The old argument that Resident Evil 4 bore was brought up again with the impending release of the fifth instalment. Some say Capcom should have stuck with the old controls and others talk of such things as remaking RE2 with the new controls. Now I'm here to tell you why you're all wrong, but also right, and why Resident Evil is a great example on how to make a fantastic game series.
July 24 1998
Mysterious murders have occurred around the Raccoon Forest area. After alpha team's disappearance, bravo were sent in to investigate and recover their missing comrades.
And so the nightmare begins.
As you walk the narrow halls of the mansion, discovering the mysterious horrors that lay within you are constantly followed by a feeling of trepidation; What could be round the next corner? What was that shuffling noise? What has transpired here?
Continuing on you learn there is still plenty of room left in hell, enough for whoever has done this. The Umbrella Corporation, a supposed pharmaceutical firm, have been experimenting with a new virus in an attempt to create bio-weapons. But what exactly are their plans? It's not the time, all the matters is escaping this place, and stopping whatever is going on here in the process.
September 29, 1998
You find yourself amidst a city overrun with the undead. Thinking on your feet, you hurry past the festering monsters to the first safe place that comes to mind; The police station. But in your haste you didn't think of the nightmare you would enter.
The open city was horrific, but as you calm yourself in the cold silence you realise the closed space of the indoors just brought a different kind of horror. Once again you are forced to navigate the dark corridors of the Raccoon City buildings. What kind of sadistic architect built these places? I guess he didn't plan for the dead to rise. You discover that Umbrella has controlled the city all this time and their little experiment has broken out amongst it's population. Much more information lay before you but they're like puzzle pieces, some of them fit, others do not. Anyway, what you came looking for is not here so now what's important is escaping this forsaken dump.
Three months pass.
You awaken in a prison cell as a figure shuffles towards the bars. The door is unlocked and you realise it's a man.
You learn you're in a military complex and that everything has gone to hell. As you step outside something grabs you. You quickly turn to recognise a familiar horror. You recoil with shock and fall to the floor. Another hand grabs your ankle, and another, and another. You're surrounded! Scrambling to your feet you make a mad dash to anywhere but here. You lower your guard for a split second only to be fired at. Finding yourself off your feet again you scurry to safety, narrowly dodging the bullets. Yet again you must navigate this nightmare, driven by the hunt for Umbrella's secrets, and your brother.
The president's daughter has been kidnapped! Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president's daughter? He seems to think so and you're sent to a village somewhere in the Spanish countryside to recover her and investigate the people responsible. After being attacked by one of the inhabitants and finding your fellow officers gruesomely murdered by the others you know the locals definitely aren't friendly.
Attacking you with speed, dexterity and great numbers you frantically struggle for your own survival. They run at you from all directions, with weapons in hand and murderous intent in mind. You panic, “These aren't the shambling corpses I'm used to fighting!”
While Umbrella may have been liquidated, you soon find out their ideals live on, this time in a man named Osmund Saddler who wants to bring about a new world order using a prehistoric parasite to create a race obedient of humans. This has gone way beyond simple arms dealing, this has become a global threat. With communications down it's left to you and you alone, to save mankind...
In both RE and RE2 the player knew little about what was going on. The play style suited this mysterious feel and the scale in which it was set. But as the events moved forward so did the gameplay. Veronica increased the action and scale of events. With more open areas and a dynamic camera it changed the mood of the game. At the end of Veronica Chris vows to finally take down umbrella once and for all but the pieces weren't fully together yet. Enter RE4.
You rarely walked down a narrow corridor and were frequently mobbed by “zombies.” We were already familiar with the living dead by now and since the location had changed there was less mystery, at least from a gameplay perspective. The mood of the game had drastically changed and so had the play style. The pieces were fitting together and the tension was rising. At the end Ada captures a plagas sample for Wesker and we could all guess his intentions. The stage is set for the grand finale and so we make it to RE5.
Another complaint people had with RE5 was the forced co-op. While I found it irritating at times, I can see it as another logical progression for the series. Resident Evil has always been about partners; Chris and Jill, Rebecca and Billy, Leon and Claire, Claire and Steve, Leon and Ashley, Chris and Sheva/Jill. Capcom explored different ways of portraying these partnerships in nearly every game.
To me the gameplay is just like a writing style, as the narrative has changed the gameplay has changed to suit it. We each have our preferences but no matter how much we hope for them to last forever, all things come to an end.
And that's what I took away from Shinji Mikami's Resident Evil. What do you guys think? Does anyone feel the same?