Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew
If you've been with handheld gaming for some time you'll know that Capcom have previously attempted to bring the Resident Evil series to Nintendo handhelds and while the 3D rendered project was always seen as incredibly ambitious, developers HotGen Studios pushed on anyway. The outcome was not what Capcom had expected or desired and as a result the project was cancelled with only a handful of screenshots to file away in the Gameboy Color archives. We did get a later GBC version of the horror classic but M4's Resident Evil Gaiden was something of a failed experiment and did little to please either fans or press. Inforgrams got slightly closer when they brought their Alone in the Dark series to the GBC but processing power still compromised the final product. Then came the jump in technology we'd all been waiting for, but alas the Gameboy Advance was all but ignored as far as the horror/adventure genre was concerned and so we waited... again. Then, as if out of nowhere, Capcom announced that they were working on a Resident Evil title for the DS and judging by what the new handheld had already displayed, the gaming community was suitably excited and is even more so now it's actually been released. Is it worth the wait then and more importantly do you have to play it with the lights on?
If you took all the various nasties out of Resident Evil it would probably be a straight adventure but given that they are ever present throughout this game the genre has become better known as survival horror and that's just what you have to do; survive. To begin with you can chose to play one of two members of the STARS team: Chris or Jill, and depending on which one you select the story outcome is slightly different. It begins in a deserted mansion deep in the middle of the forest and it's the drip-feeding of details, which keeps you on your toes and retains a high level of tension. It's then up to you to uncover the mansions secrets via a combination of exploration and the disposal of everything, from mutant sharks to the ever-present zombies, in order to escape with your health and sanity intact. To stop you getting completely lost only a small section of the game is available at first (which you can see on the map screen) and it's not until you solve puzzles and gain keys, that you will be granted access to other areas. This is where the map becomes absolutely essential, colour coding just where you have been and what rooms have yet to be explored.
Just about everything you do in the game requires you to either collect, view or utilise a variety of items so a weapon, for example, will require the correct ammunition and repeatedly shooting at absolutely everything will render you unarmed and very vulnerable. Problems also arise when you amass too many items and when you do this you'll have to seek out one of the many storage chests, which are generally located in a safe room. What you'll also generally find in these rooms is a typewriter and this is where you can save your progress (just as long as you've also found a ribbon in order to type with). While this may sound incredibly complicated, it really isn't and there's on-screen help at hand whenever you encounter something new so you'll never feel at all overwhelmed.
Because of the ever-changing camera angles the control can take some time getting used to, especially when you are fleeing a scene only to find yourself back where you started. The rest of the control works remarkably well though with both weapons and items easily selectable even if you are not always quick enough.
While this is by no means the best looking game to grace the DS it's still visually impressive and very close to the PS1 original. Yes, some of the larger creatures are a little blocky and the lighting effects are minimal (along with the animation) but remember all this has been squeezed onto one tiny cart. They've even managed to include all the FMV, which is a miracle in itself. More important though is the fact that the whole adventure has retained just the right level of visual clarity so that both puzzles and collectables are always apparent as, let's face it, without this the whole thing would be a non-starter.
As with the visuals there's been an impressive amount of original audio packed into this tiny cart including moaning zombies, screeching birds and a variety of weapon sounds. Along side this you'll also get the creepy soundtrack, which works just as well today as it did all those years ago. One audio element that hasn't stood the test of time though is the rather cheesy voice acting. In an era where even video games can attract the best in Hollywood talent this can occasionally sound the your local drama group's first radio play. If you can overlook this (and stop yourself from laughing) it's still a great sounding game and digging out your best headphones, to block out the rest of the world, makes it sound that much better.
Actually quite inventive mostly down to the number of mini-games which require stylus interaction although remember you can select the original game which does away with this completely. It is also used for hand-to-hand combat so rather than using up your last bullets you can battle it out armed only with your knife. This does take some getting used to (especially with the dogs) but with the correct timing you can wander away from multiple zombies having sent them back to the dead and with little damage to yourself. The only problem is that it's completely random so making sure you have sufficient health is essential.
Resident Evil DS has one huge thing against it in that its popularity over the last decade means that almost every gamer out there has already played it. It also changes little in this conversion and outside of the DS enhancements it's much the same game as you remember. Putting all this to one side though you have to remember that this is a PS1 game, which has been completely converted to a handheld and in its transition it's lost absolutely none of the charm and gameplay, which made it such a success in the first place. If you have played it before then there may be just enough touch-screen mini-games to keep you occupied when playing the original adventure but if you're new to gaming go and get yourself a copy now.
Pro: Looks Incredible, Great Soundtrack, Loads of FMV.
Con: Wooden Animation, Fixed Camera Angles.
Final score: 7.9