Mini Review: “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” (Playstation One Game)

2015 Artwork Resident Evil director's cut review sketch

Well, it’s been a while since I last reviewed a game, so I thought that I’d take a quick look at an old Playstation One game called “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” today.

Although I only had time to re-play this game for a few hours before writing this review, I also played this game on my PS2 a few years ago (although I didn’t complete it then).

In addition to this, I also played most of the original “Resident Evil” on the PC when I was a teenager. But, despite my familiarity with the game, this will probably be more of a “first impressions” article than a full review.

Likewise, I should probably point out that when re-playing this game for this review, I used the “ePSXe” playstation emulator. This was mainly because I couldn’t be bothered to dust off my PS2 (or search for my old PSone), because it makes taking screenshots about ten times easier and because you can use save states. Yes, I know that “Resident Evil” purists will be horrified by this – but, well, save states are awesome.

I should also warn you that this review will, quite obviously, contain some (fairly unrealistic) gruesome images.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut”:

RESIDENT EVIL!!!!

RESIDENT EVIL!!!!

“Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” was an improved 1997 re-release of Capcom’s 1996 classic “Resident Evil”. From all I’ve been able to learn about this re-release, it was released to placate fans due to delays with producing “Resident Evil 2”. In fact, the game also contains a bonus disc with a demo of “Resident Evil 2” on it.

If you’ve never played “Resident Evil”, the story is fairly simple. You play as either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, who are members of one of the Racoon City police department’s “S.T.A.R.S” special forces teams.

When another S.T.A.R.S team goes missing in the local forest after investigating a series of bizarre murders, your team is sent in. Of course, it isn’t long before you are attacked by rabid zombie dogs and – in a fit of heroic cowardice – your helicopter pilot takes off and leaves you all behind.

Fleeing the zombie dogs, your team takes refuge in a nearby mansion. Of course, being a horror game, it isn’t long before you learn that the mansion isn’t much safer than the forest was….

For the most part, the gameplay in “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” is very similar to the gameplay in the original game. You explore the mansion, solve puzzles and defend yourself against the undead. And you look at doors. A lot:

Well, as loading screens go, it's... imaginative... I guess.

Well, as loading screens go, it’s… imaginative… I guess.

Like in the original game, you can only carry a limited number of items and you can’t run and shoot at the same time. The game’s movement system also takes a bit of getting used to too (I absolutely love it, but it’d probably confuse the hell out of most modern gamers). However, one striking change is that this version of the game now includes three different gameplay modes.

Yay! Options!

Yay! Options!

There’s a “training” mode, which seems to be an easier version of the original game. There’s a “standard” mode that allows you to play the original 1996 game and then there’s “advanced” mode, which is the mode I’ll be looking at in this review.

One of the first things you will notice when you start an “advanced” game is that both of the main characters look slightly different:

Jill now wears a vest and has a fairly... unique... hairstyle.

Jill now wears a vest and has a fairly… unique… hairstyle.

Chris, on the other hand, seems to have lost his vest somewhere in the mansion gardens.

Chris, on the other hand, seems to have lost his vest somewhere in the mansion gardens.

Personally, I prefer the outfits in the original game but the new ones are still pretty cool. In addition to this, the basic pistol which Jill starts with (and Chris finds near the beginning of the game) has been improved slightly and each shot now has a random chance of making a zombie’s head explode in a spectacular fashion. Like this:

Splat!

Splat!

Another major gameplay change is that many of the item positions have been changed in “advance mode”. What this means is that you’ll basically have to work out how to solve all of the item puzzles all over again, since you can’t just rely on your memories of the original game.

However, whilst the items themselves have been switched around, many of the moved items are still found in the locations where you’d expect to find other items in the original game. So, this isn’t as challenging as you might think.

Likewise, as the name suggests, “advance mode” is slightly more difficult than the original game was. This is mostly due to slightly larger numbers of enemies and the fact that they usually do a slightly more damage when they attack you:

Yes, the zombies now only need to bite you about twice in order to kill you.

Yes, the zombies now only need to bite you about twice in order to kill you.

One of the most startling differences in the “director’s cut” is probably the famous “Forest Speyer” scene.

