Resident Evil: A History

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Everyone remembers their encounter with the first zombie in Capcom’s iconic Resident Evil franchise. You slowly walk down a seemingly deserted corridor, each step producing a dull thump on the wooden flooring. As you round the corner, you trigger one of the most famous cut-scenes in gaming history. The camera moves slowly towards a pale figure crouched over what appears to be a human body. The figure yanks its head upwards, causing a dark pool of blood to spread across the floor (the uncensored scene would actually show a decapitated head dropping to the floor, half its face torn off with an eyeball bulging out of its socket). It turns its head slowly toward you, blood coating its mouth and chin as it emits a groan that would haunt gamers for the next twenty years.

Within this brief fifteen second timeframe, Resident Evil cemented its position as a pioneering force in the survival-horror genre. In the years since, its legacy has become legendary, influencing and horrifying countless developers and gamers alike, spawning a successful (albeit, apparently pretty awful) film franchise, spin-off books, comics and even board games.

To celebrate the highs and lows of Resident Evil’s long life, I’ve compiled a history of the survival-horror series. Here you’ll find information on every major game released so far, plus more on our favourite survival horror franchise. So grab yourself a Jill (or is that jibble?) sandwich, make yourself comfortable, and enjoy!

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So just what is Resident Evil?

Back in 1989, Capcom released a little game in Japan on the Famicon called Sweet Home, in conjunction with a Japanese horror film of the same name. Utilising a top-down viewpoint, it took place in a vast mansion with a particular focus on puzzle-solving and inventory management. The mansion was one of the first instances of a cohesive, connected environment from beginning to end, with its history and lineage brought to life through notes and diary entries found scattered amongst its rooms.

Sweet Home director Tokuro Fujiwara was in the midst of remaking the horror title alongside project director Shinji Mikami when Capcom marketing executives began work to bring the game to Western soil. A roadblock was hit when it was discovered that the Japanese title for the project – Biohazard – had already been nabbed by another DOS game in the West. Thus, a competition was held among company staff to come up with a new name. The winner, of course, was Resident Evil.

Mikami worked on Resident Evil on his own for the first six months of development, drawing inspiration from the Overlook Hotel featured in Stanley Kubrick’s horror movie The Shining for the now-iconic mansion setting. An early prototype of the game was set in the first-person point of view (which would eventually return in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard along with multiple light gun titles in the series) before Mikami took note of another horror title released in 1992: Alone in the Dark. The fixed-view camera angles in Alone in the Dark proved to be a direct influence on Resident Evil, and provided a much lauded cinematic experience as well as allowing near-photorealistic (well, photorealistic for 1996) pre-rendered environments – though this method soon fell out of fashion after an increasing number of players complained about the now-infamous ‘tank controls’.

 

“It’s a weapon. It’s really powerful, especially against living things” – Barry Burton

 

Are there many games in the series?

Oh boy, are you in for a treat! There are seven numbered Resident Evil games in the series, along with multiple other titles – some of these are considered canon and enhance the overarching plot, and some branch off on their own path, to admittedly varying levels of success. So without further ado, here’s every Resident Evil game from 1996 right up to the present day (SPOILERS – obviously).

A brief note: multiple games in the series have been released on various consoles. Whilst I will be covering all games (except those mobile games, because EWW), I won’t mention every single release. For example, Resident Evil 4 has been released on Gamecube, PS2, Wii, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and even iOS. That’s bonkers. 

Resident Evil – 1996

Here’s where it all started. Resident Evil was originally released on PlayStation in 1996 to worldwide critical acclaim and quickly became a best seller.

Set in July 1998 in the forest outskirts of the fictional town of Raccoon City, an elite squad of S.T.A.R.S members are sent to investigate a series of brutal murders where “victims were apparently eaten”. After a tense encounter with vicious zombie dogs in the woods, they seek refuge in the grand Spencer Estate mansion. Here, they unravel a deep conspiracy involving their leader, Albert Wesker, and the pharmaceutical enterprise, Umbrella Corporation.

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Umbrella were conducting illegal research experiments in the mansion (which housed a vast underground lab, by the way), resulting in a localised outbreak infecting the research assistants inhabiting the area. Their plight is recorded in scattered diary pages (itchy. tasty!) as their bodies decay and they become the very monsters you’re tasked with eliminating. Albert Wesker, meanwhile, to fulfil his own desire for power and world domination, betrayed his teammates and ultimately faked his own death after becoming endowed with supernatural power from a prototype virus.

You can play through the game with one of two characters – Chris Redfield, a former military pilot with a particular resilience to damage, and Jill Valentine, an ex-military bomb specialist who may not be quite as tough as Chris, but is a certified ‘master of unlocking’ and can carry more items. Jill’s campaign is generally considered to be the easier of the two since she doesn’t need to worry about picking up Old Keys to unlock certain doors. Both certainly have their merits though, with Chris’s campaign introducing us to Resident Evil Zero’s main protagonist, Rebecca Chambers.

The game also introduced us to another fan-favourite character: Barry Burton. Barry’s love for both his family and revolvers, along with his many amusing quips, immediately struck a chord with players who have since longed for his return to the franchise. Barry briefly showed up in 2001 in Resident Evil: Gaiden (though this game is considered non-canon) before finally returning to the limelight in 2015 in Resident Evil: Revelations 2. 

In 1997, a Director’s Cut of Resident Evil was released. This was primarily to tide fans over after its sequel, Resident Evil 2, was given a substantial delay. The core experience is drastically altered from the original, with most vital items changing location, as well different placement of enemies. The handgun was given a slight boost in power with a random chance of decapitating zombies, and a ‘beginner’ mode was added for the more faint of heart among us.

