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Survival Horror









M (Mature)



April 2002



- Whoa-geez graphics and animation

- The refinement of a classic

- Most camera angles work

very well

- Controls easy to get a handle on

- Some replayability

- Addictive



- Save points few and far between

- Lots of backtracking if you’re not careful

- Impossible to see some items



Review: Resident Evil Zero (Gamecube)

Review: Eternal Darkness (Gamecube)



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Resident Evil

Score: 9.0 / 10


As I navigated the halls of Resident Evil’s creepy mansion, blasting zombies, escaping from traps, and marveling at the graphics, I couldn’t help but wonder how much the mansion would sell for if it was on the market.  Square footage must be upwards of 30,000 and secret doors are scattered throughout.  If it was sold fully furnished, I’d peg the price somewhere around $34 million.  Of course, there might be some wiggle room on the price – zombie infestation being quite a bit worse than mice infestation.


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Resident Evil (RE) was originally released way back in 1996 and since then has remained the king of the survival horror genre.  If it was the king before, it’s the undisputed Ruler of the Universe now (at least, as of this writing).


Playing as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, two members of a S.T.A.R.’s Alpha team sent to investigate the disappearance of Bravo team, you explore a massive mansion on the outskirts of Racoon City (population: 12,000 and dropping like a rock) to uncover the origin of the zombies stalking the area.  The “haunted” house setting never gets old when it’s done correctly, and RE manages this with great deftness.





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Cinematic camera angles can often times be a pain in the ass.  RE manages to avoid awkward camera work for the most part, although there are still a few instances of being given a poor view of an area allowing zombies to get the drop on you even though they should be in plain sight.  But not once did I get turned around or lost because I couldn’t get a bearing on where I was.  The graphics and animation are so good it’s like playing a super-extended cutscene.  The play of shadows and light makes for some incredibly 


gorgeous and convincing environments.  Even the most innocuous scene is made anxiety inducing with the placement of a flickering light.  A shiver down the spine is common while playing.  (Sound design matches the action on screen – even the voice acting manages to be above average!)  Of course, settings are nice but zombies are nicer.  All the icky undead and mutated monstrosities are suitably horrific -- RE's rated M for good reason.


But graphics are nothing without gameplay.  And gameplay there is.  RE plays like an adventure game, giving you plenty of tasks to perform to make progress.  As I mentioned above, the house is huge so there are puzzles plastered throughout so sometimes finding an item can take a long time. (But if you’re careful and take things easy, it solves the problem of backtracking.)  One problem with this aspect is that some items of interest are impossible to spot due to a lack of on-screen cues.  Really important objects tend to glint to attract your attention but other items (like the shotgun shells in the cemetery) I found completely by accident.  This tends to lead to pressing “A” to investigate everything you come across no matter how insignificant (or pressing it at random.)  Some items are guarded by puzzles that are straightforward for the most part, but others can result in instant death and some frustration.


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Save points are in the form of typewriters.  To access the typewriter you need ribbons that are scattered throughout the house.  More than a few times I was pulling my hair out over the decision to “save” later just before I was ground up like beef or eaten by a zombie.  My tip to you: even if you have to backtrack a seemingly large area to save your game, do it.  Taking a trip back is easier than playing huge sections of the game over and over because you were too arrogant/stupid/bold to save.  Don’t push your luck.  (That being said, my blunders still weren’t enough to dissuade me from playing for extremely long periods.)


Most times you’ll die from the various puzzles because you’ve been given a great inventory of weapons to deal with the undead, including the standard pistol and shotgun. (Will they ever develop a more effective and satisfying way to kill a zombie than with a 12 gauge?) Some weapons get a little more elaborate, like the launcher that fires acid-filled grenades or the over-before-it's-really-started flamethrower.  In a nod to real life, ammo is extremely limited.  There’s no locking and loading here – it’s more like take a few shots, run away, switch to the knife, hack away, retreat again, climb on a dresser, then hack away again.  I really liked the defensive moves that both Chris and Jill have – there’s nothing quite like jamming a big knife in a zombie’s putrefied head then backing up to unload some buckshot if it tries to stand up.


There’s a surprising amount of strategy involved in fighting the zombies, especially when dealing with more than one.  Inventory management is quite streamlined, although I would have appreciated a button to reload my equipped weapon rather than going into the inventory screen and combining the bullets with the gun.


Control is also good and it only takes a little while to get a handle on everything – even less time if you’re familiar with RE’s previous incarnations.  The fact I mention control in a minor paragraph is to illustrate just how unobtrusive the controls are -- they simply blend into the overall presentation.


Whenever a game is as popular as Resident Evil, I’m always ready to hate it.  I like to think of myself as an individual, not a sheep – “Baaaa, Resident Evil’s a great game!” – but after playing through as Jill (which is definitely easier) and ¾ of the way through with Chris, I have to concur with the rest of the floc— rest of my peers and gamers in general.  Minor issues aside, Resident Evil has what every lover of survival horror wants.  Destined to become a classic… again.


- Omni

(May 24, 2002)

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