Remembering my evil past...
It all started in 1996 when I was glancing down the aisles of my local blockbuster at the rather small selection of playstation games available at the time. At my young age this was my equivalent of the Elysian Fields. I walked down the aisle in an excited manner viewing the various titles available on the rental shelves. I eventually walked passed and saw a box on the bottom shelf that caught my attention and caused me to stop and stare. The long box depicted a man with great fear in his eyes. The man posed in a defensive stance with a typical action star build holding a large shotgun close to his chest standing in what seemed like a nightmarish camouflage composed of demonic faces and giant spiders. At the top of the box in all bold letters that were red in color with a white outline spelt out the title RESIDENT EVIL.
Unfortunate for me this was not the weekend I rented the game. I waited feverishly for the current week to pass and for the upcoming weekend to arrive so that I could ask my parents to allow me to rent the game. Seeing as I was around ten years old at the time I had to have my parents approve and luckily for me they did. They took me to blockbuster that weekend and I stormed through the store and over to the aisle in which the game sat on the shelf waiting for me to obtain. Needless to say I grabbed it with great excitement.
I stormed through the front door of my house and ran to my room with great purpose. I tore the game out of the case like it was my first present on Christmas day. I placed the game in the playstation and closed the lid. After the various startup splash screens I finally was able to get to the selection screen. When I started a new game I was haunted by the sound of an evil voice narrating the title of the game. I was then greeted by a black screen with the date 1998 JULY on my screen followed by the eerie sound of a type writer spelling out Raccoon Forest. It then faded to a man narrating the situation at hand as well as the view of clouds over mountain tops as the camera shifted as it were being filmed from a helicopter. Explaining through narration a voice states they are on mission to locate the Alpha teams helicopter that went missing during the operation.
After further explanation of the events that were the cause of concern that spawned the mission I witnessed something I have not seem before in any video game. A live action sequence of a group of individuals running through the grass in a dark field with fog lingering from the ground. The same group is then shown standing in front of the helicopters wreckage. Then in the very next frame a demonic looking dog was shown breathing oddly with open wounds on its face. A team member then picked up a hand gun from the ground not expecting a human hand to still be holding it. The man was then attacked by a vicious dog and brutally killed with violent sounds of pain. A member of the team then screams, Joseph.
The whole group then opened fire frantically at the gang of violent dogs. Unfortunately for the group the helicopter that brought them here took off during the shootout. The group was then forced to take cover in what seemed to be a large mansion. You were then greeted by a black screen with the text, They escaped into the mansion where they thought it was safe. Yet. Then through an aerial shot you see the group enter the mansion. After various dialog between the individuals a gunshot echoes through the mansion. You then run towards a door that displays on the screen in full as it slowly opens. After the game loads you are in a large dining room that is being filled with the sound of a large grandfather clock. After you explore this room you enter the next door and this is where the real nightmare begins. You turn around a bend in a hallway and greeted by a FMV video of a zombie feasting on one of the Alpha teams members. You can either choose to kill the zombie or leave it for it only to burst through the door and be destroyed by a very well placed bullet to its cranium.
At this time after everything I just witnessed I was so absorbed in this games universe time was standing still. I found myself gripping the control tightly in anticipation of the great desire to see what would happen next. The sense of urgency to make each shot fired count and the fear of running out of ammo and health replenishing items was enough to drive you mad. The thrill of exploring the mansion and uncovering what lurks behind every door fueled me as I continued to explore the mansion. Solving my first puzzle was something to consider elementary as I entered the room I was shown through camera placement a rolled up piece of paper resting in a sculptures bowl. I then noticed an oddly placed stepping ladder which I pushed up to the sculpture and then withdrew the map from its bowl.
Arriving at the next door I picked it with the lock pick and walked through into a hallway. My nerves were calm at this point. As I walked past one of the windows a dog came smashing through breaking the glass and changing the musical score. At this moment I was so petrified and panicked I literally jumped and frantically hit start to pause the game. No time prior to this have I been so scared by a video game. Thinking to myself that the game only started I found myself compelled to calm down and continue playing. Needless to say this was only one of the many moments in the game that truly amazed me. I cannot stress enough that at the time I played this game there was nothing around even comparable that I was witnessing.
From the various encounters with those unforgettable pixilated zombies to the puzzles you solve along the way this game was truly an innovator in the survival horror genre. The character development bestowed before my eyes was nothing short of remarkable to me at the time. Prior to playing this game I was never so involved in a fictional story until now. Do not get me wrong by this time I had experienced many great stores such as James Camerons Terminator series before Hollywood ruined it and other various titles such as Robocop, so I was well acquainted with a great piece of writing at the time. Sure I have played prior games that were great but none as atmospheric as this. Between the true sense of isolation and fear to the underlying musical score that sets the tempo for your journey through the mansion nothing came close at the time.
