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Overview

Developed by Capcom, the Resident Evil series premiered on March 30, 1996 on the PlayStation. The original Resident Evil was created by Shinji Mikami, inspired by both the NES game Sweet Home, which it was originally intended to be a remake or spiritual successor of George Romero's Living Dead films. As of September 2013, the Resident Evil video game series has sold over 60 million units worldwide.

Resident Evil is known as Biohazard in Japan, where it originated. Capcom at first thought it was going to be a small "niche" project that they would keep up with mostly for their own enjoyment. Then the accumulated sales of the original Resident Evil game on the Sega Saturn and PlayStation reached over 5 million copies. Henceforth, it became one of Capcom's main series, and several titles have been remade, due to the high popularity with fans.

Title Change

The series was originally called Biohazard in Japan but it was decided to change the name in the western market after Chris Kramer, the Director of Communications at Capcom, pointed out that it would be impossible to trademark "Biohazard" in the US. There was a DOS game and a Metal band bearing the same name, among other things. Capcom then held an internal contest within its company to find an alternative name and eventually settled on "Resident Evil." It was a clever pun since the original game took place in a mansion filled with evil monsters.

Kramer voted against the name, saying the title was "super-cheesy" but the rest of the marketing crew loved it and were ultimately able to convince Capcom Japan and Shinji Mikami that the name fit, even though in later years Mikami admitted that the American name was "stupid".

Story

The Nemesis, a rare successful application of the T-virus

The major plot of the Resident Evil games originally revolved around the sinister Umbrella Corporation. Umbrella is a company that has ties to every major industry in the world, but secretly, the majority of their research is in bio-engineering. Specifically, they have been secretly developing biological weapons through very questionable means. They have produced the T-virus, G-Virus and many other potent concoctions in the hopes of creating a virus that can transform an individual into a superhumanly powerful, yet perfectly obedient creature. For example, the T-virus was made to transform humans into humanoid creatures called " Tyrants".

However, most of these experiments are wildly unsuccessful, transforming humans into mindlessly aggressive zombies, and almost all attempts to create Umbrella's coveted "Bio-Organic Weapons" (B.O.W.s) have led to viral outbreaks and mass infection of the civilian population. The greatest outbreak, during the summer of 1998, escaped attempts at containment several times, ultimately leading to the total destruction of Raccoon City and nearly all of its inhabitants.

Players have been able to step into the shoes of Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Leon S. Kennedy, and Chris' sister Claire Redfield, as each tries to survive an outbreak and unravel the Umbrella Corporation's web of secrets. A recurring villain in the series is Albert Wesker, an agent of Umbrella as well as an unknown second party. Then there's Ada Wong, whose actions and allegiances are still in question.

As of Resident Evil 4 the series went in a new direction. Umbrella is no more, Albert Wesker still hides in the shadows and there are no more zombies. The current threat revolves around " Las Plagas", parasites that allow controllers to manipulate the infected, who retain enough of their intelligence to wield firearms and other weapons, and to use simple tactics in combat. In Resident Evil 5 a new version of the Plagas (parasite) is the primary foe.

Main Characters

Chris Redfield

Appearing in the first game, Chris is one of the main protagonists of the series in general. Originally a member of S.T.A.R.S., Raccoon City's equivalent to S.W.A.T., Chris survived the Mansion incident, as well as the outbreak of 1998, and escaped Raccoon City before its destruction. The plot of Resident Evil 2 heavily featured his sister Claire, who was just as concerned with locating her missing brother as she was with surviving the outbreak herself.

Both Redfields were playable in Resident Evil: Code Veronica, in which Claire accidentally gets herself captured by Umbrella forces while investigating her brother's disappearance, whereupon Chris, who was in hiding, storms the facility to rescue her.

Chris later returned in Resident Evil 5, set in 2009, by which time he was a member of B.S.A.A., the Bio-terrorism Security Assessment Alliance, an agency tasked with travelling the world, eliminating threats from terrorist groups which had somehow gotten their hands on B.O.W.s, Umbrella-made viruses, or other biological threats to international security. 5 paired up Chris with a new partner, Sheva Alomar, to investigate an outbreak of Las Plagas in South Africa.

Jill Valentine

Also appearing in the original game as a member of S.T.A.R.S., Jill Valentine survived the Mansion incident, and her struggle to survive the outbreak and escape the dying Raccoon City were the central focus of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, in which she was hunted by the Nemesis, a successfully created Tyrant specifically "programmed" to hunt down and kill S.T.A.R.S. members.

Resident Evil 5 revealed that after the fall of Umbrella, Jill also joined the B.S.A.A., although she was believed to have died on a mission in 2006. In reality, she survived, being chemically enslaved by Albert Wesker into doing his bidding. During Chris' mission in 2009, he encountered Jill and subsequently freed her from the control device.

