2009 marks the release of Capcoms fifth main installment in the Resident Evil series. Not only that, but it also marks the thirteenth year since the illustrious series began. The unlucky number 13 seems befitting of a zombie series (and RE5 was released on Friday the 13th), so take a trip down memory lane with me as we examine the past, present, and future of this bone chilling experience.
Resident Evil emerged onto the gaming scene with 1996s Resident Evil on the PlayStation. The game received instant praise and is arguably where the survival horror term was first used. As Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine players would attempt to explore the Wesker mansion, while facing off against many monsters that we would meet again in future installments: dogs, hunters, the tyrant, and of course, the zombies. Many documents and journals could be found throughout the mansion, these provided players with some back-story and explanations. This game also featured the process for saving a game, which involved using ink ribbon on the typewriter. This would not be the last time this way of saving was present. Resident Evil was later ported to the Sega Saturn, PC, and remade on the GameCube and DS (the DS version being called Deadly Silence). Fans of the original game can also look forward to the GameCube remake being ported to the Wii sometime in 2009 .or you could just insert the GameCube port disc into your Wii and play it.
The next installment (and my personal favorite) was released in 1998, again on the PlayStation. New to this installment was the scenario system, now this gets pretty confusing. Both Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield (sister of Chris) have their respective scenarios, as in the first game. However, say I beat the game with Leon and want to play the game as Claire. I can choose Claires A scenario, or I can choose Claires B scenario. The B scenario will contain changes to the surroundings areas based on my actions while playing the game as Leon. The zombie infestation moves away from the mansion in this game and spills out into Raccoon City. Good graphics for its time, great sound, cool monsters, and challenging puzzles, this game had it all. The game was later ported to the PC, Sega Dreamcast, and N64. Much like the original game, Resident Evil 2 was remade on the GameCube; however it did not receive the treatment that the original did, making it more of a port than anything.
The following year Capcom released the third installment, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. The player would take control of Jill Valentine from the original game for some more Raccoon City mayhem. The Nemesis in the title represented the all-new badass monster that could make your average Tyrant cower in fear. He could follow the player anywhere, run, dodge, oh and he was unbeatable too. RE3 also introduced the Mercenaries mini-game (also present in Resident Evil 5). The premise of the mini-game is basically to get from point A to point B in a limited amount of time while killing zombies to increase the time-limit. RE3 was later ported to the PC, Sega Dreamcast, and the GameCube.
After the release of Resident Evil 3, Capcom did not release Resident Evil 4 for six years. During this time, they worked on several other Resident Evil games. Code Veronica put gamers in the shoes of siblings from previous games Chris and Claire Redfield as they explore Umbrella bases on Rockfort Island and in Antarctica. Resident Evil: Outbreak introduced the co-op that so many games give us today to the Resident Evil series. Players could log-on to the Outbreak server and join other players in an attempt to survive the games Scenario Mode. Think Left 4 Dead but 3rd person and not near as good.
In 2005, Capcom finally released Resident Evil 4 to critical acclaim on the GameCube. This time around, players control Leon Kennedy from the second outing as he attempts to save the presidents daughter. The game focused much more on fighting rather than the suspense and exploration of earlier releases. The fixed camera is dropped in exchange for a 3rd person over-the-shoulder view complete with laser aiming. A notable change was that the enemies were no longer mindless shuffling zombies as in the past. This time players had to fend off possessed humans that were fully capable of possessing weapons. It was later ported to the PS2 and remade for the Wii. All versions did excellent, selling at least a million units each.
Now we find ourselves eager to immerse ourselves in the Resident Evil again with Resident Evil 5. The game borrows heavily from Resident Evil 4 control-wise. Players will fight off the same sort of possessed humans we saw previously, this time as Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica. He is assisted by agent Sheva Alomar, who is controlled by the player should an offline or online co-op game be ongoing. The Mercenaries mini-game feature in RE3 and RE4 makes another appearance available for both offline and online gameplay.
The Resident Evil series has spawned far beyond video games, such as books, feature films, comics, and more. Although, we already know how excellent video game movies turn out to be right?
What will Capcom do after Resident Evil 5? A rail shooter in the style of Umbrella Chronicles detailing the events of Resident Evil 2 is already in the making, but what will we see after that? More rail shooters? More remakes? What do you think we will see next?