Through every door I now entered I found myself being pulled through a spiral of mixed emotions. As the story progressed and character motives were revealed and more enemies encountered the rise in tension grew. I was no longer a ten year old boy playing a video game. Through atmosphere, story, mystery, and various other tools used by the creators I was now the main character. I now progressed through the game feeling the sensations that the main character surely would have felt if this have been reality. I found myself craving answers to the issues at hand. Reading over every piece of documentation I discovered in game I religiously trying to piece together the puzzle of events that spawned this evil I was witnessing within the walls of this mansion. With so many questions and a lack of answers this was the perfect formula to compel me to complete this game.
After many travels through parts of the mansion I encountered my first boss in a room covered in vines and plant growth. Standing between me and another key necessary to explore the mansion stood a fountain with giant moving vines. I proceeded over to the pump in which I poured the chemical into and then turned the water red and pumped into the fountain causing the vines to move frantically and fall to the ground. After leaving the room I made my way through the mansion and through a door in which a grand piano was sitting in a bar. I discovered a piece of sheet music that I used in front of the piano and began to play the lovely Moon Light Sonata. In doing so a hidden door opened that at the end of the room now exposed a golden crest.
It was tasks like these that were necessary to advance through the mansion and dig deeper down the rabbit hole to uncover the dark truth. During my time playing I recall many situations and puzzles more memorable than the rest. From the classic Jill sandwich to discovering Richard laying on the ground mortally wounded and having to mix him a serum in an attempt to save his life. It was a steady mixture of events like this that made it so easy to become absorbed in the game. Unfortunate for Jill the path to answers was not going to get any easier. Encounters with giant snakes, rooms full of traps, infected sharks, and even giant plants it was clear it was not going to be an easy feat.
With a few hours now invested in the game I now found myself nearing the end of the adventure. There were still many questions left to answer but once I found myself inside the laboratory I knew this was where they would be answered. Bleak corridors infested with zombies in lab coats and zombies lurking in the nude. I found myself exploring rooms filled with various study equipment and consoles that controlled electronically locked on doors. It started to become obvious that I may never escape from this place of terror.
Haunting tones and ambience noise filled the dark hallways as I traveled looking for a sign of human life. I came across an elevator in which I activated and was then greeted by a comforting familiar tone. It was Barry Burton my teammate that I arrived at the mansion with. We took the elevator up to another floor where we walked down a hallway and encountered Wesker. It was at that point that I knew I was looking at the face of the person who started the horrors. Wesker thanked Barry as he drew a gun to my head. At this point I felt betrayed and slightly confused as I still did not have all the answers. It was then revealed to me that Barry was just acting as Weskers pawn.
Anger overwhelmed me as I was learning first hand from Wesker that he had it planned the whole time. He was working for Umbrella the company responsible for the experiments that caused the outbreak. The steady strumming of the acoustic guitar from the musical score put me in a trance as the whole master plan was revealed. It was then he informed me he was going to show me the Tyrant.
Escorted by Wesker to the lab room I then saw this abomination slumbering within its aquatic chamber. Wesker hyped about how this was the ultimate bio weapon. The water within its chamber started to slowly drain as its heart pumped violently. Thrusting forward it broke out of its glass chamber and jumped to the floor beneath. It steadily approached me but suddenly looked and turned towards Wesker and shoved his claw through his chest causing blood to spray everywhere. Tryant withdrew his hand from Weskers chest having wesker hit the ground. He then approached me and it was then my job to take down this freak. I feverishly attacked him with all the ammo I had stocked up for the bazooka and magnum until he dropped to the ground.
I then found Barry wounded in the hallway in which he gave me a picture to give to his family before he fell to the side unconscious. I was heading towards the elevator when I received a transmission from Brad our teams pilot. I went to the top of the heliport and launched the flair. The chopper came and I left in it with the mansion disappearing below me as we flew away. I sat drained and amazed as the credits scrolled down the screen. After the credits were finished I saw the chopper flying away in the distance as a shadow grew on the ground that had the shape of the Tryant as I heard heavy demonic breathing.
As far as this review goes this is my first. The undying nostalgic feelings I have towards this game has stayed with me like a bad habit all these years. I still to this day have played few games that rivaled the experience this one gave me. Needless to say I have replayed this game many times and have played most of the games faithful to the original story line. I hope this recount of events I remember from playing this classic title have inspired you to go re experience your favorite games or just bring back the memory of joy you had as a kid playing your favorite titles.
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