Mind controlled zombies and stuff...
Capcom’s Resident Evil franchise has been around for a long a time. Over 20 years in fact, considering the first Resident Evil game released back in 1996 for the Sony PlayStation.
The Resident Evil franchise has sold over 75 million units as of writing this article, making it Capcom’s second best-selling franchise, right behind Street Fighter.
Resident Evil – Origins
The first Resident Evil game was created by Shinji Mikami, who was inspired by an NES game called Sweet Home. Sweet Home was a survival-horror role-playing game which was also developed by Capcom and released only in Japan in 1989. Resident Evil was meant to be a spiritual successor to this game.
The game originally went by “Biohazard” in Japan, but the game’s name had to be changed in the western market. This was because they couldn’t trademark the word “Biohazard” in the US. So an internal poll was conducted and the winning title was “Resident Evil”, despite the game’s creator Shinji Mikami later admitting he thought the western name was “stupid”. We’re stuck with it now, so no point complaining.
The game was initially just a side project for Capcom. But after it started gaining a lot of popularity, especially in the west, they decided to bump it up to main series status. The popularity of the series even prompted Capcom to remake older titles with more content and better visuals.
A majority of Resident Evil’s plot revolves around the infamous Umbrella Corporation. Umbrella Corporation is to Resident Evil what Abstergo Industries is to Assassin’s Creed. It’s a company with major ties to pretty much everything in the world but they secretly research bioengineering via not-so-ethical experiments. Them sneaky b@st@rds!
Anyway, all that sneaky experimenting leads to the creation of the T-Virus, G-Virus, and other messed up shit. The end goal was to create a virus that could turn human beings into obedient, powerful, superhumans. Pfft yea, like that would ever work.
Most of the experiments failed (called it). And of course, all the failed ones turned into mindless zombies and then there was a viral outbreak and now everyone is a frickin’ mindless zombie. Thanks Umbrella Corp.
The first three games take place in Raccoon City, which pretty much gets destroyed by the end of the third game. A mindless zombie outbreak does that to a city. Remember kids, don’t do questionable bioengineering.
Resident Evil 4 took things in a different direction. RIP Umbrella Corp, hello “Las Plagas” (Las Plagas, really? Who comes up with these names?). Las Plagas is a parasite that controls the infected (you know, the mindless zombies), who are still roaming around thanks to the now (supposedly) defunct Umbrella Corp. RE5 sees a new and improved version of the Plagas parasite and RE6 takes place 4 years after the events of RE5 where there’s now a Neo-Umbrella Corp and the President of the United States is a zombie. Well, that escalated quickly.
Resident Evil 7 Biohazard (or Biohazard 7 Resident Evil, as it’s called in Japan, we sh*t you not), the latest addition to the franchise which released earlier this year, takes things in a different direction yet again. We see Resident Evil return to its traditional horror roots. It’s the first Resident Evil game to play out in the first-person, which according to Sony was done to incorporate the VR element. RE7 sees a new main character, Ethan, receive a message from his presumed dead wife telling him not to look for her. He of course, goes to investigate and ends up at the Baker Residence. Should’ve listened to her, rookie mistake. The Baker family doesn’t really like visitors.
This franchise has had a lot of main characters. You’ve got Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Leon Scott Kennedy, Jake Muller, Ada Wong, and now Ethan “Should’ve-listened-to-dead-wife“ Winters.
Chris Redfield has been around since the first Resident Evil and belongs to the S.T.A.R.S., which is basically the S.W.A.T. of Raccoon city. This guy’s lived through it all. In Resident Evil 5, Chris returns as a part of the B.S.A.A., another fancy anti-bio squad where he’s seen teaming up with Sheva Alomar and the two of them take on the Las Plagas outbreak.
Jill Valentine was also a part of S.T.A.R.S., and she was the primary protagonist of RE3. She was assumed dead until RE5 where she also joins up with the B.S.A.A. RE5 also reveals how she survived Raccoon city’s destruction and how she was a chemical slave to Albert Wesker till Chris frees her from his control.
Jill Valentine is also popular as the face of the Resident Evil movies.
We first see Leon Scott Kennedy in RE2. Unlike the two mentioned above, this guy was just a policeman. He was the main character in RE4 where he becomes a government agent and is tasked with rescuing Ashley, the President’s daughter.
Chris and Scott make a comeback in RE6, along with Ada Wong, and new guy MC Jake Muller, who is somehow resistant to the virus, so naturally, he’s valuable. RE6 was the first game in the series that gave up linear plot progression and allowed players to choose from four available character stories.
Finally, in Resident Evil 7 we have Ethan Winters as the main character. RE7 takes place six years after the events of RE6 and we don’t see any of the previous MCs return in this game.
Like we mentioned, Resident Evil has been around for a long time. There’s been a lot of titles and then there’s been a lot of prequels, sequels, and in-betweens. So it can be pretty hard to sort the series chronologically. But don’t worry, we got you covered:
- Resident Evil Zero (2002)
- Resident Evil (1996)
- Resident Evil 2 (1998)
- Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (1999)
- Resident Evil: Survivor (2000)
- Resident Evil – Code: Veronica (2000)
- Resident Evil 4 (2005)
- Resident Evil: Revelations (2012)
- Resident Evil 5 (2009)
- Resident Evil: Revelations 2 (2015)
- Resident Evil 6 (2012)
- Resident Evil 7 Biohazard (2017)
Yes, that’s a lot of titles(12) to have to go through if you plan to play this series from start to finish. And that’s not even including the spin-off titles and the host of non-canon titles that’ve been made for the franchise.
Resident Evil is one of those games that single-handedly defined the third-person over-the-shoulder shooter genre. They’re also the reason us geeks are probably ready for a zombie apocalypse if it ever happens (probably not). The series has been constantly evolving and Capcom has tried to keep things fresh. It seems to have worked with their latest instalment as it was very well received, even though it departed from its formula in a large way. The Resident Evil (or Biohazard) franchise has something for everybody. Unless you’re not into zombies, then you probably aren’t even reading this right now.
Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh
If he's not gaming, he's... no wait he's always gaming.