It was 1998, and Resident Evil 2 had just been released. My brothers and I were too young to be playing it but we had managed to convince our mum to get us a copy of the first game as it had turned Platinum and was only £20.
Perched on the edge of the bottom bunk in front of our 14″ CRT, we turned the first corner and saw our first zombie. We promptly shit our pants and turned off the PS1. Along with regained composure came a fascination with a franchise that has both amazed and frustrated. I’ve come close to giving it up. but it’s still here and I’m still playing it over two decades years later.
I’ve played a lot of the games so thought I’d rank them in ascending order. Let me know what you think!
15 – Resident Evil Survivor – PS1, 2000
When I was younger I’d lap up anything from the franchise. They could have served dog poop on a plate and I’d have tried to plug a controller in.
So I happily played Survivor, ignoring the fact the controls were a mess, and that I couldn’t use my lightgun (a pretty severe misjudgement for what equated to a shooting game!) Survivor forced the arcade shooter style onto the style of the original games with little thought given to how they’d combine. The story plodded, and even the enemies looked as bored!
The antithesis of Resident Evil 7, Survivor is a badly designed and poorly thought through game that does nothing.
14 – Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City – PS3, 2012
Playing a game six years after it was released has it’s pros and cons. On one hand, it’s cheap. On the other, it may not have aged well.
‘ORC’ isn’t even fundamentally a good game, let along a good Res. Paying £45 new would have been a travesty.
Slotting into an already very busy part of the timeline with a ‘what if’ vibe, ORC follows a group of barely sketched out stereotypes that I can’t remember. It’s a lazy Left 4 Dead clone with a terrible cover mechanic and even worse aiming. Could it have been better if I’d played online with other people? Possibly. But the whole thing is so lacklustre. At least other entries down here do some things well, even if that’s only making my eyes roll!
13 – Resident Evil 0 – GameCube, 2002
I can explain how interesting I found Resident Evil 0 by telling you that I had to google the story to remind myself what happened in it.
Capcom had found a way to make a game set around the most popular time in the chronology without wrecking the story they’d already told. That’s cool, but it would be cooler if it really had anything to say. RE0 doesn’t make much of a contribution to gameplay or story in the series.
I don’t care about Rebecca Chambers or Billy Coen. Zapping between characters was novel at best. There’s no denying that it’s a very nice looking game, but RE0 didn’t leave much of an impression, other than the feeling that Capcom wasted time sticking story where there didn’t need to be any.
12 – Resident Evil 6 – Xbox 360, 2012
The culmination of a trilogy initiated by RE4, 6 is the opposite of everything the original trilogy represented, fully embracing ‘Dramatic Horror’ over ‘Survival Horror’. Bar the sometimes tense Leon sections the game falls into action sequence after sequence, completely forgetting what made the series successful.
I wanted to see the meeting between Chris Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but it felt as though it was written by a ten year old. The whole story is clumsy and obvious.
Nivens (a new character) being the best addition says it all. By making children of the main characters into this world they made it all feel so much smaller. Branch out!
The only saving grace was getting to laugh at it via co-op.
11 – Resident Evil – Code: Veronica – PS2, 2001
Capcom had finally stepped back from their Nintendo exclusivity and we were getting games again. Yay!
Weird name aside, CV took the first steps away from the old style as the camera started to follow Claire Redfield along corridors. But it suffered from two main issues.
Everything looked as though it was made from plastic. Having neither the cruder pixels of the original games or the realism of later entries left it in an odd spot. The bigger problem was the story. Claire isn’t the biggest draw for me, and bringing Wesker back as someone from the Matrix leaves me with mixed feelings.
Oh, and there’s Steve Burnside. Stupid gold Lugers.
10 – Resident Evil 4 – PS2, 2005
For me this is where it all started to go wrong. RE4’s success with floppy hair, QTEs and Las Plagas paved the way for the series to move away from its roots. I’m not blind to the fact that the series needed an injection of energy, and RE4 did indeed feature many a situation where I felt truly panicked as I climbed up onto rooftops and fumbled for headshots.
