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Resident Evil

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: May 21, 2019


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Switch Review - 'Resident Evil'

by Cody Medellin on Jan. 14, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

Resident Evil takes place in the now-notorious Raccoon City, where players take on the role of either S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) team member Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, who have been tasked with finding the missing Bravo team.

The original PlayStation release of Resident Evil was clunky but charming, and the game had people believing that the oddly coined term "survival horror" would be viable. Six years later, the game was remade for the GameCube, and it became the new standard of how to remake an early 3D game; it retained almost everything that people loved about the original while also adding an irresistible new coat of paint. That game was ported to the Wii before eventually getting another small resolution upgrade nd being sent off to just about every successful platform roughly five years ago. For Nintendo-only fans who have somehow missed the previous releases, the port has now made it to the Switch.

The setup should be familiar to both series fans and those with only a passing interest in the genre. A series of grisly murders in the forest outside of Raccoon City have caught the attention of S.T.A.R.S., a specialized team on the city's police force. One team has been sent over to investigate the area but hasn't been heard from again. Another team was sent to investigate but was immediately attacked, sending the surviving members into the sanctuary of a secluded mansion. With the transportation long gone, the remaining team members must defend themselves from monstrosities and find a way out.

You start the game by choosing either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, and the character selection gives you different experiences through the mansion. Use Chris, and you'll go through some very different puzzles and have several meetings with Rebecca Chambers, one of the few surviving members from the first expedition crew. Pick Jill, and you'll interact more with your teammate Barry while also being able to access more of the mansion due to your lockpicking skills.

No matter which team member you're running with, you're going to get the classic Resident Evil experience before the fourth game came into being. Every room and hallway is punctuated with different camera angles to create some tension and surprise you with jump-scares via some enemies that would otherwise be in plain sight. You can fight back, but the limited ammo means that running is your best option most of the time — unless you're really good with your knife. Puzzles are your real enemy, but your limited inventory means that you'll juggle items back and forth between chests and go through the same parts of the mansion in the process. You'll also deal with limited saves due to the ink ribbon and typewriter system, so being overly eager to save everything you've done at every step will get you hurt badly.

Those who remember the old games well will be relieved to know that the newer control scheme is still intact. If you want, you can keep everything authentic, with the old tank controls that require you to hold down a button to run while being forced to stand in place to pivot before running again. For those who can't deal with the old system, Resident Evil recognizes analog stick movement and sensitivity to put you in a run without needing a specific button. It works well by itself, but it can trip you up once you transition into a different screen. Holding up on the analog stick moves you forward, even if it means that you're moving down the screen; it works but doesn't make much sense initially.

That's all there is to it. When compared to the other ports on other platforms, you're not getting anything extra in terms of bonus material, characters or modes. You're simply getting the chance to bring the remake of the game on the go at a rather hefty 14GB if you go the digital route. The only change is a negative one, as some of the load times when transitioning between rooms is a bit longer when compared to the load time on other platforms. It doesn't happen too often, as only some of the larger areas will see additional loading time, but it's worth noting.

With everything else going unchanged, it should come as no surprise that the presentation remains similar to the other ports. On the audio side, the voice acting is excellent, and the effects pack a punch; it's more important for this title, as the music is usually rather sparse. The tracks are well done, but for a horror game, a diminished use of musical tracks is a good thing.

Graphically, the character models are sharp, and the backgrounds look fine on the big screen when you remember that they're still the 480i versions upscaled to 1080p since the original source code was lost. If you're playing on the Switch's 720p screen, the backgrounds pop more due to the lower resolution, making the game look much better overall. As for performance, you have the option to play at 4:3 or 16:9, if you don't mind that the latter is simply the former zoomed in to fit the screen. No matter which route you go, expect to go with 30fps locked in at almost all times.

All these years later, Resident Evil remains an excellent survival-horror game. The puzzles are still good, the brief bouts of action are still tense, and the scares still deliver even if you know about them beforehand. The appeal of this port is the fact that the game can now be portable, so the benefits of the smaller screen really come into play. It might have slightly longer load times in some areas, but if you want to play the remade classic on the go, this is a well-done port.

Score: 8.0/10

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