Resident Evil. What left could be said of this roller coaster-of-emotions of a franchise? A series that laid roots in survival horror and then dropped it to capitalize on the dudebro shooterman genre that keeps the heart of modern video games pumping.
Whether that is a legitimate decision is ultimately left up to the individual, but to me, the issue lies not within the direction Resident Evil is facing, but rather, the capability of the publisher and developer to make, well, good games.
And that's my issue with Resident Evil today. They are poor action games that feel like they are trying to convince themselves that they are still somehow survival horror. How can you forget the marketing campaign of Resident Evil 5? "Fear you can't forget". There was so much conviction within the campaign. "You are going to be terrified. You are going to scream for mercy, but there won't be any." etc, etc. They painted the picture that, hey, this game is gonna be scary. Then of course it came out and you'll probably end up playing co-op with a friend, talking over cutscenes and laughing about other stupid shit, like I did. It's hard to be afraid of anything in that environment. Taking a game in which you are alone and outnumbered by hoards of enemies and then, uh, giving you an equally equipped partner takes out any tension. Suddenly jump scares aren't scary. Suddenly being outnumbered means nothing. The fear has been removed.
With Resident Evil 5 however, I felt conflicted. I wanted a survival horror game, but what I got was more attuned to action and glory. Whereas I wanted to walk down corridors, fearful for what may lurk around the corner. I did not get that. I got, instead, "action game".
Surely I'm being unfair in some regard? Well no, it's a criticism. I liked Resident Evil 5. I put way too much time into it, in fact. I S ranked the whole game on every difficulty and then I S ranked Mercenaries. I leveled up all weapons, I collected every jewel, every BSAA emblem. I unlocked every figure and file. If there was something to do, something to obtain in Resident Evil 5, I did and obtained it. Which is the reason I feel my criticism isn't just mindless internet hate vitriol acid garbage spew; I played the game, I enjoyed the game, I saw the potential for Resident Evil. I also saw the downfall of Resident Evil.
The potential of RE5 was abundant, it was easy to control, it was simple enough to get into, it didn't require too much thought. You shoot people, or sometimes things, or sometimes people-things with your guns. You can slash them with your knife too, if you like. And then sometimes you can punch them, and punch them well. You had a very simple weapon upgrading system and even a simple store system so you can buy things like First-Aid spray, weapons, or even special items that increase your resistance to melee or bullet damage.
If Resident Evil was to be an action game from here on out, then they've got the ground work laid out. The gameplay is solid and the prospect of expanding on that and enhancing it is very exciting. The things they could do to improve the flow of gameplay is really exciting to think about! Where could it go? What could they do? The possibilities are endless.
Damn girl, you shit with that hat? Wait no, that's not the line. Ah who cares.
My conflicted feelings for Resident Evil didn't end there, however. With the release of Lost In Nightmares, a DLC expansion for RE5, set years beforehand with Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine exploring an old mansion while looking for answers. I remember being almost caught off guard by the expansion. Here I was, playing "Capcom presents: Shootermans" and all of the sudden I got... Resident Evil? Gothic locals, scary atmospheres, neat little puzzles. Not only that, but I actually found it pretty scary at some points. It told me everything I needed to know: Capcom is returning Resident Evil to its roots. They have listened to the fanbase's distaste in action and want to return to the classic survival horror, but with the new gameplay additions that the action game can provide. It was incredible. A little short, or, okay, a lot short. Lost In Nightmares was not very long at all, but it was filled with the essence, the spirit of Resident Evil. It felt like Capcom was reminding people that, hey, we've still got it. And I couldn't have been more excited to see where they were going.
But then I got there. Its name? Resident Evil 6. A mess. A downright mess. To put it bluntly, this game was bad. It just didn't make sense, and when you look at the narrative of the game, it pretty much destroyed any semblance of a return to form.
Worst album cover ever.
With Resident Evil 4, we went from zombies to B.O.W's, or, Bio Organic Weapons. Resident Evil 6 turned this concept up to 11 and basically destroyed a whole country with an outbreak of every goddamn virus in the entire series. Suddenly you've got your classic zombies, then you've got your Ganado and Majini types of people-exploding-into-tentacle-porn. Then of course comes in the monsters. Giant creatures, heavily mutated people, fish, turtles or whatever hunters are.
It took it to a new level. Suddenly Chris and Leon and... Sherry Berkin are involved with the biggest threat to humanity, and even the world. It threw caution to the wind and said "Fuck survival horror, give me that turret and turn up some Dragonforce!!!"
