great article, I gotta agree with pretty much everything you said up above mate besides the zombie u game just because it isn'l really my thing but hey once again loved the article!!
There was a time, that unfortunately seems to be long gone, when Resident Evil was a synonym for horror and thrill on every gamers' dictionary. By locking up players inside a mansion inhabited by creepy undeads, and by limiting the players' view of the scenes, like an incredible director that knows how to create suspense through camera placement, the game set the standards for how 3-D horror should be done. Its installments were anxiously awaited by adults who liked experiencing the feeling of being in a horror movie where you are the central character, and by teenagers who saw the action of playing a zombie-ridden game as an act of bravery and, most importantly, a overwhelming roller coaster of fear and suspense. Resident Evil, in its own frightening niche, excelled, thrived and mesmerized in its ability to terrify and freeze in fear even when scares were expected, and for years the franchise glowed under that spotlight.
The came an era where the gaming industry transformed into a geekier version of the movie industry, and where most of the blockbusters that created fortunes and made companies famous were first-person shooters. Lacking the mass appeal of those titles, the men behind Resident Evil decided that, instead of limiting the series to innovating inside its familiar space, the franchise should stretch its tentacles out of the horror realm and into the land of blood, gore, excessive ammunition and, consequently, big budgets and towering sales. Resident Evil could have remained a fantastic, albeit dangerous, oasis in the middle of a bland boring beige desert, but - carrying its signature name - the game slowly merged into an unrecognizable shape, becoming a rather generic face in the middle of a crowd whose kings and queens are too well known and have too strong of a grip on the market and critical opinion to be dethroned.
Resident Evil 4 started the mutation, but its little tweaks and changes were so nicely done that rather than stripping the game of its remarkable characteristics, it simply made them visible through a new perspective and added some extra action spices to punctuate the situations of sheer despair and fright. Sadly, Resident Evil 5 had such a poor control over how far action could be added without removing the franchise's face that the result was a game that tried to compete on a field where it clearly did not belong, and when compared to pure action games like Halo and Gears of War, the supposedly horror turned action software landed with a disappointing thud, failing to generate any reactions differing from I think I have seen this before, and in much better shape. And when things seemed like they could not get any worse, Resident Evil 6 is unleashed and, despite a campaign that does try (and succeeds to some extent) to revive the standard pacing of the franchise, it is a game mostly packed with so much absurd that some screens and gameplay sections feel like a watered down version of Call of Duty. Worse than becoming a bland action title, Resident Evil has turned into a humorous caricature of both its genre of origin, and its new niche.
In the midst of this horrifying debacle - not the good kind of horrifying, clearly - it is pleasant to look to the sight of the wreckage and notice that there are still honest survival games out there; titles that try to refresh the genre not by adding ridiculous action elements to the recipe, but by looking around and simply acknowledging the game design possibilities that naturally exist within the genre. It is a simple organic kind of game development, and the result - possibly - is one of those games that is so natural that it is hard not to wonder how come nobody else had tried to do something like that before. The game might be compared to Red Steel, Ubisoft's promising launch Wii game that ended up being a failure, but Zombi U seems to master the Wii U's control and use it in its favor, instead of fumbling with it while trying to use a capability that is simply not there, which in the case of Red Steel was trying to accurately map sword controls to the limited Wiimote.
The ability to use the game pad to scan your surroundings for items and other collectibles seems to go along perfectly with the game's lonesome and tense atmosphere, as removing the eyes from the screen can be awfully rewarding in terms of what you will encounter, but also positively dangerous in terms of who might be lurking around the corner while you examine the nearest cabinet. It is unquestionable proof that there is value on Nintendo's newly found control scheme, and what is even better, is that it is proof, effort and creativity coming from a third-party rather than from Nintendo themselves. And if control innovation is not enough to show that there is still fresh oxygen to be processed by survival horror games, the game also brings the fantastic mechanic of actually killing your character and turning him into a zombie that can be tracked down and killed by whatever character you gain control of next. Not only does it add an extra layer of tension, as players will probably lose a character and also be removed from the exact location to where they had progressed, but it is also delightfully cohesive in a thematic sense, walking side-by-side with the post-apocalyptic vibe the game oozes.
