Capcom recently announced the Gamestop Exclusive Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Collector’s Edition that will run you $179.99 on either PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. So you can understand where i’m coming from, let me give you a rundown of what will be in the box.
- Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Base Game
- Mansion Music Box (8″ tall, 7.5″ long, and 8.5″ deep) that plays a sample of “Aunt Rhody” with accompanying LED effects
- Dummy Finger 4GB USB drive
- VHS Tape Box for the dummy Finger
- Exclusive Metal Case
- Exclusive Lithograph of the Baker family
- Creepy Note
- Premium Packaging
You may be seeing this and thinking “That’s not worth $180” and I can’t argue that. But at the same time I have a long standing history with the Resident Evil games that started in late 2002 or early 2003 and went on hiatus for about 2 years until late 2004. Is it Stockholm Syndrome at this point? There is a very good chance. Take a dive with me into the history, and my personal history, with the Resident Evil franchise.
IT ALL STARTED WITH A MOVIE
The first Resident Evil movie was released into theaters on March 12, 2002. That’s 6 years after the release of the first game, in fact 7 different Resident Evil games released before this movie with the Resident Evil remake for GameCube to release just 10 days after the movie. Being that I was 11 at the time, I didn’t know anything about Resident Evil, I had never even heard of it. Fast forward to its release on VHS, my mother decided to rent it, and at this point it was late 2002 or early 2003. She wasn’t afraid to let me watch almost anything considering at the age of 6 or 7 she had me sit down and watch Vampire Hunter D. I remember managing to watch most of the movie without it frightening me. How? It had green blood. For some reason the change in blood color made me able to withstand it, and this was my first real meeting with zombies. Years later I bought the movie on DVD and was surprised when I saw that the blood was red. I found out that when the movie released you had a 33% chance of getting a different blood color. It released with Red, Green, and I believe yellow.
IT TOOK UNTIL 4
In 2004 I still had never played a Resident Evil game despite loving the first movie and going to theaters on September 10th 2004 with my mother and my friend Kelsey to see Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Right around that time I heard that Resident Evil 4 would shortly be coming out for the Nintendo Gamecube. I looked into it and it really caught my attention. It is the first game I can ever remember pre-ordering (i’m sure there were others but i still remember walking into the store and reserving it) and it still has the most satisfying pre-order bonus I’ve ever received, a disc with trailers for RE, RE 0, RE 2, RE 3: Nemesis, RE Code: Veronica X, and RE4, as well as a playable demo for the title of pre-order. The demo contained the first little area in the game, the Village, and ended with the bell ringing. I could never beat that damn chainsaw wielder, no matter how many times I played thorough that demo. While we are on that subject, you know how you just can’t do something too many times other wise it just feels repetitive? The village portion of this game is something i could play over, and over, and over many times. There is something special about it and it really set the tone for the game.
Leon S Kennedy, one of the protagonists from Resident Evil 2, returns as the main character as he is charged with finding the presidents missing daughter and returning her home. He deals with villagers and soldiers infected by Plagas, an entirely new enemy into the series. This title did 2 very important things that have affected gaming as a whole for me. Firstly it solidified Leon as one of my favorite characters in gaming, a title he shares with only 2 other characters, the rebooted Lara Croft and Vincent Valentine from Final Fantasy 7. Most importantly, Resident Evil 4 was when the series signature gameplay started to change. Many people don’t know but RE4 started development in in 2000, and halfway through development they started over. The original design wasn’t thrown away at all, in fact they finished it and put a different title on it. The first draft of Resident Evil 4 was released under a title you may know, Devil May Cry. This goes to show how much they wanted to change up the process. RE4 as we know it today is actually the third draft of the game, the second draft was just known as The Hook Man Concept. The finished product is, in my opinion the perfect balance between what the series was, and what it would become. This made it easy for me to fall in love with the past and future releases. Resident Evil 4 went on to be released on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, PC, and Ipad. The only versions I don’t have are Ipad and Xbox one. I can safely name it as my number 3 favorite game of all time.
THE REST OF THE MOVIES
3 more live action movies have been released, Extinction, Afterlife, and Retribution, and the final film will be hitting theaters in January, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. These are well known for not being great adaptions of the game with many liberties taken. I can vouch, there are a lot done in the movies that aren’t faithful to the games. The story itself has moved far away from the games, but that’s not a bad thing. By changing the overall story, it makes it a lot harder to draw attention to similarities and differences from the game series. The first 2 movies are different but draw inspiration directly from the 1st and 3rd games in the series and include famous characters such as Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira. The second game, of which many believe to be the second best or arguably best game in the series is not reflected in film in any way. The 3rd film, Extinction, takes place in the mid west, when zombies have taken over the world and water has become so scarce that deserts have taken over major cities such as Las Vegas. Claire Redfield is in this film for the first time in the cinematic universe. None of these games have had stories even remotely like this. The 4th movie, Afterlife, again deviating from any story the games have touched upon, was the introduction of the famous Chris Redfield and what may be the most notorious name from Resident Evil out side of the Umbrella Corporation, Albert Wesker. It also introduced enemies from the fifth game in the series. The 5th movie, Retribution introduced the biggest cast of characters known from the game series, including Leon Kennedy, Berry Burton, and Ada Wong, as well as introducing the Plagas for the first time. The movies aren’t great, and they did a terrible job of bringing Leon to the big screen, but they will always have a place in my heart. They are guilty pleasure movies and I watch all of them multiple times a year.