And I'm not even talking about the (mostly) stupid story. I'm not even talking about the completely moronically idiotic and completely mishandled opportunity to have Leon S. Kennedy and Chris Redfield team up only for there to be absolutely none of that. I'm talking about the gameplay. The very core of this video game.
I bet you thought this would be cooler than it ended up being
It settled for QTE's in the stead of actually developing an interesting cutscene we could watch or even a gameplay segment we could go through on our own. If it was interesting, it was a QTE. The Resident Evil series is filled with QTE's, you might be saying. One, you're right, but two, you've got no idea. You've got no idea at all.
The most notably mindfuckingly terrible QTE comes from Leon's campaign, near the end. You have to climb a rope. Any other game would allow you to do this by moving the left stick. Resident Evil 6 wants you to alternate between R1 and L1. But it's not as simple as hitting one button and hitting the other in secession. You have to hit one, wait a second, hit the other. It's not a matter of hitting the buttons as fast as you can and then moving up, it's you having to find this weird rhythm of waiting for the game to allow you to move. But if you wait too long, you'll fall some distance and have to climb back up until you get to the top. Just take a look:
In my experience, personally, I have never wanted to kill a video game before in my life. Until that moment. I guess you could say... I was at the end of my rope? Huh? Huh? Yeah.
Resident Evil 6 was emulating Call of Duty, Uncharted, Battlefield. Big budget action games about shooting people and saving America and not giving a fuck one way or the other. Resident Evil 6 was doing this while laughing at you, the fan at home, for wanting survival horror. To want fear. The only fear here is the game itself, and the idea of playing it... the fear you can't forget.
Now I want to be absolutely clear here. I want to make my point as loud as possible: I'm not hating on RE6 because of this false sense of loyalty to the older games, or this idea that I'm a special snowflake for wanting a return to survival horror. If I have failed to make that point, I apologize, because that's not my intent. My full on, girthy hatedick for RE6 comes from the fact that it said "I want to be an action game" but could not dedicate itself to being even competent enough to actually pull it off well. Hey, I LOVE action games! I'm no special snowflake, I enjoy the shit out of running people over in GTA or ripping dudes heads off in God Of War. I'm no stranger to action games, you know the rules and so do I. But there is a time and a place for action games, both good and not so good. One of the best, off the top of my head, is Spec Ops: The Line. Most of its critical acclaim isn't the gameplay, it's the narrative. The gameplay is actually quite average, not bad per se, but not worth writing home about. It's not about being the best, it's about being good enough to have your own identity.
Resident Evil 6 has no identity. It's almost a meta commentary on video games itself. It tries to appeal to everyone by featuring a campaign almost exclusively dealing with zombies and featuring Leon S. Kennedy, and then it shifts gears in Chris Redfield's campaign by being a straight-up third-person shooter. You get in shoot-outs with monsters and have all kinds of tanks shooting around you with jets flying overhead dropping bombs.
On paper, it sounds nucking futs. And also incredibly fun. The idea of these B.O.W's practically leveling up and going to war is a very cool idea. But then you put the controller in your hand and you play this stiff, poorly thought out action game. It does not feel like Resident Evil. It, quite frankly, is not Resident Evil. It had no identity, it was everything and yet it was nothing at the same time.
You had an action game! You had the mechanics! Years ago! YEARS AGO! You were the chosen one, RE6! You were supposed to bring balance to the force(of survival horror and TPS action!). It was just not meant to be, I suppose, because aside from selling well, even Capcom has said that Resident Evil 6 "felt bloated"
"There was some great positives out of that, but it was a mixed bag, as we saw from the review scores. We have got to take that on-board, we can't ignore that, and we have to take that onto the next game when we make the next Resident Evil.
He added: “With Resident Evil 6 specifically, we probably put too much content in there, there were comments from consumers that said it felt bloated. The Leon missions went down very well, and because we did Resident Evil Revelations on 3DS, there was a cry out for us to focus our attention on survival horror, rather than be too many things to all people. You’ll find where we go next will likely be more targeted at our core fanbase.
"A lot is said about the saturation of this zombie, post-apocalyptic survival horror. But it is still alive and well. The Last of Us shows a good direction of what the consumers want. Tomb Raider as well, we spoke to R&D and they looked at that and they enjoyed that experience. I think that proves there is still a strong market for that sort of content."
ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTE.
