HAPPY 21st ANNIVERSARY to Resident Evil 2!
With the launch of the Resident Evil 2 Remake within our sights, and to celebrate the incredible history of the Resident Evil series, we’re going to take you on a journey. it start right at the very beginning in 1996 when were first started our adventure through Raccoon City, right up until the present day and the glorious-looking remake of Resident Evil 2.
History of Resident Evil
Few video game franchises can boast at having such a profound impact on the industry as Resident Evil. Although never one to adhere to the concept of modern game design – from the static, pre-rendered backdrops to fidgety, restrictive control mechanics – Capcom’s zombie masterpiece has become synonymous with horror gaming for many years, spawning countless spin-offs, side-stories, merchandise and a movie trilogy, calving out a tenaciously loyal fan base in the process.
Owning much of its inspiration to legendary film maker George A. Romero, along with early video game horror entries Sweet Home and Alone in the Dark (the latter of which coined the term ‘ambient survival horror’) Resident Evil offered a critical turning point for the ailing brand, propelling the now infamous Survival Horror genre onto the mainstream consciousness and going on to accumulate a staggering sales globally.
With the release of the hotly anticipated Resident Evil 2 Remake this month, and as a fan of the series for since the beginning, I felt obliged to take a look back at this venerable franchise from its inception in 1996 through to present day, offering our readers a comprehensive look at each major canonical entry in the series, along with delving into some of the projects that never saw the light of day.
With that said, strap on your Shotgun, bag a fresh pack of underwear and fork out a First-Aid Spray as we delve into the History of Resident Evil.
Resident Evil (a.k.a. Biohazard)
Release Date: March 22, 1996 (Japan), March 30, 1996 (North America), August 1, 1996 (Europe)
Platform: Sony PlayStation
Global Sales: 2,750,000
Directed by a then relatively unknown Capcom designer named Shinji Mikami, Resident Evil made its Japanese debut under the name of Biohazard on March 22, 1996 exclusively for Sony’s PlayStation console. Originally conceived as a First Person Shooter, the game’s concept endured several transitions throughout its lengthy development cycle, with early designs toying with the idea of a two-player cooperative mode via link cable. Said Mikami: “I thought about it for the first Resident Evil, but we gave up – technically it wasn’t good enough.” After flirting with these ideas for a while, the young Capcom producer eventually plumped for the single player horror romp we know and love today.
Set in the fictional mid-western town of Raccoon City on July 24, 1998, Resident Evil kicks off following the insertion of the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) Alpha Team in nearby mountainous region of Raccoon Forest, who have been dispatched to locate and rescue the missing Bravo Team. The Bravos had been instructed to conduct a search of the area earlier in the day for missing hikers following an onslaught of several cannibalistic homicides in the region over the past few months.
Lead by Captain Albert Wesker, the Alphas (consisting of Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton, Joseph Frost and Brad Vickers) eventually locate the Bravos’ missing chopper, only to find it abandoned with no discernible trace of the team nearby. Upon conducting a search of the area on foot, the team are attacked by a pack of large, dog-like creatures that overwhelm and kill Frost, prompting Vickers to flee the scene, leaving them stranded. Spying a mansion in the middle of the forest, the remaining Alphas leg it through the woods and scramble inside the ominous structure, where the game begins.
Resident Evil offers the quintessential Survival Horror experience – a sublime cohesion of puzzles, combat and exploration, combining intricately designed pre-rendered backdrops with fully 3D rendered characters, creating an (at the time of release) unprecedented level of immersion and fear among players. Taking control of either Redfield or Valentine, player find themselves battling against legions of Biological Weapons including zombies, giant snakes and infected canines as they explore the mansion and its nearby grounds in an attempt to uncover the twisted, malevolent operations of a pharmaceutical giant known as the Umbrella Corporation.
Along the way, players are required to solve a vast array of brain-teasing riddles and puzzles, while carefully managing ammunition and healing items in order to progress through the game in one piece. Secreting gut-wrenching terror and suspense from every pore, Resident Evil also boasted ample replay value, featuring multiple endings, additional costumes and extra weaponry. Marred only by a cringe-worthy script, Capcom’s original masterpiece captivated audiences around the globe and ultimately secured its place as one of the best selling PlayStation games of its time.
Unsurprisingly, Capcom was quick to capitalize on the game’s success, and the following year saw numerous ports including a release on PC and Sega Saturn. The former included sharper visuals, an uncut introduction sequence and a couple of new weapons, while the latter featured an all new enemy know as the ‘Tick’ (in reality a pallet swap of the Hunters), a second Tyrant to battle in Chris’s campaign, alternate costumes, and a Battle Mode.
Unlocked after completing the game, this Battle Mode mini-quest had players battling against various enemies – including a zombified version of the traitorous Captain Wesker – with limited ammunition and healing items in a battle against the clock.
A DS port, dubbed Deadly Silence, cropped up in 2006 and added in exclusive microphone and touch-screen functionality, along with fresh puzzles and all-new first person knife battles. An ambitious GameBoy Color iteration was also planned, but was ultimately canceled due to Capcom’s dissatisfaction with the port in 2000.
Resident Evil Dash (a.k.a. Biohazard Dash)
Release Date: N/A (Canceled)
Biohazard Dash (commonly abbreviated in the west as RE Dash) represented Capcom’s first attempt at creating a follow up to the original Biohazard, conceived (and subsequently canned) prior to the announcement of Resident Evil 2 in late 1996.
Sadly, the Japanese software giant neglected to divulge many details on the project before it was shelved, though what we do know is nonetheless an intriguing piece of Resident Evil’s illustrious history. According to Capcom’s Yoshiki Okamoto, Dash was a spin-off game centered in and around the crumbling ruins of the destroyed Spencer Mansion, with players hopping into the shoes of two new characters of unknown identity.
In addition to featuring bizarre, plant-like monstrosities to battle against (which may have been an early conception of RE2’s “Ivy” BOWs), the game featured a host of new areas to explore, with many of the original mansion’s rooms were tweaked in order to accommodate the flow of time (Dash allegedly took place three years after RE1). In particular, Okamoto noted that the action would have kicked off in a hidden location found underneath the Tyrant’s incubation room in the laboratory.
Dash was an interesting concept, but one that would have ultimately pushed development of Resident Evil 2 back some time, which resulted in the decision to scrap the title indefinitely. Rest assured, if we manage to dredge up anymore details on this elusive gem we’ll be sure to update this article for your viewing pleasure.
Resident Evil 1.5 (a.k.a. Biohazard 1.5)
Platform: Sony PlayStation
Release Date: N/A (Canceled)
Capcom officially announced its sequel to Resident Evil at the Tokyo PlayStation Expo in September 1996, unwrapping fresh details and screens on what would ultimately become the first incarnation of Resident Evil 2. Reputedly shelved at the 80 percent complete mark in early 1997, the colloquially dubbed RE 1.5 incorporated a host of features not seen in the final product, ranging from new gameplay additions and enemies to alternate locations and all-new story paths. Unsurprisingly, the project maintains a cult following among hardcore fans, many of which have petitioned (unsuccessfully) to have the game released over the past few years.
