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Veteran Member - Level 12
I'll start by saying that I have been fighting with myself over the subject matter of this blog for awhile now. I knew for a fact that I wanted to touch upon the subject after learning that Capcom is considering a major reboot for the Resident Evil series. My very first reaction to this news was definitely an angry one. Maybe not anger per say, more or less disappointment really. I don't see the need for it at all.
Naturally I am to assume these thoughts of a reboot must be the cause of the broad spectrum of buzz Resident Evil 6 received (a majority of it being bad). Apparently I am one of the few players that actually enjoyed the game in its entirety. Even though I may have enjoyed it, the truth is that this game has received a bad rap, and there's no getting around this I suppose. The main complaint I've noticed however is that the game doesn't flaunt the series' original "survival horror" roots.
Well I agree, to a degree. I think that everyone is looking at the situation all wrong. Yes the play style of the series has changed, but so have the times. Technology has expanded immensely in the time between the original titles and today's entries. However, that is not exactly what I am talking about. I am referring to the actual timeline of the Resident Evil series itself. For sake of argument it's a period starting from 1998 that flows all the way into 2012. 14 years of events.
The original Resident Evil Is what set the bar for "survival horror" and is an absolute shining example. The player steps into the shoes of either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, two S.T.A.R.S. members who quickly become in over their heads. Separated from their group (what's left of it) and forced into a giant empty mansion, the setting is all but appropriate. There's nothing more scary then the unknown, and the mass amounts of doors to access don't help the situation at all.
Finally we are introduced to the mascot of the series, the zombie. A creature born from Hollywood lore and brought to horrific life through the game. Zombies were to be respected as a formidable enemy and proved worthy more then enough times. Of course as we all know zombies were not the only thing crawling around the Spencer Estate. Every corner held promise of something trying to kill you.
Mixing all the factors together; being alone, death threatening monsters, a massive mansion to explore, and of course the lack of ammunition all create a genuine "survival horror' feel. Further mixing in the technology of the time in the form of "tank controls" allowing for very limited movement made the player an easy target. Thus you were always fighting for your life. As for the story line itself, this marks the very first time the world had come into contact with the virus, while discovering Umbrella as the cause behind it all.
Resident Evil 2 followed it's predecessor very well by keeping most of the game play mechanics similar, but changing up the setting. This time around players are unknowingly thrust into Raccoon City following an outbreak of the T-Virus. Fighting to survive eventually players find themselves in the RPD headquarters, very reminiscent of the labyrinth like mansion from the first game. As with the first, during the course of the game it becomes apparent that Umbrella is behind everything. Only difference is this time, a lot more people know of this truth.
Fast forward a few years to Resident Evil 4 (all other entries to this point play more or less the same, just different settings). This marks the first time in the series that the enemy isn't just a cause of mutation from the T-Virus (or any other variant), but instead from an ancient parasite known as Las Plagas. New enemy means new mechanics. As we all know Resident Evil 4 flaunted a massive change in play style from the originals.
Still keeping in tune with being alone on the journey, the game allowed players more control in the form of an over the shoulder camera. A huge step forward from the fixed camera angles of the original, This allowed players to move around and fire their weapons with precision instead of just guessing. Considering that the Ganados were leagues ahead of the zombies in smarts and tactics, these new mechanics were definitely welcome when fighting against them.
Also this game is one of the firsts (if my memory serves me right) to start using the QTE mechanic that is so dominant in today's games. It also supported a highly praised weapon customization option, giving players even more control over their arsenal. Mixing all of these factors together, Resident Evil 4 stood as a perfect blend of "survival horror" and fast paced action. Easily one of the best Resident Evils to date, but also the start of the series' new direction.
Resident Evil 5 in my opinion is simultaneously the worst entry in the series, but also one of the most important. For starters this entry introduces players to the B.S.A.A. A counter bio-terrorism group with the prime objective of ridding the world of any bio-organic weapons (this time being Uroburos). Thus it seems after all of these years of Umbrella experimenting the world has finally taken notice. You are not technically fighting alone anymore (yeah right) since you are part of a global team. Admittedly this puts a slight damper on the "survival horror" aspect.
This marked the first time the series included a co-op feature (with an exception of Outbreak). Adding a new way to play (with someone for a change) the co-op feature genuinely created a thrilling experience. Having to look out for one another instead of just yourself created a great sense of teamwork, which ultimately coincides nicely with the story itself. Either way, playing with two people at all times doesn't create the same ambiance as being all alone. Looks like "survival horror" takes another jab.
Unlike all the previous installments Resident Evil 5 could easily be considered just an action game. Where there used to be suspense and scares instead there is gun fighting and explosions. It often resulted in run and gun tactics in favor of slowly creeping down the dark corridor. It didn't create that over all feeling of being terrified all the time. While it seems Resident Evil 5 has all but failed in the eyes of it's predecessors, it also sets the stage for Resident Evil 6, and introduced an exceptional co-op experience.
Onto Resident Evil 6, the newest installment. As I mentioned before this game got a bad rap. Synonymous with complaints of a terrible camera, to many QTE's (there's a few), to much action and not enough horror. Well, I have to disagree with most of these complaints. However, I'm more interested in the action/horror aspect. The game itself was split up into four campaigns that all painted a piece of the giant picture, often times interlocking with one another. This was a bold approach I admit, but ultimately a good one.
Since every campaign included its own little story, it also created a different setting. There is a bit of "survival horror", a bit of action, and a nice blend of the two. There's something for everybody to enjoy. It is a fact that there is a massive amount of action present throughout the entire game, but I think it's justified. It has been over 10 years since that initial contact with the T-Virus. Umbrella (or whoever else) has had more then enough time to tweak and mass produce any type of bio-weapon they see fit.
In this time the virus has evolved beyond it's original form. The enemies are no longer slow and stupid, but instead quick and intelligent. They are capable of mutating into more ferocious forms. A living evolving being. An ultimate weapon. In this time the B.S.A.A. was created to combat this very thing. The threat is no longer isolated, but instead capable of happening whenever and where ever. We are no longer battling lab experiments in an empty mansion, but instead on a global scale. So yes, maybe the "survival horror" aspect has faded away, but only because it doesn't fit the profile. You're not alone in this battle anymore, you're part of a global force. It wouldn't make much sense if they sent one person on a suicide mission.
It is a fact that the series doesn't bare what it used to. The "survival horror" aspect has taken the back burner in exchange for more action. The threat has changed thus so must the way we battle it. Resident Evil needed to change the way it's played to counteract with what's going on in it's world. The old play style wouldn't make much sense battling this new threat. I don't believe Resident Evil needs a reboot because of the changes that have been made. I think the changes only make sense. I don't long for the old days of getting lost in dark corridors, instead I relish in the fact that I am part of an army ready to eradicate bio-weapons.
As always thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed.