In the Spotlight: Barry Burton

In our last entry we heaped praise on one of the PlayStation brand’s most iconic bad guys – Tekken’s resident bad boy and seemingly indestructible pensioner, Heihachi Mishima. Shifting back to the good guys this week, and to coincide with RE5’s much anticipated ‘Lost in Nightmares’ DLC, PSU decided to shine the spotlight on one of Resident Evil’s most loved – albeit horrendously underused – heroes, Barry Burton. Having not been seen canonically since Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Burton now joins the meaty roster of playable characters in RE5’s Mercenaries Reunion game, alongside Excella Gionne. Read on to find out why the bearded one has a special place in our hearts.

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A former member of the S.T.A.R.S Alpha Team, Burton first appeared in the original Resident Evil back in ’96, serving as the weapons specialist for the elite squad alongside fan favourites Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. At the ripe old age of 38, Burton held the distinct honour of being the longest serving S.T.A.R.S member on the Raccoon City team, and was personally responsible for Redfield’s recruitment to the squad after he was kicked out of the Air Force some years earlier. As such, the pair have remained the best of mates ever since. Following reports of cannibalistic homicides in and around the Raccoon mountain region in July of 1998, Burton joined his comrades in Alpha Team to conduct a search of the forest zone for the missing Bravo Team and ended up exploring the Spencer Mansion following an attack by undead Dobermans.

However, unbeknownst to the rest of the team, the unscrupulous Captain Wesker had Burton firmly under his thumb, warning that that harm would come to the Alpha’s wife and two daughters if he refused to facilitate Wesker’s efforts in destroying evidence implicating Umbrella’s involvement in the whole affair. Fortunately, the surviving S.T.A.R.S members uncover Wesker’s plans and destroy the facility with Burton’s help and escape via chopper. Upon their return to civilisation, the S.T.A.R.S are suspended and Redfield, Valentine and Burton formulate their own strategy to expose Umbrella’s illegal activities and plan to fly out to the pharmaceutical giant’s headquarters in Europe. Valentine opts to stay behind to dig the dirt on Umbrella’s movements in Raccoon City, while Redfield and Burton depart town. However, Burton returns in the nick of time to save Valentine from Raccoon at the climax of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis moments before the American Government nukes the city. Having moved his family to Canada for their own safety, Burton packs his bags and joins his comrades in the on-going struggle to topple Umbrella wherever they may arise. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Barry is something of a legend among RE aficionados, thanks in no small part to his utterly laughable dialogue segments in the original Resident Evil. Indeed, ask anyone to name some of the worst lines from the 1996 horror classic, and Burton’s contributions will unequivocally be on the tip of everyone’s tongues. Marvel at Barry’s unrivalled detective skills as he deduces that a huge room complete with mammoth dining table adorned with fancy cutlery is “a dining room.” Prepare to be blown away as the Alpha Weapon’s expert utilizes his knowledge of firearms to proclaim that a pack of Grenade Acid Rounds are “really power, especially against living things!” And lastly, brace yourself for the sidesplitting assault on your ears as Barry hands Valentine a lock pick, claiming “it may be handy if you, the Master of Unlocking, take it with you.” Legendary.

However, while the bearded one may be good for a laugh, he also remains one of the most genuinely likeable characters in the franchise, especially after the chaps at Capcom polished up his hammy ways for the GameCube remake of Resident Evil. Burton’s strong family background and ample military experience makes for a strong piece of characterization, which, combined with his manipulation at the hands of Wesker, makes him inherently far more compelling than Chris and Jill, who’s characters aren’t fleshed out until latter installments. Barry’s predicament breeds a degree of sympathy in the player, and by the time the extent of Wesker’s betrayal is revealed, you fully understand the desperation of the situation the Alpha weapon’s specialist has been placed in. After all, the poor chap was only trying to protect his family – something we can all relate to.

Furthermore, it’s only natural that Barry would subsequently feel compelled to aid his comrades in their mission to neutralize Umbrella’s on-going illegal activities following his betrayal, hence his decision to pack his family off to Canada and join Redfield and Valentine in Europe. Ultimately, he redeems himself after plucking a desperate Valentine and fellow partner Carlos Oliveira from the streets of Raccoon City by rescue chopper minutes before the metropolis is nuked off the map in early October of 1998. Sadly, with RE4 inaugurating a new chapter in the franchise, Burton’s whereabouts are currently unknown, and we’re still none the wiser as to how much of a part he played in the downfall of Umbrella in the years following Raccoon’s destruction. Hopefully however, his inclusion in The Mercenaries: Reunion is a precursor to a new era for the unsung hero. We’ve missed you, ‘ol Bazza.

Relive some of Barry’s most memorable moments below (and yes, we couldn’t help but include some of his cheesy dialogue for good measure. Enjoy.)