Resident Evil: Original or Remake?

Developer: Capcom
Platform: Playstation
Also on: PC, Sega Saturn
Release Date: Mar 1996

When you think of survival horror, you think of Resident Evil. Let’s face it, it’s true. There’s a slight possibility that, like me, you might think of Silent Hill first, but Capcom’s genre defining zombie shooter is never far behind. It wasn’t the first to use the concept (that honour goes to Sweet Home), but it is certainly responsible for making horror games so very popular. It was tense, original and scary. And to commemorate its achievements…

Developer(s): Capcom Production, Studio 4
Platform: Gamecube
Also on: Wii
Release Date: Sep 2002

…a remake was developed. Not just a graphic enhancement, the Gamecube version featured improved controls, new moves, weapons, enemies and new areas that weren’t included in the original. But with such an iconic and beloved game, does it tamper too much with a well established formula? Does it detract from the overall experience? Does it favor style over substance? Enter the evil recesses of this spooky review to find out…
*Note: this review is neither spooky nor evil. It is nerdy and badly written*

Click here to watch the Japanese Commercial for Resident Evil (funny)

Click here to watch the trailer for the Resident Evil remake

The Set-Up:
There have been reports of several gruesome deaths in the outskirts of Raccoon City. Special Tactics And Rescue Services (S.T.A.R.S.) Bravo Team are sent to investigate. When contact with them is lost, Alpha Team are sent to investigate. They discover Bravo Team’s abandoned helicopter, but no survivors. At that moment, they are attacked by a group of ravenous dogs. Abandoned by their pilot, the remaining S.T.A.R.S. members seek refuge in a nearby mention. Playing as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, you must explore the mansion and survive the horrors within….Zombies….. in case that isn’t clear…… Lots and lots of zombies…………..dead ones.

You play as a soldier. You are given guns. And there are monsters all around you. It must have been an incredibly unique concept to not shoot your enemies and be encouraged to run whenever possible. Because that is what you will be spending the majority of time doing if you play Resident Evil. Running….. and mixing herbs. And solving the occasional puzzle……most of which have clearly been devised by the most paranoid architect since the inventor of the panic room. And the best part? Pretty much everything that moves can kill you.

The concept might be simple, but staying alive is tricky business. Many of the mansion rooms are locked, and you will have to explore every single nook (noun: A corner, as in a room) and cranny (noun: A small narrow opening in a wall, rock, etc) to eventually get out. Zombies are the most common enemy and can be either shot or avoided. A very limited supply of ammo and health is available, so deciding on your course of action is important if you don’t want to end up dead. Head shots can kill zombies instantly, but it is difficult to pull these off because zombies have notoriously small/bullet proof heads.

To add a sense of realism to the game, each player can only hold a limited amount of items. Therefore, if you are stocked up fully on ammo and herbs, you will not be able to pick up puzzle pieces or keys to progress. It’s a smart implication into the game, because it trebles the amount of time it takes to complete it. Item boxes are dotted about the mansion where you can store your excess baggage. A lot of running to and from these boxes will certainly take place, as you drop shotgun shells in place of gems and first aid sprays in place of keys. Beware though, angry frog men will loiter about these areas, screaming at the skirting boards.

The puzzles themselves can be tricky, but require only logical thinking to work them out. It breaks the action up nicely, giving the player a brief relaxation period in which to relieve tension. In contrast to this, the occasional boss battles heighten the tension considerably, as these cannot be avoided and will often be fatal if not well prepared. It is highly recommended you save your game on one of the many typewriters dotted about the mansion before tackling these monstrosities.

The two characters different adventures differ only slightly. Jill is the easier option, as she has more space to carry items and also carries a lock pick to access locked rooms easier. She is aided throughout the game by Barry Burton, who gives her ammunition at different intervals. Chris, meanwhile, has less space to carry items and must find keys to open doors. However, he is also stronger and can withstand attacks much better. He is aided by Rebecca Chambers, who offers him medical support throughout the game. Playing as either character does not majorly alter the story.

And the story itself is told in a unique fashion. Rather than traditional cut scenes, much of what happened in the mansion is revealed through abandoned files, notes and diaries. It means the narrative is constantly but slowly being revealed as you play. This gives the player a powerful incentive to keep moving, as well as exploring everywhere in order to understand why everyone suddenly finds you so delicious.

So, how do the two games differ?

The most obvious difference between the two games is the graphical improvement. The original Resident Evil was released just when 3D games were coming into fruition. Unfortunately, this means it has dated more noticeably than almost any game on the Playstation, making it look like charismatic Play-doh. Textures are extremely flat, there are no lighting effects to speak of and character models are bland and uninspiring. It has live action openings and endings which are as camp as a camp site and feature frequently hilarious dialogue. Some might say that this fits the B-movie feel of the game, but in actual fact, it simply breaks up the tension with meme worthy hilarity.

In contrast, the remake is a feast for the eyes. It needed only a slight tweak to be called an improvement, but Capcom went all out to make this the most visually impressive game they possibly could. The atmosphere is dark and gloomy, far removed from the brightly colored palate of the original. This is also aided by a terrific soundtrack. Less tinny than the original, the music feels perfectly organic. The sound effects, especially the thunder, are well fitted to the game. Mist, lightning and shadows all dance convincingly (even now) about the screen, and the zombies themselves have never looked more like rotten pieces of cannibalistic ham.

