Horror, action, and sandwiches are some of the things that make Resident Evil such a memorable franchise, but why? Well, if you want to know, just keep on reading!
Horror: the most satisfying emotion that I can sense in this world. You may say that joy is way better, but to me, horror is something that keeps on breathing behind your neck even if you thought it was over. The feeling of hearing weird noises on another room, or listening to the frightening sound of rain hitting the window of an abandoned house are things that make me feel amazing. That constant fear of the unknown is what I love about games and films, but what I love more than the creepy sounds or weird noises are the things that make those sounds. And one of my first experiences with a grotesque monster was with this lovely fellow:
Nemesis gave me shivers down my spine when I was a kid, and I only saw a glimpse of him on a magazine cover! This marked my love for one of my favourite horror franchises: Resident Evil.
Its vast array of creatures and monsters, its music and locations, and its enjoyable characters made me fall in love with this name. And today, as a way to keep my hype at ease (and to rant about the franchise as well, because that’s my thing), these are my thoughts and opinions about the main Resident Evil titles (and one remake, because it still counts as a main title). Also, spoilers from all games but come on, if you are reading this and you never played a Resident Evil game… get out of here and play them!
Resident Evil (and RE Remake): Welcome to the house of fun
The original PSX can be defined with two words: cheesy and fun. Talking about the Resident Evil games without talking about the voice acting is like talking about Nintendo without saying Mario; simply impossible. And nowadays, the first title of the franchise is better known for its hilarious lines rather than its overall gameplay. And to be honest, I gotta say that without the awfully great lines of Barry, Jill and the rest of the S.T.A.R.S squad, this one wouldn’t be as enjoyable as I remember. And that’s because the original Resident Evil didn’t age as well as the later games.
Don’t get me wrong, Resident Evil is still a fun experience to beat, but only if you still have feelings towards this title, and that’s a sign of not ageing really well. I personally don’t mind at all how the character controls for the most part, but you can’t deny that the boss battles are really dull. You either unload your entire bag of ammo on a boss and bring some heals (don’t worry, you’ll see this again) or die from a cheap one-hit kill that you can’t see coming the first time you fight against it (I’m looking at you, Yawn). And let’s be honest… playing as Chris sucks for repeated playthroughs. He can stand more damage for sure, but he carries the lighter (which is really worthless) instead of the lockpick and he has less inventory space. Also… no Barry. That should be an instant “Nope” if you ask me. But watch out, as I’m talking about the original Resident Evil Chris. Because you know what happens when a game is old nowadays: it gets a remake!
Resident Evil Remake scares me. And I mean being scared in the sense of just thinking about playing it at night makes me go play Tetris in order to avoid paranoia. I love so much the RE Remake that I hate it. I can stand how well everything in this game is done. The graphics are incredible, the zombies and creatures of the Spencer Mansion look fantastic and the soundtrack and sounds are the reason I get tense whenever I hear this motherf*cker anywhere:
This game does everything right. Seriously, I played the Remake version on my GameCube quite a lot of times and I still can’t find something that makes me go “ugh, I hate this crap“. The mansion layout is memorable and enjoyable, the new content fits perfectly with the original plot and you can make Chris wear this:
And if you think Remake is my favourite Resident Evil game, you better brace yourself, because this is just the tip of the iceberg. Or should I say the tip of the Raccoon’s tail? Okay, that was dumb, I’ll just jump into Resident Evil 2.
Resident Evil 2: City escape
Oh boy, Resident Evil 2. Okay, I’m going to be 100% honest: I just love this game. Plain and simple. Are there any issues? Just one, and that’s at the end of one of the scenarios, but I’ll get to that later. Now I’ll explain why Resident Evil 2 is just amazing.
The first Resident Evil was good. It was great. You had your Jill sandwiches, your “he’s sleeping with the ultimate failure” lines (I swear I burst into tears of joy every single time I write or say that) and plenty other things, but now, in RE 2, you have even more zombies. You also have two awesome protagonists, one of them even related by blood with Chris Redfield. And of course, you have the best monster ever: the motherf*cking Licker:
I drew lil’ Buffed Walnut Head here so much when I was at high school that it basically influenced the way I draw things now:
Calm down, I’ll stop with the art gallery now. But yeah, all I have for Resident Evil 2 is praise after praise. I’ve never played before a title that feels so good to play that also makes me replay it over and over again without ever saying “this is boring“. I even have a constant self-imposed rule of reaching the RPD without taking any objects in order to kill Brad and grab the Special Key. Because come on, we all know Alternative Claire is the best Claire.
