Resident Evil has always been one of my most beloved video game series. Thus when the 6th installation was released (RE4), I was devastated. Now I know it isn't news to anyone that gamers, especially old-hand fans have been and still are arguing over Resident Evil's most recent facelift. I am late to the aversion-ridden party by a few years due to my original decision of being reserved on the matter. But recent events have convinced me otherwise, especially with the actions of RE4 fans. I just need to finally get this off my chest and my blog seems to be the appropriate place to do it, even if this entry remains unread. My brother's return from college has brought back nothing but nostalgia; a longing for the clichéd "good-old-days", a time when the Playstation and Beanie Babies were all the rage, internet was becoming widely adopted and Bill Clinton was still President. We have fond memory after fond memory of playing Resident Evil together, whether it be during an evening summer thunderstorm running like hell from the Nemesis or a cold Saturday morning taking down Birkin yet again, the original RE's scared the crap out of us kids, and we enjoyed every second of it. I can remember Gamepro-back when we still had a subscription to it-dedicated magazines to the RE releases with strategy guides accompanied by magazine cover art. Fear overcame me to a point where I was afraid to go to bed for my town shared a striking resemblance with Raccoon City. I thought that a zombie outbreak was bound to happen, sooner rather than later :lol: . The remake of Resident Evil on Gamecube and the subsequent RE 0 made me nothing but ecstatic. In fact, REmake was the first game I purchased for the Cube and to this day I believe is the most frightening RE game. Heck, even its graphics are still cutting edge after 6 years. I was sure thereafter that (especially with inclusion of Jill's RE3 outfit and Chris' RECD outfit) Capcom would remake 2, 3, possibly even Veronica. But to much disappointment, they haven't, they decided to port instead (I still have some optimism though). But what really took me over the edge was when news of the online addition, Outbreak came to light. The concept alone made me salivate, though it was a major letdown when released. To cut the story short, the games were praised, considered must-haves by many in their time.
So where are we today, well we have Resident Evil 4 which garnered an assortment of awards, including Game of the Year from GameSpot, much of which I cannot understand, comparable to my comprehension of the success of the Halo franchise. Words are incapable of describing the anger, hatred, dysphoria and pure sadness that flows within me because of the direction RE4's success is taking the series. My emotions amaze even myself; I never thought I could be so emotionally attached to a game/series. Like the anger spewed towards Squaresoft when Sephiroth killed Aeris in Final Fantasy VII, I said to myself, "I could never be that attached to a game", yet RE proves the exact opposite. Presently many of the so called "fans" of Resident Evil are nothing of the sort. They are RE4 fans, they have no right to make such a claim .Many of today's "fans" were "unfamiliar" with the Resident Evil series until it changed its entirety to suit a more casual audience. Thus it comes as no surprise that they dislike previous RE games. These first-timers enjoy a game that's of a completely different genre and lacks the essence of RE; the generic and action-based spray-them-with-bullets games that are proliferated throughout our Western culture and the USA. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy shooters but what made Resident Evil different and unique was pure originality, its distinct survival horror qualities, and storyline. If I didn't want that, I wouldn't have purchased the games.
Not going into major details since I could go on for ages, but the original RE games had an excellent storyline of a virus outbreak in a thriving United States, Midwestern city named Raccoon City. It's eventually uncovered that the outbreak's accountability ultimately lies with the corrupt and influential Umbrella Corporation which conducted illegal experimentations, to the extent of using employees and unwitting human beings in order to produce the ultimate Biological Organic Weapons--presumably for the government. Eventually the viruses (T and G) infected the entire city consequently producing unspeakable horrors, forcing the government to quarantine and exterminate the city through nuclear annihilation. One was forced to cope with these genetically mutated creatures; from flesh-eating zombies who seemed unstoppable to the iconic skull-crushing tyrants, all the while allocating limited resources to survive and having the crap sacred out of them in the process (something that requires strategy and is what we like to call "survivor horror"). Now in RE4 we have a game where parasite-controlled enemies, the most common amongst them being Los Ganados (Spanish villagers) drop money and items when eliminated (What is this, Mario?), ammunition is gluttonous, you can purchase your own weapons and upgrades from magic merchants, and a crazed cult leader wants to take over the world by controlling people through the ancient organism found in a castle's backyard (Las Plagas). How can one compare RE4 to the rest?
What aggravates me is when those who experienced RE4 first then play the older installations and base their opinion solely on the characteristics of RE4. When people make offensive reviews of the older games and then claim they're no RE4, I take it to heart. How can one idiotically compare RE4 to its predecessors when they are of different genres? The majority of the original games were developed in a different time period with less advanced technology. Obviously the graphics won't be on par to modern standards and some elements don't seem as spectacular as they did then because of our experiences with and expectations of video games today (I will even admit that). Though, when released, they were considered some of the best games ever made while being on the cutting edge of graphics and CGI's. Not to mention that the fixed-camera angles that so many first-timers whine and groan about were purposely used for a slower paced, puzzle-solving, frightening, survival horror environment, unlike the fast paced action that requires the over-the-shoulder view found in RE4. This would only further argue the point that the older games are long overdue for a remake, in the original RE mold mind you, the way they were made to be played. In fact, it would probably calm my nerves and I would be rather satisfied if Capcom did indeed remake 2 and 3 in the original format--that's what I would really like to see.
Now comes to the Outbreak franchise. Fans of it wonder where File #3 is-it's not coming sadly. The reason being because they were the last games developed in the Resident Evil formula. Capcom wants to sweep it under the carpet because a new generation (RE4 fans) hates....or let me say it this way.....is not attracted to the cosmetics of the older games. And I highly oppose that decision. It is both part off the series and the company's heritage and thus they should stick with the old model. However, I do believe that File # 1 and 2 were hastily put together. They had a lot of potential and many would have both played and loved them if there was more dedication, effort, and creativity on Capcom's part. If only I worked for them, Outbreak would be different.
Though RE4 and now RE5 really demonstrate the true colors of Capcom, they are catering towards the casual western marketplace. Unlike in the 1990's, there seems to now only be a small select group of people who are still loyal to and enjoy Resident Evil for what it was. I don't know where most of them went, the ones that bought 4.96 million copies of RE2, 3.5 million of RE3, or 1.35 million of REmake. I guess most of them grew out of gaming or the genre. However, I do believe if you were a fan from the beginning, yet RE4 is your favorite, you are no true fan at all for it's not Resident Evil. I think what makes me the saddest is that Capcom will no longer develop RE games like they have in the past, and thus no fonder memories of the remade masterpieces that I have grown to love throughout my childhood or new IP to enjoy and progress the story in the future. In a sense it feels like a betrayal on Capcom's part, selling out for money rather than the loyal smaller fanbase. I shouldn't be surprised though, many series are experiencing the same thing. After all, that's what happens when a public company has investors to please. Resident Evil 4 in my opinion is a somewhat average game and I think it would have never received the acclaim it did if it had a different name slapped on it or a different main character for that matter. What worries me is what this means for the rest of the video game industry, is the casual gaming mentality going to rule the day, I sure hope not, but I won't hold my breath. Whatever the case, it marks the end of an era, a generation, and survival horror as I knew it to be :(