I should have Resident Evil 6 this time tomorrow (pre-ordered from ASDA for 33 of my finest English pounds). So tonight I am going to revisit the very first game (albeit the Director’s Cut); the PSOne classic that I purchased from the PSN. In fact, I just completed the GameCube remake on Friday – it took approximately 9 hours and 20-ish saves to go through the game; so very pedestrian in pace. Although – Resident Evil has always been about being let loose in a zombie-filled mansion, being left to your own devices and enjoying the atmosphere. The graphics in that game are quite phenomenal – the environments still hold their own today; the only slight sign of aging being the characters themselves – during the cutscenes the eye and facial animations don’t quite look right; but considering that, you can see worse in games that were made in 2012 – and this game was released in 2002!

Anyway – let’s see if I can live up to my glory days (AKA misspent youth). I’m going to attempt to go through RE:DC without any saves and in around 3 hours! Before I start the game (and considering I haven’t visited the Spencer Mansion in many many years) – there’s only really two things that I am weary of. 1. Getting nailed by a Hunter (they can be fairly unpredictable if you let them jump at you). 2. The encounter(s) with the giant snake. Yes – I have painful memories of attempting no-save runs on this game.

Let’s document the progress! Times are GMT…

23:30 – starting the game; the title screen shows a real-life Chris complete with 1980’s shoulder pads that wouldn’t be out-of-place in an episode of Dallas. The wide-eyed pantomime scream is classic; I wonder how many takes it took to perfect that…

23:31 – Standard difficulty selected. Jill mission…hey, if you’re going to spend 3 hours looking at an avatar you may as well choose the one with boobs! I wonder what that actress is doing these days. Do you think she talks about how she was once the Resident Evil girl as she drifts from town to town??

23:32 – ‘STARS – Special Tactics and Rescue Service’ shown in the intro sequence. There was some inconsistency in the name around the first two games – with both Squad and Service being used. I’m watching the amazing hollywood production now – why do all the voice actors keep their mouths open for so long? The dubbing doesn’t match up at all. Most notable on the first guy who sees his dead team-mate in the grass. Cast intro is amazing! Rebecca actress is far too old for that character…yet…

23:33 – voice acting is amazing! Wesker in particular, ‘Don’t open that door!’

23:33 – ‘Smoothing’ PS3 feature is now turned on…but I’m not sure how the PS3 can smooth limbs composed of 2-3 polygons…I can’t see any difference! Note to self – cannot do a 180 degree turn; it wasn’t invented yet!

23:34 – First encounter with a zombie; the one chowing down on Mr Bravo Team – note the severed head on the floor; this is a Director’s Cut inclusion that wasn’t included in the original game; surely this alone was worth the cost of re-releasing an entire game?? I quickly run back into dining room so uncle Barry B. can take care of him – ammo conservation is an important gameplay aspect in RE. How did it open the door anyway? It is the only zombie in the game that can do that. Jill: “It’s a monster” – it’s a zombie bitch!

23:47 – dogs through the windows! Classic, still gets a jump out of me. I like the smug look on Jill’s face revealed by the camera angle upon exiting the dog hall. And if there is no input in the controller for a few moments Jill does her best Sonic idle animation.

23:48 – ‘nothing useful’ is the caption when looking at the toilet. But I beg to differ Jill – just wait until the Hunters arrive; you’ll be finding that toilet very useful!

23:51 – I’m using Barry to bust the door open and get the shotgun early in the booby-trapped room. I may have nearly been a Jill sandwich Barry, but didn’t you say you were going back to the dining room? the plot thickens!

23:56 – picture room puzzle done. The bold man painting looks like one of the bad guys from Bad Taste. Anyway; Star Crest – yoink!

23:58 – shotgun? check. Lab coat zombie? check. One shot head pop? check!

00:01 – the zombie groans…they are great because they are too long and often overlap. No other game has better zombie sounds – most likely just recordings of Capcom employees after 3 days straight of coding!

00:02 – Barry: “Whoaaaa! This hall is dangerous!” if there is a worse line delivery in this game I haven’t heard it. Thanks for the acid rounds Barry! Who then continues to show off his enourmous…magnum. At this point I have to wonder if Jill suspects Barry has small penis syndrome.

00:04 – I take Forest’s bazooka! He won’t be needing that anymore! See you in the sequel Forest!

00:07 – bazooka makes short work of the zombies. This and the shotgun have a real visceral impact on the zombies – no other RE game captured the pure brutality of these weapons quite so well. I think this is due in part to the limitations at the time; you couldn’t have much detail on the models – so for impact you would just make the entire bodies/limbs explode in a shower of pixel blood. Lovely.

00:09 – this game still looks OK. The environments look a little plain but are well presented. Everything fits very well – obviously dated – but the atmosphere is still there.

