Resident Evil Needs to Be Scary Again
For years, Resident Evil has been known as one of the most thrilling action-adventure franchises around. It was the series that successfully popularized the survival horror sub-genre, and it has garnered a loyal following throughout the years. The series' story slowly evolved, and when Resident Evil 4 launched, the core gameplay mechanics were drastically altered. Though the foundations that propelled Resident Evil were still present, there was more emphasis on action gameplay, the environments were more atmospheric, and the element of surprise was constantly around every corner. Survival horror had evolved.
A few years later, though, all of that changed. Resident Evil 5 was being promoted for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and it appeared yet another stellar entry in Capcom's popular franchise. Not surprisingly, Resident Evil 5 launched to critical acclaim. Fans of the series enjoyed it, and even newcomers found it to be a worthwhile experience. The game offered a lengthy campaign, cooperative play for two players, a new environment to explore, and a fresh set of enemies. A proper sequel to Resident Evil 4.
But something seemed a little off.
Sure, there were creepy enemies and giant monstrosities, but Capcom eliminated one key element that made Resident Evil 4 and its predecessors so enjoyable: the survival horror aspect was completely stripped away and replaced by gameplay closely associated with the third-person shooter genre. Hordes of enemies mobbed Chris Redfield and newcomer Sheva Alomar, but there always seemed to be sufficient weapons and ammo at their disposal. Additionally, the backed-into-a-corner style of the previous game wasn't present too often, partially due to the overabundance of resources. Though it certainly wasn't exactly like many of today's popular cover-based shooters, Resident Evil 5 played to the strengths of third-person shooters while retaining the slower movement and up-close camera view of Resident Evil 4. The result? A game that looked and played like Resident Evil without always feeling like Resident Evil.
In terms of atmosphere, gone were the foggy environments and gloomy skies. Instead, Resident Evil 5 put the protagonists in a sunny African locale that was hardly scary. Darkness is an element that instills perpetual fear in gamers. Even if they see an enemy walking toward them, exploring an isolated environment with little lighting adds a great vibe, and it fits well with the horror aspect of the Resident Evil games. Unfortunately, the majority of Resident Evil 5 took place during the sunniest hours of the day, eliminating that dark and gloomy look that fans loved so much in Resident Evil 4.
The final alteration that Capcom made to the formula with the last game in the series was a cooperative two-player mode. While there's no denying how much fun teaming up with a buddy and taking on waves of enemies was, communicating via headset or having that person sit right next to you completely removed the game from the survival horror genre. There's nothing scary about playing through a game with a friend and talking over all the action, and in that sense, Resident Evil 5 was a completely different animal than its predecessors. The title truly was a third-person shooter in every way.
As far as future titles are concerned, it appears Capcom wants to continue exploring Resident Evil in a multiplayer capacity. Aside from the upcoming Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, which lets gamers play with others and participate in several Mercenaries mini-games on the Nintendo 3DS, the next console entry in the series looks to push cooperative play, as well. Named Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC title will take place during the Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 timeline, allowing players to take on the role of Umbrella soldiers and attempt to rewrite Resident Evil history.
Operation Raccoon City will feature squad-based gameplay and is in development from Slant Six Games, the studio behind the SOCOM games. A team-based third-person shooter set in the world of Resident Evil certainly sounds like a potentially great idea, and if done properly, Capcom can provide an alternative to the main series. But like Resident Evil 5 before it, Operation Raccoon City will inevitably strip away the horror elements that put the series on the map so many years ago.
Resident Evil has always been great for the most part. The series meshes enthralling gameplay with an interesting story and characters you really come to care about. As far as the series' survival horror elements go, it seems Capcom is taking Resident Evil in a different direction. The publisher's upcoming projects are undeniably interesting, but core fans of the series want a return to the old school. They want tense moments, surprises, and a dark atmosphere. Resident Evil purists eagerly await the day when Capcom introduces a new entry that will feel more like a survival horror game than a third-person shooter. Let's hope all of their current projects are just a way for the series to undergo some experimentation, and keep your fingers crossed that Resident Evil is once again scary.