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Resident Evil, known in Japan as , is a survival horror video game by Capcom. The inaugural title and first installment in the Resident Evil series, it was originally released in 1996 for the PlayStation and has subsequently been ported to the Sega Saturn and PC.

In 2002, a remake of the game was released for the Nintendo GameCube featuring new graphics, voice acting and many significant gameplay changes. A Nintendo DS port of the original was released in early 2006 as Resident Evil: Deadly Silence.

It was one of the first games to be dubbed a "survival horror", borrowing from the "ambient survival horror" genre coined by Alone in the Dark. Accordingly, Game Informer refers to "the original Resident Evil" as "one of the most important games of all time". The inspiration for Resident Evil was the earlier Capcom game Sweet Home. Shinji Mikami was initially commissioned to make a horror game set in a haunted mansion like Sweet Home.

Gameplay

The opening scene from Chris' scenario in the original PlayStation version.
The main character is a law enforcement task force member who finds himself trapped in a mansion located in a wood populated by threatening mutated creatures. The objective of the game is to uncover the mysteries of the mansion and ultimately escape alive. The game's graphics consist of 3D polygonal characters and objects superimposed over pre-rendered backdrops with pre-determined (or "fixed") camera angles.

To fulfill the game's objective, the player uncovers various documents (including maps of the area) that provide exposition about the game's narrative, as well as clues that help them solve various puzzles within the mansion. Key items are also available that give the player access to other items or new areas. The player can arm the main character with weapons to defend himself from enemies: a combat knife, a handgun, a shotgun and a revolver, although the ammunition available for each weapon is limited. To restore the main character's health, the player uses first-aid sprays or various herbs that are mixed together in different ways for different healing effects. The carrying capacity of the player character is limited and items that cannot be carried immdediately are stored in an item box and retrieved for later use. The player must also find ink ribbons that are used on typewriters located in certain rooms in order to save game progress.

The various enemies the player encounters include infected creatures like flesh-eating zombies, zombie dogs, giant spiders, and crows, as well as man-made creatures with codenames such as "Hunters" and "Chimeras".

Plot

Setting

A series of bizarre murders have occurred on the outskirts of Raccoon City, with signs of cannibalism on the victims' remains. The Raccoon Police Department's Special Tactics And Rescue Service (STARS) are assigned to investigate the murders. STARS is divided into two teams: Alpha and Bravo. Bravo Team is sent first, but after contact with them is lost, the city's officials deploy Alpha Team to investigate their disappearance.

Characters

The player has a choice between Alpha team members Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine as the main character. Chris, the male hero, has greater firepower and can take more damage from enemies, while the heroine Jill has a greater carrying capacity, as well as a lockpicking tool that gives her earlier access to some of the mansion's areas. The game's supporting characters includes Barry Burton, Alpha team's weapons expert who provides Jill with additional firepower; Rebecca Chambers, a surviving member of Bravo team who supports Chris with her medical expertise; and Albert Wesker, the leader of Alpha team. The other members of STARS also appear through the course of the story dead or alive.

Story

The game begins after Alpha team locates Bravo team's helicopter, but there are no signs of survivors; only a severed hand is found. While searching the area for further clues, Alpha team is attacked by ferocious dogs, one of which kills one of the team's members, Joseph Frost. Alpha's helicopter pilot, Brad Vickers, takes off and abandons the team. Pursued by the dogs who killed their colleague, Alpha team is forced to seek refuge within a nearby mansion, believed to be abandoned.

With the dogs roaming outside, the four remaining Alpha team members (Albert Wesker, Chris Redfield, Barry Burton and Jill Valentine) are trapped within. A gun shot rings out, and the player character moves to investigate. At this point, the player takes control of the character and begins to explore the mansion. One of the first discoveries is a member of Bravo team, Kenneth J. Sullivan, being eaten by a zombie. The character eventually finds the mansion to be riddled with puzzles, traps, and horrors. Scattered documents and files suggest that a series of illegal experiments were being undertaken on the property by a clandestine research team, under the authority and supervision of the Umbrella Corporation, a pharmaceutical conglomerate. The creatures roaming the mansion and surrounding region are the results of these experiments, which have exposed the mansion's personnel and various animals and insects to a highly contagious and mutagenic biological agent known as the T-virus.

After navigating a series of tunnels, passageways and buildings, the player discovers a secret underground laboratory containing the Umbrella Corporation's experiments. In the lab, Wesker reveals that he is a double agent working for Umbrella and releases the Tyrant T-002, a giant humanoid monster created through prolonged exposure to the T-virus. Upon release, the Tyrant turns toward Wesker and impales him. The player then apparently kills the Tyrant and a self-destruct system is triggered. After the player calls for a rescue helicopter, the Tyrant bursts through the roof of the lab onto the helicopter pad and attacks. Vickers drops a rocket launcher and the player fires it at the Tyrant, blowing the monster apart. The player escapes in the helicopter and the game ends as the mansion explodes.

The ending varies depending on choices made by the player. The ending plays out as described above in Chris and Jill's endings if the player saves only one or neither of their teammates.