Similar to the final version of the game, Resident Evil 1.5 takes place in a zombie-infested Raccoon City some months after the events of the original Survival Horror classic. Unlike the commercial release, however, the Umbrella Corporation had already disbanded, with the surviving members of S.T.A.R.S. hospitalized following their horrific ordeal in the Spencer mansion. Players are able to control one of two characters: rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy, or fellow student and biker aficionado, Elza Walker. While Kennedy made the transition to the final version, Walker ultimately failed to make the cut and was subsequently replaced by Claire Redfield, making 1.5 an all the more intriguing package.
Unlike the first game, 1.5 had both characters starting off in entirely separate locations – Kennedy would find himself on the roof of the Raccoon Police Department (R.P.D.), while Walker would start off at ground level. Regardless, the R.P.D. building represents one of the most significant areas where the game deviated from its successor. Whereas the precinct in the final build was converted from an old museum, 1.5’s cop shop boasted a distinctly modern aesthetic, featuring slick interiors dotted inconspicuously with fax machines, discarded coffee cups and related paraphernalia – a far cry from the final build’s marriage of dusty antiquities and grand halls. A few areas did manage to survive the transition to the retail copy, however, most notably the morgue, the basement weapons storage and the prison cells.
Nonetheless, many of the game’s latter stages – such as the sewer and factory – deviated considerably from their final incarnation in terms of overall layout, with only Birkin’s underground laboratory baring any resemblance to the final copy.
Speaking in a 1996 interview, Capcom’s Noritaka Funamizu commented: “Resident Evil 2 [1.5] is about one and a half times bigger than the original. The room sizes are about the same as before – there are just more of them. And there’s a far greater number of enemies too.”
1.5 also featured a number of familiar faces carried over to the final version, including Chief of Police Brian Irons, the Birkin family, gunshop owner Robert Kendo (a.k.a. John), R.P.D. officer Marvin Branagh and Ada Wong (then known as Linda), However, aside from the Birkin’s, the majority of the supporting cast had substantially different roles than in Resident Evil 2. Kendo, for example, would no longer perish at the hands of zombies at the beginning of the game and instead aided Walker in her quest, alongside Sherry Birkin.
Branagh on the other hand became a vital component in Kennedy’s scenario, and was playable for a short portion of the game, as opposed succumbing to the affects of the T-Virus in the final copy. Meanwhile, the unscrupulous and mentally unstable Chief Irons of Resident Evil 2 assumed a far more hospitable role in 1.5 and is encountered wounded in his office, though much of his involvement in the game remains unknown. Rounding out the prototype version’s cast is Roy, a fellow member of the R.P.D., though little is known as to what role he served in the game.
Elsewhere, aside from the ubiquitous zombie hordes, 1.5 boasted an impressive line-up of twisted monstrosities, including but not limited to zombie dogs, infected crows and giant spiders. More noteworthy, however, are the legions of beasts that failed to make it into the commercial release, including mutated gorillas, a human-arachnid hybrid known as the ‘Man Spider,’ and a slightly different take on the mutated Dr. Birkin.
“In Resident Evil all the zombies moved in the same way and at the same speed. This time each of the zombies has its own pattern, so some will move slowly while others will suddenly pick up pace and start running at you – it’s to keep the player constantly on guard, and accentuate the element of surprise,” noted Funamizu. “But, since we had to reduce the number of polygons allocated to each character almost by half in order to compensate, it’s been quite difficult maintaining the clarify and detail of each of the characters.”
Characters also boasted the ability to equip different types of clothing in order to bolster their defense against enemies, some of which limited or increased the amount of items you were able to carry. More emphasis was placed on depicting the effects of both your characters’ and enemy’s attacks than the final version, such as blood splattering on the player’s clothes after blasting an enemy with the Shotgun in close proximity, to tears appearing in both Kennedy and Walker’s outfits after accumulating a certain amount of damage. Furthermore, 1.5 also featured a couple of weapons that failed to make the commercial build, including hand grenades an assortment of automatic firearms.
Said Funamizu: “We’ve included different costumes for the two main characters, such as fire-resistant suits, and depending on which costume they are wearing, the number of weapons they can carry at any time will vary. Although there are roughly the same number of puzzles to be completed, they are much more obvious and realistic. That isn’t to say they’re easier, though.”
Ultimately, in early 1997, the company issued a press release confirming that the game would be pushed back due to an extended development period, ostensibly marking the point in which the team decided to can the project and start over. It later transpired that Mikami-san felt the sequel was ‘too similar’ to the first game, while a scathing review of the game’s script only exacerbated things for the young Capcom producer, forcing his team back to the drawing board.
Resident Evil: Director’s Cut (Biohazard: Director’s Cut)
Release Date: September 25, 1997 (Japan), September 30, 1997 (North America), October 12, 1997 (Europe)
Platform: Sony PlayStation
Global Sales: 1,130,000
With a full blown sequel over six months away and Capcom intent on getting a Resident Evil title in the shops for Christmas 1997, the company decided to repackage the original survival horror classic under the Director’s Cut moniker as well as offer a 20-minute playable demo of Resident Evil 2 to give players a hands-on sneak peak at the eagerly anticipated follow-up.
Resident Evil: Director’s Cut offers three flavors in which to plow through the inaugural horror romp, namely Standard, Training and Advanced. While the former two are merely standard ports of the title (with ammo quantity and enemy resilience tweaked for beginner mode), Advanced offers some noticeable differences when compared to the original outing, chiefly alternate camera angels and new costumes for Rebecca Chambers, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine.
The classic S.T.A.R.S. Beretta M92F was also modified to pack considerably more punch than its former incarnation, splattering zombie brain matter across the décor and stopping fast moving enemies in their tracks. Advanced mode also includes one new enemy, coming in the form of deceased Bravo Team member, Forest Speyer, who joins the ranks of the undead when you encounter his crow-pecked corpse on a wind-swept balcony. Furthermore, items are scattered in different locations while certain puzzles have been tweaked slightly, though the plot remains identical to its 1996 counterpart. Nonetheless, Director’s Cut proved popular among consumers, acting as an ideal bridge between the first game and its sequel, prompting Capcom to release a DualShock compatible version the following summer.
Resident Evil 2 (a.k.a. Biohazard 2)
Release Date: January 29, 1998 (Japan), January 21, 1998 (North America), May 8, 1998 (Europe)
Platform: Sony PlayStation
Global Sales: 4,960,000
After a turbulent development process, Capcom finally unleashed the sequel to its widely acclaimed horror outing in Japan and the U.S. in January 1998, with the European conversion shipping in all its uncut glory a few months later. Arriving on the scene amidst a wave of fan hysteria and lofty ambitious, Resident Evil 2 ultimately went on to become Capcom’s second best selling title of all time, shifting copies by the bucket load across the globe and delivering on seemingly insurmountable expectations.
