Resident Evil 6: Is it an Olive Branch to Old Fans, or an Abandonment?

The Resident Evil 6 trailer has come out and it has caused a mighty stir in the internet. You see, that idiotic viral campaign site “No Hope Left” was indeed the announcement of Resident Evil 6, and now we all have a trailer, and more surprisingly, a release date. Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced back in 2006 and we still don’t have it. Conversely, Resident Evil 6 was announced yesterday and will be released November 20th of this year. So that’s a win for Capcom right there. For those of you who haven’t seen the trailer, here it is:

The question that I have to ask, especially after my Survival Horror article, is whether this game has been made for fans of the originals or of fans of Resident Evil 4 and 5.

I singlehandedly divided the fanbase. What the hell have you done?

Resident Evil 4 changed Resident Evil. It was an action game first and foremost, and a horror game second. True, horror elements were not totally removed, but they were downplayed more than the rest of the series. Zombies, the standard enemies of the series, were removed and replaced by plagas (Parasites), so that the enemies could be fast and intelligent (… Well more than zombies). More horrifically to hardcore fans of the originals, the game was popular, really, really popular. Resident Evil 4 brought the series into the mainstream. While the originals were popular, they still qualified as cult games. Resident Evil 4 won countless awards and brought in a huge new audience, who would spend years annoying the old fanbase with their love of Leon and the new games. You see, internet, the original Resident Evil games (1-3, CV) had an emphasis on puzzle solving and ammo conservation… you know, Survival Horror stuff. Resident Evil 4 started a trend, which its successor, the aptly named Resident Evil 5, continued to an extreme. Resident Evil 5 threw out any remaining horror elements, and built on all of the action elements, further alienating the old fanbase.

Chris Redfield before ten years of severe steroid abuse.  We need an intervention.

Resident Evil 6 will star both Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy. The game apparently has three independent story lines and an unlockable scenario with Ada Wong (What’s a game with Leon Kennedy without Ada Wong?). Is this a good thing for old fans or new fans? The answer should be both, but is probably only the latter. Leon has been the star of every even Resident Evil. He starred opposite Claire Redfield in Resident Evil 2, and went solo in the controversial (Among fans) Resident Evil 4. So basically he is both loved and hated by the original fanbase, and pretty much completely loved by the new ones. Chris Redfield is probably the most prevalent Resident Evil character, starring in the original, Code Veronica, Resident Evil 5, and in the upcoming Resident Evil: Revelations. Again, his character is both loved and hated by the original fanbase, and pretty much only loved by the new (Although far less than Leon). The problem with Chris and Leon is that they can be seen to epitomize the new style of Resident Evil, even though they had groundings in the originals. In theory having the game star both characters should delight fans old and new; however, in reality, they are more likely to irritate the old fanbase, many of whom would prefer Claire Redfield, Jill Valentine, or another Resident Evil character.

Don’t forget good ol’ Barry. You can’t have a freaky patriotic orgy without Barry!

 Next we have the enemies of the game. In a very shocking revelation, Capcom has decided to bring back zombies. One would think that this would really ingratiate them with the old fanbase, who had lamented the abandonment of their old adversaries. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The zombies seem to be the old shuffling kind at first, but then we see one jump at Leon, and we quickly notice that these zombies don’t resemble old school George A. Romero zombies, but the 28 Days Later variety. In other words, they are quicker and far more aggressive. In my mind, the return of zombies, fast or no, is a huge deal and I’m very excited about it, but I understand how many fans could feel like they were teased (Try to think of them as Crimson Heads guys). As for the new fans, zombies don’t really add anything. The main point is whether or not the action elements play out well, and, if the trailer is any indication, they are going to be very, very happy.

I’m totally not going to jump at you, just stay where you are.

The basic fact is Resident Evil 4 brought in a bigger audience than Resident Evil ever had, and Capcom is clearly aware of this. They have been acknowledging their roots with the addition of zombies, but the new action emphasis isn’t going anywhere. Fans of the originals will never get what they want because Capcom is working for a new audience and a hardcore Survival Horror game could easily alienate the larger audience. It’s not that the game won’t be good, as it looks excellent, but it’s clearly not what fans of the originals are looking for. Resident Evil hasn’t been made worse, but it is different, and there will always be a group of fans who will lament this fact.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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