reHorror: Looking back at Resident Evil in 2012

2013 is here. But let’s take a moment to look back at 2012 and focus on Resident Evil’s performance last year.

2012 was quite an interesting year for Resident Evil fans. We received two new movies and three brand new entries in the series, including the latest numbered sequel. Coming off of the series’ 15th anniversary in 2011, and after the announcement of Resident Evil 6 with its debut trailer, fans’ excitement levels were definitely high.

It all started with the release of Resident Evil Revelations, exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS back in February, followed by the release of Operation Raccoon City in March. To cap off the year for fans, we got Resident Evil 6 in October, which was preceeded with the Blu-ray/DVD release of Resident Evil Damnation and the theatrical release of Resident Evil: Retribution. There’s a lot to talk about when looking back at the series’ performance in 2012. So, let’s get started!

Resident Evil Revelations

Resident Evil Revelations was a masterpiece of a game. I gave it a perfect 10 out of 10 in my official review, and I still stand by that score and my written words contained.

I jokingly made a statement after beating the game for the first time. I said that it would be funny if I didn’t end up loving Resident Evil 6 as much as this game. Well, that’s exactly what ended up happening!

Don’t get me wrong, and I’ve reiterated this time and again, I loved Resident Evil 6 and truly enjoyed everything it had to offer, but it just didn’t grab me the same way Revelations did with its Oozey hands. It didn’t have that same magic, so to speak. That’s largely due to Revelations actually being the game that brought fans back into the world of survival horror.

Though it doesn’t quite reach the level of horror found in the classic games, Revelations truly succeeded as a marriage between the series’ classic and modern style. Both gelled together beautifully to make a game that controls like a third-person shooter, but doesn’t lose its identity as a survival horror experience. This is the template I would love to see Capcom utilize moving forward, and I’ll touch on this more when I talk about Resident Evil 6.

Revelations truly felt like a home console experience on the go. Which is why I’m actually excited about the latest rumors circulating pertaining to an HD version of the game planned for a digital release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (and Wii U hopefully). Capcom made sure to pack as much content to the game as possible, which is most evident with the inclusion of Raid mode which pretty much doubles your time with the game.

In the end, Revelations has gone on to become a crucial part in the series’ ongoing storyline, despite not having a number at the end of its title. It showed us the BSAA shortly after its formation, with Jill and Chris diving into the mysteries surrounding Il Veltro. It was a memorable entry in the series and definitely ranks up there with some of the best in the series. Now it’s time to return to Raccoon City…

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

For years, I’ve been hoping that Capcom would finally announce a new game in the Outbreak sub-series. Or even an HD port of the original game. So with the original reveal of Operation Raccoon City, I thought this would be the game to fulfill my Outbreak hunger. It wasn’t.

Operation Raccoon City, developed by Slant Six, was a “what-if” type of game in terms of plot, and a squad-based shooter in terms of gameplay. It was set during the events of Resident Evils 2 and 3. Players were able to pick if they wanted to rep’ either the Spec Ops soldiers (the good guys) or the USS squad (Umbrella’s soldiers), resulting in two separate campaigns to experience. Then they would select an operative from their desired faction, each possessing their own unique abilities.

Depending on which faction you represented, your main mission was different. Playing as the Spec Ops solders, your job was to find out who’s behind the outbreak in Raccoon City, and eliminate the threat. While the USS squad wanted to rid any evidence in Raccoon City that could link the ongoing T-Virus outbreak back to Umbrella. That meant killing all survivors. Yes, even including Leon himself.

Slant Six set out to retell the outbreak storyline we already experienced in Resident Evils 2 and 3, but this time focusing on Umbrella’s perspective through their soldiers. Initially this prospect sounded too good to be true, but after playing the finished product, the story wasn’t as good as I was expecting. It was pretty barebones actually, with much of the focus being put on the game’s cooperative and multiplayer offering as opposed to telling a memorable story. But, again, this is a “what-if” scenario, so at least it’s not really affecting anything that’s come before.

It was awesome to venture through the streets of Raccoon City again though, fighting classic enemies and bosses and revisiting some classic locales (that weren’t entirely faithful). It was a trip down memory lane, but one that could’ve been way better. The RPD station comes to mind, and man did they really butcher its interior design. I was infuriated after beating the brief portion that had us inside the iconic building. Now I’m angry again just thinking about it…

But, as aforementioned, it’s all about the co-op and multiplayer here. The game’s multiplayer suite was really satisfying and provided many hours of fun. I’ve played quite a lot of intense matches online with friends and strangers(sssss), and while I have my complaints with it, it was still fun. However, multiplayer isn’t why I love Resident Evil. But Capcom wanted to bring in more people into the series, so they appealed to mainstream gamers’ love for multiplayer-focused games like Call of Duty. As you can imagine, that strategy wasn’t exactly embraced by the series’ hardcore fans, and it led to a lot of hate being directed towards Capcom.