I’m absolutely rebelling against it here. I haven’t played it since it’s release on PS2, but I know I’m struggling against the feeling that it ‘stole’ Res away from me. I can’t hold it up o a pedestal when I’m upset with it! Zombies had always been intrinsically linked with the games and taking them out didn’t sit well with me.
It looked good and the controls were a huge improvement, but no thank you. This isn’t Resident Evil to me, even if it was more interesting than some of what had come before.
9 – Resident Evil – Gamecube – 2002
I purposely ignored REmake at first, as it had been years since I played it and I couldn’t clearly remember the differences between it and the original due to the passage of time. I’ve since replayed it on PS4, and even without being ‘HD’d’ the difference in quality is huge. REmake looks and sounds fantastic and in that regard is significantly more impressive than the game it’s based on.
However, in their march to improve the game I think they’ve lost some of the magic. And by magic I mean ‘crap’. That crap made the game the B-Movie marvel I’ve always thought it is. The terrible voice acting and amazing intro perfectly matched the level of storytelling. Now they’ve buffed out all the blemishes and made it so smooth that it’s actually a bit boring.
It’s never going to be a bad game because of it’s origins and looks. But it doesn’t add much.
8 – Resident Evil: Revelations – Xbox 360, 2012
Initially released as a 3DS game, I first played Revelations when it made the impressive jump to home consoles. I’d played 4 and 5, and was extremely pleased to see not only a return to surviving, but that we could finally move and shoot at the same time! For highly trained individuals it always seems a bit odd that they’re movement was so limited. Being able to back away slowly and fire off a few rounds was very satisfying. It seemed like the old and new were coming together to make something more.
I’ll always enjoy seeing Chris and Jill together (bit of a spoiler for later entries there), so it was on decent ground immediately.
The Queen Zenobia proved an eerie setting in a game that may not have reached the highest echelons of survival horror but was a very positive step in the right direction. Faith partially restored.
7 – Resident Evil 5 – Xbox 360, 2009
I’m almost as surprised as you are to find RE5 this high up the list. When I started I assumed it would be near the bottom like its sequel. But there are things two that saved this game. Co-op and Chris Redfield. Did you know that he’s had enough of your bullshit?!?
Despite hating this game at points it always comes up in conversations with my friend Keith. It may not have been a classic Res experience but it was a great two player experience. We had a lot of fun and I’ve grown to appreciate over time just how much joy we found in taking down BOW’s together. Even when I had to stand in the corner whilst he dealt with the puzzles, or when I accidentally took the sniper rifle and proceeded to suck with it, we had a good time.
Or I could have just told you that CHRIS REDFIELD PUNCHES A MOTHERFUCKING BOULDER. That should be enough on its own to justify its placement.
6 – Resident Evil: Revelations 2 – Xbox 360, 2015
Pre RE7 this was the closest the series had come to its roots since the original Raccoon City trilogy had ended. Unique for its episodic nature, this new way of releasing the game had pros and cons. The pacing wasn’t always great, but it was enjoyable to take on chunks at a time and then look forward to the next part.
The biggest selling point was finally getting to play as series legend Barry Burton. Capcom didn’t hold back on giving him awful jokes, whilst they further delved into the fatherly instincts that got him into so much trouble in the past.
Higher quality dialogue amidst the shooting and solving stayed with me too; a good balance between natural conversation and the usual nonsense that comes up in these games. Rev 2 isn’t perfect but it’s a good modern Res game.
5 – Resident Evil 2 – PS1, 1998
As this came out I was busy being scared by the original. That didn’t stop me seeing the amount of hype it garnered. Resident Evil 2 was highly anticipated, and by all accounts lived up to it. Bigger in every way, it expanded the Raccoon City story with branched storytelling and more playable characters.
It’s tough to put my finger on why Resident Evil 2 didn’t quite grab me in the same way as the other games you’ll see ranked higher. It’s a great game, with a fantastically eerie atmosphere and great music. I do think it’s a bit long, and whilst Claire and Leon have gone on to be some of the most well-known characters in the series, they’ll never be Chris and Jill.
For many people this will be the high point of the original games and possibly even the franchise. I get a lot of stick for calling it ‘the worst of the original trilogy’! It’s a fantastic game, there are just aspects of the others that have stayed with me more.
