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Resident Evil – GameCube

Resident Evil – GameCube

box artPlatform: Nintendo GameCube

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Release Date: March 22nd, 2002

Genre: Survival Horror

Nerd Rating: 9.5/10

Reviewed by Steroid Gamer 

With the recent announcement of the GameCube’s 2002 Resident Evil title being re-released in HD on new generation consoles I decided to go back and play the original hit.  Now the 2002 game “Resident Evil” is often referred to by fans as Resident Evil Remake, or REmake.  The very first game in the franchise was released for the Playstation in 1996, then in 2002 it was remade for the GameCube.  What is the difference between 2002’s remake and the upcoming HD re-release?  Well, its pretty simple.  The HD version coming our way in 2015 is just a visual enhancement.  The 2002 Resident Evil was a game built from the ground up with new features left and right.  Now with all the history out of the way let’s get to the itchy…tasty…..details….

Freeze scumbag!! or...deadbag?

Freeze scumbag!! or…deadbag?

The one thing that has stuck with me all these years and what distinguishes Resident Evil as one of the best horror games of all time is its ambiance; the atmosphere is absolutely off the charts.  From character Chris Redfield’s shoes clacking on the marble floors, to the squeaky wooden floor boards, the sound effects are amazing.  The guns sound powerful and you can hear the weight they carry each time you fire off a round.   The soundtrack is brilliant.  Quiet peaceful tones play in the game’s “save rooms,” inquisitive chimes ring and ding in areas that require some brain power, dark depressing tones loom over you as a zombie comes from behind to bite your face off.  Everything in the audio department of this game is terrific and it’s honestly what makes the game so scary in the first place.

The audio isn’t the only thing that helps set the mood.  The environments in Resident Evil are varied and intriguing.  Sure, some of the locations you visit will leave you scratching your head asking, “Why the hell would they put a graveyard here?” or, “What is an aquarium doing in the middle of a basement?”  Well, first off the game does give an explanation for its interesting locations.  Maybe not the best explanation in the world, but there is still one there.  Besides the amount of variety and intrigue, the hesitation that comes along with investigating each area as you turn the corner and not knowing what lurks on the other side is what makes the game fun in the first place.

Snakes....the other white meat.

Snakes….the other white meat.

When you boot up the game you’ll be given the choice to play as Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine.  The game will play out differently depending on who you pick.  From the gameplay perspective not much is different.  Jill is equipped with a lock pick, enabling her to unlock doors, while Chris comes equipped with a lighter which is good for burning zombie corpses.   Chris can’t carry as many items at once, but has more health and can take more damage.  Jill is the reverse.  She can carry more, but has less health and enemies deal more damage against her.  Other than those few things there’s not much to be said about the gameplay differences.  The real reason for playing through as each character is the game’s story.

The story is changed fairly significantly throughout your haunted mansion quest depending on the character you pick from the start.  It’s also really neat because your in game actions effect the character’s and story’s outcome. Now, it’s not on the same level of Mass Effect, but it’s still a cool feature.  If a character is in danger and needs your help, you have the choice of saving them or leaving them.  If you leave them odds are they will die and not appear in the game’s final ending.  Some of the enemy encounters are also affected by how you play.  Certain supporting characters may or may not show up to help you take down the foe depending on your previous actions.  (Yes, I realize that was a vague statement, but I’m avoiding spoilers.  It’s best this way.)  The various outcomes and endings can seem a little artificial at times, and can prove difficult if a die-hard fan wants just ONE canon ending to the narrative.

Barry: "Whose blood is this?" Well, Mr. Burton perhaps it will tell you itself if you ask politely.

Barry: “Whose blood is this?”
Well, Mr. Burton perhaps it will tell you itself if you ask politely.

Each of the main characters, Jill and Chris, have a supporting character along the way.  Chris get’s the help from Rebecca Chambers, and Jill gains assistance from the beard-touting Barry Burton.  Oddly though each of the supporting characters are completely absent and not even mentioned in the opposite character’s campaign.  So, in Chris’s story Barry is mentioned only once towards the beginning with a “Where’s Barry?” comment, and then never brought up again.  Chris and Jill also mirror each other in opposite stories.  So, in Jill’s story if Chris appears in room A doing activity B than the same can be said about Jill in Chris’s campaign.  She will appear in room A, doing activity B.  Other than these few inconsistencies the variety of outcomes is great and makes the game and your actions feel more real.

This friends, is why you don't put sandwiches in your hat.

This friends, is why you don’t put sandwiches in your hat.

