If you haven't figured it out yet, we're going to be talking about one of my favorite gaming series ever. EVER. still don't know what I'm talking about?
"Just a moment! Just take, a look, at this!"
That's Barry there... he's going to be helping me through this. We're going to talk about one of the best series in the survival horror genre. It paved the way for Silent Hill and other survival horror games, and it did it in an incredibly cheesy way.
Resident Evil is one of the most famous franchises ever made. Not only are there tons of games on multiple platforms, there's movies, action figures.... you name it. I actually used to have a S.T.A.R.S airsoft pistol, which looked exactly like the Beretta from RE3. Resident Evil is huge today, and not just here in the states. I really wanted to talk about the first three games for a while, because they are my favorite, and were made when Capcom wasn't entirely set on milking it for money. Without further adieu, let's tackle the first game in the series.
Resident Evil (Director's Cut) - A.K.A., the game with hilarious voice acting!
"What?! What is this?"
Indeed Barry, what is this? It's only the first installment of the entire series! Released in 1996 on the ancient Play-Station, it was one of the first games of its kind. While Alone In The Dark came first, Resident Evil came along and did it much better, and offered gamers one of the best horror experiences.
Save for the voice acting, which was heavily criticized at the time of its release. It's funny though, because these days the voice acting is held in high regard, specifically for how terrible it is, and the dialogue is quoted left and right in various jokes and on various forums. Hell, I've already quoted Barry twice, making him the obvious winner of the Shittiest Dialogue award. It's so unbelievably bad that it's funny. I blame it on the budget this game had at the time. I'm going by the FMV sequences to base this. The costumes the actors wear are something out of a high school play or shitty B movie. The whole GAME feels like a B movie. However, at the time of its release, I doubt anybody cared after actually playing the game.
For one, the game makes use of some classic horror settings, and does it really well. You'll be exploring an empty mansion (or is it?!!) for most of the game, and it's fucking creepy. The graphics are crude today, but at the time they were amazing. Using static camera angles, the game does its best to instill fear in you. The mansion is believable, and really gives off a certain atmosphere. It's the classic haunted house type after all! Hearing zombies creeping closer, or seeing them at the end of corridors is unnerving as all hell. The sound design is great. You'll hear zombies groaning faintly in the distance. Hunters screech loud, and every chomp a zombie takes is heard. The weapons sound like they should, and ambient sounds like a clock ticking in the background, or the music itself, create a very satisfying atmosphere.
Unfortunately, you'll be dodging a lot of zombies. Ammo is scarce, hence the term survival horror. It's just you and your pistol (or knife) for a long time. The game does have other weapons you can acquire, but the ammo is even more scarce. This requires players to run away sometimes, instead of blasting everything you see. It adds to the tension this game creates. When you have 5 bullets left and you know there's a monster around the corner, you're going to start panicking. Who wouldn't?
Let's introduce the characters:
Chris Redfield - Resident dipshit.
Chris is one of the playable characters, and he's right up there with Barry with stupid quotes. Don't let that mug fool you... he's pretty damn dense. He can't read music, and he can't do basic chemistry. His IQ is probably lower than 100.
Jill Valentine - The fucking master of unlocking.
Jill is awesome. She starts with the Beretta for one thing, and she gets the lockpick immediately after. Her side of the story is much more interesting with crazy Barry, and she can read music and mix chemicals. Ignore this derp face... she got pretty good looking later on, especially in the Apocalypse movie. God damn!
Barry Motherfucking Burton - "I have this!"
Barry is the man. Full of fucking terrible quotes, but all hilarious. Even in his simplest dialogue, he will warrant a chuckle or two. He also gets an award for stating the fucking obvious: "It's a weapon! It's really powerful! Especially against living things!"
Yeah... thanks for the clarification you old bastard you...
Rebecca Chambers - Resident pain in the ass.
Rebecca is utterly useless. She only appears in Chris' scenario to help play music for him, and start the self-destruct sequence. She gets in the way and has to be saved to get the best ending, because medics can't protect themselves apparently. Her voice is fucking annoying too.
Albert Wesker - Resident BADASS TRAITOR.
Wesker is the captain of the S.T.A.R.S. team. He's an all around character. His voice actor is horrible, he has humorous quotes, and he's secretly working for Umbrella, which is painfully obvious from the get go. He has cool sunglasses, and slicked hair. He's too cool for S.T.A.R.S.
Joseph - "JOOOOOSSEEPPPPPPPPHHHH!!!!"
You literally see him for a minute until dogs eat him alive. He obviously skipped training.
Kenneth - The dude with no head.
Quite literally. He's the first corpse you happen upon. His only purpose is to introduce the first zombie, and to give you two clips for your trusty Beretta.
Forest - A.K.A. crow food.
Forest is having a bad day. He's been pecked to death by crows, which is extremely convenient since he leaves behind a bazooka.
Richard - "TERRIBLE DEMONS."
Richard is great. He gives you a radio, he leaves ammo, and he warns you about a giant snake. His voice actor is incredibly bad, so it's a great thing he dies so quick.
Enrico - "Traitor!!!"
Yeah, that's all Enrico is. He tells you there's a traitor among the S.T.A.R.S. members, which by this point in the game, you know already. Thanks anyway.
Resident Evil also has quite the variety of baddies to kill, or be killed by:
Mr. Zombie - Generic, but still dangerous.
Zombies are everywhere in Resident Evil. They're the main focal point of the entire series. You've seen these guys before. Interests include human flesh, dimly lit hallways, and scaring the shit out of people. They hate anything that can't be eaten, except for bullets of course.
