Capcom’s juggernaut zombie blasting series, Resident Evil, has been a mainstay of the company since the first game’s release in 1996 for the PlayStation. With loads of sequels, spin-offs and remakes, there’s no doubt that Resident Evil has left an impact, being one of the granddaddies of survival horror games. But fans, to this day, still debate whether Resident Evil 4 and 5 or the original, 2, and 3 were the best. Let’s compare the two groups.
So one of the most obvious differences between the classic Resident Evil games and the post 4 romps would have to be the gameplay. Sure, the basic elements remain the same. Umbrella Corp is stirring up some shit. You blast your way through hordes of zombies, Hunters, and dogs, all while occasionally solving puzzles or figuring out what the hell’s going on.
But there are a few key differences. Whereas the first few Resident Evil installments were more about solving puzzles and, well, surviving, the post 4 generation took more of a decidedly action based turn. Take 5 for example. Sure, you got to blast through zombies- err, “Majini”, but as opposed to a survival horror game, it wasn’t very different from another other action game on the market, except for carrying the Resident Evil name.
Which brings us into our debates about the story. Okay, so we admit it. The first Resident Evil didn’t exactly have an Oscar winning story. But with 2 and 3, as storytelling took special prominence, we were kept on the edges of our seats.
That’s not to say that 4, 5 and the other games in the series had weak stories, per say. 4 especially was pretty gripping, casting you as series favorite Leon Kennedy, who was charged with rescuing the President’s daughter from a Spanish cult. Overall, the plots of Resident Evil titles can get away with being simple, but with the right touches, can keep the controllers glued to our hands.
For the most part, the characters of Resident Evil have stayed with us throughout the entire franchise. You’ve got Jill and Chris, Leon and Claire, Wesker and Birkin, Ada, and so on. If you’re a longtime fan, you’ve got your favorites.
Was every character well developed in each installment? That can be debatable. But they’re memorable, and reasonably consistent between each installment of the franchise.
4/10 “You Were Almost A Jill Sandwich”
Ah, yes. The dialogue. One of the most infamous parts of the Resident Evil franchise, especially the first game. How about gems like “You were almost a Jill sandwich”? Or how about “Jill, here’s a lock pick. It might be handy if you, the master of unlocking, take it with you”?
So we admit, the post 4 installments, for the most part, improved upon the dialogue. But there were still some weird quotes like, “I knew you’d be fine if you landed on your butt.” You do have to admit, however, that in the early games, there was a certain charm to the game’s cheesy dialogue. It was also like you were watching Night of the Living Dead all over again.
5/10 The Graphics
Alright, so there’s an obvious winner in this debate. The post 4 games featured stunning graphics. Especially from 5 onward.
5, in fact, was the first game in the franchise to utilize motion capture for the cutscenes. And regardless of how you feel about the game itself, you can’t deny that it’s not pretty to look at.
6/10 The Setting
And how about the setting? In the early installments, you can’t deny that the games were full of atmosphere. Resident Evil had the mansion and the laboratory. 2 had the T-virus ravaged Raccoon City and the police station. And 3 once again featured Raccoon city, placing a special emphasis on being forced to escape zombies throughout it.
4 definitely benefitted from updated graphics, which helped bring the castles, churches, and isolated villages throughout the game to life. And 5? Well, while the desert setting was stark and bleak, it didn’t allow for the same atmospheric, foreboding atmosphere that the previous installments had.
7/10 Umbrella, Zombies, and Lickers, Oh My
Even if you’ve never played a single Resident Evil game, zombies are probably the first thing to come to mind when you picture the games. Well, the various Umbrella experiments throughout the series are what help make the games shine. You have Nemesis, the Hunters, the Lickers, those fucking spiders, Tyrant, Mr. X and, not to mention, Birkin.
While 4 featured mutations and plague afflicted villagers, 5 took a decidedly different direction. Featuring the plague affected MajiniÃâÃÂ¸ many wondered why 5 didn’t simply incorporate zombies. Well, we do give 5 points for trying.
8/10 Is There a Winner?
Well, that depends. It’s not so much an issue about what game is better but what you prefer.
If you’re a survival horror fan, the first three Resident Evils just may be your cup of tea. If more action oriented, quick combat games are your thing, well you’ve got 4 and especially 5. Both camps are radically different enough that for gamers, each game is its own unique experience.
While some of us may drastically prefer the original Resident Evil games, we’re not saying 4 and 5 don’t have their own merits.
For one, 4 featured incredibly inventive gameplay- such as the ‘over the shoulder’ view we had of Leon, that would go on to influence future action titles. Lots of fans love it and it’s a game changer for the franchise. 5 had its merits too. There’s gorgeous graphics and plenty of action.
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Dude got very very lucky.