[Read on for a description of every Resident Evil game ever released in the US, and my completion of them all in 2012.]
Why Resident Evil?
This year, Capcom is pushing out three entirely new Resident Evil games -- it's also the 15th Anniversary of Resident Evil: Director's Cut, which is the first RE game I fully completed. So why am I playing the series in the first place?
Honestly, Resident Evil 1 was one of the first times, outside of Metal Gear Solid and Tenchu, where I was completely immersed in the game and its world. I remember plotting out where I'd gone in the mansion in a custom map at 10 years old (no guides), and wanting nothing else than seeing "what's next."
I couldn't get enough of the unique scenarios the game offered, like dogs crashing through a window, or a terrifying snake appearing out of nowhere. It wasn't necessarily the claustrophobia and the slow-moving zombies that made me love the series -- it was the sheer amount of variety the game offered up.
If you haven't joined me on my Quests before, the way they work is pretty simple. It's kind of like a retrospective, but rather than just give you an overview of a franchise, I'll generally let you know what I thought of the game when it was released, and what I think of it now. If I didn't provide a complete vision of what the game is like before I replay it, I'll provide an "extended thoughts" section below each applicable entry. I'll update my progress in real time through my blog, and after I finish the entire Quest, I'll share it with you guys on the front page.
Resident Evil - PlayStation [Owned], PC, Saturn, PSN [Owned]
Resident Evil is where it all started. Gaming legend Shinji Mikami created a game that was not only an homage to Sweet Home, but also a great survival horror companion to Alone in the Dark.
Unlike most games at the time, you simply didn't know what to expect next -- literally anything could jump out and try and bite your head off. Moments like the first time you experienced zombie dogs jumping through a window, or the famous first-person Hunter scene are burned into my memory. Despite the low-budget voice acting (which only added a campy, enjoyable Evil Dead feel to it), Resident Evil is a pure classic, even today.
Resident Evil 2 - PlayStation, PC, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, GameCube, PSN [Owned]
Resident Evil 2 took the first iteration's mansion setting, and turned it to 11. It wasn't just "The Mansion" anymore -- your playground was an entire city. Somehow, someway, Resident Evil 2 filled this city with secrets, story, and tons of character.
Costume changes and hidden modes became more of a big deal, and started shaping up Resident Evil's trademark of packing in tons of content. The unique "two-disc" approach, in which the game was basically two games, was also rarely done at the time, and was a testament to the sheer undertaking that this year-and-nine-month project really was.
The dynamic "Zapping System" mechanic that changed your story was pretty much unheard of at the time, and still is today. While I don't think Resident Evil 2 was as fun as the original, one thing's for sure: it's one of the most technically impressive games of all time.
Resident Evil 3 - PlayStation, PC, Dreamcast, GameCube, PSN [Owned]
"3" was unique in that it had a big bad boss enemy stalk you the entire game -- basically right from the very beginning. It also introduced a mechanic that I was extremely grateful for, and rarely re-used: dodging.
After the main game was completed, you could access the first true Mercenaries mode, entitled "Operation: Mad Jackal." RE3's variation was much more fleshed out than the prior installments' "Survivor" or "Battle Game" gametypes.
Quite honestly, Mad Jackal set me up for my rabid love of the Mercenaries gametype. In fact, for a few titles, I would play Mercenaries for considerably longer than the actual core game -- Resident Evil 3 was one such example.
Resident Evil Survivor - PlayStation [Owned], PC
My recollection of Survivor is vague at best: I remember renting it with my little brother, and beating it in an afternoon.
The only specific thing I really remember about it is that it's basically Doom in Resident Evil form, and you literally cannot save the game, ever. While you're able to keep any weapons and items after death, you have to restart from the beginning if you die: considering is is around 1-3 hours, that might suck.
Survivor is what it is. It's not a terrible "lightgun game," but it isn't great, either. One of the biggest punches in the face is the fact that it feels like a straight arcade port (even though it's not) given the fact that there are no continue points. It's hard to recommend for that reason alone, but if you're a Resident Evil fanatic, you may as well track this one down.
