Top positive review
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Don't look back in anger...i heard you say
on 15 December 2012
I'm an angry man as I write this review. Angry because I was FORCED to overlook this absolute peach of a remake upon it's original release. Angry because even when I could afford a Gamecube/Wii alongside my trusty Playstation 2 I was in the gaming wilderness of my late teens/early 20's, and I forgot about it. Only through watching little vids on a new thing called Youtube did I see what I was missing, which is the BEST survival horror game I've ever played.
I spent pretty much every waking hour of my early teens playing Playstation, and more specifically Resident Evil games. What struck me most about them was the isolation, fear and unforgiving nature of the death/save system. I remember being so scared of the hunters from the original that I was afraid to enter new rooms. "Balls, I havn't saved in a while maybe I shou".... dead, decapitated by an unfairly agile frogman. It was just a harrowing, sinking feeling when you ran out of Ink Ribbons (item needed for saving) and/or bullets, unceremoniously halting progress and psychologically thrusting you into your characters body.
This feature is but a fading memory within the confines of todays gaming culture, not least of all from the Resident Evil franchise a la RE:4,5 and 6. Patronizing hand-holding is rife, slow-burning tense gameplay and badly placed fixed camera angles are replaced with an over the shoulder vantage point and linear visceral shootouts (albeit, done to a tee in 4) While it's almost common knowledge that the series needed to evolve in order to survive, it hasn't built upon the brilliant original conception of 4. Whether it be pitting you in the sun drenched outdoors of Africa (why?) or lumbering you with idiotic, unwanted AI partners (WHY!) the series has strayed a million miles away from the claustrophobic creepy mansion.
This game brings you right back there and unashamedly slaps you in the face with horrible tank controls, more enemies than ammo, and fiendishly difficult puzzles. Seriously, some of them were real noodle scratchers. If you've played the original it won't take long for you to realise that this remake is indeed something very special. The graphics are simply stunning (they more than hold their own amongst todays big boys) and the cheesy b movie quality of the dialogue has mercifully been given an overhaul. The rooms manage to be identical yet completely different simultaneously and pretty much everything else has been tweaked in some way, and always for the better (except clunky controls, clunky menus and clunky camera angles :D)
Initially the bad controls can be very off-putting, but you must keep in mind this is a ten year old game. It'll certainly take you a while to reacclimatise yourself to a time when not every games controls were nuanced and perfectly balanced. Get over the hump though and you'll discover a game that's been lovingly restored and story-wise, has been greatly elaborated on in regards to the original. A bizarre new side storyline really had me intrigued and gave me extra drive and incentive to persevere, as on more than one occasion I got legitimately stumped and had to integrate a small dose of grey matter (you know, that thing between your ears) to proceed.
Throughout the game I kept getting these neat little surprises, like zombies bursting through windows or uncovering a new area (not progression-wise, as in they added it in the remake) It needs to be said that this game wants you dead, yesterday, and enemies can kill you in little more than two hits. It's not really HARD, but you need to watch yourself, watch your ammo/healing consumption and most of all...watch your heart rate. I won't be forgetting the time I actually RAN OUT OF AMMO halfway through the game, an arse-moistening moment if ever there was one.
Oh yeah I almost forgot one of the best new features, and one which further gives credibility to the notion that this is a survival horror game to the bitter end. Crimson Heads! In every previous and subsequent Resident Evil game once you killed a zombie they were dead and for the most part they couldn't follow you anywhere, not so here. You'll quickly notice that even after you down a zombie and leave and re-enter a room, their bodies don't disappear. Now at first I thought it was just a design decision to make things more realistic, but no! They leap up off the ground as if someone injected a trolley load of speed up their arse and come back at you swinging digs like a chav at 4 in the morning. These are the aforementioned Crimson Heads, a welcome edition and a trump card if ever I saw one. Unbelievably scary and only through burning bodies can you avoid this occurrence, just one more thing to make the game that little bit better. Even scarier was when a zombie came crashing through the door after me, desperate for a nibble on my neck.
As far as presentation/graphics are concerned, I already mentioned earlier that they're indeed very pretty, but to get the most out of them you'll definitely need a hd upscaler as the wii doesn't support high def gaming. The actual screen is in letter-box format, which is annoying at first but you'll forget about it just as quick as it registers. There was very little if anything in this game that I didn't like. Maybe the "hard" feature upon completion of the game actually made you want to play it. The fatal flaw being connected storage chests are no longer...connected. This borders on insanity, crucially you'll be trekking all over the f***ing place to retrieve earlier items you simply had to drop at that time. This is a fairly big mansion lads, lunacy!
At the end of the day though it's still a 5 star game and reminds me just how much fear a game can instill in you. The combat is clunky, the cameras are clunky, the menus are clunky, ahhh who gives a toss?! Despite those flaws I can't remember being as immersed in a game as much since Dark Souls. Capcom really poured care and attention into making an already classic horror game better and more terrifying. They give fans of the original new twists and turns to the tale, I loved reading the mansion architects journal! Only your wits and skill will get you out of this hell-hole alive...do you have what it takes?