Development

English localization

A scene from the uncut intro.
Chris smokes a cigarette.
The original PlayStation version of Resident Evil featured several considerable changes between its original Japanese release and its English-language counterparts. The North American and European versions of the intro were heavily cut. Shots of mangled corpses were edited out, as well as scenes featuring the character Chris Redfield smoking a cigarette. The Japanese PlayStation version of the original Biohazard also features a vocal ending theme performed by Fumitaka Fuchigami that was not in any other versions of the game. The auto-aiming function was disabled and the numbers of ink ribbons found by the player were reduced. Capcom also planned to eliminate the "fourth dimensional" item boxes for the North American version (meaning that any item the player stored in one item box could not be retrieved in another), but they were restored for the released version of the game in North America. The later released GameCube version of the game features a hidden difficulty setting called "Real Survival", which eliminates the fourth dimensional item boxes.

Japanese voice acting for the game were also recorded, but ultimately unused. According to Mikami, the Japanese voice acting was removed from the game as he found the quality of the performances to be unsatisfactory.

Title change

The game was originally called Biohazard in Japan. However it was decided to change the name in the US and Europe after Chris Kramer, the Director of Communications at Capcom, pointed out that it would be impossible to trademark "Biohazard" in the US. Among others, another game and a band already were using the name. Capcom therefore decided to run a contest within its company to find a new name. They eventually settled on Resident Evil, since the game takes place in a mansion. Interviewed by GamesRadar, Chris Kramer said:
"I thought it was super-cheesy; can’t remember what I felt was a better alternative, probably something stupid about zombies – but the rest of the marketing crew loved it and were ultimately able to convince Capcom Japan and Mikami-san that the name fit."


Release history

Director's Cut

Resident Evil: Director's Cut PlayStation cover art.
An updated version of Resident Evil for the PlayStation, titled Resident Evil: Director's Cut, was released on September 1997, a year and a half after the original game's release. Director's Cut was produced to compensate for the delay of the sequel, Resident Evil 2, and was originally bundled with a playable demo of that game.

The main addition to Director's Cut is an "arranged" version of the game that changes the location of nearly every vital item in the mansion, as well as the enemy placement. The main characters, as well as Rebecca, are given new wardrobe and the player's handgun is replaced by an improved model capable of killing certain enemies with a single shot during random moments. The original version of the game is included as well, along with a new "beginner" mode where the enemies are easier to kill and the amount of ammunition that can be found by the player is doubled.

The North American and European releases of the Director's Cut were marketed as featuring the original, uncensored footage as seen in the Japanese releases. However, the FMV sequences were still censored. Capcom claimed the omission was the result of a localization mistake made by the developers and offered the uncensored intro as a free download from their website. The French and German PAL versions of Director's Cut feature the uncensored FMVs, in colored versions.

DualShock version

Resident Evil: Director's Cut DualShock version PlayStation cover art.
A second release of Director's Cut, known as the Dual Shock Version, was released in Japan and North America. The DualShock version featured support for the DualShock controller's analog controls and vibration functions, as well as a new symphonic soundtrack by Mamoru Samuragouchi, replacing the original soundtrack by Makoto Tomozawa, Akari Kaida, and Masami Ueda. The Japanese DualShock version came packaged with a bonus disc that contained downloadable save data and footage of the Japanese dubbed version of the opening cut scene and other footage, along with gameplay footage of Resident Evil 1.5, the canceled version of Resident Evil 2.

Resident Evil: Director's Cut - Dual Shock Version was later released for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable as a downloadable game available from the PlayStation Network.

Sega Saturn version

The Sega Saturn version added an unlockable Battle Game minigame in which the player must traverse through a series of rooms from the main game and eliminate all enemies within them with the weapons selected by the player. This minigame features two exclusive enemies not in the main game: a zombie version of Wesker and a gold-colored Tyrant. The player's performance is graded at the end of the minigame. The Saturn version also features exclusive enemy monsters, such as a re-skinned breed of Hunters known as Ticks and a second Tyrant prior to the game's final battle. Exclusive outfits for Jill and Chris were added as well.

PC version

The PC version features the uncensored footage from the Japanese version, but the opening intro is now in full color rather than black and white (with the exception of the Australian version, which used the censored version). Support for 3D accelerators was added as well, allowing for much sharper graphics. Two new unlockable weapons are added, a MAC-10 for Jill and an FN Minimi for Chris. New unlockable outfits for Chris and Jill are added as well.

Game Boy Color version (unreleased)

A Game Boy Color version of Resident Evil was planned, but later canceled by Capcom, citing that the port was of poor quality. Capcom later released a new game in the series for the platform titled Resident Evil Gaiden.

