A Gamer’s Journey: Resident Evil

*WARNING* These are my personal experiences and my opinions. Love me if you wish. Hate me if you must. Agree. Disagree. Agree to disagree. Whatever.

I was there for the birth of video games. Almost. In my youth I remember playing that damn digital table tennis game, what was it called, Pong? (First played in 1968? I wasn’t born yet, but I did later play it. It was my first ‘video game’.) Yes, the Atari 2600 was a part of my after school activities. I mean screw homework. Who needs to do that? I was an avid player of Yars Revenge, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Frogger and later Zelda. Saturday afternoons you could find me at the local mall in the arcade. Oh, and I almost forgot Castle Wolfenstein on the Apple II. I was even part of the first computer programming classes offered widely to mainstream education. (I made a tree grow, a dog pee on it, then made the tree die.)

In college I uploaded Doom to the computer lab and crashed the entire lab. I was subsequently banned from the computer lab for a semester. When Sega came out I played Mortal Kombat and Sonic the Hedgehog. But soon I took a break from video games as I was neck deep in my career. Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with video games. Go figure.

Now comes the main reason for this article. It was the summer of 1999 and I was living in Tennessee. I shared one of those huge southern homes with a couple of people. The rent was astronomical, but the house was gorgeous and my roommates were terrific. One of them brought home Resident Evil. Yes, I know. Three years late. Being a horror fan and watching the gameplay I was instantly enthralled. One night, my roommates had both been called into work for an overnight, I was off pending new information related to my job. This was my chance. I HAD to play this game for myself. There was a terrible storm raging outside and at the time my biggest fear was losing electricity or possibly electrocuting myself with the controller. In the south they get epic thunderstorms. The kind like in the old movies. Frankenstein comes to mind.

Soon, I was scared of more than just losing the lights and power. This game terrified me. Which I couldn’t understand because by this time I was a bad-ass horror fan. Or so I thought. This game completely rewrote the rules on terror. Everyone has a fear and this game covered them all. Vicious attack dogs, gigantic spiders, snakes, sharks, flesh-eating zombies and other unknown terrors awaiting the hapless gamer. I’m ashamed to admit this now, but I couldn’t finish the game. I had to shut it off.

Several months later, through continued attempts at gameplay and watching my roommates, we noticed something we hadn’t noticed before. In the mansion, when you return from outside, and more areas are unlocked we witnessed what can only be described as subliminal mind-fuckery. I believe it is the hallways around the library – something akin to atomic bombing shadows – there were body shadows on the walls. So, subliminally you were on edge because it looked like there were zombies there. And I remember us remarking that the game developers were fucking geniuses.

Obviously, we picked up Resident Evil 2. One of our friends gave us a tip: “when you finish playing one character’s scenario, save and continue with the next. Some scary shit happens then.” Yeah. Thanks a lot, John. I remember Josh (one of my roommates) playing it first and he literally dropped the controller when the Mr. X Tyrant broke through the wall in the newsroom. And again in the hallway. To be honest, he wet himself a bit. However, none of us laughed at him. It scared us too and we weren’t even playing. Tim (a friend who had stopped by for a visit) dropped his coffee cup shattering the glass top of our coffee table. (You owe me a coffee table, Capcom.) The already loved developing series had upped the ante. We had Claire Redfield, Chris’s sister and Leon Kennedy join Team Raccoon City. Also Umbrella Researcher’s daughter, Sherry Birkin. Honestly, I tried to shoot her. In the head. Hey, kids are a liability. Anyway who needs a life time of psychotherapy with minimal progress and drug addiction? It was an ‘attempted’ mercy killing. Nope. The kid stays. And then there was the female spy, Ada Wong. She would play a big part of the series in time.

Later on Josh brought home Dino Crisis and I believe there was a short playable demo of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. So of course we had to run out and buy it. We quickly developed a love/hate relationship with Nemesis. Bastard. In this game we pick up with former S.T.A.R.S. member Jill Valentine trying to escape Hell. This was fun. You could also make gunpowder. How cool was that? And you know what? Fuck that giant worm. I hated that thing. Good hate. Hate is good.

To. This. Day. In 2015. I LOVE the trilogy and I probably always will. No. I definitely will. I own the trilogy for both PS and GC.

Then came Resident Evil Code: Veronica. And Code: Veronica X. We actually got our hands on the Dreamcast version. I sadly no longer have it, but I do have the GC version. And while I liked the gameplay and the story there was one thing I was deeply perturbed about. I’ll get to that in a minute. With Veronica we saw the story of one of Umbrella’s co-founders unfold. The Ashford’s. I did giggle a bit over Alfred and the whole cross-dressing thing. So I’m immature. Forgive me. And while most were happy to see the return of Wesker; some weren’t. I think that can be blamed on the whole Soap Opera cliché of characters being killed off then miraculously returning. At best it usually gets an eye roll. Wesker’s return was a good thing though. It provided a solid series antagonist. For a bit.

What upset me, and please allow me to be a bit facetious, was the character change. Here we had Wesker, a super cop from the USA in the midwest – but now he’s British. WTF? And he looks like Zack Morris from the US television series Saved By The Bell. My reaction was: “what…in…the…fuck… is this shit?” Continuity. Ever heard of it? While this is not the voice actor (Richard Waugh’s) fault I put the blame squarely on Capcom. Wesker was now a comic book villain version of himself and it would only get worse. Much, much worse.