Zombie Dogs - This ain't Old Yeller.
Damn straight. Fast and powerful. Out run them or stand over them and shoot them dead. I doubt milk bones work against them.
Crows - Threat undetected.
For real. Don't worry about these guys. They do minimal damage, can be out run, and don't deserve a taste of your knife, let alone your precious bullets.
Giant Spiders - Initiate arachnophobia.
Quite large, but still not quite deadly. Ignore them to live. Shoot them, and suffer the wrath of baby spiders that will drain your health down. Oh, and they can poison you.
Hunters - Fuck these guys.
Hunters are the deadliest enemy you will encounter in this game. Your Beretta is insanely weak against them, they have weird invincibility frames, and they can lob your head off any fucking time they want. There are a lot of them too. Run away from these fuckers.
Chimera - Fuck these guys too.
Not as bad as hunters, but they are still just as deadly. They crawl on the ceiling and try to cut your head off. Just dodge em and run.
Yawn Snake - Abssstthhholute trouble.
The first boss you encounter, and a hard motherfucker at that. He guards a crest you need, so fill him full of shotgun shells. Oh, and don't get bit. He's full of poison.
Plant 42 - Break out the weed wacker.
Shotguns work just as well.
Even Bigger Spider - Protector of doors.
Guards a door to Umbrella's laboratory. Burn him to death with the flamethrower or blow him up with the bazooka. He's a chump.
The Tyrant - The ultimate failure.
The last boss, and the hardest hitting. Tyrant sports a rather unpleasant mutated claw that he likes to swing at you. He takes a lot of damage and he's really fast. He doesn't care for rocket launchers much.
Okay, glad we established everybody.
Resident Evil doesn't have the greatest plot... it's one big conspiracy! Basically, the S.T.A.R.S. team is dispatched to the Arklay Mountains, just outside of Raccoon City, to investigate bizarre murders and occurrences in the Spencer Mansion. There's traitors, double agents, and major fuckery going down around these parts, and it's all thanks to Umbrella, the biggest corporation in America. Biological experiments that went wrong are now being unleashed, thanks to the T-Virus being spread. It's your job as Jill or that lunkhead Chris to figure it out and put a stop to it all!
The main focus is the gameplay. Resident Evil uses static camera angles, so your only option for movement is tank controls. That means holding up moves the character up no matter what, and left and right turn them in their respective directions. It feels like you're controlling a tank. Holding square runs, and you will use it the entire game. Walking is just too slow.
"Look out! He's insane!"
You might be. The mansion is intimidating with all its monsters, but thankfully you have an adequate arsenal to contend with. Holding R1 will ready your weapon, and pressing X after will shoot. It's slow, and you can only aim totally up, totally down, or totally straight. Resident Evil offers a nice balanced arsenal. You have the Beretta, which acts as your zombie and dog repellent. The Shotgun is your main weapon later in the game, and is quite effective against bosses, hunters, and spiders. Aiming up at zombies will let you blow their heads off, so that's a nice feature. The ammo is plentiful for it as well. Chris will get the Colt Python later on. It's a powerful magnum that Barry up there similarly uses. The ammo is extremely scarce for it, so its only recommended use is on Tyrant, a few hunters, and chimera if they give you a hard time. It kills everything in one shot, save for the bosses. Jill will get the Bazooka fairly early, and its the best weapon in the game. Not only does it pack a fucking wallop, it has three different ammo types: the flame rounds, acid rounds, and the regular old fashioned grenade rounds. Even if you have to fight Forest to get it, it's still better than backtracking and solving a puzzle to get Chris' Colt Python. Just the fact that you get it so early makes it better.
On top of the weaponry, you also have a health meter and inventory to account for. The game can be saved by finding Ink Ribbons for typewriters. An EKG tracks your health in three states: Fine, Caution, and Danger! You can restore it by using first aid sprays or by using herbs. The herbs are neat because they can be combined to restore more health, and even cure poison effects. Besides watching your health, you have to keep track of your inventory, as it is severely limited! Playing as Chris grants only 6 inventory slots, while Jill gets 8. That means you need to manage what you collect. Thankfully, the game places save rooms all over that hold storage chests. These things are some how universally linked, so you can leave anything in one chest and it will appear in another. These are crucial to surviving.
Resident Evil is also notable for its puzzle based gameplay. Throughout the game, you'll be collecting keys to open doors, and items that either unlock areas, or allow you to get past a certain part. For example, to get out of the mansion, the player will need to find four crests by searching around and solving puzzles. A lot of items will be collected and used, sometimes more than once. Figuring these puzzles out is half the battle.
The game keeps track of your efforts with a rank system. Depending on how fast you beat it, how many times you save and heal, and what conditions you meet, you can unlock secret costumes and weapons! And even if you get bored with the main scenario, there's the Arrange option in the Director's Cut edition. It puts every item in the game in totally different areas. With multiple endings, and two characters to play as, Resident Evil offers a lot of replay value.
"That was too close! You were almost a Jill Sandwich!"
All in all, Resident Evil is a great game. It's cheesy as all hell, but it has a certain charm to it. The characters are great in unintentional ways, and the monsters are scary. Playing this back in 1997 when my uncle sold it to me still sticks with me to this day. It truly terrified me, and was the first game to do so. It's a blast to play through. It's great for speed running as well, and to this day I still play through it every so often, just to laugh at the horrible dialogue. It really is funny.
Here's a small taste of it, if you don't believe me:
"Whoops! Now I've done it!" Stay tuned for part 2 where I'll tackle the superior Resident Evil 2!