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Resident Evil: A Frightening Experience

A new Resident Evil Village trailer dropped this week. In it we got a better look at the eerie setting as well as one of the main protagonists. The game definitely looks to bring what made Resident Evil 7 so successful back to our consoles. It was also announced that the PlayStation 5 would receive an exclusive demo (remember those) for fans to sink their teeth into. This along with the upcoming Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness on Netflix means there’s plenty for fans of the series to sink their teeth into. To celebrate all this Resi goodness, I’ve decided to have a look back at the games I’ve played and my memories of them. As I haven’t played them all yet, there will be some big ones missing. I still haven’t started Resident Evil despite owning it on the Sega Saturn, GameCube and PlayStation 3. One day I will, promise.

Resident Evil 2 – PlayStation (1998)

This is where my journey within the Resi universe began. As I’ve stated a few times already, I wasn’t the biggest horror fan growing up. Of all the horrible creatures though, zombies were the ones to freak me out the most. It may be the fact they’re former humans but who knows. In the late 90s, Resident Evil had exploded in popularity with the release of the second game (not saying the first one wasn’t popular). It was in every gaming magazine at the time. The late-night adverts were just horrifying and captured the feel of the world well. I remember people in school talking about it but it never interested me. Then one day I was reading a magazine (I think it was PlayStation World) and they had a feature on it. I decided to give it a try and picked up a Platinum copy from Dixons (I think). The case had a zombie’s face on the cover (if you’re familiar with the PAL cover, you’ll know the one) and it filled me with dread. In the end I started with Leon’s campaign and it took me by surprise. At the time the game looked great. The pre-rendered backgrounds and excellent sound effects really added to the atmosphere. The voice acting is ok but not as memorable as the first game. It was filled with challenging puzzles that took me a bit of time to get through. I slowly progressed, finishing Leon’s scenario, only to discover one of the greatest things in the series, Scenario B and the zapping system. Here, I had to play as Claire as she escapes from the other side of the police car in the intro. Claire and Leon’s paths will cross and certain items will be available to Claire if you leave them behind in Leon’s scenario. This added a whole extra layer of survival horror. The other element Scenario B brought with it was Mr. X. This Tyrant would follow you around the police station and it terrified me. Looking back, I’m glad I played it as I would have missed out on an absolute classic. I’ll have to revisit it someday as its been a while since I last played it.

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – PlayStation (1999)

Following my delight with Resident Evil 2, I was slow to come to Nemesis. Again, it featured heavily in gaming magazines, promising a more explosive adventure. I never went looking for it, instead in a rather odd stroke of luck (or theft) a friend lent it to me and then I moved house. I haven’t seen him since. I know, boo-hiss. Anyway, Resident Evil 3 certainly was more explosive than the second game. This time you weren’t confined to just the police station and sewers, instead you could explore a chunk of the city. The game also featured some random elements, from puzzle solutions to enemy placements. One of these “random elements” was a giant Tyrant named Nemesis. Nemesis was mainly scripted but there were times when you’d hear him screaming “S.T.A.R.S.” and it was freaky. When encountering Nemesis, you could face him (and get a special item) or duck away. Making certain decisions could lead to different areas and a different ending (yes, multiple endings returned). With the new, slightly more action orientated gameplay, the zombies felt less threatening. However, get caught in a corner and they could still cause serious damage. The plot was also interesting, taking place before, during and after Resident Evil 2. There was no Scenario B or zapping system this time but you did play as a second character after a certain event. I loved this one. The destroyed streets, the threat of Nemesis and the different options all helped to make a unique adventure.

