Saturday, October 14, 2023

Resident Evil: Intro

A game which shouldn't really need any introduction. I've never actually played the PSX version of this before. I've played the GCN remake a lot and I've played the DS port/remake exclusively while in the mode closest to the original, but never the PSX version before now. I don't have as much of an interesting perspective on this as I'd like, but judging by some research I've done about this, it seems that I may not be treading over the same old, same old as I think.

There's a short company logo and a short intro showing something getting a guy who looks like Chris, then the title.

After selecting a new game, no options on the main menu, I can select my character. Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield. Jill is easier, so I'll pick her. Jill gets two more inventory slots, with a total of 8, very vital, interactions with friendlies which give her more stuff earlier and or just an easier time. Chris has more health, is faster, only starts off with a knife, though he gets a gun soon enough, and can be healed more and may have an easier time with a few puzzles. If I have the time, I'll try to play through the game as Chris too.

And we get a FMV. (linking because blogger's youtube search is being awful) This is actually a pretty thorough topic of discussion on the internet. The cut or uncut version of it, the original American release had a cut version, no idea if the one I linked is the cut version I'm seeing. Who was in it, since, all of this was made in Japan, and that meant they had to get people who looked American who lived in Japan at the time. Not bad for a 5 minute live-action cutscene in a video game, most usually get mocked and ignored. Not that this one is good by any means, it's very obviously bad.

The story is, in 1998, bizarre deaths have been occurring in Raccoon City, a town located somewhere in America, implied to be the Midwest, but something that is impossible in our own world thanks to the also nearby location of the Arklay Mountains. Raccoon City has STARS, Special Tactics and Rescue Service, not quite SWAT, who are called in to investigate. The hideout of the killers was found, and Brave Team was sent to investigate. Somehow, their helicopter crashed, and now Alpha Team has to find them and the cannibal killers.

Somehow this is the goofiest part in a cinematic where everyone barely knows how to act.

They find the helicopter, and find it full of equipment but no people. The answer is soon found, Joseph Frost finds a severed hand holding a gun. Wait, really? I always thought that guy was in Bravo Team. And then the creature that severed it., I think, kills Joseph, and the rest flee to a nearby mansion. And...

...we get character introductions. Wow, Chris has some serious hair, I wasn't aware that kind of 'do was even possible. The announcer they got is pretty cool, but the actual actors just come off as bad when they speak. Really bad. They look fine, if extraordinarily cheesy, but those voices are pure cringe. I hope they have different ones in the actual game. I also hope that the uncensored version is makes sense, because the intro in this version was really badly edited, if it weren't for the sound effects, you couldn't tell Joseph was killed at all.

Nope, they're still bad. Here we have the characters that we'll be seeing for most of the game. The blonde guy is Captain Albert Wesker, the leader and the guy who is constantly going off for his own reasons. The other guy is Barry Burton, the only person with a realistic age for his character as a special police officer, and then we have Jill, the PC. She's an ex-Delta Force soldier despite being in her early twenties. Not pictured, Rebecca Chambers, who is 18, and canonically survives this game despite never appearing if you play as Jill. Chris got left outside, Jill wants to go back out, but Wesker wisely designs not to have another fight with the dogs. A gunshot goes off, and Wesker says that might be Chris. Jill says she'll go, Barry decides to go with her while Wesker just stays in the lobby.

There's the door sequence, as done in Sweet Home and Doctor Hauzer. I note that there's a cinematic quality to the game, but thanks to the poor quality voice acting and never getting a close look at the character's faces, it's not a very good one. I'm guessing this is a sneaky way of hiding low quality models. Which would be interesting to note if it were true even for the time. After entering, Barry tells me it's the dining room, guess he's interested in stealing my job as captain obvious.

The first thing I do once I get control is check the menus. Just an inventory screen. Just what I wanted. No control options, no audio options, and no subtitles. I dig the map screen though, and the picture of Jill's actress. The controls are weird. Square runs and cancels. I had to triple check that I didn't accidentally bind my gamepad wrong, no, it really does cancel. X uses and confirms options. R1 puts you into an attacking stance, where you can aim, up and down for benefit sometimes, and X then shoots. That's basically it, outside of the D-pad moving. This makes Alone in the Dark feel like a complex game. I was expecting more. There's no autoaim, though I was aware of that, and no quick turning, which is more of a problem.

