Resident Evil – What IS it?

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As of late, 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 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.

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:

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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.

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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?

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Sidenote, what fake build of RE6 is this screenshot taken from? The game does not look this good on absolute ultra graphics on PC.

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?!

Resident Evil 6: Post Gameplay Impressions

Yesterday, for those of us who do own a 360 and bought the Resident Evil 6 demo in April (Hey, it came with a free copy of what was actually one of the first good Capcom games in a long time: Dragon’s Dogma), yesterday, July 3rd marked the first early access to this small glimpse of this Autumn’s new “Resident Evil” game. Quotation marks necessary, I’m afraid, because as I have said many times; Resident Evil, as long as it is legally in the hands of Capcom, is irredeemable, and thus does not deserve the title.

People will argue with me that Resident Evil 4 did not ruin the franchise – by saying things like “The game had to evolve to keep up with modern trends. People wouldn’t want to shoot slow ass zombies now.”  In that respect, they’re right. The camera angles, the controls, the enemies from the old games: all of these things were the idiosyncrasies that defined the first 6 “canon” games. Again, I use quotations in lieu of visible air quotes, mostly because I am shirtless and have no interest in putting on a shirt for the purposes of doing a video blog. If Resident Evil 0 canonically makes any sense, then I’m the POTUS. The remake fits in those air quotes as well, but for the most part the changes are legitimate.

However, this is nothing but a third person shooter. It doesn’t even belong in a sub-genre. Any game that doesn’t belong in a sub-genre or merit its own, isn’t distinctive enough to be worth it.

So, I downloaded this demo pretty much immediately when I returned home (don’t worry where I was, just gone for a while) and like many other people I had mixed expectations, most of them leaning towards the fact that this game is going to be equally, if not more, terrible than Resident Evil 5. Suffice it to say that my opinion is largely unchanged and I am not impressed with such a small demo. There are a few things I will touch on, though.

1) Laser sight vs laser dot:

This is the laser sight and dot combination from RE5:

Hey look, I can see what it’s pointing at

Makes sense, right? Well, in RE6, you have two options: You can have a laser sight, which shows the entire beam like RE4 and 5 did, or, you can have a dot, which only shows the dot. And also very annoyingly shows the reticle, which is probably disable-able when the game comes out, or I’m just too stupid to find that option. In my experience, and I apologize because playing the demo for more than 25 minutes was a task because it didn’t last more than 15 (had to throw in some co-op), with the full beam on, you pretty much can’t see the actual dot. I suppose this isn’t a big issue but I personally like to see the beam just because it makes it feel more like the last two games. Sorry I can not find a good RE6 beam picture because there isn’t one, and I don’t feel like hooking my crap back up to take a bad Droid photo of what I’m talking about.

Here’s the RE6 dot, I think:

I can...kind of see it

I can…kind of see it

2) Ada Wong.

She’s not even in the demo but, are you kidding me? Look at this trash. 

Now, look at her in Operation Raccoon City (far from the pinnacle of artistic examplefor Resident Evil but it’s still illustrative of the point). If you only compare them for about 2 seconds, they do look kind of similar. It may just be the texture and lighting difference but please tell me how Ada Wong looks remotely as sultry, or badass, in the new game. I just don’t see it. That is aside from her sudden  apparent descent into a full-fledged villain rather than just a nuisance in RE2, ORC, and RE4.

3) Headshots.

Now, see, Capcom was all “We’re bringing back the horror!” and it looked as if Tall Oaks would actually deliver on that promise. Trust me when I say that it doesn’t. However, that judgement may be premature because the Leon section of the demo was just terrible and shouldn’t have even been in the demo, if they really wanted to sell their actual fans. Ninety-nine percent of the Leon demo section is you being forced to creep through dark hallways with absolutely no items, no threats, and no scares. Only in the last 15 seconds do you actually encounter a zombie and even then, you hardly have to shoot any of them. Anyway, I have digressed.

The point of bringing back T-virus zombies was to be old-school. Everyone who played old-school thought “Sweet, I can finally shoot them in the head!”. No. You can’t. When you played the old games you had to shoot some of them 11 or so times because you just couldn’t aim at their head. Well, don’t worry folks. Shooting them in the head still does not kill them instantly 100% of the time, despite Leon telling Helena not 2 minutes before you encounter the first zombie to “Shoot them in the head.” I shot some of them in the head, they looked at me and said “Whatchu doin!?” and then I shot them in the head a few more times.

Here’s the kicker. The juevos (Spanish for balls, I know, I don’t care what they’re called in this game) can take one headshot and die instantly. They aren’t even T-virus. These guys can’t? Poppycock.

4) Controls.

