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Resident Evil (video game)

Resident Evil, known in Japan as , is a survival horror video game by Capcom. The inaugural title and first installment in the Resident Evil series, it was originally released in 1996 for the Sony PlayStation and has subsequently been ported to the Sega Saturn and PC.

In 2002, a remake of the game was released for the Nintendo GameCube featuring new graphics, voice acting and many significant gameplay changes. A Nintendo DS port of the original was released in early 2006 as Resident Evil: Deadly Silence.

It was the first game to be dubbed a "survival horror," borrowing from the "ambient survival horror" genre coined by Alone in the Dark. Accordingly, Game Informer refers to "the original Resident Evil" as "one of the most important games of all time. The inspiration for Resident Evil was the earlier Capcom game Sweet Home. Shinji Mikami was initially commissioned to make a horror game set in a haunted mansion like Sweet Home.


The original game opens on the evening of July 24, 1998 in the fictional Raccoon City, a midwestern town, where a number of grisly murders have taken place on the outskirts of town. Victims were attacked in their homes by a group of assailants, who left evidence of cannibalism. Local law enforcement sends in the STARS Bravo team. After contact is lost, Alpha team is sent to find Bravo team and continue the investigation. Alpha team locates the downed Bravo team helicopter, but there is no sign of survivors; only a severed hand is found. While searching the area for further clues, Alpha team is attacked by ferocious dogs, one of which kills one of the team's members, Joseph Frost. Alpha's helicopter pilot, Brad Vickers, takes off and abandons the team. Pursued by the dogs who killed their colleague, Alpha team is forced to seek refuge within a nearby mansion, believed to be abandoned.

With the dogs roaming outside, the four remaining Alpha team members (Albert Wesker, Chris Redfield, Barry Burton and Jill Valentine) are trapped within. A gun shot rings out, to which the player's selected character moves to investigate. At this point, the player takes control of the character and begins to explore the mansion. One of the first discoveries is a member of Bravo team, Kenneth J. Sullivan, being eaten by a zombie. The character eventually finds the mansion to be anything but abandoned, riddled with puzzles, traps, and horrors. Scattered documents and files suggest that a series of illegal experiments were being undertaken on the property by a clandestine research team, under the authority and supervision of pharmaceutical conglomerate, the Umbrella Corporation. The creatures roaming the mansion and surrounding region are the results of these experiments, which have exposed the mansion's personnel and various animals and insects to a highly contagious and mutagenic biological agent known as the T-Virus (hence the Japanese title, Biohazard).

After navigating a series of tunnels, passageways and buildings, the player discovers a secret underground laboratory containing detailed records of the Umbrella Corporation's experiments. In the lab, Wesker reveals that he is a double agent working for Umbrella and releases the Tyrant T-002, a giant humanoid monster created through prolonged exposure to the T-Virus. Upon release, the Tyrant turns toward Wesker and (depending on the player's actions throughout the game,) either knocks him out or impales him. The player then apparently kills the Tyrant. After killing the Tyrant, a self-destruct program is triggered. After the player calls for a rescue chopper, the Tyrant bursts through the roof of the lab onto the helicopter pad and attacks. The Tyrant is finally slain when Vickers drops a rocket launcher and the player uses it to completely destroy the creature. The player escapes in the chopper and the game ends as the mansion explodes.

The ending varies depending on choices made by the player. The ending plays out as described above in Chris and Jill's endings if the player saves only one or neither of their teammates.


Unlike subsequent Resident Evil games, the first game had a live-action opening and endings in the style of a horror B-movie. The opening footage in Western releases was significantly re-cut to exclude much of the gore. Although Capcom had intended to include the complete and uncensored version of the intro in the later releases, only the PC, some North American and European Sega Saturn releases, and the German and French PAL PlayStation Director's Cut releases contained the original FMV.

The gameplay environment consists of polygonal 3D characters placed over prerendered bitmap backgrounds. As such, the game relies on pre-determined camera angles as opposed to a real-time camera. As a result, the game uses a "tank-like" control scheme. Instead of the player moving the character in the direction pushed on the control stick, the character instead moves forwards by pressing up, backwards by pressing down and will turn on the spot by pushing left or right directional buttons.

The player fights enemies by arming the character with a weapon. When attacking, the player remains static and can turn their character and aim their weapon level, up or down. Initially, the only weapons available to the player are a combat knife and a Beretta 92FS, but later in the game, more weapons become accessible to the player such as the Remington 870 and a Colt Python. Ammunition is severely limited.

