Sorry for the delay on this Sunday, now Monday, blog. I blame the most gigantic airport detour in the world for not getting back home in time to properly type up a blog. Also I blame packing. And Global Warming.
With the release of Resident Evil 6 arriving tomorrow, I figured it was about time I did a look back at the Resident Evil franchise. I wont be going through all of the side games, the gun con games or the online game they made online for the PS2. I will, however, focus on the main story games and go into the impact they each had upon the series as a whole.
WARNING!!! WARNING!!! Spoilers Lie Ahead!!!
In 1996, the gaming community was introduced to a whole knew world of survival horror, the likes that had never been seen before. Capcom, their recent success with Breath of Fire for the SNES fresh from 1994, handed us a dark and gritty look at something that had really been tapped into yet, zombies. It all started with a helicopter crash and a mansion hidden deep in the woods of Raccoon City.
It all started with Resident Evil:
Resident Evil opens up as the members of the local special units, better known as S.T.A.R.S., including members Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton, and Albert Wesker, were sent out to discover what had happened to their other teammates already on assignment. With odd strings of murders, all with the victims seemingly devoured by whatever attacked them. The previous team sent out had gone missing in the woods of Raccoon City, arriving on the scene, they only find the pilot’s dead body and insist on searching the full of the forest for the rest of the team.
With a wild chase and an air of suspense, the S.T.A.R.S. were lead inside a hidden mansion that seemed seemingly abandoned. The team then splits up to explore and are each lead on wild chases across the large mansion grounds and even underneath the mansion and out into a hidden laboratory.
The journey for each character shows a bit of different sides to each member, including Albert Wesker, who it turns out wasn’t always working on your side. With the betrayal of one member and the lose of many others along the way, it becomes easy to see that both Chris and Jill slowly become hardened by the experiences. The end game comes down to a fight with what became the first of many battles with these bulging behemoths, the Tyrant, a creature created by the virus that caused the initial zombie outbreak and had continued to plague our heroes with much strife throughout the years.
Two years later, gamers are given another slice of zombie pie with the release of the second installment of the RE series. 1998 gave us a different view of the zombie outbreak as it happened, from the eyes of two very different people, Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy, all taking place in Raccoon City two months after the events as Chris and Jill experienced in the Mansion.
Welcome to the site of outbreak, welcome to Resident Evil 2:
A lone Leon S. Kennedy pulls into the empty looking town of Raccoon City due to arrive for his first day for the Raccoon Police Department, feeling an eerie shiver crawl up his spine. Claire Redfield ventured forth inside the mountainous town of Raccoon City in search of her now missing brother Chris, her search gets derailed as both Claire and Leon stumble across one another and the local zombified inhabitants. Soon after they are separated, they make their way to the local police station in hopes of gaining control of the situation at hand. They quickly discover that the pharmaceutical company, Umbrella, had released a biological virus, the t-virus, upon the inhabitants, which proceeded to transform the civilians into the reanimated dead.
From the police station, Claire and Leon remain separate for a long while, Claire finds the daughter of scientist and creator of the T-Virus and the newly discovered threat, the G-Virus. Sherry Birkin, the daughter of William Birkin, tags along with Claire during many battles, including the Police Chief Brian Irons, who is found out to be bribed by Umbrella to do tests that occurred in the mountains and then turned the town into the walking dead. As they progress, Leon meets on Ada Wong, who is a character who seemingly lied her way into the heart of Mr. Kennedy, all the while working as a double agent in search of the G-Virus sample.
The twists and turns of Raccoon City lead the duo to saving Sherry’s Life from a reproductive embryo that was implanted by her father, William, to reproduce the virus over again, while he injected himself with the G-Virus to secure it from capture, turning him into a monstrosity more powerful than the Tyrant. Leon and Claire meet up in the end with Sherry in tow, they fought their way thru waves of the walking dead, all the while being chased down by mutated William after his daughter. As they reach an emergency escape train, the three survivors precariously emerge from a self destruct blast of the underground laboratory, all the while William Birkin’s mutated form is seen destroyed in the blast.
Claire decides to continue her search for her brother Chris, who is still researching Umbrella’s European events, while Leon embarks on finding a way to take down Umbrella himself.
Only a year later, Capcom slaps down another part of the saga of zombies, in the form of what can only be called Nemesis.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Within the two months after the mansion incident, Jill Valentine finds her only option to escape the zombie infested city of Raccoon City, is to fight her way out, shooting her way thru all the reanimated beings that stand in her way. After making her way to a warehouse with another S.T.A.R.S. member, she then decides she can’t wait for any rescue party and headed out on her own. Soon enough, Jill met another member, warning her that their was something out there killing people, especially S.T.A.R.S. members. Ignoring the threat, she proceeds to the police station, the member running behind her, warning her of the one beast killing people off. Just as quickly as he warned her, he was crushed by the exact monster he tried to avoid. Nemesis.
After encountering the Nemesis on multiple occasions, Jill finds her way down to the basement, finding a lone survivor sending out an emergency radio transmission. He reveals himself as Carlos Oliveira and that he worked for Umbrella in their “Biohazard Countermeasure Service”, so Jill comes slow to trust him as he could turn on her at any moment. The two find themselves in more encounters with Nemesis, which Carlos helps her escape, which slowly gains her trust.
