Resident Evil (1996 video game)
English version cover art
Resident Evil, known in Japan as Bio Hazard,[a] is a survival horror video game developed and released by Capcom originally for the PlayStation in 1996, and is the first game in the Resident Evil series. The game's plot follows Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, members of an elite task force known as S.T.A.R.S., as they investigate the outskirts of Raccoon City following the disappearance of their team members. They soon become trapped in a mansion infested with zombies and other monsters. The player, having selected to play as Chris or Jill at the start of the game, must explore the mansion to uncover its secrets.
Conceived by producer Tokuro Fujiwara as a remake of his earlier horror game Sweet Home (1989), the development of Resident Evil was led by Shinji Mikami. Gameplay consists largely of third-person action with added emphasis on inventory management, exploration, and puzzle solving. Resident Evil establishes many conventions seen later in the series, including the control scheme, inventory system, save system, and use of 3D models superimposed over pre-rendered backgrounds.
Resident Evil was very well received critically and commercially, and is often credited for defining the survival horror genre. Its success has spawned a multimedia franchise including video games, films, comics, novels, and other merchandise. The game has received dedicated ports to the Sega Saturn, Microsoft Windows, and Nintendo DS. In 2002, a remake of the same name was released for the GameCube featuring updated graphics, sound, and changes to the gameplay and story. A high-definition remaster of the GameCube game was released in 2015 for modern platforms. A direct sequel titled Resident Evil 2 was released in 1998, and a prequel, Resident Evil Zero, was released in 2002.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Plot
- 3 Development
- 4 Release
- 5 Reception
- 6 Sequels
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The player's character is a member of special law enforcement task force, who is trapped in a mansion populated by dangerous mutated creatures. The objective of the game is to uncover the mystery of the mansion and ultimately escape alive. The game's graphics consist of real-time 3D polygonal characters and objects, superimposed over pre-rendered backdrops with fixed camera angles. The player controls the character by pushing the D-pad or analog stick left or right to rotate the character and then move the character forward or backwards by pushing the d-pad up or down.
To fulfill the game's objective, the player uncovers various documents that provide exposition about the game's narrative, as well as clues that help them solve various puzzles within the mansion. Key items are also available that give the player access to other items or new areas. The player can arm their character with weapons to defend themselves from enemies, although the ammunition available for each firearm is limited and the player must learn to conserve the ammunition they have for situations where they will really need it. To restore the character's health, the player uses first-aid sprays or three types of healing herbs that can be mixed together in different combinations for different healing effects. The carrying capacity of the player is limited depending on the character and items that the player does not wish to carry at the moment can be stored into an item box to be retrieved for later use. To save their progress, the player must pick up an ink ribbon and use it on any of the typewriters scattered through key locations in the game. However, the supply of ink ribbons the player can acquire is limited much like the player's ammo and healing supplies. Players will encounter and fight various infected creatures as flesh-eating zombies, undead dogs, giant spiders, and other monsters.
A series of bizarre murders have occurred on the outskirts of Raccoon City, with signs of cannibalism on the victims' remains. The Raccoon Police Department's Special Tactics And Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) are assigned to investigate the murders. S.T.A.R.S. is divided into two teams: Alpha and Bravo. Bravo Team is sent first, but after contact with them is lost, Alpha Team is sent to investigate their disappearance.
Players can choose between the two Alpha Team members Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, each with their own unique differential abilities. Jill has more firepower and possesses a lock-pick that enables her to access areas and items easily, as well as an inventory large enough to hold up to eight items, while Chris has limited firepower but is more durable in terms of taking damage from enemies, and a smaller inventory that can hold only six items.
The game's supporting characters include Barry Burton, Alpha team's weapons expert who provides Jill with additional firepower; Rebecca Chambers, a surviving member of Bravo team who supports Chris with her medical expertise; Albert Wesker, the captain of STARS and leader of Alpha team; and Brad Vickers, the helicopter pilot who sends transmissions to them as he tries to find them in the helicopter.
