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Resident Evil
(GameCube Remake)
Genre:Survival Horror
Release Date:2002
Article Posted:October 2006

Looking out the helicopter's window, you can see the dark forest. It is a seemingly calm night in the Arclay Mountains. But you can hardly bring yourself to relax. There is just something very sinister, very foreboding about the forest below. You can almost feel that it is hiding something... A secret far worse than what you could have expected to uncover when you got on the helicopter with your teammates.

You are a member of S.T.A.R.S., or Special Tactics and Rescue Squad, a unique police unit created to handle the most challenging situations. As you draw ever closer to your destination, you think about tonight's mission. You have been in dangerous situations many times, but reflecting on recent events still makes you uneasy.

Recently, a number of people have been found dead near Raccoon City. But this is hardly the kind of murder case your department is accustomed to handling. The victims were not strangled, stabbed, or shot to death... By all indications, it looked like they had been eaten alive. The bizarre occurrences have put the Raccoon City police department on high alert. Half of the S.T.A.R.S. unit, the Bravo Team, has been sent to investigate the murders. Yet currently, all contact with the Bravo Team is lost. It is now up to you and the rest of the Alpha Team to figure out what happened to your friends.

You eventually manage to locate the Bravo Team's helicopter. It seems to have crash-landed into the forest. Upon investigating the wrecked helicopter, you find the mutilated corpse of the pilot. What could have caused this? You do not have much time to contemplate however. Your team is attacked a group of guard dogs... But these are no ordinary creatures. In terror, you see that some of them are missing parts of their bodies. How is it that they are still alive with those injuries? They look savage and menacing. Whatever force is keeping the animated has also given them great strength and ferocity. They do seem vulnerable to your bullets, but you do not have enough ammunition to fight all of them.

You want to run back to your helicopter and get away from this place. Unfortunately, your pilot Brad has the same idea and he is not even willing to wait for the rest of the team! The helicopter takes off and flies away. There is only one thing you can do. You have to try and outrun these beasts. Perhaps somewhere in this damned forest there is a sanctuary. Then you see it. There is a mansion in the distance. If you can only make it there, you might at least be able to protect yourself from the horrors of the forest.

You and your remaining teammates make a desperate dash for the mansion. The dogs give you chase, trying to rip you into pieces. You run as hard as you can, only turning back to shoot at the beasts that are getting too close. You finally manage to make it to the mansion. But your team somehow gets separated. You do not know whether or not everybody has survived. It is too dangerous to go outside and search for them.

You are effectively trapped inside the mansion. You can tell that this is a huge structure. It looks like the building was erected many years ago in this secluded location. You can't help but wonder what must be hidden in its winding corridors and numerous rooms. The mansion is far from the city, far from civilization. Anything could have been going on here, completely unnoticed and unregulated.

The lights are on in the entrance hall; at least the power supply seems to be intact. At first glance, the building seems to be abandoned. But after the horror that you just witnessed in the forest, you cannot feel safe inside the mansion. What happened to the Bravo Team? Where did the rest of your teammates disappear? Just how many of those strange creatures are out there? How did they come to exist in the first place? You have many questions and you want to find your missing companions. Perhaps somewhere in this building you will find your answers. Perhaps you will find something that can help you find your friends. It is time to uncover the mansion's secrets. You know that the nightmare is just beginning...

Resident Evil is among Capcom's longest-running and most successful series. Sure, the original Resident Evil was not the first game that had a creepy atmosphere. Sure, it is all too easy to poke fun at certain aspects of the series. But nevertheless, the series has offered several greatly entertaining games over the years and played an instrumental role in thrusting the survival-horror subgenre into the mainstream.

The original Resident Evil was released in 1996 for the PlayStation gaming system. The game told the story of a special police squad sent into investigate some bizarre murders and the disappearance of the first team that was in charge of the investigation. Players had the chance to experience the game from the perspectives of two police officers. With limited ammunition and healing items, players had to explore the entire mansion to unlock its secrets. You were deliberately unequipped to defeat every single enemy you encountered. You had to somehow survive the night and find a way to reach safety.