Does the sequel hold up better than the first title? Bet your G-Virus it does! My only issue concerning RE 2 is the final battle against Mr. X, mostly because you start the fight getting hit and the only thing you have to do is wait for Ada to drop the Rocket Launcher. Simple as that, and as unfair as it sounds. WWE Undertaker’s cousin packs quite a punch when he hits you, and if you don’t have healing items in your inventory, there’s no way that you can tank hits while waiting. Also, he’s VERY quick but, hey, ‘that’s merely a small grain of sand in the vast sea of greatness that RE 2 is’.
Two campaigns, wonderful monsters, tons of memorable moments and so many cheesy lines that will probably kill you if you are lactose intolerant. Resident Evil 2 is the true concept of making a sequel that FEELS like a sequel, rather than just offering the same thing with a few tweaks here and there. It’s a game that I cannot wait to see remade, and I trust Capcom enough to tell that RE 2 Remake will be as good, if not better, than the original Resident Evil 2. Heck, they said they are making a Resident Evil 3 Remake as well! And now that we are talking about RE 3…
Resident Evil 3: S.T.A.R.S. of the midnight rangers
I started this article with the stapled meatball known as Nemesis, and now it’s time to talk about him. Resident Evil 3 is not my second favourite title of the franchise, but it doesn’t stray far from that place.
Remember Jill, A.K.A The Master of Unlocking? Well, she’s back, and this time she’s kicking even more ass than before. However, we are not controlling her in a different location, but rather in a side story, taking place during the Raccoon City Incident. You know, the one involving more zombies? Anyway, bad jokes aside (you are going to eat a lot of them in this article, so there’s that) Jill has to escape from the chaos unleashed within the streets of Raccoon City while something tries to get her. And that something is, of course, Nemesis.
You saw his face at the beginning of this article, and that same look marked my childhood. The fleshy testicle with teeth made me feel tense every single time I walked past my sister’s room (aside from the magazine, she had a pencil holder with the cover of the game on her desk), yet I always looked at him. That eye, those big staples holding the flesh of his face up, the chilling constant grin due to the lack of lips… This guy is basically me without a beard, for f*ck’s sake! But sadly, as cool as Nemesis is, I have to say that some encounters with him are just a huge pain.
Let’s address the elephant in the room right now: Resident Evil 3 does not work as an action game when it tries to be one, and some fights against Nemesis prove this statement. Do I like tank controls? Of course! I don’t mind them at all, in fact, I think they give a better sense of tension in horror titles. Does that mean I enjoy tank controls in THIS particular entry? Not at all.
If you give an enemy the ability to reach you from afar when you are not able to see him due to fixed camera angles, that’s something that hurts the experience. If you do that AND you also give that same enemy the power of tanking a lot of hits while he can run towards you while you can’t even shoot and walk at the same time, that sh*t it’s just plain annoying. And some people may say that you can avoid Nemesis most of the time, but the moments you can’t do that (hi there Clock Tower battle against Nemesis while Jill is infected, please come in) hurts said experience even more.
Overall, Resident Evil 3 feels a little bit more flawed than the second entry of the franchise, yet somehow manages to still be one hell of a good time. With new mechanics like crafting ammo, evading and shoving zombies and a big boy following you around the entire game, RE 3 has some issues that can be forgiven once you put a final bullet to Nemesis with a Magnum. And speaking about Magnum, it’s time to talk about what many consider the Magnum Opus of the saga…
Resident Evil 4: The Spanish Comedy
Okay, first things first: what the f*ck did you think Spain was like in 2005, Capcom? Because holy crap: people got mad with RE 5 for their depiction of Africa yet I didn’t see anyone talking about how RE 4 represents a Spanish village! I mean, for the most part, some areas are still extremely religious (hey look, it’s the incoming wave of fascism coming from the South, let’s say hi!), but we don’t have chests filled with Pesetas and we certainly don’t have doctors with chainsaws. That last thing would be really cool to see mind you, but still…
Also, I look like Don Esteban, but I don’t have a problem with that.
Angry Spanish rant aside, RE 4 is, aside from RE 2, the game I played the most. I bought it on PS2, on GameCube, Xbox 360 and Steam, of course. Having Leon once again as the main protagonist feels great, and he even looks better on HD. He no longer looks like Conan O’Brien though, but it would feel weird to see someone resembling a famous late-night host doing backflips and suplex on people. Hope there’s a mod for that now that I mentioned it… But yeah, you can tell I really like this game even if Resident Evil 4 wouldn’t work at all if it was released nowadays.
