Independent and alternative video game coverage

Capcom and the Fall of Resident Evil

Zombies might be back in Resident Evil but that hasn’t helped the franchise reclaim its former glory. (Image by PlayStation Blog)

From confusing spin-offs to failed attempts at replicating blockbuster movies, years of an schizophrenic identity crisis for Capcom’s longstanding brand finally imploded into a total meltdown with Resident Evil 6. Capcom learned the hard way that putting profits first at any cost can result in disaster.

I’ve been a fan of the Resident Evil franchise since 1997, when I first saw the original game played in a darkened room on the Sony PlayStation. Around every corner in the survival horror game hid the paralyzing fear of an impending death. The franchise was masterminded by Shinji Mikami, known for his recent work on Vanquish (2010) and Shadows of the Damned (2011). Over the years Resident Evil became one of my favorite series with each new game on the PlayStation and into the next generation of consoles. Unfortunately I saw the franchise changing and slipping a few years ago and wondered what was going on at Capcom. After debuting in 1996 on the original PlayStation, the series became one of the cornerstones of the survival horror genre. Not only did the survival horror that Resident Evil popularized start to fade way, but so did those elements in the newest games of the franchise at an alarming rate.

Resident Evil 6 released Oct. 2, 2012 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. More than a year ago I wrote an in-depth look at the Resident Evil franchise, explaining why the brand found itself in a downward trend. Before the official reveal of Resident Evil 6 in January 2012 I wrote, “Capcom needs to move forward by looking backwards. Whether it be with zombies or a new unknown threat, Resident Evil 6 is the perfect opportunity to reinvigorate the franchise…After rejecting its heritage for so long, Resident Evil 6 is also Capcom’s final chance to redeem itself and the Resident Evil franchise as the king of survival horror.” Once I saw the massive explosions and Hollywood-style action in the first trailer reveal I knew this wasn’t going to happen. The Resident Evil I loved throughout the years was officially taken off life support.

Numbers Don’t Lie

re6logo

(Image by Capcom)

Review scores for Resident Evil 6 are mostly negative. These are consistent across many publications. Besides the numbers behind reviews, sales figures for the game aren’t matching Capcom’s expectations either. Last May it was reported that Capcom expected to sell seven million copies of Resident Evil 6 by March 31, 2013. Resident Evil 6 initially shipped more than 4.5 million copies worldwide, a record for the company. In October the game sold 808,039 copies in Japan and 806,000 in the U.S. for more than 1.6 million total. In the U.S. it was the second-best selling game for October, according to Siliconera.

The game started off hot but almost immediately began to cool after the first month once the word got out about its poor quality. At the end of October the company revised its high expectations for the game to 6 million sales. Capcom said in a financial question and answer on Nov. 1 that Resident Evil 6 had been successful to a certain point. “We therefore believe it is too early to reach a conclusion about how users view this game. We always listen carefully to the feedback from users and use this information when developing games.”

Even though Capcom lowered its forecast, the company still felt it could reach the new sales target. “We believe that prospects are good for reaching our goal of 6 million units. We are confident because of the approaching overseas Christmas and New Year selling season, past sales of titles in this series, and for other reasons.” In December Capcom was forced to lower its financial earnings estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31 by $39 million, partly because sales of Resident Evil 6 “were initially strong but subsequently weakened,” according to the company. Resident Evil 6 sold 4.8 million copies as of Dec. 31. These are terrific sales numbers under normal circumstances. However the game fell way short of Capcom’s initial 7 million goal. Now Capcom recently revised its prediction again, down to 5 million copies sold by March 31. Fans, critics and Capcom are all disappointed with how Resident Evil 6 turned out.

To address what happened with its original sales predictions, Capcom said in a Feb. 4 third quarter earnings report:

We are currently analyzing the causes, which involve our internal development operations and sales operations. We have not yet reached a clear conclusion. We believe that global sales of 5 million units are proof that this is a popular title. However, we believe that the new challenges we tackled at the development stage were unable to sufficiently appeal to users. In addition, we believe there was inadequate organizational collaboration across our entire company with regard to marketing, promotions, the creation of plans and other activities. We will have to examine these results from several perspectives. We will reexamine our internal operating frameworks in order to identify areas that need to be improved concerning development as well as sales and administrative operations.

Getting away from the corporate speak, what exactly went wrong?

A Blown Opportunity

Zombies are now firmly engrained in popular culture. With popular television shows like AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” crazed individuals across the U.S. eating people’s faces off while on bath salt binges and the zombie apocalypse attributed to an increase in American 2012 gun sales, this was the perfect time for Resident Evil’s return. There is zero reason why Capcom couldn’t deliver a survival horror masterpiece. No ’90s “tank” controls. No bad camera angles. No dated gameplay. Just a well made game, crafted after years of experience developing more than a dozen titles in the series. There’s no excuse why a game from 1996 should be better than a game released in 2012 with a multimillion dollar budget and a staff of more than 600 people, with 150 of those in Japan.

