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You Are Dead: Or 'My Memories of Resident Evil'

by Andy Goergen - March 18, 2011, 1:52 pm PDT

Andy Goergen recalls the wonderful memories he had of slaying zombies and monsters in one sitting.

In 2002, I entered into what was quite possibly the perfect summer, the last such summer of my life. This was year before I graduated college. I was offered a job as a Summer RA in my dorm, supervising the few summer school students and working at the front desk of the dorm, about 12 hours a week. Most of my days were spent hanging out with my friends playing video games, and generally enjoying life as a 22 year old with virtually no obligation could.





Just before that summer began, Resident Evil for Gamecube was launched to much fanfare and hype. Screenshots of the game with incredible visuals had been leaking out steadily before release. As a gamer who enjoyed the zombie genre but had never had the chance to actually play through a Resident Evil game before, I picked the game up at launch on May 1, 2002.

That summer offered me an opportunity that I've never really been able to replicate in the grown-up years since then; the chance to play a Resident Evil game in the perfect way.  I played Resident Evil in basically one sitting, pausing only to go down to the cafeteria for meal breaks. I drew the curtains, secluded myself in my dorm room for an entire weekend in the dark, and proceeded to explore Spencer Manor.  





What really sticks with me to this day is the experience of playing through the game so quickly in the ideal situation. In the course of 72 hours, the game really got to me in all of the best ways. I felt the oppressive nature of the house, as the camera angles rendered me helpless, and unable to know what was around the next bend. I remember the game in spurts; the memorable voyage behind the mansion to the shack and the horrible disfigured creature who lived there, the dingy laboratory which began to explain how all of this had come to pass, and the betrayal from Wesker. It felt at the time like a long dream, and that's the way I remember it.

In the years since, I've tried to play Resident Evil games the same way but it's a lot harder in a post-college, married-life world to seclude yourself in a room in the dark for three days.  I played Silent Hill 2 largely the same way, but in 2 hour chunks twice a week over the course of a month or so.  Resident Evil 4 took me a long time to find the energy to play through. Having played through a survival horror game the right way, it's been hard for me to want to play them any other way. 





I won't argue when you tell me that Resident Evil had poor controls, cheap scares, and dated gameplay; all of those things are absolutely true. I didn't find them to be a major problem as I played the game, and as the problems began to fade, I was able to experience the game exactly as the developers intended. I was engulfed by it. I drowned in it. That's why I loved Resident Evil in 2002, and the memories of that awesome weekend and what it represented to me at that point in my life make me love the game still today.

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Talkback

OblivionMarch 17, 2011

Was the series ever that scary? I've heard the first three are, but I guess that sort of thing is subjective.

My first experience with the game was with the GC remake, which I rented. I hated it so much that it led to me ignoring all the praise of RE4 until I played a friend's copy of the Wii version.

pandaradoxMarch 17, 2011

The unfortunate part of Resident Evil is that you had to be there at the time of the game's release.  These games have a hard time standing the test of time because the stuff introduced in each gets copied, compromising originality and the experience.  When I played RE 1 on the saturn, I was thoroughly impressed with the danger of the game and it's great sense of atmosphere.  When I went back to play the remake, it only held it's own because I had the perspective of the first game to relate back to and those feelings were still very much engrained in me.  If you weren't there, you simply missed out.  This is why RE 4 probably resonated with you much more because it's not as old.  It's the whole great conversation and whatnot that can skew the context that each iteration needs to be taken in. 


NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 17, 2011

I remember watching the first Resident Evil game being played around and I'll be honest, I thought it was pretty disturbing and scary. It was the first game of its kind for me. I mean, that first zombie you see in the first game actually impressed me. Note this was before zombies were EVERYWHERE in the media, so the rarity of the creature made it that much fascinating and disturbing to watch.

I didn't have a PlayStation, but I did have a Gamepro subscription so I learned a lot about the series. I finally managed to play the third game thanks to my cousins, and it was really fun. The game startled me, but I still had fun.

The problem, I think, the RE series has now is that zombies are no longer scary. They are now overused to the point where they are no longer appealing. I think it was smart of them to change them for RE 4.