 

“We should start from the first floor, okay? And Jill, here’s a lock pick. It might be handy if you, the master of unlocking, take it with you” – Barry Burton

 

 

Resident Evil 1.5 – 1997 (cancelled)

Resident Evil 1.5 is the name commonly given to the project that would eventually become Resident Evil 2. Hideki Kamiya was brought on board as director, whilst Shinji Mikami produced the project.

The game shares many similarities with Resident Evil 2, including the introduction of characters Leon Kennedy and Ada Wong (though the role of Claire Redfield was originally a character called Elza Walker, who was ultimately left out of the series entirely), with the primary location set in a cleaner, more modernised version of the Raccoon City Police Department.

Close to its intended release in March 1997, the production staff were unhappy with the final product, with Mikami stating that he found the end product “dull and boring”. Indeed, in the early stages of development, Mikami often clashed with Kamiya, eventually taking a less hands-on approach to the game and giving the vast majority of creative control to Kamiya. In an act that would prove to be vital to the future of the series, they scrapped the project in the later stages of development and started fresh. The Director’s Cut of Resident Evil was released to tide fans over until the launch of a game that many, to this day, believe to be the best in the series.

Resident Evil 2 – 1998

If Resident Evil is the Alien of the franchise, then Resident Evil 2 is the Aliens. Directed by celebrated game developer Hideki Kamiya, Resident Evil 2 took everything great from its predecessor, and amped the fear and tension up to 11.

The core theme of the game was a sense of desperation – set just two months after the events of the first game, Umbrella sought to retrieve the new G-Virus from researcher William Birkin. After being mortally wounded, Birkin injected himself with the virus, morphing himself into a grotesque monster that quickly eliminated the Umbrella team. Upon doing to, vials of the original T-Virus were accidentally released into the sewers, eventually spreading throughout the city and causing a full-scale outbreak.

Unbeknownst to this (somehow, don’t ask), rookie police officer Leon Kennedy enters Raccoon City on his first day with the Raccoon City Police Department. There, he stumbles across the mutated zombies and comes to befriend a fellow survivor, Claire Redfield, who entered the city searching for her brother, Chris.

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Escaping into the derelict police building, Leon and Claire work to escape whilst searching for survivors. Claire encounters the young Sherry Birkin, daughter of tragic researcher William Birkin, and Leon comes across the mysterious Ada Wong, a woman masquerading as an innocent bystander searching for her boyfriend. In actuality, Ada is a spy working to retrieve the powerful G-Virus for a rival company. Despite being exposed later in the game, she ultimately saves Leon’s life and becomes seriously wounded herself. She would come to survive the ordeal and her connection to Leon would be further explored in later games.

Resident Evil 2 plays in much the same way as its predecessor, though player movements and control were significantly improved. Upon taking damage, Leon/Claire would begin to limp with increasing severity, making the slow-moving zombies all the more threatening as you try to escape. Speaking of zombies, there are a hell of a lot more in this game. Where Resident Evil would generally pit you against one or two of the mutated buggers, its sequel throws hordes of zombies at you, with more than five at once stumbling towards you as you empty your ammo clip in desperation.

Resident Evil 2 has upheld a legendary status within the series to this very day. Many folks consider Resident Evil 4 to be the best in the series, though purists (myself included) still hold Resident Evil 2 in the highest regard. With nearly 5 million copies sold (which, believe me, in 1998 was very impressive) it ensured the continuing success of the franchise for many years to come. In August 2015, after years of rumour and speculation, Capcom announced that it would begin work on a remake of Resident Evil 2, though as of July 2017, no new official information has been released regarding the project.

 

“Hold your fire! I’m a human!” – Leon Kennedy

 

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – 1999

Whilst Leon and Claire were busy fending off the hordes of undead in a decimated Raccoon City, so too was our original heroine Jill Valentine fending for her life in the doomed town.

Released in 1999, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was conceived initially as a spin-off to the main series, and would feature an entirely new cast of characters. However, after cancelling a project that was originally meant to become Resident Evil 3, the spin-off was given a promotion to a main canonical title. Similarly, the once unknown protagonist was changed to S.T.A.R.S member Jill Valentine, and the game would focus on her escape from Raccoon City. Once again, the project was produced by series veteran Shinji Mikami and directed by Kazuhiro Aoyama.

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is set both 24 hours prior to the events of Resident Evil 2 and also two days after. The majority of the city’s populace has been infected by the T-Virus and Jill must find a way to escape with her life. Upon her arrival at the Raccoon City Police Department, she runs into the game’s title character, the menacing Nemesis. A bio-organic weapon (BOW) created by Umbrella to specifically target members of S.T.A.R.S, the Nemesis quickly asserts its presence by brutally murdering Jill’s teammate and friend, Brad Vickers.

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Along her gruelling journey, Jill meets with members of the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service Carlos Oliveira and Nicholai Zinoviev. As it turns out, Nicholai was sent to gather combat data of Umbrella’s BOWs and thus became the primary antagonist of the game. His ultimate fate is determined by the player’s actions within the game, though allowing him to commandeer a helicopter would result in a cheeky cameo from none other than Barry Burton. As Jill and Carlos escape, the U.S government launch a thermobaric missile, destroying Raccoon City and the remaining infected once and for all. After nearly three months of horror, from July 15th to October 1st, the Raccoon City saga was finally over.

The introduction of Nemesis provided players with a whole new level of fear in the franchise. At multiple occasions in the game, Nemesis is sprung upon the player with little to no warning from very early on, forcing you to decide whether to face it head-on, or run for your life. The experience as a whole was made to be far more action oriented than the previous titles, with an added ability to quickly turn at a 180 degree angle and dodge enemy attacks, along with a greater range of weaponry and the ability to create your own ammo.