The other members of STARS include Joseph Frost, the sixth member of Alpha team whose sudden death sets the story into motion, Enrico Marini, the leader of Bravo team who gives the player the game's most critical plot twist, Richard Aiken, who gives the player a radio used to receive Brad's transmissions, Kenneth J. Sullivan, a member of Bravo team killed just after Alpha team arrives, and Forest Speyer, whose corpse is found on the balcony by the player.
The game begins on July 24, 1998. Alpha team locates Bravo Team's helicopter, but there are no signs of survivors; only a severed hand is found. While searching the area for further clues, Alpha Team is attacked by monstrous dogs, one of which kills one of the team's members, Joseph Frost. Alpha's helicopter pilot, Brad, panics and takes off alone. Pursued by the dogs who killed their colleague, Alpha Team is forced to seek refuge within a nearby mansion, which is believed to be abandoned.
With the dogs roaming outside, the four remaining Alpha Team members (Wesker, Chris, Jill and Barry) are trapped within. Depending on which character is the player, 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). A gunshot rings out, and the player character moves to investigate. At this point, the player takes control of the character and begins to explore the mansion. One of the first discoveries is a member of Bravo Team, Kenneth J. Sullivan, being eaten by a zombie. While searching the mansion, the character finds the other members of Bravo Team, such as Richard Aiken, dying after being bitten by a venomous snake, who gives the character his radio before dying, Forest Speyer, found dead on the balcony (who is later revived as a zombie in later releases of the game), and Enrico Marini, the captain of the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team, who reveals that one of the members of Alpha Team is a traitor before being shot and killed by an unseen assailant.
The character eventually finds the mansion to be riddled with puzzles, traps, and horrors. Scattered documents suggest that a series of illegal experiments were being undertaken on the property by a clandestine research team, under the authority and supervision of the biomedical company Umbrella Corporation. The creatures roaming the mansion and surrounding region 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.
After navigating a series of buildings, passageways and underground tunnels, the player discovers a secret underground laboratory containing the Umbrella Corporation's experiments. In the lab, the player learns that Wesker is a double agent working for Umbrella. Wesker is supposedly killed afterwards by one of the creations. The player finds the other playable character in a cell, put there by Wesker, and manages to get him/her out by activating the self-destruct system. The player (along with two other surviving S.T.A.R.S. members, if the player manages to rescue them), head for the heliport. The player gets up to the heliport and manages to contact Brad and meet the other two survivors there, but they are attacked by the Tyrant, a giant humanoid monster created through prolonged exposure to the t-virus. After the Tyrant is defeated, the surviving S.T.A.R.S. members manage to escape the premises in the team helicopter.
Each character has four endings, with the outcome being determined on whether they rescued the other two S.T.A.R.S. survivors or not. The character who is not chosen by the player will be imprisoned in a solitary cell in the mansion's underground lab. In order to access the cell, the player must collect a set of MO Discs distributed within the mansion and use them in different decoding devices to unlock the door. To get the best ending, the player must rescue the other protagonist in addition to their assigned partner.
- The best ending has Chris and Jill escaping the mansion alongside a third S.T.A.R.S. member (Rebecca or Barry, depending on who is the player character) after defeating the Tyrant and destroying the mansion.
- The second best ending has the player character (Chris or Jill) escaping with his or her partner (Rebecca or Barry) after defeating the Tyrant and destroying the mansion.
- The second worst ending has Jill and Chris escaping as the two only survivors, with the mansion still intact and the Tyrant set loose on the forest.
- The worst ending has the player character as the sole survivor, with the mansion still intact and the Tyrant set loose on the forest.