There’s several underlining reasons for Resident Evil’s crash, many of which I covered in my earlier piece. Resident Evil 6 was the unfortunate combustion of many negative elements boiling underneath the surface for many years now. The excuses for the game’s quality and reception piled up higher than the game’s zombie-infected rate. The reviewers are biased. The western press hates Japanese developers. Hardcore Resident Evil fans are afraid of change. People played the game “wrong.” Nostalgia is getting in the way of progress. These are all wrong. The blame lies solely with Capcom.

Christian Svensson, Capcom USA’s senior vice president, addressed rumors in July 2011 that Resident Evil 6 wouldn’t be a reboot, but that the franchise would be seeing some alterations. “We’re making some drastic changes to a series to update it and keep it relevant,” he said. “We’re not ready to talk about it any time soon but let’s just say it’s ambitious.” Relevancy for Capcom is a game that can make it the most money above all else. Today the series’ current direction falls under “dramatic horror” and “horror entertainment,” terms created the past year by Capcom to dodge the franchise’s history while still trying to save face for longtime fans. Capcom labels dramatic horror as a combination of action and survival horror. Horror entertainment is defined as, “horror that entertains as many people as possible.”

While many expected Resident Evil 6 and its developers to make positive changes for the series, Capcom wasn’t honest with what the game would ultimately be. In an April 2012 interview with Prima Games, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, executive producer on Resident Evil 6, said the game would be going back to its roots:

We’re taking survival horror to next level. Your worst fears lurk behind every corner. We’re going beyond the boundaries of everything you’ve ever experienced before. We have some really special creatures in this game designed to really frighten you. We’re going back to the original game where you were scared all the time. We’re putting back all the spills, thrills and chills of Resident Evil games. We’re maxing out everything to deliver something really huge, something you haven’t experienced before.

This clearly wasn’t the way everything turned out.

No Hope Left

Resident Evil 6 is a game that’s sold on the nostalgia, history and name of Resident Evil.  Zombies are back after a 10 year absence. Tall Oaks, where Leon Kennedy’s campaign partially takes place, is essentially a copy of Raccoon City. A scenario during Leon’s story takes place in a gun shop, similar to the opening sequence in 1998’s Resident Evil 2. Old characters like Sherry Burkin from Resident Evil 2 are playable in Resident Evil 6. New character Jake Muller is the son of Albert Wesker. Another new character named Helena Harper bears a striking resemblance to Claire Redfield of Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica (2000) fame. In the game she said,”This is a nightmare…It can’t be real!” Sadly Helena, it’s all real. (Warning: Major spoilers for Resident Evil 6 ahead)

The story goes that a new C-virus breaks out during a bioterrorism attack. Tall Oaks is infested with 70,000 people struck with the virus. In Lanshiang, China, all hell breaks loose in another attack. The streets are filled with weird creatures and a blue gas transforming people into zombies. All the good guys believe that Ada Wong, Leon’s old “friend,” is responsible for the attacks alongside Neo-Umbrella, but a bigger conspiracy surrounds the events.

Resident Evil 6 is an over-bloated mess. Each of the game’s four main chapter feels extremely long and unnecessarily dragged out. The game plays like four different studios made Resident Evil 6 and combined it all into one package. You replay several of the same scenarios and boss fights throughout all the chapters. This is supposed to give you a different viewpoint of the story, but it made the game even more tiring and unbearable. The flow of Resident Evil 6 is painful. Lengthy Quick Time Events fill a lot of the gameplay, where you’re liable to break your analog stick to keep up with the speed. Resident Evil 6 is a balls-to-the-wall action game that gives you ammo amounts straight out of a survival horror title. The overall gameplay simply isn’t that good.

With Resident Evil 6 many staples of the franchise are gone. There’s no solving puzzles, giving players a challenge of the mind. There’s no strategy determining what bullets to save for later and what gun to blow away the bad guys in the moment. There’s no option to really explore rooms and laboratories to find files and journals like in the classic games, which would give players a better understanding of the character and storyline. Instead these are unlocked by shooting 80 emblems hidden throughout the game. Besides some sections of Leon’s campaign, most of the game’s environments are bland and dull. Resident Evil 6 is a mindless and boring action game on all counts.

Resident Evil 6 borrows the over-the-top content of the Hollywood movies based on the gaming franchise and takes it up about 10 notches. At the end of 2009’s Resident Evil 5, Chris Redfield kills top bad guy Albert Wesker in a fight that takes place inside a volcano (not to mention moving enormous rocks with just his fists). I didn’t think Capcom could ever top that nonsense. I was totally wrong. In an October 2012 interview with 1UP, Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, producer for Resident Evil 6, said a blend of reality and imagination is important to the franchise:

But when I was working as a designer, I was working closely with Mikami-san on these games. He always said that the key to presenting the world of Resident Evil was this balance of real and unreal. You mix the two together and it creates this verisimilitude of a realistic world, even though you have all these fantastic elements that are a part of it.

It’s impossible to suspend belief playing Resident Evil 6 with so many outlandish sequences repeatedly happening. I could imagine I was stuck in a creepy old mansion, fighting for my life against the occasional zombie or running away from a rabid dog. Resident Evil 6 takes place in a world where everyone suffers from spontaneous combustion and then are reborn into different animals of the Raccoon City zoo. It exists in a world where you’re affected by the virus only when it’s convenient for the game, even if directly facing enemies giving off the contagion.

