An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Well, now that the newest sequel to the Resident Evil saga is coming out, I thought it would be nice to take a look back through this game’s history.  What makes this game’s history unique is that the newest addition to the Resident Evil saga is going to be Resident Evil 6.  Six games, and a plethora of off-shoot games, and this series is still going strong.  Unlike the Silent Hill series, where the later games have gotten progressively less interesting, Resident Evil is able to fall, then bounce right back.  That said, let’s take a look at what is one of the most amazing game series that has ever been.

The original Resident Evil changed the name of the game in the video game world.  It introduced us to the survival horror genre.  Many will argue that other games, like Alone in the Dark came before it, but really, this was the game that made the genre what it is.  It introduced us to the Umbrella Corporation, and their evil experiments.  It also gave us the first two mainstream protagonists – Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine.  Then there is an awesome antagonist who is introduced – Albert Wesker.  This was a game that was as interesting to watch as it was to play.  It had a lot of action, sure, but it was the story that was the most intriguing part.

While making your way through the Ashford Manor, You learn of what had befallen the occupants.  You learn of the T-Virus and what is it is capable of.  Wesker is revealed to be an Umbrella double-agent, and there is also the Tyrant.  This game is awesome because it makes a very personal connection.  The voice acting isn’t great, and the effects weren’t good, but for its time, this was an amazing piece of work.  Looking at this game and its merits are a lot like looking at the film Jaws.  It is a good movie, even today, because it was able to influence you.  This game did the same.  It scared the crap out of people then, as it does now.

Next up came Resident Evil 2.  This took the horror of the first game, and put it on a much larger scale.  Here, the entirety of Raccoon City is infected with the T-Virus.  You play as either Leon Kennedy or Clair Redfield.  These are two new protagonists who become key to the Resident Evil canon.  Regardless of who you pick, they are both coming into the city.  Leon is a cop who is on his first day.  Claire is looking for her brother.  Both wind up becoming trapped in the chaos that has consumed a city that is trapped by nightmares.  There is also a character called Ada Wong.  Whether she is good or bad, nobody can say.  She is either and both at the same time, always with her own agenda.  She’ll do good things, while also doing bad ones.  There is the introduction of the G-Virus as well, an upgrade of the T-Virus.  While the engine of gameplay for this wasn’t all that much better, the story was much better.

It kept to the genre by making it much more personal.  My take is that the idea behind it was that this was a city.  It could be your city.  You could be one of the people who is desperately trying to survive in a city overtaken by the dead.  It’s kind of scary to think about.  With films about this concept getting better, it is kind of weird to wonder what you would do if the dead started coming back to life.  It really makes one think.  But this game was a sequel that was actually better than the original.

Now, the thing which also broke the Resident Evil series was the third – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.  The problem with this game was that it didn’t really bring anything new into the fold.  The story was interesting, but the gameplay was boring, and the backgrounds that were made were all the same.  It was literally the same as Resident Evil 2.  The biggest change was the addition of a new bad guy.  Now, this was pretty cool.  He is really a cool boss.  The cool thing about him is that he is always after you, always trying to kill you.  No matter where you go, this monster is there with you.  He will hunt you down forever, if that’s what it takes.

What this game primarily was good for was adding to the canon of the series.  Jill Valentine is trying to escape from Racoon City before Umbrella destroys it.  While she is, the Nemesis is out, hunting down the last of the STARS (Special Tactics and Rescue Squad) members.  The gameplay was repetitive, and the backgrounds were old, so many people thought this was going to be the end of the Resident Evil saga.  And for a while, it looked like they might have been right.  There was a chasm of off-shoot games that were made.  Some of them were good.  Others, not so much.

But they couldn’t have been more wrong.  Resident Evil 4 brought this series back to life in an incredible way.  It changed everything about the games, from going away from the pre-rendered backgrounds, to a new way of controling the characters, with an over-the-shoulder style.  This game was one of the pioneers of that as well, and now, well, almost all action games are using it.  Another change was the enemies you had to fight.  In the original games, while there were the occasional monsters who were pretty hardcore, most of your enemies was a slow-moving horde who gave you plenty of time to blow their undead brains out.  But Resident Evil 4 makes this horde faster, smarter, and even able to handle weapons.

