Resident Evil

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Resident Evil, known as Biohazard (バイオハザード) in Japan, is a successful franchise of horror-adventure video games developed by Capcom. It is credited with popularizing the survival horror game genre, in which the goal is to avoid being killed by monsters, undead and assorted evil creatures bent on attacking the player. The franchise is heavily influenced by George A. Romero's Dead movies.

Story

File:Resident Evil (remake).jpg
Chris and Jill in the remake of Resident Evil.

The success of this franchise has spawned several computer games, a comic book series, novelizations, two Hollywood action movies and action figures. While the games mostly adhere to a consistent storyline there are enough deviations from the game plot within the movies and novels to be considered alternate storylines.

The first game (Resident Evil, 1996) takes place in the fictitious Raccoon City, a typical midwestern American urban setting controlled economically by the Umbrella Corporation, a conglomerate that produces a wide array of consumer products. Raccoon City's elite S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service/Squad) are dispatched to investigate strange and gruesome murders outside the city in the surrounding Arklay Mountain and Raccoon Forest area.

The Bravo team disappears, and the Alpha team is sent to recover them and continue the investigation. They are chased into the Spencer mansion where they uncover evidence that Umbrella is conducting illegal and unethical research into biological warfare. They have secretly been researching the mutagenic effects of synthetic viruses on living organisms, resulting in the creation of several species of fierce, bloodthirsty mutants.

Each title sheds more light on Umbrella's operations and background, how far-reaching they are, and what lengths they will go to in order to keep their operations a secret. More recent titles touch on the government's attempts to take down Umbrella.

Games

Resident Evil is not based on a game known as Sweet Home, which in turn was based on a Japanese horror movie, スイートホーム (Suiito houmu). Sweet Home was released only in Japan in 1989 for the Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System). Resident Evil borrowed many elements from Sweet Home including the mansion setting, the puzzles, and even the "door" loading screen. This was confirmed by Shinji Mikami, producer and director for many Resident Evil titles, during an interview.

Most of the games in the series are played from a third-person perspective, viewing the characters from a generally overhead camera angle as they move through pre-rendered environments. Although Resident Evil was one of the first games to use this gameplay style on console systems, the technique was first pioneered on the PC by the Alone in the Dark series which is often cited as the first game in the survival horror genre. These static backgrounds have been a bone of contention for many players, although Code: Veronica, and more recently Resident Evil 4 have featured environments rendered in realtime.

Some of the games allow you to choose from one of two main characters which will affect which parts of the story are revealed with additional secrets, mini-missions, weapons and endings unlocked after completing the game by both characters.

The Resident Evil series is controversial for its violence and bloodshed, and each game is prefaced by a disclaimer warning that "this game contains scenes of explicit violence and gore." It should be noted that the game's violence is almost exclusively against zombies and non-human mutants and only twice in the entire series does the player character ever fight and kill another human being. However, the player-controlled characters are human and their deaths are often graphic.

Further controversy arises from Capcom's dealings with Nintendo to make the Resident Evil series exclusive for the GameCube, at least for the core story based titles, after many years of releasing the games for the PlayStation and porting them to other systems (more below).

The series has sold over 25 million copies worldwide as of mid-2004 [1], and the following titles have been published or announced and are listed in game time-line order where applicable.

Main series

As of 2005, there has been six games in the core series, with a seventh installment currently under development. This number excludes the numerous updated editions, ports and remakes of each title.

The first three games (Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis) all debuted on the Sony PlayStation and were subsequently ported to the Sega Saturn, PC, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo GameCube. Some of these ports added exclusive content and features not found in the original releases. The series made its sixth generation debut with Resident Evil Code: Veronica for the Sega Dreamcast. Code: Veronica was later ported to the Sony PlayStation 2 (and later GameCube) in the form of an updated version titled Resident Evil Code: Veronica X.

After Code: Veronica, the series became exclusive to the Nintendo GameCube for a while as a result of a controversial creative decision by series' producer Shinji Mikami and the two subsequent installments: a remake of the original Resident Evil and Resident Evil 0, were released only for the GameCube. Resident Evil 4, which introduced drastic changes to the storyline and gameplay (including a new camera and aiming system), was originally released as a GameCube exclusive, but has been ported to the PlayStation 2 with added content from the GameCube original. The PlayStation 2 version of Resident Evil 4 was released on October 25 in North America.