Resident Evil Code: Veronica - Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 [Owned], GameCube, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [Owned]
Code Veronica was formerly my favorite game in the series, before REmake and RE5 came along. It was the first game to offer semi-fixed angles for the camera, instead of pre-rendered backgrounds, which was partly due to the upgrade in hardware to the PlayStation 2.
It also offered a first-person view for a few weapons, and an amalgamation of various Resident Evil games, such as the 180-degree turn, upgradeable weapons, and explosive scenery. Simply put, it was just a clean, fun Resident Evil game. In the PS2 version, there were a few ham-fisted action scenes involving Wesker, but they were good fun too and helped add to the game's enjoyment. In addition to the normal game (Code: Veronica X), I completed battle mode with every character.
Resident Evil Gaiden - Game Boy Color [Owned]
Gaiden ("side-story" in Japanese), is probably the only "bad" Resident Evil game in the entire franchise. While a few others were extremely average, Gaiden is borderline unplayable. Strangely enough, it's a top down/rhythm game hybrid -- the results are disastrous, and not even Leon and Barry can save this one.
Combat is done in a turn-based game style, where contact with an enemy initiates a mini-game similar to the "field goal kick" bar from the popular Madden NFL series. To be blunt, combat just wasn't scary, and it wasn't much fun either.
Resident Evil REmake - GameCube, Wii [Owned]
RE1's GameCube REmake is possibly the best remake of all time, for any series. Capcom pulled out all the stops for this one, when they could have easily just re-released the game à la the RE GameCube collection.
The graphics are updated, the voice acting is improved, and the game is overhauled so much that fans will barely recognize some parts of it (among a few new areas). The REmake offers up classic RE1 gameplay with a brand new veneer -- personally, while it's not my favorite, I think it's technically the best game in the series.
Resident Evil Zero - GameCube [Owned], Wii [Owned]
Resident Evil Zero is one of the only games I haven't completed in the series before this Quest. While I had a GameCube, I was too busy playing other stuff at the time (including the GameCube's REmake), and just missed this one.
I've heard mixed reactions -- both that it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, and that it's a solid entry to the franchise. Either way, I'm excited to jump into one this year with the Wii re-release.
I'm not a huge fan of Zero, but that's mostly due to the two title characters involved. As the main series precursor to RE, I think Zero falls short in many respects. I didn't really feel connected to Rebecca or Billy nearly as much as I did with any previous character in the series, and considering they hardly ever make a re-appearance, I can only assume many people felt the same.
I applaud Capcom for bringing us back to the Spencer Mansion and giving us a bit of insight into the mystery there, but honestly, REmake did all of this and more (I can't say enough good things about that game).
Resident Evil: Dead Aim - PlayStation 2 [Owned]
Dead Aim is easily the best light-gun game in the series, especially for its time. Movement was shown in a third-person view like standard Resident Evil games, but it switched to first-person for shooting purposes.
This basically created a hybrid shooting/adventure game that at least allowed you to pick your fights during most instances, instead of being forced to battle every single enemy on-rails.
Why Capcom didn't follow this formula further, I'll never know, as it made for a really interesting game. It also offered up a few new characters that, while forgettable, show Capcom was at least trying something different instead of putting Leon and Chris into a game for the hundredth time.
Resident Evil Outbreak - PlayStation 2 [Owned]
Outbreak was a fan's dream: for the first time, Resident Evil was truly multiplayer! You could cooperate or betray your teammates, just like a real zombie apocalypse.
There were plenty of "How could you leave me behind!" and "It was both of us or one of us!" moments, and this made for a unique experience that hasn't really been matched yet, even with Left 4 Dead.
Outbreak served up classic hopeless Resident Evil tension with heated multiplayer gameplay, and it's a shame so many people missed out on it (mostly due to the haphazard marketing of the PS2's HDD and Internet accessory).
Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 - PlayStation 2 [Owned]
Strangely enough, Outbreak 2 was the first Resident Evil game to allow people to move and shoot. Since it wasn't as popular in America, however, no one really talks about it. Part of the reason for the lack of popularity was the fact that it was basically a carbon-copy of Outbreak 1, with a few different scenarios.