Unlike in the first 3 games, this one features a new form of BOW (Bio-organic weapons).  These people are infected with a parasite called “Las Plagas.”  You play as Leon Kennedy, on a mission to recover the President’s daughter, Ashley.  Now, in mentioning her, it needs to be pointed out that she is the one major short-coming of the game.  She is annoying, you are always having to protect her, and she can’t do much of anything.  The best moments in this game are when you’re alone, having to square off against the monsters of this game.  It also brings back Ada, which is pretty fun.  All in all, this was a great game that definitely breathed new life into this series.  In a HUGE way.

Next up is Resident Evil 5.  This game was less about the dark and terror aspect that made the original games, and more about action.  And good for it.  One thing that needs to be mentioned right away is that the main character, Chris Redfield, also has a partner, but unlike Resident Evil 4, his partner is not some helpless kid.  Her name is Sheva Alomar, and she is not only cool, but tough.  She is part of what makes this a fun game.  And she has to be tough, because you are fighting some really bad goons here.  Amping up the evil of the previous game, these undead are also made from Plagas, and now can not only handle weapons, but also guns.

A lot of people criticized the fact that it wasn’t all that scary, and that was always supposed to be the idea.  There was also criticism of the idea that this game was racist, since it featured primarily black zombies.  Of course, what isn’t mentioned is – it’s in Africa.  A game about living death that takes place in Africa would have African zombies.  Who knew?

The story of this game was pretty cool.  It brought back Wesker, and it gave him the awesome-ness he always deserved.  In this game, he is the ultimate boss.  He is nigh unkillable, until he mutates.  There is a running joke among gamers that all these awesome bosses are awesome until they mutate.  At which point, they become kind of pathetic.  Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII, Saddler from Resident Evil 4, and many others.  But that aside, he is still awesome, and it’s a bummer they killed him off.  Still, it was an exciting sequel and the series held strong.

Now there is the latest addition.  It is slated to come to the consoles on the 20th of November.  The previews for the game have laid out pretty well what the premise is.  This game is unique in that it doesn’t have just one or two playable protagonists.  It has at least three.  There is Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, and a new character.  All three have their own sagas going on.  I am very excited to see how they tie the stories together.

From the preview I linked above, the premist for Leon’s story is that he is with the President, who wants to tell the world about what is happening, and how dangerous the situation is.  The President gets infected, and Leon is now having to make his way through another city that has ended up like Raccoon City.  Chris is still with the BSAA.  He is on a mission in China.  It starts out looking a lot like Resident Evil 5.  He is responding to a report of an outbreak, and from the looks of things, it gets pretty out of control.  The new character, he seems to be a mercenary who is working for money.  Why he is fighting for them or his backstory is still a mystery.  But this definitely looking to be a fun addition.

While also adding depth of story, this game appears to be mixing up the kind of undead, from the typical zombies from the original games, to the Plagas.  It is looking to be a lot of fun.  I am definitely excited for it.

This game series has remade a genre, and from the looks of things, isn’t done yet.  There are signs with this game that it is approaching a conclusion.  Maybe that’s just me. The stakes are much higher, and the whole world is starting to come to terms with the idea that humanity isn’t safe.  These monsters are everywhere, and can destroy the entire planet.  It seems to be that this game will be elevating the human aspect of living in a world where the undead can destroy a population quickly, and nobody is secure.

We’ll see on November.

Peace out,

Lefty

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Comments on: "The History of Resident Evil" (6)

  1. Reblogged this on Lucien Maverick's Blog.

  2. suburbantimewaster said:

    These games sound very interesting. I was too young to play the games when they first came out, but after reading this and playing the Resident Evil: Revelations Demon, I think I’ll give it a shot.

  3. I like your post and how you included all the game covers. Resident evil 7 is going to be released early or mid 2015

    • Thanks for the compliment. Sadly, I couldn’t care less about RE7. The last game was a disaster, and the series has gone cold. It really is tragic, given what an amazing pedigree this series used to have. Oh well, that’s how it goes.

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