The story picks up a few months after the events of the original game, taking place in the mid-western town of Raccoon City in September of 1998. Opening with a fully rendered introduction sequence, we’re quickly acquainted with the game’s two main protagonists: Leon S. Kennedy, a rookie cop arriving in town on his first day with the R.P.D.; and Claire Redfield, a university student who arrives in Raccoon investigating the sudden disappearance of her brother, Chris (star of the original Resident Evil). After rolling into town in separate locations, the pair is attacked by zombies and bump into one another before hot-wiring a police vehicle and heading for the Raccoon Police Department. Circumstances soon take a turn for the worse and they become separated prior to reaching their destination – thus begins the second chapter in the saga.
Juxtaposed with the original horror classic, it’s not hard to understand why Resident Evil 2 is such a significant leap over its predecessor. Despite offering only incremental upgrades to the basic formula, RE2 upped the game in just about every conceivable aspect, from the scope of the locations, the number of enemies on screen to the quality of the production values and ambitious plot line. The disparity between the environments compared to the original game are strikingly evident, with the dusty halls of the remote Spencer mansion giving way to the decaying, post-apocalyptic remains of a once bustling urban locale.
Combat introduced a fresh batch of new creatures, such as the skinless, humanoid BOWs known as Lickers, the hulking, relentless Mr. X and the sewer dwelling mutated crocodile. Meanwhile, Zombies primarily shuffled in ammo-depleting groups of up to half a dozen or more, often neglected to packing out tight corridors and trashed offices resulting in some decidedly tense encounters. Appropriately enough, the game boasts a heap of new weapons, including the sub machine gun and bow gun, along with the ability to upgrade existing firearms by obtaining custom parts. What’s more, each character has their own personal item, such as Kennedy’s zippo lighter or Redfield’s lockpick, with the pair also able to upgrade inventory capacity by equipping a sidepack. Unsurprisingly, many of these features would act as a template for future installments. Supporting characters Ada Wong and Sherry Birkin are also playable for a brief period during Kennedy and Redfield’s scenario, respectively.
Elsewhere, RE2’s ‘zapping’ system – allowing you to unlock two scenarios for each character – greatly expanded the game’s longevity beyond that of the original title, offering tweaked item/enemy placements, new cut scenes, additional boss fights and an expanded ending sequence. A grading system was also introduced, which scored your efforts based on completion time, special weapons used, number of saves and healing items consumed. Upon further dissection of the zombie sequel players can also discover a boatload of unlockable content, including hidden costumes, as well the introduction of mini games in the form of The Fourth Survivor (this also featured a comical take on the game in the form of Tofu, a sprite used for collision detection during development who comes equipped with only a combat knife for defense). RE2 also featured a special promotional effort in Japan in the form a live action commercial directed by legendary zombie film maker, George A. Romero, featuring Adrienne Frants and the late Brad Renfro as Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy, respectively.
Although a planned Sega Saturn conversion was ultimately scrapped, this didn’t stop Capcom from porting the game over to numerous platforms over the next couple of years, including PC, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and GameCube. Boasting crispier textures and smoother FMV, subsequent releases included an Extreme Battle Mode, new difficulty levels, as well as a gallery section letting you browse through various concept art and renders.
The Angel Studios-developed N64 iteration – while lacking the goodies seen on CD-based ports – included exclusive documents used to flesh out various character exploits (among which included Rebecca Chambers filing a report on Billy Coen from the then-unreleased RE Zero, plus Brad Vickers describing an encounter with RE3’s towering Nemesis), full analogue control, in addition to an item randomizer, offering further incentive to play through the game after completion. Impressively, the developers also managed to cram in all of the FMV’s from the PlayStation version onto a single cart – no mean feat considering the N64 utilized an inferior storage medium to that of Sony’s machine.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (a.k.a. Biohazard 3: Last Escape)
Release Date: September 22, 1999 (Japan), November 11, 1999 (North America), February 18, 2000 (Europe)
Platform: Sony PlayStation
Global Sales: 3,500,000
Originally conceived under the name of ‘Biohazard 1.9′, Nemesis serves as both a prequel and sequel to the events of Resident Evil 2, taking place 24 hours before and 48 hours after Leon and Claire’s exploits in the fall of 1998. As the final core entry in the series for the PlayStation, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis transports players back to the decaying remnants of Raccoon City under control of ex. S.T.A.R.S. operative Jill Valentine as she attempts to escape the metropolis in the wake of the T-Virus outbreak.
Having opted to stay behind in Raccoon to dig the dirt on Umbrella while her comrades head for the pharmaceutical giant’s headquarters in Europe, Valentine quickly becomes swept up in the ensuring outbreak that sees most of the city’s population transformed into flesh eating undead, and decides to make a last ditch attempt to break out of town before it’s too late. After a stunning intro sequence depicting the Raccoon Police Department’s last stand against the zombie hordes (interspersed with members of Umbrella’s Biohazard Countermeasure Service also fighting a losing battle against the undead), we take control of Valentine as she makes an explosive exit out of her apartment complex into Raccoon’s back alleys.
While this third installment in the critically lauded Survival Horror franchise is pretty much your standard RE affair, Mikami and his team applied several subtle, albeit crucial changes to the basic formula to inject a little more variety into the usual zombie bashing, herb ingesting proceedings. Aside from a handy 180 degree turn allowing players to quickly leg it in the opposite direction in times of danger, Nemesis introduced an all new dodge mechanic, allowing Valentine to deliver an offensive shove or evade an enemy’s attack at the press of a button (requiring immaculate timing on the player’s part – something of which isn’t easily achieved when surrounding by half a dozen rotting corpses).
Further tweaks reared their head in the ability to climb staircases without the monotonous loading sequence, along with chance to create your own ammunition by procuring various gun powder and mixing it with the ‘reloading tool.’ In a recurring theme, players would also briefly assume control of a second character later on in the game, namely fellow U.B.C.S. member, Carlos Oliviera, who is tasked with finding a vaccine for the T-Virus after Valentine is infected with the disease at the hands of the Nemesis.
While RE3 shipped on one disc containing a single campaign as opposed to its predecessor, the sequel greatly expanded Raccoon’s landscape, allowing players to traverse numerous back alleys and crumbling city streets, while also bumping into iconic structures such as the Clock Tower and Raccoon Hospital. The game’s aural presentation in particular was used to stunning affect here, with wails of hunger emanating from far off streets and winds gushing through dark alleys accentuating the feeling of terror and suspense at every corner – a solid testament to the fact RE’s scares weren’t just limited to tightly packed corridors and ominous mansions in the woods.