The game added an extra communication system that allowed people to talk to one another despite the region, and a few other small additions, but it wasn't really enough to show up on most people's radars. Personally, I wasn't upset with more of the same, as I enjoyed the original Outbreak.
Resident Evil 4 - GameCube, PlayStation 2 [Owned], PC, Wii [Owned]*, iPhone [Owned], iPad, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [Owned]
Many fans are upset at Resident Evil 4 for spearheading the series into an action-oriented direction. Personally, I see it as a natural evolution of the series. The behind-the-back camera and aiming mechanics are a much better alternative than anything previously offered, and the enemy variety lends itself well to the new direction.
For whatever reason, people never seem to fault Resident Evil 4 for a more action-centric focus, instead choosing Resident Evil 5 as the sacrificial lamb. Personally, I never saw it: I was already ready for action ever since Code Veronica X.
The Mercenaries mode also takes a further step forward, and offers up even more additional content than ever before -- most notably the ability to select multiple stages, and the inability to actually complete it. Resident Evil 4 was also insanely popular, and helped revitalize the series.
Resident Evil: Deadly Silence - DS [Owned]
Deadly Silence. DS. Get it?!
One of the cool things about this version of Resident Evil is that the top screen of the DS is used as a map, and a health indicator at all times. Additionally, the game is pretty much a spot-on port of the PS1 game, voice acting and all, which is pretty impressive given the DS' general lack of horsepower. It also has a multiplayer mode; it's kind of weak, given that you and your friends never actually see each other in different parts of the mansion, but it's a free addition nonetheless.
To differentiate this playthrough from my original RE run, I'm playing the "REbirth mode," which adds a ton of unique first-person action scenes, and DS-centric additions/re-arrangements. Even though the game is basically a port, touch screen-specific puzzles and changes are enough to justify another playthrough here.
All in all, Deadly Silence is about what you'd expect out of an above average portable port, and a solid addition to any RE fan's collection.
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles - Wii [Owned], PlayStation 3
Umbrella Chronicles is an on-rails shooter for the Wii. That's about all I can say about it, honestly, before I head into this one. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort or time to complete it, and cooperative gameplay is kind of shoe-horned in.
Thankfully, it has a decent amount of unlockable content. While I have played Umbrella Chronicles, I haven't tackled it as much as Darkside Chronicles, so I'll be sure and post extended thoughts below.
If you like light-gun games, be sure and check this one out. It offers pretty standard, enjoyable light-gun arcade-y fun over the backdrop of a few past Resident Evil titles. Umbrella Chronicles is a good way to get a refresher for Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil 1, and Resident Evil 3.
Although, despite how fun it can be, I'd highly recommend playing it with a partner, as it enhances the enjoyment tenfold.
Resident Evil 5 - Xbox 360 [Owned], PlayStation 3 [Owned], PC
I make it no secret that Resident Evil 5 is my favorite game of all time (emphasis on personal favorite). The day I got it at midnight, I took off work the next day, and beat it sometime in the morning. The next day, my wife and I started a co-op campaign that would last about a week -- after that, I grinded through another playthrough to get some cash for extra weapons; I just couldn't get enough.
To put it simply, I think RE5 is the most fun game in the entire series. There's a hefty campaign, tons of extra content, co-op, and for the first time, there's co-op Mercenaries -- what more could you want? I literally played RE5 for months on end, and ate up all the DLC possible. I can't say enough good things about this game. For my 2012 playthrough, I'm either going to tackle the PlayStation Move version of the game, or replay it with my wife.
Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles - Wii [Owned], PlayStation 3
Darkside Chronicles is a considerable improvement upon Umbrella Chronicles. There's a new evade move and it offers a dynamic difficulty setting, along with an improved co-op mode.
Like the other light-gun titles in the series, Darkside Chronicles is basically a love-it-or-hate-it kind of game. It doesn't really offer a whole lot more than most other on-rail shooters. If you're a Resident Evil fan, however, you may want to put up with it just for the extra story bits.
Out of the two light-gun Wii titles, Darkside Chronicles is the better game; especially for two players. The developers make a much better effort to accommodate co-op play, and the new mechanics make gameplay smoother.