Resident Evil was created by a team of staff members who would later become part of Capcom Production Studio 4. The project's development began in 1993, and the game took three years to develop. The inspiration for Resident Evil was the earlier Capcom horror game Sweet Home (1989). Shinji Mikami was initially commissioned to make a game set in a haunted mansion like Sweet Home, which Resident Evil was originally intended to be a remake of. The project was proposed by Sweet Home creator Tokuro Fujiwara, who was Mikami's mentor and served as the game's producer. Resident Evil was based on Sweet Home's gameplay system, adopting many elements from the game, including the limited item inventory management, the mansion setting, the puzzles, the emphasis on survival, the door loading screen, the use of scattered notes and diary entries as storytelling mechanics, multiple endings depending on how many characters survive, backtracking to previous locations in order to solve puzzles later on, the use of death animations, individual character items such as a lockpick or lighter, restoring health through items scattered across the mansion, the intricate layout of the mansion, and the brutally horrific imagery. Fujiwara said the "basic premise was that I’d be able to do the things that I wasn’t able to include" in Sweet Home, "mainly on the graphics front", and that he was "confident that horror games could become a genre in themselves." He entrusted Mikami, who was initially reluctant because he hated "being scared", with the project, because he "understood what’s frightening."
During the first six months of development, Mikami worked on the game alone, creating concept sketches, designing characters, and writing over 40 pages of script. Several of the Resident Evil mansion's pre-rendered backdrops were inspired by The Overlook Hotel, the setting for 1980 horror film, The Shining. Mikami also cited the 1979 film Zombie as a negative inspiration for the game. The game was initially conceived as a fully 3D first-person update of Sweet Home (influenced by the game's first-person battles), with action and shooting mechanics. A first-person prototype was produced, and initially featured a supernatural, psychological Japanese horror style similar to Sweet Home, before opting for an American zombie horror style influenced by George Romero films. Co-op gameplay was also planned, but was removed, as Mikami said it "technically...wasn't good enough." During production, Mikami discovered Alone in the Dark (1992), which influenced him to adopt a cinematic fixed-view camera system. Mikami said that, if it wasn't for Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil would have had a first-person view instead. Mikami was initially reluctant to adopt Alone in the Dark's fixed-view camera system, saying it "had an effect on immersion, making the player feel a bit more detached", but eventually adopted it because the use of pre-rendered backdrops allowed a higher level of detail than his fully 3D first-person view prototype, which "didn't get along so well with the original PlayStation's specs."
In pre-production, other characters were conceived. Dewey, an African-American man, was intended to perform a comic relief role, while Gelzer, a big cyborg, was a typical "strongman" character. Both were later replaced, by Rebecca and Barry, respectively. At this stage of development, a local co-op mode was present, along with different outfits. A prototype made for the 1995 V-Jump Festival presentation in Japan featured real-time weapon changes, with the co-op mode already removed and rudimentary character models and textures. An early 1996 preview in Maximum Console magazine featured a graveyard and a slightly different version of the final boss.
Almost all development was done on Silicon Graphics hardware using the software program Soft Image. The PlayStation was chosen as the lead platform because the development team felt it was the most appropriate for the game in terms of things such as the amount of polygons. The development team had upwards of 80 people towards the end of the game's development.
The live action full motion video sequences were filmed in Japan with a cast of American actors. All Japanese releases contain English voice acting with Japanese captions and text. However, Japanese voice performances were also recorded but were left unused, as Mikami found the quality of the performances inadequate. However, lead programmer Yasuhiro Anpo later said that, due to all of the development staff being Japanese, they were unaware of the "poor localization" that apparently "hindered the realism and immersion of the title" for the international release, which was one of the reasons for the 2002 remake. The original Japanese PlayStation version also features a vocal ending theme, "Yume de Owarasenai..." (夢で終わらせない... "I Won't Let This End as a Dream..."?), performed by Jpop band Fumitaka Fuchigami, that is not in any other versions of the game.
Fujiwara said the game was originally targeted towards a core audience and he only expected it to sell around 200,000 copies, before the game went on to sell millions. Mikami said he was "a little worried about how well a horror game would really sell." Anpo said "no one at the time expected the title to be such a success."
Bio Hazard was renamed for the North America and Europe markets after Chris Kramer, Director of Communications at Capcom, pointed out that it would be impossible to trademark "Biohazard" in the United States. Among others, the 1992 video game Bio-Hazard Battle and the New York alternative metal band Biohazard were already using the name. Capcom therefore ran an internal company contest to find a new name. The name Resident Evil was settled upon since the game takes place in a mansion. Kramer thought the name "was super-cheesy; [I] can't remember what I felt was a better alternative, probably something stupid about zombies – but the rest of the marketing crew loved it and were ultimately able to convince Capcom Japan and Mikami-san that the name fit."
