Resident Evil (2002 video game)
North American GameCube cover art
Resident Evil, known in Japan as biohazard (バイオハザード baiohazādo?), is a survival horror video game developed by Capcom and originally released for the GameCube video game console in 2002. It is a remake of the 1996 game Resident Evil, the first installment in the Resident Evil video game series. The story of the game follows Resident Evil protagonists Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine and their efforts to survive in an abandoned mansion filled with monsters. The game features vastly improved graphics over the original game as well as new gameplay mechanics, story details, and additional areas for the player to explore. However, the game retains the same graphical style of previous Resident Evil games and features 3D models over pre-rendered backgrounds.
Resident Evil was developed over the course of one year and two months and was directed by Shinji Mikami, who also designed and directed the original game for the PlayStation. Upon release, Resident Evil received critical acclaim from video game journalists, who praised its graphics and improved gameplay over the original game. It is often described as one of the best, scariest, and most visually impressive entries in the Resident Evil series. Despite this, the game sold worse than expected and led Capcom to change the direction of the series to a more action-oriented approach. In 2008, the game was ported to the Wii, featuring a new control system. A high-definition version of the game was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One in 2015 to positive critical reception and commercial success.
Resident Evil is a survival horror game where the player controls the on-screen character from a third-person perspective to interact with the environment. To advance through the game, the player must explore a mansion and its surrounding areas while avoiding, outsmarting and defeating various types of monsters like zombies, undead dogs, and giant spiders. The player can open doors, push certain objects, climb obstacles, and pick up items. When an item is collected, it is stored in an inventory that the player can access at any time. Items in the inventory can be used, examined, and combined to solve puzzles and gain access to areas that were previously inaccessible. The inventory is limited to a certain number of slots, and the player must often move items from the inventory to storage boxes located in certain areas to manage space.
Although the player can use firearms to kill monsters, Resident Evil emphasizes evasion over fast-paced combat by providing the player with limited ammunition. The player also has a limited amount of health which decreases when attacked by monsters. Nevertheless, players can regain their health by collecting and using herbs, which can be mixed with other herbs to increase their healing effect. Some monsters can also infect the player with a poisoning effect, which gradually depletes the player's health over time until the poison is cured with serum or special herbs. The zombies that are defeated but not decapitated or burned eventually revive mutated into a much faster and deadlier opponents.
Like in the original Resident Evil, the player can play as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine and each character has advantages and disadvantages. For example, Chris can take more damage than Jill but Jill can carry more items and unlock certain doors with a lock pick. Both characters can also equip defensive weapons that can save them from taking damage when seized by an enemy. These defensive weapons include a dagger and a special weapon that is exclusive to each of them: Jill can use a taser, while Chris is able to shove stun grenades into the zombies' mouths and detonate them with a pistol shot. Defensive weapons are limited and can only be used when the player is grabbed by a monster.
The game features an automap to help players navigate the different areas of the game. Additionally, the player can pick up maps of certain sections to reveal unexplored areas. To save their progress, players need to find ink ribbons and use them with a typewriter; the game features a limited supply of ink ribbons, so players cannot save their progress as many times as they want. The story of the game is slightly altered by the character the player chooses to play as, and certain choices the player makes in the game can impact the direction of the game and its ending. Upon completing the game under a certain difficulty setting and time limit, the player may unlock secret costumes for the main characters, bonus weapons, and special difficulty modes.
Resident Evil takes place on July 24, 1998, when a series of bizarre murders have occurred on the outskirts of the Midwestern town of Raccoon City. The Raccoon City Police Department's Special Tactics And Rescue Service (STARS), which is divided into Alpha Team and Bravo Team, is assigned to investigate these murders. Bravo Team is sent first, but after contact with them is lost, Alpha Team is sent to investigate their disappearance. Alpha Team locates Bravo Team's crashed helicopter and land at the site, where they are suddenly attacked by a pack of monstrous dogs, one of which kills one of the team's members. After Alpha Team's helicopter pilot, Brad Vickers, panics and takes off alone, the remaining members of the team (Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Albert Wesker and Barry Burton) are forced to seek refuge in a nearby abandoned mansion.
