Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Game A1 - Resident Evil : Ink And Lead Shortage

Chris Redfield Report, entry 1 : Ever since we entered this god forsaken mansion, I haven't heard any news from Jill and Wesker. I hope they are still around here, alive, and, like me, struggling to find some clues. I have met another survivor : Rebecca Chambers from STARS Bravo Team. She has helped me on one of this place's puzzles, and later she even saved my life by curing me from a bite of a giant poisonous snake. I have gained access to another mansion, some sort of guest house, situated on the other side of a derelict garden full of these horrible dogs. I keep finding clues about what had happened here. Apparently, some sort of experiment on a Virus went wrong, mutating everything around here into some kind of flesh-hungry monsters : dogs, crows, snakes, and everybody working on the premises... Hope I'll find a way out of here before becoming one of them. Right now, I'm investigating intel I got about some sort of man-eating plant, called Plant 42... my ammo is going dangerously low and I've used my last ink ribbon. I certainly hope my first entry won't be my last one.

Time played : 2h (3h30 total) - "You Died" screens : 1 (6 total)

Ok. Forget about the cheesy intro, the horrible controls and the blocky graphics : this game is still good. Excellent, even some fifteen years after its release date. As long as you can bear the first hour or so, when every encounter with a zombie means a huge waste of bullets and curative herbs (or a game over screen). Then, you start gaining access to more places, locating keys, solving riddles, and it all start to fall into place.

Still can't kill a crow, though...
There is a lot of things I remember from the remake, so most of the riddles come naturally. I don't think any of them is really complicated, which is a good thing because it's a relief from the zombie killing but doesn't break the rhythm too much. A few of them are a bit annoying, I'm thinking about the "push a statue over this hole so nothing comes out of it and kill you" kind of puzzle that is kinda hard because of the low error-margin on the said statue placement, or another one that implies a lock you can only open by a lot of fiddling around with the buttons, but almost every other ones are enjoyable.

A few things are infuriating, though. For example, you can only have six items in your inventory, you can't drop any on the ground to make temporary room, and it means a lot of going back and forth to one of the "magic boxes" scattered in the mansion where you can keep your stuff. It's particularly bothersome when you have to switch one item for one another and you can't take the first one before placing the other one.

The other difficult thing to accept is the lack of precision in your character's placement. The camera angles are stills and you have to face exactly your opponent to be able to hit it. In a game where every bullet counts, it can be really infuriating to shoot three times in the air before being able to hit your target, just because you couldn't see you were facing four millimeters on your right... it works because zombies are slow and clumsy, but when you're dealing with dogs or crows (arrr... I hate these crows), it can really be game-breaking.

Another heart-stopping moment : Honey, who is the zombie in the cupboard? 
A lot of people consider Resident Evil as some kind of japanese Alone in the Dark. I can see why, when you look at the first game. It's in a big mansion with all sorts of creepy monsters, you can play as a male or female character, and there is a good riddle/fighting ratio in both of them. The subsequent games in the franchise will go for a more action-oriented style, which will lead to a few masterpieces (i.e. Resident Evil 4), but this episode really has his own rhythm and feeling.

Anyway, I've met the first boss, which is a huge poisonous snake, and I've crossed the garden. I was pretty short on ammo at the time, so I look forward to cross it again, considering I haven't killed many of the hostile dogs roaming the place. My resource management so far is ok, I've got a few herbs left, and a whole bag of shotgun shells. But I know I haven't met any Hunter yet, so I'm afraid the worse is definitely to come...

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