Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil Review
Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: Capcom Production Studio 4 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Capcom 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Jun. 23, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Back in 1996, the original Resident Evil (RE) was released for the PS1 and it kicked off the survival horror genre with a bang. At the time, it was amongst the best-looking titles available and offered up unique and enjoyable gameplay with a creepy and horrific setting. Even the campy full motion video segments that ushered in the experience and the cheesier-than-a-hunk-of-Velveeta dialogue that carried it through to the end didn’t disappoint, only making the title more endearing.

Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil screenshot

With Nintendo and Capcom working closely together in the GameCube days, RE saw a complete overhaul and was rereleased for the purple lunchbox. Given it’s drastically touched up visuals and other various improvements, the RE remake felt almost like a complete reimagining of the game. Unfortunately though, that was roughly seven years ago and not much has changed for this Wii port of the title.

With one of the most redundant titles ever, Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil (REA), it should come as little surprise that the rerelease of a remake of a thirteen year old title isn’t going in a completely new direction. Instead, REA is essentially a verbatim copy of the stellar GameCube reimagining with only a few fairly unimportant changes that don’t really affect gameplay (namely control options, sound, and discs). This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing given the GameCube never sold incredibly well, so many players may have missed out the first time around. For those players, you’re in for somewhat of a treat, otherwise you’ve seen everything this title has to offer before.

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You start off the game with a cinematic that explains your arrival at a frightening mansion full of flesh-eating zombies, undead canines, and enormous bosses. Players will take control of one of the iconic original RE characters by choosing either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield. Each character has a slightly different path through the game, adding a fair amount of replay value if you’re so inclined to play through as both, with Chris’s being slightly more difficult. If you’ve only played the original RE, you’ll notice that some rooms have been moved and/or altered, some objectives have been changed, and there is plenty of all-new content and surprises. This keeps the game feeling fresh for these players although they will still have a leg up on newcomers to the series, since several things will play out almost identically to the original (yes, you can still make Barry swear and headshot an “insane” zombie).

Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil screenshot

Graphically, REA looks every bit as good as the GameCube remake did seven years ago. Even today, the complete graphical overhaul of the original is somewhat impressive. Sure, we all know the backgrounds are just prerendered 2D images, but they are still beautiful. The dramatic and fixed camera placement used in the game really adds to the sense of fright and appropriately sets the mood, although it isn’t always conducive to the gameplay. There are even some really nice touches such as character reflections in windows and lighting changes due to a nearby thunder storm that help the game feel that much more immersive.

As I mentioned, the fixed camera angles are great for the aesthetics and mood of the game but hamper the gameplay in several ways. The most notable hindrance comes in the form of good old tank controls. Anybody who has played an RE title before RE4 has become well-versed in these, having the onscreen character turning sluggishly in the appropriate direction no matter the camera’s position. These controls are pretty archaic at this point but are still manageable once you get the hang of them again. Another annoyance caused by the fixed camera angles is that you have little to no idea when the camera will suddenly switch to another position. While you may be able to take note of where you think these shifts will occur, there is no onscreen indication or warning present to alert the player that instead of looking at an attacking zombie, they’ll be given a fantastic shot of the door they just came through.

Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil screenshot

Seven years, or thirteen if you’re counting from the original, is a long time, especially in game years. Nowhere does this title show its age more than in its largely infuriating and clunky save system. While players now enjoy almost constant checkpoints scattered throughout games to ensure their progress will remain intact, REA has no such feature. Instead, players are forced to collect ink ribbons that provide a limited number of saves at typewriters found in specific areas in the game. This system can lead to several unnecessary issues such as running out of the ability to save, not being able to find a typewriter, ink ribbons taking up badly needed inventory space, and a ton of backtracking if you happen to die. Nothing makes me want to put down my controller more than dying and finding out that it had been an hour or so since I actively sought out a typewriter in order to save, meaning I’ve got to retread through everything I had just done.

Screenshots / Images
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