ShyGuyMarch 17, 2011

RE4 had the Regenerators, which were their own kind of disturbing.

http://i91.photobucket.com/albums/k302/shyguy70/Regenerator202857020x2042829.jpg

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 17, 2011

Quote from: ShyGuy

RE4 had the Regenerators, which were their own kind of disturbing.

http://i91.photobucket.com/albums/k302/shyguy70/Regenerator202857020x2042829.jpg

It also had some of the most disturbing deaths in any game to date. :O

TJ SpykeMarch 18, 2011

Like with insano, my first time playing a RE game was with the GameCube remake (and that was because of how great EGM made it sound). However, I liked the game and found it really fun.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 18, 2011

The next page of the feature is up, Andy Goergen remembers his experience with the Resident Evil Remake:
http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/feature/25743

RazorkidMarch 18, 2011

When I was in high school, I didn't know anything about this game. I remember watching my friend play the first RE during a sleep over on playstation and it scared the crap outta me. For one, the graphics were incredible at the time, and I've never played or watched a game up to that point which was intentionally trying to scare you!


Also, I too miss being able to seclude myself and just get lost in hours upon hours of gaming (breaking only to eat and go to the bathroom).

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusMarch 18, 2011

I don't think the RE games have ever been scary. Startling yes, disturbing yes, cool yes, but never scary. The last time I saw something scary on TV was back when I was 5 and saw bits Aliens. I don't doubt it would be scary for people with much weaker mental constitution.

There is a game I have, but I don't play. It's called Penumbra. I watched a LP of it and quite frankly I don't want to play it. Not because the gameplay is bad or graphics are terrible. I dread the helplessness and isolation that game instills the player. I wouldn't even call it survival horror, just plain Horror. There are extremely limited ways to fight back which don't even exists in the sequel. In a way, it is the ultimate stealth game, but you have to run most of the time. You have to break your instincts as a gamer that you can just kill everything or you can always fight back.

That said, I don't ever want RE to be like that. It's not what RE is about. RE always has fight or flight, but has always leaned heavily towards fight.

RazorkidMarch 18, 2011

Yeah, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is like that. It's from the same developer and is a game that just terrorizes you the whole way.  I mean you are keyed up! And of course, there is no combat (the best element to make any game 10X scarier).

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 19, 2011

The next page of the feature is up, the history of the RE series on Nintendo consoles, written by me:
http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/feature/25731

TansunnMarch 19, 2011

What are these "multiplayer modes in Resident Evil 4" you speak of? 

And why do the screenshot thumbnails, except for the first one and the last two, bring up pictures of kittens when clicked?

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 19, 2011

Are the pictures of kittens from Nintendogs + Cats? If so, yeah, the HTML coding I used had those pictures. Regarding the RE 4 multiplayer mode, I meant to say the "Mercenary Modes", though I could have sworn there was a Mercenary mode that had some form of multiplayer. I;ll fix those as soon as the page itself goes back to normal.

There will be multiplayer in the 3DS version of Mercenaries. Boy, do I WISH RE4 Mercs had multiplayer.

TenserMarch 19, 2011

Great read Pedro.

Sweet Home is an excellent game. I've completed it three times myself and it really shows the roots of Resident Evil. One of the notes near the balcony even loosely translates to the mansion as a house of residing evil.

Anyone who enjoys difficult, exploration base, old-school RPGs should check it out.

pandaradoxMarch 29, 2011

Quote from: oohhboy

I don't think the RE games have ever been scary. Startling yes, disturbing yes, cool yes, but never scary. The last time I saw something scary on TV was back when I was 5 and saw bits Aliens. I don't doubt it would be scary for people with much weaker mental constitution....

...That said, I don't ever want RE to be like that. It's not what RE is about. RE always has fight or flight, but has always leaned heavily towards fight.

Interesting way to look at it.  It's not necessarily weaker mental constitution.  I grew up watching horror films and thrillers of the sort.  My father would wait for tense moments and randomly yell to scare us (note: he's a good father, just a joker too).  So naturally, I became calloused to the genre.  The great thing about video games is that they ask you to forfeit yourself in light of the game's protagonist.  One of the biggest appeals of a game is to become someone else and not just passively experience that.  You get to be Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine.  Your responses are now theirs and you are in charge of their lives. 

If anything, this is asking a stronger mental constitution...

RE wants you to fight, that's how it's designed.  While it tries to intimidate and scare you, it gives you the ability to fight back, which is unique given that horror films bank on the feeling of helplessness as characters run and as the audience can only watch.  Jason would be a lot less scary if you were put in control of the characters and given multiple retries and weapons to fight back with.  That sense of empowerment is important for the series.  It's Survival. It's your imagination that changes the game.  Weaker minds would have trouble getting into it.  Accepting the reality of the game.  That is what makes RE fans come back.  They choose that world.

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