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Now, with full control of the hero(ine) in your hands, the first wave of disappointment may form when, after being psyched up by the introduction movie and suckered in by the promises on the box, you realize this is most certainly not the action gorefest you might first have thought. Without a doubt, the focus of gameplay prominently remains on exploration and experimentation more than anything else, which will no doubt deter a lot of the eager action fans looking for a 3rd-person Quake meets Night of the Living Dead.
No, this title is about experiencing the suspenseful atmosphere, relishing the tension every time you enter new and unfamiliar territory, and being prepared to jump and feel your pulse rate quicken even when you think you're ready for anything. The game is played entirely from a 3rd-person perspective, using static 'fly-on-the-wall' cameras at cinematic angles, which change when your character moves close to the edge of the screen or into the background; a technique made standard by the still fantastic game released back in the early nineties Alone in the Dark developed by French company, Infogrames. Of course, back then, the visuals were in blocky ol' VGA (320x200x256) and the character's sprites were made up of ugly, jagged polygons completely lacking in any form of shading or detail. Regardless, the original AITD was revolutionary, atmospheric, and downright frightening!
And in fact, Resident Evil owes a lot more to AITD than just the similarities in viewpoints - both were set in a deserted mansion rampant with creatures of the undead, both have certain 'high scare points' where you walk along and suddenly a trap goes off or a monster jumps out on you, with the accompanying loud, Friday the 13th-style music blaring in the background (RE even has a scene identical to AITD where huge dogs suddenly jump through a nearby window to attack you).
After sacrificing a ridiculously large portion of the hard drive to the game's recommended install (how it managed on the Playstation, where there's a minuscule amount of storage capacity, I daren't wonder) - some 274mb - you are brought up with a typically console-looking startup screen. Big title covering top portion of the screen, two brief and simple options at the bottom: New Game, Load Game. Before beginning, you must choose which character you wish to play, which admirably offers the player a chance to assume a male or female role - both with the hard names of Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine.
Essentially though, this is actually more of a 'difficulty' setting, as the female character presents a much easier challenge (more inventory space, fewer and easier-to-kill monsters, starts with a gun as opposed to just a knife, less doors to unlock…), but it's commendable that there are gameplay differences and the choice of gender isn't purely cosmetic. I always get a kick out of the games that place female leads in that are obviously nothing more than an afterthought, as the rest of the characters throughout always refer to you using male pronouns and make sexist jokes right to your face.
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