And with that, I segway nicely into the original point of this blog: Resident Evil: Blood Diamond. No wait, it's Resident Evil: Brotherhood. No, damnit. Resident Evil: Reckoning. Fuck, that's not it either. Resident Evil: Begins. Hold on, I'll get it. Resident Evil: Black Flag. Well I just have no idea anymore. No, wait a second! It's Resident Evil: Revelations! Yeah that's it! Resident Evil: Revelations!
With all of the "Woe is me, I was disappointed by Capcom again" out of the way, I can finally talk about what I came here to talk about.
I recently went through Revelations and what I expected what another RE6. Another dudebro "WAR IS HELL" blood sweat and tears God Bless America RED WHITE AND BLUE action game. Instead, I found an honest attempt to answer the question that fans have been asking for quite a while now: S-survival... h-horror? To which the answer was a resounding: SURE FUCK IT WHY NOT.
The game begins and you take the role of Jill Valentine, now a BSAA operative and on the search for Chris Redfield and his partner Jessica "Sexual Chocolate" Sherawat. Jill has a partner of her own, the ruggedly handsome Parker Luciani, who can appropriately be identified as the love child of Chris Redfield and Barry Burton.
The happy couple in question.
The gameplay takes a step back from the chaos of Resident Evil 6 and plays more like a modified Resident Evil 5. This time you can move and shoot, move and use your knife, and even charge up your physical attacks for maximum damage. The upgrading system has been replaced by finding parts for your guns that allow you to alter its stats(Like increasing damage and reload time, clip size and the like) and even change how it functions. For example you can turn your semi-auto pistol into a burst-fire pistol by adding the "Burst" attachment to your gun. Or a really interesting addition: The "Charge shot" attachment for your shotgun, that allows you to hold down the fire button and charge your shots to increase the damage that it will do.
By setting itself up on the Queen Zenobia, a massive cruise-liner in the middle of the ocean, the setting is almost automatically creepy. You're in the middle of nowhere, a thousand miles from home, you are looking for lost friends and there are monsters everywhere. It really sets the tone for creep factor. I wouldn't call the game "scary", by any degree. It can be at certain points. For instance, there are jump scares peppered in there somewhere. I'd say it's a very creepy game though. And I appreciate it. None of RE5 or what I remember of RE6 was very scary at all. Most times in RE5 it was outside in the bright sun. But when it comes to Revelations, you can depend on it for being creepy.
Immediately you will notice the personality of this game. It came out some months before Resident Evil 6 but managed to compartmentalize the charm into almost every aspect. The weapon upgrading system, the massive ship you explore as the game goes on, and even the characters. Parker Luciani won me over the first time he offered to buy me lunch. Lucky for me, the offers didn't stop there. Jessica Sherawat(Chris's partner) and her sweet, sweat covered ass is an interesting prospect in and of itself, with the constant innuendo and flirting with Chris that you never see much with characters like Jill and Sheva. It's usually straight-shooting with those two. But here we get some off-beat chemistry going on to really spice-up the status quo. Now, it's not revolutionary(Revelationary?), but it's an interesting change when seeing the over the top relationships in 6 and the almost-stale, zero-to-no personality from anyone in 5. Sheva was fine, I liked her, but she didn't bring much to the table. She didn't have the sass I was looking for. It felt like she was playing second fiddle to Chris at every avenue, and not truly bringing any "game" of her own. But love them or hate them, the characters in Revelations certainly got something to them.
Speaking of characters, Revelations is the first in the Resident Evil franchise to feature not one, not two, but three guest stars to its ranks. That's right. Making his video game debut: Conan O'Brien!
I assure you, this isn't edited. He really is that ugly.
But not just Conan O'Brien! We've also got Beavis and Butthead, or Captain and Tennille, [insert other witty duo references here]! You know shit's getting real when these guys show up, because the music gets all funky and hippity hoppity. They don't do much for a majority of the game, and one of them is even implied to stalk Jessica Sherawat and her sweet ass
They are about as incapable as they look.
Anyway. The story goes in and out of flashbacks of this super city constructed on the ocean called Terragrigia and how terrorists attacked it a year prior to Revelations' start date. You play as Parker when he worked for the FBC with Jessica. Then Conan O'Brien makes an appearance as an FBC rookie who gets wounded and helped out by Parker. It's all very emotional, you see.
Easily one of the best parts of the game is when Jill and Chris finally team up, after so long of being apart, we finally get to see the two partners back in action together and it's a really incredible feeling. Two of the biggest and best characters are kicking ass side by side, after all of these years. I really loved that. They work well together and as much as I love Parker, Jill and Chris will always be the perfect couple. Like Albert Wesker and a bad haircut.
