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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Resident Video Game Franchise Review

Resident Evil is one of the most revered franchises in video gaming. Being one pioneer of survival horror, several video games tried to capture its formula of almost nonstop jump scares and action. Let us look at how the games rise and fall through time.

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Image Credit: Bloody Disgusting
The roots of Resident Evil began in the summer of 1994 when the director and creative artist Shinji Mikami tried to remake the classic 16-bit game A Happy Home. The last product is the classic 1996 masterpiece. Resident Evil. The gameplay is all simple; you control Jill Valentine, move in the mansion, and eliminate threats ranging from zombies, and some boss fights. The fixed camera angles along with the pre-rendered backgrounds made the game dated. They remade the original Resident Evil game two times in different generations.

The second game of the franchise, Resident Evil 2, moved us from the cramped and decrepit mansion into a sprawling and dilapidated Raccoon City. There are two playable characters in the game, these characters will recur in the series; Leon Scott Kennedy and Claire Redfield. The game also uses fixed camera angles and pre-rendered backgrounds because of the hardware limitation of the original PlayStation. They also increased graphic violence and add more action than its counterpart.

The third installment of Resident Evil 3 Nemesis also beats in the same vein as its predecessor. Both take place in the devastated Raccoon City. With an iconic character returning, no other than Jill Valentine. The game is also very similar in structure with the previous Resident Evil game, but a substantial amount of action was also added, huge enemies such as the Nemesis and Tyrants follow Jill around the ruins of the city, while the horror element is still there, the amount of action in this title gave way to the more action-driven approach of the next games.

It was later revealed that the real mainline Resident Evil 3 could have been Resident Evil: Code Veronica X. The game was initially released as a Dreamcast exclusive and boasted a technological leap compared to the previous entries of the series. The game gained a lukewarm reception upon release because of its exclusivity to Dreamcast, a game system that started off strong but fell under the radar once PlayStation 2 hit the shelves in the new millennium.

The 4th Resident evil game went into a period of long development hell. There were plans of making the game to be more action oriented and these concepts bring forth to a whole new franchise that is DMC or Devil May Cry. Resident Evil 4 was a Nintendo Gamecube exclusive back when it was first released in 2004, it was later ported in every video game system possible that can run the game. Many critics and even gamers consider RE:4 as one of the greatest video games ever made. Its level designs, controls, and overall gameplay was highly praised even to this day.

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Image Credit: PHCityWeb

The more action-driven approach of the previous titles is what drove CapCom to turn Resident Evil 5 into a testosterone-fueled third-person shooter with its almost absent element of survival horror. The game is very similar to Resident Evil 4 except the real-time inventory system and a smarter partner A.I. The game received mixed reviews, but gamers enjoyed the game nonetheless.

Resident Evil 6 is an end of an era for Resident Evil. Gone are the scares and the inventory management that made Resident Evil a unique game franchise. To cash in with the popularity of third person shooters in the early 2010s, Capcom decided to go all-in with the next Resident Evil installment. Like the previous installment, Resident Evil 6 once again received mixed to negative reviews. Most people believe that it is a good action game, but a bad Resident Evil game. It is also criticized for its length and narrative, it did not live up to the ambition presented by its multiple campaigns.

Resident Evil tried to go back to its horror roots with spinoffs such as Resident Evil: Revelations and finally going getting the scare factor back with the latest mainline installment, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The game took inspiration from horror tropes and the sudden popularity of games like Outlast and Dying Light. The game garnered several accolades from critics and casual gamers calling it a return to form.

There are also a series of remakes of the first generation Resident Evil games. Resident Evil 2 and 3 remakes are widely praised for its visuals and how it recaptured the feel of the original games with upgraded visuals and additional storylines. But the recent remake of Resident Evil 3 was criticized for its exclusion of several enemies and sections from the original game. Resident Evil 4 is also in development in the time of writing.

To sum it all up, the Resident Evil franchise can be divided into 3 phases: The first phase would be the first generation mainline titles all the way through Code Veronica X.  These games present fixed camera angles that induced claustrophobia to many gamers, the fixed camera angles are the product of technical limitations of the game hardware when it was first released. The 2nd phase began on Resident Evil 4 and ended on Resident Evil 6, the action-driven approach of these titles brought enjoyment to gamers at the expense of removing the horror elements from the earlier titles. The 3rd and recent phase would be the first person approach started by Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The game relied not only to jump scares but also on the overall atmosphere of the level designs. We hope that the next installment will continue what Biohazard 7 started.


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