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 Resident Evil 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. But I’m still playing it over two decades years later.
There are currently 28 Resident Games, as per Wikipedia. I’ve now played 18 of them.
Games I haven’t played (yet?) – Survivor 2 – Code: Veronica, Gaiden, Dead Aim, Outbreak Outbreak: File #2, Deadly Silence, The Darkside Chronicles, The Mercenaries 3D, Umbrella Corps.
So whilst I can’t describe this list as complete, I would call it extensive. Looking forward to your agreement/outrage!
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 light gun (a pretty severe misjudgment 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 bored!
Survivor is the antithesis of Resident Evil 7; badly designed and poorly thought through.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City – PS3, 2012
A first play six years after release has it’s pros and cons. On one hand, it’s cheap. On the other, it may not have aged well.
‘ORC’ isn’t a fundamentally good game, let alone 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 lackluster. At least other entries down here do some things well, even if that’s only making my eyes roll!
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’.
Split up into intersecting character campaigns, the Leon section rarely accidentally falls into something resembling the original games.
The rest however, is a drab, lifeless world of QTEs, boring music, and clunky controls.
I wanted to see Chris meet Leon. 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 at a point when it could it have been so much more.
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.
The one saving grace was getting to laugh at it via co-op.
Resident Evil 4 – PS2, 2005
I didn’t understand back in 2005, and I still don’t. I’ve even tried the HD remaster to see if time away, and the evolution of the series since, would help.
Initially positioned to reflect the resentment I’ve long held toward it for ‘taking Res away from me’, it now stays down here because I just don’t like it! My recent play, on PS4, felt clunky at best. There were some amusing quips from Leon at least.
I’m not blind to the fact that the series needed an injection of energy. RE4 did indeed feature many panic inducing situations as I climbed up onto rooftops and fumbled for headshots.
It looked good and the controls were a huge improvement, but it has always felt like a pretender to the crown for me. It didn’t feel like RE at the time, and now it’s aged it doesn’t leave me anything to hold onto nostalgia wise either.
Resident Evil 0 – Gamecube, 2002
Something I often struggle with is the fact that the RE remake and its sister title RE0 arrived only six years after after the original Resident Evil on PS1.
The prerendered backgrounds always looked great, but the GC titles upped the ante. A more recent ‘HD’ing’ ups it even further. Animated flourishes and extra detail on the character models adds to atmosphere and really brings you in.
From a gameplay point of view, it’s only aged in the things you wouldn’t change, such as the main mechanics and menus.
What those 6 years did not bring, is an improvement in story telling.
Resident Evil 0 is still dull as hell, failing to make a compelling story from a situation – the fall of STARS Bravo Team – that really could have been.
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles – Wii, 2007
The big caveat here is that I played this on the PS4 through PSNow. So the controls, originally designed for Wii Remote, were awkward at best. But Umbrella Chronicles has something that other entries at this end of the list do no, charm.
Not tonnes of it mind you, but it’s brisk retelling of the RE0, RE1 and RE3 is reasonable. It’s Wesker who really brings it, with a frankly ridiculous voice.
His overly elaborate enunciation is comical, but does hark back to the B-movie nature of the original game. I can forgive it a lot for that.
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 followed Claire 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.
I hope this one gets a remake.
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 the crap that made the original 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 for me it doesn’t have the same magic.
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 was elated to see the return of survival, and that we could finally move and shoot simultaneously! It was meant for tension but it always seemed odd that highly trained individuals couldn’t shoot whilst moving. 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.
Chris and Jill together is always great to see 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.
Resident Evil 5 – Xbox 360, 2009
I know! RE5 is 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?!
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.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 – PS4, 2015
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. Before 7 this was the closest the games had got to the original style.
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.
Resident Evil 2 – PS1, 1998
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 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.
Resident Evil 2 – PS4, 2019
Everything that made the original great is there, but the differences are welcome. Raccoon City finally has a sense of scale, feeling befitting of having a hospital and everything else that seemed off for a small Mid-Western Town.
Dispatching enemies 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? From the more resilient zombies through to the constant threat of Mr.X, you’ve got a game worthy of Survival Horror despite you’re improved mobility.
There are some set pieces, with a couple really messing with me. It also manages to be genuinely emotional. Who would have thought an RE game would make me legitimately sad.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard – PS4, 2017
Resident Evil 7 blew apart my expectations, with 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.
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!
Resident Evil Village – PS5, 2021
I didn’t expect it to be this high if I’m honest with you.
But Village stands on the shoulders of 7, adds in a bit more action, and brings both itself and its predecessor fully into the fold story wise.
It adds layers to the story experience of 7, and I can’t ignore that I get to see more of Chris Redfield. He’s still a beefcake, and he has great clothes, but you can see the toll the years have taken on him.
It’s all about Ethan and his family though really, and he becomes more than just a first person avatar here.
Sure, it goes a little COD in places, and perhaps the villains could have interacted with each other more, but it’s got replayability, and I love the lore wrinkles it adds.
Resident Evil 3 – PS4, 2020
Supremely replayable with a perfectly updated and improved team of Jill and Carlos; the remake of RE3 is the most fun I’ve had with the series. Some will see the short run time as a major negative point. I see it as a strength. RE3 is finally the action film it should have been, providing an entertaining and punchy time whilst exorcising my resentment of RE4.
Look at it as part of bigger picture alongside the remake of RE2, and you’ve got a thorough, and thoroughly modern, retelling of a classic story that I feel finally gives us the true downfall of Racoon City.
The advent of RE2R’s Mr X meant Nemesis could never really top his first introduction, but RE3R does an awful lot right for me.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – PS1, 1999
For a long long time Nemesis was my #1. Streamlined and refined over it’s predecessors, there was little backtracking, with story that kept pushing for forward. I could even spin on the spot!
‘Nemesis’ didn’t start life as a numbered entry, but the impending release of the PS2 changed Capcom’s plans. It was a big change from RE2, mixing new features with a smaller world – odd to find in a sequel of a big franchise.
The Nemesis chews up and spits out the idea of being ‘saved by the door’, a game and coding mechanic that saved my behind many times previously. He was one scary bastard!
RE3’s bold storytelling, obliterating the game’s world up to the that point, was exciting, and along with it’s antagonist, left a big mark.
Resident Evil – PS1, 1996
Obvious? Yep! Recent games have ranked pleasingly high, but ultimately the Spencer Mansion in the Arklay Mountains is where we find the number one entry and my favourite Resident Evil game.
Back in 2012 I replayed Resident Evil 1, and it was then that it solidified itself as the benchmark. 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. Finally unlocking a door you’ve been walking for hours is both exhilarating and terrifying.
That replay also brought with it an achievement that had long eluded me – completing it as Chris Redfield. Effectively the game’s hard mode, he could take more damage, but inventory management was key. Finally finishing what I considered the ‘true’ version was what helped the game reach the top spot for sure.
Then there’s the opening movie. Cobbled together in a few days with jobbing actors who only match up to the in game models if you squint it’s an awesome/terrible introduction.
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.
There you go! I’d love to hear your thoughts. How would you rank Resident Evil?