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Raccoon City used to be such a nice place to live, until strange gangs started terrorising families living on the outskirts of the city. We’re not talking about the kinds of gangs that throw eggs at your window or hang around menacingly in their hoodies on street corners either. According to reports, this particular brand of hoodlum has been eating their victims alive. It’s up to the Racoon City STARS investigative team to get to the bottom of these grizzly goings on. While looking for their missing colleagues, Jill, Chris, Barry and Wesker from STARS find themselves trapped in a spooky looking mansion in the Racoon countryside and must stay alive long enough to uncover the sinister plot woven by the evil Umbrella Corporation. Hugely influential and often credited with creating the survival horror genre, Resident Evil was ground breaking when first released on the Playstation in 1996. The franchise is still going strong today, with the sixth game in the series having just been released. Although the first Resident Evil game has been re-made and released on the Nintendo Gamecube and Wii consoles, the PC version of the game is truer to the original experience, with the original low-budget FMV sequences and the fondly remembered terrible voice acting. While the controls in the game are certainly dated, there’s still an immensely playable action/adventure game here and one that any newcomer to the franchise should definitely check out.
The installer program had a few issues running correctly on our Windows 8 PC, but it’s nothing we can’t work around. Start by inserting your Resident Evil CD-ROM and closing or cancelling any auto run windows that appear. Open the CD-ROM in Windows Explorer or File Explorer and change the programs “Checker.exe”, “Launch.exe” and “Setup.exe” to run in Windows 95 compatibility mode. If you’re not familiar with setting compatibility modes, see this tutorial. Now, run the “Checker.exe” program and choose “Install Resident Evil”. You may receive several obscure error messages at this point, but just ignore them.
Install the game as normal, make sure to make a note of where the installation folder is placed as you will need to make changes to it later. When you are asked what kind of graphics card you have, choose any option labelled “Rendition”. We selected “Creative 3D Blaster” on our Windows 8 machine. Do not be tempted to try the 3DFX modes, even if you have software like nGlide that makes most 3DFX games compatible, Resident Evil will not work in this mode. When the installer asks you which components to install, make sure to select all the available options.
Once the installation is complete, navigate to the Resident Evil folder on your PC. You will find that the installer has copied a folder called USA and that there is one file, “Uninstall.exe”. Manually copy all the files (but not the folders) from the Resident Evil CD-ROM over to your Resident Evil installation directory. When you’re done, the Resident Evil game folder on your PC should contain the USA folder and a number of DLL and .exe files (you can delete the Checker.exe and Setup.exe files if you like). Finally, set the ResidentEvil.exe program to run in compatibility mode for Windows 95.
If the installer made short-cuts to the game, they may be pointing to the executable file on the CD rather than on your hard drive. Either delete the shortcut and then re-create it or edit the existing shortcut to point to the ResidentEvil.exe on your hard drive and NOT on the CD-ROM.
Patching and configuring
Before we can play the game, there are a couple more files we need to obtain. Resident Evil will run too quickly on modern PC’s unless we use a specially modified direct draw library. You can read the details of the file and what it does here. Download the file directly by using this link. The file is downloaded as a zip folder. Open the zip folder and copy the ddraw.dll from the zip into the root (top level) of your Resident Evil game directory. Since this is a specially modified system file just for Resident Evil, do not place it anywhere on your system other than the Resident Evil game folder.
Before you try to start the game, you should also download the rewritten Resident Evil configuration tool. You can download this tool here. Drop the tool into the Resident Evil game folder and run it. A “Resident Evil Config” window will appear with two tabs. On the main tab, choose the screen resolution for the game. Remember that modern graphics cards won’t show screen resolutions below 640×480, so make sure to select at least 640×480 if you want to play the game full screen. You can try 800×600 too, but in our tests the game would never run at a higher resolution than 640×480. The config tool also has options for setting keyboard controls and gamepads, simply click on the Input tab and configure the keyboard controls however you choose. If you plan to use a joypad, we strongly recommend using Xpadder rather than trying to configure the pad using either this tool or the in-game options.
Remember to click on the “Save Config” button on the “Main” tab when you are done setting any options with the configuration tool. The Start button on the configuration tool is supposed to launch the game, but it never worked for us, so simply close the tool for now.
Like many old games, Resident Evil places its save game files in the same folder it is installed to. If you installed the game to the default program files folder, you may find that you cannot save your progress. To solve this problem, either run the game as administrator or change the permissions on the games folder so that your account has full read/write access. For a tutorial on how to set the correct folder permissions, click here.
You’re now ready to start the game and face the undead hordes. If you want to configure a game controller, it’s time for our old friend Xpadder to help again.
Although Resident Evil supports game controllers, getting them to work correctly proved somewhat difficult. Fortunately configuring Xpadder to emulate the keyboard was easy. Below is our Xpadder configuration for the 360 gamepad.
The controls above are based on the controls in the Playstation original. Pressing the right trigger will ready your weapon, pressing the A/Green button will attack or perform an action, while the Y/Yellow button will cancel an action or make you dash. The back button will access your inventory while the start button opens the pause menu. On the analogue stick, you may wish to configure a distance zone, so that when the stick is pushed all the way down, the character will run. If you’re not familiar with distance zones, see this tutorial. This is entirely optional of course and you may find it easier to just hold down the dash button to run. Remember, if you do set up a distance zone on the analogue stick, you will only be able to navigate the menus with the d-pad, since the key for dash is the same key as cancel/close.
You’re now completely tooled up and ready to take on the Umbrella Corporation in the world of survival horror. Enjoy this superb piece of videogame history and don’t have nightmares!