The original PlayStation version of Resident Evil went through several considerable changes between its original Japanese release and its international counterparts. The North American and European versions of the intro were heavily cut from the one featured in the Japanese releases. Shots of mangled corpses, a "Cerberus" zombie dog being shot, and Joseph's death were edited out, as well as scenes featuring the character Chris Redfield smoking a cigarette. Despite these tweaks, the game was ultimately released on the PlayStation as one of the first games to receive the mature rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
In the game itself, the auto-aiming function was disabled and the numbers of ink ribbons found by the player were reduced. Capcom also planned to eliminate the interconnected nature of item boxes, meaning that items could only be retrieved from the locations where they were originally stored. This change made it in preview copies of the US version, but was removed from the retail release. This particular game mechanic would resurface in its remake as part of an unlockable difficulty setting.
An updated version of Resident Evil for the PlayStation, titled Resident Evil: Director's Cut, was released in September 1997, a year and a half after the original game's release. Director's Cut was produced to compensate for the highly publicized delay of the sequel, Resident Evil 2, and was originally bundled with a playable pre-release demo of that game. The Japanese version of the demo disc also included a pre-release demo of Rockman Neo, which was later retitled Rockman DASH (Mega Man Legends outside Japan), and a promotional trailer for the then newly released Breath of Fire III.
The main addition to Director's Cut is an "arranged" version of the game that changes the location of nearly every vital item in the mansion, as well as the enemy placement. The main characters, as well as Rebecca, are given a new wardrobe and the player's handgun is replaced by an improved model where any shot fired has a random chance of decapitating a zombie, killing it instantly. The original version of the game is included as well, along with a new "beginner" mode where the enemies are easier to kill and the amount of ammunition that can be found by the player is doubled. Additionally, the auto-aim function was restored in all modes, though it is not noted in the in-game controls.
The North American and European releases of the Director's Cut were marketed as featuring the original, uncensored footage from the Japanese releases. However, the full motion video (FMV) sequences were still censored, and Capcom claimed the omission was the result of a localization mistake made by the developers. The uncensored intro was later offered as a free download from their website. The French and German PAL versions of Director's Cut do feature the uncensored intro FMV in color, however the French and German PAL version lacked the uncensored Kenneth death scene despite having the uncensored introduction FMVs in color. Although the PC version of Resident Evil was not billed as the director's cut version of the game, it is the only version of Resident Evil that has all of the uncensored FMVs, which includes the uncensored introduction, Kenneth's death scene in its entirety, and ending as well.
Director's Cut Dual Shock Ver.
A third version for the PlayStation, known as the Dual Shock Ver. and co-produced by Keiji Inafune, was released in August 1998. The Dual Shock Ver., as the title indicates, feature support for the DualShock controller's analog controls and vibration functions, as well as a new symphonic soundtrack, replacing the original soundtrack by Makoto Tomozawa, Koichi Hiroki, and Masami Ueda. The game's symphonic music was officially credited to composer Mamoru Samuragochi, although he would later admit in 2014 that he directed his orchestrator Takashi Niigaki to ghostwrite the new soundtrack, for which Samuragochi took full credit for composition. The Japanese Dual Shock Ver. came packaged with a bonus disc that contained downloadable save data, footage of the unused Japanese dubbed versions of the live-action cutscenes, along with brief gameplay footage of the canceled original version of Resident Evil 2.
In the USA, Resident Evil: Director's Cut Dual Shock Ver. was later released as a downloadable game available from the PlayStation Network. although the game is advertised with the original Director's Cut box art. In Japan and Europe, the original Director's Cut was instead made available from the PlayStation Network.
