Resident Evil: The Good, the Bad, and the Undead

I’m not going to do an in depth point-by-point comparison or deep philosophical analysis on the difference between the ‘old’ Resident Evil (RE) games and the ‘NEW-er’ generation of RE.  Both have their merits and deserve recognition.  Also, I have JUST finished playing my way through RE 5 for the first  time (yes, yes, I know I’m a bit late,) and though I have played through the original RE (the Gamecube remake) SEVERAL times, it’s admittedly been a while since I broke bad on some O-Z (that’s Original Zombie, yeah yeah.)   The point is, I don’t feel equal to the task of comparing their merits in any detail, given it’s been a while and the details of the original are not as fresh in my head as I would like.  But I do want to discuss a couple of significant differences in the ‘old’ and ‘new’ and how they effect my gaming experience.

Alright…let me collect my thoughts…deep breath…and GO!

First of all, this whole train of thought was set into motion as the hubs and I were driving back from the store tonight.  Now, were you an avid (/obsessional) gamer, you might find that this experience is familiar to you; we were driving along and, noticing certain features of the topography, we joked about how our brains sort of cross-patched to Resident Evil uüber  mode.  A neural short circuit, if you will, but we see certain topographical details that remind us of the game, and for a split second, we want to whip out our sniper rifles and search for enemies on the hilltops or hidden treasures on the bluffs.  I shit you not. 

Anyway, this segued into a discussion about the O-Z and the original RE…where it all began.  What many consider the original survival horror game.  I told my husband that I was sort of fond of the boring old shambling decrepit zombie, that I missed him even.   That’s not to say that the Ganados (RE4) or the Majini (RE5) don’t make formidable enemies.

Actually, I think that was sort of the point.  They’re faster and in many ways more versatile.  The maps (or “game boards,” for want of a better term) in the last two installments of the franchise are detailed, expansive, and less static.  The gameplay is closer (over the shoulder first person shooter).  The enemies, as previously mentioned, are generally more dynamic.  The weapons…oh, don’t get me started.  This is my bread and butter right here! RE4-  first person over the shoulder

My favorite part of the ‘new-er’ style game play in RE4 and RE5 is the variety of weapons and the ability to upgrade your weapons with cash you’ve collected as you play your way through.  This feature gives you something extra to work for.  It’s an added dimension to the game that makes you feel more in control of your gaming experience.  After all, no longer are you limited to a single weapon in each category (ONE handgun, ONE shotgun, etc) only to be upgraded when and if you reach the stage and/or in the game where you find a better one.  In the initial play-through of RE4 and RE5,  you still do have to play through to certain set points of the game before more variety and certain upgrades become available, but after that, you have your choice of weapons.

In RE4, the choices are usually no-brainers; each new weapon only seems to get better than the one preceding it.  In RE5, the choices are a tiny more difficult; after all, one handgun’s firepower may max out at what is essentially ‘hand-cannon’ power, but maybe its magazine only holds 16 rounds, whereas a weaker handgun might offer a capacity of 100 (which translates into less inventory space “wasted” on carrying ammo around.)

Yeah, all that is great, and I played RE4 until I unlocked and procured the infinite ammo Chicago Typewriter (basically a high-powered Tommy gun), which essentially made the game so easy that it just wasn’t that much fun anymore.

Anyhoo… now that I’ve extolled (waaaay more extensively than I had intended) the virtues of the newer RE games, let me get back to my original point.  There is a fundamental difference in the newer games and the older ones (especially the original.)  If I had to name it, I suppose I’d call it the ‘spook’ factor (gimme a break, I’m sleep-deprived and running on fumes here.)

When I was first playing through RE (let’s just say RE1 to be perfectly clear, if not completely accurate,) I distinctly remember being up by myself, at 2am, in the dark, controller in hand, searching that deserted mansion room by room.  The mansion was a cavernous, vaulted panorama, eerie and beautiful.  And you never knew what you were going to find behind the next door.  Maybe a zombie, wandering aimlessly looking for a midnight snack.  Maybe a Reaper, a strong and fast-moving bio-weapon hoping to tear a chunk out of the ass of your S.T.A.R.s uniform as you ran like hell in the opposite direction.  More often than not, though, you’d find a dimly lit room, still and quiet, in which you’d explore every piece of furniture and painting for a useful item or a clue.  And when you found a piece of the puzzle, then there was that ‘a-ha’ moment.RE- the mansion

Which leads neatly into my next point.  In RE1, you actually had to do a lot more legwork.  You might enter a room and see a glimmer in the corner.  If you investigate it, you might find something useful.  In RE4 and 5, they practically give you dummy instructions; prompts appear on the screen when you wander close enough to an item you need.  In RE1, you might find an item and have NO clue what to do with it.  You have to hold onto it.  You have to keep playing.  Sometimes the item in question might fit into or be a part of yet another item, which you might not find until three boards later, at which point you might have to turn around and backtrack, unable to progress in the game until you finished the task.  Sometimes,the puzzles might have you stumped for quite a while, and you will run around the mansion aimlessly, before you figure out what needs to be done.  RE4 and 5, while presenting tasks and problems to solve, is nowhere near as involved or challenging (or, admittedly, at times tedious.)

