What is up! I’m Matt Dahlgren, one of the product managers here at Capcom who gets to work on the Resident Evil franchise.
Today I get to blog about the PSone Resident Evil: Director’s Cut, which will be available for download tomorrow on PSN for $9.99.
I don’t think I’ll ever get to make a statement like this in a blog ever again.
The original Resident Evil is a game that defined my personality as a gamer for years to come. (I’ve got two others on my list of influential games, FF7 and Tekken, each for their respective genre – but I’ll keep this RE centered.)
The early experiences that you have in gaming set you up for what to expect in the future. If you have a positive enough experience, you attempt to find it time and time again – but I don’t think a game will ever affect me in the same way that this one did.
Going back and tinkering around with this game after so many years off got me thinking about how different gaming was 10 years ago in comparison to today. Games back then were hard. I remember dying at the first zombie while trying to figure out a weird control scheme, yet being mesmerized with the fact that I could control the outcome in a 3D environment. It took me a while to get the grasp of everything, and I died a lot, but I was so entertained by the experience that I refused to go to bed. I stayed up all night at a friend’s house, figuring out this weird mansion filled with zombies.
Controls then were not nearly as important as they are now. People were so mesmerized with the fact that they were experiencing something new, it didn’t matter that the graphics weren’t perfectly realistic and the acting was bad. It was a completely new experience, and better yet it could scare you. (ex. Dog + Window = Jump)
But what made this game cool is the fact that deep underneath the struggles you had to go through to progress, there was this gigantic intricate puzzle to figure out. How do you get to the next area with only 15 bullets? Which path is going to punish you, and which is going to let you survive? A lot of the time, if you chose the wrong path, you were just screwed, and you started over. If you didn’t have an ink ribbon on hand, or didn’t save recently, this could mean you have to re-do the last hour of gameplay. But it didn’t matter as much, because you learned from your mistakes and you could do things better the second time.
In addition, the environments were just sweet. I don’t think any game has re-created something as creepy as that first mansion. To me it is the ultimate classic scenario. So many questions to be had, and you fill them in piece by piece as you progress. Not everything may have made perfect sense, but either way, it was completely intriguing.
Playing as Chris Redfield and getting your shotgun is a great example. At this point, you have been playing for a while now, trying to survive with just a handgun. You go into a room, and see a shotgun on the wall. Sweet! Then you pick it up, and the ceiling comes down on you and makes a Chris pancake. (owned) Better hope you saved recently.
Getting that shotgun was a big time struggle. You had to find the broken shotgun, manage your inventory so you can actually hold it, figure out how to dodge or kill a ton of zombies through a long stretch of the mansion, so you can replace it on the wall and not die when trying to get a new weapon.
But when you get it…that shotgun is a score! You can now blow off zombie heads in a single shot, you just need to aim up. That weapon completely changes the gameplay experience from then on out. What makes that cool is once you finally figure out how to get the shotgun, there is such a strong sense of accomplishment. You earned your reward, it wasn’t just handed to you.
Nowadays if a key drops and someone has to spend 5 mins trying to find out where it goes, they just get pissed and stop playing. (Obviously over-exaggerated, but you can see the point I was making)
And the camera angles – sometimes you can’t even see down a hallway. That’s like putting you at a bigger disadvantage than being there in real life. Haha. I kept remembering that I wanted to kick a zombie in the chest because they were so slow. (If you played Outbreak, there’s one guy that could kick zombies in the chest. I always picked that guy. Heh) Not only was it difficult to see, even when I knew where the zombies were, they would get me ALL the time. It was difficult to move precisely. Very different experience than seeing a single enemy, lining up a headshot – done, progress. You were watching that zombie, trying to predict how he would move, how you could lure him to the side so you could sneak by. And you would still get caught.
But, if you played the original game, you have to admit that the control elements and camera angles helped heighten the experience. Resident Evil is all about putting you in situations that are hard to predict the outcome. It is a game that keeps you on your toes. Granted you may be frustrated that you can’t see the zombie, or even worse one of the “chop your head off in one swipe” hunters that is 5 feet in front you because the camera won’t let you, but those moments are pretty intense experiences because you don’t know what is going on.
(OMG – if you can aim up, shoot blind and hit a jumping hunter based on his sound alone, talk about satisfying. Haha)
Many people now would probably find this annoying. Games are so real, that if you can’t do anything you want, there’s something else out there that will let you. But for me playing this game as a kid, it defined me as a gamer. I wanted a challenge, because I felt I could do it, and other people couldn’t. Maybe that’s a bit arrogant, but isn’t that what getting ridiculous amounts of trophies or high scores is all about anyways? If anything didn’t give me that challenge – I was disappointed.
I think that sums up what Resident Evil is all about: Reward through harsh struggles. There’s a great sense of accomplishment when you can make it through the worst. I think Resident Evil does this to a “T”, and has continued to do so over the years.
(I also think they re-created a “this is completely new to me” experience when they did RE4, part of the reason I respect the franchise so much.)
I think there are a lot of gamers out there like me – many of them probably who hated on RE4/RE5 because it was different than the “old school” games. I disagree that the survival/horror element from Resident Evil is gone – it’s definitely still in there, it’s just evolved. And that doesn’t mean that the traditional survival horror of the early games is gone, it just means that the franchise has branched out to provide new experiences.
So, if you haven’t played this game, or want to go back and re-live a classic game you played as a kid like me, I highly recommend this game. If you are a current fan of Resident Evil, you can see many of the gameplay traits that evolved from this game. (You may not like the fact you can’t move and shoot simultaneously in RE5, but those controls are there for a reason, and help the game stay true to some of the classic elements of the franchise which are very evident in the early games.)
Also, if you were introduced to the series through Resident Evil 4 or 5, this game is a great opportunity to go back and experience the roots of the franchise. Both Chris and Jill, who appear in RE5, make their franchise debut in this game.
For those who don’t know what the Director’s Cut version is, this is the updated version of the original game which was released 18 months after the original. It features an “Arranged Mode” which essentially mixes up the item placement, camera angles, and enemy placement, to give people a different path through the game than found in the original 1996 version.
I think that is about enough for my “tribute” post. I can’t recommend this game highly enough – and that’s the gamer in me, not the marketing dude. Hope you enjoy.
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