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The Resident Evil series is among the video game industry’s most cherished franchises. From its origins as a survival horror icon, to its evolution into a fully-fledged shooter, Japan’s beloved export continues to thrive in an increasingly diversified market. Spanning the course of over 16 years, Resident Evil has sold more than 50 million units, it has expanded beyond the realm of video games and into comic books, novels, live-action and computer-generated feature films, collectibles, and is now a household name for much of world, East and West.
Such success could only have been made possible through a combination of adaptability and consistency. Though seemingly opposing terms, a series that has endured over a decade and a half faces a unique challenge to its fan base; it must preserve a certain level of familiarity to remain true to the supporters, while keeping the experience fresh with innovation. This duality introduces two distinct subsets of Resident Evil enthusiasts, those that embrace the zombie-filled, horror aesthetic of the classics, and those who resonate more so with the action/shooter fusion that is reflected by later installments.
In general there are two types of Resident Evil fans, the old school survival horror junkies who have been earnestly awaiting the franchise’s return to a simpler time of terror, when all it took was a horde of zombies, not monsters, parasites explosions to scare the crap out of you. The other group connects more completely with the elements of action that have graced the later titles, including an assortment of weapons and fast-paced gameplay. While it’s easy to discuss the collectives as entirely separate, perceptions are never so clear cut. In reality, overwhelming loyalty toward one tone over the other is probably uncommon. As with most two-pronged issues, the majority resides not at the poles of extremity, but in the middle ground, a conglomerate of the two.
The newest addition to the series, Resident Evil 6, might just possess enough variability to satisfy both parties and everyone in between. Capcom has clearly absorbed fan input from both sides of the fence with the inclusion of zombies, returning characters, new enemy types, and more fluid, dynamic gameplay mechanics. Players will have the ability to choose from three storylines (a fourth campaign is unlockable), each reflecting a different facet in the spectrum of Resident Evil.
Raccoon City survivor, Leon S. Kennedy’s story takes place in Washington D.C. and is the most faithful to early Resident Evil titles. A multitude of dark hallways, zombie swarms, and close encounters will undoubtedly please the old school devotees. Meanwhile in the Eastern European state of Edonia, mercenary Jake Muller, the son of late bio-terrorist Albert Wesker flees from the authorities during a bioterrorist attack. Muller introduces physical attacks into the series’ repertoire of weapons, a territory previously dominated by firearms and a trusty knife. Chris Redfield joins the fight as well with his team in the fictional Chinese city of Lanshiang (based on Hong Kong), itself under threat of a bioterrorist attack. Showcasing the warfare side of a zombie outbreak, Chris’s storyline includes more gunplay and explosions than the other two scenarios.
Resident Evil 6 is a looking to be a beautiful mixture of old, new, familiar, and unique. Add too many shooting elements and the game loses its ability to deliver a fear-induced experience. Keep players confined with static controls and limited camera angles, and the game just isn’t fun to play. I’m hoping the latest game can reach a happy medium: scary, tactical, and action packed and I can’t wait to get my hands on Resident Evil 6 when it hits store shelves on October 2, 2012 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
What type of Resident Evil fan are you? What are your impressions of Resident Evil 6, are you excited like me?
Editor’s Note: I was able to get my hands on Resident Evil 6 at E3 this year, and it fueled my desire for this game tenfold. Personally, RE 4 is my favorite from the entire series due to a completely revamped control scheme, a new direction in terms of story and enemy types, and the ability to take a more strategic approach to combat all while preserving a sense of anxiousness and panic.
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