44. Resident Evil
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 4
It’s a bit odd that you don’t get more remakes of games. Unlike Hollywood’s love of redoing a film every twenty years, remaking a game often makes sense – the developer can programme stuff that they couldn’t do originally thanks to technology constraints, and quite often the original game will be hard to find or even get running on appropriate hardware. And yet it rarely happens. But here’s a time when someone did bother to give a classic a makeover. Resident Evil defined and popularised (and, indeed, named) survival horror in 1996 on the PlayStation, Saturn and PC, but six years is a long time in gaming. So when Capcom agreed to make Nintendo’s GameCube console the new home of their series, and set about porting over all the old games, they decided that the first one should be thoroughly renovated from top to bottom.
(To be honest, they probably should’ve done that with 2 and 3 as well, but this is Capcom, who take the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra a bit too literally, we’re talking about here.)
So the classic tale of S.T.A.R.S.’ foray into the bio-terror nightmare of the Arklay Mansion was completely redone. Out went the basic polygons, flat backgrounds and legendarily terrible voice acting in favour of utterly gorgeous graphics and not-quite-as-bad voice acting. Things were changed. The famous dog-through-the-window scare, brilliantly, was altered so that the dogs only damaged the window the first time you went through the corridor, breaking through the second time you ventured down there. The revelation that team captain turned series villain, Albert Wesker, survived his apparent death was worked on to make it clearer. Zombies, the franchise’s mainstay, were changed so that if you didn’t destroy their head or burn them, they’d eventually revive as the much tougher Crimson Heads. Most startling of all, a major new enemy – the invincible, shuffling, groaning, clanking, terrifying, piteous Lisa Trevor – was added in to extend the game and swap around scenes. The result is a game that comes close to Eternal Darkness in the scary stakes and shows just how good a remake can be if you do it right.
MAGIC MOMENT: the first time you come across a Crimson Head – the game hints at their existence, but doesn’t make it explicit, so when a zombie you killed ages ago suddenly lurches up and runs at you, you will be forgiven for whimpering like a tiny child.