Not only was Resident Evil one of the first Sony PlayStation games that took longer than an hour to complete, it was revolutionary. By sacrificing the fully 3D worlds that were the trend of the time, for static, rendered rooms, the game's developers created backgrounds and characters that were better looking than anything anyone had seen up to that point. Perhaps even better yet, Resident Evil proved that "mature" themes could be justified within a good game at a time when the industry was still recovering from the attention Congress had given it sometime back (though Capcom did cut a slight bit of the game's violent cinemas). More than a year later, now that the company has a little less to fear from Senate subcommittees, it's released what it calls the Director's Cut, a version with all of the original footage supposedly left uncensored, along with additional new material to boot.
The game's storyline is equal parts X-Files and Night of the Living Dead. You select from Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, two members of a special police force sent into the woods outside Raccoon City to investigate a series of strange murders. After being separated from their team, Chris and Jill (you choose your character) begin searching through a mysterious house, hidden in a remote location deep within the forest. The characters encounter zombies, mutant plants, monstrous spiders, and other by-products of an experiment gone astray, as they attempt to gather evidence pertaining to the case, save their partners, destroy the evil residing within the house, and escape with their lives.
As first reported in GameSpot News, Resident Evil: Director's Cut fails to come through with its promise of providing the footage Capcom trimmed for the US release of the original title, supposedly because of a mistake during Sony's approval process. Though that seems to be the impetus of the game's marketing campaign, it really ends up being a relatively small part of the overall package, since the two new modes of play (training and advanced) and a Resident Evil 2 demo CD are clearly the main attractions.
Both new difficulty settings have something notable to offer players. The training mode, while sounding like some sort of idiotic play-by-numbers, is actually a version of the game in which the monsters do less damage, there are more typewriter ribbons to be found (which are necessary to save your progress), and there's enough ammunition present to wipe out the entire cast of creatures, almost twice. If you're like me, you'll probably prefer shooting zombies to solving the game's often-bizarre puzzles, so this setting surely holds some merit. Inside the advanced mode, the creatures, not surprisingly, do greater damage (you might get killed with a single chomp, if you're not careful), there are fewer ribbons, and ammo is a little more difficult to come by. But balancing out these frustrations are a few new challenges: The puzzles have been shuffled around, you have more monsters to fight, several camera angles have been altered (frequently giving you a better, more practical view), and there are a few nice surprises to find, as well. And it's really nice to be surprised while playing Resident Evil once again.
It's true that Capcom could've done a few more things to further enhance the value to the player, such as analog controller support, an updated translation, and voice-overs (it's arguably one of the most laughable translations in gaming history), and, of course, the omitted cinemas. But the new difficulty modes along with the beautiful, though painfully short RE2 demo make Resident Evil: Director's Cut worth buying. Those who don't already have Resident Evil should pick this baby up, and those who do should consider trading in their old copy for this year's model.