Anyway, I have a knife, a gun and a first aid spray to start with. The first aid spray heals you completely. Unlike a lot of games, you get no indication of your full health, just a general indication. The knife is your melee option, a last desperate option as I'll explain in a moment, and the gun is weak but safe. You can examine and combine items in addition to using them. Examination allows you to look all around a 3d model, it's pretty cool and if my memory is correct it factors into some puzzles.

There's some debate regarding the art of this game and it's 2002 remake, with some thinking that this is superior and others thinking that the more rundown look of the remake is better. For my money, since this mansion is supposed to be lived in, this looks better in terms of art direction, while the actual backgrounds look off. They're obviously pre-generated in such a way as to make it look overly plastic. The models have a nice look to them from afar at least. You can examine a lot of things, but what descriptions you get are so obvious as to be useless. This is the sort of era where if you're going to do that you really need to write something of substance.

"What, what is this?", "WHAT IS IT?", "Blood. Jill, see if you can find any other clues. I'll be examining this, I hope it's not Chris's blood." See what I mean? It makes sense for there to be some confusion upon seeing some blood, but it just feels goofy, and then obvious.

Well, all the doors in this hallway are locked and I don't have a lockpick. Wonder what's over here. You actually have to get up really close to trigger the cutscene.

Side note, this begins a common trend for zombies in video games to use wall/industrial textures for skin, I believe this is stone. Left 4 Dead originally intended to use a more realistic skin disease type of thing, but went to the old standard because the artists were too grossed out.

Oh, zombie. This shot, as you may know, is one of the most homaged shots in video gaming history, to the point that it's been referenced outside of the medium. Allegedly, it's a reference to the Man enemy from Sweet Home, which I didn't take a screenshot of at the time, but whenever he first attacks he faces the player. I'm not entirely sure that's accurate, I've seen a comparison of a part from Hell of the Living Dead (also known as many other names) where a woman zombie does a similar turn, and this is a series which seems to be written by people with a deep appreciation for zombie films. I'm no expert, I'm sure someone somewhere has better comparison than I'll be making, but I'll mention them as I see them.

Now, combat. In contrast to previous survival horror games, melee is a good way to get yourself killed. No pulling a Carnby and punching a zombie to death, knifing them doesn't even slow them down. I gave a quick test of knifing this guy as Chris and swiftly died, though you get a surprising amount of leeway when it comes to this. Running away works if you have the space, and you get some decent range between knifing the zombie and him biting into you. This doesn't feel that unreasonable to learn. The problem is with turning, you can't do it swiftly. Neither can the enemies, but exploiting this can be tricky thanks to the camera angles. I just really want a sidestepping ability here.

You could always, of course shoot him. Aiming in this game is loads better than Alone in the Dark. Two points, try not to aim at someone off-screen. At this stage I think the game might genuinely not register shots taken at enemies who are in the room but off-screen. They seem to load in magically, not like they're off-screen somewhere. I think I only missed once, which is in quite a stark contrast to Alone in the Dark where my accuracy could be described as awful. No idea if this game is generous in comparison to that game or if the point the player is aiming from is easier to detect.

Even with high caliber weapons like Barry's, this game avoids having one bullet to the head=death so many zombie films have.

Something that is also an option, you can run away to Barry. Jill will say some monster killed Kenneth, before it bursts in and Barry shoots its head off. This actually happens no matter what, and the zombie in this room dies no matter what. Meaning a wise player would walk in, walk out, to save ammo or time knifing. The two wonder what it is, before Jill says they should report it to Wesker.

