The Rise and Fall of Resident Evil

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 world wide. 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 its utterly heartbreaking to see the once great Resident Evil crumble and collapse under the pressure of it’s 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 Resident Evils. 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 eery atmosphere, Resident Evil 4 was the perfect blend of action and horror. It also pioneered the modern 3rd 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 Evil’s 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, Capcom’s 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 5’s 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. controlled partner. There was nothing more frustrating than replaying a level over and over because your A.I. partner’s self induced deaths. While many hard core Resident Evil players were unhappy with 5, 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 October 2nd, 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. Does it succeed?

No.

Resident Evil 6 is a sloppy, incoherent mess.

Resident Evil 6 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 made up noise the developers scribbled down last minute. 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 doesn’t 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 forgettable. 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. Defiantly a commercial success. Maybe mindless action, soulless characters and poor story telling is exactly what consumers want these days.

-Matthew Bruce 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s