Series creator, Shinji Mikami, elucidates: “By using the city area, the map becomes bigger, and different types of environment can be used,” adding that the game is aimed specifically at those who were “very good at playing [Resident Evil 2].”
Naturally, as the western subtitle of the game implies, the main highlight comes in the form of Nemesis – a towering, inexorable bio-weapon that pursues Valentine throughout the entirety of the game. After promptly dispatching of fellow Alpha Team survivor Brad Vickers outside the R.P.D., this hulking, leather-clad monstrosity pitches up at various intervals (on occasion wielding a blood-encrusted Rocket Launcher, we might add) uttering a throaty “S.T.A.R.S.” before lunging its massive frame at you in a blood lust. Concurrently, the creature’s appearance frequently triggers the ‘Live Selection’ event, where the game prompts you to make on the spot decisions, such as taking shelter from the creature or utilizing something in the environment to incapacitate it momentarily. Appropriately enough, each decision you make ultimately has a knock on effect, opening up alternate pathways and scenes depending on your actions, affording ample replay value.
“We’ve also included a new kind of enemy, inspired by Terminator’s liquid metal cop…The enemy will keep following you, like in the movie. He will run at very high speed…This character will follow you in a certain stage and disappear,” said Mikami-san, while discussing the inspiration behind the Nemesis.
Elsewhere, the game also boasted a fair amount of unlockable goodness, including hidden costumes (one of which kitted Valentine out in the same outfit as the protagonist from Mikami’s inaugural Dino Crisis videogame), character epilogues, as well as the now infamous Mercenaries mini-game, which sees you controlling members of the U.B.C.S. in order to obtain cash to purchase infinite weapons. RE3 comfortably outsold the original Resident Evil, though ultimately fell short of its predecessor’s mammoth commercial success. Nemesis was subsequently ported to PC, Dreamcast and GameCube featuring sharper visuals and smoother FMV sequences.
Resident Evil: Survivor (a.k.a. Biohazard: Gun Survivor)
Release Date: January 27, 2000 (Japan) August 30, 2000 (North America) March 31, 2000 (Europe)
Platform: Sony PlayStation
Global Sales: Unknown (Japanese Sales: 0.29 million)
A radical departure for the series at the time of release, Resident Evil: Survivor controversially took the survival horror franchise into the first person perspective, transporting players away from the confines of Raccoon City onto the remote metropolis of Shena Island. You play as Ark Thompson, a fellow acquaintance of RE2’s Leon S. Kennedy suffering from a bout of amnesia following a near fatal helicopter crash moments before the game begins. With no knowledge of his identity or whereabouts, Thompson eventually regains his equilibrium and ventures out into the streets only to be confronted by hordes of shambling zombies and all manner of grotesque bio-weapons.
Survivor employs 3D backgrounds and regurgitates much of its assets from Resident Evil 2. As such, the game isn’t the prettiest in the series, and the first person perspective only works to exacerbate the aging hardware limitations of the PlayStation in the occasions where you get decidedly up close and personal with your assailants. The game plays out as a rudimentary shooter, featuring branching pathways and multiple boss encounters as you progress through each area. Although the usual array of healing herbs, multiple weapons and BOWs crop up, the item boxes have been completely removed from the equation, with Thompson able to lug a seemingly infinite supply of items about his person.
Despite a heavy reliance on old assets, Capcom did introduce a couple of intriguing foes to battle, notably the MP5-equipped Sweepers, along with the obligatory new Tyrant-esque final boss. Furthermore, attempts were made to flesh out Umbrella’s global activities, with files in the game revealing that the conglomerate had been kidnapping adolescents from the around the world in an attempt top fuel its mass production facility on the Island. Further documents seemingly confirm the survival of Resident Evil 3’s unscrupulous Russian U.B.C.S. grunt Nicholai Ginovaef, though fans largely attribute this to a mistranslation of the original Japanese text.
Although heavily criticized by the gaming press and fans alike, Survivor nonetheless deserves its recognition as part of the franchise. While the game’s canonicity has been a topic of heated debate over the years, Capcom cemented the game’s events as part of the core franchise in 2002’s Resident Evil Zero, when the incident at Shena Island was mentioned in the prequel’s opening sequence as one of the many locations in which the T-Virus leaked. While a sequel to Thompson’s exploits has yet to materialize, the Gun Survivor series continued for the next couple of years with Gun Survivor 2: Code Veronica and Resident Evil: Dead Aim, both available on the PlayStation 2.
Resident Evil Code: Veronica (Biohazard Code: Veronica)
Release Date: February 3, 2000 (Japan), February 29, 2000 (North America), May 26, 2000 (Europe)
Global Sales: 1,140,000
Resident Evil Code: Veronica X (Biohazard Code: Veronica Complete)
Release Date: March 22, 2001 (Japan), August 21, 2001 (North America), September 14, 2001 (Europe)
Platform: PlayStation 2
Global Sales: 1,400,000
Resident Evil Code: Veronica was the first entry in the on-going survival horror franchise to debut on a format other than PlayStation, having been unveiled at the tail end of 1998 as an exclusive for Sega’s 128-bit Dreamcast console. Taking place in December 1998 – three months after the events of RE2/3 – Code: Veronica reacquaints players with Claire Redfield as she infiltrates an Umbrella research facility in Paris on the continued hunt for her MIA brother Chris.
After a brief encounter with some of Umbrella’s armed goons, Redfield is apprehended by guards and imprisoned on Rockfort Island, home to one of Umbrella’s three founding families, the Ashfords. Inevitably, the complex is attacked by an unknown organization resulting in yet another T-Virus spill, allowing our young heroine to abscond from her dank prison cell and traverse Rockfort in the hopes of finding an escape.
Aesthetically the game boasted a number of advancements over the PlayStation games, chief among which included the presence of fully 3D rendered backgrounds, replacing the pre-rendered locales of past iterations. The added graphical prowess of Sega’s machine (itself a full generation ahead of Sony’s aging gray box) afforded various other visual delights including meticulously crafted facial animations, gritty textures and real-time shadows. Bizarrely, the sequel remained a decidedly less bloody affair than past games, removing the decapitations and limb dismemberment the series had become renowned for up until that point.
Disappointingly, the game failed to expand upon Nemesis’ innovations, removing the dodge mechanic and a couple of other inclusions, though did implement dual-pistol wielding, allowing gamers to target two separate enemies at once. A couple of interesting tweaks also managed to sneak in, such as the ability to wear a gas mask at certain points in the game, along with the chance to cap enemies in first-person view with the sniper rifle. Redfield is also aided in her quest by a second companion, Steve Burnside, a cocky, rambunctious 17-year-old also imprisoned at Rockfort who falls under the player’s control for a short period.