The original Resident Evil became a huge success, inspiring a number of sequels and influencing a number of other titles. But by the time Nintendo released the GameCube console, Resident Evil's graphics had become quite dated. Thus, when Capcom agreed to develop Resident Evil games for the GameCube system, the first project was to remake the original game. But the development team did far more than upgrading the graphics. Besides stunning visuals that still look great four years after the release of the remake, the GameCube version of Resident Evil features a redesigned mansion with new areas to explore and a host of new challenges overcome. The end result is a game that stays true to the storyline of the original while still offering a distinct experience that both newcomers and fans of the first version can enjoy.

Resident Evil features two playable characters. Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine are both members of S.T.A.R.S. You choose the character you will be controlling at the beginning of the game. The introduction fills you in on the bizarre murder cases that have been recently troubling the Raccoon City area. After the encounter with the twisted guard dogs, you assume control of your character at the entrance of the mansion.

There are many doors leading deeper into the mansion from the entrance hall. The stairs in front of you give you access to the upper levels. It is immediately clear that you are in a sizable structure. Depending on the character you chose, events will unfold somewhat differently, but just a few minutes into the game, you will encounter your first zombie chewing on a corpse in one of the earlier rooms. As the zombie stops eating to turn his attention on the fresh meat that just walked in, you will begin to understand the nature of the nightmare you have just entered.

Your supplies will be extremely limited. As Jill, you start the game with a simple handgun and a small number of bullets. As Chris, your only weapon will be a knife, even though it will not be long before you find a gun. Of course having a measly handgun hardly means you are prepared to tackle every creature the game will throw at you. Unless you are lucky enough to get a headshot that will kill them instantly, it will take more than a couple of bullets to bring down even the basic zombies. Don't assume the zombie is dead just because it has collapsed on the floor either. Unless you see a pool of blood oozing out of the undead creature, it will be standing back up to attack you again in just a moment. As you can expect, that is only the tip of the iceberg. Those vicious dogs from the introduction movie are not only found in the forest. And of course, the mansion has plenty of other monsters that are just waiting for you to come their way.

You are in the middle of a nightmare and you simply do not have the supplies to neutralize every single threat. Don't expect too much help from the other S.T.A.R.S. members either. Only a few minutes into the game it will become very clear that you are for the most part on your own. You will encounter a few other characters from time to time, but do not count on them to come to your aid whenever you are in danger. You are in the middle of a nightmare and you can only rely on yourself to survive.

The deliberate limitation on your supplies immediately gives Resident Evil, and many other survival horror games for that matter, a significantly different feel than the average action-adventure. When you spend five of your fifteen bullets to bring down the first zombie and you have only explored three rooms within the large building, you will know that the journey won't be easy. However, that is not to say Chris and Jill are incapable of fending for themselves.

First of all, both Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield are well-versed in handling firearms. They aim with a great deal of accuracy and can even occasionally inflict critical wounds on your enemies. And while the supplies are greatly limited, you will come across additional ammunition and even better weapons as you go through the mansion. Of course, you shouldn't expect the best weapons to be just handed to you. Chris and Jill might have to do a little bit of work first. More importantly, once you get used to the game's controls, you will find that it is quite possible to outrun your enemies in many situations. Especially in large open areas, you should be able to run around the zombies and avoid getting attacked.

When you are facing certain enemies, you can also take advantage of one of the new features introduced with the remake of Resident Evil. As you explore the mansion, you will come across defense items scattered throughout the place. If a zombie does manage to get a hold of Jill or Chris, you can use these items to attack them before they bite into your character's flesh. The defense item will be used up, but at least you will not sustain any damage. Both Jill and Chris can use daggers as defense items. Each character also has a unique item. While Chris will come across flash napalms, Jill will find battery packs to be used with her stun gun. Flash napalms are particularly effective since Chris can stuff one into a zombie's mouth and shoot it to make the creature's head blow apart. Sure, it is gruesome, but hardly goriest thing you will see in the game.

The storyline will progress slowly as you explore the mansion. Resident Evil is not quick about giving you all the answers. As you gain access to different parts of the building, you will find a series of documents that will give you a few hints. But you will be very well into the game before you understand why the mansion is infested with numerous monsters. The plot will probably be most interesting if you have not played any of the other games in the series or seen the Resident Evil movies. Not knowing the true nature of the creatures and what happened to your teammates during the early parts of the game would most likely enhance the experience. However, even if you know everything about the earlier Resident Evil games, it should still be interesting to go through the redesigned mansion and explore all the new areas that have been included for the GameCube remake.

