RESIDENT EVIL: DIRECTOR'S CUT / Capcom / Playstation 1
 
 
It's fun to watch public opinion shift over the decades. Sometimes a little sad. Lately I've not-infrequently seen the original trilogy of Resident Evil games held up as "real", uncompromising survival horror. I assume this is in response to a general trend of ever-increasing babying and handholding in big-name AAA titles. I was a teenager in the 90s, however, and I remember the original response to Resident Evil - that its "bring Medallion A to Obvious Medallion Slot A" structure was a laughable dumbing-down of puzzle standards set by adventure games in the late 80s to mid 90s, and its "jump scares" constituted cheap and ineffective horror.

However, to paraphrase H.L. Mencken - "No game company has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.” Resident Evil dumbed down the process of puzzle-solving masterfully, just to the point where the more "casual" game player still felt like they were solving a puzzle while not having to actually employ any heavy reasoning. Now, I don't mean that as an across-the-board slam of all the game's fans; I know plenty of "real" gamers enjoy the  Master of Recursive Unlocking style, and I promise you I don't look down my nose at them. But I wonder if there would still be this revival-mania for it if AAA gaming had proceeded over the last decade-and-a-half on much less of a regressive curve in everything but graphics.
 


Not to say Resident Evil isn't legitimately challenging. You only get a finite amount of saves, via the limited and consumable typewriter ribbons you have to scrounge (quite frequently hidden in the background.) Ammo is legitimately scarce, and the game expects you to figure out entirely on your own that whenever you can dodge or run around a monster, that's what you should be doing, because you can't possibly kill all of them. Likewise, healing only comes from a finite amount of herbs scrounged around the mansion as well. A few niche publishers and indies aside, you don't see anything really comparable coming out these days outside of Dark Souls.

Sometimes that challenge manifests itself through sheer obnoxiousness, however, most notably in the infamous "tank controls", which are at their worst in boss battles where you have to clumsily keep running about until you get a second in for a potshot, and your view is often obscured by poles and environmental junk to boot. And if you lose one of these, at the very least you have to run from the last save point back to the boss room, with the numerous between-screen loading times that that entails.
 


There's also a major difference between your two playable characters (Chris and Jill), in terms of the way their quest is laid out - Chris' row to hoe is immensely harder, yet there's no indication of this (and he's the default character selection to boot.) Chris gets like 1 pistol clip from the outset, and every hallway available to him is laden with zombies. Jill has the always-reliable Barry Burton off the first zombie for her, which lets her freely get another 2 clips without having to kill anything. She also initally has much more wide-open territory, and can very quickly get both the shotgun and a bazooka. She also shortly gets a lockpick, which replaces several keys that Chris has to find (Chris also has to juggle a 6-item inventory limit, while Jill can apparently stuff 2 things down her shirt for a total of 8.) Jill is more like Easy Mode, while Chris seems more designed for experienced players to do speed-runs with; perhaps a sexist implication? Tropes vs Jill Sammiches in Video Games.

If you're interested in whether the Director's Cut is superior enough to the original release to spend more money on it ... it is. It adds a "Beginner" difficulty mode that doubles the amount of ammunition laying about and enemies require less damage to kill (making Chris's quest actually playable for non-masochists.) There's also an "Arrange" mode that keeps the overall quest progression intact, but moves items to different places. As of early 2013, prices for a used Director's Cut actually appear to be a little lower than that of the original release, so it's a no-brainer. The Director's Cut doesn't excise anything from the original, so it's the version of choice.
 
 
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