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Resident Evil + Horror + Action + Incredible Graphics = ?

By Chad Serrant

Retails at $50.00

Graphics 10.0/10.0

Sound 8.0/10.0

Gameplay 7.5/10.0

Replay Value 6.0/10.0

Overall 8.0/10.0

Capcom has a way of getting away with using games over and over again and still making a huge profit off their work. The Megaman series, for example, lasted for a decade and produced eight games. Its successor, Megaman X, is five episodes strong and still refuses to change its basic formula. This time, Capcom has decided to use Resident Evil as its base and expand from there. What’s amazing about this game is that it feels like Resident Evil, it looks like Resident Evil; it even has undead zombies like Resident Evil. But it isn’t Resident Evil.

The game starts in feudal Japan. Nobunaga Oda and his small group sneak attacks Yoshimoto Imagawa and his army. Nobunaga manages to emerge victorious. Just as he starts gloating, an arrow flies through his throat, killing him. A year later, people begin disappearing from the land. Demons are everywhere, killing innocent people and turning them into murderous zombies. Princess Yuki has been kidnapped. And Nobunaga is alive, working with the demons. Samanosuke, one of Princess Yuki’s most trusted friends (and a great swordsman, too), decides to rescue the princess and stop Nobunaga.

Although I say that graphics never make a game, they can only make it better. Onimusha has the best graphics ever, hands down. Capcom even hired a computer graphics company to make the videos. Konami, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, and Sega don’t even come close. And I didn’t forget Squaresoft in my list, either. They had better take down a few notes on how to make good graphics. The intro video will have you hooked. The in-game graphics are pretty darn good, too.

You can still tell that polygonal characters are drawn on a standstill picture, but it takes a while for you to realize this. Everyone looks realistic, so much so that you can’t play the “count the polygon” game with Onimusha. The game also has a cool light bending effect whenever an enemy turns invisible. Good work, Capcom.

Onimusha is very similar to Resident Evil. Both games use a collection of areas connected by walking to the edge of the area. The camera is fixed, by the way. This means if a zombie ninja is lurking around the corner that’s off screen, you won’t see him until you walk around the corner. By then, it’s too late. The controls are quite similar. Even though there are two analog sticks on the PS2’s controller just begging to be used, you still have to use the D-pad to move. Up makes you go forward, even if you’re facing down. Hopefully, you should get the hang of it quickly. Capcom really wanted to use the Resident Evil template. Heck, Onimusha even has herbs, just like Resident Evil!

But the gameplay is different. In Resident Evil, you’re supposed to conserve ammo and run away from as many zombies as possible. Onimusha, however, encourages fighting. When you defeat enemies, you can absorb their “soul energy.” You can use this energy to heal yourself, improve your weapons, or launch special attacks against your enemies. If you don’t improve your weapons, the stronger enemies in the game will have you for lunch (or dinner, since it’s almost always nighttime in this game.) You still have to play the obnoxious game of “fetch the item near the beginning of the game that unlocks this door” that plagues Resident Evil games.

The sound is enjoyable, as well. The music sounds like what you would expect from a samurai movie. The voices are good. Well, the Japanese voices are good. As usual, Capcom screws English speakers over with cheesy voice acting (Capcom really has a problem with English voice acting). Plus, there is a clear problem when the characters are dubbed in English while mouthing Japanese words. Anime fans know what they’re doing (no, not “Move Zig”... ): use Japanese voice with English subtitles.

The only real negative point is that this game is short. You will need less than ten hours to beat this game. And that’s a real shame, because it was really fun to go into Resident Evil with guns blazing (or in this case, swords shining).