In 2002 we got a remake. In my opinion, dealing with the Wesker character alone, his appearance and aided by Peter Jessop’s gorgeous voice was THE perfect incarnation. Now THIS is Wesker, I thought. Calm, cool, collected, evil mastermind, an absolute bloody bastard and without being too cliché. Not too mention fellow voice actors Joe Whyte and Ed Smaron as Chris Redfield and Barry Burton – this was perfection. Everyone involved needs to be knighted or something. Someone get the Queen on the phone. Seriously. Capcom redeemed themselves and it was glorious. Yes, they added some backstory. We got the tragic Trevor family which was a very nice touch. It expanded the story in a way that we got to see just how bad Umbrella was and the true importance of the mansion. Not that we had any doubt before, but this pushed it over the top. This is my favorite game out of the whole series hands down. If you couldn’t tell.

Also in 2002 we got Resident Evil Zero. Not bad. The co-op gameplay threw me for a bit, but I still played. It showed what happened to the Bravo Team. It showed James Marcus/Queen Leech’s part in the biohazard. We learned exactly the cause of the biohazard in the first place. Which was kind of cool. Was it absolutely necessary? Yes and no. I am sure they could have incorporated that information somewhere else. Somehow else. But, it is what it is. And I do own this game.

I didn’t play any mobile games or any side games so the next game for me was Resident Evil 4. We got the return of Leon S. Kennedy and Ada Wong from Resident Evil 2. Awesome. I think. Maybe not. Also, that dickhead Wesker is watching everything and orchestrated the whole damn thing. It takes place in Spain. Or Spain-like. Oookay. I guess. The Illuminados? (*cough* Illuminati *cough* .) Okay Capcom, if you’re not even going to try then I’m not going to bother. Everything changed. The story was a bit ridiculous and convoluted in my opinion. This is my understanding. Some mercenary dude hired by Wesker, (Krauser) kidnaps the president’s daughter, (offers her as a sacrifice? yes? no?), to earn some whack-jobs trust, so he can steal something from them? An ancient parasite? Hiding… under a medieval castle…. Uh-huh. Uh, no. Leon is trying to rescue the president’s daughter. Ada is there as backup to Krauser, or is it the other way around? Wow. Are we done yet? Fellow RE lovers you can defend it and say to me, “you just don’t get it.” Yeah, you’re right. I don’t. Stupid. Just stupid. Stop. Please.

So, I did what any rational human being would do. I said fuck it and continued to play the original trilogy, REmake and sometimes CVX. I still have the goodness. Ahh, the memories. The nostalgia. Save me.

Some of my fellow friends who also love RE were telling me to play some of the ‘side games’ or ‘mobile games’. Out of all of them Outbreak/Outbreak File #2 does look kind of doable to me. I like the addition of Kevin Ryman to the RPD family. Marvin Branagh from RE 2 is there. Other survivors. You know, regular people… in Hell. This is one that I am considering getting. I know! I’m late to the party. Forgive me, again.

Needless to say I did kind of leave the series. Then Resident Evil 5 exploded onto the scene. I read reviews. I watched gameplay. And… NO. Capcom had wandered so far from the original genius that WAS once Resident Evil. Gameplay was completely different. The new shit. I am not a fan. Sorry, I’m old fashioned. I’m a dinosaur, okay? And Wesker? Oh God, Wesker. (Despite my love for D.C. Douglas; this is going to be bad and entirely NOT his fault.) Lame, comic book villain, cardboard cutout. If I could invent new swear words, I would, but sadly I’m not that intelligent or that influential. Here’s a suggestion to Capcom. How about you remake 5 and throw everything out except LIN? Lost In Nightmares is the only redeemable part of RE 5, in my opinion.

Again with the new gameplay. Sigh. I received a Nintendo 3DS for Christmas in 2012 and also Resident Evil: The 3D Mercenaries. Do I really need to tell you what happened? Yeah, it’s sitting on a shelf collecting dust and possibly some cool spiders. (Don’t tell my roommate about the spiders. Deathly afraid of spiders, she is.)

A couple months later I decided to give Resident Evil: Revelations a try. Nice try Capcom, but no cigar. The graphics are amazing. That is all I can say. Hey, it’s a compliment, be happy. Because right now, some of you are probably calling me a bitch.

I will not discuss Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. Okay. I will. Besides thinking it was nothing more than a blatant rip-off of Blade II, I did enjoy the tour of Raccoon City. I’m sure there might be some discrepancies, but it was nice seeing more of the city. Can I just get a supplementary DVD extra of a guided tour of Raccoon City? Can someone make that happen?

That same year Resident Evil 6 hit. I was not impressed. I think at this point I have run the series down enough. I just can’t anymore. Same with Resident Evil: Revelations 2. I was greatly disappointed in Alex Wesker. Another throwaway, wasted opportunity, villain.

So now, presently, we sit on the cusp of a Resident Evil 2 remake. Holy shit. The debates have been heated and certainly entertaining. I wish simply for what other old gamers wish. That they don’t fuck it up. Yes, that is a blanket statement, but we’re tired damn it. Reading remarks like “the present team at Capcom doesn’t even have half the talent of the original Capcom team” is really worrisome. However, looking over the past several installments, that seems to be an evident truth. I think it is safe to say that I am done with this series. I have been done with this series. However, I still have the games of the series I love. Resident Evil will always be a part of me.

As the title states: this was my personal journey, not yours. But, if you enjoyed this article – like it, share it, comment your support. If not, then let the beautiful shit storm commence.


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