In the original game, you find one of the members of the ill-fated S.T.A.R.S team (Forest Speyer) on one of the mansion’s balconies, after he’s been pecked to death by zombie crows. It’s a tragic and shocking moment. Of course, he’s also dead in this game too, but with one crucial difference:

 He's turned into a heavy metal fan who wants to give you a hug!

He’s turned into a heavy metal fan who has returned from the grave to give you a hug!

Apart from this, the only other change I could see was that a few of the camera angles in the game were slightly different to those in the original game:

I don't know why, but I was especially impressed by this new camera angle.

I don’t know why, but I was especially impressed by this new camera angle.

However, the most notable change in the “Director’s Cut” was what wasn’t changed. Apparently, before the game was released, Capcom promised that this game would include the original uncut cutscenes from the Japanese version of the game. However, these weren’t included – so, Kenneth’s severed head doesn’t roll on the floor, the intro movie is still completely devoid of blood (and gory injuries) and Chris Redfield is still a non-smoker.

 Amusingly, this scene is censored with a clip from the uncensored intro movie. And that smoke in the background is gun smoke rather than cigarette smoke because, according to American game companies, guns are obviously FAR less dangerous than cigarettes are

Amusingly, this scene is censored with a clip from the uncensored intro movie. And that smoke in the background is gun smoke rather than cigarette smoke because, according to American game companies, guns are obviously FAR less dangerous than cigarettes are

Although Capcom released the uncut footage online to make up for this (and it can still be seen in Youtube videos like this one ), it’s kind of disappointing that we got a censored version of the game when we were promised an uncensored one.

On the plus side, Wesker looks absolutely badass in black & white. In the uncensored intro, his hair is really badly-dyed.

On the plus side, Wesker looks absolutely badass in black & white. In the uncensored intro, his hair is really badly-dyed.

All in all, this is an interesting version of a classic game. Yes, by current standards, the gameplay changes amount to little more than you’d find in a mod for a PC game, but it’s still – technically- an improved version of the original game.

If you have a choice between buying the original game and buying the “director’s cut” version, go for the “director’s cut” since it also contains the original version too. But, if you already own the original version (like I do), then there isn’t a huge amount of new stuff here.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get three out of five for the new stuff. But, it would also get five out of five for all the old stuff.

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Review: “Small Soldiers” (Playstation One Game)

Yep, it's time for an unbiased and impartial review....

Yep, it’s time for an unbiased and impartial review….

Well, since it’s been ages since I last reviewed a Playstation One game – I thought that I’d take a look at a 3D action platform game called “Small Soldiers” today, since I was given a second-hand copy of it fairly recently.

Before I go any further, I should probably point out that I’ve only had a chance to play this game for a couple of hours – so this review only reflects my experiences so far. Likewise, I also played this game using the ePSXe emulator rather than on my old PS1 or PS2 – because it has save states. Need I say more?

But, that said, let’s take a look at “Small Soldiers”:

small soldiers title screen

This game is based on a movie from the late 1990s that, surprisingly, I’ve never actually seen. So, I can’t really say whether or not this game is faithful to the original source material – but it’s a movie tie-in game made by EA. And, as pretty much any gamer will tell you, this usually isn’t a good sign. But is this game the exception to the rule?

In “Small Soldiers” you play as a Gorgonite alien called Archer, who must defend his home planet against an invasion by a group of evil robotic humanoid commandos, led by a man called Chip Hazard. And that’s about the entire story of the game.

Yes, your character look like a combination of a Klingon and a Predator.

Yes, your character look like a combination of a Klingon and a Predator.

Interestingly, although this game has a rather sparse story, it’s still much more original than the majority of sci-fi action games out there for the simple reason that it’s one of the few games I’ve ever played where the humans (or robots who look like humans anyway) are the bad guys and the aliens are the good guys.

Although I’m guessing that this plot element was taken from the original movie, it still breaks a lot of cliches within the genre.

Shock horror! This elderly version of Duke Nukem is actually the VILLAIN!

Shock horror! This elderly version of Duke Nukem is actually the VILLAIN!

What about the gameplay? Well, it isn’t perfect – but it isn’t terrible either. For the most part, it’s fairly standard 3D action platformer gameplay.

But, the weapons in the game aren’t always that accurate and it can take a little while to get used to them and to work out exactly where you’re shooting.

But, on the plus side, it's GREAT to see a game with a left-handed protagonist :) Seriously, we lefties are really under-represented in games!