TRIUMPHANT. AS. FUCK.
The second best part of the game is actually before that. Chris and his partner Jessica finally track down the whereabouts of Jill and Parker and rush off to save them. They find the ship they are on and race right down to the bilge, fighting through hoards of monsters to save their friends and comrades. They get to the door and open it, only to find it's empty. The camera then pans over to the wall to find that Chris and Jessica are on the Queen Semiramis, the sister ship of the Queen Zenobia. The sudden realization that they were on a completely different ship, after having the player believe they were just seconds from seeing their friends reunited, was an incredible moment. The execution was perfect. It set up the moment and knocked it out of the park.
I'm buying you lunch.
The story gets all weird and Resident Evil-y as it goes on and there's some conspiracy or another. The ending also has so many plot holes it might as well be a sinking ship. Though I didn't let that get me down. I feel like they kept the typical "This is all just absolutely stupid" bullshit stuff to a bare minimum. I felt like it put more emphasis on the characters and their interactions than really anything else.
I also really liked the environments. I feel like they are varied enough that during longer segments when you are walking all over the ship, your surroundings are changing often enough that it never feels too "samey". You go from classical Gothic ballrooms to a dirty and rusted bilge, to sleek and sexy science labs with computers everywhere. Each area has its own personality and I thoroughly enjoy walking around the ship and seeing them all.
The enemies were also pretty decent. You fight some pretty crazy looking monsters as it goes on. They call most of them "ooze zombies", but it felt more like wet organic socks than "zombies". I give them props for at least trying to make them different, god knows they could have easily made them traditional zombies, but you have to wonder if that would have been better. Perhaps the traditional looking zombies would have been more effective with these weird mutations growing off of them, looking just familiar enough to be comfortable fighting them, but with some added parts like those long "mouth tube" things they have. Then again, you probably couldn't get something like this with a traditional zombie:
They are crazy fat zombies who go "party harty" mode with their chainsaw arm. They like to fuck shit up. They are usually pretty fun to fight.
Party on Wayne.
But when it comes to enemies, I have to say, Revelations has the two best designs for enemies I've ever seen in a Resident Evil game. One belongs to a terrible boss fight, and the other to a pretty fun boss fight.
Malacoda. A giant whale infected with the T-Abyss Virus and expanding to massive size and fucking shit up on the Queen Zenobia. I like that, earlier in the game, you can read a document pondering the circumstances of a whale getting infected with the virus, and then near the end of the game getting to see it for yourself. It was pretty unexpected but a fantastic looking boss. I hope to see something equally as crazy in the later games. Maybe that boulder from RE5 gets infected and vows revenge? 2spooky!!!
Move over MGSV, with your stupid flame whales. REvelations is bringing the pain.
Ultimate Abyss. No, not the wrestler unfortunately. That would have been pretty sick. This guy is a mix between the Nemesis and "ooze" zombies. He is quite frankly one of the coolest motherfuckers in these games. Just look at him, he's gonna fucking kill your whole generation or something sinister!
Looks like someone has a... splitting headache? Man my pun game is off point today isn't it?
Seriously though, look at this shit!
I felt like the game is heading in the right direction and really hope these "RE: Revelations 2" rumors are legitimate as I would really enjoy seeing more adventures with this type of structure in mind. Great new characters, a return to a survival horror setting(With some neat twists!) and a great weapon customization system. You can't really ask for a better return to form than Revelations. Well, actually, you can. Revelations isn't the best game ever made, and it's certainly not the best Resident Evil game out there. But it certainly struck a cord with me, and seeing what that shitshow Resident Evil 6 was all about, I'd take Revelations out to lunch any day of the week.
Without being melodramatic, I truly am surprised to enjoy a new Resident Evil game. I thought they had gone the way of the dodo bird. The more I want to like Resident Evil, the more I am turned away by the stiff controls and terrible action sequences where they game thinks it's something else. Really, I'd just be happy for Capcom to find a solid ground for Resident Evil to thrive. Is it going to go back to survival horror? Is it going to stay an action game? With as long as it takes them to make these games, you'd figure they'd have it all planned out by now. But with the rumors of Revelations 2, and the possibility of a sequel to 6, I am both excited and anxious to see where the series could be heading. But wherever that may be, I hope Capcom can do it right.
Man, Jill sure is a QT.
Oh and fuck Raid mode. Like seriously.