Once they arrive, Wesker is gone. The player has to walk under the stairs, I forget if upstairs is an option in this version, and then the two talk about their plan to find him. Barry is going to go back into the dining room, Jill is to go through the door on the opposite side. Barry also gives a lockpick to Jill, the master of unlocking. Despite the game's insistence, Barry isn't in the Dining Room, he just disappears, and I need to pick up some ammo from Kenneth's corpse. Jill only starts with a full mag, 15 shots, while Kenny has two mags on his corpse. There's also an ink ribbon next to a typewriter in the lobby. Yeah, that dreaded mechanic, save points, and you need a limited supply of ink ribbons to save. I do note that I am on some occasions using save states, not to give myself an advantage, but to avoid having to redo sequences in which I am in no danger, such as restarting the fight with this zombie without seeing the intro cutscenes a half dozen times.
Usually the player in this game has worse visibility than the PC, it's nice that the game changes it up occasionally.
Still, I'll follow what the game "wants" me to do as much as possible. East is an art room, which has two moveable blocks, one you can step up on, and another blocking a room. You use the one you step on to reach the top of a sculpture containing a map of the first floor. I sort of already know the layout, but it's nice to have it anyway. The hidden room contains a zombie, pretending to be dead on the floor. Approach it and you get bit. He's guarding an ink ribbon, so you have to decide if the 5 bullets is worth 2 saves.
It's unclear if Resident Evil originates the zombie dog idea, Cujo and Pet Semetary are possible sources, but those are more demons than zombies; Return of the Living Dead and Reanimator have some zombified animals, but those films are weird when it comes to zombie "canon".
Then there's this room. This hallway is another infamous room. As you walk by, dogs jump in from the window, and unlike the regular zombies, zombie dogs run. This means you either run through this room in a panic or you try in vain to fight them the first time. I expected it, but I also know that I need to be in this room again. There are some moveable boxes here, but all that gets me is another mag. Still, up 2 shots.
Very anime-esque, not what I was expecting at all.

The next hallway has a locked door that can't be opened with the lockpick, and it has an armor emblem on it. A hint later that we'll find such a key, along with a key with a helmet on it, and one with a shield on it. The first room you can open is a bathroom, which apparently lacks anything of value. It's also designed so there are several blind corners on it, in which you haven't a clue as to whether or not there's a zombie there. Thankfully, there isn't.

Then we have the shotgun room. You go into a strange crushing room, then into a nice lounge. There's a shotgun on the wall, which, when you take, raises the two hangers it's hung on. Walk out, and the ceiling descends. This is part of why Jill is easier. You walk back and forth between the now locked doors, until a cutscene happens. Barry comes out of the void he entered, and appears outside the door. After some talking, he kicks the door down and saves Jill. The two talk, naturally we get the "you almost became a Jill sandwich" line and now I have a shotgun. Jill asks Barry why he's on this side, and apparently he just had something to check, before he goes off to continue looking for the Captain and Chris.

The next hallway has two zombies. Not a problem in of itself, just that it costs me nearly an entire magazine. At first I think I've wasted it this early, as the only open door is one I think leads to the guardhouse, but nope, there's one, with another zombie, leading to the first save room. There is no save music in this game, unfortunately, so all I get is a chemical and some more bullets, two more mags worth. (and a green herb outside, but more on that later) I put away the shotgun, I've saving that for later. But from here there are stairs upwards.

Cursed conga line.

I knew there was a zombie up here, but I didn't remember there were two zombies. Curiously, one pukes what is presumably acid onto no one. I run past them, screwing myself over later. To another hallway with a zombie in it. As annoying as it is, it makes sense. Zombies would naturally be drawn to places people walked between. I escape him too, to a library.

This game inspires paranoia with it's camera angles. Okay, why is the camera pointed this way, something important?

No zombies in here, but I'm still preparing for some. I find a very suspicious placed book, about the series' herbs. Despite the common jokes about how these are "recreational herbs", they're actually based on Japanese concepts of medicinal herbs. There are green herbs, which increase health by a small amount, blue herbs, which heal poison, and red herbs, which when combined with green herbs heal your health fully. Three greens also make a full, and you can combine any three together, outside of two greens and a red. That door leads back to the hallway with the two zombies. I discover, as I walk through there, that zombie positions reset, I assumed they were persistent. Also, if you're on a different elevation level than a zombie, he can't reach you. And you can't shoot him. Which causes me to lose some ammo. Well, I can reload from the save room now.