Knowing of a contingency plan, in case they failed in their original mission, they would then have to head to the clock tower and ring the bell so they could be flown out by chopper. Agreeing, the two headed out with two other members, Sergeant Nicholai Zinoviev and Captain Mikhail Victor (who is injured), to gather parts for the tram leading to the clock tower. After they repair the tram, they begin repairs only to be ambushed by Nemesis once again. During the attack, Mikhail sacrifices himself with an grenade blast, which dislodges Nemesis but also the tram, which lands in the outside wall of the clock tower.
The journey continues, after they ring the bell to sign in a call for escape. Carlos and Jill make their way through the wreckage to the heliport in which their only escape emerged. As they neared the helicopter, the fully mutated Nemesis emerges for a final battle with Jill, who knows that Raccoon City is set to be destroyed by nuclear attacks to quarantine the zombie threat, giving her only 15 minutes to defeat him again and escape. She manages to defeat him, only to realize their escape helicopter had been stolen. Luckily you are not yet abandoned, as another helicopter lands and offers a ride, none other than Barry Burton. The three of them leave the city, which is left to it’s fate of nuclear destruction.
Each game had been seemingly better than the last, based in gritty style, horror setting, and grizzly monsters. The down sides only lye with the skewed camera angles and somewhat clunky controls, but the masses were able to overlook the down sides since the game itself was just amazing.
In came 2005, with the release of Resident Evil 4:
Leon S Kennedy reemerged from the shadows, his hunt to stop the wicked Umbrella for what they had done in Raccoon City, now under the leadership of a secret security agency under military control. Sent on a mission to retrieve the daughter of the President, Ashley Graham, who was kidnapped by a mysterious cult in Spain.
Throughout his journey, he soon enough uncovers that the cult in Spain is not only behind the capture of the President’s daughter, they also happen to be infecting locals with mind controlling parasite that basically turns the victim into a mind controlled slave in which has sometimes zombie like tendencies. They also can mutate into powerful forms, in which are granted enhanced strength and power. As Leon continued to strive closer and closer to Ashley and the head of the organization, Leon once again encounters Ada Wong, who he believe was another casualty of Raccoon City.
Many trials later, Leon rescues Ashley and tries to escape, only to be confronted by the cult leader and reveals his enhanced mutations. After a large battle and a little help from Ada, Leon destroys the leader and secures a sample of the parasite. Ada manages to convince Leon to give her the sample, and the vanishes while Ashley and Leon set off.
RE 4 was an upgrade in graphics and interactive cutscenes, giving a sense of depth to the game play. The survivor horror element, however was placed in the back seat, giving way to more action. It was a good change, except that fans had come to expect a certain style to their playthrough. Many people felt it wasn’t a needed change, but it gave a chance for players to feel the action side of the RE universe.
Leon rode off into the sunset, leaving the spotlight open for another hero. This hero arrived in the form of Chris Redfield in 2009.:
Chris had been searching for signs of Umbrella since the attack of Raccoon city, most of his search consisted of many European areas, all of which had him getting involved with a special task force, the B.S.A.A.
This Bioterrorist Research Cell had Chris working in Africa, investigating a B.O.W. smuggler who had was supposed to be cornered by another Team, who they lost contact with. In their search for the smuggler, Chris is joined by partner Sheva, they run all around the wilds of Africa and into underground facilities in search of the smuggler and soon enough the trail of Jill Valentine, who was seemingly lost years before on a mission against Albert Wesker, S.T.A.R. member and traitor. The search leads the group into dead ends and monsturous creatures, not unlike the Las Plagas from Resident Evil 4.
The fighting leads to one great end, revealing that all along the man behind the mutations in Africa is none other than Albert Wesker. The chase to stop Wesker reveals that he has in his clutches Jill, who is seemingly under his control by a parasite. Enraged at the loss of his partner, Chris and Sheva engage Jill, pulling her free of Wesker’s control, she then urges them on to defeat Wesker himself.
On board Wesker’s plane, in which he planed to spread a super virus across the world with, after a small, one sided fight, Chris and Wesker are locked in a stalemate until the plane crashes, causes Wesker to become weakened and forces his hand to mutate into a more powerful being. Once defeating Wesker once and for all, Chris, Sheva, and Jill fly away in a helicopter, signaling the end of the game.
Now RE 5 held no true updates from 4, and in some gamer’s minds, 5 is a poor example of a Resident Evil game. It held more comedic factors at times, rather than any horror or survival in the basic form. I personally enjoyed the game, but it was a far cry from the original Resident Evil games.
Now, just days away from release, Resident Evil 6 is on the rise. It promises to revamp the classic gameplay of the Resident Evil franchise, bringing back the survival horror factor to the game by also keeping the action that 4 and 5 crafted.
As I sit back and look at all the Resident Evil games had brought us as a child, it proved to us all that with a simple but amazing idea, you could do amazing things and keep the fresh feeling of the originals with each new cut. It also showed us that straying too far from the perfect formula can be something that tears down the walls of the game all together.
With the sixth installment on the horizon, I have hope that the series is moving back to where it all began, giving us a better taste of survival horror in a new generation.
Have any fond memories of the Resident Evil series you want to share? A moment it scared the underwear off you? Let us know below or at our Facebook page.