Contributing to this disbelief is the awful way the story is told through the characters. Conversations were never a strong point of the series, but sometimes Resident Evil 6 is dangerously close to Resident Evil: Survivor (2000) levels of terrible when it comes to its dialogue. Almost every conversation is painfully bad, especially in Leon’s campaign. The game is filled with dozens of clichés and classic lines like, “I…I just shot the president.” No real person talks like they do in Resident Evil 6. Bad dialogue was kind of cute in 1996. It’s inexcusable for a 2012 release aiming to be the game industry’s next Hollywood-style draw.

Goofy sections follow one after another throughout Resident Evil 6. While playing I continually asked myself, Why is this even in the game? Multiple driving sets make it feel like you’re playing Naughty Dog’s Uncharted games or Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Blowing up other cars chasing after you. Climbing up the side of a skyscraper on a thinning rope as a huge monster claws at your feet. Silently killing a room full of bats by meleeing them. Yes, that actually happens.

Zombies can do wrestling take downs and you can also give enemies German suplexes. Enemies never fully die the first time you encounter them either. They constantly mutate into a new creature, so you’re fighting the same guy two or three times. New enemies introduced like the Rasklapanje, with a name that looks like somebody came up with after falling asleep on their keyboard, continually respawn so you can’t fully kill them. These aren’t frightening. These aren’t cool. They’re annoying and infuriating when exploring a level for passwords or buttons you need to press to advance to the next area. At one point I was doing a Quick Time Event to fight off a lone hand that was attacking me. A hand.

What is this doing in a Resident Evil game? (Image by PlayStation Blog)

To be a game for every single person on the planet, Resident Evil 6 combines several elements from many different genres and popular franchises. The real question is, what game doesn’t Capcom borrow ideas from? To name a few of the aspects Resident Evil 6 lifts from: Gears of War, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty, Left 4 Dead, Uncharted, Killzone, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days. Capcom even takes ideas from its old, forgotten franchises like Dino Crisis. Derek Simmons, the game’s main villain, turns into a T-Rex much like the final boss you face in 1999’s Dino Crisis. Boss fights and regular enemy encounters are something out of “Transformers: Beast Wars.” Further on in the game another boss is a mutated spider the size of a skyscraper. If it sounds like all this is made up, it’s not. Resident Evil 6 doesn’t feel like its own game. It feels like a poor imitation of every other game on the market.

There’s so much going on in Resident Evil 6 that killing the zombie-infected, president of the United States is an afterthought throwaway moment in the first few minutes of Leon’s campaign.

Chapter two of Jake Muller’s campaign is one of the absolute worst levels this generation of games. It’s so bad my co-op partner and I went into a laughing fit as the stage progressed. The developers couldn’t find a good reason to cram a snow level into the game so players got this mess. As you can see from this video, most of the level is spent walking around where you can’t see anything, looking for data chips that flew out of Sherry’s cell phone after you both jumped out of an exploding plane. The only explanation why you’re in the middle of a blizzard fighting superhuman soldiers is to look for tiny memory cards buried in the snow that fell out of Sherry’s pocket during the 30,000 feet fall. After you find them, something inspired by SSX Tricky happens. In this video, you need to escape an avalanche, racing past enormous glaciers falling and popping out of the ground. Somebody important at Capcom seriously thought this was good enough to pass into the final release. During the ride Jake says,”This is not a good idea!” Sherry responds, “Too late now!” That exchange sums up a lot of Resident Evil 6’s problems.

During chapter four of Jake’s story a large neon sign falls from a building, flips over a bus that then explodes, revealing an open pathway to a door. Absurd examples like this happen all the time throughout Resident Evil 6. Capcom’s love affair with volcanoes and lava that’s prominent in Resident Evil 4 (2005) and Resident Evil 5 continues on in this game. Jake and Sherry fight a boss in a room surrounded by lava and then barely escape a fiery ride hanging on for their lives. Jake’s campaign painfully ends with the most horrible, cheesiest song during the credits, something a Taylor Swift fan might enjoy but doesn’t fit at all with the tone of the franchise or Resident Evil 6’s gameplay style.

In the beginning of Leon’s first chapter, he and Helena are on a college campus where the U.S. president was set to give some sort of speech. The college is a dump. There’s boxes everywhere, paint chipping on all the walls and large fridge-sized heaters in almost every room. Why is the president even coming to this run-down spot? How did all this mess happen in just a few short hours of the new outbreak? During a cut-scene in Leon’s campaign when they’re driving away from the college campus, a zombie appears on their police car causing it to spin out of control. The car rolls over several times, with nearby vehicles exploding in a huge ball of fire. Leon and Helena casually get out of the car like it’s no big deal. Immediately their HQ contact Ingrid Hunnigan calls Leon asking how they are. He casually tells her,”Hangin’ in there. But we need another way to the cathedral.” This would kill any normal human being, and it did several times to other civilians throughout the game. Ridiculous scenes like this happen so frequently in the game that they lose all shock value.