Interestingly, the developers seemingly toyed with the idea of offering some form of online multiplayer component, though this ultimately failed to transpire. “It can only be done by network. Even for Codename Veronica, networking is difficult,” explained the game’s producer, Shinji Mikami.
Crucially, however, Code: Veronica offered a meaty campaign, surpassing the 10 hour mark, putting it ahead of predecessors length by a considerable margin. Furthermore, the game signaled the return of Chris as a playable character, with gamers switching over to long missing Redfield sibling half way through the game while Claire remained cooped up in Umbrella’s Antarctic facility. While technically backtracking over locations previously traversed by his sister, Chris also had access to a few new areas and could arm himself with anything previously used by Claire via the item chests.
It’s also under Mr. Redfield’s command that the one of the series biggest revelations comes into light, namely the return of ex. S.T.A.R.S. captain Albert Wesker – perpetual sunglasses and all – who was presumed dead at the climax of the original Resident Evil. Elsewhere, the game also unleashed an obligatory batch of new enemies to combat including the lumbering, Tyrant-esque Bandersnatcher, contaminated bats, and the slithery, T-Virus infected Salamander known as the Albinoid. A couple of new armaments also cropped up, such as the explosive bow gunpowder rounds, dual sub-machine guns, Linear Launcher and the AK-47 Assault Rifle.
Fortunately, Code: Veronica doesn’t skimp on post-completion goodies, throwing in a Battle Mode and additional weaponry to enjoy, the former of which allowed players to chose from either a third or first person view, as well as taking control of Wesker (albeit non-canonically) for the first time in the series. Ultimately, while the game was met with favorable reviews by critics, Code: Veronica fared considerably worse at retail than previous installments, a factor primarily attributed to the Dreamcast’s substantially lower consumer base in comparison to Sony’s console.
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the franchise, Capcom launched an expanded port for PlayStation 2 (along with a Japanese-only Dreamcast version) in 2001. Dubbed Resident Evil Code: Veronica X, this update featured all-new cut scenes fleshing out Wesker’s role in the game, as well as an exclusive DVD narrated by the enigmatic villain himself detailing his exploits during the series up to that point. The port also included some minor graphical tweaks and, bizarrely, a new hairstyle for Steve Burnside, presumably in an effort to nullify comparisons between the floppy-haired hero and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Code: Veronica X was eventually ported to Nintendo GameCube in 2004.
Resident Evil (a.k.a. Biohazard)
Release Date: March 22, 2002 (Japan), April 30, 2002 (North America), September 13, 2002 (Europe)
Platform: Nintendo GameCube (exclusive until 2015), PS3, PS4, PC, Xbox One and Xbox 360
Global Sales: 1,350,000
Officially unveiled on September 13, 2001 as part of Capcom’s newly announced exclusivity contract with Nintendo, Resident Evil for GameCube – colloquially known as REmake – signaled a complete overhaul for the original survival horror classic, coinciding with the franchise’s sixth anniversary in March 2002.
Helmed by series mastermind Shinji Mikami, REmake reverted back to the static, pre-rendered shenanigans of past games, which, thanks largely to the GameCube’s graphical muscle, resulted in one of the most visually stunning games ever conceived. Backgrounds are meticulously realized and lack the staleness of past iterations thanks to the layers of FMV thrown in to simulate effects such as rushing water and swaying tree branches in the wind, while characters models are an equally sumptuous visual feast, with both enemies and humans alike casting ominous shadows across the game’s dark, decrepit environments. Nintendo’s purple box also facilitated dynamic particle affects such as blood, water and fire, with the near indiscernible line between pre-rendered and real-time a fine testament to the raw talent emanating from the Capcom code house.
Obstinately, Mikami and his team decided not to subject this updated horror fest to any significant changes, instead relying on the tired and tested formula of old, though the general consensus among hardcore fans was of unanimous praise despite some criticism from the mainstream press. REmake wasn’t completely devoid of tweaks, though, and the developers attempted to cater to those fed up with the series stagnant control scheme by way of an alternate way of manipulating your characters using the shoulder buttons of the Cube’s pad. Elsewhere, the introduction of defensive weapons was also employed for the first – and to date, only – time in the Survival Horror franchise, allowing players to tackle assailants with a variety of weapons in close proximity.
Aside from a major visual overhaul, the game also boasted several new areas to explore (graveyards, estate rooms, and an eerie stroll through Raccoon Forest) while existing locations received noticeable decor adjustments. The narrative also saw a completely new sub-plot in the form of the mournful tale of Lisa Trevor (daughter of the architect responsible for the construction of the Mansion) who was subjected to a variety of horrific experiments at the hands of Arklay researches since the late 1960s, eventually leading to the discovery of the G-Virus.
Furthermore, standard zombies would mutate into a fiercer, deadlier form of undead known as a Crimson Head unless properly disposed of, forcing you to either burn or decapitate the lumbering fiends. Meanwhile, although the core layout of the mansion and its grounds is largely unchanged, the puzzles were completely redesigned, adding a flavor of ambiguity to the brainteasers in comparison to their PlayStation counterparts. Aurally, Capcom tossed in a plethora of new sound effects and eerie compositions serving as the perfectly compliment to an already terrifying package, with a raging storm now taking place outside, punctuating the action with growls of thunder and eye-opening flashes of lightning. In typical fashion the dialogue remains inherently dodgy at times, though fortunately, Capcom saw fit to revise the script and hire new voice actors, substantially improving the overall plot making for a far more compelling tale. Capcom ported the game over to the Wii in late 2008 for Japanese audiences, with a North American release confirmed for 2009. The game finally arrived on PlayStation and Xbox formats in early 2015 with high-definition visuals.
Resident Evil Zero (a.k.a. Biohazard Zero)
Release Date: November 21, 2002 (Japan), November 10, 2002 (North America), March 7, 2003 (Europe)
Platform: Nintendo GameCube (exclusive until early 2016), PS4, PS3, PC, Xbox One and Xbox 360
Global Sales: 1,250,000
Originally penciled in for release on Nintendo 64 in 2000 (though rumored as far back as the late 90s), Resident Evil Zero quickly jumped ship to the GameCube after it became abundantly clear that the cartridge-based N64 was rapidly losing steam in the on-going console war as the millennium rolled by. After a lengthy hiatus, Capcom reiterated that the project would arrive on Nintendo’s purple box alongside REmake following the publisher’s exclusivity contract with Nintendo in fall 2001.
Zero takes place a full 24 hours before the events that unfold in the Spencer Mansion from the original Resident Evil, kicking off as the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team conducts an aerial patrol of Raccoon Forest before running into a spot of engine trouble, prompting an emergency landing in the woods. Hopping out of the chopper to take a peek at the surrounding area, The Bravos (consisting of Enrico Marini, Forest Speyer, Richard Aiken, Kenneth J. Sullivan, Edward Dewey, Rebecca Chambers, plus R.P.D. officer Kevin Dooley) soon discover an overturned military transport riddled with mutilated corpses.