As a visible disaster occurs, it is always uplifting to look to the side and notice that, in the middle of chaos and destruction, there is still a bright spot and a possible escape for the situation, even if such escape features zombies, death and a not-so-touristic version of London. If Resident Evil 6 is the moral, maybe temporary, death of a franchise; Zombi U might be the dying last breath of a zombie that is about to get up, and provide some real thrill.
REmake was probably my all time favorite zombie game. It really was a brilliantly made, true survival horror game. I had a gut feeling when RE4 came out that the series had made a turn for the worse, and unfortunately it has happened. But RE is still a fun action series, but its a far cry from the originals. That being said, i am really excited for the Wii-U and the new Zombie-U... although i think the name could use some work... :P
@QOSMSTR Absolutely, the name is terrible, and I have no idea why Ubisoft is sticking to it. Marketing reasons, maybe?! =/
I really don't care about the gameplay changes, because the internal logic and story progress is solid. Many games from Splinter Cell to Halo have failed with that.
RE1: STARS search a common manor and find new terrifying creatures. Completely unpreparedRE2/3: The zombie threat escalates and annihiliates an entire city.RE4: Raccoon's tale is wiped out, but Leon remembers and has grown. Terrorists got new plots.RE5: Chris, Jill and BSAA are prepared to combat the new weapons. Wesker is a headfigure behind lots of events and finally his final product is complete.RE6: Fight continues. Leon is surprised so his campaign is by far the most dangerous, but he can move while shooting etc. Sure there are issues like the numerous falls and plane crashes, but they're just dents. Aside from those there are countless hours of walking in cemeteries or trying to take down a BOW with BSAA squad.
The only way Capcom can add more horror is by going back to the roots and release spinoffs or prequels, or reboot. I don't particularly care for that, I want to see the story move forward.
But you are right, ZombiU is yet another re-entry of zombie menace with all the mystery and danger. It can be fun, but I doubt it is anything but rehashing the old story.
@PrpleTrtleBuBum You make a good point when it comes to story progression and how it drove the gameplay to grow wider, and consequently abandon its roots.
However, I have the feeling it happened the other way around. Capcom probably decided to lead the gameplay to bigger places, and they had to advance the story in that sense.
Regardless of how it happened, I still think it is a shame the series has become what it is, because while there is a lack of great survival horror games, a bill RE could be filling if it still played more like the originals, there are more than plenty action games.
I have good hopes for Zombi U. It could end up being a rehash, but the gameplay direction leads me to think they are trying to do things differently and - who knows - it might work! =D
@Pierst179 I also believe the changed gameplay drove them to change the story, but atleast they succeeded. When Splinter Cell did that with Conviction, they went right down the crapper IMO, I couldn't care less about Blacklist.
I wish new horror entries come, and perhaps the super awesome RE2 remake, but IMO RE hasn't done half bad and they shouldn't change their direction radically. Mostly RE4+5+6 make perfect sense. And no matter how shooterish Chris's gameplay got, I love seeing a group of special operatives actually doing a decent job against the B.O.Ws.
If anything IMO the problem is Leon's campaign. He gets into way too many scenes involving giant monsters in canyons or crashing planes, and every other civilian zombie is carrying bullets. I would have preferred if his campaign was a little more traditional.
For RE7 however they should take some notes from Dead Rising. There are only so many guns, and they have little ammo. DR actually feels more like the classic RE at times as you're moving around with 1 health block left without weapons in dark corridors trying to evade all the dozens of zombies around.
To me RE4 was a good action game but not a good RE... it was way too easy... many monster dropped stuff and ammo ... how could you possibly run out of ammo ... nothing scary in having to much ammo ... too easy to have better firepower ...
there is nothing like finally finding a good gun ... or finding some ammo ... or not be able to save because you don't have any Ink left ...