GameCube remake

North American Gamecube version cover art
In 2002, the original Resident Evil was remade for the Nintendo GameCube. This was part of an exclusivity agreement between Capcom and Nintendo that spanned three new games. The title includes a variety of new gameplay elements, environments, and story details as well as state of the art visuals. Shinji Mikami has stated that the remake is "70% different from the original."
The opening scene from the GameCube version.
The game is notable for its nearly photo-realistic environments, all of which are pre-rendered. The remake features all-new graphics and sound, and also incorporates gameplay elements from the later installments such as the use of body language to indicate the main character's health and the 180-degree turn, introduced a new running style which was also used in Resident Evil Zero, and several new areas and rooms were also added to the game. The overall plot remains largely unchanged. The original live-action FMV segments were redone in CG, with the voice acting done by a new cast. The script was rewritten to have a more serious tone and improved translation, as opposed to the cheesy B-movie dialogue and roughly-translated script of the original. Gameplay mechanics are largely the same although most of the puzzles have been changed and the player can equip a defensive weapon that can be used when seized by an enemy.

Additionally, the remake features many unlockable game modes, secrets, and various endings not found in the original. It also restores the George Trevor subplot, and splices other main characters of the Resident Evil games, such as William Birkin and Alexia Ashford into the game's backstory.

The GameCube version of Resident Evil sold over 1.35 million copies.

Deadly Silence

Resident Evil: Deadly Silence
A Nintendo DS port of the original Resident Evil, titled Resident Evil: Deadly Silence was made to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the series. Deadly Silence includes a "Classic Mode", the original game with minimal enhancements and touch-screen support, and a "Rebirth Mode", containing a greater amount of enemies and a series of new puzzles that make use of the platform's specifications.

The game makes use of the dual screen display with the top screen used to display the map, along with the player's remaining ammunition and health (determined by the color of the background); while the bottom screen displays the main action, and can be switched to show the player's inventory. The DS version also includes updated play mechanics: the 180-degree turn introduced in Resident Evil 3, along with the knife button and tactical reload from Resident Evil 4. The updated controls are applicable to both Classic and Rebirth modes. Dialog and loading screens can now be skipped. The live-action footage was still censored, even in the game's Japanese release; however, the scene showing Kenneth's decapitated head was kept.

In "Rebirth", new puzzles are added which make use of the system's touch-screen to solve them. "Knife Battle" sequences, viewed from a first-person perspective, are also added, in which the player must fend off incoming enemies by swinging the knife via the stylus. One particular puzzle requires the player to resuscitate an injured comrade by blowing into the built-in microphone. The player can also shake off enemies by using the touch screen, performing a melee attack.

The game also includes wireless LAN support for up to four players with two different multiplayer game modes. The first is a cooperative mode in which each player must help each other solve puzzles and escape the mansion together. The other is a competitive mode in which the objective is to get the highest score out of all the players by destroying the most monsters, with the tougher monsters being worth more points. There are three playable multiplayer stages and nine playable characters.

Wii version

A Wii version of the Resident Evil remake originally released for the GameCube was released in Japan on December 25, 2008. As with the previous Wii versions of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil Zero, the game saw minimal changes in its transition to the Wii. The Wii version was released in North America and Europe in June 2009 under the title Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil, it should be noted that its official name on the spine is "Resident Evil".

Novelization

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy is the 1998 novelization of the 1996 video game, written by author S. D. Perry as the first book in her series of Resident Evil novels. The novel combines Jill and Chris' scenarios into one narrative and features all five of the main characters (including Barry Burton and Rebecca Chambers).

The book was written a few years before the Nintendo GameCube remake, and so omits the presence of Lisa Trevor in the mansion. However, the book does allude to the original version of George Trevor's journal from The True Story Behind Biohazard, as well as the short story it contained Biohazard: The Beginning, which involved the disappearance of Chris Redfield's friend, Billy Rabbitson. Another notable difference in the novels is moving the location of Raccoon City from the Midwest to Pennsylvaniamarker.

Reception

The PlayStation game was a best seller in North America. The game received mixed reviews from critics. For example, GameSpot praised the game, while Computer Gaming World gave a more mixed review for the PC version in explaining that they "tried to hate it with its graphic violence, rampant sexism, poor voice acting and use of every horror cliché however...it's actually fun." In total, according to Capcom's Investor Relations website, the original Resident Evil has sold 2,750,000 units.

The GameCube remake of Resident Evil has managed to sell 1,350,000 units in total. GameSpot said about the remake: "Capcom has nearly perfected its craft and created the best Resident Evil ever". IGN mentioned at the time that the remake was "The prettiest, most atmospheric and all-around scariest game we've ever played".

The critical response to the remake was almost universally positive. One example is Famitsu who gave the original 38/40 and the remake 39/40, making it both the highest ranking Resident Evil game and was once the highest ranking Capcom-created title until 2009 and one of only 17 games to achieve such a high score.

References

  1. Biohazard: Complete Disc, bundled with Biohazard: Director's Cut - Dual Shock ver.
  2. Biohazard Symphony Op. 91, Disc 2 Track 9
  3. , The True Story Behind BIO HAZARD, page 157.
  4. GR Asks: Why was Biohazard renamed Resident Evil? | GamesRadar
  5. Resident Evil Wiimake out this June News | Wii | Eurogamer
  6. [1]


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