Depending on which character the player chooses to control, one of the members of Alpha Team is separated from the others during the chase and does not make it to the mansion (Barry if Chris, Chris if Jill). In the mansion, the team decides to split up and search for clues. Over the course of the game, the player character finds several members of Bravo Team, including Kenneth J. Sullivan being eaten by a zombie, Richard Aiken, who dies after being bitten by a venomous snake, Forest Speyer, who is found dead on the balcony and then revived as a zombie, and Bravo Team leader Enrico Marini, who reveals that one of the Alpha Team members is a traitor before being shot and killed by an unseen assailant. Bravo Team survivor Rebecca Chambers joins Chris. The player character also learns from scattered documents found in the mansion that a series of illegal experiments were being undertaken by a clandestine research team under the authority and supervision of biomedical company Umbrella Corporation. The creatures roaming the mansion and its surrounding areas are the results of these experiments, which have exposed the mansion's personnel and various animals and insects to a highly contagious and mutagenic biological agent known as the T-virus.
Eventually, the player character discovers a secret underground laboratory containing Umbrella's experiments. In the laboratory, the player finds Jill or Chris in a cell and encounters Wesker programming a Tyrant supersoldier. Wesker reveals that he is a double agent working for Umbrella and plans to use the Tyrant to kill the remaining STARS members. However, in the ensuing confrontation, Wesker is supposedly killed and the player character defeats the Tyrant. After activating a self-destruct system, the player gets up to the heliport and manages to contact Brad for extraction. The game features multiple endings depending on how well the player performed at key points within the game. In the best ending, the mansion is destroyed and most of the team escapes in the helicopter after defeating the Tyrant one last time. In contrast, in the worst possible ending, the mansion remains intact and the player character is the sole survivor.
Resident Evil was developed by Capcom and directed by Shinji Mikami, who has designed and directed the original Resident Evil for the PlayStation video game console. The game was part of an exclusivity agreement between Capcom and Nintendo that spanned three Resident Evil titles for the GameCube, the others being Resident Evil Zero and Resident Evil 4. Mikami decided to produce a remake of the original Resident Evil because he felt that it had not aged very well, making it hard for new players to appreciate its charm. He also remarked that the GameCube's capabilities would allow the developers to bring the Resident Evil series closer to the original vision he had for the series. According to Capcom's marketing director Todd Thorson, the main goal in developing the remake was to "achieve motion picture quality visuals and create even more suspense and fear than the original".
Production on the game started at the beginning of 2001 with a team of only four programmers. Since Resident Evil was one of Capcom's first titles developed for the GameCube, the development team had to study the system's performance during the first stages of development. Initially, the team considered the possibility of creating the game's environments with computer graphic animation, but then realized that this approach would require too much hardware capacity and processing to achieve realistic graphics. As a result, the graphical style of the remake features 3D models over pre-rendered backgrounds like the Resident Evil games for the PlayStation. Despite this, the camera is more dynamic and can track the player at varying angles. The backgrounds also make use of particle effects and full motion video layers to simulate effects such as rushing water or swaying tree branches. Causing fear to the player was a high priority, and many of the game's backgrounds were designed to have a high contrast between dark and light so that enemies could appear unexpectedly.
Originally, the developers planned to only upgrade the graphics and tweak the gameplay. However, as development was getting closer to completion, Capcom started making more substantial changes in the game. For example, the inventory was expanded so that players could carry a standard item like Jill's lock picking, while defense items, which were initially not going to be separated from the main inventory, were introduced to make the game a bit easier than the original Resident Evil. The developers originally planned to make all enemies invisible but the idea was ultimately discarded because it would have made the remake very different from the original game. However, they designed the zombies so that they could come back to life a certain amount of time after they are killed. The developers also added new areas for the player to explore, changed most of the puzzle designs, and included a new control scheme called Type C where players move their characters by pressing the R button of the GameCube controller and steer them with the analog stick. Another addition is the subplot involving the character Lisa Trevor, which was cut from the original game. Instead of using adjectives to describe difficulty levels, Mikami deliberately decided to have unique questions so that the player would pick the hard one.
Capcom auditioned actors to be used as references by the character designers. The faces of the main protagonists were shaped and based on real people, while motion capture was used to animate their models. About 60 percent of the characters' motions were animated based on the captured data, while the rest was created from scratch. The developers initially struggled to develop a system for computer graphic animation. However, Nintendo provided Capcom with assistance and the problems were eventually solved. Capcom also hired new voice actors and rewrote the game's script to make the plot more convincing. The game was developed over the course of one year and two months. Final development of the game was very intense, as programmers had to work for two straight months with no days off to meet the proposed deadline.
Resident Evil was originally released for the GameCube in March 2002 in Japan, April 2002 in North America, and September 2002 in Europe. As of January 2004, 445,176 copies of the game had been sold in the United States. In May 2008, Capcom revealed that a total of 1.35 million copies of the GameCube game were sold. In December 2008, the game was ported to the Wii along with Resident Evil Zero. The port, titled Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil, features a control system that supports the Wii Remote and the GameCube controller. Although Capcom originally had no plans to release the Wii version outside Japan, arguing that the game would not sell very well, the game was eventually released in North America and Europe in June 2009 due to the commercial success of Resident Evil 5.