Looking back at it now, the things I still love about Operation Raccoon City have to do with seeing the classic characters from Resident Evils 2 and 3 and fighting the iconic BOWs from those two games. The highlights for me were the encounters with Birkin. They were pretty damn epic. There’s also a memorable part (not many of those sadly) in the free DLC mission where, playing as the Spec Ops soliders, you’re fighting alongside Jill herself, going up against hordes of zombies and her secret admirer, Nemmy. It was epic, and I wish we had more moments like that. Oh, and the final boss in the Spec Ops DLC campaign was just insanely awesome.

Resident Evil: Retribution

Next up we got the release of Resident Evil: Retribution in theaters. This is the fifth and latest (and most likely penultimate) entry in Paul W.S. Anderson’s live-action Resident Evil film series. Don’t worry, we’ll talking about that other Resident Evil movie that released this year, too! Let’s talk about this first.

Alice is back, and this time she’s been stripped of her powers after the events of the last film. So, Ms. My Name is Alice now finds herself deep in the heart of an underground Umbrella facility, Umbrella Prime. This new setting really makes the film feel more like a video game. The facility is divided intro large areas that simulate actual locales from around the world, so it gives Alice a more traditional sense of level progression as she’s trying to escape to the surface. It’s a neat concept, but the movie still falls short of being great, despite the beloved characters it introduces.

Alice is joined by some familiar faces in Retribution, with Ada, Barry and Leon making their live-action film debuts. The actors weren’t entirely 100% faithful to the characters as they were portrayed in the game series, but they did a good job nonetheless. It was nice seeing a younger Barry, and the part where he whips out his classic revolver definitely got a cheer from me. And that’s the thing, despite all the hate it gets, Retribution actually has a handful of great character moments that succeeded in making me smile.

I’ve come to accept that the live-action films, when in the lens of Paul W.S. Anderson at least, aren’t meant to be directly compared to the source material. Sure you have some B.O.W.s and characters making the jump to the big screen, but the similarities basically end there. Looking at the films, I get the feeling that the game series could end up becoming just like that if Capcom opts to go full action. That’s something I never want to see, and I’m sure we won’t. In the end, Retribution was quite entertaining and it made for a fun time at the movies. Oh, and me and my friends started a massive cheer in the audience everytime it appeared that Alice was going to die. Good times.

Resident Evil: Damnation

Up next we have Resident Evil: Damnation, which was another CG animated offering like its predecessor, Degeneration. Leon returned in this new film and we got to see what he was up to after the events of Resident Evil 4, leading up to Resident Evil 6 as a sort of prologue. Unfortunately, but expectedly, Leon’s past comes back to haunt him.

Leon was once again confronted with the threat of B.O.W.s, this time in a small, war-torn, country in Eastern Europe. He infiltrates the country and refuses to leave until he puts an end to the B.O.W. presence there. These B.O.W.s consist mostly of Lickers. A LOT of Lickers, the most we’ve ever seen in the franchise to date actually. He also takes a trip down memory lane when he goes up against the T-103 Tyrant (you know, if you’re going by Leon’s B scenario from RE2). His ghosts from the past don’t end there, thanks to the return of the Plaga parasite infecting people in the region.

The film was quite memorable, albeit slow in some bits. New character Buddy was definitely an awesome addition to the series’ cast and I hope we get to see him return someday, no matter how small his role would be. Ada also returned in Damnation, as expected, since Leon was the main character. Her encounters with Mr. Kennedy were truly memorable and one even managed to play homage to their first encounters from both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4. I teared.

I must say, I really do think Damnation is the best Resident Evil film to date. As much as I love Degeneration, I enjoyed Damnation’s plot more. It was nice seeing Leon and Claire team up again in Degeneration, but I was just more compelled by Leon’s story in Damnation. He was a one-man army, and that made for some truly awesome scenes. I absolutely loved all the action sequences in the film, especially towards the end with Leon’s epic stand against the Tyrants. Yes, I said Tyrants. Plural. It all ends with a little tease at Resident Evil 6. And speaking of Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil 6

We made it to the big one. The game that’s caused quite a lot of arguments amongst Resident Evil fans. Quite possibly the least successful main numbered entry in the series in terms of critical reception. But is Resident Evil 6 really as bad as these critics are making it out to be? In my personal opinion, no. It’s not a bad game at all. I actually consider it a great game, hence my 9 out of 10 review.

Not everyone feels the same, though, and it makes me sad to see how the reception to the game has been. I was quite shocked to see such low review scores for the game on the day of its release. It made me lose focus when I was writing my own review. Some sites were even scoring it lower than Operation Raccoon City, which is just completely absurd in my opinion. But hey, to each their own.