Sega Saturn version
The Sega Saturn version added an unlockable Battle Game minigame in which the player must traverse through a series of rooms from the main game and eliminate all enemies within them with the weapons selected by the player. This minigame features two exclusive enemies not in the main game: a zombie version of Wesker and a gold-colored Tyrant. The player's performance is graded at the end of the minigame. The Japanese version is the most gore-laden of all the platforms; after decapitating a crawling zombie with a kick, the head remains on the floor, and Plant 42 can cut the character before the game over screen. The Saturn version also features exclusive enemy monsters, such as a re-skinned breed of Hunters known as Ticks and a second Tyrant prior to the game's final battle. Exclusive outfits for Jill and Chris were added as well.
The Windows version featured the uncensored footage from the Japanese version, but the opening intro is in full color rather than black and white. Support for 3D accelerator cards was added as well, allowing for much sharper graphics. Two new unlockable weapons were added, a MAC-10 for Jill and an FN Minimi for Chris. New unlockable outfits for Chris and Jill were added as well.
Unreleased Game Boy Color version
A Game Boy Color version of the game, developed by the Software House HotGen, was supposed to be released in 1999, until Capcom decided to cancel this project citing that the port was poor quality due to the Game Boy's limited hardware. This version contains every room, cutscene, and almost all the items there were present in the original PlayStation version.
In January 2012, an anonymous individual claimed to have an EPROM cartridge of the GBC version and requested $2,000 before he was willing to leak the playable ROM. The goal was met in February and the ROM files containing an unfinished build of the game were subsequently leaked.
A Nintendo DS port titled Resident Evil: Deadly Silence, released in Japan as Biohazard: Deadly Silence (バイオハザード デッドリーサイレンス Baiohazādo Deddorī Sairensu?). was made to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the series. Deadly Silence includes a "Classic Mode", the original game with minimal enhancements and touch-screen support, and a "Rebirth Mode", containing a greater number of enemies and a series of new puzzles that make use of the platform's specifications.
The game makes use of the dual screen display with the top screen used to display the map, along with the player's remaining ammunition and health (determined by the color of the background); while the bottom screen displays the main action, and can be switched to show the player's inventory. The DS version also includes updated play mechanics: the 180-degree turn introduced in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, along with the knife button and tactical reload from Resident Evil 4. The updated controls are applicable to both Classic and Rebirth modes. Dialog and loading screens can now be skipped. The live-action footage was still censored, even in the game's Japanese release; however, the scene showing Kenneth's severed head was kept.
In "Rebirth", new puzzles are added that use the system's touch-screen. "Knife Battle" sequences, viewed from a first-person perspective, are also added, in which the player must fend off incoming enemies by swinging the knife via the stylus. One particular puzzle requires the player to resuscitate an injured comrade by blowing into the built-in microphone. The player can also shake off enemies by using the touch screen, performing a melee attack.
The game also includes wireless LAN support for up to four players with two different multiplayer game modes. The first is a cooperative mode in which each player must help each other solve puzzles and escape the mansion together. The other is a competitive mode in which the objective is to get the highest score out of all the players by destroying the most monsters, with the tougher monsters being worth more points. There are three playable multiplayer stages and nine playable characters.
The PlayStation game became a best seller in North America. It was also a bestseller in the UK. According to Capcom's Investor Relations website, the original Resident Evil has sold over 2.75 million units. The Director's Cut version, including the Dual Shock edition, sold an additional 2.33 million copies. In February 1997, it was the best-selling PlayStation game up until then. The GameCube remake sold 1.35 million units, and the HD Remaster sold 1.3 million copies worldwide across all platforms. All versions of the game have sold 7.73 million units in total as of September 2016.
