It`s a hard life being part of an Elite fighting squad. Not only have a fellow team disappeared in mysterious circumstances, but you`ve been sent in to find them and only minutes after arriving, half your team are dead and your Helicopter pilot has gone and left you behind. Shit.
One of your Elite fighting buddies then has the bright idea of `taking shelter in that old mansion over there`, and with those horror-movie-cliche words Resident Evil begins.
If you took any notice of all the hype when this game was released on the Playstation about a year ago then you`ll know what it`s all about, if not let me explain. The game is similar to the Alone in the Dark series and has certain similarities to Tomb raider aswell. You can choose to be either Steve or Jill and your polygonised character has to explore this creepy `Scooby Doo` style mansion to find out what really did happen to the missing members of Bravo team. Unfortunately this mansion doesn`t play host to some embittered old Caretaker who dresses up rather unconvincingly as a ghost. Oh no, this place is full of flesh eating Zombies who all seem to have been trained at the Mike Tyson school of self defence judging by their keeness to munch on your face given half a chance.
The main element of the gameplay is puzzle solving. Half the doors in the mansion are locked and finding the keys to open them is not easy. Usually, you have to locate a couple of objects and either take them somewhere or use them on something, you know the type of thing. You can get round a sizeable amount of the house without solving any puzzles at first, which allows you to get in to the game somewhat without getting bored too quickly and getting stuck. Thankfully, it`s also quite different depending on which character you choose to play as. Choosing Jill, for example, cuts out some of the more difficult puzzles and makes for an easier game. Well, she is a girl after all. It has to be said though, that the pace of the game is somewhat slow, and it isn`t helped by the loading times experienced every time you go through a door. This would be a problem if it wasn`t for the tense atmosphere Capcom have managed to create with the clever use of music and sound effects and the ever-present threat of joining the ranks of the undead every time you find your way in to another unexplored area. But if you`re the type of player who likes his gaming thrills to come thick and fast then you might want to look elsewhere. The plot is helped along with occasional cut-scenes and in true videogame tradtion they feature dodgy voice over actors who make Jean Claude Van-Damme look like an Oscar nominee. Unfortunately, there`s no way of skipping them either. As you progress through the game it becomes clear that something far more sinister is going on and you soon encounter some bizarre genetic mutations that require some real firepower to dispose of. Finding the bigger weapons and keeping them topped up with ammo therefore becomes imperative.
As for the quality of the conversion, everything from the original is here. The pre-rendered back drops all look luscious and there are only very small borders on the PAL version. There`s a nice new feature aswell for Saturn owners. When the game is completed a new `Battlemode` option becomes available that allows you to tool up your character with a selection of weapons and ammo before embarking on an all out orgy of mass killing and blood-shed against your genetically-mutated foes. A welcome feature that actually gives the game some amount of replay value.
I suppose the big question will always be `is it better than Tomb Raider?` Personally, I don`t think so, but if you found Core`s game slightly lacking in the `action` department, then you`d probably prefer Resident Evil instead. Either way, if you`re looking for a game that has a bit of atmosphere for a change, you can`t get much better than this.