Resident Evil Retrospective: Part 4

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Posted October 1, 2013 by Peter Bradley in Nerdy Bits

By the time I’d completed Resident Evil 3 it was probably hitting summer of 2000 at which point the release of Resident Evil Code Veronica was imminent on the Sega Dreamcast, but at the time I was unaware of this – I never even knew of its existence until it was released on the Playstation 2.  At this point in 2001 I was still rocking my original Playstation because honestly, I’d fallen away from gaming with the exception of Resident Evil.  So I faced a dilemma; where do I go next?  The Playstation 2 seemed like the choice at first with Code Veronica already released, but then I’d heard mumblings of something exciting…I’m not sure if it was a gaming magazine or if I had internet already, but the news that Resident Evil going forward would be exclusive to Nintendo’s new console, the Gamecube.  Not only this, but screens from the first game on the system began to appear, a remake of the original Resident Evil…having not really jumped into this new generation of gaming, these first images were absolutely jaw dropping.  They’d made my decision for me, I was getting a damn Gamecube and nothing was going to stop me.

Don’t worry, I did eventually play Code Veronica, but I’m tackling the games in the order that I played them so we’ll get to that a little later.

resident-evil-mansionRemake was released in 2002 in the UK and I received the game with the accompanying cube for Christmas at the end of that year.  Naturally the system never included a memory card and I couldn’t properly play the game until Boxing Day, typical.  The opening moments of the game showcased the amazing graphics and improved voice acting this new version had to offer.  Gone were the bright walls from before, light and shadows wrapped around objects creating a vastly scarier atmosphere than any of the previous games.  I remember just staring at the candles flickering in the foyer of the mansion…this was something special; my favourite game had been transformed into this superior moody version.  Jill and Chris’ character models were so detailed compared to before, it was truly beautiful to look at this game for the first time.

Story wise, the game remained the same for the most part, but with a few little extras.  A new (and bloody un-killable,) enemy in Lisa Trevor, the daughter of the architect who built the estate and then became a test subject for Umbrella offers more back-story on the building and the ruthlessness of the evil corporation.

In terms of the gameplay though, the ante had successfully been upped.  Zombies would rise from the dead (again…) unless decapitated or burned, as more powerful Crimson Heads – trust me, the first time one of these bastards broke through a door every veteran Resi player was thrown for a total loop.  Keys were found in different locations than before, some new puzzles, extra areas of the mansion and other bits and bobs filled out the new content.  Those sneaky devils at Capcom played on our expectations as well – upon entering the famous dog hallway from the original game there’s a cheap scare at the exact moment we expect the dogs to crash in through the window, but no dogs.

I really can’t compliment this game enough; I loved everything about it and went on to beat it numerous times, including hard and invisible enemy modes.  Resident Evil on the Gamecube is my favourite game of all time and I’d kill for a good HD port of it.

 

Resident-Evil-Zero-coverResident Evil Zero, which arrived in 2003 is actually the first game in the series I purchased at launch…it’s strange to think it took so long.  The concept for what would be the last traditional style Resident Evil game seemed a little odd at first, but given it had the same jaw dropping visuals as Remake I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

While this is still old school Resi, there are two major changes to the game play.  Firstly, you play as two characters at the same time, swapping between them and sharing items.   It’s certainly an interesting idea that works fairly well, albeit a little clunky at times.  Ensuring your AI partner isn’t wasting your good ammo was restricting at times and resulted in a much more frustrating item management than before…the system would also be made insanely be more tedious by the removal of the item boxes.  One of the main features of the save rooms in the previous game was the item box, a trunk where you could store excess keys , health and ammo which could then be retrieved from another save room.  When they first announced that items could simply be dropped on the floor it sounded great; often when faced with a key item that needed to be picked up you’d have to travel to the nearest save room to free up your inventory and the ability to simply drop an item for a couple of minutes seemed like fantastic idea, but then it turned out that’s all you could do and in Zero you’d find yourself running back through several areas to retrieve an item you thought wasn’t necessary anymore.

Also suffering compared to the rest of the series is the story; now I know Resident Evil was never high art, but the narrative always provided entertainment and intrigue…here, not so much. Everything is a little contrived in order to shoehorn in a prequel.  More concerning is the final boss Marcus is easily the least interesting villain in the series – not once, did I find myself caring about his back story.

Now, I’ve been rather negative here, but that’s because Zero is the fifth Resi game I’ve written about and the new aspects of the game are all I can discuss without repeating myself; unfortunately the new aspects are all the drawbacks, but rest assured Zero is still an enjoyable game, just my least favourite amongst the original series and hey, one has to be my least favourite, right?

 

Not long after Zero, Resident Evil 2 and 3 received ports to the Gamecube (which run smoother, so I snapped them up,) but more importantly, so did Code Veronica.  While the graphics were inferior to Remake and Zero, they were of a higher standard than 2 & 3.  Honestly though, after Zero drifted a little for the series, it was amazing returning to the roots of the  franchise in a game I hadn’t actually played yet.

RE CVXFollowing on from the second game, Claire is still searching for her brother Chris.  You actually start playing as Claire and then swap over to Chris about an hour into disk 2 – yeah disk 2, Code veronica is the longest game of the series which doesn’t get a single complaint from me.  The puzzles throughout the game actually offer a little more leeway on the order you chose to complete them and the story is pretty awesome too aside from one annoying brat of a character.

Another standout from Veronica are the legendary boss fights – everyone remembers that mother f***ing Tyrant on that mother***ing plane! I can’t remember how many attempts that took on my first play-through and I’m not sure I wanna know.  Even without him you had Nosferatu and Alexia to contend with and don’t forget the extra slow door opening animation complete with a heartbeat noise before each fight..  It’s bizarre looking back, how fond I am of those battles despite how much grief some of them caused me at the time.

If Remake perfected the visuals, then Veronica perfected the game play before it and it stands as my 2nd favourite of the series. It also stands of the last entry in the series I played before it’s re-imagining with RE4, but we’ll get to that in part 5.

The original series means the world to me; I loved the scares, the laughs, the frustration and the success.  I hope one day we can return to what made Resident Evil my favourite series, but one must move forward with an open mind.

And yes, for the record, Remake, Zero and Veronica all have countdown timers before the facility self destructs in the final boss fight…as it should be.

 

To be continued…


About the Author

Peter Bradley