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was well received by critics and fans alike, though some weren’t pleased with how the series was beginning to focus more on action. As such, the game failed to live up to its predecessor’s sales and reached 3.5 million copies. Nevertheless, it’s held in high regard to this day, particularly when compared to later entries to the series.

Resident Evil Survivor – 2000

At a time when Light Gun shooters were still reasonably relevant and popular, Capcom decided to get in on the action and released Resident Evil Survivor. The game proved to be a massive departure from the series’ norm, and as such stumbled out of the gate with poor critical reception. Part of this was due to the lack of Light Gun compatibility in the U.S following the Columbine High School Massacre in 1999. Drastic? Maybe, but that’s an entirely different debate.

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The game takes place shortly after the destruction of Raccoon City on Sheena Island. A helicopter crashes causing the pilot and game’s protagonist, Ark Thompson, to lose his memory. It’s up to you to help Ark regain his memory and survive against hordes of the infected, many of which were taken directly from Resident Evil 2, including the iconic Licker. Sadly, the game failed to capture the tension realised in the main series and many fans were able to finish it in less than two hours.

Resident Evil: Code: Veronica/X – 2000/2001

Before Resident Evil 3: Nemesis released in 1999, work was already well underway for the next instalment in the series: Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Hailed by the development team as the true successor to Resident Evil 2, the game takes place three months following the disaster at Raccoon City and stars Claire Redfield in her continuing search for Chris. Both Claire and Chris were playable for portions of the game, along with brief segments starring newcomer Steve Burnside.

The game also sees the return of iconic villain Albert Wesker, who is now fully jacked up and sporting a pair of vivid cat-like eyes, and newcomers Alfred and Alexia Ashford. Alexia awakens after the death of her brother and her presence quickly resonated with fans, who continue to hold the character in high regard.

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Code: Veronica was the next step in the evolution of the series, and the first to release on the sixth line of game consoles. Initially launching on the Sega Dreamcast in 2000, it ditched the pre-rendered backgrounds found in its predecessors and opted for full polygonal environments with real-time lighting effects. Furthermore, the camera could now pan around to dynamically follow the player’s movements. Some of the gameplay features from previous instalments were brought across for Code: Veronica, along with a brand new ability to dual wield and target two enemies at once.

In 2001, Capcom released a somewhat expanded version of the game on PS2 called Resident Evil Code: Veronica X after they realised the Dreamcast wouldn’t provide them with sufficient sales. The game revealed more background information on Wesker through extended cut-scenes, though otherwise largely remained the same. It was subsequently released on later platforms and is in fact the series’ latest release, with a version launching on PS4 in mid-2017 as part of the PS2 Classics range.

Resident Evil Gaiden – 2001

In an effort to broaden their horizons, Capcom brought the Resident Evil franchise to the Game Boy Color with Resident Evil Gaiden.

Fan favourites Leon Kennedy and Barry Burton return in a title that is now considered to be non-canon. Taking place on the luxury cruise ship ‘Starlight’, the game employs a top-down viewpoint not unlike the early Metal Gear titles and, perhaps to a similar degree, Capcom’s own Sweet Home . Upon stumbling across an enemy, the view would switch to a first-person perspective – here, the player would need to hit a targeting reticule which moves from side to side in order to damage the infected.

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It’s an interesting twist on the tried and tested formula and fits quite well on the Game Boy, though the entry was met with middling reception on release with most complaints aimed at the graphics and harsh save system. Subsequently, it would be quite some time before another Resident Evil title would release on a handheld platform.

Resident Evil Survivor 2 Code: Veronica – 2001

The PS2 sequel to Resident Evil Survivor is based on the events of Code: Veronica with many of the game’s enemies making a reappearance here, along with enemies from both Resident Evil 2 and 3. Crucially, the game would constantly display a countdown timer during its levels which would eventually unleash the Nemesis if the player takes too long. Similarly maligned to the first Survivor title, the game was criticised for its poor graphics and very short length.

Resident Evil (Remake) – 2002

As part of an exclusivity deal with Nintendo, Capcom worked to remake the original Resident Evil from the ground up with series veteran Shinji Mikami back in the director’s chair. Despite being a remake of an existing title, the game actually featured significant additions to both the plot and gameplay, enhancing it beyond simply upgrading the graphics. Nevertheless, it’s remarkable how good the game still looks considering it only came out six years after the original title.

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One of the most significant additions to the gameplay was the inclusion of the new Crimson Head Zombies. These buggers rise from the ground if players fail to dispose of bodies correctly and will literally sprint after the player – quite the opposite of the regular zombies. Similarly, a brand new enemy shuffled out of the shadows in the form of the tragic Lisa Trevor. Daughter of the mansion architect George Trevor, Lisa became an unwilling test subject and ultimately mutated into a twisted monster endowed with the Progenitor virus. Her presence is felt throughout much of the latter half of the game, with her anguished wails and clanking chains leaving even seasoned veterans breaking into a cold sweat.

The critical success of the remake has left a lasting legacy to this day with many people ranking it above even Resident Evil 2 and 4. Subsequently, fans have been clamouring for similar remakes of its immediate sequels.

Resident Evil Zero – 2002

Following on from the success of the Resident Evil remake and Capcom’s continued exclusivity deal with Nintendo, the official prequel to the series – Resident Evil Zero – released in 2002. Development for the game originally began in 1998 for the Nintendo 64, however thanks to persistent storage issues on the console, work was moved to the Nintendo Gamecube.

Taking place shortly before the events of the first game, Zero stars the young S.T.A.R.S medic Rebecca Chambers and escaped convict Billy Coen. The opening takes place on a luxurious train complete with chandeliers and gigantic scorpions, with Rebecca and Billy reluctantly teaming up to prevent the train coming to a fiery, destructive end. They succeed – to a degree – and wind up at an abandoned training facility for Umbrella.