Many people have talked about how the jump into the action of the franchise should not be something enjoyable. Content creators, writers, developers,… Many agree about how RE 4 is a bunch of ideas thrown altogether on the same cauldron, and all of them are right about it. One of my favourite videos regarding this game is the one made by Stop Skeletons From Fighting:
This game, as stated in the video, is a unicorn. Every single aspect you see on Resident Evil 4 is basically something similar to what happened in the development of Symphony of the Night. Devs had full freedom to introduce whatever dumb and tiny detail they wanted inside the game, and sometimes you feel that same thing on Leon & Ashley Excellent Adventure. From a village infested with Ganados to a castle with wacky contraptions and enemies straight out of a sex dungeon, only to end on an island with Gatling-wielding soldiers and a final boss that could even make John Carpenter crap his pants out of horror. And please, don’t let me start on the small stupid things in the game like collecting bottle caps or fishing with your shotgun in order to get fish the size of a rocket launcher.
If you think I’m not talking too much about the things that make RE 4 great, it’s probably because I have no f*cking idea why this game works at all. The gameplay, the action, the enemies, the boss battles, the unlockable costumes for Ashley and Leon… Everything in this game is basically (and I quote SSFF again) something developers want to get when they are making a game. Yet somehow, I played this one so many times I had the mental image of Luis Serra saying to Leon “okay, I have only one very important question: you got a smoke?” every single time someone says Resident Evil 4. And that it’s actually a nice summary of this title: a dumb cheesy amount of lines and moments that will linger in your brain for all eternity.
Resident Evil 5: I bless the rains down in Umbrella
Picture this: you are a big gaming company and you found a gold mine with your latest title of a franchise known for its survival horror elements. Which one of these options would be the best choice for making more money?
- A: get back to the roots of the franchise and please older fans.
- B: try to please new and old fans with a nice blend of horror and action.
- C: f*ck that shit, make the same game like the one you did before but without the charm and the cheesy moments and make it all grim and serious.
If you think the right one is A or B, you don’t know a single thing about trends in video games. We are in “2009”! and everything has to be painted with a coat of dark themes in order to sell! And Capcom would not allow something as fun as Homeowner Malicious the 4th to happen again. And thus, Resident Evil 5 was given birth, and boy, this one is a dumb entry to the franchise.
Granted, RE 4 was dumb as well, but not in the same way. We gave cultists a nice Suplex from time to time and we also had the chance to kill a 12 year old that owns an entire castle on a Spanish remote village (also my name is also Ramon so you know, extra points for sharing that with Salazar, I guess?), but that’s more like an 80’s action flick. RE 5 tries to take the “everything is going bad and the world is going to end, we need to hurry because THIS IS SERIOUS SAUCE, PULL IT TOGETHER” route, and I believe that’s its biggest weakness.
If you take a look at what the series has been given us up until now, you usually sense a pattern between games. Cheesy dialogues, inventory management, and the constant feeling of being outnumbered by your enemies. Well, here’s the kicker: RE 5 throws most of these things through the window and shoots a rocket at them just in case. The dialogue tries to be very “mature and dark”, the inventory management is quite an awful joke (a bulletproof vest should NOT make you lose one inventory slot Capcom) and you don’t feel outnumbered at all because Chris is always packing some serious heat, and I’m not talking about his muscles.
RE 5 has guns. TONS of guns. From pistols to shotguns, assault rifles, grenade launchers and rocket launchers. Yet all these weapons are just an inconvenience for the player after a while. Wow, you got an AK-47, an excellent weapon to puke bullets and waste ammo and inventory spaces on a game that tries to take an even bigger approach to action but without making you have a bigger inventory or giving you enough ammo to fully enjoy the shooting. Clever design right there, for sure…
But at the end of the day, I don’t think RE 5 is the worst thing that the franchise has given us. Sure, it’s basically the same thing than RE 4 at times with an even bigger focus on action and QTEs that makes everything feel quite boring towards the end, but at least the game has a clear focus, not like the next title of the franchise and the weakest entry.
Resident Evil 6: You got the meh of both worlds
Resident. Evil. 6. Oh boy.
Okay, so I’m not going to lie by saying that this game is either an overheated masterpiece or an experience I wouldn’t even recommend to my worst enemy. RE 6 is… Just a game. A bad game. An unfocused, stupid and messy bad game. And it’s probably going to be for the reason you are thinking right now.