So, to sum up (although I’m sure something else will occur to me later, as I lay in bed, and that it will probably bug the shit out of me until I finally get up and write it down or add it into this entry)…   I’m all about the modernized game-play in RE4 and 5, but I think they’re more ‘survival’ and less ‘horror’.  Keep the over-the -shoulder first person point of view.  Definitely keep the variety of weapons and ability to upgrade.  But I would love to see a return to a more in-depth, slow and steady style, with more puzzling and less ‘hand-holding’ along the way.  A more psychological experience would re-energize the RE franchise.  Sure, you can intersperse it with segments of mass amounts of zombie-killing and new mutations of horrendous creatures.  After all, we’d still want to get plenty of use out of all those cool-ass weapons!

Anyway, I know I said I wasn’t going to do a detailed or in-depth analysis, and I’m sure there are details I missed.  But I seem to have a lot of wordage here, so I guess I lied.  Sue me. 

10 responses to “Resident Evil: The Good, the Bad, and the Undead

  1. I actually prefer the Game cube versions of Resident Evil, as compared to Resident Evil 4+5. Like I said in my other comment, I don’t think 4+5 were all that scary… it seems as though Capcom pissed all over the franchise (Not to mention the movies… VOMIT! How DARE they take ideas from the movie and plant them in the games!) and ran out of ideas.

    I started playing Resident Evi when I was 6 (Yeah… I know). My dad (Who lived 40 miles north of me and I never saw him) invited me over to tell me that he had a Playstation. I remember asking “What’s a Playstation?” I thought it was a game for the Super Nintendo (Which, besides the NES, was the only game system I knew about at the time). He tried explaining it was different from the Super Nintendo, that it was a system all on it’s own… I didn’t grasp the concept until I saw it with my own eyes. The game scared the HELL out of me. First, dad had the lights off. Second, his neighbors would, for one reason or another, bang on the wall at random times, sending me five feet in the air in shrieks. He let me play it, and I remember that the controller had too many buttons on it so I kept getting killed, and I had nightmares for 3 years nearly every night. I couldn’t be alone in a dark room again for quite some time.

    When I got a little older and learned to appreciate the game, one of the first things that struck me was the music. It was EERIE! The fact that you DIDN’T know what was behind the next door, or the fact that there was no guarantee you’d ever have enough ammo (My dad always told me “Count your bullets!” to ensure I didn’t run out… they (my dad and uncle) didn’t run around enemies unless they had to…). When RE 2 came out, my dad wouldn’t let me play it, at all. It was a year or so before I could play it, and by that time I still wasn’t ready for it… I remember just getting into the police station and having a panic attack. But once again, the music, the atmosphere, the knowledge that you. Are. Trapped. There’s no one coming to help you, and the only way out is in. However, this time around ammo wasn’t such a concern. The game gave you PLENTY of ammo, as well as ink ribbons (Oh the times I spent at my dad’s/uncles (They lived in the same apartment) watching them play the game through without saving ONCE to see if they can get to the end and get a reward… oh the whole DAYS I’d spend in boredom just watching them play through it, while sucking down soda and freezing from the AC). I remember the excitement of making it through and getting a new perk… those were special days.

    When Resident Evil 3 came out, I remember Nemesis scaring the SHIT out of my dad (especially when he came crashing through the police station on your way out). The fact that ammo had to be CREATED (Which was a PAIN IN THE ASS!) as well as the first aid, you had to MAKE SURE you had PLENTY of room in your storage box at all times, otherwise you’d find yourself up shits creek (Though the being able to hold 3 first aid sprays in one slot was a nice touch). The story, as was the case with the first two games, was top notch, and by the end all of us were engrossed in the game.