A high-definition version of the game, titled Resident Evil HD Remaster, was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One in January 2015. The HD version supports 5.1 surround sound as well as a resolution of 1080p and a widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9. Since the original controls of the game were criticized, the remaster also includes a new control scheme which allows players to move their character in the direction of the analog stick. Although the game is a digital-only release in North America and Europe, a retail edition of the PlayStation 3 version was made available exclusively in Japan and Asia. The HD version was a commercial success, breaking several sales records. It became the PlayStation Network's biggest launch title in the service's history and Capcom's fastest selling digital game across both North America and Europe. As of April 2015, more than one million copies of HD Remaster had been sold worldwide across all platforms.
Upon its initial release, the GameCube version of Resident Evil received critical acclaim. Matt Casamassina of IGN felt that the game is "a triumph as a stand-alone adventure and a major accomplishment as a remake", calling it "the prettiest, most atmospheric and all-around scariest game we've ever played." Similarly, GameSpot reviewer Shane Satterfield described the remake as "one amazing game that clearly stands as the best the [Resident Evil] series has to offer." Jes Bickham, writing for NGC Magazine, criticized the gameplay for its limiting controls and tedious inventory management, but nevertheless judged its graphics impressive, noting that the game is "so visually rich that simply seeing the next area is an experience to be treasured."
The game was widely praised for its graphics. Satterfield was impressed with the game's attention to detail, realistic gore, volumetric fog, and Capcom's ability to integrate real-time lighting and shadows with pre-rendered backgrounds, commenting that the company "has finally perfected the art of mixing prerendered scenery with ambient animations and polygonal objects, and the result is the most visually impressive video game ever released." Bickham also remarked that, unlike in the original Resident Evil, the contrast between character models and backgrounds is seamless. Casamassina highlighted the complex geometry of the character models, stating that "close shots of Chris or Jill look almost photo-realistic." The game's suspenseful and cinematic atmosphere received similar praise, with Game Revolution going so far as to say that the game makes the original Resident Evil look like Pong. Resident Evil was also praised for its realistic sound. AllGame reviewer Scott Alan Marriott felt that the game "[creates] a constant sense of dread without relying too much on obvious shock values", while Satterfield highlighted the quality and variety of sound effects, noting that "there seem to be dozens of sound effects for footsteps alone." However, some publications considered the voice acting to be weak due to its exaggerated delivery.
Changes to many aspects of the gameplay were positively viewed; Mike Weigand of GamePro wrote that "It's like playing Resident Evil for the first time." Satterfield remarked that the defensive weapons add a new layer of strategy to the game. However, the controls were criticized for their lack of analog precision, a feature that was previously available in the Nintendo 64 version of Resident Evil 2. Hector Guzman of GameSpy criticized the fact that the original game's "laborious" movement scheme, where the analog stick moves the player character in the direction they are facing, was not changed, stating that it can cause unnecessary difficulties when players try to evade monsters. Casamassina also criticized the game's default control scheme, but considered the Type C controls to be a welcome addition. At the GameSpot's Best and Worst of 2002 awards, Resident Evil was nominated for Best Story on GameCube, Best Graphics (Technical) on GameCube, and Best Action Adventure Game on GameCube.
The Wii version of the game received generally favorable reviews from critics, but some publications such as IGN criticized it for its outdated controls and lack of new features. Critical reception towards the HD version was mostly positive. Several critics noted that some features like the inventory system and the insistence on having to revisit previously explored areas have not aged very well, but generally agreed that the remaster was a solid revival of a classic.
Resident Evil is often regarded as one of the best and most visually impressive titles in the Resident Evil series. According to Lucas M. Thomas of IGN, the game's graphics "became the new standard by which all future installments in the series would be compared." Digital Spy writer Liam Martin remarked that the game is "the definitive version of a true classic" and that it still looked "fantastic" nearly 13 years after it was first released. Although the GameCube version received critical acclaim, it sold worse than expected. As a result, Mikami and Capcom decided that subsequent games in the Resident Evil series would shift away from the survival horror genre and incorporate more action-based elements, starting with Resident Evil 4 in 2005. Before that happened, Capcom developed Resident Evil Zero, a direct prequel using the same graphic engine and released in late 2002. The commercial success of the HD version resulted in Capcom's announcement of a similar edition of Resident Evil Zero in 2015. A retail compilation called Resident Evil: Origins Collection that includes both Resident Evil HD Remaster and Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster will be released on January 22, 2016.
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