That's pretty much how the strategy for this game works, figure things out from your last save, go through the area with a minimum of losses, then save once you've made significant progress. A cursory exploration of the upstairs area reveals I only have the book room and a path back to the hallway unlocked, otherwise it's all locked doors, and zombies. No point in taking them out yet. Back through the downstairs hallway. I expect more dogs to jump in, but I guess that only happens once.

Back in the central hallway, Jill meets Berry. There's not really anything that tells you to do this, it just automatically happens. Neither have found any clues. Barry says the hall is dangerous and they should find an escape route, maybe a back door. He also gives Jill a deadly weapon, one that's very lethal to living things. They're acid rounds for a grenade launcher. This dialog, as bizarre as it is, is a subtle clue that acid is better against targets that aren't shambling corpses. The voices just have such an odd way of placing emphasis, like a comic book where all the emphasis is wrong. The lower east side is more or less explored until I can find some keys, so I'm going to get the grenade launcher now.

Upstairs in it's own little cut off spot is the grenade launcher, or as it's known in this game, the bazooka. One member of the team, Forest, is lying dead, pecked to dead by crows, by his side the grenade launcher. Examine him, and oop, here come the crows. Creepy set-up, kind of lame enemy, as I don't need to enter this room again, I can just run out without getting hit once.

Maybe this time I'll find a book that tells me how to make a gin and tonic.

There's actually not a lot I can do on the west side of the map right now either. Downstairs only one room is open to me, this bar/piano room. Nice looking, but not a lot to do. In a small corner I find a moveable cabinet in front of a bookcase. Moving it just reveals a part of the bookcase with an item on it, the "music notes" to Moonlight Sonata. Naturally, one uses this on the piano.

This opens a little side niche containing some plants behind glass, can't reach them, and a bust over a golden emblem. Take out the emblem, and the door closes behind you. What you do is go back to the dining room with blood, or in my case going back to the item chest to drop off the grenade launcher and ammo, take the other emblem, then take the gold emblem, and exchange the places the two were in. This causes the clock in the dining room to bellow out some very fake sounding chimes and an item is revealed. The Shield key. Which is unfortunate, because I don't remember any doors that open to this key. Time to go to through the west on the upper floor.

Hey, what I think until I spot the other one. This is going to be annoying, I have to kill one of these guys at least, there's a statue here and an open part of the balcony. Even if I didn't have some idea of how this game plays, I would still know I have to do that here. This isn't even getting into the issue of how the heck I'm going to get past them. I put a plan into motion, take out the one on the side of the other door, then get the other away from the statue. It works, the statue is broken and I have a clear and de facto safe path through the upper part of the dining room.

This is a tricky path to go through. The game for the entire time has been using camera angles which are clearly intended to give you huge blind spots. Until now, there haven't been any zombies in blind spots. Now...I can hear him. Or the two of them. The first zombie I could have managed to dodge, I think, if I knew in advance, he has a puke attack and that's really hard for enemies to aim at me. The other zombie puts a stop to any running around. This, leads to a stairs down and two locked doors, one helmet and one that wants a passcode, I have neither.

Downstairs also has two zombies, and in a panic I rush into a nearby room. Another save room, this one has the save room theme, but it's not that great a rendition of it. There are serums in a cabinet I can't take and another ink ribbon on a bed, giving me three saves. (I haven't saved since the first time I reached the save room, and I didn't take the ribbon the zombie was guarding) Well, now seems like a good time to save. I'll do one of two things, knife these zombies to death, or, if I can do so without injury, just run past them.

I can run past them, including a third one I didn't see. Think there's enough zombies in that room, guys? There's a locked door here, but I should be able to get in and out assuming I go in through this side as opposed to upstairs. The next hallway has another zombie straight off, this guy's no problem, it's a wide-open space. I go past him into a long section of hallway leading to a plant room. Kind of, after checking the map, it's the place I saw from the secret room in the bar. There's a fountain which is watering some kind of tentacle plant, it doesn't noticeably hurt me, but I can't pass it. Since there's a pump here that's open, and I have a bag of mysterious chemicals, there's a pretty obvious course of action here.