The player must survive by fighting against the various monsters that populate the mansion. The most common enemies in the game are zombies, which are slow-moving and easy to outrun, but hard to avoid in close quarters. During later sections of the game, the player must also fight against zombie dogs (known as "Cerberus"), Hunters, Chimeras and Web Spinners, as well as small enemies such as crows, wasps and adders. The player must also fight against bosses such as a giant snake,(referred to as a "Yawn") a giant spider, the Plant 42, a giant shark, and the Tyrant.

Health is restored by using first-aid sprays or healing herbs. Of the two, healing herbs are more common and restore a portion of the player's health, while first-aid sprays are more scarce, but will restore the player's health completely. There are three types of healing herbs available: Green for restoring health, Blue cures poison, and Red which cannot be used by itself, but will triple the healing power of a green herb when mixed with one.

The player must navigate through the mansion by picking up various keys and items which are integral to the game's progress, while solving puzzles along the way. The player has a limited capacity for carrying items and this enforces the need to carry only essential items in order to have space for new items. As such, boxes are available for the player to store any item for later use.

The player can save progress by locating a typewriter and using an ink ribbon to save gameplay data. Ink ribbons are available in a limited quantity, forcing the player to think carefully about whether they have made enough progress to justify saving the game.

There are also various documents available which provide the solutions to certain puzzles or simply further divulge the plot.


Main characters

Resident Evil has the player take control of either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine. There are differences in abilities, items and supporting characters, resulting in a unique scenario for each character. Successive Resident Evil titles utilized a similar template, including a male and female lead in each release with few exceptions.

  • Chris Redfield - The male protagonist. He is stronger than Jill, making him more resistant to enemy attacks. He can carry six items and starts with a knife. He needs "Small Keys" to unlock doors where Jill can simply use her lock pick. Chris's supporting character is Rebecca Chambers, who will render primarily passive assistance to the player.
  • Jill Valentine - The female protagonist. Jill's scenario is the easier of the two, as she has a higher carrying capacity and a lock pick. Jill's supporting character is Barry Burton, who will render primarily offensive assistance to the player. Despite her great capacity for holding items, she is physically weaker, and slower, than Chris.

Supporting characters

  • Barry Burton - In Chris' scenario, Barry only appears in the opening scene and disappears in the beginning, with Wesker presuming him dead. In Jill's scenario, Barry helps throughout the game. Barry often shows up whenever Jill is in need of help. Wesker threatened to kill Barry's family unless he helped him. In the original version, depending on the player's actions (such as waiting for him to replace a lost rope or seeing Enrico with him), Barry survives to help Jill at the end of the game or gets killed by one of the monsters. In the GameCube version, Barry aims his revolver at Jill, but she thwarts him and, depending on a choice made by the player, may or may not give him his gun back. According to the original Resident Evil instruction manual, Barry is very much a 'family man', and in one scenario, he presents Jill with a photograph of himself with his wife and children. He has experienced family troubles at home, which explains the stress he often exhibits throughout Jill's mission. He also utters some of the game's most infamous dialogue; he claims that Jill is the "master of unlocking," and when Jill is almost flattened by a descending ceiling from which Barry helps her escape, he claims that Jill was almost a "Jill sandwich."
  • Rebecca Chambers - Chris meets her either when she is attending to wounded Bravo team member Richard, or when Chris first enters the mansion infirmary. Rebecca appears during portions of Chris' scenario which call for her expertise, such as mixing chemicals or playing the piano, and can heal Chris at certain points. She also becomes a playable character provided the player undertakes tasks in a specific order.
  • Albert Wesker - The STARS team's commanding officer and Alpha's team leader, Wesker makes sporadic appearances throughout gameplay. Early in the game, Wesker vanishes, leaving players to fend for themselves. In the GameCube remake, Wesker will assist Chris in combat.

Most of the missing Bravo team members make minor appearances throughout the game and are often critically injured or already dead. In the Director's Cut release, the GameCube remake, and Deadly Silence, Forrest appears as a zombie. In the GameCube release, Richard Aiken plays an extended role in both scenarios if the serum is delivered to him before his death. Although only Rebecca or Barry will escape with the player character, in the canon of the series, it is known that both survived the mansion incident.