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Here, they discover that Umbrella’s co-founder – Dr. James Marcus – discovered the Progenitor virus years earlier and, recognising its potential as a biological weapon, combined it with leech DNA to create the T-virus. Throughout the game, Rebecca and Billy encounter a mysterious figure under the guise of Dr. Marcus who seemingly controls an army of leeches. As it turns out, he is actually a Queen Leech who has taken control of Marcus’s body and memories. After a tense battle, the facility is destroyed and the Queen defeated. Billy, who was revealed to be innocent, escapes and Rebecca discovers the original Spencer mansion, triggering the events of the remake title.

Resident Evil Zero introduced some admittedly welcome ideas to the franchise including the ability to switch between Rebecca and Billy at the press of a button. You would need to utilize their different abilities to efficiently complete puzzles and survive to the end. Additionally, the use of storage boxes was ditched, allowing the player to drop items in any given location to be retrieved later, thus freeing up inventory space.

At this point in the franchise, however, fans were getting fatigued with the awkward control scheme, which at the time hadn’t changed since the beginning of the franchise. Sales suffered and Capcom worked to revamp the series, eventually resulting in Resident Evil 4.

Resident Evil: Dead Aim – 2003

Developed by subsidiary company Cavia, Dead Aim is the next instalment in the Survivor series. Unlike the previous titles, Dead Aim allows the player to navigate the environment in the third-person, switching to a first-person perspective when aiming a weapon.

Taking place in 2002, four years after the Raccoon City incident, an Umbrella-owned ocean liner known as Spencer Rain has been infected by the T-virus. An ex-Umbrella employee, Morpheus D. Duvall, is holding the world at ransom with the threat to launch nukes containing the T-virus.The player takes control of Bruce McGivern, and together with Chinese agent Fong Ling, they defeat Morpheus and a grotesque failed Umbrella experiment known as ‘Pluto’. Fong Ling joins Bruce in the U.S after her government believe her to be dead following the incident.

Dead Aim received slightly more favourable reception than its predecessors with many praising its unique hybrid of third and first-person perspectives.

Resident Evil: Outbreak – 2003

Resident Evil: Outbreak marked the series’ first foray into online multiplayer and co-op gameplay. Taking place shortly after the initial virus outbreak in Raccoon City, the game spans the entire outbreak period until just prior to the government’s decision to nuke the city following the events of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.

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Featuring gameplay similar to the Resident Evil remake on Gamecube, the player is able to choose between various scenarios and characters with each scenario requiring specific tasks to be completed in order to proceed. Unfortunately, online play wasn’t enabled for PAL copies of the game, and the online servers were shut down in the U.S in 2007. In 2014, private servers were set up for Japanese versions of the game.

Shortly after, in 2004, Capcom released a standalone expansion to the game known as Resident Evil Outbreak: File 2, which included five completely new scenarios. However, the game contains the same characters as the first game and once again takes place entirely within Raccoon City. Both titles received mixed reception – a third game in the series was originally planned, but ultimately scrapped thanks to poor global sales.

Resident Evil 4 – Cancelled Versions

In 1998, Capcom initiated the biggest departure for the Resident Evil series with development beginning on the game that would eventually become Resident Evil 4. It underwent several shifts in design and execution before landing on the final product. Initially, the game took on a more action-oriented form involving two brothers endowed with superpowers – Tony and Vergil Redgrave. Producer Shinji Mikami felt the game strayed too far from the Resident Evil formula, and convinced director Hideki Kamiya and his team to continue production under a different title. The protagonist was renamed Dante and the game was eventually released in 2001 as Devil May Cry.

In 2002, the next version of the game was unveiled starring eventual protagonist Leon Kennedy. He would come to infiltrate a castle owned by Oswell E. Spencer and clash with series antagonist Albert Wesker. During a fight, Leon would become infected with the Progenitor virus. This version of the game struggled on the Gamecube with numerous issues arising. It was eventually scrapped entirely.

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The title reappeared at E3 2003 in perhaps its most famous form before the final version. Leon continued as the title’s protagonist and would suffer from multiple hallucinations within the game caused by a virus. As a result, he would come across enemies such as the ‘Hookman’ and living dolls. Not much is known about the game’s plot, and it’s assumed that assets from the previous version were simply reused to conduct experimental features.

Finally, the game underwent its last temporary change before the completed product. Not much is known about this project as no concept art was ever released. It is thought that the traditional zombies were set to make a return, though Mikami was critical of this decision, believing that consumers didn’t want another repeat of this particular enemy within the franchise. He eventually replaced Hiroshi Shibata as director of the project (in what would ultimately be Mikami’s final contribution to the franchise), and work began on the final, complete version of the game.

Resident Evil 4 – 2005

The finalised version of Resident Evil 4 is arguably the most influential entry in the entire series. Set in Spain in 2004, it brings the official return of Leon Kennedy who is working directly for the President of the United States. In rather unfortunate circumstances, the President’s daughter, Ashley Graham, has been kidnapped by an unknown group, and it’s up to Leon to rescue her.

Upon infiltrating a rural village, Leon encounters a new type of enemy called ‘The Ganado’, a group of people infected by a parasitic virus known as ‘Las Plagas’ (Spanish for ‘The Plague’). Upon locating and rescuing Ashley, Osmund Saddler, the mastermind behind the cult group ‘Los Illuminados’, informs Leon that they have both been infected by the Plaga parasite – before escaping, they must work to find a cure before they succumb to the same fate as the villagers.

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Their journey takes them through a vast castle, where they meet with extravagant villain Ramon Saddler, who attempts to defeat the pair utilising the castle’s many traps and hazards, along with his henchmen – the downright terrifying Verdugo. After Ashley is captured yet again, Leon defeats Salazar and travels to a military compound in search of her. He meets with two former ‘friends’ throughout the game – Ada Wong, returning from Resident Evil 2, and Jack Krauser, who once worked with Leon on ‘Operation Javier’ before affiliating with the Los Illuminados under the orders of Albert Wesker.

