Resident Evil: Evolution Ideas

I’ve been writing furiously about Resident Evil 5 for over a week now, exorcising demons I was clinging to regarding the controls, inventory, acting and story but to prove I’m not all bile and fury, it’s time for a bit of post-mortem praise. There were some excellent moments in playing through story mode which you forget while your blood’s boiling over control issues. For those who haven’t yet finished, I’ll steer clear of spoilers.

The depiction of an African village is extremely detailed. There’s some very compelling evidence pointing to casual, clumsy and thoughtless racism on Capcom’s part, which would make for another article altogether, but the fact remains that the sun-bleached township you begin at, with its oppressive shacks and buzzing flies, is very evocative. The scene is horrible and you wish you weren’t there, but that’s surely the point. Now while the labyrinth of locked rooms and puzzles that formed the backbone of the whole series is gone, what’s in its place will make for great replay value. Being able to dive in and out of each level, with or without a friend, and hold onto a consistent stash of loot and weapons means you can explore every nook and cranny on multiple occasions. The mercenaries mode yet again adds the element of score-beating and rewards to emphasize the new arcadey nature of the core game. In addition, the cut scenes are undeniably pretty, with a lot of stuff flying about and some impressive fighting, and working for achievements was a welcome addition, which made me alter my playing style several times. Finally there is one very effective moment when you have to be very, very quiet that had my nerves shot to hell, harkening back to the tension of the Nemesis theme.

If the series is to progress and we’re going to get that reboot that Capcom are hinting at, I have some suggestions here which may interest them. Firstly; take it back to the mansion. It’s where we go to in our heads when we think Resident Evil. Ditch S.T.A.R.S, Umbrella, Chris, Jill, Claire, Leon, Wesker and everything else. What they equated to thirteen years ago is not where story games need to be going. For a reboot, we need new characters, plot, settings etc; it’s in a mansion, there are zombies, puzzles and weapons. That should be all that remains of the original story. From then on, we need new ideas.

A more successful blend of action game and survival horror requires a nimble character you can rely on with a solid control system. No more movable turrets. This means running while aiming (at the expense of accuracy), and being able to dodge an attack (but not run rings around slow enemies.) Go back to slow zombies as the main grunts of the game. Introduce much faster, more intimidating enemies in thinner numbers (the Crimson Heads of the GameCube version, for example) further on. Since 28 Days Later we’ve had the zombie upgrade of screaming, charging infected in popular culture, but they’ve never quite been done right in a survival horror game. They always move too slowly or stop to attack, or in the case of Left 4 Dead, attack in masses without the creeping weight of a Resident Evil encounter. They need to be savage, blood spewing maniacs who never stop moving.

Here’s the formula; enclosed corridor + fast zombie + half-empty handgun and the exit in sight. Tension up the wazoo! Survival means scraping together everything you have. Bring us back to a place where every single bullet counts and careful organising of your inventory kept you alive. Allow us to keep a hand free and pick up something like a herb in an emergency, even if we have no slots empty (again at a loss of firing accuracy because you’re shooting one handed.) The gameplay should involve running between rooms, braving the prowling undead and giving us the binary choice of the original games; shoot now and this room might be safer, but you’ll have less ammo, or run for it and the room stays lethal. The taking of responsibility for your environment and being permanently wary of what is around the next corner is something that needs bringing back. The spirit of these games is very much alive, but something has been lost along the way as action games evolved. To successfully instill us with horror, Capcom are going to have to make us fight to survive and that means holding on to your last bullets like you’re in Die Hard, and every slowly opening door will once again make us hold our breath.

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  • I couldn’t agree more with your formula- but that’s just the beginning. RE needs to be told in a city setting. You mean to tell me a sinister corporation such as Umbrella doesn’t have facilities in London or Prague? We went to Russia in Umbrella Chronicles. Environs are only part; albeit a large one. The real challenge ahead for Capcom is adapting RE to a 3D space in it’s true spirit. Remember popping off at a zombie down a hallway from a blind camera angle? How do you pull that off? That was a HUGE part of RE/2/3/CV’s charm. I’m kinda thinking that, even in a full 3D environment, RE should go back to the fixed camera angles. I’d like to see a test of that done with RE5- it doesn’t cost much to adjust the camera. Take out the cutscenes for enemies’ appearance(make them pop out more like in 1-2, but in more dramatic fashion), then, submit the demo to the review press and see what sticks. Heh, I say all this and either way, I’m buying RE6… 8)

  • Alex Shaw


    It’s almost as if a camera you can control yourself removes the tension. Interestingly enough the one VERY effective moment in RE5 involved a long corridor that you were forced to traverse in a fixed perspective. Remember when the Hunters entered the house in RE1 and you always heard them first. Crunch… crunch… crunch… *scream* (“Oh shit, it just jumped at me) THEN you saw it and it often killed you first time. Or indeed the most effective part of RE4, the Regenerator, again unseen and deadly. I think there’s much to be said for taking away some of the freedoms we’ve grown complacent with.

  • Good points on rebooting the RE franchise. I must say that I love surviving the first mansion like no other game setting. I still have most of the layout still implated in my brain. BUT jsslifelike has a good point – I would much rather be in a city setting. Ok – I know RE outbreak wasn’t as great as we all wanted it to be, but I really hope we go back to an online survival horror presentation. I enjoy L4D, but its a bit too arcadey to be tense. So I hope to see it take a RE Outbreak design direction.

  • You love the sound of your own voice don’t you.


    I Say why NOt everything….FOCUS ON LESS POPULAR CHARActers and make them earn their popularity like CHRIS etc…..I WILL TRY TO DO a setting thats creepy creepy creepy….use surviving skills not action but have the most weapons ever….extreme exploration and encounters..good storyy btu very hard bosses zombies that crawl out of vents nd some that have no legs creepy you knbow some zombies monsters that scare the shit out of you…..FPS could be awsome and third person ass well..i say why not both with over the shoulder and be able to move..have the players choose if they want fps or if they take on zombies with third person…..HAVE IMAGINATION SINCE ITS A SURVIVAL HORROR……the FPS should be the scariest when your playing like doom 3 using a flashlight and weapons customization…but i will get my ideas from other games and learn fromm past RE not saying perfect but graphics detail could make things scare the shit out of you