Review: Resident Evil: Deadly Silence
Posted 15 Apr 2006 at 20:44 by Jordan
Resident Evil returns... again with a rather terrible name to boot. In its third rendition (technically fourth if you include Resident Evil Directors Cut), can it still deliver after all these years?
For the three of you who have never played the original Resident Evil game, it takes place in a wood on the outskirts of Racoon City in a mansion. The game opens with the original and now famous FMV, which unfortunately doesn't look great on the lower DS screen; it's terribly compressed and it has thick black borders all the way around it. However, this doesn't stop you from manically laughing at how bad the acting is. Once you are chased to the mansion by a pack of crazed dogs, you and your fellow members of the STAR's Bravo team go in search of your collogues on the Alpha team. Who of course, have gone missing after their chopper crash landed in the wood; where is the Alpha team? What has become of them? Well, that's the storyline to Resident Evil: Deadly Silence.
Although the original Resident Evil game is still in this game, there is now a "Rebirth" mode specifically designed with the Nintendo DS in mind. Not only have the enemies been moved around and the difficulty nudged up a notch, but now there are touch screen and microphone specific puzzles for you to enjoy.
There are also rather bad uses of the touch screen to begrudge however. The random knife battles you encounter in the game put you in a first person perspective and you must use your trusty stylus to kill off any enemies, usually in the form of zombies and crows. As fun as this may sound, it's very frustrating as the controls aren't responsive enough. You swipe the screen and nothing seems to happen sometimes and you're forced to be either bitten to death or tap the screen in a psychotic fashion to stab them to death. Oh the fun.
That being said… the core game play of Resident Evil is quite fun. When you first start the game, if you've never played an RE game before, you will die. You will die ALOT, believe me. Stick with it, because it's worth it. Although the game suffers from its infamous "Tank Controls", it has some great combat where you must use everything at your disposal to kill of enemies. However, you can't just go around saving every 5 minutes and using up all your ammo on one enemy. Bullets and save ribbons are rationed and this is something you must get used to very quickly. The game also has some rather inventive puzzles, some new and some from the original. They don't offer too much of a challenge but you may be scratching your head for a while at first.
For the first time, Resident Evil also has a multiplayer aspect. Although a slight let down, it allows you and a friend to go around the mansion together or race against each other. The only problem is, due to the lack of the DS's power or Capcom being lazy instead of seeing your friends character model, you see a coloured arrow. This really looks daft, especially in the thick of things when your team mate is killing one of the enemies and you just see it drop to the floor dead at the hands of an arrow, without even being shot at.
The graphics in this game are both fantastic and a let down. Although the character models look great on such a small screen, probably better than the Playstation originals, due to it being on a handheld it suffers from one major problem. Because you're not using a proper TV screen, using dark lighting that we're used to in survival horrors just isn't possible. This means that the atmosphere is seriously damaged and no amount of zombies screaming "Braaaaains!" is going to help with this. Seriously, if the music in this game was replaced with Mario Kart music and all the zombies were given masks to wear, it would be a different affair all together. Another downfall is of course the screen size of the DS; although Capcom isn't to blame it really hinders the experience. Countless times I couldn't see my enemies because my own character was stood in front of the camera. RE: DS would have been better suited to a new camera angle to compensate for this, possibly a top down view or a Resident Evil 4 behind the shoulder perspective which the fans were crying out for.
The other major graphical concerns are the blocky blood effects and the lack of top screen use. The blood doesn't really look all that great in either green or red and the DS could have definitely done better. The top screen is only used to display a map; although handy it could have probably been used in a better way. It also blinks different colours depending on how much health you have left which can be slightly misguiding; many a time I've thought I had only one hit till I was dead, when in fact I could have taken a couple more.
The best part of this game is by far the sound. This game has some of the worst dialogue I've ever heard and hearing it will make you laugh out loud a lot of the time. "After all Jill, you are the master of unlocking" makes me laugh even to this day. All the dialogue has voice acting and sounds great on the DS and I'm surprised they fit it all on the cart. The music is midi-esk however; it fits the mood of the halls of the mansion perfectly. One other great thing; because the DS has virtual surround through its two speakers, when you hear an enemy and he's standing right behind you, it really will sound like he's behind you, a fantastic addition to scare you senseless.
In short, Resident Evil: Deadly Silence does and doesn't deliver. The lack of atmosphere hinders this game in many ways. If you've never played the original Resident Evil game, you should really play RE-make on the GameCube which is probably the best version of this classic you can play, plus it looks amazing. I guess the question is; how much do you want to play this on the move, with its few added gimmicks yet hindered atmosphere to warrant it a worthy purchase over the Cube?
N-Europe Final Verdict
Back in 1996, Resident Evil was a groundbreaking game. Now, it pales to most other survival horrors, especially RE4.
The awesome dialogue
Some great use of the DS hardware
Lots of unlockables
Loss of atmosphere
Some bad use of the DS hardware
Screen is far too small for this game