Leon defeats Krauser in a battle of wit and strength before finally locating Ashley and removing the parasite from their bodies. With the aid of Ada, Leon confronts Saddler and, after a tense battle, defeats him with a rocket launcher. Ada turns on Leon, forcing him to hand over a sample of the Plagas parasite, before allowing Leon and Ashley to flee from the island.

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Resident Evil 4 completely ditches the fixed camera angles that the series had become so well known for (though of course you could argue Code: Veronica also did this, to a lesser degree) in favour of moving the action directly behind Leon. The controls remained largely the same – pushing up on the control stick made Leon go forward and so on and so forth. The biggest change came with the aiming system. Leon could now aim in any direction he saw fit, with bullets making varying impacts depending on where they landed; shoot an enemy in the head and it will stumble backwards, clutching its face; shoot it in the foot and it will either crouch down in agony, or fall over entirely. It opened up a whole mess of options available to the player, enhanced with the new ability to use context-sensitive melee attacks.

The game’s impact and legacy is quite frankly astronomical, with so many third-person shooters drawing inspiration from the title. Without Resident Evil 4, there would be no Dead Space, or Gears of War, or Vanquish. I could go on, but I think we all know how important Resident Evil 4 is (and Capcom sure knows this as well, since it won’t stop rereleasing the bloody game!).

 

“The American prevailing is a cliché that only happens in your Hollywood movies. Oh Mr. Kennedy, you entertain me. To show my appreciation, I will help you awaken from your world of clichés” – Osmund Saddler

 

Resident Evil: Deadly Silence – 2006

In one of their more bizarre moves, Capcom release another ‘enhanced’ (I use that term loosely) version of the original Resident Evil on the Nintendo DS, subtitled Deadly Silence. It was essentially the same game released ten years earlier, but did include some new features unique to the handheld system.

First up was the ‘Knife Battle’ mode. Moving in a first-person perspective, the player could slice away at enemies with a knife by swishing the DS’s stylus back and forth across the touch screen. Gimmicky, for sure, but it was a neat little way to spice up the action a little bit.

Next was the ‘Rebirth Mode’, which is more or less the complete game but with additional enemies and features for the DS. Primarily, the ability to utilise the touch screen and microphone was included to solve some of the puzzles.

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles – 2007

With the series’ debut on the Nintendo Wii, Capcom naturally utilised the Wii Remote’s motion controls to its full ability with an on-rails shooter. The game mainly retold stories from the franchise’s past, but also introduced a brand new story detailing the final downfall of the Umbrella Corporation.

The first scenario retells the events of Resident Evil Zero, taking the player from the doomed luxury train to the Arklay Treatment Facility, encountering all the familiar enemies from the title. Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen were both playable, with a bonus chapter detailing what Albert Wesker was up to during this period.

The second scenario brings back the Resident Evil remake and its main protagonists, Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield. It takes the player through the abandoned Spencer mansion, the outskirts of the building and finally the underground Umbrella lab, facing off against the fearsome Tyrant at the chapter’s close. Interestingly, the game keeps Jill and Chris together throughout the scenario, whereas the main title splits them up from the beginning. Again, a bonus chapter reveals how Wesker escaped the lab after this resurrection.

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The third scenario details the events of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and the eventual destruction of Raccoon City. Players can take control of either Jill Valentine or Carlos Oliveira as they face off against the mighty Nemesis. A side-story details how Ada Wong survived Resident Evil 2 and her mission to deliver a sample of the G-virus to Albert Wesker.

The final scenario is brand new and brings back fan favourites Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield in a critical mission to bring down Umbrella once and for all. They infiltrate the company’s stronghold facility in Russia and face off against some of the company’s strongest BOWs. They eventually encounter the fearsome T-A.L.O.S Project, a powerful enemy sporting a humungous rocket launcher. Good luck, guys!

The Umbrella Chronicles was a strong game that effectively squeezed some of the franchise’s most important events into small bite-size pieces. The novelty of pointing a remote to shoot enemies wore off quickly however, but its a highly recommended game for folks with little time to spare.

Resident Evil 5 – 2009

Capcom’s first mainline title for Xbox 360 and PS3 arrived in 2009 with Resident Evil 5, and marks the return of Chris Redfield since his last chronological appearance in Code: Veronica. The action is moved to Kijuju, Africa, where terrorist Ricardo Irving is in possession of a BOW for sale on the black market. Upon his arrival, Chris is teamed up with newcomer Sheva Alomar and together they discover that the locals have been infected with a strain of Las Plagas.

They find and defeat Irving, who mutated into a massive octopus creature. Following this, they discover that ‘Tricell’, who funded Chris’s new organisation ‘BSAA’, has taken over Umbrella’s research of BOWs. After being missing and presumed dead following a prior mission, it is discovered that Chris’s former partner Jill Valentine has been subjected to this research.

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Chris and Sheva eventually discover that Albert Wesker has been utilising a new virus known as Uroboros to infect the world and lead a new form of humanity. They manage to locate Jill, who has been under Wesker’s command using a mind-control device. They free her and pursue Wesker, eventually leading to a battle within a destructive volcano. It is discovered that Wesker maintains his strength through specific doses of a virus. Chris and Sheva purposefully inject Wesker with an overdose and, in a weakened state, he falls into the lava. As Chris and Sheva are extracted, Chris fires a rocket directly into a floundering Wesker, ending his life once and for all.

