You may or may not be surprised to know that Resident Evil on the Playstation is now over twenty years old. Resident Evil is the game that spawned at least seven sequels, and what is it now? Six films? I lose track. At the time it was considered one of the best games available on the Playstation, but how has it held up? Is it still worth playing?
The game begins when Alpha team find’s Bravo Team’s helicopter but no sign of any of the team, except for a severed hand. They’re attacked by large monster-like dogs separating them and forcing your main character into the mansion. A gunshot rings out, and you now gain control of your character. It’s not long before you find a member of the Bravo team being munched on by a zombie, and it’s around that time that you start to realise that this mansion is not all that it seems. The story takes you through a mansion filled with the mindless undead and angry mutated creatures, down into the bowels of an underground scientific facility filled with far worse things than zombies.
The storyline is good. It has everything you’d want in a horror story. Horrifying undead, jump moments that get you every time, mystery and suspense, all set in an old house or top-secret scientific facility and of course there has to be a traitor. There always has to be a traitor. Oh, if you’re thinking “I’ve seen the film, I know the story” then think again. The storyline in the game is infinitely better than the one in the Milla Jovovich movie.
The game is essentially a puzzle based horror survival game. You move around the game picking up objects to help you solve puzzles that open up new ways, doors or access to other objects.
Sure, there’s an army of undead abominations wandering about, but you have a full arsenal and infinite ammo, right? Nope. Ammo is fairly restricted, and if you don’t use it wisely you could fighting off the hordes of the undead with nothing except your knife. Often it’s best to kill what you have to, and run past the rest.
Ok, so no infinite ammo, but you can save when you want? Again, another big no. You save your progress by using typewriter ink ribbons on the typewriters conservatively scattered throughout the game. Like the ammo, you need to be wise and sparring with your save ribbons.
The final challenge to the game is having a fairly limited inventory. Depending on the character you play (Chris or Jill) you can carry either 6 or 8 items in your inventory. This limit also applies to ribbons, health powders, weapons and ammo. So if you haven’t got enough inventory space you need to leave items in chests also scattered about the mansion, this can mean running back and forth with items until you solve the problems. Time consuming and if you’ve cleared the halls of undead, kinda dull.
Some of the above is a welcome challenge, certainly as far as ammo and save points go, but the inventory management system can be frustrating especially for solving problems.
Graphics & Sound
Each part of the Resident Evil mansion is shot in the way that a film might be. So the game is filled with some really nice and effective camera angles and shots. This all helps to maintain the mystery and tension bubbling. Some corridors you can’t see around until you get to the end of them. One of the more tense aspects is the loading screen for when you go up or down stairs. As the new level loads you see a first person visual of you climbing or descending the stairs, but this is done slowly and if you’ve never been there before it keeps the tension in and makes you wonder what you’re about to walk in to.
By today’s standards the graphics are ropey, it’s true they are. They haven’t stood up well, but who does after twenty years. The acting is also a bit ‘daytime soap opera’ as well at certain points. Having said all that, the graphics were top rate in its day, and it’s a little bad to judge them by today’s standards.
The controls are fairly easy to use, but because of the camera angles shooting can be a little problematic. Walking backwards may move you into the previous camera shot and completely unable to see the enemies ahead. You can also waste the odd bullet pointing ever so slightly in the wrong direction when you fire.
After a while you get over all these issues, but when you have two dogs jumping through windows at you, you’re aiming may be a little off.
The difficulty of Resident Evil is set at a good level. There aren’t huge amounts of enemies to kill, and unless you’ve been firing your weapon at everything and used up all your ammo you should be able to kill what you need to and run away from the rest. Typewriter ribbons have a similar rarity that needs to be managed well.
Boss fights may cause you to bite the big one once or twice until you get used to the strategy.
The biggest challenge is the puzzles. Twinned with your limited inventory space, you can find yourself running backwards and forwards through the mansion to try a different collection of items until the puzzle is solved.
Resident Evil has a surprising amount of replayability. Depending on your actions within the game, there are four different endings (ranging from very good to terrible), if you complete the game in less than three hours you can unlock an infinite an infinite ammo Beretta, there’s also an advanced mode which as you can imagine ramps up the difficulty even more. Whether or not you want to go through all of that again, is difficult to tell. Though, once you’ve played it through once at least you’ll have a better idea of which items to keep with you. So that will at least cut down the running to and from the inventory chests.