In the Spotlight: Albert Wesker

After subjecting two of the PlayStation brand’s most iconic heroes under the microscope with Nathan Drake and Solid Snake in recent weeks, PSU decided it was time to scrutinize a villain for our latest In the Spotlight entry, plumping for Resident Evil’s enigmatic antagonist, Albert Wesker.

In the Spotlight will return some time in the New Year, where we’ll attempt to delve a little deeper in to the PlayStation brand’s illustrious back catalogue and pick some of the less obvious heroes and villains to have graced a Sony console over the past 15 years. For now, take a gander at what we had to say on the treacherous ex. S.T.A.R.S Captain below (beware of spoilers, though).

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Name: Albert Wesker

Main Appearances: Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Director’s Cut, Resident Evil Code: Veronica, Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.

Consoles: PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, GameCube, Wii.

First appearing in the original Resident Evil back in 1996, Wesker formed part of the core cast nucleus alongside Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, though initially bowed out of the franchise after meeting a grizzly end at the hands of the Tyrant at the climax of RE1. Still, the chaps at Capcom obviously saw potential in the slimy blonde bugger, deciding to resurrect him four years later for Code: Veronica, where it was revealed that his ‘death’ was all part and parcel of Wesker’s plans to double cross his then employer, the notorious Umbrella Corporation. Having injected himself with a specialised strain of the T-Virus, Wesker was granted a second shot at life, only this time found himself endowed with super-human strength, speed and dexterity. As such, Wesker found himself going on to become the chief antagonist in the series until finally perishing at the hands of Redfield in Resident Evil 5.

While originally conceived a hotshot cop taken on by the Raccoon Police Department to head the prescient’s newly-established S.T.A.R.S division, Wesker’s back story has subsequently been fleshed out and retconned more times than we care to remember, with Capcom recently establishing the blonde villian as one of hundreds of geniuses hand-picked by Umbrella as part of company boss Ozwell E. Spencer’s ambitions to create a race of “advanced human beings.” Albert’s surname was derived from that of the chief researcher on the project, and would later go on to work alongside William Birkin at the Arklay Training Facility headed by Dr. James Marcus. However, Spencer later had Marcus assassinated on Wesker and Birkin’s watch, with the pair later setting up shop at Spencer’s sprawling abode in Raccoon Forest. In his capacity working as a double-agent for Umbrella, Wesker headed up the Raccoon City branch of S.T.A.R.S in the mid-90s, and in 1998, was instructed to lure both Alpha and Bravo teams in to the Mansion in order to obtain combat data for the various B.O.W’s that were roaming the estate following an outbreak of the T-Virus at the hands of a resurrected Dr. Marcus.

Ultimately, it transpired that the unscrupulous Wesker was in fact seeking to double cross his employer, and prepared to use the creature known as Tyrant as a bargaining chip to buy in to an unnamed opposing corporation. To facilitate his plans, Wesker attempted to deceive Umbrella in to thinking he had perished at the Spencer Estate by releasing the Tyrant from its slumber, seemingly killing him in the process. However, the former S.T.A.R.S Captain was resurrected minutes later thanks to the application of a modified strain of the T-Virus, which he injected prior to his confrontation with the beast. With the Mansion later destroyed and his former subordinates thinking he was brown bread, Wesker became a forgotten entity, effectively dropping off the radar for the next few months.

Following the destruction of Raccoon City in fall 1998, which saw Wesker collaborating with glamorous spy Ada Wong, the poker-faced baddie attacked Rockfort Island, home to one of the founding families of Umbrella, the Ashfords, which led to yet another T-Virus spill. He eventually procured a sample of the T-Veronica Virus from the corpse of fellow Rockfort prisoner Steve Burnside following an encounter with Redfield and his sister, Claire, at Umbrella’s laboratory in the Antarctic. However, since pharmaceutical giant’s demise in 2003, Wesker assumed an almost Blofeld-esque persona, barking out orders to his subordinates from the comfort of his secret abode before teaming up with Tricell Corporation alongside newcomer Excella Gionne, a move which would ultimately lead to his death. Anyway, enough of delving in to Wesker’s increasingly convoluted past. Let’s get down to business and divulge why we feel Resident Evil’s long-standing evildoer has earned some time in the spotlight.

From his perpetual shades, stoic persona and swanky haircut, Wesker has all the makings of an iconic – albeit somewhat stereotypical – videogame villain. Admittedly, it wasn’t until Code: Veronica in the year 2000 that the blonde bad guy firmly cemented himself as a recurring antagonist in the franchise, remaining a fixture on the public consciousness as one of gaming’s greatest villains. As RE aficionados will no doubt agree, Wesker isn’t the type of bloke to get his hands dirty – he functions behind the scenes, letting others do his bidding before emerging from the shadows to collect the spoils. Of course, that’s not to suggest he never gets in on the action – smacking about the Redfield siblings springs to mind, as does brutally dispatching of old man Spencer as depicted in Code: Veronica and RE5, respectively. Still, for the most part, Wesker opts to abstain from the frontlines wherever possible. Cunning and ruthless, the former S.T.A.R.S Captain makes for such a compelling villain due to his unpredictability; his goals are – at least until RE5 turned up – largely ambiguous, and you never quite know what move he’s going to make next. One thing you can guarantee, though, is that Wesker will always be one step ahead of his enemies – and that’s the key to his success.

Credit must also be directed at the abundance of voice actors who have bought the character to life over the years – from an unknown chap credited simply as ‘Eric’ in RE1 to the more recent D.C. Douglas – though none have quite matched the popularity of fan favourite Richard Waugh. Having voiced Wesker in Code: Veronica, Wesker’s Report, Resident Evil Zero and Resident Evil 4, Waugh’s efforts have become synonymous with the arch villain among RE fanatics for the past decade, from his distinct, almost upper-class twang to the supremely cheesy, bellowing laughter. Wesker, we’re missing you already.

Magic Moments

-We feel it would be fundamentally wrong of us to kick-start this segment without mentioning THAT cast intro sequences from the original Resident Evil, which features a real-life Wesker – accompanied by a killer score – pushing his hands through his impossibly blonde hair before casually folding his arms. Back in ’96, this was the coolest stuff we’d ever witnessed in a videogame. How easily pleased we were.  (From Resident Evil)

-Spilling the beans on his dastardly plans to Chris Redfield in the Spencer Mansion’s hidden laboratory before unleashing the Tyrant, only to be introduced to the business end of the monstrous bio-weapons claws. (From Resident Evil)

-Coming face to face with rival Chris Redfield for the first time after his supposed ‘death’ at the Spencer Mansion. After a brief chinwag, Wesker gives Redfield a free demonstration of his newfound powers by almost strangling the former S.T.A.R.S member and flinging him against a B.O.W capsule like a rag doll. (From Resident Evil Code: Veronica)

-After getting slapped about by an infected Alexia Ashford, Wesker decides enough’s enough, and promptly dashes up the wall before launching himself at his foe and delivering an almighty punch. Ouch. (From Resident Evil Code: Veronica)

-Bumping off Umbrella Corp. head Ozwell E. Spencer in cold blood before taking on both Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine in a jaw-dropping display of snazzy acrobatics and brutal fisticuffs. (Resident Evil 5)