Leon Scott Kennedy

Leon didn't appear until Resident Evil 2, and unlike previous protagonists, he wasn't a member of the elite S.T.A.R.S. squad but was a rookie policeman with the Raccoon Police Department. A lucky coincidence lead to Leon accidentally sleeping in on what was meant to be his first day on the job with the R.P.D., and so he was not present when the rest of the department was slaughtered by ravenous zombies.

Working together with Claire Redfield, Leon managed to escape Raccoon City. He played a minor role in Code Veronica, being the one to alert Chris that his sister had been captured by Umbrella. He went on to play the starring role in Resident Evil 4, set in 2004, when he had become a government agent. He was sent to rescue Ashley Graham, the President's daughter, who had been kidnapped by a sinister cult who planned to use Las Plagas to take over the world.

Gameplay

The gameplay of Resident Evil has varied greatly over the lifetime of the franchise. The original Resident Evil relied on a fixed camera to add a cinematic perspective to each room or area a player entered. The controls were slower and harder to control than the later instalments and aiming was far less accurate. Resident Evil 4 introduced an over the shoulder aiming system and behind the back camera that streamlined many of its predecessors' control issues. In addition, inventory space has traditionally been limited, with ammunition being a scarce, precious commodity, although the most recent title, Resident Evil 5, has far more ammo lying around than previous titles. The series has traditionally included puzzles that require the collection of certain items and completion of riddles to unlock new areas, though this too has steadily been less prioritized as the series progressed more towards being pure action games.

Complete List of Resident Evil Games

Canon Series

The series begins in 1996 with the release of Resident Evil and since then, it has spawned many sequels and prequels. Though the locations differ in every game, the premise remains the same; players take control of a survivor or a member of a rescue team that is trapped in an area infested with flesh-eating zombies thanks to the Umbrella Corporation, a biological weaponry company disguised as a pharmaceutical corporation. Many of these games have been ported to numerous consoles and handhelds including a remake of the original game.

Arranged in chronological order:

Survivor series

Survive the Horror - FPS style

The first Resident Evil Survivor game is more of a light gun shooter than a typical survival horror game. It plays like a first-person shooter, utilizing both a controller and a light gun, in which the player navigates the level in first-person mode and then toggles a crosshair to shoot enemies. The next game, Resident Evil: Survivor 2 Code Veronica, adopted more of the first-person shooter feel by swapping out the moving crosshair with a centrally fixed one. Players can look around an area by aiming the mounted gun, which doubled as a controller. This allows players to move and fire at the same time. The third game, Resident Evil: Dead Aim let the player explore the level in third-person mode, entering a fire mode as they go along.

Outbreak series

Players confront a zombie elephant in Resident Evil: Outbreak File #2

Resident Evil: Outbreak is a semi-canonical episode in the series that takes place during the 1998 outbreak in Raccoon City. This game is the first in the franchise to include online multiplayer, but despite being the entire focus of the game, unfortunately this feature is absent in the Australian and European versions. It was followed by a sequel called Resident Evil: Outbreak: File #2.

Chronicles series

The first game in this Nintendo Wii-based rail-shooter spinoff, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, details the fall of the Umbrella Corporation, as narrated by Albert Wesker (one of the architects of its fall). The first scenario is a on rails shooter version of Resident Evil Zero where the player takes on the role of Rebecca Chambers or Billy Coen (or both). A secret scenario features Albert Wesker, set between the events of RE0 and RE1. The second scenario features Chris and Jill during the events of Resident Evil with a scenario detailing Rebecca Chambers and Richard Aiken post- RE0, as well as one detailing Wesker's rebirth and escape from the Spencer Mansion. The next story is set during Resident Evil 3 and stars Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira. The unlockable scenarios are Ada Wong and HUNK's escape from Raccoon City (post RE2). "Umbrella's End" details the fall of Umbrella's final stronghold in 2003. Chris and Jill are once again featured with the final unlockable scenario featuring Albert Wesker coincidentally attacking the same facility during Chris & Jill's raid.

The sequel, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, was an improvement over the previous game control wise, but the camera angles now move radically to give it a more cinematic feel. The story begins in 2002 and features Leon S. Kennedy teaming up with Jack Krauser, an enemy from Resident Evil 4 who implied a past with Leon, for the first time. After the player beats the first chapter the story shifts to "Memories of a Lost City" (a Resident Evil 2 scenario) and the players can chose to play as Leon or Claire Redfield. Unlike The Umbrella Chronicles, when only one player plays the other character is displayed onscreen.