While the story behind Resident Evil may not be exceptionally detailed or thought-provoking, that is not exactly meant to be the strongest aspect of the game either. Being a survival horror game, Resident Evil focuses on creating a strong atmosphere. Many aspects combine to deliver a feeling of suspense and imminent danger throughout the game. First there is the design of the mansion. In the main building alone, there are numerous rooms to explore. At the beginning, many of the rooms are locked, keeping you wondering what might be behind them. Even some of the most ordinary rooms have a certain creepiness to them. At all times, you know full well that something might be jump at you from around the corner. To further intensify the effect, you gain access to areas of the structure slowly, frequently having to traverse certain corridors multiple times, knowing that a new threat or a monster you did not kill earlier will be waiting for you. While Resident Evil may not attempt to go deep and try to scare you at a psychological level, it still manages establish a sense of danger that makes you ever slightly hesitate when you open the door into a new room.

The game does not confine players to the mansion either. There are several other areas you will get to explore through the course of your investigation that are actually remarkably creepier than old building. The surrounding areas are home to a number of creatures that you will not want to disturb at all. One particular area of the game that is done exceptionally well is a room in the backyard of the mansion. After a long series of stairs, you will find yourself underground in a dimly lit room. Along the left wall are four slots for different masks. On the opposite site of the room, there is a coffin hanging from the ceiling. It is being held up by four chains. There are gears mysteriously turning around the room, perhaps keeping whatever is inside the coffin locked. You have to discover the room very early in the game, but there is no doubt you will be returning to this place at some point. You know you will be facing something terrible. Perhaps it is a tad over the top, but the presentation still manages to build up suspense.

Further adding to the game's atmosphere are the graphics and the music. The developers have most certainly done an amazing job at the graphics department. The lighting effects and the rendering of the individual is truly remarkable. There is obvious attention to detail. You really get the impression that the developers were taking everything into account to make the mansion and its surrounding areas as creepy as possible. Even what could be considered insignificant corridors and passageways you explore in the later parts of the game look great. While pretty graphics alone would not have been enough to create the game's atmosphere, the detailed and realistic presentation of the environments certainly helps you get into the game and intensifies the eeriness of the mansion.

The character models are also fairly detailed; however they do not match the sophistication of the environments you will be exploring. In general the models look nice from a distance, but the facial expressions can feel a little lacking at times. The main characters occasionally appear somewhat devoid of emotion. It is not so much that the modeling is lacking in quality, it is simply noticeably less impressive than the rendering on the locations you get to explore.

The soundtrack is very fitting for the game. While it may not be exceptionally memorable, the music always fits the current scene and enhances the overall mood. The unsettling soft tunes definitely magnify the feeling suspense created as you explore the game's environments. The sound effects are also nicely handled throughout the game. From ambient sounds to the meaningless groaning of the zombies, the sounds feel fitting for the game. The voice acting may not be the best you will ever encounter in a video game, but it certainly gets the job done and the characters for the most part sound believable. In fact, the voice acting and the animations are actually an improvement over the questionable production values of the full-motion video sequences from the original game.

The actual game play in Resident Evil has two major components. While you are exploring the mansion looking for important items and trying to find ways to gain access to new areas, you will also have to defend yourself against various monsters. You will have to solve a number of puzzles before all the mysteries of the mansion and its surrounding areas are revealed.

Especially for players who are experienced in adventure games, the puzzles should not be very challenging. For the most part, you will just be exploring each room looking for items that will allow you to get into new areas. At the outset of the game, most of the mansion and the surrounding areas will be inaccessible. It will be up to you to solve the puzzles and find the necessary items that will help you make progress. Thankfully, there is a little more to the puzzles featured in Resident Evil than finding a key in one room and using it to unlock another. Some of the rooms feature puzzles that will require you to pay attention to details and manipulate various mechanisms before you can acquire an item you need. While the solution is usually as simple as using the correct item on the right spot, you do occasionally have to do a little more work, which can makes the game more engaging.

