With the releases of Resident Evil 4 and Code Veronica X in HD on the PSN and XBLA this is what I have been doing with myself.
First things first. I love the Resident Evil series. It takes me back to my pre-teens, back to a time where even it’s target audience would call Justin Bieber annoying and gay. I would meet at a friends house and we would play one of 3 games, 2 of those were Final Fantasy VII and Command & Conquer, but the one I want to focus on today was Resident Evil, believe it or not those graphics used to be good. The camera angles were always horrible mind, but the one thing I most enjoyed about the series was also it’s biggest flaw, the dialogue. The dialogue was that horrible and broken that it was laughable, which made it entertaining. Like watching a film with Steven Seagal in it. You don’t enjoy it because it’s a good film, you enjoy it because it’s a horribly bad film.
As sequel after sequel were released you saw minor improvements and minor tweaks that kept the games appealing to current fans, but less appealing to people new to the series, It was like opening a novel halfway through and to start reading from there. That is until Capcom decided that the series was in dire need of a 21st century reboot. At the release of Resident Evil 4 I was comfortably set in as a Resident Evil fan boy and was outraged by Capcom taking a series I loved and remould it to make it more mainstream so they could attract a wider audience and make more money, Capcom you sell-outs. To this day I still don’t know why it’s called Resident Evil (other than the obvious that it would sell better when a well known brand is stapled to it, see Silent Hill 4 for details). It has as much relevance to the original series as Custard does to the Custard Cream. It would be like playing Pokemon as Jeremy Clarkson and calling it the Top Gear Edition.
Lets start the “review” rather than rant about nostalgia and Capcom selling out shall we? Ok. The story has no relevance to the earlier games apart from the appearance of a few old faces. Leon S Kennedy from Resident Evil 2 is back and it’s his job to rescue the Presidents daughter who has been kidnapped for some reason and rather than going along with standard American foreign policy to send in an armed force, blow up half of every city, steal a few natural resources, announce victory and claim the lives of the that country have been significantly improved. Instead it’s decided that one agent armed with a pistol and a radio with a woman inside would be sufficient. The inevitable proverbial shit hits the fan and it’s up to Leon to take down a whole bio-terrorist cell single handed and rescue the princess… I mean the presidents daughter.
The biggest step away from the franchise was to not put zombies in a game that’s series was very big on zombies. Instead we have villagers who might as well be zombies but can open doors, use weapons and engage in light conversation with each other, although sometimes big bug things can appear out of the decapitated stumps of dead enemies randomly. Another huge difference was to chuck the fixed camera and go for an over the shoulder view instead. Making aiming for head shots infinity easier but having the disadvantage of not being able to see behind you. Just like real life. Although unlike real-life when aiming Leon must stand perfectly still for reasons unknown to man. Maybe it’s one of those “Men can’t multi-task” things where if Leon were to move and aim at the same time he would have to stop breathing or something similar, but I like to think women only say that to make up for their inability to priorities.
Overall I enjoyed it. The game-play was interesting enough for me to complete it back when I first played it and memorable enough for me to buy it and complete it again when released in HD. Although I still have that niggling feeling that it probably would have been a better game if it wasn’t a Resident Evil game, if it were instead the start of a new series to replace Resident Evil instead of re-branding it for a new generation who enjoyed the films (which btw. were a series of wank sandwiches each one having more filling than the last). Then again it wouldn’t have sold as well if it was called “Secret Agent no. 65,524 vs Spaniard Villagers”, but that’s just me.
The Resident Evil series has come a long way since me and my friends took the day off school so we could go into our local Blockbusters and rent out Resident Evil 2 on the day of release. Although Resident Evil 4 is a good game it doesn’t feel like a Resident Evil. The games I fell in love with and still feel nostalgic about are not in there which personally for me spoilt it slightly.
On a final note I do recommend it, it’s worth at least a play through, just leave all expectations at the door and try to imagine that it’s just a coincidence that the protagonist’s name is the same as the cop from Resident Evil 2.
Capcom you Sell-outs.