The series is set to make its next-generation debut with Resident Evil 5 for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. An enhanced portable port of the original Resident Evil (subtitled Deadly Silence) is also scheduled for release on the Nintendo DS to commemorate the series' tenth anniversary.

Gun Survivor series

The following are Resident Evil-related titles that were released as part of Capcom's Gun Survivor series in Japan. The gameplay in the Gun Survivor series is different from the main games in which the action takes place from a first-person perspective and player can use a light gun in addition to the controller (although, this feature was initially taken out from the North American release of Survivor). Note that the third Gun Survivor title (Dino Stalker) is not related to the Resident Evil series at all, being based on the Dino Crisis series instead.

While the Gun Survivor are not part of the main series, some fans consider the games to be canonical due to a reference to the original Survivor in Resident Evil 0 and the fact that Flagship writer Noboru Sugimura (who wrote the scenarios for Resident Evil 2, Code: Veronica and 0), also wrote the Gun Survivor games. The American titles are:

Outbreak series

Despite Capcom's exclusivity agreement (at the time) with Nintendo, Capcom managed to release an online spinoff of the Resident Evil series titled Resident Evil Outbreak. Set during the Resident Evil 2 and 3 timeline, Outbreak allows players to experience the events of the T-Virus Outbreak in Raccoon City from the perspective of other characters. It was followed by a single sequel titled Resident Evil Outbreak: File #2.

Due to the interchangeable nature of the first two games, it is rumored that a third Outbreak might be in the works, as unused character models and data has been uncovered in the previous games through the use of character modifying cheat codes. However, no plans to continue the Outbreak series has been officially announced.

Other titles

In 2001, Capcom released a Game Boy Color game titled Resident Evil Gaiden. The game was not developed internally by any of Capcom's studios, but by British-based developer M4 Limited, although creator Shinji Mikami supervised the development of the game, while Code: Veronica director Hiroki Kato wrote the story. The game was an RPG featuring an overhead view for exploration and a first-person view for battles. Set during the events of Code: Veronica, Gaiden featured Barry and Leon investigating a cruise ship infested with B.O.Ws as part of an Anti-Umbrella operation. The game is generally considered non-canonical due to a cliffhanger in the ending that was never explored in subsequent games.

Capcom also released several mobile phone games in Japan based on the Biohazard series.

  • Biohazard i Survivor (i-mode, 2001)
  • Biohazard: Zombie Buster (i-mode/Vodafone/au-phone 2001)
  • Biohazard: Zombie Shooter(i-mode/au-phone, 2001)
  • Biohazard Assault: Nightmare(i-mode/Vodafone, 2002)
  • Biohazard: The Missions (Vodafone, 2003)
  • Biohazard: Confidential Report (Vodafone/au-phone, 2004)
  • Biohazard: The Stories(i-mode, 2005)

Abandoned titles

Resident Evil 0, Nintendo 64

Resident Evil 0 started life on the Nintendo 64 and featured graphics close to Resident Evil 2 and 3 in appearance. The developers believed that the system's cartridge media would give the quick load times required for the game's character switching system.

Production shifted to the GameCube halfway during development in order to compete with the Shinji Mikami-directed remake of the original. The scenario and storyline in the released GameCube version remained largely unchanged although Rebecca's beret, shown on the Nintendo 64, is absent on the GameCube version and the graphics were significantly enhanced to take advantage of the GameCube's hardware. Rebecca was seen in an easter egg in Resident Evil 2. However, Rebbecca was the side character to Chris' story in the original Resident Evil as well as the remake on the GameCube.

Resident Evil, Game Boy Color

A Game Boy Color port of the original PlayStation Resident Evil was announced around the same time as the Nintendo 64 version of Resident Evil 0. HotGen Studios (the developer of the port) reportedly captured the original game's three-dimensional gameplay on the Game Boy Color's hardware, but the project was later scrapped, citing reasons of poor quality and a replacement title, Resident Evil Gaiden, was developed with the Game Boy Color's limits in mind. The game is now only available as a ROM image for Game Boy emulators.

Resident Evil 2 (Prototype), PlayStation

Often referred to as Resident Evil 1.5, the first attempt at a sequel to the original Resident Evil, saw a PlayStation version apparently over 60% complete and just one month from launch date when Capcom abandoned the title.