A separate DLC storyline known as Lost In Nightmares also focused on Chris and Jill prior to the events of Resident Evil 5. Together they infiltrate a remote Spencer estate in search of the man himself, Oswell E. Spencer. They navigate the abandoned mansion, evoking memories of the original Resident Evil title. After discovering that Spencer has been killed by Wesker, they initiate a fight with the superhuman villain. Wesker is about to deliver a final blow to Chris when Jill hurls herself towards Wesker, sending them both out of the window. Jill was declared dead following the incident, though her body was never found.

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Resident Evil 5 took a lot of notes from its predecessor, Resident Evil 4. The control scheme remained largely the same, with some folks lamenting an apparent lack of innovation. Similarly, the game was criticised for straying too far into the realms of action-adventure, abandoning the survival horror aspect the series had become known for (I mean, that boulder sequence, for crying out loud). Nevertheless, fans appreciated the focus on veteran characters including Albert Wesker, and the game went on to sell over 7 million copies, making it the most successful game in the series to date.

 

“The right to be a God… That right is now mine” – Albert Wesker

 

 

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles – 2009

The sequel to The Umbrella Chronicles released on the Nintendo Wii in 2009, with its main focus retelling the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Code: Veronica. Along with this, brand new scenarios were introduced focusing on Leon Kennedy in 2002, and Jack Krauser during his contribution to ‘Operation Javier’ alongside Leon.

The gameplay was more or less the same as seen in The Umbrella Chronicles, with some minor additions made to improve headshots and player health. The game also adjusts the difficulty depending on how the player is performing. It was relatively well received upon release, and both The Darkside Chronicles and The Umbrella Chronicles were later rereleased on the PS3, utilising PlayStation Move.

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D – 2011

Capcom’s first foray into 3D handheld gaming came in 2011 with a standalone release of their Mercenaries mini-game. Originally seen as an extra in Resident Evil 4 and 5, The Mercenaries 3D contains various maps from the aforementioned games, whereby you must defeat as many enemies as possible within a set timeframe. Playable characters in the game included Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton, Rebecca Chambers, Claire Redfield, Albert Wesker, Jack Krauser and HUNK.

Reception for the title was mixed, with the decision to prevent saved data from being deleted proving to be particularly controversial. Folks assumed this was Capcom’s attempt to curb the pre-owned market, though this was denied.

Resident Evil: Revelations – 2012

After a decidedly mixed response to The Mercenaries 3D, Capcom released a proper mainline title on the Nintendo 3DS called Resident Evil: Revelations. The game takes place between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5 and follows series’ veterans Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine and the newly formed unit, the BSAA.

The game primarily takes place on an abandoned cruise ship called Queen Zenobia, where the player must confront a new enemy known as the Ooze. The title successfully plays out in an episodic structure, with each episode ending on a suitably hammy cliff-hanger.

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Stereoscopic 3D is also used to great effect within the game, adding depth to an already atmospheric game. It is also the first 3DS game outside of Japan to utilise the Circle Pad Pro, allowing players more manoeuvrability within the environment and easier aiming with weaponry. The game was well received and eventually rereleased on home consoles, with a port set for Xbox One and PS4 later in 2017.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City – 2012

In a non-canonical entry to the series, Capcom took the events of Resident Evil 2 and 3 and incorporated them in a hypothetical scenario in which the player assumes the role of one of twelve playable Umbrella agents. You’re tasked with eradicating all traces of Umbrella’s involvement in the Raccoon City disaster. Gameplay was largely action-oriented, with players working together to take down the undead hordes. In a clever little twist, players can get infected when bitten and turn on their teammates until their eventual death.

The game was met with mixed reception, with many fans of the series not receptive to the obvious shift towards the cooperative action genre. Though it’s safe to say that the series had been heading down this route for a while.

Resident Evil 6 – 2012

Capcom’s most ambitious entry to the series released at the tail end of 2012. Sporting four complete campaigns, it brought together Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, Ada Wong and Sherry Birkin, along with newcomers Jake Muller, Helena Harper and Piers Nivans. The game spans multiple locations across the globe, and pushes the series even further into the action genre, infuriating long-time fans in the process.

It kicks off within the Tall Oaks Ivy University after a bio-terror attack from an unknown organisation. The President of the United States is turned into a zombie and Leon Kennedy finds himself once again battling BOWs. Together with Helena, he escapes the University and discovers that a new group known as Neo-Umbrella has claimed responsibility for the attack. They pursue Derek Simmons – the man behind the destruction of Raccoon City – with a suitable amount of globetrotting, eventually landing in China. They defeat Simmons after he morphs into a giant mutated T-Rex-like beast. Bonkers, right?

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Chris’s campaign is similarly extravagant – perhaps even more so. After his team are killed in an attack orchestrated by an Ada Wong lookalike called Carla Ramades, Chris is found in a drunken state by is new teammate Piers. Brought back into the fold, Chris joins the war against bio-terror and assists in bringing down Carla. Piers eventually sacrifices himself in a fight against HAOS, Neo-Umbrella’s ultimate BOW.

Newcomer Jake Muller joins forces with Raccoon City survivor Sherry Birkin after it is discovered that he is in possession of specific antibodies that could be used to create a cure for the deadly C-Virus. After encountering Carla Ramades, she informs Jake that he is in fact the son of series supervillain Albert Wesker – what a drag. Throughout the game, Jake and Sherry are pursued by a BOW baring a more-than-passing resemblance to the Nemesis, known as the Ustanak. Jake eventually disappears and continues to fight BOWs in underdeveloped countries.

Ada Wong’s campaign is initially unlocked after completion of the first three. It is the only campaign not to feature co-op play, and expands the backstory behind her doppelganger, Carla Ramades. She destroys the equipment used to create her clone before accepting another mission from an unknown contact.