00:12 – killing Audrey II in the fountain room. No more blood for you! And now my first mansion key – the armour key. This is the first opportunity to start mixing ‘erbs. When I was in my teens and played this game a few times, I started mixing many many herbs of all colours in the belief I would stumble upon a secret formula included by the developer to reward only the most dedicated players – this belief was false…

00:15 – ‘Keeper’s Diary’ room. Closet-case zombie attack! Nicely done. The diary is a nice touch, especially the part about not being allowed out of the complex by security; it really emphasises that these people were trapped. ‘Itchy itchy Scott came. Ugly face so killed him. Tasty. 4. Itchy. Tasty.’ Pure poetry.

00:19 – 2 clips courtesy of Kenneth – who is ‘now a shadow of his former self’. This is quite insightful Jill…

00:21 – together with the blue gem and emblem my inventory is now full. Time to go to the chest for what I suspect will be the first of many such trips…I stop off in the tiger room to retrieve the Wind Crest.

00:24 – I’m taking a calculated risk now by dropping all health items into the chest to free up as much space as possible…let’s hope this dosen’t come back to bite me in the…brains!

00:28 – a fine grand piano…let’s play some Moonlight Sonata to take my mind off the horrors of the living dead. Oh gosh – a secret door! Emblem switcharoo.

00:30 – second mansion key – shield key.

oo:35 – the knight room poison gas puzzle is completed without a hitch. This can be a tricky one if you don’t pay attention – if the statues do not cover the grates on the floor just right the gas will come out and you’ll have to exit the room to start again. Sun Crest is now mine!

00:38 – the captions that appear when you press the action button while standing in front of something interesting do three things. Insight into the character’s mindset. A hint. Describe the environment you are in. All enrich the game world and feeling of immersion.

00:40 – “you can’t carry any more items” gahhh – here we go again…I’m currently in the bookcase and fish tank shuffle puzzle room. I try to use some health to open up a slot “you don’t need to use this item at the moment”…back to save room…

00:44 – I use the lighter to ignite the fireplace and create the second floor map. It’s annoying that the lighter occupies an inventory slot for Jill, but not for Chris. Then again, Chris doesn’t have the lock pick, or the invaluable help of sidekick Barry. I wonder how many inventory slots a ‘Barry’ would take. Overall I admire the designers’ approach to this game; Chris is a harder game than Jill’s but it’s not because of something as typical as increasing the number of enemies or increasing the amount of ammo to kill them – as these aspects are the same for both Jill and Chris – it’s the inclusion of a support character for Jill, her lock pick and starting with a handgun that makes her stay in the Spencer Mansion a more leisurely one.

00:48 – I meet a half-eaten Richard in the hallway. Richard: “There are terrible demons. Ouch!”. ‘Ouch’ indeed Richard, half of you is missing…

00:52 – I come back to Richard with the serum….and watch as he dies! How inconsiderate of him. The first time you press the action button next to Richard’s body the caption ‘Richard is dead’ appears. Jill is no doubt inconsolable as she witnesses death after death of her beloved team members. The second time of pressing the action button, Jill callously rifles through Richard’s corpse to find ammo! I’m noticing a disturbing pattern with Jill and dead bodies. Her thought process is probably something along the lines of ‘better make sure they’re dead before taking all their stuff!”

00:58 – I take a trip down to the save room to get health and the bazooka. It’s snake time! I don’t like how you are unable to swap ammo types in the bazooka – once it’s in there you have to use all the ammo before you can replace it with a different type. This is something they corrected in later games.

01:01 – well that was easier than I remember it, 2 hits with acid rounds and the snake makes good his retreat. I didn’t get bit – guess there will be no Barry rescue when I leave here…I have the Moon Crest! Now I have all the crests I can go outside!

01:06 – In the passage way leading to the crest door I kill the dogs while practically blind. It’s a good job for auto aim – another feature added to the DC release. The trick is to shoot when you hear the growl, that’s when you know they are up on all fours and ready to attack. Overall I’m a fan of the camera system used in Resident Evil – in confined spaces with slow enemies it’s fine, and with cameras like these you genuinely do not know what will greet you around the next corner. The only time the camera system falls short in a RE game is when it’s focused too close to the player – yet you can hear enemies moving toward you from off-screen. This leaves you no choice but to fire blindly – and when the enemy is a dog or hunter, you may be missing the target completely as they move quicker than zombies. It’s a shame that the series has moved away from fixed camera angles. There seems to be a general consensus that fixed camera angles are a sign of the times – but I don’t agree with that. If first person and third person camera angles can be used freely in all modern games, then why are fixed camera angles any different? If they suit the pace and tone of the game then you have every right to use them.

01:10 – once outside you arrive at the pool/crank puzzle. I like this one. Eventually you have to fill the pool back up later to reveal the hidden entrance to the caves. It’s a great puzzle that makes use of map design. Watch out for falling snakes! What kind of trees were they creating in the Spencer Mansion??

