maanantai 23. elokuuta 2010

REVIEW - Resident Evil - Director's Cut (1997)

Genre(s): Action / Survival horror
Released: 1997
Available on: PS1, PSN
Developer(s): Capcom
Publisher(s): Capcom, Virgin Interactive
Players: 1

In 1989, Capcom developed and published a horror movie license by the name of Sweet Home, which marked the birth of an action subgenre known as survival horror. Seven years later, the very same company resurrected and revolutionized this genre with the development and release of Resident Evil, which has since become one of the most popular video game franchises in the world. The original game has spawned numerous sequels, remakes and spin-offs, as well as four blockbuster movies. Many companies have launched their own survival horror franchises since the success of the first two Resident Evil games, some of which have excelled such as Konami, with their once-excellent Silent Hill. Yet, arguably, even if the developers have abandoned some of the scariest elements on the behalf of hard hitting action in modern Resident Evil productions, and even unleashed some utter failures such as the spin-off Outbreak, Resident Evil is still the most trustworthy survival horror series out there. The ongoing development of Resident Evil 2 was announced right on the heels of the first game, but several drafts of the game were canned even in the latest stages of production – the final version was supposed to come out in early 1997, but it just kept on delaying, right up until January 1998. In between, in an effort to soothe fans over, Capcom released Resident Evil – Director’s Cut, which is a slightly modified version of the first game, complete with whole new scares and trickier puzzles.

Re-RE, Part 1

Scott McCulloch [as Charlie] : Chris Redfield
Una Kavanagh [as Inezh] : Jill Valentine
Barry Gjerde [as Gregory] : Barry Burton
Sergio Jones [as Eric] : Albert Wesker
Lynn Harris [as Linda] : Rebecca Chambers
Jason Wool [as Jason] : Joseph Frost
Ward E. Sexton : Narrator

S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service), an elite task force of the Raccoon City Police Department, is sent to the outskirts of Raccoon City to investigate a string of gruesome murders possibly involving cannibalism. Bravo Team is sent in first; when all contact to the team is lost, Alpha Team follows the trail and gets attacked by a group of rabid dogs that chases the survivors to a mysterious, gigantic mansion in the mountains. They soon find the mansion is infested with zombies and other monsters, and discover the truth behind a biological experiment gone horribly wrong.

The simplified graphics are OK, even if the character polygons stick out like a sore thumb in the pre-rendered environment. The FMV clips are plain rancid, though. Not only is the acting bad, but the framerate is shit and the editing sucks. The music is very scarce but when some does play, it’s simple, yet quite intense and spooky stuff. You might’ve heard that the voiceover work in this game is bad. Well, it’s not... it’s downright horrible! The game has more bad lines and performance than the rest of the Resident Evil titles combined! The character of Chris comes across sounding dumb as a left boot and Jill doesn’t strike me as being too smart, either. Rebecca? Well, she’s just plain annoying, and Barry’s voice actor clearly has some idea about how dumb his lines are, since he’s about to burst into laughter on a couple of occasions. Some of the lines and the events on screen don’t quite mesh, for example in one point Rebecca comes into a room and finds Chris; note that she’s standing less than six feet away from him, in a well lit room. Chris waves his hand and shouts out “IS THAT YOU, REBECCA?”. You probably get what I’m aiming at. I’m planning to write a Best Lines/Worst Lines feature at some point, I figure that 80% of the bad lines are going to be from this game.

Barry and Jill's conversations provide some
comic relief.
When it comes to the gameplay, we’re getting somewhere after a horrible first impression. The game is still excellent fun after all these years. The Resident Evil franchise – or those games that are worthy of the name in my books – is split into two: the current generation and the old school. The old school interface went through none but minor changes right up until Code: Veronica, which was released in 2000, and for the most part, I love it. The radical changes they have made to the formula since are equally great, but these earlier games indeed have their own sort of special attraction in them.

Resident Evil – Director’s Cut is definitely an essential purchase to anyone who does not own the original Resident Evil, and that’s because it actually includes the original game, as the “Standard” option. The “Advanced” one is the actual Director’s Cut version. This later version of the game is notably more difficult than the original. Many key items are in different places (sometimes extremely illogical ones, but that’s not the point), there are a few additional sticky situations or radically modified ones (such as the undead version of Forrest Speyer), and your character is weaker regardless of which S.T.A.R.S. member you are using to hack through the mansion. It’s easier to pull off headshots, though. The unlockable alternate outfits from the original game are now your protagonists’ standard clothes.

Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine are the two playable characters. Rookies should really consider starting out as Jill, even if playing as a girl when there’s an option has been proven to be mental suicide to some strange people. Jill is slightly faster than Chris, she starts out with a gun and has instant access to more ammo thanks to the lockpick she acquires near the beginning of the game – after an infamous conversation – she has easier access to new weapons ‘cause she has someone watching her back from time to time, she has less puzzles to solve and finally, two additional item slots... anyone else think of her bra cups, maybe?! I just had to say that.

