reHorror: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

If there’s one thing that Resident Evil fans look down upon more than anything it’s Capcom’s decision to take the franchise and turn it into an action affair. One complete with massive explosions, loads of ammunition, non-zombies and boulders. Without even saying it, you know damn well I’m most definitely referring to Resident Evil 5 here, but is the latest numbered entry in the franchise truly the scapegoat? I’m here to tell you that no, we shouldn’t lay blame exclusively on Resident Evil 5 and its action-packed adventure that saw Chris and Sheva unload countless rounds on countless enemies in Kijuju. Instead, we should lay the blame on one pivotal moment in the Resident Evil canon: the destruction of Raccoon City, or quite simply, “the bomb.”

Raccoon City has played host to 3 main numbered entries in the series, with that number being increased if you count all the spin-offs– with the latest one being the upcoming squad-based shooter, Operation Raccoon City. This industrial, mid-western city became synonymous with Resident Evil, and still is to this day. Its Arklay Mountains was where we were first introduced to the world of survival horror by way of the original game on the Playstation. It also served as the setting for what many consider as being the greatest game in the series: Resident Evil 2. In said sequel we got to explore much more of the city, with the RPD station, sewer system and some of the streets being traversed by Claire and Leon. Speaking of opening up more areas, Resident Evil 3 took it even further by pitting Jill in a huge chunk of the city that you’re meant to explore– and get lost in! Then, it went boom.

At the end of Resident Evil 3, after Jill finally puts her best bud’ Nemesis to rest, something quite significant occurs; something that actually stayed true to that all-too common saying, “this will change everything.” It was decided that, as per story progression for the series as a whole, Raccoon City had to be destroyed so that new doors could be open. In this case, ‘new doors’ meant new locales and gameplay changes as we soon ended up getting after the town fans were so fond of was completely wiped off the face of the Earth. This isn’t Silent Hill, though, so the elimination of such a classic setting wasn’t as “controversial” as it would be if it had occured to Konami’s survival horror series, in which the town actually serves as a character in and of itself (not to degrade Raccoon City or anything). With Raccoon City gone, it was time for the series to go to new places. Fans, of course, went along for the ride.

While not the next numbered entry in the series, Code Veronica (released originally for the Dreamcast) was the immediate successor to Resident Evil 3. Being so, it’s sometimes baffling to think that this wasn’t just given the 4 at the end of its title. Even moreso when taking the game’s plot into account which served as a solid and faithful ‘next step’ for the series’ overall lore, going as far as introducing new faces and a new viral threat in the form of the Ashfords and the T-Veronica virus, respectively . Regardless, Code Veronica was the first main-story title to follow up the destruction of Raccoon City and rightfully so, it took the series to a brand new location: Rockfort Island and ultimately Antarctica, and Paris if you count the game’s action-packed intro sequence. Speaking of action-packed…

While nowhere near the levels of action seen, and experienced, in Resident Evil 5, Code Veronica still had its fair share of more action-packed moments when compared to the original trilogy. From an explosive intro sequence seeing Claire infiltrating an Umbrella base in Paris to more weapons being available to plow through enemies with– though ammo conservation was still a must in order to survive. Yeah, these are notable upgrades when it comes to sequels, but my point is that already, this early on, we were seeing the impact of Raccoon City going boom: the series had to go to bold new places, in both narrative and gameplay terms. The biggest change to the series wouldn’t come till 2005, thanks to a little game called Resident Evil 4.

Do I really need to say anything about Resident Evil 4 that you haven’t heard already? Masterpiece. Classic. One of the greatest games of all time. All of these titles are more than fitting for Leon’s second console outing (his first one, Resident Evil 2, is also considered one of the best in the series if not the best). Resident Evil 4 was also important because it took the series to places it had never been before. This was truly the evolution of a classic property and, for all intents and purposes, it worked out brilliantly in the end, leading to one of the finest games we’ve ever been graced with. How did Resident Evil 4 actually evolve the franchise, though?