Leon fighting a huge monster fish underwater in chapter three is another silly scenario in the game. Chris Redfield’s campaign isn’t much better than the others either. It takes place in China as he faces enemies similar to those in Resident Evil 5. Chris teams up with new BSAA member Piers Nivans, which sounds like the most made-up name imaginable. Later the two fight an army of enemies that look straight ripped off the Helgast from Guerrilla Games’ Killzone series. These non-stop action sequences simply don’t work with a lack of ammo and continual waves of transforming enemies. You never get to catch your breath in Resident Evil 6. Something is always exploding or trying to kill you.

As bad as it is, there are a few small things the game does alright. Players can finally move and shoot their weapons at the same time, a severely needed addition to the series. Leon’s first chapter showed what could’ve been, with a small town thrown into chaos and escaping a moody college campus. The new Tyrant-type named Ustanak that continually hunts after Jake is an excellent addition too. However he doesn’t come close to the Nemesis from Resident Evil 3 (1999). Ada Wong’s campaign is the only one worth anything. Her chapter even included a few puzzles here and there like the franchise used to have. Surprisingly the Mercenaries online multiplayer is actually fun, a mode that’s coming into its own since Resident Evil 5. Capcom supported Resident Evil 6 with several updates in an attempt to fix some of the complaints from players and add more free content, but that’s not enough to restore the game’s image or overall quality.

Show Me the Money

Resident Evil 6 represents everything wrong with the current mindset of many game developers and big publishers in the industry. Resident Evil’s collapse is about more than just a few bad games. It has everything to do with with unchecked greed and corporate cluelessness.

Capcom desperately wants to play with industry giants like Activision and Electronic Arts. Capcom executives want a piece of that Call of Duty pie, which has the power to earn more than $1 billion in only 16 days. The company wants its own Call of Duty and Resident Evil is its meal ticket. This was admitted publicly during the months before the March 2012 release of the spin-off Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. Dave Turner, Capcom UK’s head of marketing, said in a January 2012 interview with CVG, “The dream would be that the millions of Call of Duty fans that are enjoying these fast-paced online games are attracted to this Resident Evil.” He was talking specifically about Operation Raccoon City but that philosophy also applies to Resident Evil 6.

During another interview with Hirabayashi on 1UP last October, he said reaching a mass audience would be key to Resident Evil’s future:

We’re making games and we need to have mass-market appeal in order to survive. It becomes an issue of tracking one way or the other. How far do we go into horror before we lose the support of the average player? How far are we going to lessen the horror elements at the risk of losing core fans, including Resident Evil fans? Where’s the Venn diagram that shows the happy medium of those things? The challenge is trying to push it as close to the edge either way, so that we can satisfy both groups of people. I think we can do it. personally speaking, I really do like horror. I like it as a genre. I’m fine with pushing it up to 11 in terms of horror. But maybe that’s not what we can do and still be saleable.

Running away from its survival horror roots greatly damaged Resident Evil’s credibility. (Image by PlayStation Blog)

In the same interview Kobayashi said, “With Resident Evil, we’re trying to be as inclusive as possible. We’re trying to reach as many people as possible.” These sentiments were mirrored by others involved with the Resident Evil series. In an interview with Gamasutra in March 2012, Masachika Kawata, producer for Resident Evil: Revelations, said he believed the market for a survival horror title isn’t as big as the Call of Duty franchise and therefore Resident Evil needed to expand its horizons out of the genre. “A ‘survival horror’ Resident Evil doesn’t seem like it’d be able to sell those kind of numbers,” he said. The idea that Resident Evil 6 desperately needed a dumbed down, mainstream appeal and a drastic gameplay style difference from survival horror doesn’t hold weight considering the franchise’s previous sales records. As of Dec. 31, Resident Evil 2 is the company’s third best seller in its almost 30 year history with close to five million lifetime sales. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is seventh with 3.5 million and the original Resident Evil takes the 10th spot with close to 2.8 million sold.

Not only are those some of the best selling in Capcom’s history, they were also some of the highest selling games on the original PlayStation as well. These weren’t horror niche titles like Silent Hill or Fatal Frame. These Resident Evil games were mainstream enough. With the Resident Evil name, Resident Evil 6 would have sold regardless if it was survival horror or a Call of Duty clone. Modern Warfare 3 released in November 2011, selling close to Capcom’s first 7 million goal in just one day, with 6.5 million copies bought in the the UK and North American markets at its launch. Capcom tried to run the same race and gassed out way before the finish line.