To clear things up, Chris indeed has only six item slots in his inventory. His only weapon in the very beginning of the game is a combat knife, which really doesn’t do you any good at all in combat. There is one point in the game in which you need the blade, but not for fighting. Chris has no lockpick as an additional pocket item, instead he has a lighter which Jill, on the other hand, needs to find in the mansion. Chris has great difficulties of finding and acquiring new weapons – mostly because he needs a key for absolutely everything from doors to simple drawers – and he lacks some certain feminine skills.

The storyline differs between the two characters. The basics are the same, but some of the settings and twists in the plot are very different. Both protagonists meet different NPC’s during their exploit, some of which are very useful folk – albeit extremely irritating – and the whole plot is unfolded only by playing through both of the scenarios. Like I pointed out, the game has huge replay value, so playing the game over using a different character is a thought very easy to adapt to. I’m not quite sure what it is that makes popping zombies’ heads with a shotgun so fun, time after time... I think I answered my own question!

Some people have trouble coping with the vintage Resident Evil control scheme, but personally I like it. You use the left and right buttons to turn, and the up and down buttons to walk/run forward or take a few steps back. This is the DualShock version of the game, which allows the use of the analog stick, but it doesn’t really work here. Weapons are drawn with R1 and fired with X. The one thing I’ve never liked about Resident Evil, which is still a huge problem although the interface has changed radically, is the inventory limit. There are some tricks to free up space, such as using health items even if you don’t need them at all – the game forcing you to do this is something out of the retard zone, ‘cause they’re not too easy to come by – or reloading weapons and shooting out the extra bullets, etc., but before you make any sort of hasty conclusions, you should check if there’s a chest nearby, it’s usually in a safe room. There, you can always temporarily get rid of weapons and items you don’t need by placing them in the chest. The chests are linked, so you don’t have to worry about backtracking to the precise chest you left stuff in if you happen to need it. Backtracking is a problem in the game, but at least it has some sense of purpose and luckily it has nothing to do with your stored items.

Saving is done with typewriters that are scattered everywhere, usually in safe rooms. You need an Ink Ribbon as sort of “currency” for saving, and it’s kind of stupid since the item goes into your main inventory. Luckily you can cluster them to one single slot, but usually when you save, you’ll have to get the ribbons from the chest, save and every time you load the game, you need to remember to place the ribbons back in the chest so they don’t clutter up your inventory any longer. The game is so generous with these ribbons I really wonder why they couldn’t have just given us a simple save point without any incentives. They’re just plain annoying.

Classic, classic stuff. Nothing like the sound of
an exploding head.
First, the enemies consist of countless zombies, but during Chris and Jill’s exploits, a few different ugly sons of bitches rear heads, for example dogs that could outlast Cujo in a dogfight any day, and the dreaded Hunters. The enemies don’t exactly vary a lot, but action’s really not the point here, and the game never gets boring. There are lots of puzzles and quite a lot of exploring going to happen, the enemies are just kind of extra entertainment. The boss fights are fun and relatively inventive. Some of them require loss of lives and intense planning on the first round. The bosses you come face to face with largely depend on who you’re playing as, and include overgrown animals, plants and some things that might’ve been human once.

The game is a bit short in comparison to its sequels, I admit that, but still gives you plenty for your money’s worth: intense and classic survival horror action, classic puzzles, a good plot – although it’s told by some very untalented people – interesting takes on horror clichés, and more zombies than you bargained for, begging to get what’s left of their brains splattered on the mansion walls. If you want to experience the game as what it was truly meant to be, in its (arguably) true form, with better voice acting and an expanded storyline, you should consider trying out the GameCube version – the so called R.E.make – which is my favourite game in the whole franchise. But, if you want to go all old school, check out the original and fun is still guaranteed.

The original game is actually moderately easy, but the Director’s Cut version is pretty hard. Even Jill’s scenario isn’t a walk in the park, and Chris’ can be a full-on nightmare if you aren’t prepared. The game challenges you to great achievements, and if you’re going for those, you’re in for quite a struggle. Resident Evil is still one great zombie game to unleash some healthy shotgun rage on. It’s truly morbid on the first round, one of the more intense games in the series when it comes to an actual fear factor. The game has also the most puzzles of them all, and it’s therefore quite possibly the most balanced title in the series, just not the best as far as the whole experience is concerned.

Graphics : 8.1
Sound : 6.7
Playability : 9.3
Challenge : 9.2
Overall : 9.1


a.k.a. Biohazard – Director’s Cut (JAP)

GameRankings: 74.29%

The Resident Evil franchise is known as Biohazard in Japan. The game was renamed in the United States and Europe to avoid any trademark disputes with the band Biohazard.

In addition to this Director’s Cut version, two other alternative versions of the game exist. A completely remade version was released exclusively on the Nintendo GameCube in 2002, and four years later, the original game was ported to the Nintendo DS as Resident Evil: Deadly Silence.

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