Well, that’s easy. Quite simply, Resident Evil 4 introduced a much stronger focus on action that was previously unseen in any of the classic entries. We no longer had zombies, now we had hordes of infected villagers,soldiers and monks to dispose of. Disposing of them was made possible by an enlarged arsenal and loads of ammunition to find or purchase from the game’s Merchant. Yeah, this was the first time we saw the effects of Raccoon City’s destruction lead to such a drastic, but downright amazing, outcome. We moved to a brand new setting, got a brand new viral threat, met many new faces, all complemented by a completely new style of over-the-shoulder, action-oriented gameplay. Despite gaining a massive amount of accolades and game of the year recognition–and strong sales, of course– Resident Evil fans knew that the series was now a different beast. Then came everyone’s favorite entry: Resident Evil 5.

Released in 2008, Resident Evil 5 took the behind-the-shoulder, action approach Resident Evil 4 debuted and took it up a notch, or two. This was most definitely not the Resident Evil one remembers from the series’ Playstation days. I mean, narrative-wise this was still one very faithful continuation, and downright conclusion, to the series’ storyline. We saw Chris Redfield make his big return to the forefront, partnered up with Sheva (for our Character Spotlight on Sheva, click here). Sheva, and thus the notion of being partnered up with someone at all times, served as one of the main reasons why this particular entry strayed the farthest from the series’ tropes. Especially since we were introduced to this game with a cinematic trailer showcasing a male protagonist, on his lonesome, in a heated desert environment (which we still ended up getting), with the ending of said trailer showing shadows of fast enemies running after our protagonist who ended up being series all-star Chris (some of us thought it was Billy!).

But that was then and this is now. The game we did end up getting was a different animal than what that initial trailer, and tidbits of info which detailed a temperature-related hallucination system to be implemented amongst other things, led us to believe. What we got was more survival-action than survival-horror. Despite this, there were still plenty of moments that truly tested the player and invoked fear in them, especially when you’re completely surrounded by enemies and running low on ammo. Despite this familiar feeling of dread, fans still disregard the game as being part of their cherished series.

Resident Evil 5 shouldn’t be the one game to get all the hate and blame for changing what the series used to be, though. If anything, we should lay blame on (not exactly hate) the destruction of Raccoon City which lead to all these changes in the first place. While we’re at it, we should also hate Capcom for attempting to bring change into the series, right? Yeah, there’s a difference between evolutionary change on a sequel-by-sequel basis and a totally drastic one like in the case with classic Resident Evil and Resident Evil 5, but that doesn’t mean we should entirely cry foul at this latest numbered entry. Think about it: when you strip down the classic games to their very basic elements, you have a protagonist going up against infected enemies brought about by an evil organization, elements that are still heavily present in Resident Evil 5. But hey, you just can’t please everyone all the time.

Now let’s shift gears to the series’ current standing. We have quite a good amount of titles to look forward to this year and also in 2012 (excluding Resident Evil 4 HD and Code Veronica X HD since they’re just HD re-releases with trophies/achievements, not that there’s a problem with that or anything). First off is Resident Evi: The Mercenaries 3D for the Nintendo 3DS. The game saw release back in June and it took Resident Evil 4 and 5’s addictive Mercenaries mode (unlocked after you beat the main games) and turned it into its own, stand-alone release. This represented one side of Capcom’s plan for the series going forth: Mercenaries would appeal to those who enjoyed Resident Evil 5’s action-oriented approach while Resident Evil Revelations (also for the 3DS) would appeal to those yearning for the series’ classic sense of horror to return. But before we go to Revelations, let’s talk about Operation Raccoon City.

