There’s been a lot of talk recently about the need to re-introduce horror into the Resident Evil franchise, which has recently become more of a third-person shooter than a survival horror. I agree but before the series can go forward it needs to get back to its roots.
You see, when I was growing up, Resident Evil games were my favourite (Tomb Raider was up there too, but mainly because I was 14 and she had breasts). I loved the darkness, the characters, and I loved how real it felt. Sure, Raccoon City had its quirks but overall it felt like any small city, which made the whole game more visceral and much more terrifying?
Well, now we have Wesker (a goddamn supervillain who moves like superman on speed), giant underground bases, plans for world domination and blah blah blah. Even the characters have changed from a rookie cop struggling to survive to a James Bond, Max Payne hybrid.
Oh yeah and let’s not forget that it’s just not scary anymore, quite the opposite in fact, now you are so damn powerful that the game is nothing more than a Gears of War power trip.
Believe it or not, that’s not the worst part.
What the hell is going on?
The Resident Evil plot is now so complicated, and so tangled that it’s impossible to take seriously. One moment I am supposed to believe that this is a game set in the real world and then in the next I am confronted with human clones and vast underground complexes which make the Pentagon look like a doll’s house.
Do you remember the origins of Resident Evil? It was one company that had gone too far, certain elements of the government had supported them in making a weapon and slowly things had gotten out of hand, resulting in the horrors of Raccoon City. It wasn’t too simple, but it wasn’t ridiculously complicated either; there was government corruption, corporate greed, and human sacrifice all rolled together. It was interesting without being pretentious and most importantly, it wasn’t ridiculous.
So where did it all go wrong?
Well it’s a sad fact that the series’ greatest success was also its greatest failure. Do you remember how awesome Resident Evil 4 was, how awesome the setting was, how terrifying the Los Ganados villagers were, or how freaky it was the first time a parasite burst out of a dude’s head? That game was fantastic, but it also sowed the seeds of failure.
Alarm bells began ringing for me when I realised I was there to save the presidents daughter. That’s not horror game stuff, that’s action game stuff. Sadly the success of Resident Evil 4’s shooting mechanic gave Capcom the wrong idea. Yes the over the shoulder perspective was awesome and yes moving the focus to slightly more action was the right decision to make, but there were other factors at play.
The lack of fire-power was so important to keeping the tension high; do you remember how many bullets those things took? Do you remember how difficult it was to take out one of the Chainsaw guys? Jesus those things still haunt me. Every bullet counted because you didn’t know when you were going to get more. A shotgun cartridge was a gift from heaven.
Capcom took it the other way and decided to focus more on the shooting and less on the survival element resulting in the games we have today. To me Resident Evil has been dead for some time and the latest iteration was just the spasm of a reanimated corpse. It’s time to put a bullet in its head.
So how can we fix it?
Well there’s one sure fire way and that’s to take a page out of DC’s book and just shut the whole damn universe down. End it. Blow the whole thing up or just brush it under the carpet and hope it’s forgotten. I can’t see anyway to get the series back on track in the current universe, there’s just too much crap built up to get back to basics.
So don’t. Let’s reset!
Seriously how exciting would the original Resident Evil be if we played it with this generations graphics and with Resident Evil 4’s style? It would be great! It would look great, it would feel great and it would be the perfect way to save the series before it dies completely or becomes another bland shooter.
I am not normally a fan or retcons because they often feel like easy ways out for bad or lazy writers but in this case it’s the only way. Capcom has written itself into a corner and I for one have no idea how they can get out of it without hitting the big red button. So please do, and do it before it’s too late.