01:13 – lots of dogs leading up to the guardhouse. They are among the trickier of enemies because of their agility. Best not to let them get a hold of you. Once inside the guardhouse I push the gargoyle over the hole to avoid being lassoed by Audrey II’s big brother – Plant 42!

01:18 – entering one of the rooms gives you one of the best music tracks in the game. A real ‘things are going to get weird’ piece of music. Pressing the action button next to the toilet presents the caption ‘nothing major’. I deduce from this that Jill has no doubt seen, and done, far worse! Unfortunately the camera angle prevents inquisitive players from viewing the contents of said toilet. I do not know which is worse, the fact that I compulsively check each toilet in the game, or that the designers knew this would be a focal point and so decided to add captions to all of them…

01:21 – I go through the double red doors – red generally means something bad is about to happen. I kill the first spider that falls from the ceiling with 2 acid rounds. The second spider takes me by surprise as the camera angle changes to reveal it running toward me with its front legs up in the air. Good job it didn’t attack right away – I nail it with one hit. The death animations are very choppy – almost like stop motion animation. I never got the snooker table puzzle when I played this game as a teen, I didn’t realise it related to the keypad door found elsewhere in the guardhouse until I played the remake on the GameCube.

01:25 – speaking of which – 3, 4, 5 unlocks the door. And as I lean over to write this note on my laptop the hornets come out of nowhere! I nearly soil myself!

01:29 – fuck. Just picked up 4 empty bottles – but haven’t read the report about V-Jolt so can’t actually make it yet…and now that my inventory is full I can’t pick up the key next to the hornets nest…back to save room!

01:35 – ‘there’s a ladder – will you descend it?’ I like how the game asks you whether you want to go further – most of the time you press the action button on a door and you go through with no prompting. A question like this makes you wonder; ‘why is the game asking me this? What horrors am I about to witness?!’ That horror turns out to be a very lame box pushing ‘puzzle’. Although this does lead into the shark room and it is genuinely tense trying to run away from a shark when waist-deep in water. The roots for Plant 42 are down here too.

01:45 – here we go – V-Jolt report. Completely optional to do it – probably wastes about 5 mins. but I like to do it…mixing the chemicals according to the mathematical equation is actually quite fun!

01:56 – Plant 42 is now a purple smudge on the floor. I took 1 hit from its tentacle. No Barry to the rescue though. Helmet key is now in my possession, it’s time to head back to the mansion.

01:58 – Wesker is getting in some shooting practice. He takes this opportunity to plant seeds of doubt regarding Barry. Obviously we know Wesker is a scoundrel, but I would have liked to have known what my thoughts were when I originally played this game (as I can’t remember). Who knows – I might have thought Wesker was the good guy and Barry the bearded evildoer!

02:02 – all that time not using the shotgun has paid off – 56 rounds accumulated. Time to start using it now that the hunters will be out when I get back to the mansion.

02:06 – first hunter down. I then get the medal from the doom book. I like the ‘check’ option on the inventory screen – it can be used on any item to reveal more about it – and in this case it is used as a mini puzzle.

02:09 – second hunter down. 3 shots like the first. Oh, and Barry has left me some bullets in the back room. Thanks again Barry, but I don’t put out that easily! Or do I?

02:13 – 2 more hunters. The second one got a few swipes in – they are such an awkward enemy to deal with.

02:17 – very, very close second encounter with the snake – my health went down to danger status. Honestly thought I was going to get gobbled here – 5x flame rounds and about 10 shotgun blasts to take it down. Ahh, its Barry. And he’s dropped the soap..sorry, rope.

02:25 – first of the MO disks. Essential if you want the happy ending.

02:30 – I stand corrected – there are 2 zombies that can open doors in RE – the one that comes down the stairs into the kitchen also has this unique ability.

02:32 – a run in with 2 hunters…had to run away…no health…in corridor leading to tiger room. I know that one pops out here. Can I avoid it??

Aaaaaaaand no I can’t! ‘You are dead’ the game tells me as it whisks me mercilessly to the start menu. My timing was all wrong; I shot it once to knock it down, but shot too early the second time, during its ‘getting up’ animation and allowed it to come in for a jumping swipe while Jill’s recoil animation was still ongoing. At least it didn’t decapitate me…though this really is not comforting in any way.

On the one hand I’m gutted – this is the second time in my life that this has happened at this exact point in the game. On the other – relieved – I have to get up for work in 5 hours…

But let me summarise what makes this game the king of ‘survival horror.’ Calculated risks, inventory management, ammo conservation, a genuine sense of exploration, rich atmosphere, diverse enemies thoughtfully introduced, imaginative puzzles (excluding the box pushing) and minimal interference from NPCs (you can go an hour or more without seeing anyone – which is refreshing when compared to today’s games).

Resident Evil is the stuff of legend.

I’ve enjoyed our time together old friend, but now it is time to move on.