The Resident Evil name doesn't quite hold the same weight it once did. While Resident Evil 4 is widely accepted as the peak of the franchise, it also marked the beginning of a series that would continually struggle to find an identity in the years to follow. So perhaps Capcom's decision to remaster the GameCube remake of the original Resident Evil is suggesting that the company is tossing around the idea of a series reboot? Whatever the reason is, this is one upgrade we can fully get behind. That's because, to cut to the chase, Resident Evil is still the same great game after all these years. It's also the most accessible this installment has ever been, with an optional alternate control method and an all-new Very Easy mode. Whether you've played it numerous times before or are jumping in for the very first time, Resident Evil deserves a spot in your digital library.
The 2002 release on Gamecube was already a great-looking game, but nonetheless, this remastered version has been given a fresh coat of HD paint for modern consoles. Character models look sharper and better than ever, and the new wide-screen presentation means you can see more, which is useful here since camera control isn't allowed. Going in, we were a bit skeptical about whether the pre-rendered backgrounds would transition well to HD, but we're happy to report that, despite a few ugly areas and murky textures, nothing was seriously lost during the translation. The enhanced visuals make it easier to discern items against the backdrops (if it wasn't already from their obvious glimmer), as well as objects you can interact with. The moody atmosphere, haunting music, and fixed camera angles are still incredibly effective, and it's the reason why this survival classic is still so revered to this day.
The original Resident Evil must be commended for introducing the world to survival horror, and many, if not all, of the genre's staples have originated from this first game. Ammo scarcity, item management, and encounters with seemingly impossible-to-kill enemies — it's all here, and it's what makes Resident Evil such a memorable and visceral experience. Content wise, everything from the Gamecube release has been left intact and untouched. From the laughably atrocious voice acting, to the love-it-or-hate-it ink ribbon save system, this is a true and pure RE experience through and through. Our only major gripe is that we wish we could skip the slow door-opening transitions. Initially used as a way to disguise the load times and limitations of the PSone, we'd surmise the power of the Xbox One isn't a factor, so the option to skip them would have been nice.
"To cut to the chase, Resident Evil is still the same great game after all these years."
What was so great about the remake when it released was how it was able to surprise gamers who were already familiar with the 1996 original. It's still unnerving seeing zombies burst out of doors you've just escaped from or, worst of all, zombies returning from death as Crimson Heads — a faster, stronger and more menacing creature that can only be avoided by remembering to burn zombie corpses. Surviving the nightmare that is Resident Evil involves conserving your ammunition, managing your items, and even being smart about when you choose to save your game. It definitely makes for a challenging experience, but much of the unforgiving gameplay is also a big part of the appeal.
The Resident Evil sequels usually took players across various environments or some globetrotting escapade, but the original kept things secluded in the huge Spencer mansion. Sure, there's a courtyard and cemetery, but for the most part, you'll be visiting the same creepy corridors and rooms quite often. The mansion is essentially one big puzzle, forcing you to explore every nook and cranny for useful items, and using them to help you progress further. Half the fun is figuring out what item goes where, all the while utilizing the game's magic storage box and limited inventory system. It can be frustrating for players that aren't used to it, but so long as you have a slight interest in the genre, then you'll soon come to realize that Resident Evil is full of surprises. You never know what awaits you behind each door, and that's what makes it so much fun to play — in it's own twisted sort of way.
"It definitely makes for a challenging experience, but much of the unforgiving gameplay is also a big part of the appeal."
A new modern control method greets players the moment they enter the eerie mansion. The joystick offers full 3D analog control and basically eliminates having to hold down the run button. Moving Chris or Jill feels faster and more responsive, with one annoying caveat. Since Resident Evil is notorious for switching camera angles for cinematic flair, it now often gets in the way with said new controls because it likes to reset the relative direction. You must remember to push the stick in the direction your character is facing, which isn't always the most efficient when dealing with multiple zombies. We think the new control scheme works well most of the time and is a great way to introduce newcomers to the game, but we still prefer the original controls, despite their obvious drawbacks.
It's clear from the start that, without a doubt, this is the best version of Resident Evil out there. While some of the game's legacy design choices may be hard to stomach in 2015, Capcom has ensured this gothic horror adventure is more approachable than ever before. By adding a no tank-control option and new Very Easy mode for newcomers, there is no longer any excuse to let this survival horror classic shamble on by.