Eleven games, around 130 hours and many many dead zombies later, I have completed all the Resident Evil games of the main series plus the Chronicles games (lightgun games). Of course I had a few moments where I was wondering what exactly I was doing but it’s been a fun experience overall and it taught me a lot about running other marathons of the same type (Final Fantasy I’m looking at you).
Overall, RE is a series of surprising quality. Even the title I found to be the worst, RE5, is pretty good when you compare it to other games who came out around the same time as it did. For a series which started out as an homage to B-movie horror, it did an impressive job of creating a memorable story that still continues to this day.
Not only that but it contributed to video games in general by popularizing a new genre of gaming not once but twice. First by making Survival horror games popular and then by making third person shooters a reality. Add on top of this all the other games and series that RE inspired and I think it’s safe to say that Resident Evil ranks up there with Zelda and Mario as far as the impact it had on the video game industry.
But like every big series, RE has it downs and weird experiments and it’s worth talking about them. Many players have been questioning the direction the series is taking lately as well as some thinly veiled attempts at cashing in on the name by Capcom. Some designers who worked on the series have echoed these concerns and have said that by constantly trying to reinvent itself RE might be losing the essence of what made it great.
The series is at its worst when…
When it tries to be a shooter. Simple as that. Sure there’s argument to be made about the games needing more zombies or less monsters or …. but really, when you look at the complaints and the poor reviews it’s always about a part that featured lots of shooting and little survival. RE6 reviled Chris campaign is a shinning example of this as they made it a shooter and everyone hated it.
The series is at its best when…
They stick closer to the survival horror genre. I don’t mean by that old mechanics, fancy door opening sequences and not being able to move and shoot. I mean limited ammo, dangerous enemies and making every fight a decision between killing the zombie and wasting resources or trying to sneak past it. Proof that it works is RE: Revelations where the game stayed closer to the Survival horror genre while staying modern and it was a resounding success
The best and the worst
I won’t surprise you by repeating myself and saying RE5 was the worst game of the series. Too much shooting, not enough surviving.
The best however is a tie between RE2 and Revelations. I suppose I should give the title to RE2 but Revelations really impressed me so I’m putting both of them up there. RE2 had that perfect blend of story and survival horror and Revelations showed us what Survival horror could be like in recent games and proved it wasn’t an antiquated concept.
So I’ll end this with a message to the Capcom staff working on RE7. Guys, please listen to you fans and critics, you proved you cold do a modern survival horror game so please stick to that. Survival horror is not about having the scariest monsters, it’s about having to make hard choices with the limited resources you have. It’s about making a zombie scary because he’ll take seven bullets to take down and you only have six.
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