The game that started it all, Resident Evil, has received a remaster of a remaster. Capcom has taken the GameCube re-release of the 1996 classic, and turned everything up a notch for current consoles. Is it everything a Resident Evil fan wants in a remaster, or is the game just too long in the tooth nearly 20 years later?
Did somebody say nostalgia? A lot of developers are capitalizing on the aging segment of the gaming population. Many people who were around and have vivid memories of the original Resident Evil now have kids or other members of their family that perhaps have never seen the game that some say popularized the survival horror genre in video games. As soon as you select “New Game” and hear the familiar “Resident Evil!” voice, you know you’re in for a treat.
The tank controls that Capcom swore added to the tension of the game have been turned off by default. I think that speaks volumes about how archaic the original control scheme truly was, and most gamers will appreciate the change. Moving around finally gets mostly out of your way while you try to solve puzzles and not get eaten alive at the same time. Shooting is still a bit of a chore, but the inclusion of automatically using defensive weapons such as combat knives if you’re attacked from the front is much appreciated. Don’t forget the double-tap!
There are other aspects of Resident Evil that will no doubt cause some arguing amongs fans. Since this is a remaster of the GameCube port, the cheesy live-action cutscenes from the original are long gone. I say good riddance, but others may not agree. Three different difficulty levels are also available at the start, which is welcome for newbies to the series as well as those who simply haven’t played the game in a number of years. Yet despite an easier difficulty setting, the save system has remained the same. You still have to keep an ink ribbon occupying a precious inventory slot, and track down a typewriter in order to save. It has limited uses just like before. Purists will love the extra planning that this requires, while new gamers might get frustrated when they haven’t saved in a while, die unexpectedly, and lose hours of progress. If Capcom introduced an easier difficulty setting, why not also introduce an optional checkpoint system? It could help a whole new generation of gamers to appreciate the game without throwing their controllers at the screen.
This is the best-looking version of Resident Evil available today. You can play as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, as usual, but you get to choose between their old, ’96 look, and their updated, ‘09 look. Seeing the more heavily-muscled Chris in the in-game cutscenes looks a little weird, and Jill’s newer character model includes, of all things, breast physics, which reminds you of the times we’re living in. But if you can’t stomach how frail the older character models appear by comparison, then you have the option of never seeing them. The old loading screens featuring nothing more than the door you are opening are also here, and while the nostalgia factor is extremely high here, the charm quickly wears off as you have to wait at least 5 seconds between rooms. On a PS4, with 8GB of memory, this seems unnecessary. This feels like another option that could have been greatly enhanced on today’s platforms.
If you want some good, classic scares, then pick up this great Resident Evil remaster as soon as you can. $20 might sound like a lot for what is really an old game with shiny new “packaging,” but with multiple endings, the best visuals possible, and that iconic mansion setting, you’re always going to want to come back for more. Whether you want to relive the nightmares of your youth or experience a classic for the first time, this version of Resident Evil is an easy recommendation to real survival horror fans.
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