A Look Back at the Horror Franchise’s Gun-centric Releases
2016 marks Resident Evil’s 20th Anniversary and publisher Capcom has been celebrating all year long. The company announced a new sequel in Resident Evil VII which vibes as a huge course-correction for the franchise, seeing a return to the original game’s core tenants of environmental exploration, resource management, and hard horror. PS4 owners can download a playable glimpse of the future (which I’ve talked about repeatedly).
Capcom’s also released a new spin-off, Umbrella Corps, a game that proves sometimes a good idea on paper can lead to the virtual equivalent of a burning bag of shit on your doorstep. More successfully, they’ve been mining Resident Evil’s past, re-releasing oldies on current platforms. Resident Evil 0 saw a solid HD re-treatment in the vein of last year’s superb REmake Remaster. Beyond that, Capcom has also spent a string of summer month’s re-releasing uprezzed versions of Resident Evil’s “Action Trilogy” – a trifecta of RE4, 5, and 6.
Though these departures from the franchise’s perceived formula created a rift between old school fans and the new laser-pointed generation, one thing’s inarguable: the Action Trilogy helped push Resident Evil into the mainstream spotlight. Resident Evil 5, for instance, is not merely the top selling game in the series. It’s the best selling game in Capcom’s history. Not Mega Man. Not Street Fighter. Resident Evil 5. And taking second place silver? Resident Evil 6 – a game that some publications can’t write about without preceding it with “the divisive.”
Removed from their hype cycles and marketing blitzes, I re-played each game in the action arc as they’ve been released, beginning with 6 and ending on late August’s RE4. Below, I quickly break down what these game’s were when they launched and how they fare now in order to figure out if these titles really deserve the shit that’s been heaped on them since.
But goddamn could the man take a rocket to the face.
Resident Evil 6 Anniversary
They all seem visibly upset. Stay off Metacritic, guys.
The Next Resident Evil Will Be Full-On Survival Horror
I feel like we were just talking about Resident Evil (and how it shaped me into the well rounded human being I am today, of course). Well, let’s go at it again. Capcom will bump this blog’s status up to The Green Herb if I give the series enough shout outs (I’m coming at you, man).
Resident Evil 6. Reading that title either forced a complacent shrug from your shoulders – likely coupled with an “Ehh” – or made you roll your eyes so far back into your head that your roommates are frantically calling 911 and/or a fucking exorcist. Well, therein lies the problem.
As easy as it may be to paint Capcom as a faceless, uncaring entity that churns out product regardless of vehement fan input, you need to remember that your dollar bends wills, and after RE6 missed its projected seven million unit sales goal by a margin of two mil, you best believe the Japanese publisher is listening intently to what you want.
Take it from Mr. Michael Pattison, Capcom’s former European Marketing Director, as he told it to MCV: “We have obviously seen the consumer response and the PR response.”
Now presiding as VP of third-party relations at Sony’s European offices, Pattison easily offered up his opinion on RE6, weighing in that the mixed critical and fan reaction to the game cannot go ignored, especially going into Resident Evil 7.
“With Resident Evil 6 specifically, we probably put too much content in there. There were comments from consumers that said it felt bloated,” said Pattison. “The Leon missions went down very well, and because we did Resident Evil: Revelations on 3DS, there was a cry out for us to focus our attention on survival horror, rather than be too many things to all people. You’ll find where we go next will likely be more targeted at our core fanbase.”
Commenting on the general consensus that zombie-oriented, post-apocalyptic media has been flogged like an undead horse, Pattison still believes there’s a deep seeded hunger for quality survival horror games, pointing to a recent A-list hit as a potential guiding factor for RE7’s development team.
“The Last of Us shows a good direction of what the consumers want,” Pattison said. “Tomb Raider  as well; we spoke to R&D and they looked at that and they enjoyed that experience. I think that proves there is still a strong market for that sort of content.”
Far be it for me to mislead or misinform you folks, but I have been hearing more or less the same thing, though in tiny whispers, that Capcom is working on RE7 and that the aforementioned titles are hugely influencing the game’s attempt to regain its former horror glory. Next-gen Resident Evil firmly re-planted in the survival horror genre? Let’s keep calm, keep cool, and try not to rupture something from all the internal screaming like the kind I’m doing right now.