4 – Resident Evil 2 – PS4, 2019
So much is the same yet so much is different. Floppy hair, the Police Station, bent cops and a tonne of zombies…it’s all there. But the differences are welcome. For starters, Raccoon City finally has a sense of scale. It’s a big place, and finally feels befitting of having a hospital and everything else that seemed off for a Mid-Western Town. Then there’s dispatching enemies, which has taken a turn with head shots no longer being your reliable friend. More than ever you need to consider your actions. Can you take on this room? Is it wise to? Between the far more resilient zombies, lickers, and the constant threat of Mr.X, you’ve got a game worthy of being called Survival Horror despite you’re improved mobility.
There are some set pieces, with a couple really messing with me. Fortunately, not only does the game not bother with QTE’s (shakes fist at RE4), but it also manages some real emotion. Who would have thought an RE game would make me legitimately sad, and not in the way that RE6 did.
They’ve definitely earned the chance to try something else. High praise from someone who thought the original second was the weakest.
3 – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard – PS4, 2017
Resident Evil 7 blew apart my expectations, forcing its way into my top three with the scariest experience since I turned off the PS1 in a panic playing the original game. It’s a major return to Survival Horror.
In the shoes of an Average Joe thrust into a horrendous situation, Biohazard steps back from the action and OTT nature of the previous numbered entries. Instead it is gruesome and tense, especially in the first couple of hours. Things do settle down once you find a rhythm and gain more weapons but you always feel up against it.
Once again you’re left with too many enemies and not enough bullets. Taking the best aspects of the original games and doing what Survivor couldn’t, RE7 uses the first person view to crank up the intensity. I wish it tied into the continuity a bit more, but that was in such a mess that maybe it’s for the best!
2 – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – PS1, 1999
For a long long time Nemesis was my #1. Streamlined and refined, there was little backtracking and I could spin on the spot! It kept you constantly on edge via one of the best enemies of any game, the Nemesis.
Over two games I’d learnt and trusted the term ‘saved by the door’, as the classic door animation, meant to conceal the next room being loaded from disc, interrupted the jump of a dog or the lunge of a zombie. Sigh of relief breathed, I could continue on or even go back in knowing their position had been reset.
The Nemesis takes that idea, chews it up, and spits it back out. I distinctly remember the first time he followed me into another area. Off I went, almost oblivious to the change in music, until BAM, he grabbed me and promptly smashed a tentacle through my face.
Capcom didn’t start out with Nemesis being the third game. The impending release of the PS2 changed their plans for them, as did their liking of numbered entries for the PS1. The original team would go onto make RE4, whilst a relatively inexperienced team were promoted into making the next main entry. They made some bold choices too, principally stepping back from the 2 disc experience of RE2, and the complete destruction of Raccoon City. Nuking the setting of the original trilogy would give the rest of the series room to breathe.
1 – Resident Evil – PS1, 1996
Obvious? Yep! If it wasn’t going to be 2 or 3 it was more than likely going to be this. 7 makes a pleasing entry high up but ultimately the Spencer Mansion in the Arklay Mountains is where we find the number one entry and my favourite Resident Evil game.
It was a replay of Resident Evil 1 a few years ago that cemented it. I realised that the setting, and the relationship you build with it, is its single biggest strength. I mentioned the lack of back tracking as a plus when discussing Nemesis but here retreading old ground with new knowledge and items is what makes the game what it is. The mansion holds many secrets, pushing you forward despite the surroundings becoming more and more familiar.
That replay also brought with it an achievement that had long eluded me – completing it as Chris Redfield. Effectively the game’s hard mode, Chris could carry two less items. He could take more damage, but inventory management was key. Perhaps finally finishing what I personally considered the ‘true’ version was what helped get this game into top spot too.
Then there’s the opening movie. It’s terribly good as it begins a story of cowards, traitors and heroes before the series became overly complicated.
It’s clunky and it’s cheesy and the voice acting is terrible. But I don’t care. It could be taken as a slight at the rest of the series that they’ve never been able to top it, but it’s also a sign of just how good this game is.
Did where I put RE2 surprise you? Or where RE5 placed! That one surprised me too.
We’ll probably always disagree on RE4. Let’s leave that one be.
What say you? Let me know!