The days of the first Playstation have long since past but the memories remain. Chris Redfield encountering the flesh eating bastards for the first time. Lickers being all licky. Crows. Fucking CROWS. Jeff is a self-described lover of all things horror and that includes, most definitely, survival horror games. The following chronicle shall recount experiences, good and bad, and a look ahead at the franchise that established survival horror as a legitimate and profitable sub-genre of video gaming.
RESIDENT EVIL 15TH ANNIVERSARY! AWESOME! WOW! FUN! HORROR!
Ahem.. pardon the horrible headline but I felt I needed something that was more akin to what you'd see published in a Japanese insert in Famitsu or something of the sort.
I am amazed, to say the least, that the Resident Evil franchise is turning 15 this year. 1996 was a great year for people like myself. We had BIG releases come down the pipe all in one year.
- Duke Nukem 3D
- Pokémon Red and Green
- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
- Super Mario 64
- Tekken 2
- Meridian 59
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert
- Tomb Raider
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
- Nintendo 64
Oh let's not also forget that Resident Evil was also released on March 4th of 1996 as well. Survival horror officially became a term and thus many hours of my life would be lost. Not quite as many as maybe Diablo, Command and Conquer or Tekken stole away from me, but damn if I didn't play the hell out of Resident Evil.
Well, that's not quite true. I actually didn't get into the series until the second game. I was so immediately enthralled by what I witnessed that night at my friend Javier's place (He was doing a Tofu run) that I had to have it. I had the game in my hands the next day and began on my journey into Survival Horror. Soon after I snatched up the first game and blazed through it as well. There are few games that I immediately latched onto quite like Resident Evil. The series, as a whole, has been one of my all-time favorites to continue to go back to time and time again. All that said we're here to celebrate 15 years!
You did it Capcom! 15 whole years of zombie-killin', tank controls and great cutscenes. Seriously its gotten better as the sequels have progressed but the first two games were ..WOW. What awesome controls! They were really bad.
So, aside from having an erection after watching that trailer I found myself in awe of the fact that we'll be getting FIVE RESIDENT EVIL GAMES this year. Capcom is really goin' balls out for this celebration aren't they? We've got HD versions of Code Veronica X and Resident Evil 4, RE: Mercenaries 3D, RE: Revelations and finally Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.
I can say, without a doubt, that I'm excited for each and every one of these. Resident Evil 4, for example, was one of the best games to come out for the Gamecube and also happened to be one of the, if not THE best in the series. Code Veronica X I didn't play, admittedly, but I actually watched a LOT of played from the comfort of a friend's couch as he worked his way through it. Yup. I'm one of those guys.
Mercernaries 3D and Revelations are also interesting as well, though I would need a 3DS to fully enjoy that wonderment so I'll probably be tardy to the party with those two entries in the series. The one I'm most intrigued by, however, is Operation Raccoon City.
I've already heard a lot of naysaying on the Interwebz about this one, but I'm quite stoked. We'll get to take on the role of Umbrella Corp employees trying to purge any evidence of the firm's involvement with the incident in Raccoon City. No zombie playability, sadly, but that isn't a huge deal for me. It'll be multiplayer, and co-operative play. I think it'll be, at the very least, a fun diversion from the traditional style of the main lynchpins of the series. We'll still see zombies die by the truckloads and, hopefully, get to see Wesker in action again which is ALWAYS a good thing.
Why, though, would I be excited for all this? Seems a bit excessive eh? Five games from one franchise in a single year. "They'll probably be terrible, El Jefe de Santo..!" the people shall exclaim. I say to them, "Eat your vitamins, say your prayers and flesh-feasting undead should be prepared for my legendary Hurricanrana of Justice!"
Seriously. I need to see a movie where El Santo and Blue Demon team up to destroy an entire horde of zombies. Well, we almost have that. Santo Y Blue Demon Contra Los Monstruos.