Further investigation reveals that the vehicle was transporting a prisoner – ex. Marine Lieutenant Billy Coen – to the nearby Ragithon Base for execution following a court marshal that found the 26-year-old guilty of murdering 23 African civilians. Dewey deduces that Coen must have been responsible for the massacre to facilitate his escape route, prompting Captain Marini to order the Bravos to split up and locate the missing felon. Having separated from the rest of the team, the inexperienced Chambers stumbles across a seemingly abandoned train in the middle of the forest and decides to hop on board and check the place out, where she falls under your control.
A landmark release, Zero incorporated partner swapping for the first time in the series, allowing players to switch instantaneously between Chambers or Coen at the push of a button, letting you tackle the action solo or with backup. Furthermore, the ubiquitous item boxes of old were completely removed, forcing you to drop any unwanted items on the fly in order to free up storage space. The constant juggling between key items, ammunition and healing herbs became paramount to your survival and – while criticized for the copious amount of backtracking – accentuated the difficulty level and sense of realism more so than any previous installment, with ammo in particular an even rarer commodity. Conspicuously, the game omitted the defensive weapons and the Crimson Head zombies found in REmake.
Aside from the usual array of brain-busting puzzles, the prequel introduced a fresh load of BOWs to duke it out with, including an infected bat, humanoid leech, proto-tyrant and lurkers – a mutated amphibian with a penchant for using its tongue to gobble down prey in a single bite. A couple of new armaments also raised their head, including the Molotov Cocktail and Hunting Gun, while unlockable content ranged from alternate costumes, infinite weapons to a special Leech Hunter mini-game, requiring players to obtain as many leech charms as possible while battling various enemies.
Built on the same technology as the REmake, Zero featured intricately designed backdrops and character models, though the script contained a number of discrepancies with fans, most notably the absurd incarnation of the late Dr. James Marcus. Nonetheless, the game did establish some crucial facts surrounding the nefarious Umbrella Corporation, revealing that it was Marcus who created the T-Virus by combining the Mother Virus (also known as the Progenitor Virus) with Leech DNA, before company founder Oswell E. Spencer ultimately had him assassinated under the watchful eyes of fellow trainees Albert Wesker and William Birkin.
Uncompromising and often frustrating, Zero fortunately didn’t stray from its roots, providing an incredibly challenging, vigorous bloodbath of obtuse puzzles and BOW bashing. The title is also noteworthy of possessing the distinct honor of being the final canonical entry in the series to employ the ‘classic’ RE formula. For many doubters, however, the game’s aging control scheme compounded the proceedings to the point where some began to question the relevance of the series – after all, this was 2002, and the ‘Halo Generation’ was already in full swing. Zero was ported to the Wii in 2009 and arrived on current and last-generation PlayStation & Xbox consoles in early 2016 complete with a HD facelift.
Resident Evil 4 (a.k.a. Biohazard 4)
Release Date: January 27, 2005 (Japan), January 11, 2005 (North America), March 18, 2005 (Europe)
Release Date (PS2): December 1, 2005 (Japan), October 25, 2005 (North America), November 4, 2005 (Europe)
Platforms: Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, PC, Wii, PS3, Xbox 360 (PS4 & Xbox One coming summer 2016)
Global Sales: 3,600,000
Resident Evil 4‘s tumultuous development cycle can be traced back to early 2000 when the sequel was originally planned for release on Sony’s PlayStation 2 console, where an early conception of the game would ultimately go onto form the stylish hack ‘n slash adventure romp, Devil May Cry. Development eventually shifted to GameCube after Nintendo nabbed exclusive rights to the franchise the following year, with the first footage rearing its head in late 2002.
The title shifted through no less than three different versions, from the ‘Cradle of the Progenitor Virus’ concept – which had Leon Kennedy infected with the mother virus following an attempt to infiltrate Umbrella’s European headquarters – to the now infamous ‘Hookman’ version, which saw Kennedy battling supernatural enemies and hallucinating all manner of grotesque creatures inside a spooky mansion-like setting. An unseen concept also included the use of Zombies as standard enemies, though this was ultimately ditched before the public could clap eyes on it. More information on these early builds can be seen in our dedicated feature here. All of the above merely served as the precursor to March 2004 when the final version of the game was unveiled, signaling a drastic shift in focus for the long-running Survival Horror franchise.
Set in 2004 – six years after the destruction of Raccoon City – Resident Evil 4 reunited fans with Leon S. Kennedy, last seen escaping from the smoking ruins of the mid-western town at the end of Resident Evil 2 (or non-canonically, teaming up with Barry Burton aboard a cruise ship in the Gameboy Color outing, Resident Evil: Gaiden). Now a trained government agent, Kennedy is tasked with the mission of rescuing the President’s daughter, Ashley Graham, after she is kidnapped by a mysterious organization and taken to a backwater village in Europe.
After some initial snooping, Kennedy is attacked by a local villager – whom he promptly dispatches – and finds himself at the mercy of the hordes of local savages that inhabit the area as he begins his search for Graham. In strike contrast to previous entries, however, RE4’s enemies came not in the form of undead zombies and Umbrella-developed BOWs, but rather human-like adversaries controlled by a parasitic entity known as the Las Plagas.
Though Resident Evil by name, this fourth installment is unequivocally an entirely different beat when stacked up against its predecessors. Gone are the pre-rendered backdrops and dramatic camera angles, replaced by fully 3D rendered environments and a viewpoint permanently fixed behind Kennedy, allowing for precision aiming. Utilizing this new engine, director Mikami-san introduced players to a far more action-orientated experience, pitting gamers up against hordes of human-like foes sporting heightened intelligence and mobility in comparison to their lumbering, undead counterparts. Melee attacks and Quick Time Events (QTEs) were introduced for the first time in the series, while an RPG-esque weapons upgrade system was also incorporated, letting gamers tune up or buy armaments via a mysterious Merchant who pops up at various intervals using cash or treasures collected throughout the adventure.
Baby-sitting the frail, defenseless (and often irritating) Graham punctuates the solo antics from time to time, requiring Kennedy to cooperate with the damsel in distress to solve a couple of minor road bumps such as protecting her while she operates a piece of machinery or drives a vehicle. Elsewhere, the likes of puzzles, ammo conservation and backtracking – key components of the original Resident Evils – are conspicuous in their watered down state, with game’s linearity affording little excuse for missing key items. As such, the game relishes in mammoth, intense shootouts with dozens of foes, while the boss encounters – ostentatious though they may be at times – make for some truly memorable battles, packing in Lord of the Rings-esque trolls, giant marine life and mutated monstrosities, many of which required some inventive strategies to topple.
