As you might know, I’m a big fan of Resident Evil. From playing the PlayStation original at 6am on Christmas morning back in 1996 and shitting myself when the dog jumped through the window, to finishing Resident Evil 7’s final DLC earlier this year, the series remains close to my heart.
When I was asked to rate the games from best to worst, I thought that it might be like asking a parent to name their favourite child. Then I realised that although I’m a huge fan of the series, it’s hasn’t always been plain sailing. I mean, when you think of the spinoff games, there are some real stinkers in there. But that got me thinking about how few of the spinoffs are actually part of the main canon, so I decided to stick with the games that I consider to be part of the Resident Evil story proper.
So here we go, the Resident Evil main games, from worst to best.
11. Resident Evil 0
Nope. Nope, nope, nope. This game should never have been made, quite frankly. I remember being interested in it, back when it was in development for N64, and I was excited to pick it up on Gamecube on day one, but the game I got just felt bad from the start.
Let’s take the protagonist choice for starters, shall we? Rebecca Chambers, a bumbling rookie who barely made it out of the original game alive, except that we are now supposed to accept that she had actually fought through a major outbreak beforehand? Nah, not buying it. And don’t even get me started on Billy “no personality” Coen, who thankfully hasn’t appeared since this abomination.
Now, let’s move onto the weird leech monsters, which are cool at first, until you learn that they’re being controlled by some singing dude in a robe. Again, Even for Resident Evil, that was stupid. The whole story made no sense, especially leading into the events of the original game.
I genuinely cannot recommend Zero, despite it having some decent gameplay and some gorgeous pre-rendered visuals. It’s just a mess.
10. Resident Evil 6
Look, I love this game. I won’t pretend that it’s brilliant or well-designed, nor will I make excuses for some of the gameplay choices, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the thrillride of the whole adventure.
It’s easy to see why Capcom chose to return to the horror roots after 6, but there were some great moments throughout the game. Like Resident Evil 2, each character’s story arc intersected with the others’ at different points, only this time the four main stories played quite differently to one another. Leon and Helena’s chapter was more horror-based, though the action picked up towards the end; Chris and Piers’ chapter was almost solely action, from start to finish; Sherry and Jake’s chapter fell somewhere in between, although the Ustanak chases were an obvious nod to 3’s Nemesis; the final chapter, unlocked after completing the original game (but later updated to be playable from the start) saw Ada fighting to clear her name and uncover Neo Umbrella’s secrets, but the gameplay didn’t really do anything particularly different.
It was great to see a return to Resident Evil 2’s intersecting storylines, but although I loved the game (still do, having replayed it on PS4 recently) it’s easy to see that the series needed the change brought about by Resident Evil 7.
Remember the screenshots of this on 3DS, pre-release? Remember how people kept screaming about them not being real, that such a level of detail was impossible on Nintendo’s then-new handheld? Pepperidge Farm remembers. That game was an astonishing technical achievement on the 3DS, looking and sounding like nothing else at the time. It also happened to be one of the first games to begin the return to survival horror, after Resident Evil 5 still leaned into the action that RE4 started.
Jill Valentine returned as one of the lead characters, with the over-the-shoulder viewpoint made famous by RE4, but gone were the zombies and even the more intelligent infected from 4 and 5, instead they were replaced by the Ooze; these had skin that looked more oily and smooth like a dolphin, perhaps down to their water-based environment, with Revelations being set almost entirely aboard the ocean liner Queen Zenobia.
The story was a bit weaker than others in the franchise, possibly because it was almost episodic for the first time, probably to facilitate the move to a handheld console. It’s still interesting however, and it’s now available on almost every format out there, so it’s well worth giving it a go. You might be surprised by its quality.
8. Resident Evil 5
Here’s a bit of a tough one. Personally, I loved Resident Evil 5 and found its mix of action and horror to be mostly well-balanced, plus Sheva Alomar was another excellent female character to add to the series’ roster. It still remains the biggest-selling game in the franchise, despite being seen as a bit of a mixed bag nowadays.
There’s no doubt that it goes a bit too off-the-rails at times, but it was the first true co-op game in the main series and in that it excelled. Having to manage your inventory on-the-fly, instead of pausing like in previous games, only increased the tension of a game that already had your heart racing well beyond its limits. It did struggle in solo however, with the AI never quite being able to grasp the concept of ammo conservation or accuracy, but I still loved it in spite of that.
The story is another impressive one, seeing the finale of the Chris Redfield/Albert Wesker plotline. There were issues, including the reintroduction of a certain character (yes, I know it’s old now, but I still refuse to spoil it) and the final battle was ludicrous even by Resident Evil’s standards, but somehow it worked.
People love a good co-op game these days, so it’s well worth picking up Resident Evil 5. It’s probably one of the best examples available, plus it’s been re-released on current platforms so there’s no reason not to.
7. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Set alongside Resident Evil 2, during the initial virus outbreak in Raccoon City, Jill Valentine returns as the sole lead in this strangely forgotten sequel. I think that that is partly down to the game being released late in the life of the original Playstation, but also it was a bit too similar to the previous two games and the series began to lose its way before the eventual release of RE4.
That said, the third game was still excellent. This was largely down to the titular Nemesis, an Umbrella bioweapon designed specifically to hunt down and destroy every remaining STARS team member. After all, the STARS team sent to the Spencer Mansion in the original game was to blame for Umbrella’s eventual downfall. The Nemesis took the idea introduced with Mr X in Scenario B of RE2 and upped the ante, having him chase you through doors and even giving him a rocket launcher! At set points, the game would give you a choice when he showed up, which was another new addition and one that never really appeared again. It was cool though, especially the first time you realised that you only had a few seconds to make your choice, before it was taken away and you were forced to fight or flee.
