May 4th, 2008
Over a year ago now I completed Resident Evil 4 on my beloved Gamecube and much like a zombie waiting for the next brain to munch on, I was hungry for the next Resident Evil fix. With this is mind, a few months ago my brother was kind enough to buy me a good condition, used copy of the Resident Evil Remake on the Gamecube.
I’ve been playing parts of this game on and off for a few months now and last week I decided to lay this game to rest and finally complete it. As I was playing this game I noted several observations and points of interest, my account can be found below.
The Prior Expectations
There are numerous judgments and criticisms of the original Resident Evil games that are common knowledge among most of us. They are:
- tank like controls
- cheesy voice work
- cheap scares
With these three issues kept in mind I decided to approach Resident Evil Remake in a way which would lessen the outdated pain that I was going to be dragged through. I had already experienced some of this with a PC port of RE3 that I nabbed a few years back and I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic to experience these dramas again. So my first remedy was to play guide my way through this game and boy am I glad I opted for the play guide. 🙂
Lets Get Dangerous!
So with guide in hand and preconceptions cast aside I began my RE Remake experience. Off the bat the bad dialog was readily apparent. But as I started discovering more of the mansion I noticed that there were only a limited number of instances with dialog so contrary to my original ideas there is actually very little voice acting to complain about. What was there though was poorly written and just plain cringe worthy material. I cannot understand why Capcom would re-record the voicework but stick to the original script. This damages the tension of the game, something that I’ll get to later.
As for the tank controls, since I’m someone whom still plays a lot of games with this dated style of D-Pad mapped controls I didn’t find them to be of great annoyance. The cheap scares were also kept to a minimum as well which surprised me.
In the first couple of hours of play I realized just how sparse the mansion was. This place is mostly empty save for the occasional lost zombie. Maybe it is because I moved from the mosh pit styled Resident Evil 4 to this game that has affected my judgement but on the whole the mansion and surrounding areas were a little too empty for my liking. This doesn’t even pick up much nearing the end of the game. Although it was nice to see a fresh load of Crimson Heads and Hunters enter the mansion following a venture outside. Thinking over this though I don’t think that a greater density of monsters would have improved the game dramatically as it would just result in more time grappling with the terrible controls.
If you aren’t like me and are not accustomed to PSone styled controls then you’ll be in for a world of pain. Even though I know how to use these controls effectively I still found myself sprinting into walls and spinning around the place, often in the worst situations; that being of combat. Even though the enemy count is small you’ll often just try to run past a good deal of enemies and this can often lead to frustration. Think about it; tank controls + slow moving enemies in a tight corridor filled with random obstacles to get caught on can only equal frustration. Fortunately I had a good stock pile of batteries and knifes as automatic safety weapons.
Not that I like to brag about being skilled at games (I mean I did use a guide for this game!). I did find myself with a superfluous amount of healing items near the end of the game. In fact I didn’t even know that you could open up the medicine boxes until the last leg!
Talking about last legs I am almost finished pointing out all of the issues with this game and I’ll soon get to the tasty bits.
On the whole there is only a limited variety of enemies within the game (6 or 7) which I was deeply disappointed with. Maybe it is because I only played as Jill but where were the freaky chimera that were featured in some of the early screenshots? That looked awesome. Oh wait they were there, just not half as cool as the screenshots.
Speaking about stuff that looked awesome but kinda sucked. The bosses in this game weren’t really what I pictured. Maybe, again it was because I was a wimp and played a Jill but looking at some of the early screenshots there appeared to be a fantastic slew of bosses to rip into. The problem (or not, depending on your slant) is that a fair deal of these bosses can be killed without any real ‘battle’ as such. You can just flick some switches and they’re dead. The sharks, tentacle plants, plant boss and all/most instances of Lisa can just be avoided without gunshots.
Home, Sweet Home
Lets get down to the good points because despite all of the above flaws I appreciate where this game excels. Resident Evil Remake is probably the most realistic game ever made, literally. Now there is a statement.
How so? Well I did say the word literally, right? Yes sure, the backdrop are all pre-rendered but that does not make this game look less convincing in any way. The sheer, painstaking realism in each of the backdrops is simply incredible. Especially so when you add gorgeous, picture-esque (well as picture-esque as horror can be) lighting, colours and texture. I can’t think of any other game (RE0 excluded) that can match this form of realism. Raising the bar even higher though, add a little bit of animation in the form of water effects, shadows and lighting which perfectly synch with the 3D models and you’re left with nothing but wonder and awe. Truly vivid imagery here, which demands to be seen.
It is the detail which will shock you the most though. Blood on blood stained walls form their own skin and hardness creating texture for the light to crawl through. Spotlights exempt rich colour onto reflective, wet surfaces surrounded by puddles of leaking water. Decorative wallpaper is mared by large cracks in the wall created by ingrown plant infestation.
Even though there is a lack of a variety in enemies as such, the same can’t be said for backgrounds. This really did surprise me. Even early on in the game you move in and around the mansion, into forests, caves, caverns and laboratories. Within the mansion there is plenty of variety and you never get confused among two rooms. Each area is as memorable as the next and this actually aids the gameplay as the visuals themselves create landmarks in which you later remember to backtrack to.
The environments are really what holds this game together, they create an intense atmosphere and provide incentive to keep playing. The environments create the “horror” which is the crux of games like this. That isn’t to say that I found this game ‘scary’ as such rather tense and unnerving. You can tell that the atmosphere just pours out of this game when you spend most of your time worrying about footsteps over anything else.
This atmosphere is just beautiful and it makes this game feel much more professional. That is until a character opens their mouth. I also like how Capcom decided to clothe Jill is some more realistic, less B-movie clothing. A fine example of how their mindset has changed between old and new games.
The mansion and it’s surroundings are very interesting settings which have a strong history detailed throughout the journal entries left out for you to read. Much like the scans in the Metroid Prime series, the notes and journal entries left around the place form a significant part of the Resident Evil story. I find these insightful nuggets of information so compelling which is why I was disappointed that Capcom did not use more of these to add context to the environments.
I really don’t know how to feel about this game, on one hand I loved walking through the gorgeous environments and experiencing the tense atmosphere yet on the other hand the gameplay itself feels stagnant and forced. Maybe I would have gotten more enjoyment out of this game by just watching someone else do all the work for me. At it’s core, RE Remake is dated controls, slim gameplay in a eye catching, cellophane wrapper where the wrapper itself tastes better than the candy inside.
I am unsure as to where to go next, should I buy Resident Evil 0,2 and Core Veronica? I am really not sure, maybe I will just watch some YouTube speed runs instead. Any ideas?
By the way Capcom’s expectations for players to unlock all of the secrets and costumes is just simply unfair. Check this out.