Capcom went all out with Resident Evil 6 in terms of content and story. We had four full-fledged campaigns that all tied together to tell a massive story revolving around a global outbreak, with our heroes and heroines facing the C-Virus and the B.O.W.s it created. I still think Revelations had the better story, but Resident Evil 6 kept me engaged across its four scenarios the whole way through regardless.

Leon’s scenario was by far the most traditional of the four, with horror being mixed with action to a satisfying result, though not as perfect as Revelations’ marriage of the two gameplay styles. Zombies made a return at long last, and there were a whole lot of them. Mr. Kennedy’s scenario was also the most memorable, which resulted in one of my favorite gaming experiences of 2012. I consider it the highlight of the entire game, but that’s not to say the other scenarios were bad.

Chris’s scenario took the action found in Resident Evil 5 to another level, improving the overall experience thanks to the updated controls (moving and shooting, everyone!!!), though I still think the cover mechanics are completely useless. I actually loved Resident Evil 5 (go ahead, shoot me, I regenerate), but I enjoyed Chris’s campaign here much more. And there were some truly epic moments peppered throughout, and some emotional ones as well. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Chris’s campaign. Yes, it was action-packed, but the the shoot-outs with the J’avo were really exciting and intense thanks to their wild nature and mutations, along with thier regenerative abilities.

Jake’s scenario was also heavy on action, but it had a decent amount of horror, thanks largely to the Ustanak. He’s not going to be dethroning Nemesis, but Usty did a good job in making things really intense when he would relentlessly chase after you. The Usty encounters were definitely memorable, but Nemmy he’s not. This scenario’s story was also one I was greatly anticipating, thanks to not only Jake being Wesker’s son, but also because of Sherry’s return. And there was something truly special in seeing Wesker and Birkin’s kids working together. I was definitely satisfied after beating it, and I do hope Jake and Sherry cross paths again. Don’t Rebecca and Billy them, Capcom!

Lastly we have Ada’s scenario. Again, this was action-heavy, but it did have some neat puzzles and item-collecting that made it feel sort of old-school at times. Unfortunately, these classic features were kept at a minimum. Having no partner tagging along also helped make the creepy moments even creepier, but again, there weren’t many of those. And guess what? Ada has a partner now, thanks to the latest title update. I really did enjoy her scenario though, and its story tied everything together nicely, showing us how she affected the other scenarios as well. And it even left things open for another mission with Ms. Wong. DLC perhaps? In the end, I consider this scenario Separate Ways 2, and I loved it.

Capcom was really ambitious with Resident Evil 6, trying to satisfy both the horror enthusiasts and the “Call of Duty crowd” as people like calling them. They added some neat features to the game as well, like the crossover segments and Agent Hunt mode. They also improved the gameplay mechanics by adding much more freedom to locomotion, with the most notable addition being the ability to move and shoot. Mercenaries also made a return, adding to the game’s replay value. It’s always fun to tackle said mode’s stages with a buddy, aiming for the highest score.

However, the biggest issue fans seemed to have, besides horror being generally kept at a minimum, was the camera. Many stated how it was too close to the player character, obstructing a clear view of what’s ahead of you. I personally never had an issue with it, but I was quite happy to see Capcom answering these complaints by giving us the ability to change the camera settings in the game, by way of the first title update. Sure, this was wasn’t available on the game’s launch date,but they were in fact listening to fans, as opposed to what many believe. Now we can all set the camera to our own liking, adding even more customization to one’s personal experience with the game.

In the end, it’s all about the fans, not just a number at the end of a review. It’s the fans that keep the series alive and amongst the best in the industry. Resident Evil wouldn’t be the iconic franchise it is today if it wasn’t for all of us that count down the days until each new release and that construct countless theories in our minds for where the series could go next. Or if you’re like me, owning two of everything Resident Evil. Don’t ask…

Yes, I gave Resident Evil 6 a 9 out of 10, I do think it’s a great entry in the franchise, just not quite up there with the best. And while there’s a lot to do in the game, ensuring the disc will be spinning in your console for a while after your purchase, I just don’t see myself going back to it all that often in the foreseeable future sadly. It’s the first main, numbered entry in the series I feel that way about. And in case you’re wondering, the RE game I’m currently playing a lot is Resident Evil 3.

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Well there you have it! It was quite an interesting year for the series. It had its ups and down in 2012, but Resident Evil shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, after Resident Evil 6’s unfortunately mixed reception, Capcom will now see what fans truly want from the series, and they’ll go from there. Give us more games like Revelations. It had action, but it didn’t ignore what made the series famous in the first place: horror.

We welcome another year. Whatever 2013 holds for the series is still a mystery, but with Resident Evil 2’s 15th anniversary this year, we might finally get the announcement of its much-demanded REmake. And so with all the games 2013 will bring us from other developers and publishers, I’ll continue revisiting the classic Resident Evil games that made up my childhood. Happy New Year, everyone!

               
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