But, on the plus side, it’s GREAT to see a game with a left-handed protagonist 🙂 Seriously, we lefties are really under-represented in games!

However, this is mitigated by the fact that you can press the R2 button and the game will switch to an “over the shoulder” perspective, which allows for more precise aiming:

But WHY is the Y axis inverted by default? I hate it when games do this!

But WHY is the Y axis inverted by default? I hate it when games do this!

And, although there are a fairly impressive array of power-ups for the default arm-mounted machine gun you get at the start of the game, as well as mines and other alien creatures you can summon to attack the humans – this game is missing one crucial weapon that all 3D action platformers should have.

Yes, you can summon this cool-looking monster BUT......

Yes, you can summon this cool-looking monster BUT……

There is no melee weapon and/or melee attack. Yes, you heard me correctly, the only weapons you can use in this game are guns, mines and summonable monsters. This means that even if you are standing right next to one of the bad guys, you can’t just punch him or shove him – you have to waste time and health aiming your weapon at him and firing.

Still, on the plus side, you get to use fairly badass laser gun turrets at various points in the game and there are even some enemies that can only be defeated using these turrets.

Get some!

Get some!

But, although the combat in this game isn’t particularly perfect or intuitive, the level design is reasonably good. So, far, I’ve played the first four or five levels of the game and each level is large enough to make you want to explore, but small enough to ensure that you don’t get lost.

And, yes, this is a game from the days when levels were expected to be non-linear. So, expect to spend a while searching for keys, (badly-hidden) secret areas and doors.

Personally, I love this about the game – but if you are the kind of gamer who doesn’t like to think for themselves or explore when you’re playing, then you might find this to be frustrating.

Yes, it might take you a while to work out that the thing you need is on the other side of that pit...

Yes, it might take you a while to work out that the thing you need is on the other side of that pit…

The key system in “Small Soldiers” is kind of interesting because you don’t actually search for keys. Instead, you search for these wierd dragon-like talismans which you have to bring to an area near the beginning of the level which has the same colour lighting as the talisman.

Usually, this area will be a raised platform of some kind, but sometimes it can just be an area on the ground.

Yay! It's a chanting alien!

Yay! It’s a chanting alien!

Once you do this, a chanting alien will materialise out of nowhere and give you a key. Whilst I love the theatricality of this and the fact that you sometimes encounter additional enemies on your way back to the key area, I can’t help but feel that this was a rather sneaky way to extend the amount of time that you will spend on each level.

The jumping in the game isn’t perfect – but it isn’t terribly flawed either. For the most part, the camera angles actually allow you to see where you are going to jump and you can usually jump to where you want to jump if you time it correctly.

But, at the same time, you sometimes have to swing from branches and loops suspended from the ceiling and this can occasionally get mildly frustrating.

Thank heaves for emulators and save states!

Thank heavens for emulators and save states!

As for the levels themselves, there’s a moderate amount of variety here. Most of the levels I’ve seen so far are fairly gloomy and atmospheric – although the darkness that obscures your view of the distance might just have been included as a way to save processing power.

But, saying this, there is at least a small amount of variety, both in terms of settings and in terms of the style of gameplay that each level requires.

You'll encounter locations like this cool glowing lake...

You’ll encounter locations like this cool glowing lake…

...or this level made entirely out of bridges.

…or this level made entirely out of bridges.

Whilst most of the levels that I’ve played involve searching for keys and exploring, the first and fourth levels of the game are much more action-orientated and slightly more linear. Whilst this means that you can complete these levels fairly quickly, it provides a refreshing change of pace and prevents the game from becoming monotonous.

Although the voice-acting in “Small Soldiers” is fairly average (and I’m not sure if some of the dialogue was just lifted from the movie), this game really outdoes itself when it comes to the background music.

All of the levels I’ve played so far are filled with dramatic ambient tribal chants and/or spectacular instrumental music in the background, and this really helps to give the game a slightly “cinematic” feel.

All in all, this isn’t the best 3D platform game that I’ve ever played- but it’s far from the worst either.

Although the lack of a melee attack and the very slightly unintuitive aiming system mean that it’ll take a bit of practice before you can fight well, “Small Soldiers” is still a surprisingly entertaining and playable game.

Yes, it isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination – but it’s still very good fun.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get three and a half.