Alone in the Dark was the series that actually started the survival-horror genre in gaming but, despite that, Resident Evil (called Biohazard in Japan) gets the most credit for boosting the genre upon its release in 1996. At that time, we can only depend on our wits in order to survive the mansion, the main setting in the game. The game had a tank like control scheme and bad camera angles, and boasted some cheesy lines and performances, among them the “If you, master of unlocking…..” line and the infamous one pertaining to a Jill Sandwich. The translator teams for Resident Evil really outdid themselves with this extremely lousy job, but what’s done is done. Performances aside, Resident Evil has spawned many titles since its initial release, becoming on of the best known horror-survival franchises in the history of gaming.
Two years later, in 1998, Capcom released Resident Evil 2. This time the story revolved around Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, rather than the original protagonists, Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield. It still contained some silly lines of dialogue, although it was better than the first. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis followed in 1999, and was really on of the more intriguing entries in the series. Once again, the story featured Jill, who now was the only playable main character, and the game takes place before and after the events of Resident Evil 2. What made the game interesting was the Nemesis, a B.O.W that pursues Jill throughout the game, providing sequences that are still terrifying today. Resident Evil 3 marked the last time that we would see Raccoon City in the main series. It was so popular that it spawned not only a spin-off title but also a series of novels, comics, and films starring Milla Jovovich in the role of the movies’ main character, Alice.
After the release of Resident Evil Code: Veronica in 2000 on the Sega Dreamcast (later ported to Playstation 2 and Nintendo GameCube under the title Resident Evil Code: Veronica X), Capcom released an action-horror title called Devil May Cry. Originally the game supposedly was to be a Resident Evil title, possibly serving as the next sequel in the series, but that plan was scrapped after seeing how different it was from Resident Evil, due mainly to its fast paced gameplay. Eventually, Capcom launched the highly anticipated Resident Evil 4, exclusive to GameCube first because of an exclusivity agreement between Capcom and Nintendo that started with a remake of the first Resident Evil and a prequel, called Resident Evil Zero. Despite this agreement, Capcom launched the Outbreak series, which focused more on online-multiplayer, and Dead Aim, both exclusive for the PlayStation 2, continuing the Resident Evil saga on Sony’s platform . Outbreak had an interesting concept where once a player was bitten by zombies instead getting a game over screen, your character then became a zombie, which now hunted other players. Eventually Resident Evil 4 made its way to the PlayStation 2, containing extra content featuring Ada Wong’s journey, despite reports that stated that RE4 would never be released on that console. In 2007, a retelling of the story of the Raccoon City saga released exclusively on the Wii under the title The Umbrella Chronicles. The game was an on-rails shooter, and spawned a sequel, The Darkside Chronicles, in 2009.
Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 followed, in 2009 and 2012, respectively, continuing the saga of RE, but both games received mixed reactions from fans, who felt that both games had strayed from the series horror-survival roots, instead taking a more action based slant. In these games, elements like the narrow corridors and factors that contributed to the horror of RE were replaced by more action set pieces influenced more by the faster paced FPS genre. Resident Evil: Revelations returned the series closer to its original roots, although it too falls short of being a true survival-horror outing. There is a rumor that any future releases will come back to the basic settings of Resident Evil, which made the series what it was in its glory days. Despite that, I hope that the series won’t receive any reboot treatment.
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