Resident Evil: Deadly Silence is the upcoming DS game based on the original Resident Evil. Rather than simply porting the original to Nintendo's dual-screen system, Capcom is tricking out the original experience by throwing in some new modes. The work-in-progress version on display at Nintendo's Gamer's Summit let us try our hand at the new rebirth mode, and we even got to poke around a bit in the multiplayer mode. While we were a little skeptical as to whether the original would work on the DS, we were pleasantly surprised by what we saw.
The first surprise came after experiencing a wicked sense of déjà vu when we started a new game and were greeted by the original cheese-tastic live-action full-motion-video intro in its entirety. Once the game switched to in-game graphics, we were pleased to hear all the audio from the game as the embattled members of the S.T.A.R.S. team wind up in the deserted mansion where the action is set.
As before, you'll be able to play as Chris Redfield and Jill "Master of Unlocking" Valentine. The visuals looked comparable to the original PlayStation's graphics, albeit a little fuzzier in spots. The backgrounds weren't quite as crisp or colorful as in the original game, although from what we saw of them, they looked to be on point. One nice touch is the inclusion of the classic door and stairway screens, which were originally included to help hide the original's loading times. You'll still see the screens, but you can simply bypass them by pressing B if you're not that nostalgic. The in-game full-motion video, such as that seen the first time you see a zombie chowing down on a S.T.A.R.S. member, remains intact, as does all the voice during the in-game cinematics. You can obviously expect a bit of a downgrade in terms of visual clarity in the computer graphics and audio, but it's not terrible.
The controls in the game worked reasonably well, despite the "love it or hate it" tanklike feeling that moving characters had in the early games. The core controls have been mapped out well to the DS buttons. The new DS-specific elements, some of which borrow from later entries in the RE series, also work reasonably well. A reload and a 180- degree-turn button both help keep the experience from feeling quite so dated.
Your knife is now permanently mapped, so you simply have to hold down your shoulder button to use it. Besides the convenience of the feature, it also frees up an item slot in your inventory, which rocks. We didn't get a chance to see all the DS-specific features, such as the microphone function that lets you resuscitate injured teammates by blowing into the microphone or using the screen to solve puzzles, but we did see some. The first was obviously your inventory screen, which is constantly displayed. The next was using the screen to shake off enemies after we were grabbed by quickly rubbing right and left on the screen. The most satisfying new feature was using the screen to hack up enemies with our knife. Though we were only able to access the gameplay segment as Chris--as Jill's touch-screen slashing moments apparently come later in the game--it was extremely satisfying to hack up a zombie by slashing the screen. Your onscreen slashing will correspond to where and how you slash, within obvious limits.
In addition to the single-player rebirth mode, we were also able to briefly poke around with the multiplayer versus mode, one of two multiplayer options in Resident Evil: Deadly Silence. The mode basically lets you compete against a friend, via DS-to-DS Wi-Fi, in what appears to be a run through a level. While we weren't able to check it out for too long, the mode seemed like it could be pretty fun, as it appears that you and your opponent can trip each other up by killing certain types of enemies. For example, killing one type of enemy will impede your opponent's progress by throwing some hazard in his or her way.
Though our look at Resident Evil: Deadly Silence was a brief one, we're impressed by what we've seen. Capcom's efforts to cram the CD-based game onto a DS cart are going quite well. The original game fits well on the DS, the new features that take advantage of the hardware seem to be working out, and the multiplayer content is certainly a bonus. DS owners looking for some touch-screen zombie slashing would do well to keep an eye out for the game when it ships next year. Look for more on it soon.