In the original, the fact that zombies were people who tried to eat you was scary enough for us. That, as well as looking like the ‘Before’ guy in a Clearasil ad, made them scary. But in a more modern context, where zombie movies crop up every month or two, we need a little more than a slow lumbering corpses to frighten us. Enter the “Crimson Heads”. Should you fail to either decapitate a zombie (or set them on fire, a new element in the game), then they can revive over time, mutated into this deadly strain of enemy. The Crimson Heads are fast, almost as fast as your character, attack with more ferocity, and are a lot tougher to kill. The possibility that they might show up is enough reason for any player to exercise extreme caution.

The original featured other creatures as well as zombies. These include zombie dogs, snakes, birds, giant spiders and, scariest of all, the agile Hunters. The remake, naturally, comes with all of these. But it also includes some new enemies such as sharks and an experimental creature that foreshadows the events of Resident Evil 4. To aid in your battle with these extra enemies, the remake incorporates some new moves (such as the oh-so-handy 180 turn, oooh, aaaah) and defense weapons. These items can be used in desperation, should a creature latch itself onto you from a hidden corner, and usually make some very satisfying squelching noises.

Which is the really great thing about Resident Evil, even by today’s standards. The mansion is such an…..well, not an inviting place, but an intriguing one. It begs to be explored because it has that grotesque charm about it. It’s like squashing a spider beneath your shoe, you just gotta look at it afterwards! The remake includes many new areas that were not present in the original, as well as altering the general layout in many ways. The most notable additions include a graveyard and a path into the woods, which feature some genuinely scary moments. These areas are implemented so well that they feel perfectly at home in the Resident Evil universe.

Because of the slow-moving and tense nature of the game, it is designed to take a considerable amount of time to complete. The original clocks in at about 6-8 hours to complete, whereas the remake will probably take about 8-10. It is clever in that, the faster you go, the more likely you are to miss something and find yourself in a bind later. Rewards are given to players that complete the game in a short space of time, adding extra challenges. Both games feature up to 12 different endings, but it is the extra items, such costumes and weapons, that are the real hook.

The Verdict:

Unlike the Metal Gear Solid Remake debate, deciding which Resident Evil game is better is an easy choice to make. It is a game designed to scare the player and, while the original has occasional moments that can still cause anxiety, the remake blows it out of the water. It feels more atmospheric, and, while the difficulty level hasn’t changed much, you feel far more threatened by the sheer intensity of the game.

The original is an ugly game at this stage, looking more like a prototype than anything else. The overall gameplay mechanics are sound, but the effect of some really good scares tends to get lost due to almost laughable graphics, cheesy dialogue and predictable enemies.
The remake improves on every, repeat, every aspect of the original. It handles better, looks better and is a game that genuinely instills a sense of dread. Because of the action orientated direction the games took from Resident Evil 4 onward, it can easily be considered the scariest game in the entire franchise.

As much as the original game is loved, there are only two real reasons that players should opt to play it over the remake:

  1. If playing the entire series start to finish, you may want to watch the progression and improvements made between games.
  2. The hilariously cheesy one-liners, which are unfortunately omitted from the remake in favor of regular cheesy one-liners. The best of these one liners can be found here: Resident Evil One-liners

Resident Evil (1996) Rating: 6/10
Resident Evil (2002) Rating: 9/10

What IS this?!” – Barry Burton

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • For years I thought the dog that prevents you from leaving the house was actually a dragon. I blame this on bad graphics rather than my illogical mind.
  • Resident Evil expanded into a novelization format and also into film. Both are pretty awful, surprisingly.
  • Known in Japan as Biohazard, it was changed to Resident Evil in America and Europe because another game and band already had the name Biohazard.
  • One of the first games to receive a Mature rating.
  • In Dead Rising, another zombie game by Capcom, there is a shop that can be found in the shopping mall called Jill’s sandwiches.

  • I have never met anyone as talented at completing these kinds of games than my good friend Koshi. That guy could complete both of these games simultaneously while baking an elaborate cake. AND he’d get an S rank in all of them too! He has an exceptionally good reviewing blog, which can be found here .
  • Like Silent Hill, I first played this game at my cousin’s house, one of the few places I could get up to no good. He had the most ideal sitting room for playing games in ever, as it had an enormous window that gave the impression that it overlooked a cliff, giving the room an otherworldly feel. Also, it was near the kitchen where the kitkats were kept.

Resident Evil (1996) is kind of like:

  • Watching Friday the 13th when you’re older.

Whereas Resident Evil (2002) is kind of like:

  • Accidentally walking into a morgue in a hospital, then discovering the door you walked in through isn’t there anymore.

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ive played the remake and I love it but I really want to play the original and well cause it the original version everything that’s original is awesome. I kind of disagree with this article that they say the remake’s better than the original I mean come on! Nothing beats original stuff.

  2. Actually the sharks aren’t a new adding to the game. Neptunes were already in the original game in the basement. We just didn’t have the Aqua Ring and the Boss Battle with it

  3. The remake is better in pretty much every way. Although I do kind of miss the live action opening movies. Felt so 80s, and I do love the 80s….

  4. I have to say, the remake sounds alot better. Nice to know they actually tried.

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