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Resident Evil (1996) review

alex9234’s Sunday Review

Welcome to another episode of Sunday Review. Though it’s not Halloween, yet, this is still a game worth playing any time of the year. It’s famous for it’s horrible yet hilarious voice acting and for redefining the survival horror genre. This game is the original Resident Evil, which came out on the PlayStation in 1996 and was ported to the Sega Saturn a year later with bonus content.

The Plot

Resident Evil takes place on July 24, 1998 in the Arklay mountain range located outside of Raccoon City, a midsize town located somewhere in the Midwest. A series of cannibalistic murders have occurred in the area, and the Raccoon City Police Department’s S.T.A.R.S team (Special Tactics and Rescue Service team) is sent to investigate. S.T.A.R.S. is divided into two teams: Alpha and Bravo. Bravo Team gets sent to investigate, but after contact with them is lost, Alpha Team is then sent to investigate the whereabouts of Bravo Team. Alpha Team, which consists of Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, Barry Burton, Joseph Frost and S.T.A.R.S. Captain Albert Wesker, locates Bravo Team’s helecopter, only to find a severed hand, and shortly after, they are attacked by a group of zombie dogs. Joseph is killed by the dogs, while the surviving Alpha Team members run to a nearby mansion. Depending on who you play as, one member of Alpha Team gets separated and does not make it to the mansion – Barry if you play as Chris, Chris if you play as Jill. At this point, the Alpha Team members explore the mansion, and eventually discover the body of a Bravo Team member – Kenneth J. Sullivan, who had his head decapitated by a zombie that was feasting on his corpse. They also discover another member of Bravo Team, Richard Aiken, who dies after being bitten by a venomous snake and gives the character you play as his radio. Eventually the surviving Alpha Team members learn from Bravo Team’s captain, Enrico Marini, who tells them that someone within Alpha Team is a traitor. However, before Enrico is able to reveal who the traitor is, he is killed by an unknown suspect.

While investigating the mansion which is filled with all sorts of puzzles and traps, the character learns that a bunch of illegal experiments had been carried out by the biomedical company known as Umbrella Corporation, whose said experiments are also responsible for the appearances of zombies and other creatures in the mansion and it’s surrounding areas. This is all thanks to the T-Virus, a biological agent created by Umbrella…

The Gameplay

Well, what is there to be said about the gameplay that hasn’t been said already? The controls are tank controls – you move your character with the Saturn’s D-pad left or right to rotate your character, and up and down to move your character forwards or backwards. To aim your weapon, you press the R button, and you fire with the A button. However, your character cannot move and shoot at the same time, so plan accordingly when you decide to shoot down some enemies or if you’re in a boss fight. This game also takes a page out of Super Metroid’s book, incorporating the famous “Metroidvania” gameplay style – you explore the mansion and it’s surrounding areas, get keys that allow you to access locked areas, and you save at save points. You also get to store items in Item Boxes which are usually located at save points so you can store items such as weapons, ammo and health items in case your inventory gets filled up or if you want to save some health items and weapons for a boss fight. In the game, you uncover documents that provide information about the plot and clues to solve puzzles, as well as solve various puzzles in the mansion in order to progress further in the game.

The Characters

Jill Valentine – Age: 22 – Jill is a member of S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team. She is also the partner and longtime friend of fellow S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team member Chris Redfield. She is highly skilled in picking locks, hand-to-hand combat, and is very proficient with a wide number of firearms. Jill is also a highly skilled piano player.

Chris Redfield – Age: 23 – Like his partner and longtime friend Jill, he is a member of S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran, and has developed excellent flying skills during his time as an Air Force pilot and marksman. Also like Jill, he is skilled in hand-to-hand combat and is also very proficient with a wide number of firearms. He also has a sister named Claire, who is a college student – and the star of Resident Evil 2 and CODE: Veronica.

My Thoughts

Though it has it’s obvious flaws, I still enjoy playing the original Resident Evil very much. How well do I think it has held up? Well, it has aged okay, not the best aged game in the PS1 and Saturn libraries, but time has been much more kind to it than a lot of other PS1 and Saturn titles. The gameplay still holds up fine – although the tank controls may take some time getting used to, they’re fine for the most part. Also, this is a huge game. The mansion is massive and there is just so much to explore. The mansion being huge also makes it easy to get lost and make you unsure where to go next – believe me, I got lost A LOT while playing this game. The music isn’t too bad either, as it has lots of tunes that fit the survival horror atmosphere of the game, though there are some annoying sound effects. Also, I think the bad voice acting needs no explanation, as we all know how freaking hilarious it is:

Seriously, did the voice actors just not give a shit?

If you want to play a more definitive survival horror experience, I’d recommend it’s sequel, Resident Evil 2, both Parasite Eve games, Deep Fear, the remake on the Nintendo GameCube, or hell, Resident Evil 4. But if you’re looking for some old fashioned survival horror fun to play this Halloween or whenever, you could do a whole lot worse than the original Resident Evil.

My score: 8.25/10


Published by alex9234

A skeptical game writer who doesn't believe the gaming press.

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