What Is the Best 'Resident Evil' Game? Part 1
The Failed Candidates (& 'RE4')
One of the first games I ever played all those years ago on the PlayStation One was Resident Evil Directors Cut. It was a game I fell instantly in love with, despite the fact that I was only 12 and it gave me nightmares for a week. Which is why when the remake came out on PS4 I bought it faster than you could say T-Virus. I wanted it so much it is even the reason I bought the PS4.
Having played through this game now countless times I realised two things. One I still jump out of my skin when the dogs jump through the windows in that ground floor corridor. And two that this is clearly the benchmark for all future Resident Evil Games. Not just remakes but new games as well and now having watched the trailer for the new RE2 remake it is clear to me that Capcom feels the same.
But what is the best game in the Resident Evil series?
An element that was a cornerstone of all of the games until Resident Evil 4 was ‘no set route.’ Whether it was the Spencer Mansion and grounds, the Racoon City Police Department and underground research lab or Racoon City itself, when you were playing the first games you were endlessly doubling back on yourself. Getting lost was commonplace and the only things guiding you were where you wanted to go and what keys you had managed to collect. This was something I loved, along with the creepy door loading scene. I remember distinctly once on RE3 trying to find a battery for a lift around the mid-game. It took me about three days of searching even though I passed the spot where it was about a dozen times. Though this was something that at the time was annoying the hell out of me, it was also something I missed in RE4. While there was still an element of backtracking this only occurred when either the route you were taken on bought you back to a previously locked door, or when you turned back of your own accord to collect an item you couldn’t collect when you passed through first time.
'Resident Evil 4'
Another RE4 departure from norms was the inventory system. In all previous and most post RE4 games you have been significantly limited on what you can carry with you. In RE1-3 and then Veronica X this added to the levels of tension as you always felt understocked on health and weren’t sure if you should carry a shotgun or a magnum. This meant that for your first playthrough you were always unprepared for what you were to encounter next. RE4 however changed all that with the introduction of the briefcase. For the first time you could go into the next room carrying not just one pitiful handgun and the bullets you had managed to scrounge but an arsenal that would put most militaries to shame. As a result, I found RE4 far less tense than its predecessors. Yes, the Regenerators still creep me out and who else didn’t tense up when they first heard that chainsaw? But imagine that you had just stumbled across them with only a measly pistol, one green herb and a lockpick and not a fully loaded and upgraded pump action shotgun or a mine launcher.
However, it may sound to you that I was not a fan of RE4. Nothing could be further from the truth. What it lacked for in classic RE tension it made up for in plot, character development, gameplay, and probably one of the best merchant systems in any game series. Not to mention the new aiming system which I see they have reused for the RE2 remake, RE4 definitely deserves all the praise it gets and probably is the best Resident Evil game ever. But is it my favourite Resident Evil entry?
This is actually a pretty hard question to answer as there are several I have a particular love for. I think it is easier to discard what I think are the worst entries in the series and work from there.
MIA - 'Resident Evil 7'
The first game in the series I would discard would have to be Resident Evil7. This game was by far the scariest in the series, but it just didn’t have the feel of a Resident Evil title. Don’t get me wrong this was a very well-constructed and thought out game and in VR (which I haven’t had the opportunity to try yet) it is probably epic. But an RE title? I’m sorry just no. Its only homage to the series is the mention of an unknown company making bioweapons and a reference at the end to someone named Redfield. And that’s it. Also if I’m honest I don’t think Resident Evil games should be first-person. I know there are players who love the realism this view gives but for me I’m usually fighting motion sickness while trying to complete the game.
While RE7 is at least a good game its two predecessors in the main story can’t even be called that. RE5 has gotten a lot of flak since it came out and for good reason. Its story was probably the weakest in the series until RE6 its gameplay the furthest from what you would expect on an RE game until RE6 and it just had a feel of a game that had been rushed through development to meet a deadline. The inventory took a lot of time to figure out, the partner AI was full of bugs and was only really good as a decoy, there were no true puzzles to speak of and the story was too short. And don’t get me started on punching a boulder into a volcano to make a bridge.
Resident Evil 5’s Biggest Travesty
RE5 was improved slightly by the DLC’s Desperate Escape and Lost in Nightmares although the latter could have been made better. It seemed like an attempt to merge RE5 and RE Directors Cut together into a short story. It wasn’t very good spending half of the DLC running around in a flooded basement without any weapons but it still had a more engaging effect than the main game.
I think the issue with RE5 was that the developers at Capcom built on the wrong aspects of RE4. RE4's sales and game rankings showed them incorrectly that players preferred a more action-based story as opposed to the series routes in the survival horror genre. Where they got it wrong was that RE4 was all around the best balance between the two genres allowing players to experience a more action-based gameplay coupled with a great story which evolved over the course of the game and at the same time still having elements that scared the crap out of you when you least expected it.
'Resident Evil 6' - Subway Fight - Leon Campaign
As you can probably tell from the hints I have dropped throughout this article my least favourite entry in the entire series was RE6. Though the gameplay was good, the graphics the best of the series to that point and the multiple storylines were interesting the overall story had the feel of one which had been written as they went along. Of the four storylines only, Leon’s and Helena’s really felt like a Resident Evil game and it was still really weak. But probably my biggest beef with this game was the length of the campaigns. Each was short. Really short. So short in fact that you were only just starting to get into them when they ended. This game would have been better if they had limited it to two campaigns maybe say Leon and Ada’s with longer more developed story arks similar to how they did the original Resident Evil 2. To list everything wrong with this entry I would need multiple posts. But a few stand out.
- The Car Chase: Chris and Piers
- The Harrier Fight: Chris and Piers
- The Helicopter Ride: Leon and Helena
- The Plane Crash: Leon and Helena
- The Entire Campaign: Sherry and Jake
- Never Explaining The Two Ada’s: – Ada
- The Endless Catacombs: Leon and Helena
- The Church Basement That Goes Deeper and Deeper: Leon and Helena
- The Shark Boss: Leon and Helena
- The Unexplained Superweapon: Chris and Piers
That’s ten. I could easily go on…
RE6 had a brilliant marketing campaign and drew people in with scenes like the infected president and Leon and Helena in the haunted university reminiscent of the old RE titles but in truth, it was upsold to the point where every turn was a disappointment and every good bit had already been shown in the trailer.
I have never been disappointed by a Resident Evil title not even RE5. That was until I played RE6.
So, with the new entries relegated to the sidelines can any of the older games match RE4?
I think the simple answer is yes. But that is a discussion for another day.