Monday, March 17, 2008

Resident Evil - Finished the game with Jill

I've always wanted to see what all the fuss was about. When Resident Evil was originally released in 1996, it was extremely popular, was hailed by critics, and basically defined the "Survival Horror" genre. It was also known for its tropes of extremely limited ammunition, limiting the amount of times you could save, possessing ridiculous puzzles, and having clumsy controls that make it much harder than it should be to shoot at or run away from the enemies. But the remake of the original game for the Gamecube was supposed to be well done and now that I have a Wii and can play Gamecube games, I might as well check it out.

The game is quite enjoyable.

I guess maybe I wasn't expecting that. I think I assumed that this game had a lot of fan nostalgia going for it, but that it wasn't actually that great. I think this was because I had played one of the many copycat series, Fear Effect, and found it decidedly mediocre. But I guess Resident Evil is such a popular franchise for a reason. This game gets it pretty much right.

What I found most interesting is that it wasn't exactly the gameplay that sold me on this game. As it has been since the original, you still control your character like a vehicle. And while being able to quickly turn around means this isn't so bad, the control scheme is by no means intuitive and can still be frustrating. The puzzles are fine. It takes you a bit out of element that a mansion would have such bizarre and convoluted locks and traps, but at least the puzzles themselves make sense and are all done "in-game".

What makes this game work is the atmosphere. It absolutely conveys the mood of being in a creepy mansion with zombies running amok. The fact that your character isn't a badass means that you do indeed feel very mortal. The ammunition is limited enough to make you worried that you'll run out and won't be able to defend yourself, but not so limited as to be frustrating. The sound, graphic, and gameplay design come together to make you feel like your in a horror movie.

Not just any horror movie either. I played Silent Hill for the first time two or three years ago and it was genuinely scary as well. But Silent Hill felt much more like a psychological horror movie with the monsters and the world playing on the characters' psyche and inner demons. Resident Evil falls more in line with the slasher tropes of monsters popping out of nowhere, sounds that mislead a character as to where the danger is, and "quick cuts". The thing is, it does all of those things really well creating a very satisfying mood.

I had originally thought I would just give this game a shot then go on the even more universally loved Resident Evil 4. Now, however, I'm thinking I might go through the entire main series on my way there. At the very least, I think I'll try playing through it as Chris.

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