It has been nearly a decade since I last visited Raccoon Forest, I wasn’t too keen on returning to be honest, after being bitten by a snake, mauled by rabid dogs, pecked to death by crows and decapitated by a human sized lizard thingy – I’m sure you would think twice too. Well… maybe I’m just nitpicking.
Resident Evil is a survival horror game from Capcom that was originally released for the PS1, and has now been resurrected for a PS One classics release that is playable on the PS3, PSP and of course the PS Vita.
The game has you setting out with your fellow S.T.A.R.S squadmates to track and find your teammates from Bravo team, who have been investigating mysterious disappearances in Raccoon Forest, and have inexplicably disappeared themselves. Your investigation has you searching a mansion and its grounds for your lost teammates, all the while death, treachery and a good helping of Zombies attempt to stop your progress and ultimate escape.
This is a single player only affair, and for very good reason as this is a survival horror game that attempts to shock, panic and scare you at many turns throughout the grim story. You can either play as Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, two operatives from the S.T.A.R.S unit. Depending on which operative you choose will depend on the difficulty setting the game throws at you, and also the story line fed to you. Choosing your character is not just aesthetic, there are real differences to Jill and Chris, what gear they start out with, the story thread you follow, the characters that you interact with and how difficult the game ultimately becomes.
The mansion is not fully available to you from the off, and you will need to explore what you can at first, around the mansion and its grounds, solving puzzles, finding keys to unlock other rooms and battling many undead foes. Your enemies are varied and offer differing challenges throughout, ammo and health are scattered around the mansion for you to find, along with clues and keys that you need to progress through the mansion and its grounds. There are also save points and safe rooms within the mansion, that offer respite from your unrelenting foes. Here you will find storage boxes to hold onto those precious items that you are unable to carry in your inventory.
Ah yes your inventory… Your resource management skills will be put to the test, as you attempt to work out what you think you need and how much space to leave for new items. Oh I almost forgot, your save points are typewriters that are dotted around the mansion, and you will need ink ribbons in order to use them to save your progress. This also makes you think before entering new areas as you don’t know what will be waiting for you, a cautious approach is recommended. The mansion and its guts are rendered in 2D, while your characters and enemies are 3D. This gives you a very rich and detailed background while enabling your freedom of movement throughout the mansion.
You aren’t on your own in this nightmare as you squadmates attempt to lend you a hand or two whenever possible. However the dialogue makes you wonder why they even bother, with some of the most comedic conversations between Barry Burton and Jill Valentine being so bad that they end up being brilliant! I am convinced that there is such a place as the “Barry Burton school of voiceacting” and that many gaming characters, even now, graduate from it!
As this game was originally intended for the PS1, you will find that Resident Evil does not support the PS Vita’s front or rear touchscreen, gyroscope or camera. Controls here are all old school with the directional pad and action buttons taking centre stage, along with the shoulder buttons. Movement within the game can sometimes seem convoluted and sluggish but that is intended to make you panic when you are outnumbered and give you a feeling of vulnerability. The camera is fixed throughout and you cannot control it. This makes some rooms and corridors only half visible at all times and you can never be sure what is lurking in the other part which gives the game much of its tension, along with the soundtrack which does a great job of letting you know whats around you even when you cannot see it, changing the tempo when there is imminent danger or a safe place to catch your breath.
This Directors Cut has two extra difficulty modes, Training mode gives you an easier ride than the original game, while Advanced has different camera angles and enemy placement is mixed up so you cannot rely on memory alone to get you through a second time.
I love Resident Evil, I spent a good 30 hours on my very first playthrough wandering around the mansion and its grounds, struggling with ammo preservation and Hunters. Now though… I went back and played through, laughing at the dialogue and cursing my arrogance for not using a save point and dying half an hour from my last save. I also realised that I had completely forgotten about a third of the game, this third of the game brought back the tension and uncertainty that plagued my very first playthrough. I feel that this sense of tension and uncertainty is what really makes Resident Evil what it is, and has been left behind in more recent incarnations in favour of fast paced action.
In short, Resident Evil is a classic game that spawned many incarnations and sequels and deserves to be brought back for our gaming pleasure. If you fancy something different from your action games, or have played any of the later sequels I urge you to play this and see where it all began. You go first… I’m right behind you.
At A Glance
- Title: Resident Evil: Director’s Cut
- Publisher: Capcom
- System: PS One Classics
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 353Mb