The key items you need to pick up at each location are clearly highlighted, making them very difficult to miss as long as you make sure you look at every corner of the room. However, on many occasions, finding the item is not enough. You may also need to take a look at it in your inventory to figure out what it is. If the item is a box or a book, taking a close look at it might even help you discover an altogether different item.

Finding the solution to the various featured throughout the game may not be exceptionally challenging. However, this is partly justified by a very significant restriction that increases the difficulty of the entire game. The restriction is that the character you are controlling can only carry a limited number of items at any given time. Chris can only have six items while Jill can carry eight. You will have to distribute all the weapons, ammunition, healing items, and puzzle items across those six or eight slots. The only exceptions are Jill's lock-picking tools, Chris's lighter, and the special defense items that do not take up space like other items. Being limited to a very small amount of inventory space forces you to choose the items you are actively carrying very carefully. If you want to make progress, you simply cannot carry too many weapons or healing items. You will also always want to leave one or two spaces open for additional items you may find in rooms you have not explored.

Thankfully, Resident Evil does have a feature that prevents the inventory space restriction from being too much of a problem. Scattered throughout the game, you will come across several item boxes. These special boxes serve as storage spaces for all the items you do not want to actively carry. Thus, if you pick up a puzzle item you cannot use yet or if you accumulate extra weapons and healing items you don't want to take with you, Jill and Chris can store them in the boxes. Even though it does not make any sense at all, the boxes are connected to one another. Once you place an item into one of the boxes, you will be able to retrieve it from all of them. Illogical or not, this is a greatly helpful feature and a great time-saver. Besides, if you can accept Jill and Chris are trapped in a building filled with animated corpses, it should not be so hard to accept the same building also has a network of interconnected boxes that make your life easier.

There are a couple of other features that help you during the exploration and puzzle solving parts of Resident Evil. First of all, it is possible access the inventory screen to review the important documents you have found. Since some of these documents will contain hints to help you with the puzzles, it is nice to have access to them without having to go back to the place where you first found the document. A much more helpful feature is the map. As you explore the mansion, you will find maps of various areas. When you access the map, the rooms you have already explored will be marked, making it easy to figure out where you might need to go next. In addition, the map uses color coding to indicate whether or not you have picked up all of the items available in any given room. While this includes items you may not have necessarily wanted to pick up, such as extra healing items you do not really need, it is still helpful in letting you know there is more to do in certain parts of the mansion. If you get stuck, the map will more than likely give you a few suggestions as to what areas you can revisit to make sure you did not miss an important detail.

Depending on what other games you have played, the control structure in Resident Evil can initially feel rather awkward. The basic controls for performing various actions are simple. You can examine various objects, pick up inventory items, or use objects with the touch of a button. Holding down the aim button, you can target your enemies and prepare to shoot. You will have to press a separate button to pull the trigger. Separate buttons are assigned to opening the map and the inventory screen. You can also hold down a button to make your character run.

It is the movement controls that can get a little tricky when you first start the game. Pushing the analog stick in any given direction will not cause your character to move that way. It is only possible to move Jill and Chris either towards or away from the direction they are facing. Moving the stick to the left or to the right turns your character in the indicated direction. Thus, if you are used to playing games where characters can turn around very quickly and move in the direction you push the analog stick, it might take a few minutes to adjust to Resident Evil's controls. Especially when you fist start the game, it might be challenging to outrun the monsters trying to rip you apart. However, with any luck, you should get used to the movement controls after a few minutes of playing. By the time you reach the end of the game, you might even come to like the structure.

While you have to deal with having a limited amount of ammunition, the actual fighting in Resident Evil is fairly simple and straightforward. Since both Jill and Chris can automatically aim very accurately, you do not have to worry too much about targeting. In the event that the enemy you are facing is on the floor or above you, it is possible to use the analog stick to aim up or down. Besides the occasional requirement to adjust your aim and reload your weapon, the only complication in combat is that Jill and Chris cannot move when they are aiming at a target. If the enemy is getting too close, you will have to let go of the targeting button, put some distance between you and the monster, and try shooting from your new position. Since some of the enemies are quite fast, this does mean you will have to engage in a good deal of running around during some of the fights, particularly the boss fights.