Despite its similarity to the previous games, it still sold well and was generally well-received, but for some reason it doesn’t resonate as well anymore. Most people remember the Nemesis, but not the story told around him.
I never owned a Dreamcast, I had to wait until the PS2 version before I could play CODE: Veronica. It was well worth the wait. I was a big fan of the Wesker plot in the Resident Evil universe, so when he showed up in this game it immediately grabbed my attention. There are scenes in this game that had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end, especially when Chris Redfield rocked up. This game even explains why Chris beefed up to Hulk proportions in subsequent games, though many people seem to forget that. Or choose to ignore it.
Much like her fate at the beginning of Revelations 2, Claire Redfield finds herself taken captive and imprisoned on an island. Only this time, instead of finding Moira Burton she finds Steve Burnside, an incredibly annoying but quite tragic figure in the Resident Evil canon. He’s actually a character I’d like to see again, but I suspect that chapter has been closed off after RE7.
The whole game was fully 3D for the first time and although it did remove some of the detail in the environments, it made for a somewhat cinematic shift when it came to certain encounters. Also, who can forget the hilariously-named Bandersnatch creatures?
Although technically a spin-off title, CODE: Veronica X is more important than it might seem. That’s why it’s in this list and it’s also a reason you should play it. It’s available on PS4 via PS2 Classics and who knows, maybe the 360 remaster might be added to Xbox One’s backwards compatibility list?
This is a game that is criminally underappreciated. Not only is it one of the best games in the series, it was one of the first successful attempts to bring together the horror of the early games and the third-person action of the later ones.
The first Revelations was excellent and its sequel took the episodic formula and expanded upon it, even adding co-op and sort of bringing back the scenario style of RE2, at least in terms of how Barry’s story unfolds. Also, can we just remind ourselves how awesome Barry Burton is? What a legend.
Anyway, Revelations 2 is a game that deserves your attention. It tells a fantastic story, with multiple endings, and it always, always, feels like a proper Resident Evil game. Considering it was essentially released at a bargain price of about £20-25 for the whole season, I can’t believe that more people haven’t played this absolute gem of a game. Xbox One owners can play it via Game Pass, too.
Many of you are probably on your way to my house right now, pitchforks and torches in hand, for not putting this game at the top of the list. I have to be honest though; despite absolutely adoring this game originally (I imported the US version for Gamecube, I was that impatient) and playing it over many times, not to mention picking up the chainsaw controller for Gamecube. I even bought the PS2 game and replayed it several times, including the new Ada story mode, but after eventually buying the Wii version, I found that I’d played the game too much by then. It was arguably the best version, although I’d say the remote aiming made it too easy, but I was now suffering from RE4 fatigue.
There’s no doubting its quality, though; the effect it had on the industry and the action genre in particular, but it’s not without flaw. The later areas with the gun-toting Ganados removed all atmosphere from the game, and the inability to move while aiming just doesn’t stand up in today’s market. No matter how you may feel about Resident Evil 5, being able to stay on the move during tense battles was a revelation.
Still, Resident Evil 4 deserves its place as one of the best action games in history. But let’s be truly honest here, it was never really a Resident Evil game. The horror was almost completely gone by this point.
What can I say about Resident Evil 7 that I haven’t already said a thousand times, over the last eighteen months? The series was struggling after Resident Evil 6, but I still remember the shock and delight during Sony’s 2016 E3 presentation, when that old VR demo Kitchen was revealed to be the precursor to a brand new Resident Evil game. Upon playing the demo released on PSN immediately after, I was ready to believe that the series’ return to horror was on-track.
I firmly believe that Jack Baker will remain as one of the most memorable villains in the series, years down the line. When he bursts through the wall (if it happened to you) it’s almost as iconic as the dogs in the original game. Yes, it’s true that RE7 sometimes leans a little heavily on nods to the original game, but I think that’s a good thing; it shows that the team
remembers when Resident Evil was at its best, while also moving the story in a new and exciting direction.
2. Resident Evil 2
This is how sequels are meant to be done. Yes, it still had the awful voice acting, but it also had an excellent story and the characters were intriguing. The setting, with the new G-Virus having swept through Raccoon City, was genius and let’s not forget Leon, who had the worst first day ever, at his new job.
Perhaps Resident Evil 2’s greatest achievement was in the scenarios; the way the game essentially had four unique stories to play through, brought with it a sense of replayability that many games before (or since) just couldn’t match. Both characters had drastically different paths through the story, then once completed, you’d switch discs and play the game again from the other character’s perspective, only with the added twist of meeting Mr X. He is certainly one of the series’ most iconic enemies, even now, twenty years on.
Now all we need is that remake…
It’s not just the best because it defined a genre, or that without the original, the others wouldn’t exist; Resident Evil’s horror was like nothing games had seen before, with a story and setting that oozed atmosphere. Even the incredibly bad voice acting couldn’t undo the pant-soiling terror you felt when you met your first zombie, or when you were introduced to the Hunters. To this day, it remains my favourite game of all time.
When Capcom released the Gamecube remake in 2002, not only did it revamp the visuals and audio (including a new, actually decent voice cast) it redesigned the game entirely. It took what fans knew and turned it on its head, especially with the addition of Crimson Heads. Remember the first time you encountered one of those? Fuck. That.
And you know what? Jill Valentine doesn’t get nearly the credit she deserves, being one of the best female protagonists in gaming history.