In that same CVG interview Turner said, “We’ve seen the popularity of Resident Evil increase massively as the series became more action oriented-Resident Evil 5 is the biggest seller in the series. So, it makes sense for us to follow this action area more fully.” Capcom saw dollar signs after Resident Evil 5. The game is the second best-selling title in company history, having sold 6 million copies. The infusion of action into the series isn’t the problem. Resident Evil 4 was the game where original creator Shinji Mikami mixed up the formula and moved farther away from the survival horror found in previous games. Resident Evil 4 included much more action elements that were only a slight part of games like Resident Evil 2 or Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. 

re4

Resident Evil 4 shifted the series in a different direction. (Image by Microsoft Corporation)

The roots of Resident Evil’s current problems do go back to Resident Evil 4. However it still has great pacing and an intense atmosphere, and can still be considered a survival horror game in different ways. As good as the game is, the new enemy type away from zombies and the focus on action set the stage for bigger problems down the road. Since the second half of the game became so focused on action, with waves of enemies and fights, many of the horror elements from the first half disappeared. With an arsenal of upgraded weapons aiding you in combat, the element of fear was gone. Most of the ridiculous elements in Resident Evil 6 can be traced back to Resident Evil 4. Without someone like Mikami overseeing the project, the vision gets completely out of control. That’s when you get people transforming into dinosaurs and Olympic races to avoid dying in an avalanche.

A former Dead Space writer told NowGamer in February that Dead Space 3 had to take a more action-oriented style to increase awareness of the series. The change for Visceral Games’ franchise was what he called a necessary evil to reach a wider audience and more sales. Dead Space always had a heavy action focus to begin with and the series never had anywhere near the brand strength of Resident Evil. However it’s the closet example of a mainstream game with horror elements incorporated into its gameplay and storyline, similar to Resident Evil. Dead Space is representative of the problem plaguing the industry, where the proposed solution to higher sales is a “bigger is better” mentality alongside ditching elements that made a franchise popular to begin with.

Even after Resident Evil 5 became the financial success it did, Capcom was already looking for other games to take Resident Evil’s place. At one point Capcom wanted the Dead Rising franchise to take over for Resident Evil. “The goal for Dead Rising 2 is to replace the Resident Evil franchise and become number one IP within Capcom,” Keiji Inafune told Eurogamer in September 2010. Capcom proved in the past that its main concern wasn’t quality but finding the company’s next big thing.

After playing Resident Evil 6, I didn’t want to go back to the ’90s games. Ironically I wanted to play Resident Evil 5 again, which is actually a competent action game. Resident Evil 6 can’t even compare to what Capcom plunged into with Resident Evil 5. Resident Evil 5 was a success for Capcom financially and a failure for fans of the series. Resident Evil 5 is a terrible Resident Evil game. Ironically it was almost a replica of Epic Games’ Gears of War, a game that was heavily influenced by Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 5 could’ve been renamed “Gears of Evil” with the way it plays. However despite the obvious drawbacks it’s still a good game, unlike Resident Evil 6. I’m open minded but I find it extremely difficult to defend Resident Evil 6 in any way, even stepping away from the lens of a hardcore fan.

