Platform: Playstation

For the next few weeks, The 405 will be taking a look at one of gaming's most iconic survival horror franchises - Resident Evil. Each week, one of our writers will revisiting one of Capcom's zombie slaying classics as we build up to the release of Resident Evil 6.

I'll be the first to admit, I wasn't completely won over by Resident Evil 1 the first time I played it (around 1999 - I was a late adopter). I liked the idea of surviving zombies in an abandoned mansion, but the controls were a nightmare and the dialogue cheesier than a sock kept hidden under a teenager's bed. I pretty much abandoned the series, letting my copy of RE1 gather dust on a shelf.

Then came the night someone sat me down in front of Resident Evil 2. We were drunk. We didn't own two player games (curse of being an only child), so we set RE2 to the highest difficulty, and took turns trying to survive for as long as possible. I was hooked, and at the end of the night I'd convinced my mate to lend me his copy.

PhotobucketI think what won me over with Resident Evil 2 is the sense of urgency instilled in the game from the very start. As soon as the opening FMV's are finished, you need to start running or gunning, otherwise you'll soon find yourself overrun by the undead. It also helps that it's set somewhere the player can immediately relate to - a small town. This isn't some maniac's mansion you're trying to survive; this is your local high street after a bad Friday night, albeit with a few more car fires and people trying to eat your face off.

Out of the whole series, Resident Evil 2 is the game I revisit most often, for a number of reasons, not least of which is the score written by Masami Ueda. Few can forget the first time they walked into the Raccoon City police station, that iconic tolling bell and dreamy synthesizer capturing the feeling of helplessness and impending doom. If you thought getting off the streets was going to save you, you were kidding yourself.

The other reason I like to occasionally vacation in a Nemesis-less Raccoon City now and again is because it's home to one of my favourite enemies:

PhotobucketNever has the sound of heavy breathing inspired such panic in so many gamers. While it may only take a couple of shotgun rounds to subdue, nothing can match the feeling you get as you walk into an empty room, only to hear that rasping death rattle cut through the silence like a knife. I even remember the first time I encountered one - It was two o'clock in the morning, and I'd been playing all night. The caffeine had already started to wear off from my last can of coke. I was tired, jittery, and walking around in the dark guts of an abandoned police station. Ever the optimist, I only had my handgun equipped. Then I came face to face with one of the ugliest things I'd ever seen rendered in a video game (which is no mean feat in a world where Splatterhouse exists). That heavy wheeze, the exposed brain, the 6-foot tongue; It was love at first sight.

The final clincher that cemented my love for this game was the graphics. Don't get me wrong, the character art and the FMV's look terrible compared to today's standard, and even back then were still a little on the blocky side - but the backgrounds were another matter. If the music in Police Station's front hall didn't win you over, then the gorgeous attention to detail in the scenery was sure to. What made them even more gorgeous to look at were the fixed camera angles, a staple of the early series. While they could be infuriating (and at times life threatening) if you were trying to fend off a zombie attack, some of the shots could be quite inventive, capturing the looming shadow of a security gate, or the blood splattered walls of a laboratory perfectly.

PhotobucketWhile the original Resident Evil kicks off the series' storyline, it's a bare skeleton compared to the events in RE2, which lays the groundwork for what has become basic Resident Evil lore. I doubt there are few people left with a console that HAVEN'T played this game, but if you're one of them I'm not going to ruin it for you. I'll just say that this game is the lynchpin that holds the series together, with multiple strands splitting off to form the basis of RE3: Nemesis, Code Veronica (that trip Chris Redfield took to Europe doesn't go very smoothly), RE4 and RE5. It even introduced fan favourites Leon S Kennedy, Claire Redfield and Ada Wong to the gaming masses (ask yourself - does ANYONE like playing as Chris Redfield?). The dialogue is still a regular cheesefest, and the controls are still annoying enough to make you snap your controller in half, but there's something endearing about the stilted voice acting, and the overall story arc more than makes up for the controls.

For me, Resident Evil 2 was a hard act to follow, and while I've enjoyed every one of the game's subsequently released under the RE banner, I still consider this one to be the benchmark of the series. But then, I'm all too aware of how nostalgia can colour a person's judgement. Maybe I'm just a sucker for a girl in a basketball uniform