Opinion: Resident Evil Has Become A Ludicrous, Laughable Travesty – And It Needs To Die
So, Resident Evil 6 has landed – and the reception has not been kind.
It’s been branded a “coward of a game”, “a poor, misconceived sequel”, and a “big-budget disaster on the order of the Star Wars prequels”.
It’s been lambasted for its constant use of tiresome quick-time events, its endless slogs through mind-numbing, bullet-spewing combat sections, and the near-insane manner in which it attempts to keep up a relentless pace of audacious, non-stop action that is simultaneously exhausting and ridiculous.
All of these criticisms are perfectly valid. And all point to one overwhelmingly regrettable truth: that this is a sequel which attempts to ape the straightforward, bloody-minded and epic adrenaline of the FPS and TPS titans – assimilating all of their most predictable, cliched and familiar elements, but neglecting to introduce anything original or interesting into the equation.
Resident Evil 6 derives its overriding aesthetic and approach from two key influences – both equally loathsome and equally tragic. The first is the bombastic, set-piece oriented action-extravaganzas of the Call Of Duty series. The second is the bloated, OTT special-effects jizz of Michael Bay-style movie blockbusters.
Both of these influences value style over substance, and incident over sophistication. Both cram so much mayhem into the frame at any one second that you’re hard-pushed to do anything but gawp dumbly at the screen, consuming the repetitive, meaningless action with your mouth agape as you struggle to disseminate the nonsense unfolding before your eyes.
Both influences are also, lest we forget, colossal money-spinners – the revenue kings of their respective mediums no less – and this is a fact that Capcom knows all too well. Make no mistake, they’re looking to emulate it.
So who cares if Resident Evil 6 has all the depth and sophistication of a wet fart? It has explosions! It has tanks crashing through walls! It has badass heroes who karate kick their way through hordes of zombies! In short, it has exactly the sort of superficially exciting qualities that Capcom knows will resonate with the COD-loving console-shooter crowd, giving them a much bigger potential audience than they could hope to reach with something less action-movie esque. Or so the mantra goes.
Depressingly, the Resident Evil games have now come to mirror the overwhelmingly silly and trashy movies that they spawned a decade ago, rather than the groundbreaking and beloved horror outings of old. Remember when the Resident Evil films were like an annoying younger brother? Remember when you had to explain to non-gamers that sure, the movies were sort of entertaining in a really dumb way, but that the games were way better. Well guess what, now those increasingly stupid movies actually have the edge – and they’re setting the tone for the franchise as a whole.
At one time, the game series was a torch-bearer for a generation of gamers who wanted to embrace the new, and push the medium to unparalleled heights. It may have had dodgy voice-acting and silly B-movie tropes, yes, but it was also a byword for nail-biting tension, slow-burning suspense and the illustrious flagship – indeed the genre trailblazer – for an exciting, popular new movement known as survival-horror.
But now it has become an unintentionally-hilarious parody of itself. The B-movie tropes remain, but the nail-biting tension has disappeared – replaced instead by cliched action nonsense and farcical cinematic fireworks that wouldn’t be out of place in a full-on spoof.
This isn’t evolution – it’s mind-numbing devolution. And it’s horrifying to behold. Capcom’s pop-culture conquering franchise has sold its very soul, abandoned its roots and, perhaps most regrettably of all, completely failed to do anything interesting with this drastic change of direction.
‘Why don’t they just make a fresh IP if they want the shooter crowd?’ fans cry, staggered to see cover-based shooting in a RE game. The reason the company don’t, of course, lies in their committed strategy of marrying a commercially-successful gameplay style with a famous and iconic brand, whether the brand merits that style or not. It’s cynical, smart and vile all at the same time, signalling that Capcom would rather corrupt their strongest series in the name of bigger profits than preserve its creative integrity.
It pains me to say it, because at one time Resident Evil was my favourite video game series. I lived it, I breathed it; and it helped cement my belief in gaming as an entertainment medium to surpass all others.
But in all honesty, if Capcom are going to continue down this preposterous cash-hungry, action-blockbuster road – then I’d rather the whole thing die a thousand grisly deaths, than continue soiling its good name in this fashion.
Mark Butler is the author of Interactive Nightmares: A History of Video Game Horror, available to download now for Kindle, PC, iPad, iPhone and Android.
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