Biohazard

Hardware: GameCube
03/22/2002 (Japan), 04/30/2002 (US), 09/30/2002 (PAL)
バイオハザード
Resident Evil

Released exactly six years after the original PlayStation version of Bio Hazard in Japan, this GameCube version (often referred to as “REmake”) is nothing less than a rebirth of the original classic in every way. This is no port or slightly updated version: It is a complete remake. And it represents everything that a great remake should be. It adds so much while keeping things just familiar enough to the original. REmake also marks Capcom’s first title released on the GameCube hardware, and the first of three Bio Hazard/Resident Evil exclusives on the platform (though some of them would not necessarily remain exclusives). Director of the original game, Shinji Mikami, also returns to this remake as director despite having taken on the more distant role of producer for every title in the series since.

Bio Hazard Remake - Stairs Bio Hazard Remake - Classic Zombie
Even just going up some stairs, the difference in the graphics with the light sourcing is amazing. The new classic first zombie encounter cut scene.

The most obvious improvement in REmake is certainly the graphics. The original game looked good for its time, but ultimately is still an early 3D game on the PlayStation. The character models in REmake have actual detail, as opposed to the popular technique found in most early 3D games of blurring and abstracting the polygons together to vaguely represent detail. And while the backgrounds in the original were a graphical strong suit, REmake’s backgrounds are far more stunning still. They feature layers of Full Motion Video to produce real-time shadows, and because of dynamic light sources the environments are able to look much more dark yet still detailed. The music still remains appropriately atmospheric, but the sound effects have really undergone a change for the better: No longer do the zombies have the ridiculous and non threatening moans that they did in the original game. The Full Motion Video sequences present at the beginning and end of the original are now gone, replaced by high quality CG equivalents. All of the voice acting has also been rerecorded with new actors, and the dialogue rewritten to be slightly more serious in tone to match. All of these factors result in REmake legitimately feeling like a scary and threatening game this time around.

So much of what makes REmake great is not necessarily graphical or audio improvements, it’s what is done to manipulate the familiar. A lot of changes were made to the map in this version: The mansion has an entirely new floor, some new outbuildings, a graveyard, and more. However most parts of it are still just familiar enough to anyone who knows the layout from playing through the original game: Rounding a corner and being certain that a zombie will be right there ready to grab you, and then seeing nothing. And then rounding the next corner thinking that you’re safe until you reach the door, but being attacked by something that you’re certain is just not supposed to be there. While the puzzles involve all of the same jewels and emblems, the locations are nearly all different and the puzzles themselves are completely new.

Bio Hazard Remake - Lisa Trevor Bio Hazard Remake - Crimson Head
I didn’t expect Lisa Trevor to be quite so…lumpy? A Crimson Head: The create of my nightmares

Combat has also changed in many ways from what it was. RE 3’s 180 degree turn has been added by simply hitting the C-stick, and makes for a slightly easier time for those grappling with the tank controls. Defensive weapons (items that can be used to get something off of you once it has grabbed you to save you from taking damage) have also been introduced. They bring about a new decision to be made when attacked: To use up one of a limited supply of defensive items to get whatever it is off of you, or to take the damage. Regular new weapons have also been added: The assault shotgun, self defense gun, as well as Barry’s 44 Magnum and Samurai Edge handgun. The biggest and most threatening change to combat though, comes in the form of Crimson Heads. REmake gives you access to an oil container and lighter reasonably early on. The purpose of these items together is to burn the bodies of zombies that you have killed. If you don’t do this, or don’t manage to blow off their heads before killing them, after a certain period of time they will return in a much faster and stronger state. The Crimson Heads can cause a ridiculous amount of stress if you aren’t meticulous about disposing of bodies, and that in itself becomes of a problem given limited inventory space. There isn’t much in this game that instills you with more of a sense of terror that a Crimson Head speeding at you from across a room!

While there were no incredibly major changes to the story, the locations of where some of the side characters are encountered or die have been slightly changed. Since there were also a few more games in the series made since the original, it gave Capcom an opportunity to retcon some of those characters back into the original story. Those who are intimately familiar with the story as it is told throughout the games up to this point will definitely find some references that they recognize.

Bio Hazard Remake - Giant Spider Bio Hazard Remake - Neptune
Thanks to the graphical improvements, the giant spiders are considerably more creepy! The Neptune also plays a much more prominent role this time around

Though REmake will undoubtedly mess with the mind of a player who comes in banking on their knowledge of the original PlayStation game, there are plenty of worthwhile modes to be unlocked if one is willing to put forth the effort of learning the ins and outs of REmake. For starters, you actually get to choose between Easy and Normal difficulty for each character instead of having Jill represent Easy and Chris represent Hard (though the selection comes in the form of a strange question asked to the player). Once the game is cleared, Hard Mode becomes available as well. But that is by no means the hardest mode that this game has to offer! One Dangerous Zombie mode
is largely similar to the regular game, save for the zombified corpse of Forest Speyer that will randomly appear and is able to follow you through doors. On top of that, he has bombs strapped to him. If those bombs are detonated, then it’s game over for you! In other words, you have to run from him. Real Survival mode involves playing through the game without auto-aiming, and an idea that was rumored to have been thought about for inclusion in the original: Items are not shared across all item boxes. You can only retrieve an item from the specific item box that you placed it in. Lastly there is Invisible Mode, in which all enemies are invisible (though sometimes small visual clues are available to tell you where they are). There is also no auto-aiming here, though you still get regular use of item boxes. As a reward for beating this mode, there is a special message from the director as well as some special images at the end.

Ultimately the original Bio Hazard/Resident Evil and REmake are two separate games that are both extremely enjoyable on their own merits. One should not really be considered a replacement for the other. I found it much easier to obtain proficiency in the original for a quicker run through the mansion (despite the control improvements that REmake offers), whereas REmake offered a much more satisfying experience as a horror game (and if you needed even further incentive back then, the Japanese version came with a playable demo of Bio Hazard 0). Though both versions of the game have steep challenge curves right from the start, REmake seems to be more challenging in many ways. There appear to be less of certain types of ammo, enemies often seem like they require even more shots to bring down, and the addition of Crimson Heads introduces a whole new set of problems that were never there before. Regardless of preferences though, REmake is every bit as classic as the original. It proves that with the right modernization that original formula still works in the modern day. And also that Crimson Heads can scare the crap out of you.