Platform Reviewed: Playstation
Pretty fitting for a first review! The game responsible for the term “survival horror” debuted 16 years ago on the Playstation and has since become a cultural phenomenon. I could spend hours talking about the various effects and affects this iconic series has had (and maybe someday I will), but I’ll focus for now on the original classic.
Set just outside the fictional Raccoon City, the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) Bravo Team is sent in to investigate a strange series of murders involving cannibalism in the Arklay Mountains. After losing contact with Bravo Team, Alpha Team is sent in to find them. After encountering a not-so-friendly pooch in the wild, the team is chased into an ‘abandoned’ Mansion. Players choose to control either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield before setting out to find Bravo Team and discover the chilling secret behind this disturbing house…
And you know the rest. Or at least, you SHOULD know the rest. This game has been around for awhile, released on almost every system and was even completely remade for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002. Some might argue that the core gameplay hasn’t held up over the years. I tend to disagree. Restrictive controls (not being able to move and shoot is a core game mechanic for [most of] the series to this day), unchangeable camera angles, no HUD, etc. all add to the “survival horror” feel the game strives for. Seeing that first zombie turn around can still give me chills.
However, the more you play through the game, the more you come to realize where and when the scares are coming. Anyone can jump out of their chair the first time those dogs burst through the windows of that corridor. Not so much the 6th, 7th and 8th time. The dialogue sure leaves something to be desired (“Master of unlocking.” Enough said). Graphically, the character models obviously look rough after 16 years and two console generations, but the pre-rendered backgrounds can still look sharp with detail.
Despite these shortcomings the game still does an awesome job of forcing you to run rather than fight a good 75% per cent of the time, depending on how well you manage the ammo and your inventory (Jill has eight slots, Chris only six). The Director’s Cut edition added a “Beginner’s Mode” for newcomers, and an “Arranged Mode” that changed the location of almost every major item as well as enemies, for an added challenge and a refreshing change for players who learned to predict where everything was.
All in all, with Resident Evil 6 on the horizon and games like Revelations and Operation: Raccoon City also arriving in 2012, the franchise shows no signs of slowing down. Yet for all these new additions, it doesn’t hurt to stop and return to the roots of the franchise, where it all began 16 years ago.