With video game terror raising the bar in todays’s gaming, wether it’s survival horror, customizing weapons to fight off the undead or just sitting through a spooky ghost story; horror games are focusing on the players experience. With this being said, Resident Evil 7 is making its way to consoles this year with a brand new VR experience but is the franchise aiming to bring Resident Evil back to its roots or are we going to get a generic first person survival game with the Resident Evil name slapped on to make a few extra bucks?
1996 The Birth Of Fear
Capcom unleashed terror with their eerie Resident Evil where players were introduced to full interactive mobility, a scary synth soundtrack, and god awful voice acting but there was something special about this new experience for console players.
In Resident Evil, players were given the option to play as Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, both members of the STARS alpha team investigating a mansion in the outskirts of Racoon City, that was believed to be in the center of multiple murder locations were victims were being eaten alive.
Playing as Chris, the player was able to take more damage but couldn’t hold as much inventory as Jill. Playing as Jill was basically easy mode for she was able to start with the handgun and was assisted by another character, Barry Burton ( another STARS member). Alpha team infiltrates the mansion looking for the Bravo team who disappeared days before. The mansion was full of puzzles, hidden monsters, zombie dogs, zombie crows and of course the unforgiving battle with the Tyrant. As each character, the player could get 3 different endings (bad good and the best) depending on if you were able to save all of the remaining characters. This was only the beginning of something great.
1998 The Fall of Racoon City, The Rise of a Platform
After the small success of Resident Evil, it wasn’t until Resident Evil 2 came out that became the staple of the series once again introducing two playable characters, Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield (sister of Chris Redfield from the first game). RE2 starts the player off in the after math of a zombie outbreak. The outbreak of Racoon City would spawn its entire franchise off of this tragedy. What made Resident Evil so much better than its predecessor was combat and health indicator. In the first Resident Evil, the player would never know how hurt they are unless they checked their inventory on pause. Your character could walked around with their condition in danger and the character would never indicate pain. RE2, your character would hold their wounds and limp if they were hurt too many times without healing. The combat in RE2 was more open, bullets weren’t as scarce as they were in the first RE and the player could pick up a wider range of weapons such as the crossbow, machine gun, stun rod, desert eagle and weapon modifications for your handgun (that would keep it at steady aim and could fire burst in seats of semi automatic) magnum modification and shotgun modification, making your arsenal heavier and more powerful; with this being said, the enemies were more in numbers and boss battles were harder and faster. RE2, offered two scenarios for each character, making a longer and finished ending for each character on the second go around. There were also characters (combative CPUs) who would assist you in tougher areas, introducing help on taking down enemies. The story for RE2 was a direct continuation on the first game. Claire, rides into Racoon City looking for her brother and Leon is going to work on his first shift as an RPD officer. They make friends with Ada Wong ( a character mentioned in the first game because her boyfriend was a scientist at the mansion) who will make appearances in later sequels and Sherry Birken, who is the daughter of William Birken (the scientist who Injects himself with the zombie T Virus after being shot down by the Umbrella corporation, the very corporation he was creating the virus for.) Resident Evil 2 is such an important piece of the series because without it there wouldn’t have been sequel, spin-offs, movies, accessories.
Resident Evil Makes a Commercial!
Following the minor success of the first Resident Evil, creators Noboru Sugimura (Resident Evil 4, Dino Crisis) Shinji Mikami (The Evil Within) and director, Hideki Kamiya ( Devil May Cry, Ôkami) reached out the undead master himself, George A Romero, to direct a commercial for their Biohazard 2 ( Known as Resident Evil 2). This wouldn’t be the last time Romero’s name was attached to a franchise. Romero created a Japanese trailer to promote Biohazard staring the late, Brad Renfro ( Apt Pupil, Ghost World) as Leon Kennedy. The commercial was a success in Japan but known to be too violent for American Audiences and was only played once or twice on cable network. This opportunity was huge for Capcom and Romero, the trailer gained a cult following despite its barely-a-minute feature. Now because of the wonderful world of the Internet, Romero’s Biohazard 2 trailer can be seen on YouTube. Also check out the Behind-the Scenes- look. Resident Evil 2’s commercial success was built on the fact that this was the first time players could blast through the undead just like the characters did in NIGHT,DAWN ,and DAY of the Dead. This article is about Resident Evil thought, not the rise of Zombie popularity although the games contributed to that, heavily.
Capcom wasn’t done with Romero, now that the Resident Evil 2 had sold millions of units, Capcom wanted to team up with Romero and make the Resident Evil movie directly based on the first game. Romero began to pen the idea of what the movie would keep from the games and what the movie would change from the games.
In Romero’s final script, slight changes were made but the most important of the changes was that Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine were lovers and Chris would be Native American. Capcom wasn’t happy with Romero’s final draft and Romero was fired from the project. It wasn’t until 2 years later where Paul W S Anderson (Morta Kombat, Event Horizon) would direct the Resident Evil movies with Sony Screen Gems backing him up.
As if players couldn’t get enough of Racoon City, Resident Evil 3 is born! The story brings back Jill Valentine as she makes her escape during the outbreak, presenting the events of Resident Evil 2. This is the final nail on the Racoon City events for our original characters and boy oh boy it is one hell of a ride! With closing storylines the remaining STARS members such as
Brad from the first game ( the pilot who leaves your characters stranded at the mansion in the first game) gets impaled through the face by the game’s main antagonist, Nemesis, which is also the title of the game. Zombie Brad makes an appearance in Resident Evil 2 of the game is played on normal and the player doesn’t pick up any items until they get to the RPD Police Station. Umbrella, the evil corporation responsible for the viral outbreak send in a clean up crew, the mercenaries, led by Nikoli,to destroy any surviving STARS members and destroy all data that show Umbrella responsible for the outbreak. What makes this Resident Evil different from the rest is the ability to dodge attacks, and choose your paths in split decision sequences. The weapons and ammo are extremely common, even in hard mode, but for the first time the player gets to take on hordes of the undead and constantly battle Nemesis. Resident Evil 3, in my opinion is the easiest but most rewarding of the entire series.
