You can actually feel your
heart thumping in your chest. Your hands are sweaty, and they glide nervously back and
forth across the controller. You can see the map, the path, in your head--forward thirty
steps, through the door, turn left, sprint twenty steps, in the door: safety. There are
five zombies between you and the safe room. You have three shells in the shotgun. You
havent saved in twenty minutes. The lightning flashes and the momentary flash of
light silhouettes a zombie staring mindlessly at the wall, not too far in front of you.
You hadnt seen him standing in the shadows--make that six zombies. What do you do?
You wipe off your hands, you kiss your Buddha, and you run like hell.
This is the
scariest Resident Evil, hands down. The zombies look impressive. As good as the rotting
flesh of brain eating monsters can look. Bloody, dripping mouths, tattered clothes and
that familiar zombie shamble are all convincing. Its the presentation that really
sells the zombies though. The ambience of the horror filled mansion is brilliant. The
lightning flashes, followed soon by a clap of thunder, the distant mindless moans are
brilliant. Everything looks good. The candles flicker and the shadows dance, divine.
Evil veterans will soon discover that the zombies are a lot tougher than the last trek
through the mansion. They go down hard this time around, and they dont like to stay
down. If you kill a zombie, itll be back soon enough--and stronger. The only way to
put the walking dead down for good is decapitation or consumption by fire, so youll
get used to carrying around fuel and a lighter when youre zombie hunting or, more
likely, running from them. The ever beautiful shotgun is a joya well placed shot
will pop a zombie cranium and leave a rewarding fountain of blood where the neck was.
Enjoy it while you can-- youll be wishing for more shotgun ammo soon enough
course, it gets scarier than zombies. Rabid zombie dogs, which still like to crash through
windows, sharks, huge spiders that drop from ceilings and spit acid, god how I hate
spiders, mutant monsters-- an enormous snake that rocks, the list is long and cool.
will find ample variety here; there is no need to fear boredom because you played the
original title. Puzzles have been changed, new areas added, new items, new weapons, and so
on. This is a really good game, primarily because it is a scary game that is successful in
creating the aesthetic it sets out to create. This is the best title on the Gamecube,
not a perfect game though. The storytelling is pretty contrived. It always has been, but
come on. At some point, somewhere along the way, game makers got the idea that more is
better. This not entirely recent phenomenon demonstrates that developers would have us
believe, perhaps they are convinced themselves, that convoluted storylines are synonymous
with complex, sophisticated ones. Let me clarify to anyone currently writing a videogame
story: Do not presume that if you throw every piece of thread you find into a blender, a
beautiful quilt will emerge after a thorough jumbling. Beyond the failure on a story
level, some of the dialogue is abysmal: "Find a mask that can see no evil, one that
can hear no evil, one that can smell no evil, and one that can neither hear, see, nor
smell evil". Ok theres good dialogue, then theres bad dialogue, then
theres dialogue thats so bad its good("You, Jill, the master of
unlocking things . . ."), then theres dialogue thats so god awful crap
bad that laughing is not only impossible but morally reprehensible.
biggest problem is on a conceptual level, however. While the graphical update is quite an
accomplishment, this classic title has aged in more ways than just graphics; the years
since this title defined a generation on the PlayStation have seen games evolve in other
areas. There are two basic paths that games can take. One way seeks to create gamer
immersion by blurring the boundaries of the game. Sure theres a controller in your
hand, but the experience itself tries to camouflage the game as much as possible. Halo
does this well; Grand Theft Auto 3 does it even better; Black and White, Deus Ex, most
flight simulators, and Shenmue go for a similar effect through different means, to name
only a few highlight titles. The game itself wants to be subtle in its direction and the
illusion of freedom is paramount. The art here is the mask itself. Another path games can
choose to take is one in which the game constructs strict and obvious parameters. The fun
in these games is in the manipulation of the systembeating the system, so to speak.
Tekken, virtually any 2D side-scroller, Tetris, and most RPGs fall into this
category, for example (and certainly most games use a combination of these)
games have tried both approaches. The Resident Evil franchise epitomizes the second
approach. Virtually everything about the game is intrusive. Resident Evil does not want to
create a mask nor hide the game. The entire conception relies on the fact that you
remember it, in fact. This is how the game is constructed. The fixed camera angles, for
example, are successful because they heighten the fear by concealing enemies, sometimes
ones that are right in front of your character but are concealed from you, and this is how
it amplifies tension. Ammo is finitethere is not enough to kill all enemies on any
but the easiest setting, thus forcing you to run from enemies, clearly a design goal.
Complexity in RE is generated in large part by the management of inventory slots. Want to
pick up that grenade launcher? Better take some of those keys out of your pocket first
cause you only have enough room to carry eight things . . . The parameters of the game
must be successfully negotiated; subtly is not an advantage hereits not even
dont want to come down too hard on intrusive game design. Its a stylistic
device that continues to generate outstanding games, but we have begun to enter a time
when we are seeing genre evolutions where the masking approach is showing itself to be
deeper and more sophisticated; theres just a lot more room to grow. This is the
primary reason I believe GTA 3 represents a paradigm shift in videogame
conceptionfor action adventure games in particular. RE, as I said, epitomizes
intrusive game design and it is so successful because it is virtually the pinnacle of the
concept. Nevertheless, it seems clear that we, the gaming public, have chosen to pursue
another direction that has significantly more room to grow. Thus RE feels increasingly
dated and confining.
That said, Resident Evil is far and away the best title the GameCube has to offer.
Its a joy to play; it creates legitimate fear, surprise, and shock. Its a
pleasure to look at and I recommend the experience. The GameCube, having endured an
absolutely disgraceful launch, really needed a game like this. Actually, it needs several
more, but this is a good start. Theres a decent amount of replay value here as well.
Several different difficulty levels demand different strategies. There are a lot of
secrets to unlock, new costumes and such. And let us not forget the game involves two
different characters to play with, and each one is independently satisfying. This two-disc
set is a great game. Go play it. Be scared. Get a shotgun. Smile.