Breathing new life into the undead.
Editor's Note: The anti-zombie sentiment found herein belongs solely to writer A.A. White and does not represent the views of Game Revolution. We at GR appreciate all forms of life, be it alive or dead, and wish no ill-will to our rotting, shambling brothers-in-arms. Except the stinky ones.
Let's face it: despite eloquent arguments to the contrary, the only good zombie is a dead zombie. In fact, the most admirable quality of the dead is their total inertia, especially when combined with their lack of initiative in chasing us living people around and their general lack of desire to eat brains.
Zombies, these dead delinquents, want to go around changing things, upsetting this delicate balance between the worlds of the living and the dead. These amoral, self-righteous zealots just clutter up the streets, terrorizing the local law enforcement and chomping on as much cerebral cortex as they can get their eager hands on.
Although zombies claim to be underrepresented in the media, they are no strangers to the spotlight. Zombies have graced nearly every system under the sun, but never have they looked this good. In Resident Evil for the GameCube, it is quite obvious that they are shuffling their best feet forward with their endeavor to spread the miscreant zombie cause around the globe.
As in the 1996 Resident Evil for the Playstation, the game opens in a mansion just outside of Raccoon City, where a team of S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Squad) members have come to investigate the downed helicopter of their unfortunate colleagues. You play as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, as you happen upon the weird goings-on at the mansion while trying to escape back to civilization. You will have more than creatures barring your escape as you puzzle your way around the grounds, seeking a variety of keys and other means of unlocking doors.
It is a testament to the astonishing fundraising powers of zombies and their cohorts that this game looks as good as it does. The textures are wonderfully detailed, bump-mapping has been used to superb effect, and the lighting effects in this game are nothing short of perfect. Even the outdoor effects are phenomenal. The settings are genuinely spooky and the atmosphere is built upon nicely by the combination of dark, eerie graphics with appropriate ambient sound and suspenseful, cinematic music effects. The original game looked great when it came out on the PSX, but compared to this GC version, it looks like Pong.
As this is essentially a remake of the original RE, veterans of the original will not be disappointed. The game manages to be both true to its progenitor as well as fresh, new and a constant surprise. You will run across items and puzzles which seem familiar but have been almost completely changed.
The mansion (as recognizable as a former abode to anyone who played the first game) is back and it looks amazing. Not only has it received a face-lift, it has grown to immense size. Hallways snake off to form rooms which weren't in the original game and the outdoor areas are huge, beautifully rendered, and genuinely scary.
The characters look great - the rich visual effects incorporate the characters as well as the scenery, making the characters look as good as the backgrounds, which they often did not in the previous REtitles.
Movement is basically your standard RE control. As in the original, you cannot walk while holding your weapon upright. This means you will often have to decide whether you are going to run from something or stand your ground. Unlike the original, however, you control your character as they walk up and down the stairs; no longer do they cut to the cinema of your character's feet ascending or descending.
And unlike the original, the zombies walk up and down the stairs, too. They also open doors and burst through windows when they get sick of standing around and waiting for the action to come to them. Some of them have some pep in their step, so don't be fooled by zombies who describe their stride as a "shamble."
At the start of the game, players are confronted with an option to play the game on Easy or Hard. Unfortunately, there is no Normal. Easy is almost too easy; you will encounter a reduced number of opponents, find health items and ammunition stashed all over the place, and notice that enemies succumb fairly quickly. Why they felt the need to give you more ammo and more health and then have fewer creatures who do less damage and die quicker is a mystery to rival the construction of the pyramids.
Hard mode is another matter entirely. You will never seem to have any ammunition in your weapons and the game is populated with throngs of zombies and other malcontents who at times (1) seem to be nigh-invulnerable and (2) are convinced that the secret to immortality (or at least something really, really tasty) rests at the top of your spinal column.
Luckily, neither Jill nor Chris are mealy-mouthed when it comes to expressing themselves on the subject of zombie rights, and they can find a few objects along the way that seem to work wonders in convincing the dead to become inert. The shotgun has always been very persuasive in that regard, and the colt can also present a decent argument. When all else fails, you always have the Run button and even a nifty little button which spins your character 180 degrees when all rational arguments don't seem to be working.
True to the original, your character is given a number of inventory slots for items and weapons. Unfortunately, in the RE world, a key takes up as much space in your inventory as a shotgun. Of course, they provide chests in which you can save items that you can't carry, and this ensures quite a bit of running back and forth to accomplish a simple puzzle series. They compensate for this by throwing in renegade zombies to repopulate areas which you had previously cleared, just to keep things interesting.
The zombies have clearly improved their networking tactics, as they have formed a united front with other life-impaired creatures as well as some really creepy, nasty, vicious things that are just as relentless as their zombie brethren when it comes to oppressing the living. You'll fight all manner of gross beastie as well as more zombies than you can shake a rotten stick at.
I cannot stress enough how diligent we must be to counter this undead menace whose sole intent is to eat our brains and other perishables. This is contrary to the laws of nature and disrespectful to the memories of the decent individuals who accepted the laws of nature and quit moving around when they died. The living must never shirk our God-given duty to ease the dead to rest, even when they don't want to go.
Thankfully, Resident Evil for the Gamecube offers hours of enjoyment in pursuit of this regard, and anyone with even a vague taste for rotten meat should look into it immediately.