Sorry. Got off-topic there! So, Resident Evil, as I mentioned earlier, is a franchise near and dear to my heart. I've sunk countless hours into the various entries (especially 1,2, and 4) and find myself still find my heart racing every time. There is a reason why these games defined the genre. Don't get me wrong. I love Silent Hill and even some Fatal Frame can be great, but nothing compares to bringing the bazooka sights onto some flesh-lovin' beasts. The controls, as I also mentioned earlier, were atrocious at times, but it didn't matter. The games themselves, at the time graphical delights, were amazing gems that really helped to make gaming seem more adult. There was a story to be told here, however overacted the dialogue is or or contrived the plot and its various twists! NO SIR!
The first of the series, Resident Evil, was one I came to after having the pants scared off me in 2. It was an amazing experience and, frankly, well worth experiencing even by today's standards of next-gen graphics and gameplay concepts. The remake, however, on Gamecube is where it really shined. The pre-rendered environments were gorgeous, the sound immaculate and the scares better than ever. It was also quite different in terms of the game itself compared to the original Playstation version. Just fantastic. Both games, PSOne and GC, are worthy to have the title as genre-defining but the GC version edges out the original for me.
2 will, forever, be my favorite and perhaps thats partly the nostalgia talking. It was my first experience with survival horror so I'm wearing rose-colored glasses, I know, but its just tough for me to not love it the most. I will never forget how amazing it felt to get through my first Tofu run. Here's an example of the madness: TOFU! It required beating all six scenarios available with an A rating. That took me a while to get because, well, at first I was awful at that damn game. I did eventually get to it, though and loved every minute of it. I dream of the day Capcom would remake/remaster RE2 for release on the current generation of consoles but that is just one man's dream. Sorry folks I don't count the awful port of it on Gamecube as a remastering.
Resident Evil 3, featuring Nemesis, was also a great entry into the series. The encounters with Nemesis, a ridiculously powerful Tyrant unit made by Umbrella Corporation, appeared throughout the game. Some of the encounters were mandatory, but there were many that allowed the player to choose what to do. He had a rocket launcher, ran fast, was able to dodge and was just badass overall. The game itself wasn't quite as good, in my opinion as 1 or 2, but it refined the gameplay elements more and introduced a few features, the "180 turn", and other small things, that are now mainstays of the Resident Evil experience. It was a blast to play through and, honestly, despite not being able to to choose from multiple characters like the prior games I still enjoyed the hell out of it.
Resident Evil 4 took everything we knew about the series, turned on its head and made it so much better. The action was bigger, more visceral and combat really made you sit on the edge of your seat. It was a great ride that, story-wise and graphically, delivered like no other. It is a close second to Resident Evil 2 for my favorite of the series. Both versions I've played, the Gamecube and Wii version, are fantastic and the addition of motion control on the Wii version added that extra bit of awesome to the mix.
5, well, I haven't really played all that much of. It seems strange to me considering I was so hyped about this game, but I learned quickly that the only real way to experience it was through the co-operative gameplay and, at the time of release, I didn't really have anybody available to play it through with. SAD! I KNOW!
The other spinoffs and one-shot titles that were inspired by the main storyline ranged from decent to pretty awful. I played many of them anyway because A)I hate myself and B)I really hate myself. No no! I played them because, like a fool, I expected similar quality in these related titles. I was pleasantly surprised at times by some, but not by many.
All that said the upcoming slate of Resident Evil games has me excited. What will the 6th installment of the main storyline bring for survival horror fans? We probably won't see a single bit of info concerning 6 until, well, a year or two from now but that's okay. We've got five god damn games to tide us over until then.
Congratulations, Capcom on 15 wonderful years. Let's see what the next 15 bring!
Wish to challenge El Jefe de Santo to a Mask v. Mask match? Want to chit-chat about survival horror? Or perhaps you wish to join him on his crusade to rid the world of the zombie menace one tilt-a-whirl arm drag at a time? Send me some correspondence, gringo! firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffPannellZG via Twitter.