The story is a pretty big focus in Resident Evil.  Gone are the horribly cheesy live action cutscenes from the 1996 original.  Instead they’ve been replaced with in game cutscenes and fully voiced characters.  The voice acting is pretty good despite the occasional line of cheesy dialogue.  The story plays a big part here in explaining the motivation of some of the game’s supporting characters.  It’s a little more “meaty” in the details the then original game was.

Chris Redfield STUFFED at the basket by Frog man.

Chris Redfield STUFFED at the basket by Frog man.

The gameplay is fairly simple and easy to understand, and it is the reason the game is such a great survival horror title, with an emphasis on survival.  There are no objectives, waypoints, or hand holding here.  You are thrown into a mansion in the middle of Raccoon City forest and have to find a way out.  That’s it.  That’s your objective.  The game is never going to help you, it’s not going to give you tips or advice, tell you where to go, or how to beat a monster.  All of it is up to you….and that’s remarkable.  You’ll explore from room to room coming across various puzzles and locked doors.  How do you get around those locked up doors? How do you solve this puzzle?  Well, you’re going to have to figure it out all on your own.  The pacing of Resident Evil is great.  While it may seem like a lot of doors are locked at the beginning it’s because the game is slowly preparing you for what’s to come little by little.  Sure, there is going to be a lot of backtracking, but in a game like this it adds tension and doesn’t bring any frustration.  You can put items in and “item box” and whatever you put in there will appear in any of the various “item box” locations, so that cuts down on any frustrating moments you might have due to heavy backtracking.

As you travel through each room you’ll face all kinds of creatures like zombies, cerberus dogs, hunters (giant frogs), and crimson heads, the faster more dangerous version of a zombie.  Ammo and health items are limited so it’s in the player’s best interest to conserve whenever they can.  The tension that is created by having so few resources and exploring new areas not knowing what awaits, or going back to revisit old ones knowing what does await makes this game feel all about survival.  You’re never going to feel invincible and confident.  Each time you get a little cocky the game throws you a curveball reminding you that it is in control.  Fighting for your survival is hard and tricky at times, but it is the bread and butter that make the game so successful.

Someone should really hire a new decorator for this place. That picture is crooked!

Someone should really hire a new decorator for this place. That picture is crooked!

There are plenty of scary moments to be had in the game due to the varied enemy design.   Expect to come across a lot of spiders, zombies, chimera’s and more.  The biggest attribute to the enemies in the game isn’t their design so much as how they are used.  It’ seems like every time your turning a corner hoping a specific enemy isn’t going to be there it is.  Perhaps, it’s because your low on resources or maybe you just don’t want it to jump out and scare you.  Either way it feels like the right enemies are coming after you at the right time and it adds a lot of diversity to the game.   Even the boss battles are unique and fun to fight, even if they are a tad over the top at times.  There’s not a whole lot to do in Resident Evil after you’ve beaten the game.  There are three difficulty levels and you are awarded a score at the end of each game which can unlock new outfits or weapons.  There is one game mode called “Real Survival” which removes the magic “item boxes.”  Instead of having the items appear in all the boxes across the game they now stick to the specific box you put it in.  I played some of this mode and found it not to be any scarier or intense but just added a level of boredom not found previously in the game.  Real Survival mode requires way to much back and forth for it to be a mode worth your time.  There are a couple of jump scares along the way, and in all honesty, my first time through each one of them made me react.  Whether I was dropping my controller, jumping up in fright, or letting out a loud scream it was all in good fun.

The Resident Evil franchise has been around a long time and has gotten so big that it might be hard to describe exactly what this franchise is and what it represent’s.  However, the 2002 GameCube version Resident Evil is scary, fearful, dangerous, and plain old fun.  It’s everything you’d want from a survival horror game; low ammo, few resources, powerful enemies, terrific soundtrack, and superb sound effects.  When people talk about what survival horror means to them it’s this game here.  This is the game on the pedestal. This is the game that invented the genre.  This is Resident Evil.

Written by Sean Collins

Sean Collins

Sean Collins (aka Steroid Gamer) started playing video games when he was 8 years old. His first console was a Nintendo 64 and his first game was Mario Kart 64. He fell in love immediately and has been playing games ever since.

My current systems include; N64, Gameboy Color, Gamecube, Wii, 3DS, PS3, Vita, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox 360.

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  1. InfiniteKnife
    InfiniteKnife says:

    Nice job on the review! I was so excited to get this when it came out!

    I was in High School and worked at a GameStop, so I was put in charge of promotional stuff for the release. It was a blast.

    RE really did a great job of showing what the GameCube could do, graphically. The visuals were really top notch for the time and still look amazing today.

    • Steroid Gamer
      Steroid Gamer says:

      Thanks, InfiniteKnife. I agree the visuals were amazing. Which has me super excited to see how the HD re-release is going to look on the PS4/Xone.


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