Resident Evil is one of those series’ that started so well-regarded, so perfectly beautiful, so pure a piece of video gaming, that after its excellent sequel, it had no place to go but down. But where did it all wrong for Capcom’s survival horror?
Articles bashing RE are ten a penny (or a dime a dozen, if you’re American), and most of that online ire is directed at Resident Evil 6. That’s entirely fair – it was a horrifically dull, plodding tangle of vague ideas and no clear vision. What was it? Everything! Who was it for? Everyone!
But despite RE6’s soulless release, it wasn’t the cause, just the product, of the series’ decline. The hideously misshapen foetus of a rancid mother.
You could see the loss of momentum from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Sure, it tried to do something different, upping the ante with the constant chases and choices. And we’ve met a surprising number who put it top of their Resi list.
But it wasn’t Resident Evil 2, which refined the groundwork laid out by its predecessor. All the sci-fi-a-like Code Veronica did was cement Resident Evil as fun, throwaway gaming.
Where the Resident rot really set in was about here.
And if you can’t see where we’re pointing, congratulations – you’re not spying on us from inside the filing cabinet.
Until Resident Evil 4, no game was really inspiring the next. A lazy spin-off here, a respectful remaster there. But then this powerhouse chainsawed through the chaff.
The camera no longer fixed, but slung over-the-shoulder. Solid gameplay keeps you in the thick of the emphasised action. Atmospheric art design creates an immersive universe. Resident Evil 4 is an experience.
But for all its praise, its brilliance in updating a flagging franchise, RE4 headshot the series, and they’re still paying the price. Capcom created a beautiful monster, and they didn’t know what to do with it. They misunderstood its appeal.
Gamespulp is reminded of Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm…
I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here, it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it, you wanna sell it.
Because Capcom spectacularly failed to grasp its appeal, the game design and creative direction of Resident Evil 4 spawned 80s-action-movie-fuelled Resident Evil 5; Resident Evil 4 is the granddaddy of Operation Raccoon City and Resident Evil 6, whether we like it or not.
How does something so wonderful give back to the world in that savage way?