The development team regrouped, starting development from scratch, but borrowing characters from the first attempt, namely Leon S. Kennedy and Marvin the dying cop - originally scripted to survive, but would die in the new version.

Notably absent was Claire Redfield, with the prototype featuring the blonde-haired biker, Elza Walker in her place. The main action in the game was to take place in a decidedly more modern police station. The game was rumoured to possess such perks as throwable grenades.

Resident Evil 2, Sega Saturn

A Saturn version of Resident Evil 2 was announced while the first PlayStation attempt was in development. When the PlayStation version was abandoned, the Saturn version was also dropped although it is unclear if development had started.

Late in the Saturn's lifespan Capcom re-announced Resident Evil 2 for the Saturn based on the new Resident Evil 2 and utilising their new 4MB cartridge, first used with X-Men vs. Street Fighter. This too was cancelled, with the developers claiming they were unable to capture the quality of the PlayStation version because of the Saturn's inferior 3D capabilities.

Resident Evil 4, PlayStation 2 & GameCube

Resident Evil 4 went through three different incarnations during development, each with a different premise, before Mikami decided to take directorial charge of the project and go on to deliver the released Resident Evil 4.

The first prototype was considered too much of a departure from the normal Resident Evil style and was subsequently revamped and released as Devil May Cry.

The second and most well-known version of the game, known to the developers as the "Fog Version", featured Leon fighting against non-living objects such as armors, dolls and deer-heads turning to life. This was to be the result of his infection with the Progenitor virus covered in the Resident Evil remake and in Resident Evil 0.

The third version reportedly featured zombies as enemies again and would have depicted the events leading to Umbrella's shutdown, something only alluded to in the released version. This version was short-lived, rejected by the developers as too formulaic.

Biohazard DASH, PlayStation

Biohazard DASH would place Jill and Chris in the ruins of the Spencer mansion, as they set out to investigate a nearby zombie plant some months after the events of the original Resident Evil.

Dash intended to use the same environment as the original, but would feature new enemies, areas and weapons. Production of DASH was quickly cancelled in favor of Resident Evil 2, but it is believed that certain aspects of the game made it to Resident Evil: Director's Cut, as well as the Battle Mode featured in the Saturn version of Resident Evil.

Movies

There are two movies, both written by Paul W. S. Anderson who also directed the first film with a third now in development. Originally, acclaimed zombie film director George A. Romero was hired to write and direct the original film, but was removed from the project in favor of Anderson. Rumors circulated that Romero was removed from the project because of issues over content, as the studio producing the film wanted a less graphic, more commercial-friendly film.

The Paul W. S. Anderson Resident Evil films are highly controversial, due to the fact that the films are not straight forward adaptions of the Resident Evil game, often containing many plot elements that directly contradict those from the games.

Books

The Resident Evil video game series has been adapted into a series of novels by writer S.D. Perry. Although the novels follow the game's storyline faithfully for most part, certain details and plot directions from the games are contradicted due to the fact that some of the novels were written before the release of sequels that expanded upon the previous games' storylines. In addition, S.D. Perry has also written two original Resident Evil novels set between the events of certain novels.

A second series of Resident Evil novels, based on the films, was also written by writer Keith R.A. DeCandido.

S.D. Perry's game novelization series

  • Zero Hour - Book 0 in the series is a novelization of Resident Evil 0 and is written by S.D. Perry, 2004, ISBN 0671785117.
  • The Umbrella Conspiracy - Book 1 in the series is a novelization of the original Resident Evil. 1998, ISBN 0-671-02439-6.
  • Caliban Cove - Book 2 of the series breaks from previous novelizations efforts, instead telling an original story set on the fictional island of Caliban Cove. Rebecca Chambers attempts to stop a rogue scientist from spreading a modified version of the T-Virus. A new S.T.A.R.S team is introduced including: David, John, Steve and Karen from the Maine branch. Written by S.D. Perry, 1998, ISBN 0-671-02440X.
  • City Of The Dead - Book 3 is a novelization of Resident Evil 2. 1999, ISBN 0-671-024418.
  • Underworld - Book 4 is another original novel that sees Claire Redfield, Rebecca Chambers and Leon Kennedy attempt to take down Umbrella Corporation before their biological weapons are released. Maine S.T.A.R.S members David and John return from Caliban Cove. 1999, ISBN 0-671-024426.
  • Nemesis - Book 5 of the series is a novelization of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. 2000, ISBN 0-671-178496-X.
  • Code Veronica - Book 6 is a novelization of the original Resident Evil Code: Veronica video game. 2001, ISBN 0-671-78498-6.

