Year Released: 1996
That was too close…you were almost a Jill sandwich!
CAPCOM’s dominance over the zombie-survival horror genre dates back to 1996 which saw the release of its first instalment: Resident Evil on the PlayStation. The game was an instant success and has since been revamped and made available on various other consoles including the Nintendo DS (under the name Resident Evil: Deadly Silence) and the Nintendo Wii. It was to be the first of many in the series, including the more recent release of Resident Evil 5 (2009) for the XBOX 360 and PlayStation 3.
At the beginning of the game (set in July 1998), we are introduced to S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) Alpha Team of the Raccoon City Police Department who are searching Raccoon Forest – the last known whereabouts of S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team. Contact had been lost with Bravo Team who were originally sent in to investigate the outbreak of bizarre murder cases that had recently struck the small town – reports claim that victims had been attacked and partially devoured by groups of unidentified assailants. Alpha Team consists of Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton, Brad Vickers (helicopter pilot), Joseph Frost and Albert Wesker (team leader). The team land in the forest and soon come across Bravo Team’s abandoned helicopter. While searching for clues, the team is set upon by a pack of vicious dogs that attack and kill Joseph – meanwhile Brad flees the scene, taking the chopper with him. Having been left abandoned, the remaining team members have no choice but to seek shelter in a nearby apparently vacant mansion, unaware of the horror that lurks within its walls….
As a player, you have the choice of taking on the role of either Chris or Jill – each character has individual skills and difficulty settings (with slight differences in the story line – encounters etc.). As a S.T.A.R.S. member, it is your mission to search for survivors and reveal the secrets of the mysterious mansion (which is soon discovered to be far from vacant). Within the mansion, you are confronted with a vast array of strange, hostile creatures who are eventually revealed to be victims of the T-virus – a product of the infamous Umbrella Corporation (a pharmaceutical giant). The T-virus had proven to be capable of rapid cellular mutation and reanimation and was experimented with in secret laboratories in the lower levels of the mansion – in an attempt to create the ultimate biological weapon. An accidental leak of the T-virus resulted in widespread infection and the release of test subjects to roam the grounds freely – many of the ‘zombies’ you encounter throughout the game are in fact former researchers and scientists of Umbrella. As well as fending off infected enemies, the game involves puzzle solving and decision making – which can ultimately alter the outcome of the game. As you progress further into the game your enemies are more menacing, Umbrella’s deceit and ruthlessness become more apparent and Wesker’s loyalties are brought into question…To make matters worse, you are soon introduced to Tyrant (a particularly nasty example of the T-virus’ capability).
On the plus side, you are not alone in your ordeal – depending on which character you choose, you do receive support throughout your quest – Chris meets up with Rebecca Chambers (Bravo Team member) and Jill is often helped out by Barry. In addition, the game has a particularly unsettling mood – from the haunting soundtrack and the crashing of zombie dogs through windows to the distant sniffing and shuffling of the undead off-screen – you are left wondering where the next threat will spring from.
The game is hugely entertaining, making it a classic that can be played time and time again. With a superb storyline, creepy atmosphere and B-movie like charm, it’s easy to see why CAPCOM’s Resident Evil was such a triumph – so grab your herbs and ink-ribbons and enjoy!
Resident Evil (Biohazard) and all associated characters, images, and trademarks are copyright © Capcom. Images adapted from CAPCOM’s Resident Evil