The original Playstation Resident Evil was, and still is, my fav title of the series. I first played it, of course, when it came out in 1996 and played it numerous times between it’s release and probably around the time Nemesis came out. It's been over six years since I last played the original title at all – and I decided this week to pop it into my console and give it another swing. Although the original title has still proven to have life in it (see REDS on the Nintendo DS and the Director’s Cut title being available on the Japanese PSNetwork), my viewpoint is that time has not been as kind on the game as some others on the PlayStation.
My replay took the PAL version being played on the PS3 (scaled obviously, with soften filter on), on a non-HD TV via a standard composite cable. This adds some visual issues bugs which made the title slightly washed out and scaled. The models looked alright, but the backgrounds and videos suffered horribly because of this. I think if I was to replay the game again soon I’d pull out my original PlayStation to compare the differences and have the game cleaner. Additionally I avoided playing the Japanese version which I do own – aside from the fact it’s easier, mainly because it’s been so long some of the text hasn’t been as etched into my memory so I’d rather see it in a language I fully understand.
I picked Jill and begun my play through. What struck me first aside from how the graphics have aged, was just how slow the game actually is. Aside from the fact the PAL version is slower than the NTSC versions by a margin, there is a pause between each background loading I’ve never recalled noting and any text on screen takes… just… so… long… to… write… out. While holding the X button would speed this up it wouldn’t make it more exceptionally fast than originally. It’s odd, but while I got used to it again, it took quite some time to get used to all this – not just because of other games in general, but even the improvement in the series itself as it got older.
The next thing that struck me was that the game was just really hard, probably – outside of the Arrange mode in REDC – the most difficult in the series still. Combined with the damage levels and health levels, you also need to remember the title has no auto-aim as well. And I was playing as Jill; I recall Chris’ game as even more difficult – with less item slots, small keys for lockpick areas, and other such hassles.
I also gave the game to a friend of mine who has been a long time fan of the series who was there when I replayed the game just to see how he went. He probably hasn’t played an actual title in the series since Nemesis, just to give him extra credit, but he wasted 8 of his first 15 bullets on one zombie and was killed by the window-bursting dogs in the L shaped hallway. Forgiving it was not.
I faired well until the return to the mansion after the guardhouse. Basically hunters suck more than I remember. Aside from the fact the lack of auto-aim which doesn’t help in the hunter situation, I forgot that Hunters can double-team you, taking turns slicing you till you die without giving you a chance to fight back. Aside from that I also forgot that even if you’re on yellow-fine condition the Hunters can also still head tackle you and bang you’re dead. Aside from the Hunters the rest of the game played out fairly easily.
As far as the game itself went, the number of times I’ve played the game over kept me able to complete the majority of the game with no hassle. I however forgot how lacking some of the solutions were on puzzles. I didn’t have any problems, because they’re all well formed in my memory – even the V-Jolt – but I can recall on my first play through’s stuff like the Doom Books were hard. Who really thinks about checking the books? And there aren’t a lot of clues in regards to it.
It wasn’t until after the boss battle with the giant spider in the underground did my memory start to get a little hazy when I put the hexagonal crank away even though I still had two more uses of it left. I thought the Lab might also cause me issues, but surprisingly once I got there all my memories of the area began to reform and I managed to cruise through the game final areas.
With Barry and Chris in tow (Best Ending), I made my way along the final hall and up the lift. What was real sad is that as of this writing I actually didn’t finish the game after this. I got the final heliport area and avoided the Tyrant until Brad dropped the rocket launcher with about 25 seconds to go. That’s when it all went horribly wrong – the game locked on that image of the helicopter hovering over the rocket launcher while the counter closed down to zero. I have to try again but without doing so I’m likely thinking that the PS3 emulation might be to blame for all this. Who knows?
Finally I have to write about the voice acting, because I couldn’t get away without doing so. We all know that the title sports some of the worst acting, and even though I found myself reciting the lines from my memory, the acting is far far far worse than I remember it. It’s not even poor acting it’s just even poor grammar, wording, and sentence structure. The pauses between some of the lines too adds additional humour, and for some reason during Wesker’s rant about Barry I’d never noticed how he contradicts himself about Umbrella’s involvement in the controlling of Barry. Maybe I’ve just been too spoilt of late by the huge increase of games with awesome acting in them. My fav part that I'd forgotten about was taking Jill to meet Chris prior to meeting the Tyrant, where Jill tells Chris to stay there and not leave the cell he's already locked in.
I think I’ll eventually have a go at the Arranged game on the Director’s Cut and see how well my memory serves me on it… but while it was an exceptionally nice trip down memory lane, my advice is to take one of the latest editions for a spin – such as the DS edition or the Remake. Unless you’re a HUGE fan of the original, you’ll probably find yourself very frustrated with the titles short comings, poor acting, and just how slow it is in comparison to the later titles.