Keith R.A. DeCandido's movie novelizations

  • Resident Evil: Genesis - Novelization of the first Resident Evil movie. Written by Keith R.A. DeCandido, 2001, ISBN 0-743-49291-9.
  • Resident Evil: Apocalypse - Novelization of the second movie, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the events of which are an alternate storyline in the Resident Evil 3: Nemesis timeframe borrowing some plot concepts. Written by Keith R.A. DeCandido, 2004, ISBN 0-743-49349-4.

Japanese novels

In addition to the above novels, various Biohazard novels have been published in Japan, including translated versions of Perry's and DeCandido's novelizations. The following a list of original novels that has been released in Japan.

  • Biohazard: The Beginning - An original novel released as a portion of the book The True Story behind Biohazard published by Capcom. The story serves as a prequel to the original game, in which Chris Redfield investigates the disappearance of his childhood friend, Billy Rabittson, an Umbrella employee. Written by Hiroyuki Aniga, 1997.
  • Biohazard: The Beast of the North Sea (バイオハザード―北海の妖獣; Biohazard Hokkai no Yôjû) - Written by Kyu Asakura, 1998, ISBN 4-087-03067-9
  • Biohazard: to the Liberty - Written by Suiren Kimura, 2002, ISBN 4-840-22093-X
  • Biohazard: Rose Blank - Written by Tadashi Aizawa, 2002, ISBN 4-840-22080-8
  • Biohazard - Japanese novelization of the first film unrelated to DeCandido's version. Written by Osamu Makino, 2002, ISBN 4-043-52204-5

Graphic novels

Resident Evil: Code Veronica

Resident Evil: Code Veronica by Lee Chung Hing, published by DC Comics.
  • Book One, 2002, ISBN 1563898993
  • Book Two, 2003, ISBN 1563899191
  • Book Three, 2003, ISBN 1563899205
  • Book Four, 2003, ISBN 1563899213

There was also a comic book series of Resident Evil.

In other games

Due to Resident Evil' popularity, Capcom has incorporated references to the series and even actual crossovers with the characters in some of their other titles. Other companies (such as SNK and Namco) has also incorporated references to the series

  • Dino Crisis - A survival horror (or "survival panic") game directed by Shinji Mikami and often considered to be a cousin to the Resident Evil series. One area in the game features the Umbrella logo visible on certain crates.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 2 - A popular fighting game that has been ported to several home consoles, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 featured an extensive roster of characters from both Marvel Comics and Capcom, including Resident Evil's Jill Valentine and several creatures from the original game (including a Tyrant) as part of her special moves.
  • SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash - A card game-based video game for the Neo Geo Pocket Color. Card Fighters Clash featured various trading cards based on Capcom and SNK games, including characters cards of Jill Valentine, Leon S. Kennedy, Claire Redfield and a zombie. The sequel (Card Fighters 2: Expand Edition) added Chris Redfield and the Nemesis to the roster.
  • Under the Skin - One level in this PlayStation 2 game takes place in a comical parody of Raccoon City, and features several characters from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis including Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira, as well as the Nemesis itself.
  • Namco x Capcom - A strategy RPG for the Sony PlayStation 2. Bruce McGivern and Fong Ling from Resident Evil: Dead Aim are featured among other Capcom and Namco characters.

Parodies

  • President Evil, starring President Martti Ahtisaari as the main bad guy, was a parody game published along with the Finnish adult humour magazine Myrkky.
  • Reploid Hunter Iris; Code: Megaman X, another sprite comic parodying Resident Evil by placing the characters from the Mega Man X series in a similar style of plot.
  • Random Evil (Created by user:XINVADER) is another parody sprite comic which depicts characters from the Resident Evil series and a whole host of new characters into different situations. Now on Gaia Online guild Resident Evil: Reign of Blood this is rumoured to move to it's own website soon.

See also

External links

film


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