There was a time when the name Resident Evil caused waves of excitement. These days it’s lucky enough to generate a bowel movement. Let’s face it friends, the Resident Evil franchise has become the very thing it made us fight. A shambling, bloated, husk of a being. Shuffling around awkwardly, only making us take notice when it would expel some mildly interesting game mechanics from its wretched gut. But now blinking on the horizon is Resident Evil 7, a new chapter in the ongoing saga of Biohazards and back-stabbing. Latest game Revelations 2 caused a ripple that pleased a lot of people, but there’s still an air of uncertainty hanging over the gaming world, will Resident Evil 7 bring the series back to its former glory? Or will it be the game that buries it forever?
For the record, I love Resident Evil. Always have, always will. I have fond memories of watching my dad play the original trilogy when I was a child. Questionable parenting aside, I was captivated by the characters and creatures on screen. I was however a little too scared to play the games myself, but flash forward ten years and I fell head over heels in love with them. I devoured every last morsel that Capcom threw at me, even sub-par efforts like Dead Aim and Outbreak File #2, which ditched the traditional formula in favour of zombie elephants.
Capcom, what were you thinking?
Resident Evil 4 however is a masterpiece and I’ll go fisticuffs with anyone who says otherwise. It revolutionised the gaming landscape and blew all other third-person action games out of the water. However it did fail in one area; the horror. Yes, it can be intense and nerve-racking but there’s a distinct lack of tension and scares that disappointed fan-boys like me. Jump ahead to Resident Evil 5, which is a great game in its own right, but a terrible excuse for a Resident Evil game. It took the iconic characters and turned them into bloated, cartoonish variations of the charming B-Movie stock personalities they once were. There was some great co-op, fun set-pieces and enough ridiculous dialogue to keep me smiling, but it was still a far-cry from the series heyday. Then along came Resident Evil 6. The less said about that game the better.
The recent Revelations games have proven to be a step in the right direction, but we still aren’t in the right place. There’s been a return to the survivalist nature of the first few outings, but Capcom are still cuddling up to the action genre and poisoning the games in the process. We’re currently drip-fed info on the next chapter and I’m finding it harder and harder to care. My once favourite franchise is simply boring me with endless copy-and-paste jobs littered with fan service. So what about Resident Evil 7? What exactly do we know?
The short answer is, not a great deal. A tentative release date is set for this coming December and we can expect the typical slot at this year’s E3 to provide us with samplings of gameplay. Capcom officials have stated that they want to move away from the direction of more recent offerings and it’s about time. Murmurs about returning to the drawing board of the first three games have also been heard, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Triple-A gaming has taken to the horror genre and given it a well needed kick up the arse. Critical and commercial success has been lavished upon games like Alien: Isolation and The Last of Us so surely it’s about time Resident Evil got back on the praise train and showed the games it inspired a lesson or two in fear. Now we’ve come to the root of the problem with recent Evils, they lack the fundamental elements that made Resident Evil so popular. A keen eye for horror and game mechanics that leaned heavily on survival.
The original game was so ground-breaking because you couldn’t just blast your way through zombies, you had to save every last bullet as you were never sure what was waiting in the shadows. There was a constant slew of creepy music to accompany you as you wandered around the Spencer Mansion. Usually followed by sudden bouts of silence that would make you clench so hard you’d leave indents in the upholstery. Nowadays, we have none of that. Gone is the subtlety and atmosphere; replaced with plentiful ammo pick-ups and enemies with the bone density of papier-mâché. As much as I enjoyed the fourth and fifth outings, I never really found myself struggling to beat them. There was some challenge in the later stages, but never a feeling of helplessness or genuine terror. Let’s face it ,it’s pretty difficult to feel helpless when you’re carrying a hand-cannon the size of your well-toned thighs. Even more so when you’re constantly being followed a side-kick who’s AI has the intelligence of a three year old.