The PlayStation game was a best seller in North America. The game received mixed reviews from critics. For example, GameSpot praised the game while Computer Gaming World gave a more mixed review for the PC version (in which the violence was unedited, see below) in explaining that they "tried to hate it with its graphic violence, rampant sexism, poor voice acting and use of every horror cliché's actually fun. In total, according to Capcom's Investor Relations website, the original Resident Evil has sold 2,750,000 units.

The GameCube remake of Resident Evil has managed to sell 1,250,000 units in total. GameSpot said about the remake: "Capcom has nearly perfected its craft and created the best Resident Evil ever" And IGN mentioned at the time that the remake was "The prettiest, most atmospheric and all-around scariest game we've ever played


English localization

The original PlayStation version of Resident Evil featured several considerable changes between its original Japanese release and its English-language counterparts. The North American and European versions of the intro were heavily cut. Many of the more violent scenes from the live-action FMV were removed, as were scenes featuring Chris Redfield smoking a cigarette.

These were done so to comply with SCEA's censorship standards. The original Japanese PlayStation version also featured two vocal themes performed by J-Pop artist Fumitaka Fuchigami that were not in any other versions of the game. The auto-aiming function was disabled and the numbers of ink ribbons found by the player were reduced. Capcom also planned to eliminate the inter-connecting item boxes for the North American version and this was actually implemented in review copies of the game, but was eliminated due to negative feedback from play testers and game reviewers. This feature was brought back in the GameCube version as an unlockable difficulty setting known as "Real Survival."

Japanese voice acting for the game was recorded, but ultimately unused. The released Japanese version uses English voice acting with Japanese subtitles, as does every Biohazard sequel released in Japan.

Director's Cut

An updated version of Resident Evil for the PlayStation, titled Resident Evil: Director's Cut, was released in September 1997, 18 months after the original release. Director's Cut was produced to compensate for the delay of the sequel, Resident Evil 2, and was originally bundled with a playable demo of that game.

The main addition is the inclusion of an 'Advanced' mode featuring new camera angles, different item and enemy placement, a more powerful handgun and new default outfits for Chris, Jill, and Rebecca. The original game is included, with a new "Beginner" setting where the amount of ammunition available is doubled. One of the new features in the Director's Cut, a zombified version of Bravo Team member Forest Speyer, was later kept in all later re-releases and in the GameCube remake.

A second release of Director's Cut, known as the Dual Shock Version, was released in Japan and North America. The Dual Shock Version featured support for the Dual Shock controller's analog controls and vibration functions, as well as a new symphonic soundtrack by Mamoru Samuragouchi, replacing the original soundtrack by Makoto Tomozawa, Akari Kaida, and Masami Ueda. The Japanese version of the Dual Shock Version came packaged with a bonus disc that contained downloadable save data and footage of the Japanese dubbed version of Resident Evil and gameplay footage of Resident Evil 1.5 (the canceled version of Resident Evil 2).

The North American and European releases of Director's Cut were marketed as featuring the original, uncensored footage as seen in the Japanese releases. However, the FMV sequences were unchanged from the previous western releases and were still censored. Capcom claimed the omission was the result of a localization mistake made by the developers and offered the uncensored intro as a free download from their website as an appeasement. The French and German PAL versions of Director's Cut feature the uncensored FMVs, in colored versions.

PlayStation 3 users can purchase and download Resident Evil: Director's Cut for play on the PSP. As of April 2007, the game is only available in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan stores.

Ports to other platforms

Ports of the original Resident Evil were produced for the Sega Saturn and PC, each version containing platform-specific exclusive content.

The Sega Saturn version added an unlockable Battle Game minigame in which the player must traverse through a series of rooms from the main game and eliminate all enemies within them with the weapons selected by the player. This minigame features two exclusive enemies not in the main game: a zombie version of Wesker and a gold-colored Tyrant. The player's performance is graded at the end of the minigame. The Saturn version also features exclusive enemy monsters, such as a re-skinned breed of Hunters known as Ticks and a second Tyrant prior to the game's final battle. Exclusive outfits for Jill and Chris were added as well.

The PC version features the uncensored footage from the Japanese version, but the opening intro is now in full color rather than black and white (with the exception of the Australian version, which used the censored version). Support for 3D accelerators was added as well, allowing for much sharper graphics. Two new unlockable weapons are added, a MAC-10 for Jill and an FN Minimi for Chris. New unlockable outfits for Chris and Jill are added as well.

A Game Boy Color version of Resident Evil was planned, but cancelled by Capcom, citing that the port was of poor quality.