The CGI movies out of Capcom’s film division are a whole different story. Because they are internally done and affiliated with the people who head the games, the CGI movies Degeneration and Damnation have wonderful stories and fit well into the world the games have created. Degeneration starts Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy as the T Virus is let loose in an airport, but it appears even more is at stake. Damnation stars Leon Kennedy and Ada Wong as Las Plagas is introduced into a war torn European city. The writing in these movies really brings out the characters we know and love, unlike those portrayed in the live action films. These CGI films are something I watch many times a year and I never get tired of them. Between the live action and CGI films, I probably watch over 200 or 3oo minutes of Resident Evil goodness (and badness, is that a word? It is now) per year. A new animated film, Resident Evil: Vendetta, will be released next year and brings Chris Redfield to the animated movies for the first time. You’re damn right i’ll watch it the second it’s available.
THE REST OF THE GAMES
Not all the games have given me great stories or excessive fun, but most have given me memories I can still sit here and see plain as day. See, here is the problem with the games, some of them have been very good and made excellent use of puzzles and environments while other were dull with boring stories and not that fun to play. But I played them. Take the RE: Outbreak games for PlayStation 2 for example. Thankfully i had the PS2 network adapter for Monster Hunter, so I could easily start Outbreak File 1. There was only one problem, the game wasn’t that great. But it was still Resident Evil so I went through it.
I have the original first Resident Evil but i’ve never played it, I’ve only played the REmake on Gamecube and later on PlayStation 4. It was an amazing game, more beautiful than it rightfully should have been. Starting off the series with the outbreak at Spencer Mansion, the original was a pioneer in many ways, especially terribly acted live action cut scenes (not in the REmake). The second game introduced us to series favorites Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield as new members of the Raccoon City police department on their first day on the job which also happens to be the day the zombies over run the city. The third game, RE3: Nemesis sees the return of Jill Valentine and newcomer Carlos Oliveira as they attempt to escape the city and run into Umbrella’s worst creation yet. Skipping 4 (I think I talked about it enough) Resident Evil 5 is where the series starts to take a more action oriented approach and the reviews started to suffer. Set in Africa, it was also the first time Co-op was introduced into a numbered entry into the series. Then Resident Evil 6 came out……, see I was a fan of Resident Evil 5 so i was more than happy to go to the midnight release of Resident Evil 6. The game had 3 campaigns (and one hidden one) so naturally when I got home I started up the Leon Campaign, and it was pretty good. Had that creepy vibe to it that I was used to as a fan of the Resident Evil Games. This is the first game in the series where you get to move around while shooting, previously while shooting, your feet were planted. I finished the Leon campaign and that’s where the game took a downturn. You see, Resident Evil 6 has an identity crisis.Is it a survival horror or an action shooter. It tried to make everybody happy and in turn made nobody happy. I put it a specific way, Its actually a good 3rd person shooter game, but it has the mistake of having “Resident Evil” in the title.
They also released MANY side games in the series. Everything from the online co-op RE: Outbreak titles, to the lightgun shooters of RE: Survivor and the RE Chronicles games, to th e online competitive shooter Umbrella Corps. As you can imagine, Some of these are really well done, and
some most of them are on the weak side of the spectrum. The Resident Evil Revelations series is well regarded as solid entries into the series. They brought more of a horror feel back to a series that had lost its touch. On the other end of the spectrum we have games like RE: Operation Raccoon City and Umbrella Corps. In Operation Raccoon City you play as a crack team of Umbrella Operatives. The game is less than good and is very repetitive. W also have Umbrella Corps. which is a third person multiplayer competitive shooter set in the Resident Evil Universe. Yes, you read that right. 2 teams of Umbrella Operatives fight to either take objectives or rack up the most kills. I personally love this game but I accept that the community at large thinks it is one of the worst RE games to ever be released.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND WHY RESIDENT EVIL IS SO IMPORTANT TO ME
The Resident Evil series of games led Survival horror in a new direction and along the way lost itself. Many of the series staples have become lost or changed along the way, and often not for the better. Umbrella Corporation got scrambled and ended up becoming Tricell, Chris lost his smarts and started punching boulders, and zombies stopped being slow moving horde like menaces and became rebel fighters shooting at you. The live action movies didn’t fare any better. Starting out with the unsettling creepy terror that was expected, it evolved into an end of the world scenario with clones, zombies with guns, and a scary number of people asking “Why” for so many different reasons.
So why? Why do I still love this series so much? I can obviously understand the all the criticism the franchise has received, and I agree with all of it. Yet I can’t deny the impact it has had on me, my gaming interests, and my life. As I type this i’m on a diet to lose weight because i’m tired of being heavy and slow. So when I first watched Resident Evil, I got my first real dance with zombies, and there was one thing I instantly noticed. Their speed, or more specifically, their lack there of. They are scary in hordes, but for the first time, I found a creature that can go bump in the night that I could actually get away from. And to me, I didn’t see Resident Evil and think of zombies, I saw zombies and thought of Resident Evil. Zombies became my favorite creature of fear and remains it to this day, and while there are many more zombie movies that do the creature better service than RE does (namely Diary of the Dead and 28 Days Later), I still can’t see one with out thinking of this series. Playing the games makes me feel an excitement that almost no other series can give. As I am currently replaying Resident Evil 6 on PS4, I sit and think “This campaign sucks”, and “What the hell happened to this game?” yet i play it and feel excited at every level. Has the series gone downhill? Yes. Is my love most likely the result of Stockholm Syndrome? Most definitely. But hopefully Resident Evil 7 can get the series back on track. Hopefully it can bring us peace and love again.
On January 24th, we’ll find out!
PS – If you are interested in it, I would be glad to do a full timeline of the Resident Evil Franshise. Just let me know!!