The dust has settled around E3, the hype has quietened and gamers are starting to break down and discuss the biggest announcements of the show.
Among a sea of some truly amazing announcements Sony and Capcom partnered up on stage to give us our first look at the chilling return to form for the Resident Evil series. But the initial reaction and the general consensus of Resident Evil fans seems to be muddy. Some fans are sharpening their pitchforks; outraged at the sudden change in gameplay style to First Person. Others are refreshed by the change and love that this new entry is as far away from the current Resident Evil style as it can be.
So understandably with a franchise that spans 20 years’ fans are very invested in the series to keep coming back, but in all honesty, we have been here before haven’t we?
And I know exactly the time you are thinking of; when Resident Evil went and pulled a complete 180 and we got Resident Evil 4. Well no…
You got to understand Resident Evil as a series has seen so many changes to formula that it is actually hard to pin down what Resident Evil is anymore. Resident Evil 1 and 2 where tense, survival horror games with smidgens of action put in for good measure. Your character did not feel like a super powered hero, more like vulnerable survivor, desperately counting bullets, meticulously storing healing items and frantically searching rooms for anything that could come in handy. The game made you second guess if you should drop that zombie in the hallway or try and run around it, out of fear of what could be waiting around the corner.
When did this all change? Well, Resident Evil 3. I know the game still had those elements to some degree but changes to the mechanics made you feel a lot stronger. You could dodge enemy attacks with well-timed button presses, create your own ammunition – eventually being able to create stronger bullets and you had access to some serious firepower fairly early on.
Technically speaking the third entry is when we started to dip our toes into a more action heavy Resident Evil game, and after Resident Evil Code Veronica, the series seemed to have stalled. We got titles like Resident Evil Outbreak and Dead Aim which were hit and miss, so Capcom took a huge risk allowing Shinji Mikami to create the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 4.
If any man was to put a fresh spin on the franchise it would be Mikami as the guy was pretty much Mr. Resident Evil, he directed the first entry, produced the 2nd and 3rd and had a hand in most of the main line series. With the release of 4 he was back in the director seat and to be honest, he breathed new life into the series.
This new life, re-energized the Resident Evil series which had become stagnated, however this new re-energizing of the franchise was fairly short lived as Capcom moved further and further away from action thriller / horror and more and more into the realm of action.
The rest is well known with the abysmal Operation Raccoon City and the disappointing Resident Evil 6 launching in the same year, Resident Evil became a big old joke. Revelations 1 and 2 where good attempts but where not nearly good enough to bring it back.
So in comes Resident Evil 7, with its bold new look and new focus on horror, and all I can say really to the people who are upset that Resident Evil is not like how it should be: Are you sure?
One thing is apparent during the demo for Resident Evil 7; they are looking directly at 1 and 2 for inspiration, the slower pace and high tension atmosphere is very much what made those games amazing. Also you are back to being a scared survivor, you are no longer this gun slinging badass throwing haymakers and suplexing zombies into the floorboards.
So to the people saying Resident Evil has changed, you are right in a sense, it is visually different, first person is a new frontier for the mainline series, but in all honesty in tone, I disagree.
If you need some further convincing let’s look at the opening of the demo, you are dropped into a strange house, no idea what is going on, where you are or what lurks in the dark with you. As you progress you get hints that this house has been host to some seriously messed up stuff and to me the one thing that called back to old school Resident Evil was not the helicopter with the Umbrella logo, but the moment you discover that hidden room in the starting area.
That scene screams classic Resident Evil, the moment you find something in the environment that reveals a secret room. It is so old school Resident Evil I find it perplexing that fans of the series who are not happy with this new direction don’t see that the change in view point is so miniscule when the game itself is so Resident Evil it hurts!
Now I am not going to shoot down all your arguments because I will miss third person purely because I like to see my character, Resident Evil characters have never been particularly well acted or fleshed out but they are always really cool and clearly resonate with fans as characters can become selling points to the game – gotta buy Resident Evil 6 because Leon and Chris are in!
However, that being said, Capcom are going in a new direction and more power to them, if you are afraid that this means you won’t get the games you want anymore; do not fret! Resident Evil 2 Remake is still in the works and still coming, the greatest action thriller of all time Resident Evil 4 is coming to current gen and if you are so inclined you can check out Umbrella Corps if you really want too. Capcom may have taken the main line series in a new look and made the changes a lot of us die-hard fans where wanting but they have not forgotten about the rest of you!
And in closing. Ask yourself did you really want another Resident Evil title like Operation Raccoon City? I thought not!