The STARS Task Force makes a house call gone hor­ri­bly wrong as it in­ves­ti­gates an out­break of can­ni­bal­ism

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - RESIDENT EVIL -

There’s a rea­son that first zom­bie en­counter at the be­gin­ning of Res­i­dent Evil is so iconic. Tak­ing refuge with your squad in the Spencer man­sion af­ter be­ing at­tacked in the for­est, you be­gin to ex­plore the eerily quiet house. As each door slowly opens, you’re never sure what you’re about to step into. Mov­ing to the end of a dark cor­ri­dor, storm beat­ing down out­side, you round the cor­ner. The first zom­bie, chow­ing down on a man-made meal, turns its head slowly, stares you down, then be­gins to shuf­fle to­wards you, the nar­row cor­ri­dor forc­ing you to back away. It is chill­ing to this day. No mat­ter which route you de­cide to take through Res­i­dent Evil – you can choose to play as ei­ther Jill Valen­tine or Chris Red­field, mem­bers of the STARS Task Force who have slightly dif­fer­ent start­ing load­outs and paths through the manor – you’ll be com­ing up against much worse than that first zom­bie: Crim­son Heads that dash at you, slash­ing with their claws; a gi­gan­tic poi­sonous snake that’ll smack you around; and an un­kil­l­able, ten­ta­cled, shack­led mon­stros­ity that’s locked away in the man­sion. But the fact that even its most ba­sic en­e­mies, the zom­bies, can be so ter­ri­fy­ing, and can cause you so many prob­lems if you let them get too close, is a tes­ta­ment to ev­ery­thing that the first Res­i­dent Evil got so right, and al­lowed it to give birth to such a long-last­ing fran­chise.


Its brand of sur­vival hor­ror was put to­gether im­pec­ca­bly. Within the Spencer man­sion, whether you are play­ing as Jill or Chris you never feel safe. Even with the lim­i­ta­tions of PS1 tech­nol­ogy, the house feels sprawl­ing, and it’s one you have to ex­plore and pick away at to progress through, find­ing keys and solv­ing de­vi­ous puz­zles as you forge a path for­ward, al­ways wary of what might come at you round the cor­ner, un­rav­el­ling the twisted


plot of Um­brella Cor­po­ra­tion’s T-virus ex­per­i­ments gone wrong as you go. With a bru­tal save sys­tem where you can only save on type­writ­ers in spe­cific rooms (re­quir­ing the use of a lim­ited Ink Rib­bon item) it pun­ishes the un­pre­pared in a way that makes you cau­tious. Lim­ited items mean you al­ways feel like the crea­tures of the man­sion have the up­per hand – al­ways ques­tion­ing whether you can re­ally spare those bul­lets; whether you need to use that herb to heal; or whether you should be us­ing your fuel to burn up the de­cay­ing corpse of that zom­bie be­fore it can come back to life to make your own worse if you need to back­track. With the tank con­trols it’s cer­tainly not easy to nav­i­gate – sim­ply mov­ing through zom­biein­fested rooms or even aim­ing for head­shots is a chal­lenge. That’s by de­sign. It still works by mak­ing you feel pow­er­less. When con­fronted with the shuf­fling dead, you can’t just mow through them in Res­i­dent Evil. So time­less is the core game that in 2002 it was re­made with mod­ern (for the time) graph­ics, even­tu­ally sham­bling its way not only onto PlayS­ta­tion 3, but also PlayS­ta­tion 4. The premise of the game is ba­si­cally the same in this re­make, and the newer ver­sion uses pre­ren­dered back­grounds, ex­actly like the orig­i­nal. It just looks a lot bet­ter. Some changes were made to the me­chan­ics, and some puz­zles tweaked so they feel a bit less ob­tuse. A few plot el­e­ments were added as well. Thanks to be­ing de­vel­oped for more mod­ern hard­ware, the atmosphere is spook­ier than ever.

The legacy of this first haunt­ing scrape with zom­bies in the iso­lated Spencer man­sion con­tin­ues to this day. The most re­cent Res­i­dent Evil, VII, re­turned to a man­sion set­ting, and re­vived a lot of the sur­vival el­e­ments from this out­ing. On top of that, the up­com­ing re-imag­in­ing of Res­i­dent Evil 2 mod­ernises the clas­sic sur­vival hor­ror that this first game got so right (see p44 for more on it). But even as it con­tin­ues to im­pact on the se­ries, step­ping back into the Spencer man­sion is still its own ex­pe­ri­ence ev­ery time.


All en­e­mies are a threat if they get too close; you’ll con­stantly need to cre­ate dis­tance.

Chris can’t carry as many items as Jill, which is odd as men’s clothes have more pock­ets…

The gi­ant snake is called Yawn, and yes, he is ready and will­ing to com­pletely ruin your day.

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