Tag Archives: Resident Evil

Returning to the Resident Evil remake

I know I’ve complained about the preponderance of recent remasters, which makes my current enthusiasm for this, the 2015 remaster of the 2002 remake of 1996’s Resident Evil, as well as the long-awaited Majora’s Mask 3D, seem odd. I’ll defend my position, though, since neither of those games has been seen on shelves in more than a decade and at least two console generations – they’re retro, in other words. I’ll be less enthusiastic about a 1080p remaster of Resident Evil 6, should that arrive, believe me.

Resident Evil HD: The mansion lobby

This is a game that I always respected and wanted to like, but timid little 2002-vintage me never made it much beyond the appearance of Crimson Heads. A couple of hours, in other words. A humiliating admission for such an ardent horror fan, but sadly not an isolated one in my gaming back catalogue, which is a who’s who of abandoned horror classics. But while the years might have blunted the absolute dread I felt when playing this to the point where it didn’t really give me The Fear at all, like when I played through the original Silent Hill, though, time has left the solid mechanics alone. It’s a phenomenally well-designed game.

But where Silent Hill, being (a) a PS1 game and (b) doing in real-time what Resident Evil resorted to pre-rendered backdrops to accomplish, looks really rough now, the Resident Evil remake (REmake hereafter) still looks incredible. It’s genuinely one of the most beautiful games ever made, even on a GameCube, and quick polish for a new generation of systems has only enhanced it. Some FMV and dark backgrounds that can look somewhat over-compressed aside, the game looks almost flawless. A handful of rooms are apparently now rendered in real-time, and it’s absolutely seamless – meaning we had a game on the GC that could stand up alongside games from two generations on. Amazing.

Resident Evil HD: Jill Valentine

I’m continually blown away by the details in the visual and story design of this game. The Spencer Mansion, ridiculous as its gems, metal objects and death masks may be, is an iconic location, brimming with memorable rooms and scares. Lisa Trevor and her family add a harrowing subplot that’s significantly more disturbing than any number of exploding heads. It has fun in playing with your expectations, so that you can imagine the designers smiling as famous moments like the dogs through the window are subverted, or when the aforementioned Crimson Heads turn cleared rooms into dangerous ammo sinks. The voice acting still has B-movie charm without being impossible to take seriously like the original, while those touching up the script and removing some of the more egregious howlers had the good sense to leave alone some of the best writing.

As much as I love RE2 and 4, REmake is my favourite in the series. It’s pure survival horror, which, brilliant as it is, Resident Evil 4 isn’t. It’s also tight, creepy and self-contained, which the bigger and crazier RE2 isn’t. It’s also a lesson for newer games in how to do a lot without a huge abundance of content, supporting two stories, multiple endings and a series of enjoyable unlocks in a game that can comfortably be finished in five hours.

Best of 2009 #9: Resident Evil 5

Alas, adding co-op to the framework for one of the best action-adventure games ever made wasn’t enough to blow minds as the same formula managed to do in 2005, but Resident Evil 5 still deserves recognition. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing you could accuse its developer of – besides being staffed by massive racists, obviously – is only making minor improvements to the game that netted dozens of game of the year awards not too long ago. They must be mad.

Some of that was simply down to how things have moved on since Resident Evil 4, as shooters with the same perspective and arguably more friendly mechanics are ten a penny these days. Some of it was also down to the fact that, unless you had more dedicated friends than me, you had to spend the whole game reliant on an AI partner, and you’re a lot less willing to forgive the mistakes of that than you are a real person. The notion of this being survival horror went out the window with the last game and it’s even less so now, and the proliferation of this style has, perversely, left what was groundbreaking only a few years ago feeling aged.

As always seems to the the way, I’ve ended up sounding really down on this game, and I’m not at all, because it’s still an excellent adventure that just has flaws that you need to be willing to look past, which, people tend to forget, has always been the way with Resident Evil. To change it too much, to bow to the pressure of its predecessor’s pretenders, would stop it being Resident Evil, and that’s what I still want from this series; if I want to play Gears of War, I’ll play Gears of War. This felt like a member of the series, helped by the reappearance of series tropes that had gone walkabout recently.

There’s big pressure on the next one, and if it’s as good as this one I’ll be at the front of the line. We’ve got Umbrella back, so how about some zombies?

Resi 5: Old But Not Outdated

If you need proof of how far certain genres have come in the last few years, just look at how gameplay that was considered a revolution in 2005 is now being treated as a relic in its next-gen sequel – I am, of course, talking about Resident Evil 5. Blame Dead Space for spoiling us if you like, but the fact is that few genres have come all that far in the last five years in any respect other than visuals.

