What do we do about Resident Evil?
What has gone wrong with the Resident Evil series...
First of all, I was born to kill zombies (said every college student ever). Even if I've only played the last couple of Resident Evil games, I've felt the anguish of Nazi Zombies and Left 4 Dead. When I started playing Dead Island, I laughed at how much it reminded me of Fallout, which you'll discover is a series I REALLY hate. Zombie guts have showered my college dorm room through out the years, and as I move on to the real world, I'll dream of grinding up zombies as I mow my parents' lawn.
Yesterday, Slant Six temporarily laid off many of its 60 employees. Slant Six, if you remember (I wish I didn't), developed the squad-based Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, which bombed so terribly that it was only $15 a few months after its release.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City was only the precursor for the disaster that would be the convoluted Resident Evil 6, which didn't know what the hell it was doing with itself. Too many main characters, a pointless melee campaign about the son of Albert Wesker, and a huge dependence on the sexiness of femme fatale Ada Wong solidified its place in the category of "Games You Want to Forget Forever." This has left fans and Capcom wondering where the series should go next...Or if it should go anywhere at all. Perhaps it's time to let the old girl die in peace?
Nostalgia rains down on me as I look back at the Resident Evil 5 days when I could sit in my room all day and shoot up the evil deformed Majini before they could cut me up and turn me into a muscular Redfield stew. Unlike thousands of fans of the original Resident Evil games, I LIKED the changes. The move from survival horror to a more accessible survival action was just what the doctor ordered for a series who's newest innovation has been an on-rails shooter for the Wii. C'mon, guys, sometimes it's a good thing to cater to new audiences.
I was okay with Dead Space becoming the new face of survival horror as RE leaned closer to action-packed zombie killing. Dead Space was an update on the haunted house exploration mechanic made famous by Resident Evil in the '90s. After watching the demise (in a month) of the Dead Space series as it run-and-gunned its way down the same road as RE5, I'm beginning to think I was wrong.
Maybe the change wasn't good.
People say Resident Evil 4 was the best installment in the series (I think, in part, because Leon Kennedy is the best main character in the franchise) and I can see why. I only played RE4 a couple years ago, after beating 5 and pushing Wesker into a volcano, and I could totally see the roots of the series' frantic change of pace. I mean, we're talking about Leon Kennedy going into enemy territory to save the President's daughter. If that doesn't scream Commando/Metal Gear Solid to you, I don't know what to tell you.
So let's think about it. Resident Evil's switch back to classic survival horror would absolutely be welcomed by fans now that Dead Space is dead and those run-for-your-life games like Slender and Amnesia and the upcoming Outlast are all starting to feel the same. A haunted house game where you're not playing as Luigi is about the funnest thing I can think of for the survival horror genre.
Resident Evil 6 tried to cater to too many audiences and it's no accident that the Leon campaign is the best in the game. His campaign is the one you'll recognize as survival horror: cramped spaces, sudden zombie attacks, and mystery. Of course, even that campaign has those ridiculous cinematics involving exploding helicopters and zombie pilots.
Our very own Robert Bernstein has played some of the new Resident Evil, and he recently told me that the new game, horribly titled Revelations (how much more could you reveal about the storyline before turning into the Saw series?), is a fantastic return to form. I sure hope so for that young boy's sake, who liked to skip his homework and kill Majini instead.