RE 6 is what happens when you want to please every single fan of the franchise by forgetting why they were fans of the said franchise in the first place. I would say that RE 6 suffers the ‘Fanservicis’ syndrome and one that doesn’t hold up too well as a whole. And that’s the key thing if you want to enjoy this game: as a whole.
The biggest problem with this game is the lack of having a clear theme and style. We have three campaigns (because come on, Ada’s is just a chore to play and it’s not that long, to begin with) in which we can play as either Leon, Chris or Jake Muller, the son of Wesker. Yes, the same Wesker who screamed at Jill “don’t! Open that! Door!” in the first game and the same one who was killed in a volcano by Sheva and Chris in the fifth title. Every campaign is basically a way to please a certain type of fan: Leon’s Story is RE 2 and 4, Chris’ is 5 and Jake is the essence of the third game but made by someone who watched too many fighting cinematics of RE 5. Oh, and there’s also Ada’s small campaign focused on puzzles, so there’s that.
Despite the fact that having all these playable characters is quite a nice deal if you look at it content-wise, these campaigns do not hold up very well when you play them one after another. Leon’s tale works decently enough, yet at the end, it tries to go all guns blazing with action setpieces that for the most part are just shooting the big glowy thing, QTE, rinse and repeat until a cutscene appears. Granted, we don’t have to deal with QTE while watching cutscenes (one of the things I hate the most in RE 4 and 5), yet the constant need to press buttons for almost EVERYTHING in this game can make people go mad.
Chris’ story is the weakest one, as it basically has the same problem as in RE 5: it tries to focus on the action too much without giving the player enough ammo for it. Oh, and now it’s a Third Person cover shooter, something that works awful with the constant over the shoulder camera. It’s pretty boring, and it makes Chris a complete asshole if you ask me. We are talking about a guy who survived the events of the Spencer Mansion in which basically half of his entire squad was obliterated by zombies and creatures and you are telling me that he leaves the BSAA because his team got infected? Get the f*ck out of here man, that’s just plain stupid. Also, where’s Jill?! You make a Resident Evil All-Stars without the most badass character of the franchise?! That’s an insult, Capcom!
Jake’s campaign is decent. I don’t know why, but I felt that I was playing Uncharted rather than a Resident Evil title with him. Action scenes filled with adrenaline and explosions everywhere and one part in which you have to hide from Nemesis’ cousin Uncle Ustanak, a thing that never dies until it does thanks to the power of love and a Magnum round that sends him straight to a burning demise. He’s not really as iconic or interesting as Nemesis (makes you think that something that only says “S.T.A.R.S.” and mutates into a pile of flesh and tentacles is way more awesome than a chunk of meat with interchangeable hands), but he gets the job done as a menacing presence.
I can’t say much more about RE 6 other than this: if this was a game called Shootin’ Zombies 2: Revengeance or something like that, it would be a decent experience for sure, and when I played it with that in my mind I even had a fun time playing it! But this game is called Resident Evil, and thus I can’t lie my brain: this is not a good Resident Evil game. Its unfocused nature doesn’t fully make each campaign reach its full potential. In terms of the main titles of the franchise, this one is a game that you can skip for sure.
Resident Evil 7: Go tell Aunt Capcom that everybody is pleased
People thought the franchise was not coming back to its roots after having to deal with Revelations 2 (also known as “Claire and Barry are back, see? Hope you like microtransactions by the way” in some regions) and… Umbrella Corps, fans were not really happy at first when they saw how the new entry played. First Person? Spooky house? What’s this, P.T?! But no, that was just a ruse to make you play one of the best titles of the franchise.
My love for games came back thanks to this entry, and what a game worthy of being called RE 7. The atmosphere, the sounds, the music… All these previous concepts that made the original trilogy so unique and iconic were back in the seventh game, yet as much as I enjoy this game, it’s not the one I would say it has the best enemies. However, that doesn’t apply to the Baker family, which I believe that they can be as iconic as some of the previous foes in older titles.
The Bakers are the most unique gallery of enemies I’ve ever seen in a horror title ever. All of them are expressive with quite energetic moves and constantly reminding me that I came to the wrong neighbourhood. You have Marguerite, a woman who made me realize that adopting an insect-esque posture while telling me that I’m a little c*cksucker can be actually kind of scary; Jack, which made me put on my phone the line “Welcome to the family son” as a notification sound and showed me how I’m going to look like when I turn 45, and Lucas. Lucas is just an asshole.