RE4 also offers up perhaps some of the most comprehensive array of post-completion goodies seen to date up until that point, including the popular Mercenaries mini-game, alternate costumes a well as a unique side mission called Assignment Ada, which has the sultry spy attempting to recover five Plagas samples for elusive boss man, Albert Wesker. A couple of extra weapons were also included, such as an infinite rocket launcher and .50 caliber Magnum, dubbed the Hand Cannon.
A PlayStation 2 version – much to the surprise of Nintendo loyalists – was announced in late 2004 prior to RE4’s GameCube debut, and eventually hit stores in October 2005 packing in a batch of exclusive content. Chief among the extras is Separate Ways, a side-story depicting Ada Wong’s exploits that runs concurrently with Kennedy’s own antics, revealing a little more insight into both her and Wesker’s lofty ambitions. Meanwhile, Kennedy and Graham received new costumes – a mobster outfit and suit of armor, respectively – with the port also throwing two new weapons in the form of the PRL412 and explosive Bow Gun. It’s humorous to note that Shinji Mikami previously mentioned he would cut off his own head if the action horror sequel ever made it over to Sony’s console, having pledged its exclusivity to GameCube on several occasions in the past. A Wii port featuring all of the PS2 extras was released in 2007 alongside a PC release.
Resident Evil 5 (a.k.a, Biohazard 5)
Release date: March 13, 2009
Platforms: PS3, PC, Xbox 360, (PS4 and Xbox One ports due summer 2016)
Global sales: 6.7 million
Announced just months after the release of the paradigm-shifting Resident Evil 4, the fifth numbered entry in Capcom’s multi-million selling franchise also went through more than its fair share of changes in the early stages of development. Initially, the Japanese software maker intended for zombies and even the Tyrant to make a comeback, and while the newly-bulked up Chris Redfield survived to the final game, Sheva Alomar wasn’t originally intended to be the former S.T.A.R.S agent’s partner—that honor was initially given to Jill Valentine, who later took on different role in the game altogether.
Still, after toying around with various scenarios, Capcom settled on the sun-baked African setting of Resident Evil 5 we know and love/hate today, which saw Redfield and Alomar slugging it out with Majini; parasite-infected enemies that had more in common with Resi 4’s blood-thirsty Spanish villagers than the shambling, T-Virus infected foes of old. The game also built its campaign around the premise of co-op play, with two players—either online or via split screen—teaming up to take on the mutated hordes together, while solving the occasional rudimentary riddles along the way.
Given the success of Resi 4’s over-the-shoulder precision targeting, it’s no surprise that Redfield and Alomar’s African excursion adheres largely to its predecessors well-oiled mechanics. You still can’t move and shoot at the same time, QTEs are shoehorned into many of the game’s set pieces, and more than often you’ll punch some poor sap square in the jaw only to have his head explode like a ripe melon. Many described the game around launch as Resi 4 on steroids, and they’d be right; both figuratively and literally in Redfield’s case, whose aesthetical overhaul from scrawny zombie killer to a hulking, boulder-punching behemoth is both absurdly entertaining and slightly comedic at the same time. Throw in returning baddie Albert Wesker for a climatic showdown with his old S.T.A.R.S. stablemates, and you have a brilliantly gripping affair punctuated by the usual dose of epic set pieces that make the likes of Call of Duty look tame by comparison.
Aside from the co-op campaign, Capcom also chucked in a comprehensive Mercenaries mini-game packed full of challenges, with subsequent DLC also reuniting players with old favorites such as Barry Burton and Rebecca Chambers. The brilliant ‘Lost in Nightmares’ side mission, which takes place before Resi 5, remains a highlight even after all these years, offering a succinct take on classic survival horror set in a stately home highly reminiscent of the Spencer Mansion from Resi 1. All these features would later be repackaged in the Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition 18 months after the original base game, which is what PS4 gamers will be able to pick up this summer.
Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City (a.k.a., Biohazard Operation: Raccoon City
Release date: March 20, 2012
Platform(s): PS3 and Xbox 360
Global sales: 2 million+
Developed by Slant Six Games, Operation: Raccoon City attempted to entice disenchanted Resi aficionados with the lure of nostalgia, offering a setting that combines elements of the second and third games in the fall of 1998. The titular Raccoon City is as iconic as the dusty Spencer Mansion, and ripe for the picking when it comes to weaving untold tales and shining the spotlight on Umbrella’s nefarious endeavours. This time however, Capcom opted for an online-centric, squad-based shooter, as opposed to the traditional horror experience fans may have hoped for. The results were, shall we say, not exactly met with overwhelming enthusiasm from press and fans alike—check our verdict for more.
Gamers take control of an operative based in the Umbrella Security Service (U.S.S.) as they are despatched to Raccoon City at the height of the T-Virus outbreak depicted in Resi 2 and 3. Here, they battle against roaming undead and other classic bio-weapons, with the likes of the Hunters, Cerberus and even Nemesis popping up to soak up some hot lead. However, the twist this time around is that you’re also pitted against human-controlled opponents (a U.S. Special Ops unit, to be precise), with Slant Six implemented a traditional, third-person cover system into the action. Each of the 12 playable characters have their own unique abilities, such as a demolitions expert, medic and marksman among others.
Being non-canon, Operation: Raccoon City also offers an intriguing spin on various story elements, such as the ability to kill off Leon or Claire; you can also play as them alongside other familiar faces including Jill and Carlos in the online ‘Heroes’ multiplayer battles. Despite taking a battering from critics, Operation Raccoon City attracted strong sales and a cult following, though Capcom has yet to announce a full-fledged sequel.
Resident Evil 6 (a.k.a., Biohazard 6)
Release date: October 2, 2012
Platform(s): PS3, PC, Xbox 360, PS4 and Xbox One
Global sales: 6.3 million
Despite murmurs that the Japanese giant was looking at bringing its venerable brain-splattering series back to its 90s roots, it became abundantly clear upon booting up Resi 6 that Capcom was more than happy backing its action-oriented route with the series—now officially coined ‘Survival Action.’ Indeed, Resident Evil 6 is the culmination of the fast-paced, bombastic (and at times, ostentatious) philosophy that began back in 2005 with the plate-shifting Resident Evil 4, and at that point in 2012 was Capcom’s biggest undertaking up to that point. Building on the co-op elements of its predecessor, Resi 6 packs three massive campaigns spread across a trio of main characters: Leon S. Kennedy, Chris Redfield and newcomer Jake Muller, who just so happens to be the offspring of the notorious Albert Wesker.
Set in 2012, the game centres on the application of the C-Virus and follows a global battle by our heroes to subvert the plans of the latest nefarious face to emerge on the scene, in this case Derek Simmons. There’s a distinct flavor between each of the campaigns, with Capcom seemingly attempting to appeal to all tastes; Leon’s features the triumphant return of zombies and is slightly more methodical in places, and is the closest Resi 6 has to ‘old school’ horror; Chris’s scenario is very much an action-oriented affair that takes a leaf out of Gears of War’s book with cover shooting and epic set pieces; and finally, Jake’s a hybrid shooter/brawler, as the Son of Wesker has a penchant for pummelling mutated foes with some meaty physical attacks in addition to regular firearms.
