Lately, Capcom has been publishing data regarding its franchise sales and success on a regular basis, and of course with E3 coming up soon, there is once again a lot of talk about reviving the Resident Evil franchise. A lot of alleged fans come out of the woodwork to say that RE4 was the best of the series and that people clamoring for a return to form need to take off their nostalgia goggles. I concede that it would be better to have better controls a la Dead Space or RE6 – and it would be better to have the option to change camera angles, but not one single other thing from RE4 needs to ever show its face in the franchise again.
RE4 has nothing to do with Resident Evil. Capcom – and Mikami himself in that case – thinks that throwing in a couple of characters that fans were familiar with and liked, and emulating what they did before in good games is all they need to do to make another entry. It’s not. The story had no connection whatsoever with the established lore – 8+ games worth I might add by the time RE4 came out – other than the text at the beginning of the game and the obligatory, off-topic references to and inclusion of Ada and Wesker. Krauser and Leon’s backstory didn’t even exist yet when they put him in the game.
It’s not a Resident Evil game. It’s not even a survival horror game. Literally the only moment of “fear” in that entire game was the first time you encountered Dr. Salvador because you didn’t know what would happen and if he was an insta-death. Once you found out that he was, there was no more tension in that game that didn’t come simply from your own desire not to die and have to replay part of it. Considering the frequent save points, and not needing ribbons, even that was minimal. Combine that with the fact that you can literally buy first aid sprays, upgrade your guns and subsequently get free ammo doing so, the fact that you have grenades and sniper rifles and can buy rocket launchers, there’s nothing suspenseful about the game. It was entirely action.
Allow me to reiterate: I do like RE4. It was a good game. I spent all my gaming time when it came out playing that game with my best friend until we unlocked every last thing possible (well, before the full PS2 version came out), even in public at our local video game store. I own the original, the PS2 port, the original mess of a PC port, RE4 HD on 360, on PS3, and RE4 HD on PC. But, it’s not a Resident Evil game, and that precludes it from being the best Resident Evil game.
The influx of “kids” who never played RE Directors Cut, RE2, RE3, RE Code Veronica, REmake, RE0, and Outbreak 1 and 2 in that order are what has caused the franchise – in terms of quality – to nosedive. They played RE4 and thought it was the best game ever made, so Capcom has tried to emulate that unsuccessfully ever since. I’m sure a lot of people who liked original RE played it and liked it, but if you played them contemporarily when released and then jumped ship to the action, all I can say is that you’re a sellout. Just like the people who cried because Assassin’s Creed 3 was “too much sci-fi”, you evidently didn’t understand what franchise you were playing.
And so this is why Resident Evil has had an identity crisis for the last 10 years of its 19 year existence. At this point it is mathematically more appropriate to call it an action game, than a survival horror or even an adventure game. Capcom is trying to appeal to two radically different groups of fans and ends up attempting to appease them both. RE4 introduced ridiculous gameplay moments like those below:
Since this, the identity crisis suffered by this franchise has soared to hilarious, indescribable new heights. It reached the pinnacle of absurdity in Resident Evil 6, which featured the disgusting failures the below screenshots only hint at. If you haven’t played Resident Evil 6 but are a fan, be warned: You have to pilot a fucking fighter jet. You attack a Neo-Umbrella aircraft carrier with a fighter jet. This is the franchise where you had to re-arrange statues to get gems to get a key in 1998 and you couldn’t even aim your gun. In 2011, you are flying a god damn fighter jet.
The amount of vehicles you have to “control” in Resident Evil 6 is simply fucking ridiculous. You control Air Force One, a scout helicopter, a UH-60 variant helicopter, a Harrier fighter jet, a police cruiser, a motorcycle, and a snow mobile. This is in addition to the set pieces. RE6 features so many exploding set pieces, it’s unfathomable that Capcom wasn’t having a contest with Activision. Exploding cars by the dozens, exploding planes, exploding helicopters, exploding ships, exploding trains, collapsing Moria mines, nuclear explosions, exploding rail artillery guns, exploding submarines, exploding giant houseflies, epic avalanches…Resident Evil 6 is the most ridiculous Call of Duty game in history.
As if the explosions and set pieces and raging fires weren’t bad enough in that game, they also mashed as many other games as possible together, like Gears of War. Look, I actually admit that Chris’s campaign was the best campaign in the game. It physically hurts me to say so, but it’s the truth. If Resident Evil were to just split off into a third person action shooter about the BSAA fighting bioterrorism, Chris’s campaign would be a great template to follow in order to accomplish that goal. That being said, what the hell is this? No seriously, though, I’m legitimately asking. What were these things called? You only had to kill 2 of them but there was never an explicit answer who made them or why. Are we to assume it was Neo-Umbrella?
Back on topic. To make matters worse, Resident Evil 6 is the best selling entry in the entire franchise. Certainly this sends a message to Capcom that we want action games, and that really isn’t the truth. Especially now that Revelations 2 didn’t sell as many copies as almost any other entry in the series. At this point in time, Capcom has actually commented that they may just keep making the main numbered entries into action games, and save what little similarities to the original game still exist for the Revelations games. Capcom, of course, says a lot of nonsensical things about Resident Evil.
Keiji Inafune – legendary creator of Megaman, the guy who left Capcom because they wouldn’t make a new Megaman game and then made it anyway (the one that we’re waiting for because it got delayed to 2016) – made a statement in 2010 that Capcom wanted Dead Rising to replace Resident Evil as their zombie franchise (http://goo.gl/QDDw4E). That’s the extent of this ridiculousness.
We know now how that worked out. Capcom released the worst Resident Evil game in history the next year, and then contracted Slant Six to make the second worst game in Resident Evil history. Shortly after that they released the only good Resident Evil game in 7 years, and then Dead Rising 3 did not at all meet their expectations. So, those plans got axed. It seems at this point like Capcom is trying not to continue the RE franchise but they keep doing it begrudgingly because people want it – like the fact that it took them 14 years and 2 separate fan remakes of Resident Evil 2 before they finally decided to officially remake the game, along with the fact that they remastered RE0 and REmake.
At the same time, Capcom is making an online only competitive Resident Evil shooter that won’t even have Resident Evil in the title. I think it’s safe to say that after 10 years of struggling with this franchises identity, even having proven data with Revelations 1 and 2 that shows people want the horror back, Capcom still has no idea what to do with their IP. Barry and Jill’s frequent, badly voice acted query from day 1 is perfectly appropriate 19 years later and seems to be what Capcom employees are still asking each other when they have meetings.
What IS it?!