GameCube remake

In 2002, the original Resident Evil was remade for the Nintendo GameCube. This was part of an exclusivity agreement between Capcom and Nintendo that spanned three new games. The title includes a variety of new gameplay elements, environments, and story details as well as state of the art visuals. Shinji Mikami has stated that the remake is "70% different from the original."

The game is notable for its nearly photo-realistic environments, all of which are pre-rendered. The remake features all-new graphics and sound, and also incorporates gameplay elements from the later installments such as the use of body language and the 180-degree turn, introduced a new running style which was also used in Resident Evil Zero, and several new areas and rooms were also added to the game. The overall plot remains largely unchanged. The original live-action FMV segments were redone in CG, with the voice acting done by a different cast. The script was rewritten to have a more serious tone and improved translation, as opposed to the cheesy B-movie dialogue and "Engrish" script of the original. Gameplay mechanics are largely the same although most of the puzzles have been changed and the player can equip a defensive weapon that can be used when seized by an enemy.

Additionally, the remake features many unlockable game modes, secrets, and various endings not found in the original. It also restores the George Trevor subplot, and splices other main characters of the Resident Evil plot, such as William Birkin and Alexia Ashford into the game's backstory.

The GameCube version of Resident Evil sold over 1.25 million copies.

Deadly Silence

An enhanced Nintendo DS port of the original Resident Evil, titled Resident Evil: Deadly Silence was made to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the series. Deadly Silence includes a "Classic Mode," the original game with minimal enhancements and touch-screen support, as well as a "Rebirth Mode" containing a greater amount of enemies and a series of new puzzles that make use of the hardware's unique features.

The game makes use of the dual screen display with the top screen used to display the map, along with the player's remaining ammunition and health (determined by the color of the background); while the bottom screen displays the main gameplay, and can be switched to show the player's inventory. The graphics were mildly enhanced, and the game also include updated play mechanics; the 180-degree turn introduced in Resident Evil 3, along with the knife button, and tactical reload from Resident Evil 4. The updated controls are applicable to both Classic and Rebirth modes. Dialog and loading screens can be skipped. The live-action footage was still censored, even in the game's Japanese release, however the scene showing Kenneth's decapitated head was kept.

In "Rebirth," new puzzles are added which make use of the system's touch-screen to solve them. "Knife Battle" sequences, viewed from a first-person perspective, are also added in which the player must fend off incoming enemies by swinging the knife via the stylus. One particular puzzle requires the player to resuscitate an injured comrade by blowing into the built-in microphone. The player can also shake off enemies by using the touch screen and performing a melee attack. The game also includes wireless Local Area Network support for up to four players with two different multiplayer game modes. The first is a cooperative mode in which each player must help each other solve puzzles and escape the mansion together. The other is a competitive mode in which the objective is to get the highest score out of all the players by destroying the most monsters, with the tougher monsters being worth more points. There are three playable multiplayer stages and nine playable characters.

Wii version

IGN reported that Japanese video game magazine Famitsu has revealed that the Gamecube version of Resident Evil is being ported to the Wii for a release on December 25, 2008. As with the Japan-only port of Resident Evil Zero, the game will see minimal changes in its move over to the Wii.


  • The idea of using zombies as enemies came from George A. Romero's Living Dead movie series. Earlier ideas for the game proposed paranormal enemies instead of living creatures.
  • Barry's line, "Here's a lockpick. It might be handy if you, the master of unlocking, take it with you." was named the worst game line ever in the January 2002 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. A document that can be found about Jill in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, states how she earned the "awkward nickname" of "The Master of Unlocking".


A novelization of the game titled Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy, was written by author S.D. Perry as the first book in her series of Resident Evil novels. The novel combines Jill's and Chris scenarios into one narrative and features all five of the main characters (including Barry and Rebecca).

The book also takes liberty with the original source materials; the most notable difference being the inclusion of an original character named Trent, an insider from Umbrella who provides Jill with information about the mansion prior to the events of the mansion incident. Since the book was written a few years before the Nintendo GameCube remake, the novelization omits the presence of Lisa Trevor in the mansion. However, the book does allude to the original version of George Trevor's Journal from The True Story Behind Biohazard, as well as the short story it contained Biohazard: The Beginning, which involved the disappearance of Chris Redfield's friend, Billy Rabbitson. Another notable difference in the novels is moving the location of Raccoon City from the Midwest to Pennsylvania, apparently about an hour's drive from New York.


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