My second biggest problem with this “game”, aside from the obvious story/character rapage and the blitzkrieg strategy Capcom thinks is going to distract people [Three mediocre campaigns isn’t going to equal one good game, buddy. You should realize that.], is the control scheme. In order to fit in these “modern” Gears of War/every other 3ps conventions into an old format, Capcom has raped the controls. Listen Capcom, I’m not 12 anymore. My reflexes and my muscles and my memory are getting suckier by the week here in the late 20’s. Running is pretty much the same controls. Dodging, three button combo. I’m sure I’ll get used to these controls but, compared to the cut and dry and contextually appropriate controls from RE5, they’re kind of daunting. This of course comes with being able to dual wield, mobile shoot, take cover anywhere, and do a lot of things you couldn’t before. Time will tell.

5) GUI.

We all know that innovation is necessary for every single game that gets made, otherwise who would buy shit that is based on a tried and true, solid formula? No one, obviously [See: sarcasm]. The first 7 or 10 Biohazard games (excluding the rails and FPS) used the same inventory system. Nothing was wrong with it, at all. It worked. RE4 introduced the next best thing, which was to lug around an attache case bigger than your character, at all times, with all your items. This worked perfectly as well, in the context, because RE4 was an action game and didn’t require puzzle solving or strategic acquisition of items the way the old games did (I often refer to the older games as Super Subspace Item Management Simulator…with Zombies). RE5 went a little more old-school in that you only had 9 inventory slots, much closer to the old 6 or 8 slots you could have.

Evidently, RE6 has gone with the RPG “Pick up all the things” element, and put in an abysmally shitty inventory GUI [at least in appearance] to handle this . It looks like it belongs in Deus Ex. The GUI is all digital-y and just looks completely out of place. Navigating it correctly also has a slight learning curve, as does switching between the three stories because the controls are named somewhat differently. For example, I picked up a green herb once as Chris and had no idea where it went, as it wasn’t in my inventory. I would far prefer either the RE4/oldschool inventory where you had a space limitation and had to actually manage the items yourself, rather than go through a horizontal list. I would even prefer the RE5 inventory that you had to use while being attacked in real time. This one is just weird.

This is the least Deus Ex part.

Call me resistant to change or whatever – of course I am. There are things that don’t need to be changed. Supposed innovation for the sake of arbitrary innovation is not only unethical and pathetic, it’s annoying. Resident Evil got where it was by repeating the same formula over and over – not by being new and fresh. There never would have been an RE4 for all these new kids to worship if not for the eight exact same games that came out beforehand.

All in all there is one overall thing that is just thoroughly disappointing, and I’ve seen other people say this as well.  Chris’s campaign, as the demo makes it seem, is so far the best overall experience. It’s entirely a shooter. There is no survival horror whatsoever in it, and that is bad. If the most successful part of this title is the part that is pure shooter, well then, Resident Evil officially no longer has any component of survival horror.

I’ve also seen and heard a lot of people walk away from E3 with the impression that this game is too much like ORC. It isn’t. There are some differences: ORCs movement is very smooth. That’s one of the few good things you can say about it. RE6 still has tank crappy movement like RE5 and 4 and the other 10 games before them. It’s just improved to be about as shitty as Gears of War. Unlike ORC, however, when you shoot things, they do seem to die more or less (other than flyers and bosses like the Gears of War nemesis in Jakes campaign.) You can’t say as much for ORC. While ORC was fun, it was by no means a solid, or even really playable game. As BrokenGamezHD said on YouTube (I removed the link, because they axed his account for some dumbass reason and it’s not on his new account), the game is a technical failure.

The game is just a technical failure. All the right pieces are there, they were just put together wrong. The most obvious flaw is that the guns just do not work – you can shoot a human in the head 8 times with a .50 Barrett and they will survive. If a .50 Barret round came within FEET of  you, it would rip your arm or your head off. Forget actually hitting you, in which case your head would explode just like the skitter heads exploded this week in Falling Skies when they got sniped with a Barrett.

So, fortunately, RE6 is not broken like that game is, which is the least you can expect from Capcom – as shitty as their games have been, they are better than Slant Six.

There is also one great feature that you can find in some modded L4D games – when you fall over and are dying in RE6, you can crawl and shoot. Default L4D games do not let you move when you are down, but many modded games do, and this is a great feature Capcom didn’t overlook. It’s not much, especially in L4D when 13495060428 zombies and specials are pounding you, but it’s something. It lets you feel like  you’re playing.

