Hello readers and welcome to the first in Shoot the Rookie’s new monthly feature, My Favourite Series. This is going to be a 12 part feature where each month I take an in-depth look at my favourite video game series. As you can see from the title, the first series I’m featuring is Resident Evil. No harm in being topical right…?
You see, due to the upcoming release of the Resident Evil 2 remake there has been a lot of activity around the series recently. A lot of this activity has been over at the That Green Dude blog, where Brandon has been curating a series called Resident Evil Memories. It is a fantastic collaboration full of great articles reminiscing about the series. Therefore, as well as this post being the first in my new feature, it is also going to be my contribution to the collaboration. Two zombies – one shotgun, so to speak.
So, let’s get down to it. Why is Resident Evil one of my favourite video game series of all time? Be warned, there are *spoilers ahead*.
Games Played from the Series: Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil: Code Veronica, Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil Revelations & Resident Evil Revelations 2
Favourite Game in the Series: Resident Evil 4
Favourite Character from the Series: The Merchant (Resident Evil 4)
What do I like about it…?
I think it is very likely that a discussion of ‘Characters’ will feature in the majority of the series I write about, and Resident Evil is no different. As noted above, The Merchant is my favourite. I know he’s only in one game and doesn’t even have that many lines, but boy are the lines he does have good. Coming up with him was a stroke of genius by the developers. That said, I like a lot of the regular characters too, with Leon S. Kennedy probably being my favourite. He just has this relaxed vibe and is never afraid of a cheeky one-liner (“Your right hand comes off?”). The series also boasts a host of great female characters, with Moira Burton, the mouthy young rookie from Revelations 2 my favourite.
The locations that feature throughout the series are one of the things I really love about it. I was disappointed at first with Resident Evil 4 because it begins in The Village, which is basically just a big brown farm in Spain with some zombie/alien head things. However, once I got to exploring the castle I began to fall in love with it. The maze, the marble floors you can see your reflection in, the weird open train carriage thing with red leather seats and the sheer scale of the castle itself. All these things really draw my attention.
This got me thinking that many of the games in the series have awesome locations. The main hall of the police station in Resident Evil 2 with its impressive statue, and much of the mansion in the original game are particularly memorable. I’m not sure if many of the later games keep this up, but even still I was impressed by the casino and dining hall on the Queen Zenobia in Resident Evil Revelations. I like this element for two reasons. Firstly just because they look nice. They are grand, ornate locations. They are different to what I’m used to in everyday life. The other reason is that they are survival horror games. Some other examples of the genre focus on grotesque locales, but many of the locations in Resident Evil games are genuinely grand and pristine and that makes it all the more scary.
All kinds of things are poured into the series to create that tense, scary Resident Evil atmosphere. The locations are one such element, the slightly off-kilter dialogue is another. In the early games the paucity of ink ribbons and typewriters was definitely a factor, whilst other elements such as sound design also play a part. Whilst the music in the series hasn’t really stuck with me, there are elements of sound design which I think add a lot to the atmosphere. One example of this are the voices of the followers of Los Illuminados in Resident Evil 4. They chant quietly in low voices, for the most part using Spanish. You often hear them before you see them which puts you on edge instantaneously. Even more scary is when they see you. Their voices are raised, frantic even and then they begin to shout things like “¡Mátalo!” (kill him) and “¡Te voy a matar!” (I am going to kill you) and you just know you are in trouble.
Many of the games also have a few standout moments – all that tension has to come to something after all. One of my favourite standout moments from the series is the appearance of Tyrant when you try to open a door in Resident Evil 2, which is a truly terrifying moment as you have been conditioned by the game to believe that once you open the door then you are safe. Another one is when you have to play as Ashley in Resident Evil 4. You are by that point used to being well-armed Leon but suddenly you are thrown into a situation with no weapons. This isn’t a jump scare moment, it is scarier than that because you are forced to fight not only against the enemies but also against your own vulnerability. Plus it has suits of armour, the scariest thing in all the world. The first Resident Evil also has a special moment, and this one is a jump scare. If I just say the words ‘dogs’ and ‘window’ you should know what I’m on about! My final example is from Resident Evil Revelations. I’ve written about this in some detail before, but lets just say this game features a case of mistaken identity of jaw dropping proportions.
It may be scary, gruesome and sometimes quite dark, but Resident Evil is a series with lots of humour. This is incredibly important to me as I believe that showing the way in which humans remain human during difficult circumstances, and even rely on humour to get them through is fundamental to understanding how we work. So, our team is dead and we’re trapped in a mansion in the middle of nowhere surrounded by killer dogs and zombies? That is FINE as long as one of us tells a joke every now and then. Although the less said about sandwiches the better.
Without meaning to end on too much of a negative note, I am quite wary about the future of the series.
Unlike most other commentators I’m not that interested in the Resident Evil 2 remake having been unimpressed with the demo. I haven’t played installments 5-7 of the main series either, as again, they simply don’t appeal to me. I do however like the Revelations series and I hope that they will consider making a third installment. Until then I will keep on enjoying the series by giving Resident Evil Zero a go.
Even if my favourite things about Resident Evil remain in the past, it will always qualify as one of my favourite series and one I will return to again and again.
So, what do you think? Is Resident Evil one of your favourite series? If so, do you have different reasons for liking it? Let me know below in comments and make sure you check out the rest of the Resident Evil Memories collaboration over at That Green Dude.
Thanks for reading,