The rise and fall of “Resident Evil”

(Games Weasel / Flickr)

Matthew Bruce

“Resident Evil” is one of the most beloved and successful franchises in gaming. The series has received multiple Game of the Year awards and has sold over 50 million copies worldwide.

The first three games on the PlayStation 1 popularized the survival horror genre and “Resident Evil 4” is widely considered one of the greatest games ever created.

This is why it’s utterly heartbreaking to see the once great “Resident Evil” crumble and collapse under the pressure of its own weight.

How did this happen? How did “Resident Evil” go from top dog to a chew toy? Well let’s look at the first three games in the “Resident Evil” series.

These games were made for die-hard, old school horror fans.

The static cameras created an unnerving tension. The stiff, awkward tank controls made the simple task of walking a challenge. And the scarce resources often lead to the player fleeing enemies rather than trying to fight them.

These were the games that helped establish survival horror as a true genre in video games.

After several spin-offs, series creator Shinji Mikami decided to take the series in a bold new direction.

In 2005 “Resident Evil 4” was released and took everyone by surprise.

Gone were the static camera angels and stiff controls, in came 3rd person shooting mechanics that made the title much more approachable. With tense combat and an eerie atmosphere, “Resident Evil 4” was the perfect blend of action and horror.

It also pioneered the modern third person shooter, influencing games like “Gears of War” and “Dead Space.” “Resident Evil 4” brought the series from being loved by thousands, to being loved by millions.

Naturally this brought enormous pressure to Capcom, Resident Evilʼs publisher. And that pressure only increased when Mikami left the series after the success of “Resident Evil 4.”

Recognizing how much wider their audience was and with the series creator gone, Capcomʼs focus shifted. In 2009, “Resident Evil 5” launched under high expectations.

“Resident Evil 5” decided to focus primarily on high-octane action and explosions, leaving tension and scares behind. While “Resident Evil 5” isn’t necessarily a bad game, it left many fans polarized.

Soured by “Resident Evil 5ʼs” focus on combat, true horror fans dropped out of the franchise, but most fans were still satisfied. “Resident Evil 5” also introduced cooperative play into the series.

This is what ultimately made “Resident Evil” a love it or hate it experience.

Those who played with friends enjoyed the game due to it’s satisfying combat, but those who played alone were left with an A.I., artificial intelligence, controlled partner. There was nothing more frustrating than replaying a level over and over because of your A.I. partner’s self induced deaths.

While many hard-core “Resident Evil” players were unhappy with number five, there is no denying more fans were brought into the series due to the game’s explosive gameplay.

With a bigger and a more divided audience than ever, Capcom promised fans everywhere that “Resident Evil 6” would satisfy every fan’s desires. On Oct. 2, 2012, “Resident Evil 6” was released with higher expectations than ever.

“Resident Evil 6” is a game that promises dark atmosphere and scares for old school fans. It promises even more intense action than “Resident Evil 5” and it also promises a more intertwined story telling.

But does it succeed?

No. 

“Resident Evil 6” is a sloppy, incoherent mess.

It tries so hard to be so many things to so many people that it often looses focus in the fundamentals.

The story is paper thin, almost feeling like it was an afterthought. Just something the developers scribbled down before the game shipped.

The lack of feedback in the game is astounding.

The game comes without a manual and never explains any of the controls. The enemies you face are just sponges that soak up your bullets, you can never tell how much or if any damage is being done. You’ll often run into areas with infinitely re-spawning enemies and the game will never give you any hints that you should move on.

The game also often takes control away from you, forcing you to perform frequent quick time events in the midst of combat.

 “Resident Evil 6” takes so many old and new ideas from horror and action games and then tries to just smash them all into one, coherent game.

It just does not work out. It all feels out of place.

“Resident Evil 6” has no identity; it just performs the very basics of a generic action game, leaving it’s charm and roots in the dirt. The game has no soul, its generic and unforgettable.

No one expected this. No one saw this coming.

While “Resident Evil 6” has certainly failed with critics, Capcom announced that the game has sold 4.5 million copies in the first week, definitely a commercial success.

It seems mindless action, soulless characters and poor story telling is enough to satisfy the general public.

 

Matthew Bruce’s video game blog:

http://youroldmemorycard.wordpress.com

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