Resident Evil, what can I say about this game franchise that hasn’t already been talked about by everybody else who loves this franchise. For any gamer that grew up during the 32-bit- 64 bit era, it was one the AAA gaming titles you had to play. The Resident Evil franchise was one of the reasons to own a PlayStation system over the competition.
My first exposure to the franchise was a Resident Evil 2 television commercial showing off a tidbit of the opening of the game, where Leon fights off a horde of zombies. For somebody coming of a Super Nintendo system it looked jaw dropping. Feeling the urge to play the game after watching the RE2 commercial, I decided to rent the original Resident Evil from my local video store.
I was never really attracted to horror games at the time. In fact they where inconceivable to me. My gaming experience ranged only to kid friendly Nintendo consoles which did have some horror themed games such as Friday the 13th and Castlevania but they where hardly considered scary. So actually venturing in to video game that was legitimately trying to scare me was a new experience for me.
As a new comer to fmv (full motion video) in video games, the cheesy live action intro was the greatest thing in the world, by today standards we laugh at it’s corniness but in 1996 it did it’s job by introducing us to the zombie infested world we where about to enter. What a great experience the game was, the cheesy voice acting, exploring the mansion, encountering your first zombie. Fans of the original game will never forget they way that zombie turned it’s head toward you the first time.
Being afraid to open a door was part of the fun, you never knew if you had 1, 2 or 3 zombies to contended with, perhaps it be a hunter instead? or would it be a boss battle with a giant snake or man eating plant while low on bullets and health. You took a chance by opening a door and sometimes your gamble would pay off when you listened to the sweet tune of a game save room.
For a horror game the developers did not just try and entice you with scares and exploration, they actually tried to tell a coherent story. Along the way while exploring the strange mansion and it’s puzzles, I would encounter journals explaining what was behind the monsters roaming the area, as science fiction fan myself I loved reading about what had happened in the mansion.
Choosing between Chris and Jill offered a slightly different game experience for increased replay value, if you wanted the whole story and meet all the cast of the game along the way, you needed to beat the game with both characters. Personally I always had more fun with Chris’s scenario due to him having less inventory space, six slots compared to Jill’s eight, so the tension and danger increased. You had to really choose wisely with what items you carried with Chris.
A few months before the release of Resident Evil 2 Capcom pulled a Street Fighter 2 and tempted player’s to double dip on Resident Evil by releasing the directors cut of the game.
As a new fan of the franchise, you bet I went all in on the directors cut. The game gave player’s some improvements like a new handgun that could instantly kill a zombie by random chance, an easy mode for newcomers to the game and an arranged mode that made the game harder for veterans by moving game items around to provide player’s with an extra challenge. Future releases of the directors cut featured a new soundtrack as well as support for Sony's new "Dualshock" controller. Unfortunately due to a mistake the games original uncensored intro did not make it in to the game. But the real reason to buy the directors cut of the game was the inclusion of the Resident Evil 2 demo, an early look of what was to come.
Finally about 6 years later after the original release it was a time to triple dip. Capcom developed the amazing Resident Evil remake exclusive to the Nintendo Gamecube thanks to an exclusivity agreement Nintendo reached with Capcom. This was the sole reason I purchased a Gamecube. The remake improved upon everything the original game had, graphics, sound design, art direction, voice acting. Now zombies really looked grotesque and more threatening and I loved every minute of it.
Over the years Capcom have gotten a lot flack for taking the franchise in to an action oriented environment instead of it’s survival horror roots. I personally have loved the fact that Capcom was trying to evolve the series beyond horror, however they where never always as successful beyond the core numbered series. Al tho Resident Evil 2 will always be my favorite, I appreciate the original game for spawning a franchise so popular it endures in the hearts of gamers like myself who grew up with it and is still relevant in present times for new generations of gamers.