsters and your fear of being eaten by them builds. Anticipation runs high in this game but it’s this same anticipation, which leads to frustration when you feel you’re not going anywhere.
If you’re a fan of the genre though, I’m sure your shear love for the game and its exploration techniques will propel you through the dull moments that may occur. I can’t help thinking the game structure is showing its age now though and that is was more fun 6 years ago.
Resident Evil GC is an amazing adaptation of a once and still amazing game that remains playable for hours, especially if you’re in love with the series. This is a highly recommended title for GameCube owners, although some people will find it hard to get into it’s an ultimately rewarding game. There’s also enough incentive to play it through more than once, with 10 different endings available although you’ll need to be one hell of a fan to play a sadly aging concept that many times.