Overall I am unfortunately going to go so far as to buy the collectors edition, but I have no hopes that this game will be worth even a 10th of that price. I feel that Resident Evil should have just died in 2005. Capcom repeatedly said they wanted to replace it with Dead Rising, which is by no means a survival horror game, but the fans wouldn’t let that happen because Resident Evil has a 15 year, 20 or so game history compared to boring Frank West. Meanwhile, Alan Wake and Alan Wake American Nightmare, not to mention Silent Hill and Amnesia, have completely blown Resident Evil out of the water. Alan Wake may be a “psychological horror” game but it is far more survival horror than Resident Evil at this point (though technically the defining principle is the availability of supplies, which Alan Wake often gives you too many of, but gives you absolutely none just as much of the time.)

I’m sorry to say but Alan Wake, as a horror franchise, has impressed me in 2 short years far more than Resident Evil has in the same amount of time. This is coming from a rabid RE fan who has defended this series for 15 years and enjoyed most of them. Capcom needs to turn to people who actually know what they’re talking about, from experience – the fans. They aren’t doing so, and probably never will.

Resident Evil 4 HD

So I finally downloaded Resident Evil 4 HD a couple of weeks back (I have yet to get CVXHD), and have started playing it. Until then I refused to spend 20 dollars (despite buying an average of 14 games a month for the past three months, definitely more than 20 bucks a month) on a game I already have played on three systems – PC, GC, and PS2 (not in that order). Overall I would say I am both pleased and disappointed.

On Achievements:

The game only has 12 achievements. In comparison Resident Evil 5 has 70 achievements, though it was made 5 years after Resident Evil 4 and so better geared for the newer achievement-centric gaming of this decade.  I was honestly hoping for more achievements. All of the same achievements from Resident Evil 5, more or less. I guess that maybe, because of the age of the game, it was hard to actually go in and implement event based achievements, rather than objective based achievements.

For example, all of the achievements for RE4 are based on progress in the game. Beat a certain boss, beat the game, get all the bottlecap figures. Resident Evil 5 has these as well, but also has events – kill three zombies with a gas fire, kill a zombie with a transformer, kill a zombie with a rotten egg, etc. I will forgive Capcom and simply mark these off as a technological implausibility for the game. Except that even Assignment Ada and Separate Ways and Mercs don’t have achievements – which is a huge disappointment.

On Gameplay:

The game plays exactly the same as GC and PS2, as expected. Who would want it to play differently? . It may just be because it has been so long since the original, but I honestly find the game significantly harder than the original. This is also what makes the HD release so good – it is challenging and it is actually scary (as much as it can be when you’ve replayed it to death.)

This caused me to realize the actual reason Resident Evil 4 and 5 suck so bad on anything but the first play. The initial play-through of the game is like all other Resident Evils. You have no ammo, your guns suck, you are fighting 18 million zombies, and you have little health or health items. When you beat the game and play again, it’s easy. You have ammo, you have abundant herbs, and your guns destroy everything.

I actually find myself saying expletives when I’m in a challenging situation in the game, such as every time there’s a garrador, or every time I’m low on supplies and have to fight more than one person. Once you get to 3 – 1, the entire game takes a giant leap in difficulty.

I think part of the reason I was so hesitant to buy this game is that I have no interest in it’s replay value. I’ve played and beat and unlocked everything in Resident Evil 4 so many times in the past 6 years that I can’t deal with it anymore – who cares? I literally only have this game because I sold my Gamecube, my friend lost my PS2 copy, and it has achievements – and playing on PC blows.

There is one thing I hate so much that it’s worth mentioning:
Randomly spawning enemies, usually behind you. 

I don’t recall whether this happened in the other iterations of this game, or not; It’s fucking horrible. A great example of this is Chapter 3 – 1, when you must defend Ashley as she turns levers. There is a small door down the ramp, directly across from the door you use to enter the room. Inside this room are two pressure switches you must use – with the incredibly innovative partner controls of “Wait!” to get Ashley to stand still. Really Leon? Is she a dog? You couldn’t say “Hey can you stand on this and stop following me like a jackass for a second?”

So anyway, there is one way into this room – a door. I’m chilling, I ran in here for dear life because I ran out of shit, while killing endlessly spawning ganados. I say “Heeeeeyy I’ll be safe in here, thank god.”

So what happens?

Motherfucking “Ha I spawned behind you!” ganados, that’s what happens. I say to the zombie

“What the fuck!? How did you get in here? I’M WATCHING THE ONLY DOOR!”

He just responds to me with a blank “Cogedlo.” Whatever, you dick.

On Graphics

The HD release is basically, from what I can tell, a proper port of the GC game, which they have not done until now. The PS2 port looked awful, and the PC port was 100x worse than the PS2 port (funny, I know.) With mods the PC version had the ability to look good, if you could get them to work, and in some places looks better than this release. The textures basically look sharpened and cleaned up, as well as some of the camera work, but the game really is just the GameCube version with some higher resolution textures and slightly higher overall pixel resolution.

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