So, I’m a biased Resident Evil fan. With that, here’s my take on 2002’s remake of the first game for the Gamecube.
“Welcome back to the world of survival horror”
This is a game I’ve been waiting to cover for a while now. Resident Evil Remake, Resident Evil/Biohazard Rebirth, or simply, “REmake” is the 2002 update to the 1996 classic. This game took the formulas of the original that made it so fascinating and scary and completely revamped it by adding enhanced graphics, ambiance, score, creatures, and even new plot elements.
The graphics in this game are excellent for 2002 and still hold up pretty well now. The Spencer mansion went from a somewhat bland mansion with empty wooden rooms to a demented house of horrors complete with eerie dim lighting (and sometimes no lighting), cued lightning, and a massive upgrade on macabre visuals. Some of the sights that stick out the most are (without too much spoiling); the trail leading to the empty shack, the lower floor of the laboratory, the hallway mirror where “a strange corpse lies on the ground”, and the L-shaped hallway (Oh god). The improved textures held to add to that gritty look. Aged and bloodied wallpaper, faintly illuminated by electricity being tampered with by a storm. Dirty concrete and steel doors helping to create the coldness of the laboratories. And of course, the emptiness and feeling of being watched if you dare to step outside.
The atmosphere wouldn’t be complete without the soundtrack. The music really helps to set the mood, whether that be frantic and anxiety driven or somber and ominous. Each track helps enhance parts of the Spencer estate in its own unique way, making the player feel that they’ve escaped one nightmare and entered another. This is especially prevalent in more tense tracks that tend to play when either something major is about to happen or an effort to psyche out said player. Of course, the sound effects themselves compliment the music. Each creak in the floorboard or step on cold, hard ground creates an unease that you might not be alone. The eerie ambiance that drifts through the halls and especially outside only helps to reinforce this paranoia.
Talking about sound and resident evil wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging voice acting and the game’s history. Resident Evil has been notorious for downright atrocious dialogue and equally bad acting. In fact, the original version of this game has spawned more than a few memes in the gaming community as a result of its campiness. Does the remake shake off the cheese factor? Not quite. Some lines still sound a tad hokey and the dialogue comes across as corny sometimes, but isn’t that what helps to make these games so much fun?
As for the gameplay, it’s true to the name survival horror. Everything on the checklist is there: Cinematic camera angles that obscure things ahead, limited ammunition/weaponry, encouragement for fleeing and puzzle solving over combat, sinister/horrifying atmosphere, characters escaping by a thread (and that’s the good ending). In fact, the REmake adds new maneuvers including the defensive weapon, a method of slipping out of a fight made easier. Also, if timed and played with strategy, these can be used as a force to take down certain foes with little to no stress. Another major factor of Resident Evil is the puzzles. In the REmake, most of the puzzles got a slight overhaul. Most of these are item based, usually pertaining to a theme of an area. These new puzzles are directly tied into new rooms which were either empty space or locked off entirely. New monsters are truly the icing on the cake. Not only were the originals pretty scary, but fresh takes on classics and the addition of new horrors adds a new dimension to terror. To prevent any scares from being spoiled, I’ll let players uncover these additions for themselves.
The plot itself remains pretty much the same, but with tons of extra goodies that go hand in hand with expanded layout, upgraded visuals, and of course… added scares. The mystery and conspiracy behind the mansion has much depth added to it, complete with horrific backstory to later elements of the series, or at least the Raccoon City series.
With those reasons alone, I heavily recommend Resident Evil Remake for Gamecube (and PS2). The graphics, writing, and acting received a much needed overhaul. The new score and new creatures are guaranteed to send chills down your spine. In fact, the new plot elements are almost certain to disturb and horrify. If you want a solid survival horror game that embodies Resident Evil, purchase this game!