Afterward, the game returns to Operation Javier where the player continues with the story until learning that one of the characters is infected with the T-Veronica Virus. Upon which the "Game of Oblivion" scenario, which resembles Code Veronica, is unlocked. Once completed, the player then finishes off Operation Javier. The final battle has two endings depending upon the time it takes to complete it. If a good ending is achieved, you unlock the Darkside and can then play Operation Javier levels 4 & 5 as Krauser and hear his thoughts instead of Leon's during game play.

Non-Canon Series

The following games are mostly a "what-if" situation and are considered to be non-canon to the main storyline. The games were co-developed by third-party companies and the main idea was to expand the Resident Evil universe with multiplayer feature and venturing to new genre. As a result of this decision, these games received mixed to poor reception from fans and critics alike. Operation Raccoon City suffered the worst reception for its flawed game mechanics and being a poor SOCOM clone.

Mobile Series

The mobile games feature different genre and settings, and were developed by the Japanese and Canadian branches of Capcom. They were released on mobile phones and iOS devices.

  • Resident Evil: The Missions (2006)
  • Resident Evil: Confidential Report (2006)
  • Resident Evil: Genesis (2008)
  • Resident Evil: Mercenaries Vs. (2011)
  • Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)
  • Resident Evil: Assault The Nightmare (2002)
  • Resident Evil: Zombie Buster (2004)
  • Resident Evil: Uprising (2009)
  • Resident Evil: Outbreak Survive (TBC)
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife Movie Game (2012)

Film Adaptations

Pre-production for a Resident Evil movie began in 1999 when Sony and Capcom green-lighted a Resident Evil movie written and directed by zombie paragon George A. Romero. However, the director would eventually become Paul W.S. Anderson. The first film, entitled Resident Evil, was released on March 12, 2002. The film was negatively received by critics and fans of the series alike. The major criticism of the film was that it did not follow the storyline of any of the games, instead using vague themes such as zombies and viruses, as well as a couple of specific references, such as the Umbrella Corporation and Raccoon City. Though there were some elements borrowed from Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, the movie featured an entirely original character in its lead, Alice. None of the prominent characters from the games were featured in the movie, although a single line at the end hinted at "the Nemesis program".

Regardless of the negative reaction (due to the film grossing three times its budget world wide) a sequel was made. Entitled Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the direction was given over to Alexander Witt, though Paul Anderson stayed on the project as writer and producer. Like its predecessor, Apocalypse featured Alice in the lead role, and was not based on an actual Resident Evil game, though it borrowed heavy elements specifically from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, such as two characters from the game, Jill Valentine (played by Sienna Guillory) and Carlos Oliveira (played by Oded Fehr), as supporting characters, and the Nemesis as the primary threat. Despite implementing characters from the game into the film, Resident Evil: Apocalypse was received even poorer than its predecessor (but still made three times its budget as well).

The third film, Resident Evil: Extinction, was released in 2007. This time, Russell Mulcahy directed the film. Despite deviating even more wildly from the storyline of the games (instead of the virus being contained by the destruction of Raccoon City, Extinction depicts a world where the human race has nearly been annihilated by hordes of zombies, and where deserts inexplicably cover much of the land masses), the film added another two characters from the series, Claire Redfield and Albert Wesker. The film was more of the same and was once again poorly received by fans and critics, but still turned a nice profit.

The fourth film, Resident Evil: Afterlife, was released on the September 2010. The story continues on from the third film and opens with Alice and one of her clones attacking Umbrella's Tokyo facility in pursuit of Albert Wesker. As the story goes on, Alice is left stranded with other survivors, one of which is Chris Redfield. They receive a radio transmission stating that there is a ship just off the coast that is a safe haven for survivors. However, Alice and Co. soon realise that the ship is another plot by Umbrella to harvest humans, but discover that Wesker is on the ship. The film ends with a shot a Jill Valentine (looking much like she does from Resident Evil 5 when under control of Wesker) leading an Umbrella Taskforce to the ship.

CGI Movie

Resident Evil: Degeneration, a full-length CGI movie, was made by Sony and Capcom in 2008. Degeneration takes place in the continuity of the Resident Evil video games, and is set between Resident Evil 4 and 5. The film stars series veterans Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, who are reunited for the first time since Resident Evil 2. Leon was voiced by Paul Mercier and Claire by Alyson Court (her only voice actress).

The film was directed by Makoto Kamiya, and written by Shotaro Suga. It was first revealed on the Resident Evil: Extinction DVD. Though, the first trailer was revealed at Comic-Con 2008. A tie-in video game, also titled Resident Evil: Degeneration, was made for mobile phones in Japan, and later brought to iPhones and iPod Touches.

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