Capcom didn’t skimp on the extras either. The Mercenaries returned once again with numerous character loadouts available, while the sultry Ada Wong also got her own separate mission that underpins the main narrative. Speaking of narrative, Resi 6’s story spans around six months, with each character’s campaign coming together to form one brain-splattering, Hollywood-esque narrative—although whether Capcom actually achieved a cohesive presentation of said story remains very much a hot point of contention among fans. For once, the critics seemingly agreed, with Resi 6 generating polarizing reviews for first time in a mainline series entry.
Resident Evil Revelations (a.k.a, Biohazard Revelations)
Release date: February 7, 2012 (North America, 3DS), May 2013 (PC & console)
Platform(s): 3DS, PS3, PC, Xbox 360
Global sales: 1.1 million (excluding 3DS version)
Originally starting out life as a 3DS-exclusive, Resident Evil Revelations once again takes the franchise into spinoff territory, as we’re reaquainted with Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine in between the events of the fourth and fifth chapters in the zombie-slaying series. Early concepts for the game actually featured zombies, although in the end Capcom opted to settle for an entirely new design for its latest biohazardous endeavour: ooze. No, not the offspring of the purple baddie from Power Rangers: The Movie, but rather, rubbery, human-like adversaries with elongated limbs and an insatiable appetite for flesh. Throw in returning creatures such as the Hunters plus a handful of well-designed bosses, and a spooky cruise ship setting, and you have the makings of what is regarded by many to be an authentic return to Resi’s roots—especially when you factor in a greater emphasis on puzzle solving.
Once again, the partner function returns to the fold, although this time around it isn’t co-op; rather, as either Chris or Jill (depending on what stage of the game you’re at), the AI controls your buddy, with Miss Valentine partnering with and Chris with the sultry Jessica, whose sartorial choices for Cold Ops anti-bio-terrorism warfare makes us question just what Sweet Leaf Capcom was smoking at the time of her conception. There’s also a few segments where the action shifts to Grinder and Jackass (no, that really is his name), a pair of fellow BSAA agents working on their own investigation, although the meat-and-potatoes of the action is focused Jill and Chris’s exploits. In many ways, Valentine’s segment channels the Resi antics of old, marrying occasional combat with environmental riddles, making for a much more methodical, atmospheric experience; Chris’s portion by comparison is more aligned with the action-focused direction we’ve become accustomed to with Resi 5.
In addition to the main campaign, Revelations also throws in a Mercenaries-style mini-game known as Raid Mode, which pits games up against waves of increasingly tough enemies. You earn points the more you progress, which can then be traded in for bolstering your arsenal of weapons, so there’s plenty to sink your teeth into. The PS3 version also adds polished visuals and co-op play for Raid Mode, making for the definitive Revelations package.
Resident Evil 2 Revelations (a.k.a, Biohazard Revelations 2)
Release date: Feburary 24, 2015 (Episode One)
Platform(s): PS4, PS3, PC, Xbox One and Xbox 360
Global Sales: 1.1 million (shipped units)
Capcom’s sequel to Resi Revelations introduced a new direction for the long-running series, with Revelations 2 taking on an episodic structure—much to some controversy among fans at the time. Set between the events of chapters 5 and 6, this follow-up almost serves as a love letter to old timers, bringing back the likes of Barry Burton and Claire Redfield as starring characters for the first time (canonically speaking, that is) in over a decade.
The core gameplay adheres largely to the past few games in the series, although there’s a few new ideas injected into the mix; chief among these include a partner character that isn’t directly involved in combat, with Moira Burton (Claire’s partner) and the mysterious Natalia (Barry’s child companion) instead relying on wit and investigative elements to aid their comrade. For example, Bazza’s pint-sized partner can point out objects of interest and snoop out foes through walls, while Moira can use her torch to unravel hidden items and other goodies; she can also give foes a clout round the head with her crowbar to stun them, letting Claire follow-up with a swift roundhouse kick.
Ostensibly, the game also features the return of zombies, even if Capcom insists on referring to the game’s shambling, decomposing misfits as ‘Rottens.’ Yeah, you ain’t falling no-one, chaps. Elsewhere, the game’s bestiary combines elements of Resi 5’s Uroborus Virus, requiring some pinpoint aiming on the player’s part to whack them where it hurts most, plus a healthy dollop of fiendishly designed bosses, axe-wielding behemoths, and even stealth-powered insects.
Old-fashioned co-op is the order of the day here as both players work together in combat and tackle Revelations 2‘s more cerebral distractions, plus Raid Mode returns in what is possibly the most comprehensive mini-game the franchise has seen in years. The best part? The episodic structure actually works admirably well, at least we thought so. It’s just a pity the PS Vita port is a bit of a mess.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Release date: January 24, 2017
Platform(s): PS4, PC, Xbox One
Global Sales: 5.7 million (April 2018)
A paradigm shifting refresh for the series, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard’s move into a much more intimate first-person perspective gave Capcom’s eponymous survival horror franchise just the invigorating shot of life that it needed.
Casting players as franchise newcomer Ethan Winters, who is on the trail of his missing fiancee, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard truly puts players through the ringer. Whisking them from a nightmarish plantation to an abandoned ship and a whole bunch of hellish places in-between, there are few things more terrifying than trying to escape from the corrupted Baker family as papa Baker smashes through walls and attempts to murder the player in a frenzied, brutal chase that is unlike anything the series has done before.
More than just offering a fresh setting and perspective, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard also brings the series puzzle solving, exploration and combat bang up-to-date too – with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard feeling like triumphant hybrid of classic Resident Evil, and the more action orientated series entries that have emerged in the wake of Resident Evil 4.
It also doesn’t hurt that Resident Evil 7: Biohazard also plays host to what is arguably one of the killer apps for PSVR right now either – with Capcom’s 2017 series entry arguably manifesting itself as one of the most downright scary, full-fat experiences one can have with Sony’s VR apparatus. If Resident Evil 7: Biohazard marks the future of the franchise, we cannot wait to see what Resident Evil 8 brings.
That brings us neatly up to date. At the time of writing, Capcom is about to launch the Resident Evil 2 Remake, a complete remake of its 1998 classic. What the future holds for the series, we don’t know, by t gaming would not be the same without a bit of Resi in our lives.
Of course, it wouldn’t be right not to mention the numerous Resi spin-offs that have infected stores over the past two decades. Here’s a few other worth looking at:
- Resident Evil Outbreak
- Resident Evil Outbreak: File 2
- Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
- Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles
- Resident Evil Gaiden