Resident Evil: Code Veronica X – PlayStation 2 (2000)

A pattern is starting to emerge and it’s that I’m always late to the party. Resident Evil: Code Veronica X would be no exception. I never got to play the original Dreamcast version. In fact, for a long time I didn’t even know there was one. I stumbled across Code Veronica X while on holiday one year. I had popped into an Xtra-vision (Blockbuster outside Ireland) to see what they had and a Platinum copy of Code Veronica X was staring me in the face. As I hadn’t played a Resi game in a while and I was trying to find more games for my PlayStation 2, I snapped it up. Code Veronica X follows Claire after the events of Resident Evil 2. Here, she is caught by Umbrella Europe and sent to a prison island. As you’d expect, its infested with the undead. The tank controls and fixed cameras of the PlayStation games are here (something which I haven’t mentioned up to now) and they help to add to the scares. The game looks wonderful in 3D, especially for an early PlayStation 2 game (or Dreamcast port). The challenge is definitely a lot harder, with ammo and item conservation an absolute must. There are points in the game where you can become stuck if you don’t have enough ammo (if you’re a great player, you won’t need to worry about this). I enjoyed this one. The siblings were creepy and it was great to finally play as Chris. This was also my first introduction to Wesker and what an antagonist. I found Steve a bit irritating but his twist was both fantastic and saddening. This is a game I’ve only finished once but I’ll have to rectify that soon.

Resident Evil 4 – PlayStation 2 (2005)

Now this is a change. Resident Evil 4 was one of the few Resi games I actually got around its release date. I got the steelbook edition for Christmas in 2005. Now, I’ve never played the GameCube version but I am aware the PlayStation 2 version is the inferior of the two but I love it all the same. Leon was back with a bang. Now a veteran special agent, he is snarkier than ever. The game also shifts from fixed camera angels to over the shoulder. This game can be pinpointed as the start of a major shift in the series. Gone were zombies, instead we were battling Ganados. These were humans infected with a parasite. They were faster and more threatening than regular zombies. The game also had a dynamic difficulty system on normal, where depending on how you performed, enemies could become harder or easier. On easy mode, certain areas would be blocked off so its best to play on normal to see the whole adventure. I absolutely loved the shift in style. I felt more in control of Leon and I was happy to sacrifice some of the horror elements for it. Not everyone would agree but just remember I’m a coward. I remember booting this up on Christmas day and just blasting through it. Escorting Ashley is frustrating but once I unlocked the suit of armour, I would play it over and over, having so much fun. This game has been ported to almost every system and I’d recommend tracking down a copy.

Resident Evil 5 – Xbox 360 (2009)

While Resident Evil 4 was the start of a shift in the series, Resident Evil 5 absolutely took off with it. Survival horror was pretty much gone out the window, replaced with action. Sure, there were still some horror elements and ammo conservation on higher difficulties was needed, but it was much more adrenaline pumping and boulder punching than anything before it. This time you’re accompanied by an AI or you can play with a friend as you plough your way through enemies. The dark mansions, foreboding forests and ruined cities are gone, this time replaced by an African setting. Sheva and Chris have excellent chemistry as partners but the AI is a bit of a let down at times. The plot is just as bonkers as ever, with Jill and Wesker returning. I first played the demo, before grabbing a copy on release. At the time I worked at Xtra-vision so I got a discount on it. I enjoyed the gameplay and setting but it didn’t feel very Resi. I felt it was another generic shooter on a console full of them but I still liked it. While the AI character annoyed me at times, it was a relief to not have another escort type mission. In co-op, my wife and I blasted through the game and its DLC. Speaking of DLC, if you want a Resi nostalgia trip, I’d recommend trying Lost In Nightmares.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City – Xbox 360 (2012)

Released in 2012, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a spin-off of the franchise. Here, you’ll play as an Umbrella mercenary as you track down survivors of the outbreak. It’s a full-on action shooter, where you and a squad of three others will complete certain objectives. The other three characters can be controlled by either AI or friends. I got this one in early 2012 and played through it with my cousin over Xbox Live. There’s not really much to it. You start a mission, mow down zombies on the way to an objective, then escape. It was great to see some classic Raccoon City environments in 3D but they have been altered to allow for a larger party. I’ve only played through it once but didn’t really care for it (I nearly forgot about it). I didn’t try the versus mode and I doubt I’ll ever get the chance to now.