@Coco_pierrot I see where you are coming from. That seems to be a common take on RE4. I really liked the shift they implemented, though. I thought it kept the series' personality even if it drastically changed some of its features.
As a Resident Evil fan, I am not upset that franchise has evolved into an action series, but I am unpleasantly surprised at the poor execution and questionable game design, even at the most technical, fundamental levels. It's hard to believe that Resident Evil 6 is only the second direct sequel to one of the most finely tuned and executed actions games of all time: Resident Evil 4.
@The_Deepblue It is indeed amazing how the franchise is only a few years removed from one of the best games ever, and it has already disintegrated into something terrible.
I, for one, couldn't stand the controls in RE4, so 5's I consider an improvement. Other then that, not so much.
Personally I'll take a failure that tries something new and interesting, than RE5 which just tried to copy RE4, and failed in most areas to do so well.
@Foolz3h I fully agree! If you are going to fail, at least do so by taking a huge risk.
Dude risk is something with minimal chances of success. If you have every thing ticked in the list of a successful western game elements that is not a risk. Was nice chatting with you too! :)
@Matty_gamer @Pierst179 "tries to go after an audience that was never its own, loosing loyal fans in the process." Another reason it's a risk lol. I think you're confusing originality and innovation with risk, though I'd still say RE6 is more original and innovative than RE5. But yeah, I'm happy to agree to disagree. Was fun chatting with you! :)
@Foolz3h @Pierst179 making an over the top action game in an industry that apparently "thrives on action pumped sequels" is not really a risk. If you want to believe it, then we are going to have to agree to disagree.
IMO a risk is making "Dishonoured" a risk was making "Demon Souls" A risk would be making L.A Noire or Heavy Rain. Not RE 6. Re 6 just follows what every other financially successful western game developer has been doing and does a poor job at that. Sure it adds its own quirks like interwoven campaigns and shit but basically it tries to go after an audience that was never its own, loosing loyal fans in the process.
@Matty_gamer @Pierst179 I'd get what you're saying if RE5 wasn't also "an over the top insane action game with explosions." How is adding multiple campaigns the safe route? Especially when they're ten hours each? That's the equivelent to making four Call of Duties in the one game; no one is doing that in action games these days. 4 lengthy campaigns is actually one of the things that makes it unique.
@Foolz3h @Pierst179 No "making a watered down RE4" would have been like saying, "we are making the same shitty game again and not an over the top insane action game with explosions so you'll have to buy COD for that. We are just making the same old watered down game..." Keep in mind even though people liked RE 5 no game company in their sane mind would have went with the same approach again. A Sane and risk free route would be to make it more action oriented. Basically everything capcom did was staying on the safe route like adding multiple campaigns, making false promise of going back to the roots, making more things explode etc. That is not risk..
To be honest I do not beleive that Capcom deserves any credit for what they did with RE 6. Saying that they took risk with it and failed would be saying too much for a greedy company completely lacking innovation (recently).
@Matty_gamer @Pierst179 "A sure shot bet, a formula of success" would have been making a watered down version of RE4 again like they did with 5; that's the sort of thing Call of Duty does every year. Of course their motivation is to sell more copies, but that was probably their motivation for the changes they made with RE4; none of which were original, by the way. With RE4 and RE6 they've done something new with the franchise, neither of which did anything original outside of the context of the series. But because they were changes both were risky; one risk paid off because there was still a deep talent pool at Capcom, and one that hasn't because they simply don't have the quality to pull such a thing off anymore.
@Pierst179 @Foolz3h We all know capcom is very greedy if not the greediest non western game company. They just went with a sure shot bet, a formula of success and failed miserably. They didnt take no risk. A risk would be doing some thing new and unique with their franchise. Just adding lots of more action/explosions and going with the industry trend is not a risk in my opinion. Its just greed to sell more copies. And considering the mental level of an average western gamer I would not be surprised if RE 6 does outsell RE 5. :p So it might be a failure reviews wise, still it can be a winner for them.