Mention the words survival-horror, and Capcom's Resident Evil games come to mind. Of course, games like the original PC version of Alone in the Dark pioneered the early years of the genre, but it was the first Resident Evil that brought survival-horror to the masses. In that sense, Capcom's Resident Evil exerted its influence by taking the existing recipe for survival-horror games, expanding on it, and appreciably improving on the formula. If you were to read in a review that a certain game controls like Resident Evil, you'd know exactly what the writer meant. The inventory system, the strictly B-movie scripts, the varied zombie designs, and the eerie, dark look of the Resident Evil games should be familiar to any self-respecting fan of video games. However, the influence exerted by Resident Evil on the broad gaming realm extends much further than its signature survival-horror gameplay and visual style.
The original Resident Evil was also one of the first games to introduce actual cinematic video footage into games. Those who have played the first Resident Evil game will recall the introductory sequence that showed actual live-action footage. Granted, the grainy live-action introduction in the original Resident Evil was a little campy and added fuel to the criticisms of the game's B-movie feel, but it also helped inspire other producers, including Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami himself, to include more cinematic story elements in games. However, the live-action sequence was just as much a lightning rod for controversy as it was revolutionary.
The eerie atmosphere in Resident Evil.
The completely live-action opening sequence, which appeared in the Japanese version of the game, was considered too violent for the American audience. So, Capcom toned it down significantly and even removed a scene where one of the characters was smoking a cigarette. That might seem tame by today's standards, but at the time of the game's release, video game companies were becoming highly aware of questionable content in their games. Despite the tweaks to the live-action introductory sequence, Resident Evil was ultimately released on the PlayStation with a mature rating. It was one of the first games in the broader action genre to receive the mature rating from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
Attack of the killer raven.
However, the subject of mature ratings and the ESRB can't be discussed without mentioning Midway's Mortal Kombat. The arcade fight game was the first title to receive a mature rating and, along with Night Trap, was responsible for the chain of events that led to the establishment of the ESRB. US Senator Joseph Lieberman came across Mortal Kombat almost by happenstance, but he instantly recognized what he called "incredibly violent" content, which he viewed as inappropriate for the relatively young video game playing demographic. At the time, Lieberman expressed his concerns that specific content found in both Mortal Kombat and Night Trap was akin to content found in R-rated movies, and that this material was being blatantly marketed to children. During the hearings that ensued, Lieberman and other legislators were especially concerned with the realistic replica of human figures in games, such as Mortal Kombat and Lethal Enforcers, as opposed to the anime-style characters in other violent games such as Eternal Champions.
One of the first games to include realistic blood.
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