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Posted on Jun 25th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (Disposed Hero)
Posted under Review, Resident Evil, Survival horror, Capcom, Action

Most everyone knows by now that I am a huge fan of the Resident Evil series, beginning with the first game some 20 years ago.  Once the flagship franchise of the survival-horror genre, the series has seen some massive shifts in direction over the last several years, much to the chagrin of longtime fans.  Although I have played and enjoyed every main entry in the series, even the oft-derided fifth and sixth entries, I agreed with the consensus that said Capcom should bring Resident Evil back to its horror roots instead of continuing with its newfound action-oriented direction.  So with the surprise announcement of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard at E3 2016, a new game in the series that promised to emphasize survival horror over blistering action, I must have been stoked out of my mind, right?

Well, not exactly. 

My two main reservations about this new entry largely stemmed from the first-person perspective.  First, as much as I love horror games, I really hate cheap jump scares, and many recent first-person horror games have been little more than haunted house simulators.  Second, something about Capcom effectively turning Resident Evil into a first-person shooter didn't sit well with me at all.  Needless to say, I was worried that Capcom was going for the Call of Duty market and turning one of my favorite franchises into another run-of-the-mill first-person shooter.  However, I can safely say that my fears were unfounded and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is the Resident Evil game that fans have wanted for years.

This is probably where the protagonist should have just turned around and gone home.

Developed and published by Capcom, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was released worldwide in January 2017 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.  The game has been generally well-received by gamers and critics alike, praising it as a much-desired return to form for Resident Evil while simultaneously taking the series in a bold new direction.  Resident Evil 7 is also notable for its inclusion of VR support, however I have not had the opportunity to play the game in VR and thus cannot comment on it.

The story begins with main protagonist and series newcomer Ethan Winters traveling to Dulvey, Louisiana to search for his wife Mia who has been missing for three years.  Ethan has received a mysterious message from Mia telling him that she is at the Baker estate and wants Ethan to come find her.  Once Ethan arrives at the Baker estate, it quickly becomes clear that something is very wrong with the place and the people that live there.  Ethan now finds himself in a desperate struggle for survival as he attempts to solve the mysteries of the Baker family.

Meet Jack Baker, a recurring character throughout the game and all around nice guy!

The plot has never been the strongest aspect of a Resident Evil title, and Resident Evil 7 is really no exception.  Similar to the B-movie horror titles that the original games were based on, the stories are typically cheesy and convoluted.  However, Resident Evil 7 does feature a stronger plot than its predecessors, and while it does go off the deep end a bit towards the end, the story will keep you intrigued most of the way through.

One common description I kept hearing about the gameplay of Resident Evil 7 was that it basically played just like the classic Resident Evil titles but in first-person.  I was skeptical of this assessment going into the game, but after spending a few hours with it, I can confirm that it is fairly accurate.  You will spend a significant amount of time exploring relatively large environments while hunting for supplies and key items needed for progression.  The puzzles that were so prevalent in the earlier Resident Evil titles are back as well, although they are usually fairly simple and easy to solve.

Combat in the game will be mostly familiar to anyone who has played a first-person shooter before, although Resident Evil 7 does differentiate itself from most conventional first-person shooters with its slower pace.  Most weapons in the game fire slowly, and reloading also takes longer than in most other games, so picking your shots carefully and keeping your distance from enemies is important.  Enemies are typically few and far between (with the exception of some later areas), but most enemies tend to take quite a few shots to kill, which is likely the game's way of controlling your ammo supply.  The game also does a good job with continuously providing new and interesting weapons for you throughout the game, and you will have built up quite an arsenal by the end of the game, although you will have to pick and choose your weapons due to limited inventory space.

These things are the most common enemies in the game and can be tough to put down!

Just like the Resident Evil games of old, ammunition and healing items are in short supply, and inventory space is limited, so efficient item management is essential.  To aid in this endeavor, the familiar item boxes from the classic Resident Evil games make a return, and as expected, you can inexplicably store items in one item box and retrieve them from any of the other item boxes in the game.  Also returning are the safe rooms that allow access to item boxes and save points.  There are also a couple of different collectibles in the game, one of which allows you to unlock certain items and upgrades when spent.

Graphically, Resident Evil 7 is one of the most impressive games I've played to date.  There is a staggering amount of detail to the environments, and the graphical fidelity borders on photo-realistic at times.  Character models and animations are well-done also.  The locales are subject to varying degrees of filth and disrepair, which adds to the already unnerving atmosphere.

The lighting effects are great, also.

Resident Evil 7 also fares well in the audio department.  Music in the game is well-done overall; however most of the time music is either subtle or nonexistent as the game uses silence and atmospheric tracks to create tension.  The sound effects are great as well.  Sometimes you will hear random creaks and knocking sounds that aren't actually caused by anything in the game, but they do a good job of keeping you on edge.  Lastly, the voice acting, while a commonly criticized aspect of the original Resident Evil, is top notch.

Despite my initial apprehension about this new take on the Resident Evil franchise, I came away highly impressed with Resident Evil 7.  It will no doubt be a game of the year contender for me personally for 2017, and, as a huge fan of the series since the first game, I would likely rank it among my favorites in the series.  Clocking in at roughly 10 hours for a single playthrough, Resident Evil 7 isn't a terribly long game, but there is some replay value for those that want to extend their total play time.  It may not be a game for everybody, as the slower-paced gameplay and the horror tone may be off-putting for some, but I would recommend most people at least look into it and see if it's your cup of tea.  If you're a fan of survival-horror and/or a fan of the Resident Evil series, then Resident Evil 7 is a must-play. 

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I've always had a soft spot for the Resident Evil series, but not the way the creators seemed to paint themselves in a corner with the design.  I liked part four, but it really didn't feel too much like an RE game to me.  But this game...  This is what a next gen re-imagine should be like.  The sound is great, and builds up a tension that I haven't felt since the the first few Silent Hill games.  I just want to creep as slow as possible through the mansion, listening intently for the different sound cues the enemies make.  Great game.  I'm kind of bummed Capcom didn't just rebrand it to Biohazard in the west, but whatever.  This is good enough.
I've had such a hard time with this series since RE4 and each main series entry afterwards. I REALLY want to believe 7 is gonna be more in line with what I want, but I'm extremely skeptical. I'll eventually give it a try, but I've been burned so many times now that this one isn't high on the priorities list.
I really like Resident Evil 7. There were some memorable moments and good boss battles. I felt the ending was disappointing though. Go tell aunt Rhody....
Just a note: The games came before the movies.  I have this game, barely got very far into it, and I am looking forward to getting back into it and finishing it.

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