Resident Evil 5

I’m nearing the end of Resident Evil 5, and yes, it does feel clunky after we’ve enjoyed the improvements to the formula in games like Gears of War and Dead Space. Yes, managing the inventory in real-time is an unnecessary attempt at creating tension. Yes, the partner AI is prone to lapses of judgement – although at least this time it can shoot back. Yes, the setting lacks that unsettling, macabre tone of Resi 4. Yes, we’d all like to run and gun. These are flaws that make it worthy of being marked down against its predecessor, but everything else that that game did right is in here as well. It looks great, it has that same satisfyingly precise gunplay, the boss battles are impressive, the battles are intense…

Maybe it’s played things too safe, which is what people seem to be piling on about, but the fact remains that when you play Resident Evil 5 as Resident Evil 5 and not what you think Resident Evil 5 should be, you’ll have a great time.

People are rightfully disappointed in Capcom’s conservatism, but it’s still based on what few will dispute is a classic game and a frontrunner for the best game of the last generation. Dead Space moved the survival horror/action sub-genre forward, but it hasn’t made Resident Evil 4 a worse game and thus to say that Resi 5 is a bad game is hyperbole.

Don’t let me stop you throwing some vitriol over the DLC situation, though. Capcom deserves a kicking over that, if not the game’s overall quality.

Racialist Evil

It was inevitable, and I’m sure when most of us saw that stunning Resident Evil 5 trailer we knew it would be coming. Barely a week later and the race card has been played (also see The Village Voice, amongst others). I dread to think what it’ll be like when (please don’t let it be ‘if’) the game comes out.

Besides the obvious point that there were no complaints over several games of largely white zombies – with few exceptions like the police chief in RE2 there were no black zombies, which is surely more racist? – but this is a game set in Africa where, shockingly, most people are black. Are we supposed to pretend Africa doesn’t exist like Bob Geldof keeps telling us we do? Or do we populate in-game Africa with white people? Or even Asians, since this is a Japanese game?

Ultimately, whichever way it goes we’re going to have complaints because this is such touchy subject matter. I just wish there weren’t so many reactionary idiots, and it’s telling that the first blog post about it complains that:

“…this video game is marketed to children and young adults.”

Ignorance is bliss, right? It should also be noted that the trailer is age-gated on gaming sites, as per new rules, meaning that visitors need to give their age in order to view it. While that won’t stop kids seeing it (at least not the ones with enough intelligence to realise that it’s only a game), it makes it easier to parents to moderate the content.

Nonetheless the more enlightened commentators on this have raised some interesting points. Could the virus and transmission thereof be an allegory for the AIDS crisis in Africa? And does the fact that the game is coming from an ethnically homogenous country like Japan where racism is perhaps not such a delicate issue, explain why the villagers look so threatening prior to infection?

I hope Capcom try their best to take the high ground by refusing to censor the game but ensuring that things are handled as sensitively as possible. That means, whatever they do, if they’re adding an overall (RE4 spoiler) Saddler figure to control the ‘zombies’ DO NOT make it a white guy. The way the story is going it could end up being Wesker, and I can’t begin to describe how unwise it would be to make a white man in military uniform kill black people who are being controlled by another white guy who happens to be tall, blond-haired, and blue red-eyed. I wouldn’t even touch that one.

Best of 2005 #2: Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4

Speaking of sequels that don’t play it safe, here’s another one, although the Resident Evil name on the box obviously helps one to achieve financial success. Even so, the risk with making such big changes to such an established formula can’t be overestimated.

As revolutionary as Resident Evil was, the gameplay has dated fast in this world where action shooters and 3D environments rule. Some fundamental changes later – the new perspective, the death (again) of the trademark zombies, a whole new threat that isn’t Umbrella – and they have this, the latest RE game that makes a huge deviation from the established formula whilst still leaving some of the hallmarks that make this unmistakably Resident Evil and the best GameCube game in a long time.

The precision gunplay, creepy atmosphere (helped by some of the most impressive visuals of this generation), and excellent pacing make this an all-time classic and a clear choice for one of the best of the year. It was tough to relegate to second, believe me.

Resident Evil 5! At TGS!

As if the announcement in this week’s Famitsu of Resident Evil 5 on Xbox 360 and PS3 (no Nintendo love this time?) wasn’t enough, Capcom are hinting that an appearance at the Tokyo Game Show is a distinct possibility, which is seriously fantastic. I loved RE4 so a sequel that follows the same formula but with the extra muscle of the 360 and PS3 will be great, and when you look at how beautiful they made it look on the GameCube imagine what they’ll be able to do.

I can see a move on the scale of the one that took you from the mansion/labs of Resident Evil into the city environment of RE2, but even more pronounced. Hopefully you’ll be given more free reign of the city this time instead of being shepherded into a distinctly mansion-like police station within ten minutes.