Resident Evil 6 – Xbox 360 (2012)

For many, this is the entry where the series jumped the shark. The game is split out into four scenarios, with the last one being unlocked after finishing the first three. The game is action packed and has completely forgetting its survival horror roots (or any sense of storytelling).  This was another I purchased day one. The combat is fine and Leon’s scenario is reminiscent of the older games. It’s my favourite scenario of the bunch. Sadly, my biggest issue is how fragmented the narrative is. The four scenarios intersect at different times and each covers a fraction of the story. I just didn’t like it. Resident Evil 2 had intersecting scenarios but it felt so much better. I enjoyed the gun gameplay but at this stage it failed to stand out from the crowd. Everything unique about the series was dwindling in Resident Evil 5 but it’s gone in Resident Evil 6. Still, I didn’t find it terrible, just meh. The AI was functioning, the co-op was fun and the character dialogue helps fill in the gaps. Honestly, if the scenarios had of been presented better or the game just focused on one, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more. After this, Capcom would re-evaluate the series and give us Resident Evil VII but I haven’t played that yet. Instead, I’ll skip ahead a bit (or back in time).

Resident Evil 2 (Remake) – Xbox One (2019)

Here we are, full circle-ish. In 2019, Capcom would give us a Resident Evil 2 remake. It would take the over-the-shoulder camera from 4-6 and push the emphasis heavily towards survival horror. The game looks dark and decrepit, all which enhance the scare. The music is haunting (when it’s there) and the zombie moans fill me with dread. Never knowing if something is dead or not is frightening. In something of a throwback, I was late to this one, picking it up at a discount. I had a backlog to get through (I still do) so I waited until it was reduced. This game filled me with a dread I hadn’t experienced since the original Resident Evil 2. To explain how terrified I was, I wouldn’t play it with the lights off, I would only do small sections of it and I insisted my wife be in the room with me when I played it. Her response was to laugh and tell me to grow up (fair enough). This game isn’t long but it was an absolute marathon for me. Some things have changed. The zapping system is gone and Scenario 2 no longer feels as unique. You still need to finish it in order to get the true ending though. The dark corridors and poor lighting worked wonders and I felt there was always something waiting to get me. Similar to the original, I avoided most zombies or corpses. An example of this is in the officer’s room with Leon’s desk, there’s a corpse. Rather than walk near it, I’d walk the long way around the desks. Good thing too, turns out it’s undead. The only drawback for me was Mr. X. While imposing the first time you meet him, he just became annoying afterwards. I spent far too much time in a safe room, waiting for him to go away…

Resident Evil 3 (Remake) – Xbox One (2020)

The final entry on my list and the newest game in the series, Resident Evil 3 has us return as Jill as she escapes the crumbling Raccoon City. Using the same engine as Resident Evil 2, the game focuses slightly more on action (similar to how Resident Evil 3: Nemesis transitioned from the original Resident Evil 2). This doesn’t mean you can go blasting everything in sight. It is still best to avoid encounters if you can or use the environment to take out several enemies at once. With the openness of the city, this game doesn’t feel as eerie as Resident Evil 2. There is no longer a sense of dread about what’s around the corner and Nemesis is nowhere near persistent as Mr. X. In fact, Nemesis’ encounters are scripted. I had prebooked this game from a store before the pandemic and sadly the store closed down. I then had to order it and Final Fantasy VII Remake online. I got Resident Evil 3 rather quickly and sunk my teeth into it. I preferred the less scary setting as I’m a massive coward. The combat felt smoother, with Jill having more moves at her disposal. The one thing I found odd was how they left out the Clocktower area. While not a major deal for me, I can understand massive fans being upset by this. I did manage to fly through this game quickly but then again, the first game wasn’t massively long either, encouraging multiple playthroughs.

I hope you liked my little trip through Resident Evil. I do have Resident Evil, Resident Evil (Remake), Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil Outbreak, Resident Evil Outbreak File #2, Resident Evil: Revelations, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 and Resident Evil VII but I haven’t gotten around to those yet. Are you excited for Resident Evil VIII? What’s your favourite in the series?

Categories

Playstation, Xbox

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