I had the pleasure of trying out Dragon Age II over the summer at San Diego Comic Con 2010. Was I a lucky member of the press whisked away to some dark room to spend hours with the game? No, absolutely not. I waited in a long line with other passionate fans for about an hour to get my hands on an early build of the game. As I told a number of my friends, the game looked and felt amazing. Combat had been sped up, and everything felt more fluid and tactile.
Today was a huge day for all things Resident Evil! The demo for Resident Evil: Revelations hit the 3DS (to very some very positive buzz), the teaser for Resident Evil: Retribution dropped from Sony, and less than an hour ago a Gamestop employee leaked the release date of Resident Evil 6 to the internet (11/20/2012). It should be noted that Capcom still has a press conference planned for later this evening in which more details of RE:6 will inevitably be revealed. Ironicly enough I started writing an article on the Resident Evil franchise this weekend while in transit to Epcot with some friends. Yep, that’s right, I chose to write stuff in the back seat of a Ford Explorer like a total social pariah. It was worth it because I came up with the five things needed to fix Resident Evil Franchise.
1) Back to Raccoon City: Locations like the Spencer Mansion, Umbrella Labs, RPD Police Station, and Kendo’s Gun Shop are just as important to the series as Leon, Jill, and Chris. Resident Evil became a muddled mess as soon as the scope of the series got a bit too large. This is something I saw happen reading comic books as a kid. Writers with a bit too much creative freedom end up bogging down a story with tons of “outrageous content” and very little of what matters the most, character development. Bring the core cast back to a decimated Raccoon City to investigate the return of the Umbrella Corporation. Trust me, we all want it.
2) Streamline the Cast: Chris, Jill, Leon, Claire, Carlos, Barry, Rebecca, Hunk, Ada…etc. There are simply too many heroes in the Resident Evil universe at this point! While the RE franchise does in fact have a ton of protagonists, what do we really know about them? Games have changed a whole lot since the Resident Evil series was first introduced in 1996, and it’s no longer okay for the main character in a plot driven story to be a mystery. Even after playing every RE game multiple times, I can’t tell you very much about Chris Redfield other than the fact that he used to fly planes and he has a sister named Claire. Sure other details have been revealed, but they’re not important enough for me to even recall. As much as I love them, franchise characters need to die and the cast needs to shrink (just don’t kill Jill again).
3) Zombies, the real ones: Would zombie mania be sweeping the nation without Resident Evil? Probably not. Sure you can argue that zombies have been popular since Romero released NOTLD, but the genre was dead and buried until Shinji Mikami and his crew at Capcom gave us the scariest game ever made. I don’t know if you all recall, but the zombies in RE:1 were actually pretty damn scary! In the past decade Zombies have become “cool”. Zombie themed games, modes, comics, and television shows are now available literally everywhere you look. I’m shocked there isn’t a zombie themed breakfast cereal… yet. This new found popularity forced the Resident Evil franchise to step away from zombies (as silly as that sounds). While Resident Evil 4 and 5 were incredible adventures, the zombies were sorely missed. Bring back the iconic shambling zombies of old!
4) Villainy: With the fall of Umbrella taking place in an on-rails Wii game, fans of the series never really got a true sense of closure or accomplishment. Does this mean that we need Wesker to come back in his black-anime trench coat? No, not really, but a single hated antagonist is the driving force behind every great story. Examples you ask? Would Star Wars be anything without Darth Vader? Or Final Fantasy 7 without Sephiroth? Giving the player someone to hate and a reason to hate them is the driving force in every great adventure story. Did I “hate” Tricell in RE:5? Nope, I didn’t even care who they were.
5) Game Play: The controls of a Resident Evil game have always been its weakest attribute, but what can be done to combat the now infamous “tank controls?” Make Resident Evil a 3rd person-survival horror-action-shooter. Games like Dead Space and Alan Wake have done some wonderful things for the survival horror genre that Resident Evil can really learn from. Make the environments spooky, the enemies deadly, and the ammo limited, and you may just find that the player is feeling a bit nervous. Games like Gears of War 3 prove that fast paced 3rd person action can still be scary, so do it!
Hopefully some of my concerns are addressed and Resident Evil 6 is the best game in the franchise. Let us know how YOU would save Resident Evil below.
Oh yeah, did you ever read the interview I did with Julia Voth? (Jill Valentine)