Hall of Fame: Resident Evil Series
This month we have a very special edition of the Hall of Fame for you. It’s not often we argue at GodisaGeek HQ, but we just couldn’t decide which Resident Evil game we thought should be the first entry into the Hall of Fame, so we decided we’d enter the series as a whole, so our writers could tell you why they love their own personal favourite entries into the Resident Evil series.
Robin Parker is first up, and he chose Resident Evil 1 and 5.
Resident Evil 1: When you look back at the first Resident Evil game now, there are several things you have to make allowances for. Sure, the character models are very polygonal and angular – but these were very impressive for the time. Yes, moving and attacking feels rather clunky, but this limitation has almost become a trademark of the series ever since. The save game system is irritating and unforgiving also, but the fact that even saving your progress is rationed and dictated by the creators of the game does result in a claustrophobic atmosphere and the feeling that you are rarely in control.
The game almost carved out its own genre in gaming. Of course, other horror titles had come before it – such as Alone in the Dark – but Survival Horror never entered the gaming vocabulary until after the advent of this game. The voice acting and scripting of the title is, quite simply, laughable – but it does a great job of mimicking and paying homage to the schlock-horror films that inspired it. Behind that camp exterior there are many genuine scares and the player is kept in an uneasy state on the edge of their seat.
It creates an atmosphere where you almost know exactly what is going to happen and you are wary of it, but when that final scare does come, it is still shocking and well orchestrated. By containing the whole story within an enclosed location (the old mansion) when early on in the title you already know something has gone horribly wrong, the designers keep close control over the direction and events in the game. Perhaps as games become bigger and more interactive we get more of a feeling of freedom and choice, but sometimes by being shown where to go and what to look at, the game-makers can create the richest and most cinematic experiences.
Resident Evil 5: Given my general aversion to Horror titles and the fact that I have never been good at dealing with the shocks and sudden jolts associated with games of the genre, you may be forgiven for having an air of surprise when I say I was excited to play Resident Evil 5. The reason why I was so interested in the game was the simple addition of co-operative play. Hell, if you are scared of doing something, it’s always better to try it with a friend right? That kind of thinking really plays to the advantage of this title and makes the whole experience a much more enjoyable one.
The addition of teamwork and managing weapons, ammo and other supplies between two heroes really adds another level to the game. If you thought ammo rationing was hard with one character, try working out which of you should be picking up what ammo and who should equip which gun between both Sheva and Chris. Tactics also come in to play, especially when fighting a boss or a huge horde of Majini. Making use of good teamwork is the key to your survival and flanking enemies and drawing fire become really useful tools in your arsenal.
Of course, the move to the next generation of consoles also leads to graphical and audio improvements, but at heart the game plays almost exactly like the super-popular Resident Evil 5. So little has changed in the core gameplay that you get the feeling the team must have asked, “How do we improve on a great game?”, and rather than improve what they had, they simply made the game multiplayer. Whilst this does result in a title that does little to push the boundaries of what you can expect from a Horror title, it does make the popular series a shared experience, and surviving a Zombie Outbreak is certainly more fun with friends.
Resident Evil 2: For me, Resident Evil 2 was like those horror films that your parents tell you not to watch. I didn’t have a PlayStation of my own when I first played it, so I had to go round to a friend’s house. We always played during the day, we were too scared to even contemplate doing anything once the sun started to set, but we still jumped every time a door opened, a window smashed, or just about anything else.
During those first hours the one moment that sticks in my head is when you see the licker for the first time, scurrying over the window in the distance like some gigantic deformed spider. That creeped us both out and when the FMV played a couple of seconds later, revealing the licker in all its inside-out glory, we were suitably scared, and loving it.
The Resident Evil games will always be some of the scariest games available, but especially Resident Evil 2. It’s probably down to the fact that it was the first game of its kind I’d ever played, coupled with the fact that I was probably only about 11 at the time, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some pretty decent scares; a recipe that most certainly delivered.
Resident Evil 3: Just like the second game in the series Resident Evil 3 did a good job of freaking me the hell out from moment I heard the word ‘Nemesis’ on the title screen to the moment I found myself on the credits screen after I don’t even know how long. While it wasn’t as good as Resident Evil 2, this third game certainly managed to maintain the same fear factor only this time instead of the bloody mangled remains of a Licker making it’s way towards you at an unnerving speed, there was Nemesis, a gigantic mountain of a man/corpse that, despite its slow walking speed, would inevitably always be right behind you – literally in most cases.
Some of my best memories of the series come from Resident Evil 3, being in a camera control room and seeing Nemesis on the monitors but not knowing if it’s close, far, or even in the same building. It’s because of Nemesis’ lumbering, yet shockingly fast gait – its lipless, grotesque face, and that damn rocket launcher, that Resident Evil 3 is one of my favourite games of all time with Nemesis being up at the top of my all time favourite video game badasses too. It’s tension filled when it needs to be, it feel like an action game at the moment when you feel you might be getting a little bored and the story to gameplay ratio feels just about right. Resident Evil 3 is a great game, I just hope people remember that for years to come.
Finally, going back slightly, Lee Garbutt tells us his feelings about the original Resident Evil.
Resident Evil: The original Resident Evil is one of those games that defined the 32/64-bit generation. Taking a cue from the Alone In The Dark games, Shinji Mikami’s masterpiece was a triumph of cutting edge visuals, B-movie dramatics and cheap scares. The series has made several changes since then, but if there was ever a definitive title in the series; the GameCube’s remake of the original game is the one that made the biggest impression on me. Resident Evil was THE zombie game, and helped the undead carve their way into the gaming zeitgeist for the best part of two decades.
Although the games have straightened up in tone, nothing will match the original game’s awful dialogue – Jill Sandwiches, anyone?