Thanks to the stunning REmake, the original Resident Evil no longer seems to get the love or attention that it deserves. Fans, like myself, still love it but anyone who came to the series from the GameCube onwards will likely have never played it.
Zero, 2, 3, 4 and Code Veronica all made it to the GameCube, but thanks to the REmake, the original didn’t get any love. In fact, and correct me if I’m wrong, the original Resident Evil (Not the HD REmake) has seen the least re-releases out of any of the main games. Capcom has only ever released it on 4 platforms, ignoring the PSN release of the PS1 version. The most recent being the DS version in 2006.
For Capcom, this is unheard of. They are a company that likes money and absolutely love churning out their games on every console available. I’ll just point you to Resident Evil 4 and Street Fighter 2 to prove that point. I’m not complaining about this, it’s great that newer fans can play classics, I’m just upset about the lack of love shown to the original Resident Evil, something I’ve been guilty of myself recently as I’ve written retrospectives on Resident Evil 2, 3 and even Gaiden before I’ve made it to this point. Let’s change that, shall we?
My first introduction to the world of Resident Evil was way back in late 1997 or early 1998, I can’t quite remember. What I do remember was going to school and buying the directors cut version of Resident Evil from my friend Ian. This version had a few differences from the original, such as music, enemy placements, and some different camera angles. It also came with a demo for the upcoming Resident Evil 2.
I instantly loved Resident Evil. At the time it was new, difficult and, believe it or not quite scary. These all proved to be issues to me at the time, I was young and so was my brain. I really struggled to make much progress in the game and I hit a wall fairly early on. Don’t forget, these were days when you couldn’t just hop on the internet and look up solutions. These were days when you had to cut bits out of magazines to help you on your way. I still have that copy of Resident Evil and it still has some magazine clippings in the case.
As I was stuck, I moved on to the demo of Resident Evil 2. It blew my mind and I played it countless times and let Resident Evil fall to the sidelines. I didn’t actually come back and finish it until the full version of 2 was long completed. This was a mistake and I’m very angry at young Steve, the idiot. He missed out on a great game for a while.
For my 2019 playthrough of Resident Evil, I decided to play the directors cut on my Vita. The first thing you’ll notice, after picking your character, is the absolutely bizarre live-action opening sequence, complete with terrible acting and B movie-esque music. The voice acting doesn’t improve when making it to the main game proper, far from it. I want to swear to you just to explain it. Not to say that it ruins the game, but to tell you how much I love it.
I had to pick Jill for my playthrough as she has plenty of interaction to the king of bad acting and terrible dialogue, Barry Burton. If you have never heard him, hop over to YouTube now and check out some of his lines. They are great. This all falls into the category of so bad it’s good. I won’t discuss his moments, they just need to be seen and heard firsthand.
Looks-wise, despite Resident Evil being well over 20 years old, it’s pretty good. The character models do look dated but the backgrounds hold up thanks to them being pre-rendered and fixed. Not that that’s why we play older games, it’s all about the gameplay and Resident Evil has that in spades.
Everything you love or hate from the classic Resident Evil games is here, obviously. Tank controls, fixed camera angles, storage boxes, and the door loading screens are all present and accounted for. These mechanics do put off some players but I like each and every one of them.
Resident Evil wasn’t the first survival horror game but it did bring the genre to the masses. The premise is simple. Explore the Spencer mansion, solve puzzles, and survive with the limited resources on offer.
During this playthrough, I didn’t have a problem with any of this. Over the years I’ve learned to be savvy with my ammo and the puzzles are mostly just a series of fetch quests. That’s not a complaint about them, it’s just this time around I knew what I was doing and where I was going. When you don’t, things become much trickier as you have to explore the mansion (and later areas) to find that one piece of the puzzle you are missing, all the while trying to find a balance between saving ammo and not getting killed by enemies. This was made even worse on a first playthrough due to the limited nature of the saves. Having to find an ink ribbon and thinking when to save was always something I found enjoyable though.
The enemies themselves are still as great as ever. The classic zombies are never too much of a threat as they can be easily dispatched or dodged, but when they are replaced in the mansion later on by the frog-like Hunters, the danger level ramps up significantly.
The bosses are also still brilliant. The Tyrant is a classic and the boss ‘fight’ with the giant attic snake, Yawn, is still fun, even if the main fight does come later.
There’s plenty of variety with the enemies and bosses, with each one still able to trip up even the most experienced player, helped by the tank controls.
We all know by now whether or not tank controls are for us. I like them and the artificial difficulty they create. Having to slowly rotate 180 degrees to escape an enemy or being rooted to the spot as you try to take one down can create some nice tense moments, even in a game of this age.
Unfortunately, Resident Evil just isn’t scary anymore. The atmosphere and ambient music are still great but the jump scares and fear of the unknown are lost on me now I know what lies around most corners. There were some moments when I ran around an unseeing corner and got grabbed that startled me, but on the whole, the fear factor is gone.
I managed to blast through my playthrough this time. Not having to work to solve the puzzles do take a little bit away from it, but I still had a great time reliving the adventure through Spencer mansion, despite the suspect decorating.
It’s a shame that some people I speak to have either never played this game or dismiss it outright. Without this, we’d never have had any other games in the series, including whatever your favorite is. There’d be no Resident Evil 2, no 4, and none of these modern remakes. And the world would be worse off for it.
Sure, you could always play the REmake and I wouldn’t blame you for it. It’s a great game but I’d seriously recommend that everyone at least try the original and see how it all began. If you’re reluctant, I can solve that in three words.
Wesker. Shoots. Bees.
What more could you want? Long live Resident Evil and long live Barry Burton.
Steve is the resident Englishman, just don’t hold that against him. He’s been playing games for the best part of 3 decades and will continue to do so for as long as his thumbs hold up. When they no longer work, he’ll still find a way to play Resident Evil 2. Lover of most things nerdy Steve also likes sports. Go sports!