There is also a mercenary mode after the completion of the game where you are on a time limit and must rescue survivors while fighting off the undead and monsters including fighting two Nemesis at once.
Reunited and It Feels So Good
Resident Evil:Code Veronica was all about sibling love. The first half was Claire Redfield getting kidnapped while searching for her brother in an Umbrella facility then transported to a private Island where she meets a guy named Steve and in the second half of the game, the player gets to play as Chris Redfield searching for his sister at the island.
This was traditional controlling and the dodging was taken out of the final product but the player was introduced to dual pistols, dual Uzis and upscale graphics (originally for Sega Dreamcast and then PlayStation2) Resident Evil: Code Veronica brought back those survival elements that were lacking in RE3 such as limited ammo and resources, harder puzzles but tougher enemies. The main story is forgettable but what happens on the side will spark the future for the Resident Evil franchise. Albert Wesker, a STARS member who died in the first game, returns as an undead super soldier working for Umbrella who tries to stop Chris Redfield and his sister Claire from taking down Umbrella. The game ends on a cliff-hanger when Wesker survives and escapes leaving the player ready for what Capcom has to offer next.
Here Comes a Loaded Pile of Shit
I believe it was 2001, when I was in my middle school library reading a GameInformer that showed the first photos for Anderson’sResident Evil. The front cover had Milla Jovovich (the directors wife, who was previously involved with Luc Besson and stared in The Fifth Element) and she was wearing a red dress holding a machine gun. The next few photos were Jovovich in a laser room and confronted by a Cerberus (zombie dog). I remember saying to myself “is she Jill? I don’t remember her character.” It wasn’t until a December issue of GameInformer when her character name was announced as Alice, and Alice woke up from a coma with amnesia in a mansion. I thought to myself ” Romero’s script was turn down because it wasn’t exactly like the games, what is this shit all about?” Paul W S Anderson stated that he didn’t want to do a retelling of the original game but he wanted to stay in the same universe. What fucking universe is this, Paul? So being the person I am, I wanted to see the movie so bad and prayed that Anderson was just kidding but was I fucking wrong. This asshole, single handedly ruins this movie, turning it into an action packed, what the fuck-fest, staring his wife as a genetically modified super soldier who does back flips and kicks dogs in the face. So, Capcom, Sony, and Anderson show obvious signs for trying to make a quick buck by producing a lousy action flick with the brand Resident Evil attached to its forehead.
The concept is gone there is nothing from the original story in the film it’s self the companies made a quick buck. They probably all sat in a room and said ” no one is going to want to see a movie about people puzzle solving.” So here we are in 2016 and the Final Resident Evil is coming out and the world could care less.
Resident Evil 4
This was the game that was suppose to change the the way we saw the future of survival horror. RE 4 is a monster of a game, pretty much the monster that brought in more fans to the series. Capcom, trashed the wonky controls and turn this game into an action but don’t get me wrong, I loved this game. This game had everything you could want: weapon upgrades, action, puzzles, unlockables such as skins, infinite ammo and yes they even brought back “Mercenaries” Leon Kennedy returns as a governemt agent looking for the President’s daughter. The virus has mutated from walking un-dead to mutated villagers. RE4 swapped out the original monsters and replaced them with 1-hit chainsaw killers, giant organisms and a crazy Spanish speaking cult. RE4 was fresh and it was delicious with a high replay value and even brought back that old feeling of discovering Resident Evil for the first time, but that’s not always a good thing. With the Resident Evil movies and the action of RE4, Capcom decided to go where the money is.
The Last of It’s Kind
A little while after RE:Code Veronica, the original creators decided to change the game. Japan was already doing beta testing of an untitled project called Biohazard: Online. This news had the most hardcore fans attention because PlayStation2 was just getting notoriety with its capability of being able to play with other players around the world and because Resident Evil was a giant of a franchise, and being able to fight to survive in Racoon City was every gamer’s wet dream. Resident Evil: Outbreak was the final product, the creators promised us with different scenarios, ability to choose characters, communication with other players, different endings all with the classic controls and team work. Capcom didn’t lie, they did everything they said they would but something was missing. The players could only communicate with each through the chat session before the game began, after that the player had to use the right joystick with automated commands depending on which way you aimed the button. With only 5 scenarios to choose from (about 2 hour run time) every character is automatically infected and must complete the scenario before they become fully infected and the game is over. These factors were the reason why the game bombed with the public, but to the hard core gamers such as myself, this was a game made for me. I loved the limited resources but most importantly I missed that old school gameplay. Characters could share items, pick each other up, defend off multiple enemies. Very hard mode offered the best experience on single player because of the additional cut scenes and better unlockables. Easy mode was considered Hard Mode online because if the players didn’t have an HD online adapter or someone in the same game as you did but no one else had one, the game would seriously lag. Extremely poor lag to the point whe!re bullets were useless because enemies health would regenerate or the enemies would teleport to you and take you down.
There was a sequel to RE:Outbreak called File 2 which added 5 more scenarios, smoother gameplay, zombie zoo animals and bonus modes. The network lasted until 2010 but RE:Outbreak was the last time we got to play in the Racoon City sandbox with the classic controls.
If there is any game in the series to bring in young players I would choose Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 2.