This lovely family are presented so well that you want to learn more about them every single time they appear. And you can see how his house was a place that made sense before everything went to hell. The structure of the house is logic and reasonable, yet it takes this metroidvania approach that I love to death of having closed rooms that you can’t access until you find certain keys. However, not everything is praised towards RE 7, and that makes me talk about two negative aspects: the lack of enemy variety and the second half of the game.
The Bakers are awesome, that can’t be denied. However, the other type of threat we will face during the game’s length is the most boring enemies of the franchise: the Molded. Think for a second about the enemies you’ve seen thus far in this (stupidly) long article. You got a giant meatball with staples on its head, a buffed walnut who enjoyed watching Venom too much as a kid, Spanish villagers… And you have even more zombies and monsters that I didn’t quote in the article because this is taking long enough for a dumb text about some guy’s dumb ramblings regarding a franchise he loves. Anyway, what do you have in RE 7? This:
That’s not a monster, that’s what I find under my couch when I’m cleaning my house! Also, many people say the Molded looks like a Regenerador from RE 4. The f*ck are you talking about, Internet?! You blow the head of this one with two shots and call it a day, Regeneradores can ONLY be killed with the Infrared Scope, otherwise, they will show you why they are called like that. Oh and they also are creepy with spastic movements, Molded are just… A big blob with teeth and claws. And it’s pretty sad when you think about how cool it would be to see in a first-person perspective something like a Hunter or a Cerberus. But no, you have to deal with a black humanoid fluff the entire game. And this is only made more annoying when you take into account the second flaw: the second half of the game.
How can you have such an amazing opening to your game only to completely put a hold on the pace and level design in its second half, Capcom? The Baker mansion felt scary, well designed and well connected. Heck, it made you feel like you were in a real house! With convoluted light puzzles and hidden passages mind you, but at least the feeling was there. After leaving the house and fighting Marguerite, we head towards Lucas House of Pain, and after that, we fight Jack only to end up… In a wrecked ship… With boring cutscenes… And really linear corridors. Only to follow that with enemy gauntlets, which, I think I should add, is the laziest way of providing challenge in video games. Oh, and I should say as well that this game doesn’t have a rocket launcher at all! You kill the last boss by shooting magic vaccine bullets with a pistol. Quite lame if you ask me, even more, if you realize that even RE 6 had a rocket launcher at the end of Leon’s Campaign. Oh well…
Is there anything else to say about RE 7? Not really, it’s quite a fun experience and it even has some fun potential if you play it on Madhouse, aa long as you have the patience for boss battles (they have stupid levels of health), as it makes you use cassette tapes if you want to save AND some things are changed in order to make things interesting. Weak second half, but boy, this one is a blast to play and to remember the good things about the old titles.
End of the nightmare
As you managed to read (if you made it this far, congratulations! You wasted your time reading empty words, but that’s what people call “the Internet”, I guess) in this article, My overall tone regarding the entire franchise is basically “screw you, action-focused games, the old ones are the best ones!”, and… That’s actually not completely true.
Resident Evil is an experience that sometimes you can’t explain with words on a written document. How do I write down “the sound you make in RE 2 in which Mr. X comes towards you walking menacingly” without sounding like a pedantic idiot who thinks that describing games is like describing wine? I can’t, and that’s the thing: neither can you. You can praise or hate a game, a trilogy or an entire franchise, but the thing about Resident Evil is that there’s always a game for every type of player. Do you like traditional horror? Go play the original trilogy and RE 7. Do you want to feel like you are playing an action movie with horror themes? Play RE 4, 5 and 6. And you have to look at the important aspects that this saga gave to the world of horror games too. Fixed camera angles showed us that you don’t need to be in first person to be afraid of something. Tank controls make the player feel uncomfortable and tense in good ways. Hell, thanks to RE 4 we have a camera that developers have been using for third person shooters games since the fourth entry arrived and blew everybody’s mind! Even RE 6 did something good, like… Aiming and shooting? Let’s go with that, sure.
This wasn’t a deep analysis of the themes of each game, neither a retrospective talking about each and every positive and negative aspect of the series. This was just an article written by a fan that wanted to tell people his overall opinion of the main entries, and you can tell I had plenty of things to say about them.
The future is looking bright for Resident Evil thanks to what I saw and played in the demo of Resident Evil 2 Remake, and many people agree with me about how f*cking incredible the game is going to be, no matter if you are a newcomer or an old veteran of the franchise. And that’s the magic of horror: if it’s done the right way, everyone can enjoy it. Or, in this case, be afraid of.
Almost 5000 words on an article about thoughts and opinions. I don’t want to know how many words I’m going to write down for the RE 2 Remake review…