I love Resident Evil 4. It is one of my favorite games on the Gamecube and it may even be on my top ten games of all time. The fact of the matter is that Resident Evil 4 was a masterpiece. It took the classic horror/tank controls from the originals and turned it into something new. Making combat feel fluid, characters that mattered, good voice acting and even villains that you could attach to. Resident Evil 4 is the cream of the crop and is a goal to be met for future resident evil games.
What did we get with resident evil 5 and 6 though? Well we got action games with co-op built-in and non-existent horror. No longer were the games based on the corridors or slowly moving through a city/mansion. They turned into giant experiences with enough explosions to be considered a Michael Bay film. That being said though, why did resident evil go this route? What happened to it? What happened my fellow gamers, is we got a hold of the franchise.
(To be fair…..we didn’t pick the logo to RE6)
Yes that’s right. We the gamers gave our opinions on something that we were not ready to unleash yet. The gamers thought something was good and applauded a game for it, without realizing what that meant for future entries. So sit back and take a journey with me as we explore the reasons that Resident Evil 4 and fans ruined Resident Evil 5 and 6. Oh and obviously….spoilers.
Resident Evil 4 starts off with just the right tone. You know who you are, and you know more if you are a resident evil veteran, and what you are doing. You are going to save the president’s daughter and you have a gun. Your friends get eaten or killed and the villagers try to kill you. So not a bad first day on the job? You then make your way to a village where a guy who wears a bag over his head believes that he is invincible, and they gave that guy the chainsaw…questionable thought process. If you survive the church bell starts ringing and everyone runs away leaving you asking….wtf?
This sets the overall tone and setting for Resident Evil 4. You are trying to survive in a place that is covered in fecal matter and M. Night Shymalan’s leftovers from the Village. It is up to you to find the girl and save her. No longer was it simply a story of survival, or even destroying the virus. You aren’t a member of STAR’s. You are a normal guy….ish. This leads us to why resident evil 4 and we the gamers destroyed future titles. We wanted more of this.
(Leon is great in RE4, but that’s part of the problem)
The first hour of Resident Evil 4 is extremely well done and as a result we wanted more. We wanted the next entry to have this type of pop and bang and to be honest Resident Evil 5 tried to do this. Players were upset that RE4 didn’t focus on the original viruses so of course Capcom brought those back. We liked the feeling of exploration and multiple paths to the same areas. That was put back as well. Everything setting wise is the same in all 3 games, the difference was that we weren’t interested in it anymore.
Resident Evil 5 embodies this more than anything. Everything about it screams resident evil 4, but yet something is off about it. The setting is good, I mean a war-torn country with a disease infecting its populace. It sounds good. The problem was that the setting wasn’t what we liked. We liked that it was a new entry for resident evil that wasn’t the puzzle laden rooms of the Spencer Mansion. This is where the problems start.
(PUZZLES!! THEY’RE EVERYWHERE AHAHAHAHAAHAH!)
The original RE games are all about the puzzles. There is always a locked door here or some kind of weird lock that needs a snake to go in it. The point is that puzzles were designed to force the player to answer a question and to make the game longer. If you as the player found the one missing item that you needed, tada, you could progress. On a little side note I think we can argue that the original resident evil is much more of an adventure game than a horror game. With its focus on puzzles and exploration it is more adventure game than horror. That’s neither here nor there though.
The puzzles were the lifeblood of the original. Dying due to a slowly falling ceiling or a spiked wall were all charming parts of the game. You were supposed to die and find ways around these obstacles. The focus was never combat, combat was merely another way to put barriers between you and your goal. Now enter the RE4 style which isn’t about puzzles at all. There are puzzles but most of them are quite simply survive this wave, or even shoot the big guy enough times. The puzzles that were present were empty and lifeless and never truly challenged you as a player. The roadblocks were no longer puzzles, but they were the enemies.
(Like dodging this guy…)
This brings up an interesting change in the way that Resident Evil wanted to be handled. The originals with their overbearing puzzles were definitely turning away some gamers, myself included when I was younger, so what do you do? You make the enemies a puzzle and have them take the place of the weird lock. This would serve as a more action orientated experience then as well as give the player the feeling that they are discovering something. Like fighting El Gigante and shooting precisely at his back with a rifle.
These types of puzzles were replacing what we knew from the originals and we praised it. We the gamers said we like this style of gameplay, and is it good? Well heck yeah, but what we did was we told Capcom that Resident Evil was no longer a game about puzzles. We just wanted there to be non-stop action. Players wanted to have a game that we weren’t slowed down by some stupid lock. We wanted to shoot the lock and face the enemy behind it. This is just the beginning of the problem though.
(WHY DON’T YOU JUST USE YOUR GUN!?!?)
Of course the biggest problem that really irradiated from the Resident Evil 4 and the fan outcry is the fact that we wanted action gameplay. It’s more than that though. Resident Evil 4 introduced the concept of walking an annoying girl through this world. Which wasn’t a half bad idea, but let’s be honest, as gamers we hate escort missions. It was something we complained about in reviews and we all made fun of. So what did future titles do. Well they fixed that didn’t they? Instead of walking your sister down the creepy hall while she held your hand, now she has a gun. And your ammo.
