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Resident Evil, known as Biohazard in Japan, is the first in the series of “survival horror” third-person action games that has since become one of the biggest game series in the world. The game offers control of one of two characters, each offering different narratives and scenarios, and consists of unravelling, though mainly surviving, the strange mansion that you become trapped in. For the most part, the game consists of “traditional” zombies; slow, weak and without thought; unlike similarly designed horror titles like Silent Hill that adopt more supernatural elements. The game has seen multiple versions released and has been portrayed in several ways, like a remake or an on-rails shooting game.
While released to mixed reviews initially, the game was commercially a huge success and spawned many sequels.
When several people go missing and others are found dead, the S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics and Rescue Squad) Bravo team are sent to the Arklay Mountains on the outskirts of Raccoon City to investigate. Something goes terribly wrong with the team's helicopter and another unit of S.T.A.R.S, Alpha, are sent in to search for the missing Bravo members and to investigate the recent murders that have occurred in the area. Confronted by zombies, crows, hunters and other beasts unimaginable, this is where the terror begins.
The game oversees either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, both of S.T.A.R.S Alpha team, attempting to survive the horrors a strange mansion. Each character has different stories playable (though only one is canon) with a different supporting cast between them. Not only this, but the player is offered several choices which affect how the game ends and who survives. Barry Burton is Jill Valentine's main supporting cast member, also a member of Alpha team, whereas Chris Redfield is accompanied by Bravo team rookie Rebecca Chambers.
While the most common enemies the protagonists face are “Romero” zombies, which prowl most hallways and though slow, can be hard to avoid, they also encounter the likes of zombie dogs – Cerberus – which is the initial reason the team become trapped within the mansion, as well as more experimental creatures like Hunters and Chimeras. In the Gamecube remake of the title, Crimson Heads were also introduced, which were enhanced zombies than had evolved after being killed. Normal zombies are efficiently killed by destroyed their brain or severing their neck, whereas the other creatures boast different weaknesses.
The early Resident Evil titles had very distinct features that singled it out from most games and of which the series (or individual titles) have become known for. The most significant of these is the fixed camera angles (which have since been dropped in later titles.) While the playable characters, allies and enemies are all 3D polygons, the environment is all in fact pre-rendered bitmap imagery. Because of this, each area has fixed, limited camera shots which can provide incredibly frustrating when attempting to tackle enemies who can not be seen on the current camera, most likely due to corners in the hallway which are frequent in a mansion. Whether it was unintentional or not, it is claimed that this harsh view-point exists to enhance the terror of not knowing what is coming
Another noticeable trademark is “tank-like” control scheme. Rather than allowing the player to move in any direction they point in, you can only move forwards in the direction you are looking, or backwards in the opposite direction, through use of up and down. The left and right d-pad buttons exist to allow the player to turn. This means, in this title especially, if you are approached by an enemy that you are not facing, you can not quickly react and are forced to attempt to slowly target the enemy or flee.
One gameplay mechanic that still exists in the series is the inability to fire whilst moving; to shoot your gun, you are forced to stand still and then raise your sights. In this stance, the d-pad still controls where you look but more importantly the up and down buttons instead control the leverage of your gun, for situations like when you are attacked by dogs if you want to headshot an enemy.
As well as these, the game is also known for its intricate item management. The player has to cope with extremely limited item space, and encounters many items that can either used together (for instance, red and green herbs) or are integral to a puzzle. Puzzles are a recurring game element, and thus evaluating the necessity of items and only carrying the eseentials becomes a required skill. To aid the player, several item boxes lace the mansion but these are also limited in size.
To save the game, the player is forced to find one of the few typewriters in the mansion. While these are save points entirely, you can only save if you have an ink ribbon to use on it, which are used and depleted in one save. This means that frequent saving is not a possibility and players have to think carefully about when they want to.
A final distinguishable feature, which only occurs in this title, is the use of low-budget live-action footage at the beginning and end of the game, reminiscent of a horror B-movie. Despite their intention to make it similar to horror film, the majority of footage was in-fact cut for Western audiences because the original cut-scenes were considered too full of gore.
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The game was also remade for the Nintendo DS with a few new extras included which used the two screens, it is known as Resident Evil: Deadly Silence.
The game was remastered for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC, on the 20th of January 2015.