You also get crucial backstory on Leon and Krauser, which helps make Resident Evil 4's Krauser encounters that much more enjoyable. If you have to choose one of the two Wii light-gun games, make it Darkside -- but getting both isn't a bad idea.
Resident Evil: Deck Building Game - [Owned]
If you haven't played a deck-building game before, the concept is pretty simple. There are a bunch of stacks of static cards in the center of the play area. You have one giant deck, of which you draw five cards at a time from. With those five cards, you can perform a number of actions depending on what you randomly drew -- you can buy cards from the middle or perform actions to either draw more cards or modify your deck.
Resident Evil's deck-building variant adds another new concept: fighting infected. On any given turn, you're allowed one buy, one action, and one "exploration" that allows you to take a door card and explore the Spencer Mansion. In the mansion you can find items or battle infected for trophies -- depending on the gametype, the player with the most trophies (kills) wins.
I've played a number of deck-building games before such as Dominion, but Resident Evil is one of my favorites. Each player gets assigned a unique character that changes your abilities, which helps add to the characterization and uniqueness of the game. Also, it's a delight to take down the Nemesis with a bunch of knife cards as Krauser.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D - 3DS [Owned]
Mercenaries 3D is a very niche title. If you love the Mercenaries mini-games from other titles, you may like Mercs 3D. If you loathe them -- well, that's kind of the entire game here.
Mercs 3D made waves in the gaming community at release due to the inability to delete saves, and its incredibly short length (it can be beaten in a few hours).
It also had a few other problems like the short draw distance, among other graphical glitches. Personally, I thought the game was acceptable, and played it for quite a while before putting it down. While it may seem like a cash grab at first, there are a decent amount of scenarios included, and Mercs fanatics will be sure to come back to it occasionally.
Resident Evil: Revelations - 3DS [Owned]
Did the mysteriously abandoned Resident Evil PSP game end up as Revelations? Does it really matter at this point? Early previews are calling this "one of the best Resident Evils in a long time, and possibly the best Resident Evil ever."
The demo is great, the visuals are great, and there's really no reason to doubt this entry, despite the fact that it's on a portable. I plan on getting this game day one and ripping through it in a few days. I'll be sure and post my thoughts after completion.
After playing the final release, I felt like the demo was a bait and switch of sorts. The fact of the matter is, without going into spoiler territory, at least half of the game is not the tight-knit claustrophobic experience the demo made it out to be.
A lot of Revelations is spent with an AI partner clunking around, or in open areas fighting non-stop enemies in a full-out actionfest -- the switch between the Cruise Ship sections and everywhere else is jarring, and the story isn't the greatest to boot.
Thankfully, the game looked great, controlled great, and Raid Mode is pretty fun solo or with a friend. I hope that Capcom puts this new engine to good use, and expands upon a lot of concepts with Revelations. It's not one of my favorite Resident Evil games for sure, but it's not bad, either.
Resident Evil Game Boy Color - Game Boy Color ROM [Owned]
This previously unreleased title has finally been given to the public by an anonymous source.
While it evidently isn't possible to beat the game in its current state, I'll still attempt to complete as much as possible. Up until 2012, no one has had a chance to play this missing piece of history, so I'm pretty excited to see what we've been missing all these years.
Considering Resident Evil GBC is only available as a free ROM, you aren't really risking anything financially to try it. There isn't a whole lot to say about this one that can't really be said by looking at the screenshot above.
It's a very simplistic version of Resident Evil, distilled into a tiny cartridge-size package. The ROM isn't complete, but at least you can get a taste of this lost game. While it isn't ideal, I would have salivated at the prospect of a portable Resident Evil game for car trips as a child.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City - Xbox 360 [Owned], PlayStation 3, PC
I honestly have no idea what to expect from Raccoon City. I'm not the biggest fan of Slant Six, and I'm not too keen on the possible idea of shooting down Resident Evil's heroes and heroines. Additionally, based on rumors, the game may not have a split-screen mode, which would hinder my ability to play with my wife.
Regardless, I'll be picking up Raccoon City this year on my 360, and I'm eager to see what it can offer to the series.
