Sunday, July 8, 2012

Resident Evil Code: Homogeny

I am a huge fan of the Resident Evil series.  The second and fourth installments remain among my favorite games of all time, the second for its colossal improvements of the first and genuine breakthrough of the survival horror genre complete with memorable characters and set pieces, the fourth for its staggering degree of innovation, stellar level design, and pitch-perfect pacing.

I remember just how disappointed I was when I finally played Resident Evil 5.  It wasn't immediate.  It was one of those, "hopelessly-trying-to-convince-myself-I'm-having-fun-and-attempt-to-defend-retrospectively" things until the pile of mistakes and inconsistencies finally finish trudging you through a truncated grief process, and you are able to accept it for what it is with mostly objective eyes.  Kind of how die-hard Soprano's fans felt when their lives collectively cut to black.

For all of its differences from previous games, RE4 always felt like a Resident Evil experience, and for all its rampant experimentation, it is arguably the most focused game in the series, using its newfound creative freedom and established universe to create beautifully realized characters and immersive environments with a story that, while certainly won't be winning any oscars, felt fresh and intriguing.  For what seemed like the first time, RE4 reveled in its "so-bad-it's-good" B movie sensibilities, instead of trying to apologize for it.

It was everything a campy story should be.  Grossly fun entertainment.  

Then RE5 came along.  By the halfway point, I could hear the jukebox in my head faintly begin playing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'", and as I slowly stumbled aimlessly between uninspired, sunny landscapes, listening to heavy-handed macho posturing from an empty trench coat, and getting my ass chewed off while i try to get my shotgun back from my waste-of-space partner, I just knew that things would never be the same.  I'd explain further, but I'd rather just point to my previous paragraph and say "not that".

So I'm a bit ambivalent as I see the demo's for Resident Evil 6, which may be the single biggest "throw-against-wall-and-see-what-sticks" strategy I have ever seen in gaming.  It seems to be trying to appease everyone, with Leon being a call back to the days of yore, Chris being basically the last game part II minus his head being superimposed on Ronnie Coleman, and Jake being somewhere in the middle complete with Nemesis-inspired brick shit-house, each with respective sidekicks in a cast of characters that's more unnecessarily inflated than Charlie Sheen's Anger Management.  And yet despite all that, it still manages to all look kinda same-y and interchangeable.  As far as the latest trend of AAA shameless corporate homogenization is concerned, this should win an award.

Don't get me wrong, they certainly show promise.  Leon's retro campaign can be a great time if done right, the much freer movement mechanics can make Chris' campaign more tolerable and less repetitive, and I was genuinely feeling hints of suspense and I watched Jake and Sherry futilely attempt to escape the latest organic skyscraper of the series.  It's also still way too early to judge.

And so I remain cautiously optimistic, though I just can't seem to drum up any sense of anticipation and excitement for this series anymore.  It's just kind of "there" now, which is probably the result of a mixture of severe disappointment from RE5, the fact that I grew up and can no longer accept a convoluted and nonsensical storyline as entertainment, and that the series has strayed so far from what made me love it in the first place that the outer rim of the galaxy should be polishing its "welcome" mats by now.


1 comment:

  1. I am only excited for one thing in this game, the Chris and Leon finally meeting and they have their guns drawn on each other. The amount of awesome in that scene (stemming mostly from my RE nerdiness) just has me waiting in suspense to see what happens.