Yeah, Raccoon City got destroyed at the end of Resident Evil 3 (and Outbreak if you want to get technical), but we’ll be heading back to the town where it all started later this year (maybe early next) with Slant Six’s Operation Raccoon City. This squad-based shooter will give us a look at the outbreak from the perspective of Umbrella. Along the way, you’ll also be able to make an impact on key Resident Evil characters, with Leon being the most marketed one thus far, because, you know, he’s Leon. While fans aren’t exactly fully onboard with the game’s new, even more action-packed than Resident Evil 5, approach, it’s nice to see that we’ll actually be plowing through classic Resident Evil enemies throughout the single and multiplayer campaign. Speaking of classic Resident Evil…

Enter: Resident Evil Revelations. This game has been at the top of many Resident Evil fans’ must-play list since it was originally revealed. The fact that it’s bringing back a true sense of horror and survival is also very, very welcome. This 3DS exclusive, launching next year, will once again put the spotlight on Chris and Jill, while also introducing new faces into the series’ memorable cast: the most notable ones being Jessica and Parker, serving as the aforementioned all-stars’ partners. We got a new viral threat to deal with in this game, the T-Abyss, brought about by a new group that call themselves Veltro. Just recently, we also learned that The Organization will be playing a role in the story as well. While the perspective remains the same as in Resident Evil 4 and 5, the game will defintiely not throw huge amounts of ammo and health your way as you battle the new water-based BOWs. Yeah, baby, ammo/ health conservation is back in full force. All this makes the wait till the game’s early 2012 launch even more tedious to endure.

As one can easily see, the destruction of Raccoon City had more effects, both good and bad, on the series than just the destruction of its iconic setting. Thanks to this devastating event, fans got one of the best games in the series (and of all time, as generic as that title sounds) and also one of the most controversial titles when it came to Resident Evil. Of course I’m alluding to Resident Evil 4 and 5, respecitvely. Raccoon City going bye-bye opened the doors to new things for the series which led to a complete evolution of the series, preventing it from restricting itself to pure copy-and-past antics. Thanks to the president ordering Raccoon City to be wiped out, we got to go to more locales that wouldn’t have been possible had Capcom opted  to always have the series tied to the classic town.

Yeah, it’s true, sometimes ‘change’ is a two-sided coin and that expression couldn’t be more true in Resident Evil’s case. The series’ established audience was split down the middle with the release and ultimate reception of Resident Evil 5, but now things are looking positive going forth, thanks in large part to Resident Evil Revelations and the inevitable next numbered entry: Resident Evil 6. So, let’s not be too quick to automatically blame the series’ drastic changes on Resident Evil 5, instead, let’s also point the finger at Capcom’s decision to destroy the series’ memorable setting. And then, maybe you’ll be like me and learn to stop worrying and love the ‘bomb’.

               
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COMMENTS

  • Dan

    4 was a great game but it wasn’t a great resident evil. First off the story was ridiculous. The government sends one guy to find the presidents….daughter. Some evil guy that has the power to control over ancient parasites….plotting some terrorist attack on america?… It’s just silly.

    The settings and the game itself was one of the best in history I give you that. I think fans just want a classic game again. That doesn’t mean we want it to not have new gameplay additions. We just miss zombies,scientists,isolation,smaller scale outbreaks, feeling alone in the world…. These elements are all gone and now it’s gotten extreme and in the DIE HARD terrorist plot category. it’s hard to feel fear when it’s turned into some kind of suspense/action series.

    I don’t mind 4 and 5 don’t get me wrong but nothing will beat being alone in a dark mansion with no one to help you on the outside. Also we have no way of knowin 6 will be a horror game or more like the classic games. They are invested in the western market. I’m almost positive we will be getting an action romp.

  • Smiley

    4 was that story where Leon caused a massacre through Spain to rescue the U.S. President’s daughter right? WTF was that all about? The game play was the only real thing that grabbed people’s attention. Once the third person genre took off from that then RE5 became a joke once it tried to make a solid continuation of the RE story but chose to recycle RE4’s segment with the add on of a co-op character.

