“Resident Evil” (1996)

Resident Evil 1 Classic Cover Art

1998. It’s been several weeks since human remains began to be discovered near Marble River in the Cider District of Raccoon City. S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team was dispatched to search the Arklay Mountains, but contact was lost, so now the S.T.A.R.S Alpha Team will investigate.

Chris Redfield, a rugged ex-pilot. Jill Valentine, an attractive explosives experts. Barry Burton, a brawny weapons expert. Joseph Frost, a small-fry in a bandana. Brad Vickers, a cocky chopper pilot. And Captain Albert Wesker, the enigmatic leader of Alpha Team with slicked back hair and dark shades.

Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine were playable characters. The developers, Capcom, must have assumed that gamers would select Chris Redfield, but Jill Valentine was far more popular, likely because she could store more weapons in her inventory. Chris Redfield was featured on the cover art of the director’s cut, narrated the prologue, and even if you played the Jill Valentine scenario, he was scuffed up far worse in the final cut scene. A miscalculation on the part of the developers.

Frost gets killed by wild dogs in the opening cut scene and Vickers abandons his team in a cowardly fashion. The survivors seek haven at Spencer Mansion. If you play the Jill Valentine scenario, she and Barry search for Chris, who has gone missing. Wesker also disappears, but not until after the first zombie was encountered. Because of the pack of ravenous dogs, fleeing this mansion is impossible. Jill and Barry split up and search the mansion for their missing comrades. Barry vanishes first in the Chris Redfield scenario.

A cinematic game with a creepy score and an eerie environment. An atmosphere which was worthy of any classic horror movie. I saw George Romero, the father of modern zombies, at New York Comic Con 2013 and even he credited the “Resident Evil” video game franchise and its many imitators as the reason for the resurgence in the popularity of zombies since the 1990s.

There were a few out of place Indiana Jones style booby-traps throughout the mansion and the secret underground facility. And some of the cut scene dialogue is pretty hokey, especially Barry’s. Besides the regular zombies, you encounters zombie crows, a zombie shark, a giant snake, and a giant spider. That seemed to be overkill. I think normal sized snakes and spiders would have been sufficiently scary for the gamers. Imagine being engulfed by zombie spiders? Terrifying. I also thought that it was odd to open up secret compartments by playing the piano.

You discover that the Umbrella Corporation had used this mansion as a front for illegal experimentations. Umbrella’s Research and Development Department had successfully maturated the T-Virus, a mutagenic biological agent. The sole purpose of this agent was to engineer an undead super-soldier with the codename “Tyrant” to be auctioned to one of Umbrella’s wealthy defense contracts. Or at least, that is my assumption. Umbrella’s insidious plots become a little convoluted as time goes on. A T-Virus outbreak occurred in the mansion. All personnel, animal test subjects, and guard dogs were infected.

In the Chris Redfield scenario, you are introduced to Rebecca Chambers, a young field medic of Bravo Team. In both scenarios, it gets revealed that Wesker is the traitor. An “insurance policy” of sorts for the Umbrella Corporation. I’d gone trick-or-treating that year as Wesker with a friend who was guised as Barry. We had yet to beat the game and were unaware of Wesker’s treachery. Wesker was supposedly killed by the game’s final boss, the aforementioned Tyrant. A rocket launcher is required to vanquish the hulking creature. Vickers finally has the balls to return and evacuate the survivors.

Chris and Jill are shown in the back of the chopper no matter what. In the Jill scenario, Barry is with them. In the Chris scenario, it is Rebecca. Chris Redfield’s sister, Claire, was the protagonist in “Resident Evil 2.” Jill Valentine returned for “Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.” Both Chris and Claire Redfield appeared in “Resident Evil: Code Veronica,” which was developed for the Sega Dreamcast and not the Sony PlayStation. Rebecca Chambers was a protagonist in the prequel, “Resident Evil: Zero,” which was developed for the Nintendo GameCube. The original game also was remade for the GameCube in 2002. A new character, Lisa Trevor, was added to the canon.

A live action “Resident Evil” movie was released in 2002, starring Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. I was disappointed with the film. A laser beam killed more people than the zombies. No characters from the games were featured sans for a little girl hologram which was the equivalent to Lisa Trevor. In the increasingly worse live action sequels, characters from the games did start to appear in supporting roles.

*Resident Evil aficionado and gamer Jonathan Parente consulted on this article written by Dominick Cappello, author of this blog. A “Resident Evil 2” article will likely soon follow, but some time will probably pass before more sequels are chronicled.


About domcappelloblog

New York based screenwriter.

Posted on November 20, 2013, in Horror, Living Dead, PlayStation, Resident Evil and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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