The fact that Jill and Chris can only endure a fairly limited amount of damage can also complicate things. But then again, how many bites from a zombie or claw attacks from a monster can they be really expected to handle? Nevertheless, despite all the complexities involved, the fights in Resident Evil do not require a huge amount of dexterity on the part of the player. The true challenge is in making sure you have powerful guns and enough ammunition when you have no choice but to face a strong monster.

One new feature introduced in Resident Evil that changes the fighting experience is the inclusion of the "crimson head" zombies. In the original version, once you shot a zombie a sufficient number of times and saw the pool of blood underneath it, the creature did not come back to life. In the remake, you are not so lucky. Now, after certain events are triggered, the zombies you killed will come be reanimated. The monsters will be much faster when they rise from the dead for a second time. As such, it will become significantly more challenging to defeat them. Fortunately, you do have a couple of ways to prevent the zombies from coming back for a second time. If you are luck enough to get a critical hit that destroys the zombie's head, the creature will be permanently destroyed. Alternatively, you can figure out a way to burn the creature before it is reanimated. Fortunately, the game does provide players ample time to find out how they can set the zombies on fire before they rise again.

The character you choose to control will have a significant impact on your experience. The storylines for Jill and Chris do have considerable differences. Depending on your choice, you will encounter different characters as you go through the game. In general, Jill will be more able to rely on help from other characters where Chris will have to figure things out on his own more often. Jill also has a good understanding of chemistry and knows how to play the piano. While this might seem like an insignificant detail, as expected, it will have a significant impact on the game. The fact that Jill has access to lock-picking tools and Chris starts the game with a lighter will also have an impact on your exploration of the mansion. The weapons and ammunition available to each character is different as well.

The single greatest advantage Jill has over Chris is the fact that she has eight inventory slots as opposed to six. Being able to carry more items as Jill is almost assured to help you out in many situations. It will mean that Jill will need far fewer trips to the item box. It will also be easier to make sure Jill has some room for the new items you might find. Of course, Chris does have a couple of advantages to compensate for having fewer inventory slots. He can withstand a little more damage than Jill, which can come in very handy especially if you are running low on inventory items. Chris is also more likely to inflict critical damage when he shoots an enemy. Even though the two characters may not have completely different scenarios, puzzles, and challenges, the existing differences make it well worth your time to finish the game with each character.

Resident Evil is by no means an exceptionally long game. Even though the mansion and the surrounding areas give you a good amount of ground to cover, you can still get through the game between eight to ten hours in your first attempt. While that might sound like a fairly short amount of game play time, it is worth noting that Resident Evil has been designed to be played several times. Besides the fact that the game features two different characters with somewhat different storylines, Resident Evil also has multiple endings. The ultimate outcome will change depending on certain decisions you will make in the later stages of the game. In addition, Resident Evil has multiple difficulty levels and bonus features waiting for you to unlock. You will have to play through the game quite a few times before you discover everything there is to see in Resident Evil.

The GameCube remake of Resident Evil most certainly makes for a highly entertaining gaming experience. The game features a fairly interesting albeit slow-paced storyline, a solid engaging and delightfully creepy atmosphere, excellent graphics, and a fitting soundtrack. Especially if you play the game on your own with the lights turned out and the volume turned up, you will most likely find yourself immersed into the creepy mansion.

Of course, the game is not without its irritating features. For instance, the inventory restriction can cause a considerable amount of frustrating backtracking, even though some of this is clearly intended to make the game more challenging. If you are new to the Resident Evil series, it will most likely take you a while to get used to the controls. You will also have to be willing to deal with a few parts of the game that are over the top even with the underlying setting. Once you do figure out what exactly is going on at the mansion, you may find yourself wondering about certain aspects of the building's design. You will also have to deal with one or two poor camera angles and the load times are a little on the long side. But in the end, the frustrating aspects of Resident Evil do not at all significantly take away from the experience. You can have plenty of fun exploring the creepy mansion as you try to survive the nightmare. Even if you know every inch of the original game, you can still look forward to plenty of new ground to cover.

The GameCube version of Resident Evil offers much more than a graphical update. It is a solid game in its own right and a great entry point to the series if you were not able to play the first version. Four years after its release, Resident Evil remains one of the strongest titles on the GameCube console. If you are into survival horror games, it is most definitely a must have.

The final grade is 90/100.