The chemicals kill the plant, and now I can see what it was guarding. At first I think it's only herbs, but then I spot something against the glass wall, another key. The armor key. I didn't expect to get through this mansion so fast. This is easier than I expected. From the second hallway, I can get back to the hallway the first zombie was in, I just need to go around the same zombie again, just as easily. There's a second zombie, but just positioned so you can walk past him from either direction. I'm going to have to kill him if I want to see what he's guarding though.

Opposite him is a bedroom. I find a magazine on a bed, but there's nothing worth looking at on a shelf or a mantel. In what seems to be a small slice of the room, I go through a tiny gap between the wall and the bed and get greeted with this. I may have played this before, but something is so obviously going to pop out of this closet that one suspects that the game is being so blatant about it because they put something there. So I walk over, nothing happens, I go to the note on the desk, and out pops the zombie. I just get him before he attacks. What's in the closet? Shotgun shells, an acceptable substitute for bullets.

It sounds like a lovely creature.

The note is the famous Keeper's diary, telling us this, how some of the staff are scumbags who cheat at cards, and how containment failed at this high security lab. Well, we didn't know it was a lab before now. I think this is the first time in the game a note has actually explained the story. The diary continues with how the keeper keeps becoming more infected and how worse he treats the dogs, until his writing degenerates. Itchy, tasty. Sometimes the writing of this game really excels. This actually tops off my inventory for now, so I take a journey back to the eastern save room. Which means checking the eastern side afterwards for what doors I can now open.

Some of these things you can see really well in motion you just can't in pictures.
Outside. Ah. I see the game is pretenderizing the meat by showing a dog outside the gate. I'm doing that very well on my own, game, outside is practically guaranteed to have some zombie dogs somewhere...and it's just herbs. Using up bullets to get herbs at this point is absurd. There's even one in the hallway outside this room that I didn't notice until just now. That was useful for future knowledge, but thankfully the armor key opens up that final door in the lobby.
This kind of zombie first showed up in one of the very first scenes of Dawn of the Dead.

Seemingly innocent at first. Just another magazine and some nice background stuff. But checking the map, I find that part of the room is hidden by the camera angle. Thanks, game. There's a zombie on the other side, which should be able to see me as I enter the room, but only does so after I get past the wall. Still, I rush past him, perhaps unwisely, to another room. This one has a crawling zombie. There's a door I can't yet open, some more herbs and most importantly, an ink ribbon. The zombie here is no trouble at all, and it turns out I can run back fast enough to get out before I'm in any danger from the other zombie either.

I'm going to have to start taking out some zombies now. Right, I can make it past one of the two zombies upstairs of the east save room, so let's take out the other. Unfortunately, this is the one time a zombie becomes alert when you aren't directly in it's line of sight, so I have just enough time to take one out and book it before I'm attacked from behind.

Despite the seeming importance in this shot, the deer head has no purpose in this game.

This proves to be a smart choice in the long term, but bad choice in the short. A zombie pops in through the door I entered, which is actually the one I didn't kill the first time. I take him out, but Jill gets bit for once. The items will no doubt be more useful later, I find a lighter in one room, in addition to a spare red herb, a magazine an ink ribbon and some grenade rounds. I also find a note, detailing a research's last will and testament. He talks about how he couldn't even talk to his girlfriend, because of "that guy in the sunglasses", how the virus they were studying here escaped, and he decides to have a peaceful death.

Those grenade rounds are a bit tricky to get, because you have to open a cabinet behind a bookcase, and to move that enough you need to move an aquarium. First you have to drain the water using a switch on the wall. It's not clear right away what you have to do, so I blocked off one side of the aquarium with the bookcase. It's a good thing the game resets the room when you reenter it, or I'd never get it.

I'm going to end here for now, next time, things are going to get a little less lonely.

This Session: 3 hours 30 minutes


  1. I've been waiting on this one, thanks. Any chance of more Map/Inventory screenshots for future instalments? I'm a big Dumb-Dumb and couldn't always tell where you were in the Mansion just from the descriptions.

    1. Yeah, I'll do that, starting with the third entry. I'm so used to having to describe games that don't have a map that it completely slipped my mind that I could use it as an aid with one that does.

    2. Hey, thanks a lot! It was a great read either way.