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Resident Evil 6 was met with decidedly negative reception upon release compared to past entries. The survival horror aspect of the series was now completely gone, replaced instead with all-out action that fans of Michael Bay would gladly welcome. The gameplay was given a slight overhaul from previous entries, with the ability to shoot and move at the same time enhanced with evade moves and context-sensitive melee attacks. Cover fire was also added, making the game feel more like Gears of War than Resident Evil.

Lifetime sales for the game reached just over 6 million, less than that of Resident Evil 5. This prompted Capcom to re-evaluate the franchise, leading to a considerable gap between releases after the year 2012.

 

“I can’t believe this is happening again. It’s just like Raccoon” – Leon Kennedy 

 

Resident Evil: Revelations 2

Barry is back!

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is the first game in the franchise to be release episodically, with four chapters launching individually along with two bonus chapters. It focuses on fan favourites Claire Redfield, who returns after her stint in Code: Veronica, and Barry Burton, who has been absent from the series since the non-canon entry Gaiden.

Claire, working with Barry’s daughter Moira, is working for an anti-terror group known as Terra-Save. They are kidnapped and taken to a facility on Zabytij Island, where they are branded with bracelets measuring their level of fear.

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In a split timeline, Barry Burton arrives on the island six months later and encounters a mysterious young girl called Natalia. He discovers that the woman overseeing the island is actually Alex Wesker, the only surviving subject of Oswell Spencer’s ‘Wesker’ Project, other than series antagonist Albert.

Two endings are possible in Revelations 2 depending on the player’s actions. In the former, Alex Wesker escapes under the guise of Natalia, who sadly dies, and leaves Barry alone on the island. In the good ending, Barry, Moira and Natalia escape a highly mutated Alex Wesker and Barry adopts Natalia as his daughter.

Revelations 2 continued much in the same vein as its predecessor, returning to the series’ horror routes with a particular focus on exploration and storytelling. The gameplay is similar to that of Resident Evil 4, albeit with an added ability to move whilst aiming. The game proved to be a reasonable success with generally positive response and decent sales.

Umbrella Corps – 2016

Undeniably a low point in the franchise, Umbrella Corps is a competitive multiplayer shooter set within the Resident Evil universe. Players can choose between a first-person and third-person perspective in matches that span across various locales from different games in the series. A single player mode known as ‘The Experiment’ is also included, though this is less of a campaign and more of an optional horde mode.

The game – despite being priced reasonable low – was met with almost unanimous negative reception. Criticism was aimed primarily at the gameplay and lack of depth, along with poor graphics and the size of the maps. The game failed to retain a significant number of players, and as such was declared “dead on arrival”.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard – 2017

Released at the beginning of 2017, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard marked another fresh start for the series. It is the first (and so far only) game in the series to be fully compatible with VR and is set entirely in a first-person perspective.

Despite taking place within the series’ canon after the events of Resident Evil 6, Capcom scaled the series back to its horror routes, removing most (if not all) of the established characters in order to introduce brand new faces. You play as Ethan Winters, an entirely ordinary man searching for his lost wife, Mia. This takes him to the rural backdrop of Dulvey, Luisiana after seemingly receiving a distress message from Mia. Here, he discovers a dilapidated house complete with rotten corpses and animal limbs scattered about the place.

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Ethan discovers Mia locked in an underground jail cell, but upon her escape, it becomes clear that she is not quite herself. Her face takes on a demonic appearance and she proceeds to violently attack Ethan, eventually lopping his hand off with a chainsaw. Ethan scrambles towards an escape route, eventually picking up a handgun and defeating Mia. His relief is short-lived however, when the unhinged Jack Baker knocks him out and brings him back to his family.

After ‘enjoying’ a meal with Jack, Marguerite, their son Lucas and an elderly woman in a wheelchair, Ethan manages to briefly escape from the Baker family (with the help of a mysterious woman called Zoe, who manages to staple his hand back together), and proceeds to explore the rotten household in search of an escape route. He encounters members of the family multiple times throughout his ordeal before finally making his way to an abandoned ship.

Here, it is discovered that Mia was working as part of an unknown organisation developing a new bio weapon known as ‘Eveline’. Taking the appearance of a little girl, Eveline escaped the ship three years prior and found her way to the Baker family, infecting them and turning them into the monsters they are today.

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Utilising various elements, Ethan creates a toxin to kill Eveline and works his way back to the Baker household. He injects the toxin in Eveline, revealing her to be the wheelchair bound woman living with the Bakers, ageing rapidly during her time there. She mutates into a huge beast and attacks Ethan. After destroying the house, Ethan is rescued by a team of operatives led by a man calling himself ‘Redfield’ – it is not yet known if this is the real Chris Redfield, or a different man entirely. Ethan escapes the area in an Umbrella helicopter – depending on the player’s actions, Mia is either safe with Ethan, or left behind on the abandoned ship.

Additional DLC was released for the title detailing events within the Baker household prior to Ethan’s arrival. Primarily, a character known as Clancy is captured by the family and forced to endure numerous forms of torture before his eventual sad end. Another piece of DLC details how the Baker family fell under Eveline’s influence, going from being a kind-hearted family (apart from Lucas, perhaps) to a group of sadistic monsters.

Starting with a free demo detailing certain events prior to the main game, Capcom was clearly determined to show fans that the series had returned to its survival horror routes. It proved remarkably successful, with critics and fans alike praising the game for its atmosphere and focus on exploration. Criticism was aimed towards the VR compatibility however, with its downgrade in resolution and tendency to cause nausea amongst some players putting a slight damper on an otherwise top notch launch.

 

“You thought you could just slip out before dinner was done?” – Jack Baker

 

Where does the series go from here?

After the critical success of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, it’s more or less a given that the series will continue with another mainline entry somewhere down the line. Nothing has been confirmed about this as of yet, though I’ve no doubt that work has already begun on the title.

