Resident Evil is considered the franchise that started it all. The survival horror genre was born when that iconic cutscene of the very first zombie was seen and Capcom knew they had something special. From 1998 to present, we have seen this survival horror franchise spawn numerous titles, sequels, and prequels. It even has a movie franchise that now has a total of five movies released. It’s definitely a success, but as the series progressed, it slowly lost it’s identity and eventually evolved itself into something we see all too much in either movies or games. I love Resident Evil, but at this point, I have lost all faith.
Resident Evil 2 was my introduction to the survival horror genre. When I was in grade school, I experienced Resident Evil 2 for the first time and from there on, I became a fan. I can still remember the first time I encountered the Licker in the Police Station – As it shows it slowly turns it’s head to reveal its long tongue, it then detaches itself from the ceiling to engage you. I was scared, but definitely hooked and determined to see it through. The whole concept of treading lightly and saving valuable consumables and ammo for future use kept the game intense and most of the time frightning. Not anymore though, as the story moved forward, the series changed and turn out to be less appealing after each release. Here’s are some reasons why.
The first Resident Evil movie was released in 2002. From there, it spawn 4 sequels. The movies weren’t all that bad. The action was good, and the Story was expected to be horrible since..well. the whole story of Resident Evil is a big mess to begin with. My big problem with the hollywood infused Resident Evil series approached this as an action movie, and to top that all off, they add a leading protagonist completely made up just for the movies. Not only do most generation gamers and non-gamers now consider Resident Evil a monster slaying flick, we have all those memorable characters like Claire, Chris, and Leon taking completely useless roles in the movie, only placed for fan service. It completely changed the image of Resident Evil, and the games for some reason eventually followed suit with all the action.
Removing unique game mechanics
The evolution to what the franchise is right now began with Resident Evil 4. For the first time, Capcom has scrapped the still camera seen in previous games, and placed the camera over the shoulder. They removed the perspective mostly used in survival horrors.(Silent Hill, Fatal Frame) I did have a great time with the 4th game I won’t lie, but it didn’t feel the same anymore. At the time, the change was welcome, but the changes kept going as the number beside the title went up. Once they revealed RE 6, it was actually unrecognizable. They removed yet another gameplay mechanic – being unable to shoot while moving. Staying still in order to shoot added tension, when they took that out, it was hard to call it an RE game anymore, especially with all the rolling and dodging.
Action Adventure > Survival Horror
This is the franchise that started the whole survival horror, but also the one that abandoned it in the end. Back to RE4, it slowly turned out as more action-oriented, but still more about running away and picking your fights. Only during the 5th and 6th, even Operation Raccoon City(completely shit game by the way), did it really feel like a third person shooter, making me do mindless shooting to no end. RE5 was still tolerable, but RE6 went all out.
Co-op. First introduced in RE5, coop destroyed any form of tension or fear. It made it a bit more linear, and eventually felt like a great coop game with a friend. I had a blast playing it with a buddy, but it felt wrong getting that kind of impression from a franchise I once got goosebumps when playing it.
Resident Evil 6/ Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
When Resident Evil 6 was released, the evolution was complete. Everything that made the franchise great is now gone. What replaced it was hollywood explosions and mindless gunfights. The only thing that made it Resident Evil was the characters and the herbs still used as a healing item. It became a third person shooter, plain and simple. It lost it’s edge, and it was hard to swallow, since other games that bring the same thing can do better. We then have Operation Raccoon City. A game that I thought would be an amazing game, turning out to be the worst game of that year(for me). There was so much wrong in that 4-player coop that to this day, I still regret buying it on day 1. Both of them came out the same year, and I was really hoping for a good RE game.
In a business standpoint, yes, making it more action than scary would reach a bigger market. But when you slowly do a complete makeover, that’s a whole different story. It made a divide in the fan base; People that love when it was a survival horror, and people that enjoy how it is now. It’s hard to see how Resident Evil would be in the coming years. Not even sure If I want to know. Will it Capcom continue to move forward as is, or take a few steps back and bring back elements that made the games great? My guess is that they will just keep moving forward with what they have. If that does happen, I’ll just accept it and keep praying for some kind of reboot.
What do you think about the Resident Evil as a whole?