The original PlayStation version of Resident Evil was critically acclaimed, receiving a very high averaged review rating of 91 out of 100 at Metacritic. Among of those who praised the game was GameSpot, describing it as "one of those rare games that's almost as entertaining to watch as it is to play". Famitsu gave it ratings of 9, 10, 10 and 9 out of 10, adding up to 38 out of 40. This made it one of their three highest-rated games of 1996, along with Super Mario 64 (which scored 39/40) and Tekken 2 (which scored 38/40). Resident Evil was also one of only ten games to have received a Famitsu score of 38/40 or above up until 1996. Air Hendrix and Bruised Lee of GamePro described the storyline and cinematics as "mostly laughable", but felt the gameplay's "gripping pace" and the heavy challenge of both the combat and the puzzles make the game effectively terrifying. They reassured readers that the unusual control system becomes intuitive with practice and applauded the realism instilled by the graphics and sound effects. The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly also commented on the realistic graphics and sounds. They additionally praised the selection of two playable characters and said that though the game seems to be an Alone in the Dark clone at first, it manages to create its own experience. Mark Lefebvre particularly remarked, "The element that really grabs a player here is fear. After trading blows with the first zombie, you'll quickly become hesitant to turn down any uncharted corridors in the mansion." Yasuhiro Hunter of Maximum stated that "The game has the greatest atmosphere of any other game in existence [sic] - naming a game that makes you jump as much as when encountering your first pair of Cereberos in this title would be very difficult." He also praised the heavy difficulty of the puzzles, the great care required in combat, the 3D graphics, and the exceptionally high replay value. Computer Gaming World gave a more mixed review for the Windows version, explaining that they "tried to hate it with its graphic violence, rampant sexism, poor voice acting and use of every horror cliché, however...it's actually fun."
Resident Evil was the first game to be dubbed a "survival horror", a term that it coined for the genre. It was ranked as the 91st top game of all time by Next Generation in 1996, for having "successfully redefine[d] the genre which started with Infogrames' Alone in the Dark." Accordingly, Game Informer referred to the original Resident Evil as "one of the most important games of all-time" in 2007. In 2012, Time named it one of the 100 greatest video games of all time. That same year, the game ranked as one of G4tv's top video games of all time for how it has "launched one of the most successful series in gaming history and provided one of its most memorable scares."
In 2004, readers of Retro Gamer voted Resident Evil as the 37th top retro game, with the staff calling it "one of the finest horror-themed games ever" and adding that "full of shocks, surprises and perfectly poor B-movie dialogue, Resident Evil is the gaming equivalent of Night of the Living Dead." It entered the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2008 for the "Worst Game Dialogue Ever."
The game's success resulted in a media franchise that has since branched out into comic books, novels and novelizations, sound dramas, a non-canonical series of live-action films and animated sequels to the games, and a variety of associated merchandise, such as action figures. The series has become one of Capcom's biggest franchises. The events of the game were also revisited in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, originally released for the Wii in 2007.
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy is a 1998 novelization of the game, was written by S. D. Perry as the first book in her series of Resident Evil novels. The novel combines Jill's and Chris scenarios into one narrative and features all five of the main characters (including Barry, Rebecca and Wesker).
The book also takes liberty with some of the original source materials; the most notable difference being the inclusion of an original character named Trent, an insider from Umbrella Corporation who provides Jill with information about the Spencer Mansion prior to the events of the mansion incident. Since the book was written a few years before the Nintendo GameCube remake, the novelization lacks the presence of Lisa Trevor in the mansion. However, the book does allude to the original version of George Trevor's journal from The True Story Behind Bio Hazard, as well as the short story it contained, "Bio Hazard: The Beginning", which involved the disappearance of Chris Redfield's friend, Billy Rabbitson. Another notable difference in the novels is moving the location of Raccoon City from the Midwest to Pennsylvania, apparently about an hour's drive from New York. Overall, despite having been written before the retcon introduced in the Resident Evil remake and Resident Evil Zero, the book still maintains overall similarity to what the story warped into in the early 2000s.
In 2002, the game was remade and released for the GameCube under the same name as its original Western and Japanese releases. This was part of an exclusivity agreement between Capcom and Nintendo that spanned three new games. The title includes a variety of new gameplay elements, environments, and story details, as well as improved visuals and sound. The game was also later ported for the Wii in 2008. A remastered version of the remake, featuring high definition graphics, was released digitally for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC in 2015, with a limited edition PlayStation 3 version released at retail in Japan.
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