About these ads

10 Responses to “Capcom and the Fall of Resident Evil”

  1. Curt John

    Awesome article, thanks very much for writing it. You show a lot of dedication to the cause in your work, and utmost respect for the series. I can read the love in the words, and I agree with every single one of them.
    It’s too bad that ultimately these types of articles end up just preaching to the choir, in a sense. It’s generally people that feel this way already that read them, and not along in agreement. The people making the decisions for the future of Resident Evil need to read these types of articles and really understand the context.
    Unfortunately, and it’s kind of crazy but true, RE6 is not actually ‘almost universally disliked’. A lot, and I do mean a LOT of gamers are not as critical when it comes to the type of entertainment as we are. Not as passionate about the quality of work they play, perhaps. My roommate is a massive gamer and he works in a games store, Microplay. He loves RE6, thinks it’s a brilliant game that’s very enjoyable. He’s simple in his likes. He also liked Colonial Marines, so his opinions aren’t particularly valid IMO, but they’re there and shared by many, many gamers. Reading the comments on IGN for example you can see countless users aggressively defending their enjoyment (and purchase) of the game. Perhaps it’s just because they forked out hard-cash for it and don’t like to think of themselves as making a poor decision with their purchase, but I think quite simply not everyone looks as objectively at the product. They don’t look at it and think “Well, this isn’t a Resident Evil game,” they just say “Yeah, this is fun!”
    Not me, by far. RE6 was one more massive disappointment in a slew of disappointments coming out of the whole industry over the last several years, the result of greedy cash-grabbing in place of loyal, passionate dedication to a medium. The respect for the franchise is no longer there, which is clear in the way Capcom pimps Resident Evil out to any paying customer and then slaps the franchise around when it doesn’t perform to expected standards instead of reflecting on their own actions. RE6 was a sloppy travesty of a game and it isn’t hard to see why. It’s hilarious to read about Capcom trying to blame the marketing without seeing fault in their own development process. And I mean, really, how is 5 million units sold a failure? Only if you have 600 developers working on it and muddying the waters. The ironic part is, if they only had 100 developers it probably still would have sold 5 million units and that would have been a massive profit, not to mention the game would have been more focused and streamlined.
    Here’s what I think needs to happen with the franchise moving forward:
    – Limit the cooks! Too many cooks in the kitchen only results in bumbling around dropping the dishes. Keep the development teams smaller, keep the product from becoming a gangled mess.
    – Start fresh. The series doesn’t necessarily need a reboot, although it has a nice jumping point with the (arguably best in the series) RE remake on the gamecube. They could use that as a reboot point and make a new Resident Evil 2, complete with modern game dynamics. Look at Tomb Raider – the new game is utterly brilliant and an absolute success in terms of vision, pushing the franchise forward and introducing amazing new gameplay mechanics while keeping the general feel and concept of the original games intact. Leaping and climbing and exploring still feels very Tomb Raider but the game pushes into the new generation with finess! Take note Capcom.
    – Stop breaking the forth wall and build on the immersion again. The chaptered sequences and HUDs etc these days are -awful-. Levels feel totally disconnected from each other and make me feel like I’m playing an arcadey beat-em-up rather than an immersive cinematic experience. The old Resident Evils threw you into the world and made you find your way through the story without breaking up into parts and putting markers and button-prompts and health bars all over the place. This kills the experience.
    – Slow the hell down! Don’t move it along at a breakneck place from one set-piece action sequence to the next. Build tension, build ATMOSPHERE, make my fighting intense and enjoyable and spread it out rather than throwing thousands of fodder enemies at me. You know how many times I’ve pointed and shot at something in games now? Literally MILLIONS of times, and it is getting very, very old. Quality over quantity, please!
    – Open up the world. RE6 was just a hallway slog, as are so many games today. You know what I want to see in a Resident Evil game? Give me a city, decimated by an outbreak. Let me explore the city, trying to survive. The whole city, not just select streets with barricades everywhere. Let me go into buildings, let there be dynamic weather, let me creep around enemies and take different paths and explore to find my way. I hate to mention them, but think of the end of the first Resident Evil movie, with Alice standing in the middle of the deserted city with a shotgun. Give me that city, let me freely play through it.
    – One more thing. I don’t want to be a super, invincible ultra-soldier! It’s BORING, and overdone, and kills immersion and reliability to the protagonist. I think the Outbreak series, while poorly executed (ahead of its time, perhaps) was really on to something with it’s multiplayer, level design and characters. I want to be just some regular joe thrown into the world of survival horror and left to figure out how to survive or die. I don’t want to suplex zombies, that’s stupid. I want to struggle with average skills to survive. That’s how you create horror, and it’s very simple. Again, take Tomb Raider for the next example – perhaps I can build to become this amazing super survivor towards the end of the game with a good skill system. In Tomb Raider she starts off an ordinary girl (albiet a very talented, fit, strong, smart and beautiful girl) with no super killing abilities and as you progress she can buy skills that make her a more deadly and efficent killer with awesome execution moves later on. You you have to earn them through hard work. Speaking of, what the hell was with the skills system in RE6? URRggghhh, terrible!!!
    – Item management. RE4 did it well, RE6 couldn’t have done it worse.
    – Oh, and finally, NO CO-OP.
    Thanks again for the article. Fingers crossed for the future of Resident Evil. I know I’m going to be very critical of the next game, although rumours are flying that they’re leaning in the right direction talking about focusing the game more. At least for the meantime we’ll have Revelations. Haven’t had a chance to play it yet and really looking forward to doing so. I hope it does well and Capcom takes note.
    Cheers!

    • Tim Bowman

      Hey Curt,

      Thanks for the great feedback! Glad you enjoyed this piece on Resident Evil. It’s always nice to hear from and talk to fans of the series.

      There is definitely an element in the gaming community and from consumers of defending bad games/products to no end. You see it all the time in comments for reviews or on gaming message boards. Of course there’s some people that do really enjoy a game like Resident Evil 6, but there’s also a lot of people that go way overboard in their defense of a game like that. I’m sure you’ve seen it yourself. I think the fact that games cost $60, people want to feel like they made a good “buy” and didn’t waste their money.

      You do make a good point though. Many gamers really do actually like a game like Resident Evil 6. There’s also that element too among the general audience who may not follow games closely or even know anything about Resident Evil, who pick it up and play it and think it’s a fun game. There’s a big problem in the game culture and industry of people not knowing their gaming history, especially the newer generation of gamers. It’s sometimes hard to explain to people the intricate problems of the Resident Evil franchise when the only games they’ve played or even know about are Resident Evil 5 and 6. I think I’m so critical of it all (but in a good way!) because I’ve been playing these Resident Evil games since around the time it all started, so I’ve been through all the changes Capcom has thrown at the fans and gamers. Resident Evil 6 was the last straw for me.

      You’re right. Capcom definitely does like to cash in on the Resident Evil brand at every opportunity. Just look at the recent spin-offs like Operation Raccoon City and how many times Resident Evil 4 was ported to almost every device that can play it (when it was originally supposed to be a GameCube exclusive)! There does seem to be a lot of blame going around with Resident Evil 6. Capcom can’t outright come out and say “yes our game sucks, don’t buy it or future installments” but they’ve been in denial for years on the decline of quality-from blaming fans to the genre the games are in to all other sorts of things.