    Code: Veronica was the first game my dad bought for the Dreamcast. By this time, was playing the game on my own with my dad or uncle walking me through it, telling me where to go throughout the game and (sometimes) handing the controller over when an enemy was too tough). The graphics were realistic (for the time) and the music ONCE AGAIN sent shivers down my spine. I couldn’t play the games on my OWN, mainly because of this (You couldn’t mute the TV or else you wouldn’t be able to hear any enemies coming at you). I don’t remember if I ever finished that game or not…

    REmake for Gamecube was the first RE game I’ve played on my own, as it would be a year or so before my dad or uncle would play it. At first I just rented it from Blockbuster and didn’t finish it, but I eventually purchased it and (making sure my door was locked and my light was on) I made my way down one creepy hallway after another, surprised at how DIFFERENT the game was from the original (As my uncle later said, you couldn’t rely on your knowledge from the original at ALL). I remember falling in love with the graphics and thinking how much more DIFFICULT the game was from the original. Ammo was hardly available at ALL, so running around zombies was NECESSARY (When the crimson zombie first appeared I nearly shit myself… I was NOT expecting a zombie to come CHARGING at me, swinging and punching!). I actually finished this one though, and felt so STRONG for doing so. I was no longer the scared little boy who was forced to watch his daddy play such a horribly violent game, I was now the young man who was able to sit and play it and, yes feel scared, but also be mature enough to sit through it and enjoy the fear.

    RE0 was nice, because ammo was even more available and you had a partner to work with (THIS, I think, is the only time in the entire franchise where the partner actually HELPED). The graphics (especially the cut-scenes) kept me going, as did the story, and I couldn’t put the controller down until the game was done. This, I’m afraid, was the last good Resident Evil game, and while I have played MOST of the others (The online RE games for PS2 notwithstanding). I have played Resident Evil Survivor (The game was horrible… a first-person shooter within the World of Resident Evil… skip over this one). I’ve played the RE games for Wii (The Umbrella Chronicles), and while these are FUN games to play through, they are NOTHING compared to the Gamecube versions.

    Now, I’m awaiting RE6, RE Operation Raccoon City, and Resident Evil Revalations for 3DS. This year is going to be good for Resident Evil.

    So, as you can see, I have a deep knowledge of the franchise and am emotionally connected to it. I’ve read all of the books (Yes, there ARE books to the original video games as well as the movies), own the soundtracks (There are tracks to Claire or Leon dying, lol, as well as actual music), and read the comics. If there’s ANYTHING I’d improve upon the Resident Evil universe, it’d be the films, because they seriously suck ass (And yet I own all of them and seen them all in theaters). I’ve been with the franchise almost from day one and I hope that it doesn’t die any time soon (no pun intended).

    • Whoa, dude! This should be a blog entry in and of itself! 😀
      Well, the first time I tried to play RE (I don’t even remember how old I was) I couldn’t get the hang of the way the controllers seemed backwards. I left it go, and it was years til I tried it again. And like you said, (and it’s something I am still learning at times,) sometimes you just have to run, So, it took a couple of tries before I was able to get anywhere in the game without dying. I saved a bajillion times my first play through. LOL
      Sounds like your Dad and Uncle scarred you for life. LOL. If I had nightmares from something my dad let me watch or play over his house (and I did see some dumb shit at his house- “IT” when I was like 10) my mom would probably have never let him hear the end of it!

      • Sorry, I DO tend to write a lot… I love writing, lol. My mom wasn’t really a “parent” perse, more of a person who paid the bills (When she could) and bought food… I think we all can list one or two things that scared us, lol. I remember having dreams almost every night of being on the second floor of the dining room in RE 1, and being too scared to shoot the damned zombies and having to hide on the other side of the room so they wouldn’t see me. Haha, funny how dreams work. I also saved a lot during my first play through (I still do, because I don’t want to have to go through it all over again just to get to where I was… I HATE backtracking- in RE 0 I’d bring stuff from one mansion into another about 8-9 times so I wouldn’t leave anything behind, and it would take me nearly 2 hours to do!). Oh well, I’ll probably never play those games again because I’ve played them so often, but it IS fun to talk about them every now and then 🙂

        • No,no, don’t be sorry. I was just pointing out that you could blog about this, since you said you are just starting out. I mean, you have enough ‘fodder’ for a blog entry. LOL. Oh, I forgot to mention the movies. I actually love most of the movies, but not in the sense that they resemble the games (cuz obviously they don’t). I am also a huge Milla Jovavich fan.
          I also hate backtracking… My husband will do the same thing over and over and over again in a agme, just to gain money or experience points. I get bored with that. And I won’t even touch his RPGs… Zzzzz…

  2. Oh you shameless plugger you 🙂

    After reading your analysis, I reckon the older style games are the ones for me. Also I can finally make use of the GameCube I’ve kept for the last ten years for no apparent reason. Off to ebay to buy RE1 – Hooray

    Thanks for the for the informative and (as always) amusing read.

      • Indeed, my mind immediately went elsewhere as I was typing it.

        I would love to blog about my experience when it’s completed, but my missus allows me about 10 minutes of game time a week (if I’m good, I’m never good) so I will have to pass the job onto my children. It can be a really shitty family legacy.

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  4. Pingback: Resident Evil: The “Oh Shit” Factor | alienredqueen

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