I’ve been a fan of the Resident Evil series ever since I played the original game round a friend’s house on his PSX. We must have only been 8 years old at the time, so naturally, we didn’t let his parents know what we were playing… However, it was such a brilliant experience, with the adrenaline rush that accompanied so much of the game (especially that corridor, if you know what I mean). I loved it so much that I saved up my pocket money and bought it off my friend, since I’d never be able to get it in an actual shop.
Since then, I’ve played almost of all of the Resident Evil games, including the likes of Resident Evil Gaiden (which was horrible) and the Resident Evil Outbreak series (you can read my review of the first of those games here). I even forced myself through Resident Evil 5 and 6… But, there was one game that stuck in my mind, for all the wrong reasons – Resident Evil: Survivor. Released on the 27th of January, 2000, I got the game as a birthday gift one day after my birthday. I was so excited to play it, as the idea of it seemed amazing. Resident Evil: Survivor is a first-person shooter Resident Evil game with an original side story, which sounds brilliant on paper. However, when I actually played it, it just didn’t click with me. I did finish it, but it felt more like a chore than something fun and exciting.
I didn’t touch the game again after that, letting it collect dust. However, it has been 18 years since then and a lot has changed, myself included. So, what did I think of Resident Evil: Survivor when I went back to play it again? Let’s find out!
Right, so as mentioned previously, Resident Evil: Survivor is a side story to the main Resident Evil games. It takes place after the end of Resident Evil and features a brand new set of characters. You play as a man who has suffered from amnesia, having survived a helicopter crash just outside of a township, owned by the Umbrella Corporation. With the entire place infested with zombies and other biological weapons created by Umbrella, you have to both escape alive and figure out who you are.
Now, despite the amnesia angle cliche, that does sound like an intriguing premise to a Survival Horror game. However, as you progress through the game you quickly realise that it is lacking the depth of other Resident Evil games. For example, the backstory you can learn about the Spencer Mansion from the first Resident Evil, or the history of Police Chief Irons in Resident Evil 2, really add to the overall plot. These extra subplots just make everything all the more terrifying and creepy. With Resident Evil: Survivor, nothing really comes close to this, sadly.
The game’s plot twist revolves entirely around the main character’s identity and really doesn’t feel like a shock or surprise at all. On top of this, the actual events of the game don’t really offer much to expand on the world, honestly feeling more like a fan fiction that an actual, canon storyline. Oddly enough, it is amazingly close to a short story I wrote at school in 1998, which was a fan fiction about Claire Redfield from Resident Evil 2.
The story had at least some potential to be different and unique, adding to the mystery of Umbrella or the horrors of their experiments. But in the end, it just felt like something thrown together as quickly as possible, so that the developers could claim there was a plot to this game.
Considering that Resident Evil: Survivor was a first-person Survival Horror shooter, I remember expecting a lot from the game. I’d been playing Medal of Honor a lot and was actually starting to like FPS games. However, one key thing to note is that Resident Evil: Survivor isn’t a standard FPS – it is a light gun game, through and through. This meant that, if you didn’t own a light gun, playing with the controller was a pig, to say the least.
In typical Resident Evil fashion, you had to hold one button to take aim, which would bring up a targeting reticle on the screen. From there, you had to move the reticle around the screen with the D-Pad or Analogue Stick to actually aim at your enemies. This made shooting very tedious and slow, which just ended up making the gameplay feel frustrating.
Even if you do have a light gun, whilst aiming is easier, movement suffers considerably. In order to move around the game world, you have to shoot off screen to move and use the side buttons to turn. This feels very clunky. Oh, and if you have the US version of the game, you actually don’t get the option to use a light gun, as it was removed from that version of the game entirely. On top of this, the Survival Horror aspect of the game died a lot once you realised that you have infinite ammunition for the handguns.
Resident Evil: Survivor uses the same enemy models as Resident Evil 2, which were really quite good for the time that game was released. However, it is important to note that Resident Evil 2 was released in January 1998, a full two years before Resident Evil: Survivor. As such, when Survivor did come out, it felt somewhat outdated in terms of visuals. This was only compounded by the fact that you were now looking at two-year-old zombie models up close and personal.
Even the character animations during cutscenes felt out of touch with game design for the time, still using the same engine as the older Resident Evil games.
That’s not to say that the graphics were horrible. As mentioned earlier, they were recycled from Resident Evil 2, which looked awesome at the time it was released. The problem for Resident Evil: Survivor was that two full years (almost to the day) had gone by and there didn’t seem to be any improvement or progress to the graphical design at all. The fact that you are now looking at these graphics in the first person really didn’t help either.
And That’s All Folks
Overall, Resident Evil: Survivor had the potential to be a great side story game, like the Resident Evil Outbreak series. However, due to clunky gameplay and a cliche story that doesn’t offer anything of any real interest, it feels more like a cheap cash-in to just get more sales from the Resident Evil name.
Every series has that one bad apple in it and whilst most people these days will say that Resident Evil 5 or 6 fits that idea, they are at least enjoyable in some capacity. However, Resident Evil: Survivor is just such a dull, boring and frustrating game. If you’re trying to get a full collection of the franchise, then pick this one up. If not, then I would recommend avoiding it like you would the T-Virus itself.