Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Game A1 - Resident Evil : Pixel Hunting

Time played : 1h30 --- "You Died" screens : 5

Wow. Now I see the problem with the constant stream of remakes for newer consoles. HD is great, but SD games played on a huge TV set sometimes feel like someone puked on the screen.

What I remember for the game the last time I played it :
It's no RE5, but damn is the lighting pretty.
What I'm playing now :

Get off me, you horribly pixellated thing!
Well, OK, that's the point of these blogs, ain't it? You begin with old games and move slowly to the newer ones. But the problem is still the same : The playstation games are ugly nowadays, and the first 3D polygonal games really haven't aged well compared to 2D graphics, like you can see in SNES or Genesis games for example.

The other problem is the controls. It's been a while since I've played one of the RE games plagued with the infamous "tank controls" and I've had a hard time getting used to them again. Once your brains get that up on your control pad goes in front of you, and that the left and right are used to (sloooowly) turn around, you've been eaten a few times. The first game doesn't feature any way to quickly turn around like the later games offer, so we'll have to play without that too.

The last thing about this game is that the beginnings are punishingly hard. When you play as Chris, you start only with your knife, and even when you get the gun, you can empty a whole clip on the first zombie you see, leaving you wondering what you'll do with the next one...

But let's start by the beginning. And what beginning is it! The game starts with what might be the cheesiest movie ever, with real persons filmed. I really hope that the actors were Capcom employees, and not real actors wanting to make a living out of this job because I think one's career can't ever recover from this. I think everyone should see it, because a few minutes of film is better than a thousand words. Just make sure to wash your eyes afterwards.

After this work of art, the game starts. As I said earlier, the graphics haven't aged well. The polygonal models are quite ugly, but to be fair, the prerendered backgrounds were (and stay) beautiful. The voice acting is quite bad though. I especially think about the first meeting between Chris and Rebecca, which sounds like average 80's porn.

I think anybody is familiar with the setting of this game, but I'll quickly recapitulate it. The game follows the story of the S.T.A.R.S Alpha Team, a Raccoon City Police Special Unit sent to investigate Raccoon Forest after the disappearance of Bravo Team in the area. They are attacked by some kind of zombie dogs and take shelter in a nearby mansion. You have the choice to play as Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine. They can be considered as "harder" and "hard" difficulty levels (Chris starts with a knife, Jill with a gun, for example) and the two paths have a few differences between them, which is really nice for replay value.

Pictured : wrong career choice
The cast, beyond the two main characters, consists of team leader Albert Wesker (traitor!... oops, spoiler alert, I guess), and fellow STARS members Barry Burton and Rebecca Chambers. You'll occasionally run into other survivors, who usually won't stick around very long before serving as zombie bait. As you guess, there will be a lot of twists in the story, and you'll eventually discover that the gigantic mansion holds many secrets and has quite a dark history.

This game plants the basics for the "survival horror" genre. You have a lot of hostiles, a really limited amount of ammo and a few basic riddles to overcome. This is quite a departure from other action games of the era, where you usually had plenty of ways to kill your enemies. Here, running is usually the more sensible option if you don't want to resort to your knife to survive.

At first, the game is not that scary. The zombies come to you slowly, moaning with their arms reaching to grab you. What can be scary is that the controls are so stiff you sometimes wonder if you're not playing a zombie yourself. It's no surprise that the zombies have become progressively quicker in the next games of the franchise, where controls get better and better : a slow walking zombie is scary only if your character is clumsy enough that he can't just step aside to avoid being bitten. The ambiance is quite grim and the mansion is appropriately creepy. But there is a few moments where the horror game really takes off : I've been conveniently scared by a zombie who was hidden behind a corner, and I kinda came close to the heart attack when the first zombie dog come into a corridor by crashing the window...

Ok, ok, I admit it. It was pretty damn scary.
All in all, I'm really enjoying this : the mansion layout is different enough than the remake's, and I really don't remember this game as much as I remember the sequels. I'm still discovering where the items are, getting killed often, and making slow progress. I just had my fifth death just after a pretty humiliating encounter with crows. After emptying my gun at open air and missing them about a dozen times just before being pecked to death, I had to reload a pretty far away save (I haven't mentioned the infamous ink ribbons, that you have to find before being able to save). So far, I've found 60 bullets in all (15 in the gun, 30 in the safe and another 15 clip in a room), and considering the average zombie takes 6 to 8 hits before going down, I don't think I'll finish with this game really soon... I'll keep you posted...


  1. Oh the nostalgia! For a second there I thought I'd never seen that intro before but then the repression lifted and it all came flooding back to me.

    I've forgotten all the details of this game (such as how slow it is to turn around and needing to find film to save your game) so I'm eager to read more.

    The house itself still holds up, particularly the (SMASH) grrrrrrr......OH MY GOD...WTF....aaaaggghhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Yeah I think this scene is on a few "top 10 shitting pants moments in video games" list I've seen, and rightly so... Dead Space on PS3/Xbox is particularly well done in this area, you don't wanna play this game if you have heart problems...