      You made some good suggestions too, on all accounts. Capcom really needs to minimize the development on the next “real” (not spin-off) Resident Evil game. 600 people is way too much. They need a much smaller team working on Resident Evil. They also need to take some real risks this time. The franchise has played it safe ever since RE4. Like I said in this piece though, that’s just a bigger problem in the game industry though. None of these big companies are willing to take a risk when it’s so much easier to just pump out a generic and safe game in the style of RE6 or a Call of Duty. Like you suggested, I would love for an “open world” type experience with Resident Evil. I’ve been wanting something more of that since I played Resident Evil 2 all the way back in 1998. You can see the potential for a game with a big open environment destroyed by a zombie/virus outbreak from a game like that, and even the Tall Oaks section of Leon’s campaign in Resident Evil 6.

      Great suggestion on not being a super invincible character too! That’s another big problem with the current games. Why would you be scared of a zombie/whatever outbreak when you have the strength of 10 men and can just blow away anything that tries to attack you? That’s what makes the earlier games so good is that these were just regular people. Leon for example in RE2 was a rookie cop, his first day on the job.

      Who knows what the future holds for Resident Evil. I hope you’re right and the Capcom team does move in the right direction. They pretty much have to make some sort of big move with the next game. Let’s just hope they do something cool and not another Resident Evil 6-type disaster.

      If you get a chance, do play Revelations, either on the 3DS or on a home console. You’ll enjoy it! It’s a really good game.

      Again, thanks for the well thought out feedback!

  2. brent

    Seems like a well researched article. However I strongly feel that sales amounting close to 5 million units in the crrent economic climate can most certainly still be rated a success. The fact that 4,4 million units were shipped shows they expected to do this volume in business and for good publicity and to ensure consumer confidence a projected figure of 7 mill is put out….good business practice.

    As to the game itself, I personal found it to be of the better games
    in series. Serious effort was done by the developers and the story lines, emotion and dialogue is just simply the best to date in any RE iteration.

    I found the developers to be extemely bold in taking on such massive endeavours as a 4 campaign game….they went out of their way for the fans.. I found each campaign unique and highly entertaining. The qte ramped up the excitement and moved the game along at a fantastic pace. If you struggled you could simply actuve amateur mode and the qte would not need to be done. However I found that playing co-op and throwing in the qte really brought out some great fun and broke the tension.

    I also found the snow area with Jake and Sherry to be highly enjoyable and who will ever forget the snowmobile dash :)

    It is my fear the critics are going to keep a truly great game from the public and dampen the creative spirit clearly evident in this games development. I cannot wait to see what RE brings us next and I hope that the developments unique approach is not smothered.

    This game is literally 4 games in one package, with action, horror and fun throughout.

    • Tim Bowman

      Hey Brent,

      I think 5 million sales should be a huge success in today’s economic situation too. For almost any other game ever made it would be a success. Unfortunately Capcom doesn’t feel the same way. I think the company set its expectations too high at 7 million sales, and wasn’t prepared for the negative backlash Resident Evil 6 received for its poor gameplay and quality.

      The RE6 team doing 4 campaigns was a bold move, but it didn’t pay off. I don’t know if you have played the old RE games, but they used to do a similar thing in those games with different campaigns. For example, in Resident Evil 1 you could either play as Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine for a full game (maybe 7-14 hours of gameplay), and it would give you different perspectives and cut-scenes on what was taking place throughout the game, depending on who you played as. In Resident Evil 2 there were also 2 different scenarios with Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, with the same type of deal as RE1. (It was even a 2 disc game on the PlayStation 1, a disc for each character).

      The problem with Resident Evil 6 is that the 4 campaigns were way too much, and each played like a different development team made it. There was no cohesiveness or flow to the combination. Like you said, it actually did feel like Resident Evil 6 was made up of 4 games in one package. You also kept running into the same type of cut-scenes or gameplay scenarios that you played in another character’s chapter, which was very annoying. The storyline wasn’t as compelling as it was in RE1-3 so it made seeing those scenarios over and over again pretty bad.

      You lost me on the snow area with Jake though! I couldn’t stand that section. I couldn’t believe that was actually included in the final game. It was a mess!

      Thanks for your feedback Brent. It’s good to hear the perspective of someone who is a big fan of Resident Evil 6. I appreciate your comments!

  3. Felipe

    “New enemies introduced like the Rasklapanje, with a name that looks like somebody came up with after falling asleep on their keyboard” ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? THAT’S THE STUPIDES SHIT I’VE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE. It’s incredible how you “Resident Evil fans” can be. Have you noticed that Rasklapanje is a word from another language? As much as I agree with you in a few points, you said more shit than anything else in your text. It doesn’t even worth reading it all, I stopped there on your comment about the name of Rasklapanje. How ignorant is that? Is this just because RE is not survival horror anymore? I don’t like the direction Resident Evil took as well, like Chris and Jake campaign, I don’t like this Gears Of War scenarios. But just because of that we all have to say the whole franchise got fucked up? Did you even pay close attention to the story? I think you didn’t. Resident Evil doesn’t need survival horror to be Resident Evil. Do I miss survival horror in the games? FOR SURE. But does that make RE a bad game? NO. I can’t believe how far you guys can go with this shit. Resident Evil is one of the few games with a huge and deep content to offer. It’s not just a shooting game. Have you realized RE 5 was one of the few Resident Evil games that cleared everything left in blank on the story? As long as RE has good content as it stills have, it stills Resident Evil. Now, please, stop with this shit. If you play the game just because of the survival horror, you’re not a fan of the game, you’re just a fan of survival horror. Sorry. Why won’t you go play Dead Space or another horror game? It’ll worth you more than this!