Work is still on-going for the free piece of DLC for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard known as ‘Not A Hero’, which will detail the events prior to Ethan’s rescue from the Baker household, and focuses on the character known as ‘Redfield’, along with his team. Originally due to release in Spring 2017, it was delayed indefinitely due to concerns over its quality.

Finally, after its announcement in 2015, the remake for Resident Evil 2 is (apparently) still in development. However, we still do not know how far along the game is to completion, or what kind of gameplay it will entail. However, we do know that the original voice actors for Resident Evil 2 will not be returning for the remake.

Going to the movies

Throughout the years, there have been plenty of movies released covering both Capcom’s canon universe and the spin-off franchise from director Paul W.S Anderson. I won’t be covering the live-action movies, simply because I haven’t seen them.

The first CG movie – entitled Resident Evil: Degeneration – released in 2008 and focuses on Claire Redfield – now working for Terra-Save – and Leon Kennedy, one year after the events in Resident Evil 4. They’re caught up in a bio-terror event at Harvardville Airport whereby a horde of zombies has been unleashed. They wind up battling against Curtis Miller, an ex-researcher for the WilPharma Corporation who became infected with the G-virus, mutating numerous times before plummeting to his untimely death.

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The second movie – Resident Evil: Damnation – released in 2012 and primarily features Leon Kennedy along with Ada Wong. Leon enters into the Eastern Slav Republic the verify whether or now BOWs were being used in the country’s civil war. Leon battles against famous BOWs from the game series, including the Lickers from Resident Evil 2, and Plaga hosts from Resident Evil 4. He points the blame towards Ada after her retrieval of the Plaga parasite, but she denies it. Leon eventually goes against up to three Tyrant BOWs in an explosive final fight.

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The latest CG movie – Resident Evil: Vendetta – was released in 2017 and focuses on events set between Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. It reunites original star Chris Redfield with Leon Kennedy and Rebecca Chambers in a fight against newcomer Glenn Arias, who has created a new strain of deadly zombies. Glenn eventually intends to make Rebecca his bride due to her stark resemblance to his late wife (because, why not?) before morphing into a new Tyrant following a fight with Chris.

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All CG movies have been met with mixed reception with critics, but have been generally well received amongst fans of the series thanks to their faithfulness towards the gaming franchise.

Dexter’s Laboratory

Comic fans are more than catered for with the Resident Evil franchise with many different runs released over the series’ lifetime… If you can find them. Perhaps the most famous of these was the Official Comic Magazine that ran for five limited issues from March 1998 to February 1999.

The comics depicted events which alluded to the first two games in the series, and also told various side stories linking to the lore of the franchise as a whole. My personal favourite of these arrived in the fifth issue. It’s a standalone story called ‘…And The Last Shall Be First’ – written by Kris Oprisko and drawn by Lee Bermejo – and depicts a tale of revenge involving teenage prodigy, Dexter Whitlam.

A gifted young man, Dexter particularly excels in Physics and Chemistry, and as such is a target for the bullies of the school, Kelly Thorndike, Wade Boddington III and Todd Umbenhauer. They beat Dexter on a regular basis and before too long, Dexter snaps and swears vengeance on the group.

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He sneaks out at night and, stumbling across an Umbrella warehouse, discovers a tank holding a full-sized Tyrant. Marvelling at the craftsmanship that went into developing the beast, he steals a vial of the G-virus and head back home. The next day, the bullies confront Dexter once again and physically attack Dexter’s close friend, Ruthie, after she attempts to stop them. Dexter later injects himself with the G-virus and mutates into a grotesque creature with a huge, deadly claw.

Dexter first confronts Wade in a changing room and, after Wade spots Dexter’s reflection in the mirror, the creature impales Wade with his claw, spilling blood all over the floor. Next, Dexter finds Todd and smashes his body into a vending machine, killing him instantly. Finally, Dexter attacks Kelly, slashing him in the stomach as he falls to the ground. Kelly begs for his life as Ruthie pleads with Dexter to end his tirade. Dexter remains oblivious and kills Kelly.

Just as Dexter turns his attention to Ruthie, presumably to attack her, Umbrella employees arrive and electrocute the monster. Dexter awakens in a lab – back in a normalised state – and is offered a job as a researcher at the company thanks to his remarkable talent. Dexter smiles as the story ends.

 

“P-payback time, Th-Thorndikkke…Gggk..kk…” –   Dexter Whitlam

 

Who is S.D Perry?

During the earlier lifespan of the Resident Evil series, from the beginning right up until Code: Veronica, auther S.D Perry wrote seven books adapting the franchise. Five of these were direct adaptations of the game, and two were original stories bridging the gap between titles – though it is generally accepted that these stories contradict events in the canonical universe. S.D Perry is an accomplished novelist who has also written books based on the Star Trek and Alien franchises.

  1. Umbrella Conspiracy – a direct adaptation of the original Resident Evil game.
  2. Caliban Cove – an original story starring Rebecca Chambers set between Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2.
  3. City of the Dead – a direct adaptation of Resident Evil 2.
  4. Underworld – an original story featuring Leon, Claire and Rebecca taking place after the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
  5. Nemesis – a direct adaptation of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
  6. Code Veronica – a direct adaptation of Resident Evil Code: Veronica.
  7. Zero Hour – a direct adaptation of the prequel Resident Evil Zero.

…And there you have it!

So that’s it – a relatively comprehensive guide on the Resident Evil series so far. Of course, I’m only human, so if there’s anything you feel I’ve blatantly left out or gotten wrong, don’t hesitate to let me know! I hope you’ve enjoyed this read – it’s been a labour of love for a series I’ve adored since I was 8 years old (yeah, too young to play it, I know) – here’s to another 20 plus years of Resident Evil!

 

“It’s not just a poisonous snake… It’s a monster!” – Richard Aiken 

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