    We don’t need another Raccoon City. Hell we don’t even need the same Raccoon City. Spread out over the world if you prefer. Just bring back the classic horror mechanics that made games like RE2 and REmake so chilling. Capcom has done the misdeed of trying to bring in new fans and instead separating the fanbase entirely with people who crave the action going against those that miss the classic horror. It’s an opposite end of the Batman fanbase where for every fan of the campy Adam West Batman there will be someone who prefers Christian Bale’s take on the same character.

    I can enjoy the campy roots of the first game and I can enjoy the action horror of RE4 and 5. But as far as my favorites and what defines RE for me? It’s the horror. A perfect example is REmake. This site isn’t Rely On Action although RE4 would have you believe that when it came to reviving the series.

    With that I give you what RE4 could have been. And it was supposed to be in Europe as well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2njhyHdlxpE

  • xXxJamesxX

    Wow this article basically sums up what any logical fan would think. To be honest I miss the old days, but I’ve grown with the series long enough to know that change will occur. I’m sorry but as times go so do games, especially in the horror genre. As far as I can see, horror games like RE will remain classics thats it, just how classic dracula films pleased past audiences, but not to a next gen audience. Do you see any black and white grain films now? No, thats classic RE for you, yes old fans will be pleased but it’s not enough to catch up to now. Kinda like you used to be scared of the Boogie Man, but after that he’s not scary anymore you expected it.

    It’s really a matter of how times are really, I know that RE remake was made but the reason why is to fill in plot holes that couldn’t be done in the original game. Yes isolation, unawared situations, creepy ambience was what made classic horror. RE Revelations will have survival horror I can see that but it will be different from the originals in terms of gameplay. Like 5 you wont see a status screen to select weapons and strategize like the originals, all of it is real time.

    Horror is what started RE, but it won’t be the same thing forever.

  • Henrik

    I disliked what RE4 and RE5 did to the series.

    But as a poster above said we are not against new things just that RE4/RE5 took away all that was familiar.

    Revelation seems to be in right direction again,new gameplay but with classical horror,isolation,monsters that does not just looks like rabid humans.

    Revelation is just one game though its already been said how RE6 will changes aswell but is it for the worse or better?

    It seems capcom ideas of reboot is somewhat fuzzy.

    They intend to keep old cast and plot just go in a new direction?

    Sometimes I wonder if not a full reboot would be better.

    Return to Raccoon city they might even use Chris and Jill again but in a new form maybe as civilians trying to survive a zombie outbreak.

    And keep the character gallery to a minimum so Capcom dont “forget” old survivors as they done in with this original plot.

    Iam still worried what RE series is heading the series was what started the whole “survival horror” genre.

    But seeing as the series is getting more action and so far from horror scares me as there is so few horror series left that one can count too this genre and not just another action with just a horror skin wrapped on.

  • thedoorsdk

    It’s odd to me that people love RE4 and hate RE5, considering that they’re basically the exact same game.
    RE5 is a fantastic game, it’s just great in a different way than the originals are. Unfortunately, people are put off by change of any kind. I can understand the nostalgia people have for the earlier, more survival-horror oriented entries of the series, but anytime I feel that way I just replay the REmake or RE2.

  • OverCasanova

    Personally, RE4 is my least fave in the series, and I love Re5.

    Why you might wonder?

    (Keep in mind, this is my opinion & perspective)

    Re4: Leon was a cocky douche. He was not cocky in Re2, but in this game, and future titles (eg, Degeneration) he’s a cocky person which is a huge turn off for a game character you have to stick with the WHOLE game…. He was alright in #2 but I always loved my Redfields. Another reason why I didn’t favour the game: Trashley. At first I had fun babysitting her, because I like to take on that role of… You’re the one with the guns, keep people safe with none. But god dammit.. After the first time you were with her she’s just sooo annoying as everyone knows. Kinda like how people hate Navi from Ocarina of Time (though I don’t mind her) … Hmmm it was very unrealistic for her to be THAT much of a damsel. Last reasons: I felt the game was really repetitive.. The levels all felt eerie and boring… The whole game was Grey with some colour in the Grey… It was just bland in looks.. & the story is kind of random with no future purpose.. (that’s just my opinion and I understand how people CAN/DO like the game.. Just wasn’t favourable for me)