    • Tim Bowman

      Hey Felipe,

      Thanks for your feedback. You’re right. That’s an extremely poor joke on my part regarding that enemy name. In retrospect that shouldn’t have been included in the story. After writing it I learned it wasn’t just a term created by Capcom during my research for this piece and failed to take the sentence out in my final edit.

      As I mentioned in this piece, the problem with Resident Evil goes farther back than just #6. The root of the problem goes back to after Resident Evil 4 and Shinji Mikami started working on other games and then finally left Capcom. After that, the quality of the games seriously dipped. I brought up the point that Capcom took his formula for #4 and tried the whole “bigger is better approach” in Resident Evil 5 and 6. Mikami really is a genius and someone that’s hard to replace. Without him and other core Capcom people leaving the company, it puts that pressure onto others with the Resident Evil team that don’t exactly have Mikami’s talents or creative ability.That’s why you get Chris Redfield fighting Wesker in a volcano and punching a megaton volcano boulder out of the way (when in the first game the characters struggled to even move a table or a bookshelf by themselves.) Or all the ridiculous sections in Resident Evil 6 that I highlighted in this piece that are just plain stupid and don’t belong in ANY game, much less a Resident Evil one. The spin-off games has mostly all sucked and have really hurt the brand’s credibility. You can only put out so many bad games before it harms the overhaul health of the brand. This downfall was 6-7 years plus in the making, and even further back then that when Capcom kept trying different games to have a “hit” spin-off game (starting back in 2000 with Resident Evil: Survivor).

      Look, I loved Resident Evil 4. I think it’s one of the best games ever made. Period. I like how RE5 ended a lot of the storylines dragged out from previous games. It was the right move to make. I didn’t like that Capcom turned Jill into Wesker’s pet though (and yes I know the storyline reasoning goes back to RE3: Nemesis. It still sucked). Unlike Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil 6 is a bad game. It’s boring, too long, feels like 4 different teams developed it, has no identity of its own and is simply Capcom’s attempt to get their own version of Call of Duty (sales wise and “mainstream” appeal wise) by any means necessary. You mentioned that Resident Evil doesn’t need survival horror to be a RE game. You’re right. It doesn’t necessarily. But it needs that distinct RE atmosphere, which hasn’t been in the franchise since RE4 in 2005 and was just recently seen again in the 3DS game Revelations.

      Yes, I’m a huge fan of survival horror. I’m not one of these people that are begging Capcom to make a game that looks like it came from 1998 or something. I’m not that big of a fan of Dead Space though. The first game was pretty good, but the second one didn’t do that much for me. Dead Space is more an action game that survival horror anyway. I would have absolutely no problem with the next Resident Evil game still had a lot of action elements and wasn’t just a pure survival horror game. I like good games. But Resident Evil has a long history. This isn’t a new IP. There are still certain expectations of what a Resident Evil game should be.

      I’m not going to go over all my reasons again for while Resident Evil is in the dumps now. I did that in this piece, which you didn’t finish reading (and again, after that line you mentioned I can understand why you didn’t).

      Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate you taking the time to write in with your opinions and especially for calling me out for that part of my article regarding the Rasklapanje.

  4. Will Anthony

    Is there any way people can fund a kickstarter for a REmake of Resident Evil 2? If Deadly Premonition can exist in the landscape of games today (and the GC remake of resident evil is superior to anything recent coming from the resident evil franchise), why can’t something like this happen? Just take the game engine from the REmake and Zero, maybe add some tweaks, and make everyone happy. I’d be willing to pitch in money to make it happen.

    • Tim Bowman

      Hey Will,

      I think Capcom has plenty of money to fund and create its remake of Resident Evil 2. Fans shouldn’t be funding games for big corporations like Capcom (even though they’d probably take your money in a heart beat for it). It’s been rumored for years now and I think it will eventually happen soon now that Capcom & the RE team is going back to the whole “Resident Evil needs to return to its roots” idea in recent media appearances. I would love to see a RE2 remake in the vein of the RE1 Remake on the GameCube. It would be really cool to explore Raccoon City again with gameplay tweaks and realistic graphics on say, the PS4 or next Xbox.

      Thanks for checking this article out.

  5. Screw Capcom

    Hey Capcom, I can make up terms too but they don’t hold weight because they’re not established..oh and people see right through you. “Horror Entertainment”? REALLY? Gee I didn’t know horror wasn’t entertaining until now. What kind of bullshit blanket shit is that? Made to entertainment as many people as possible..gee, isn’t that fucking everything from the video games industry to the movie industry? Dodge Resident Evil’s history some more. Just know that now, people are on to you. People see through your lies. Fans don’t forgive and we don’t forget.

  6. lonelysith66

    RE6, or as I affectionally call it, My Dinner Date with Jack Daniels. :/

Comments are closed.