This of course wasn’t initiated by Resident Evil 4, but it did start here. Capcom heard we didn’t like escorting Ashley, but we didn’t make ourselves clear. We didn’t want that type of thing period. We want to play our character and explore. Not worry about if Ashley has been picked up by a cloaked freak for the 5th time. This set the precedent for what would become the “Co-Op” era of Resident Evil. It was awful.
(Honestly, I hate co-op…always will)
I know what you are thinking though, you are saying that no one asked for this and in fact Resident Evil 4 and gamers were asking for the opposite. Wrong. In fact I don’t think you remember gaming in the 2000’s when everyone was asking for one thing. Multiplayer. Yes my friends it was us. It was the gamers who made this mistake. We kept asking for multiplayer games with depth. We wanted deeper and richer experiences with more options. In my opinion, we were naïve. Yes we wanted these things, but we did not know the price we would pay.
The price we paid were games like Resident Evil 5 and 6. Games that were built with co-op from the ground up, but failed due to the fact that these games should be left as single player experiences. Let me ask a quick question? Do you think that a horror game should ever be designed to be multiplayer? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Sure games like Dead Space 3 have proven it can be done, but let’s be honest here, Dead Space 3 isn’t the best of that franchise either.
(This Co-Op worked….too bad the game wasn’t good)
We were the ones that asked for this. Capcom just gladly said okay. As a result we received 3 games that all had bad co-op and escort style gameplay baked into the mixture.
Now I know that the original resident evil had boss fights but were they really boss fights? Like what we have today? No…not really. A boss fight in that time period was considered a reward or final test. A boss fight by todays standard is a right given to every game, whether they need it or not. Resident Evil’s original boss fights were challenges, but they were not over the top experiences. Of course everything changed with good ol’ Resident Evil 4.
In RE4 we were treated to some really fantastic boss fights. El Gigante, Del Lago, Mendez (Aka big creepy dude), and even Salazar. They were greatly crafted boss fights, but they were much more cinematic than previous boss fights. Sure Resident Evil 5 and 6 had some interesting boss fights, but they weren’t fun. That’s because they stopped being about the challenge and just being about how cool they looked. The fights were no longer a reward, they were just a part of the experience.
(Cinematic boss fights leads to overbearing boring bosses in the future)
RE4 started this whole trend of breaking away from treating a boss just like anyone else. Well oaky, technically RE3 did with Nemesis, but that’s a story for a whole different time. The point is that boss fights started to ruin what was the essential core essence of a RE game. It was no longer the puzzle and exploration based game we knew. It became focused on the combat and how cool a boss fight could be.
All of that to say it really comes down to the gameplay. The reason that RE4 changed the way that future RE games were developed was quite simply the gameplay. Puzzles, boss fights, moment to moment exploration, all of this were key elements to the overall design of a Resident Evil game. Changing all of those elements so drastically in RE4 made it a great game, but it also changed the series forever. Capcom saw the feedback and as a result decided that maybe it was better to drop the series roots.
Let’s face it, RE4 wasn’t an extremely scary game. Sure it had its moments that were intense and had you on the edge of your seat, but it wasn’t true horror. It was just a 3rd person shooter that had a creepy aesthetic tacked on to it. Enemies didn’t pop out of nowhere, everything had rules. It wasn’t really until the Regenerators that you could really say that the horror aspect was present in-game.
(This is creepy….)
Think about the tank controls that were present in the original games. Those were more than just limitations. It also limited your aiming, your speed that you progressed through the game, it forced you to be in intense situations. In RE4 you can directly aim at heads and kneecaps, meaning that now enemies are a lesser force for you to face. It made the game easier and as a result less horror based and more action hero based. RE5 and RE6 reveled in this type of content and they did it because they thought it’s what we wanted as fans.
We have been asking for another game like RE4, but the reality is that we did get those games. They weren’t what we wanted. RE5 is a natural progression of the RE4 formula. Is it a better game? No, but it is the natural evolution of where the franchise was heading. So what does this all mean?
Why are we to blame?
We have a lot to do with this. I mean sure we can say that it was Capcom’s fault for not understanding us, and some of the blame really does fall with them. The reality is this though, we as gamers are very vocal. We tend to praise things and not think about the consequences they can have. We constantly speak out loud about wanting sequels to games, but have you ever thought about what that might look like? RE4’s sequels were true sequels, they took everything that game did and turned it up to 11, but it turns out that what we wanted wasn’t that.
Look at just how well RE7: Biohazard is doing. I mean that game is phenomenal and it is nothing like RE4, not in the slightest. It takes all of its gameplay elements from the original games and then turns them into something new. Very few elements (if any) from RE4 are going to be found in RE7, why? Because the action setting doesn’t work for that style of game. Yet we keep asking for it. We are to blame for this entire issue. RE4 is a great game, I will never deny anyone of that claim, but it is the reason that we got RE5 and RE6 and those games are garbage.
(MOAR ACTION! MOAR GUNS!!!!)
So that has been another unpopular opinion. If you like the content why don’t you drop a comment down below and tell me what you thought of it? Think i’m wrong? Well that sucks, let me know about it. If you like this site take a look at some of my other content and you can even join the official Platinumist facebook page. I’ll see you guys next time!