DJ Arruda ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Having been silent for two years since the release of Resident Evil 6 in fall 2012, Capcom has stepped back into the spotlight with a re-release of the critically acclaimed remastered edition of the first game of the series. Though some may question why there has been no news on Resident Evil 7, and why the company ,would instead bring back the origin of the series, perhaps it is the first step in showing that the next numbered entry will truly bring the series back to its horror roots, a complaint many fans have held with the more action oriented direction the series has taken. Regardless, however, this rerelease serves to return the series to the minds of gamers on either current or last gen consoles, and PC, and does so exceptionally well.
Putting players in control of either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, who can also be made to look like they do in later games with different costumes, the game brings us back to the Spencer Mansion on the outskirts of Raccoon City to uncover the truth behind the T-Virus and the infamous zombie outbreak that starts the series. And remarkably, much of the original gaming experience remains intact. Though the game looks surprisingly good, despite over a decade of aging, thanks to the already impressive graphics on the original GameCube release being upgraded from their original 4:3 resolution to the more contemporary 16:9 which allows the camera to follow the player in widescreen, the way in which the camera operates can still take some getting used to. The old “tank” controls, which longtime fans know quite well, have been altered to allow the characters to follow the movements of the analog stick instead, fitting in with the more modern era of games. Purists need not fear, however, as the widescreen camera and improved character movement can be switched back to the beloved, albeit clunky, “tank” controls and classic camera in-game, at any time. These small improvements make an already great remake better and more accessible, and for those who never got to experience the original game or want to visit it again more comfortably, this release becomes the definitive edition. Character models and backgrounds have also been improved in addition to this integration of both screen resolutions, as well as an upgrade to sound and graphics overall.
As can be expected, the first foray into the Spencer Mansion has never felt more alive, and the fear struck by losing ammo and being outnumbered by zombies and undead animals alike is refreshing in a genre gone stale over the years since the game was first released. The classic puzzles and hidden passages throughout the Mansion add to the well-crafted atmosphere, and a genuine sense of dread is easy to feel when isolated from a save point with only a few bullets left. The story, one of the strongest of the series, is nice to revisit, especially knowing the directions, both narratively and gameplay-wise, the series has gone since. Whether you play as Chris partnered with Rebecca, or Jill with Barry, the game changes, the former stronger but with less items, the latter weaker but with more items, among other differences, ensuring multiple playthroughs in order to get the full experience.
Indeed, the game is not without some noticeably dated mechanics, which are necessary to stay true to the original, but the conservation of ammo and typewriter save system can be frustrating to go back to coming from the autosaving and fluid combat of the more recent titles in the series. Though the improvements to the camera and controls make the game feel more current, the revolutionary over the shoulder camera of Resident Evil 4 is still missed. But to expect the company to remake the game from the ground up in that fashion instead of doing the revival that they have presented would take much more time and resources that may be better spent on the next entries in the series. Perhaps fan favorite Resident Evil 2 and the other sequels will be remade as well, judging by the quality of this release. But for fans news and old this rerelease still holds much appeal. The game runs smoothly and beautifully on the Xbox One, and there is something to be said for playing a classic on the latest hardware. The achievement list is fair and varied enough to keep players busy without being overwhelmed, and the $20 price tag makes the purchase that much more appetizing. With the episodic sequel to 2012’s Resident Evil: Revelations arriving next month as well, Capcom looks to be breaking their radio silence and starting the next chapter in the series. We can only hope news of a true sequel rides the wake of this release, and that the spirit of this game can be recaptured in that sequel.
Overall Rating: 9/10