You’ll have to forgive me, but I can’t think of any other way to start off a review of RESIDENT EVIL: SURVIVOR. In the fall of the year 2000, Capcom released the latest instalment of the ever-popular Resident Evil franchise, this time deviating drastically from the usual third-person gameplay and putting you smack dab behind the eyes of the protagonist. RESIDENT EVIL: SURVIVOR was the first in the line of the first-person “Survivor” series, and would be followed by four sequels: SURVIVOR 2 CODE VERONICA, DEAD AIM, UMBRELLA CHRONICLES, and THE DARKSIDE CHRONICLES. All of which, by the way, are better than the game I’m about to review.
At the time of its release, I had already collected and played through all of the Resident Evil games. When SURVIVOR was released, I thought nothing of it, and purchased it right away; I had no idea at the time that it was a first-person shooter. My initial reaction to the game was, however, fairly positive. As a fan of FPS games, I didn’t mind the change, although I did find the aiming system clunky and irritating at times – especially when playing for an extended period of time.
Of course, I hear what you’re saying: “Why play the game for so long, then? Why not just save the game and take breaks?” Unfortunately, SURVIVOR doesn’t offer the ability to save your progress. If you can’t finish the game in one sitting, you’re shit out of luck. Trust me, this is perhaps the most irritating aspect of this game. I can’t tell you how many times I would get near the end only to either (1) die, or (2) have to go somewhere, leaving me with the option of either letting my Playstation sit idle for hours, or sacrificing my progress.
The gameplay puts you behind the eyes of a man suffering from severe amnesia. Unaware of who he is, he struggles to survive the zombie-ridden streets of Raccoon City, all the while attempting to figure out his true identity. The characters are all new – with the exception of a very brief Leon Kennedy reference – however, the enemies are classic RE monsters. Lickers, moths, tyrants, hunters… all of them fall victim to your well-aimed bullets as you traverse the unsettling stages which take you everywhere from back-alleys to government facilities and abandoned hospitals. The graphics haven’t held up over the years, but the sounds are still genuinely unnerving.
Truth be told, I have good memories of playing this game. It was a go-to favourite for my cousin and I to play on our afternoons of gaming, as we would alternate levels and see just how far we could make it before having to turn off the console and lose our progress. We played it so often that we still reference some of the ridiculous dialogue to each other (“…am I Vincent…?”). However, I can understand why the majority of gamers rate it so low, and consider it to be the weakest instalment of the Resident Evil franchise.
As an aside, I feel that the game would have been better received had it provided the option to actually play through the levels with a gun controller. Unfortunately, only the Japanese release was provided the option; it has been rumoured that the North American version did not allow the gun in order to avoid controversy after the (then) recent Columbine school shooting.
Although the FPS RESIDENT EVIL games for the Wii are undoubtedly superior, I still maintain that SURVIVOR is goofy fun, if you’re in the right mood. Pixelated graphics and clunky gameplay aside, it’s guaranteed to make you miss the old era of Playstation 2, and remind you just how far video games have come in such a short period of time.