Raccoon City is a disappointment. While fun, the game has a heap of issues, from online stability, to numerous gamebreaking glitches. Players have been known to fall through the floor, turn into ghosts, and all sorts of other mishaps. It's a shame, because for Resident Evil fans, the game is a fun little romp through the events of Resident Evil 2 and 3.
You get to see pretty much every major monster from the series (Nemesis included!), and some familiar faces like Birkin, Leon, and Hunk. If done correctly -- and possibly as canon -- this could have been a really worthwhile entry into the franchise. As it stands, it's a hard recommendation
Resident Evil 6 - Xbox 360 [Owned], PlayStation 3, PC
I could not be more excited for Resident Evil 6. From the rumors offered so far, it looks to have a full Mercenaries mode with multiplayer, story mode co-op, and a single-player campaign without an AI partner. In short, it apparently offers more content than RE5.
I'm excited for the new setting, and hopefully the story will be interesting this time around without Wesker (presumably, provided he isn't cloned). Although the series is decidedly more action-oriented, there are also rumors of more claustrophobic areas and slower-moving zombies having a part in RE6 -- if they can do it right, I say bring it on.
Despite my initial excitement, over time, I came into Resident Evil 6 expecting to be disappointed. I had heard so many bad things from my friends and colleagues who have played it at various events like E3 and TGS. I had personally bought Dragon's Dogma primarily for early access to the Resident Evil 6 demo, and came away fairly unimpressed. I played the Resident Evil 5 demo for hours on end (over twenty hours in fact) -- with the Resident Evil 6 demo, I literally played it once and deleted it.
So with all this in mind, I came into Resident Evil 6 very skeptical, and left mostly impressed. Mostly.
Spreading apart all three (four, if you count Ada) stories was a ballsy move. With Resident Evil 5, it was enjoyable to play as Chris and Sheva the entire game, as the story wasn't all over the place, and you were grounded in both characters, which made it easy to learn their nuances and melee abilities.
With Resident Evil 6, you're jumping all over the place at times, and it can be jarring. Not only does every character handle differently, but everyone has a different UI to boot. Given the mostly fast-paced action the game spews at you constantly, design choices like the inability to pause the game in co-op just feel weird, as do QTEs that only involve one player, wrapped up in such unexciting things as starting a car.
Still, I found myself enjoying the game the more I played it. (I'm talking ten hours of learning the nuances of combat). I'll fully admit, Mercenaries -- which you all know I'm a giant fan of -- really helped me grasp said nuances much quicker than the campaign, and bolstered my enjoyment tenfold.
As you can see in this video, combat is more than meets the eye in Resident Evil 6. There's sliding, counters, quick-shotting, and contextual melee moves. It's like a complex fighting game in a sense, but integrated into one of my favorite franchises of all time. Naturally, since it's done well, I'm enjoying myself.
RE6 also has a ton of content provided that you're ready to embrace the action-oriented gameplay (which has been a staple since RE4). There's an Ada campaign, a handful of online modes, a meta-game involving skill XP in both the campaign and Mercenaries, tons of unlocks and some costumes for Mercs, and more. Like RE5, there's enough here to keep you playing well into 2013.
While it isn't one of my favorite games in the franchise by far, I think it's a fairly solid action game (what immediately comes to mind is my opinion of Skyward Sword: great action-RPG, alright Zelda game). Just like RE5, your mileage will vary depending on how fun your co-op partner is -- just know, however, that the co-op AI is not nearly as frustrating as Sheva was.
The Resident Evil series has certainly had its ups and downs. From its horror roots to a metamorphosis of action to the chagrin of many fans, everyone has to admit that the franchise is interesting, if nothing else.
As a whole, I found myself not enjoying this Quest nearly as much as the other ones, and I can't really put my finger on why, as I still like the series overall. While I was truly eager to rip into Tony Hawk, Kingdom Hearts, and Zelda almost immediately, I took a long break in between some of the games here, as I found it fairly tough to continue on.
Perhaps it's because of the slow-moving nature of many of the earlier games, and when played in rapid succession, it can get a bit grating? I don't know for sure. Thankfully, the multiplayer iterations kept me going, as it was a blast to, well, blast away the undead with my wife or with a friend.