A man runs down a dark corridor with red carpeting, and then turns in panic and terror as he hears something behind him. His eyes go wide, and let’s out several ear piercing screams, while blood showers everywhere. And then, the announcers voice echoes the immortal “Resident Evil” and the title screen appears. That was my first introduction to the series of Capcom’s survival horor. I’d seen it in magazines of course, but little did I expect such an intro. I was a teenager at the time, and I’ll be darned if I wasn’t excited. I was playing the Sega Saturn version, and I loved every single minute of the game. The puzzle solving, the ammo conservation. I even liked the acting – as low budget and cheesy as it might’ve been. The zombies of Resident Evil weren’t just ‘enemies’ to shoot. They’d felt like people as you explored the terror of the mansion, as you read the diaries of the people who’d worked there as they’d become infected. Itchy. Tasty.
Resident Evil 2 I’d bought on release of course, and I was bloody well looking forward to it. I’d completed the game several times over, including all of the different scenarios and campaigns. While I’ve got to admit, Sherry annoyed the hell out of me, those sections of the game were fortunately, in the minority. However, fast forward until present day – and I’m playing through Resident Evil 6 (since Capcom have decided to grace us with it on PC finally) and while I’m enjoying it, I find it even more watered down than that of RE5.
Capcom have been talking that they want to bring the series back to its survival horror roots – and in my opinon, this is a fantastic idea. The series right now is an action game, that is wearing the skin of survival horror. I agree, that some aspects of the old Resident Evil’s weren’t for everyone – in particular, the controls. Some nicknamed them the “tank controls”, and I agree they were awkward. The camera angles were fantastic for adding a sense of tension into the game, but boy – at times they were also very very frustrating. The giant snake battle inside the attic of the first RE comes to mind. Sometimes, angles and distance would be difficult to judge. And seeing the back of a zombies head is nice and all (and could lead to fantastic gore shots with a well placed shotgun blast spraying the blood towards the camer) but not being able to see your character in the process led to many wasted shells.
Someone I know called the original Resident Evil’s terrible, awful and other words that I won’t mention because of the controls and camera alone. Personally, I don’t subscribe to that point of view. Perhaps because I was used to playing them like that, or perhaps he doesn’t have patience (or knowing his gaming, skill) but I can understand why Capcom changed it.
Resident Evil 4 was almost a perfect blend of the game, with the merchant being there to provide upgrades and the like. I’ve a small problem with that (perhaps that’s just me being a purist or something). I didn’t like that it was pretty darn easy to just buy a rocket launcher. Also, buying upgrades never felt so good to me as being able to simply find them.
There were several moments in Leon’s campaign in Resident Evil 2 that strike you as fantastic – one of those was when you got the upgraded shotgun. The sound it made… my goodness. The roar as you fired your weapon at a horde of zombies, and the glee as their limbs took leave of their torsos.
The other point of hot contention is Co-Op. There’s a huge issue in co-op. If you choose to play with your buddy, it’s less scary. You’ll be talking about random crap in real life more often than not, and even if both immersed in the game, there’s two of you. Meaning that you’re a lot more confident to handle situations. If you can’t play with someone else, or choose to play alone – you’re forced in those sections to rely on the whims of the AI partner. Oh dear. The fight in Resident Evil 5 against battle suit Jill, on higher difficulties and relying on your AI partner to not get murdered in 10 seconds flat isn’t fun.
I’ve a lot of fantastic memories of the Resident Evil series, but honestly most of those come from Resident Evil 1 until 4 (this includes Code Veronica). When survival horror was actually about survival and not just firing a huge cannon you just bought from the weapons shop screen between chapter parts. I remember getting to the point where in the first Resident Evil I was taking on the Tyrant with the damn pistol, because I’d run out of all of other ammo (and yes, I did kill it). A friend of mine restarted Code Veronica because he’d not realized he needed the fire extinguisher to get hold of the Magnum in the later parts of the game.
Honestly speaking, we were spoiled for choice in the survival horror genres – with Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Parasite Eve. Now of course, we still have them, but feel very different to that particular brand of survival horror.