    I loved Re5 because we got to see Chris again.. Although Claire is my fav character and we get nothing of her T_T …

    I like how we get colour in this game for one.. I love the story… Completely felt relevant.. Jill returns, & Wesker… All the main people, which should be a plus for the so called “I only like the classic games” fans… For the action fans.. Well this has tons more than Re4. I think it’s better because sure it’s like a revamped re4 control style, but the elements are just better, so if you love Re4. Why do people complain at getting a better version with a great storyline. We will get something new .. The Re series hasn’t ended!! 🙂

    I just hope Re6 has Claire.. My one wish!

  • Henrik

    Yeah RE6 better star anyone except Leon, Claire,older Sherry(if it takes place after Re5 which i hope she would atleast be around 18-20)
    or Ada if organization is back but if Ada returns I fear Leon will to:(

    Anyone is just fine but no Leon.

  • Elyssa

    I personally have to agree with Smiley as far as his take on RE4 goes. So many people give that entry/Leon so much praise but I on the other hand was completely thrown off as far as the storyline goes. And as for RE5? We all know that entry completely changed the series, even more so than Code Veronica or RE4, but I just don’t get all the hate & backlash its gotten. Yes, if you were expecting a survival horror title, you were probably very pissed off, but the trailers & stills that came upon us before its release automatically gave me the impression it was going to be way more action packed & considering the way RE4 turned out [ex: the harpooning the big sea creature] just screamed “NOT SURVIVAL HORROR, BUT SURVIVAL ACTION”. In all honesty, I had a blast playing Mercenaries & loved the co-op with my bf in campaign mode but I can agree it didn’t seem like your usual RE title, but neither did Code Veronica or RE4 & when people exclaimed their love for those the developers went a little too action-happy on the next title [RE5] thinking it was for the better. All in all, I’m very happy they’re finding a median for RE with titles like ORC vs Revelations, & it’s good to know the series can still please its variation of fans who prefer survival horror, survival action, or both such as myself.

  • leave it alone its fun to play on veteran with no weapons

  • it was fun fighting wesker

  • xXxJamesXx

    Actually try RE5 on Professional mode, that actually gets things interesting and it does add a sense of dread and fear.

  • Red-Dragon-Cro

    Uhhh…
    People the times are different now and the games change with em.I mean for how long should they have kept the classic cam. style?I mean the games got to be in step with the time.Yeah RE5 was a blow but to me RE4 is my second fav. RE game.(RE2 is my fav.)and was brilliantly made.Yes they still can us the classic cam style but maybe in sequels like for example the outbreak series which would be great to continue or do remakes of it for the upcomming PS Vita.But lets not forget the games need sometimes to bounce of the standards like for example ORC.The game is a squad-bassed shooter but it doesn´t bother me cuz its a sequel and sequels are allowed to use elements not used standradly in the main series games.

  • DEVILMAN

    Interesting…by reading th comment si notice i am not the only one who thinks the change started with RE 4 (the Real change)

    I never actually knew why RE 4 is seen as one of the bets games ever…..is fun, yes, but as a RE is deffinetly very out of place and dosnt even try to be a sequel…and as a horror game is extremelly poor….games like Fatal Frame or Siren really make RE 4 looks like a joke

    RE 5 actually triyed to stay more focused on the main storyline (Umbrella)

  • mike

    resident evil 5 was an awesome game. not scary, but really cool. I think the hate started because it threw the horror right out the window. But i personally loved it. it wasnt broken or had tons of bugs, it is fully polished. it just tried a different setting and tone. I am hoping it goes in a horror direction again with re6, but i know capcom will do it right. its their flagship series.

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