Resident Evil is now generally regarded as the Grandpappy (in the mafia sense and otherwise) of survival horror. It wasn’t the first, as such, with the likes of Alone in the Dark arriving before, but it had the biggest impact. It mainstream-ified (don’t bother looking that one up on Dictionary.com, just roll with me here) the genre, in the same way that Final Fantasy VII did for JRPGs.
In the two decades since the first Resident Evil hit, all kinds of big names in horror games have popped up. Dead Space has done its thing and kind of flammed out. Five Nights at Freddy’s has caused every YouTuber on the planet to jump, howl and jibber like an orgasming orangutan. VR gaming has brought all kinds of intense new experiences to the table. Things have moved on, but Resident Evil continues to endure.
Through the franchise’s much storied history, there have been countless misfires, screw ups and seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time-s. Some of these have been on the developers’ part, as anyone who’s ever bitched on a forum about the state of the series post Resident Evil 4 will tell you. Some have been horrible mistakes committed by the major players (Jill, Chris and co) through the course of the storyline. Others have been things that the gamer themselves can choose to do while playing… but really, really shouldn’t.
In short, there’s more than enough material here for a brilliantly snarky 15 Dumbest Decisions Ever Made In Resident Evil. Which is exactly what we’ve got for your eager eyeballs right here, so strap yourself in and we’ll get started.
15 Opening the Front Door of the Mansion
Now, I don’t know about you, but in Resident Evil’s opening cinematic, I was getting a distinctly unfriendly vibe from the helicopter crash site. Maybe it was all those slavering flesh-munchy dogs trying to feast on the team’s eyeballs. There was just a subtle nope-ishness about the whole situation.
Having hauled ass across that field of death and holed up in the mansion, then, you wouldn’t think there’d be much reason for our heroes to just open the front door and mosey back out. Not that they can, the original being a mansion crawl and all, but still. You can opt to interact with the door you just came in through, though, and what happens depends on the version of the game you’re playing. In the PlayStation original, the most hilariously craptacular animation of a dog trying to get in and snapping at you will result. In the later remake, one of these enemies will get inside and must be dealt with.
You’ll then be told that it’s too dangerous to go back inside, just for those of you who hadn’t already got that memo yet.
14 The Many, Freaking Many Appearances of Nemesis
Now, don’t go thinking that we’re just talking smack about the big man here. This is freaking Nemesis, after all, the gigantic man-freak with the leather fetish, homicidal tendencies and rocket launcher. That’s not the kind of guy you screw with and it doesn’t sound too good on a Tinder profile either.
When Nemesis comes barrelling through a wall towards you in Resident Evil 3, those are some of the most panic-inducing moments in the series for me. The issue is, there are just too many of them. These kinds of scares, like the classic dumb-teenagers-get-a-machete-to-the-eyeball-while-having-sexy-time-in-a-forest-at-night, have diminishing returns.
By the eighteenth time, Nemesis showing up was more of a pain in the ass than a horrifying shock. He went from terrifying death-beast to a mother-in-law who comes over to stay for Christmas and is still there in February. Which is also terrifying, granted, but not in the Resident Evil way.
13 Matrix Slow-Mo Dog Kicks
Now, say what you will about the Resident Evil movies, but I didn’t find them all that offensive. Great cinematic masterworks they are not, but they were harmless enough in my view. If you’ve been subjected to some of Uwe ‘Boll-ocks’ Boll’s terrible video game adaptions, you’ll be grateful for the Evil movies.
That said, though, they do of course have their share of craptacularly farcical moments. They had this air of being so desperate to be seen as a legitimate action movie (much as the later games do, which we’ll bitch about later), borrowing from all kinds of other big names in the process. Remember Alice’s encounter with the zombie dog? That whole Matrix slow-mo jumping kick she did? The director was trying way too hard at that point. This is my pick for dumbest moment in the films.
12 'Roiding Chris Up For Resident Evil 5
Our old buddy Chris Redfield went through a hell of a lot in the original game. Zombie outbreaks, attacks by all manner of ghastly creatures from the depths of Satan’s underpants, Wesker’s horrible phoney British accent… it was a tough time for the guy. Experiences like those can change a man forever.
But what the hell did they change Chris into? Unlike Jill, he didn’t cruise straight on in to his next game (Nemesis being set immediately after the events in the mansion). It was a good decade before Resident Evil 5, his next starring role in the series. There were two key differences about the Chris we meet in 5: he’s now a founding member of the BSA and he’s now suddenly got arms the size of the Chrysler building.
His new super-muscular physique was never really explained. Or remotely necessary. Still, it came in handy for that iconic, ridiculous boulder-punching QTE later in the game. Who thought that was a good idea again?
11 Giving Legitimate Survival Horror the Middle Finger
The fourth Resident Evil marked one holy hell of a paradigm shift for the series. On the one hand, it was a great action/shooter in its own right and brought mainstream fans to a franchise that they may previously have never touched. Critically, it was a modern classic and is regarded as right up there with some of the best games ever made.
On the other, though, it was Resident Evil, Jim, but not as we know it. 4 was more TPS than survival horror; Leon’s many, many freaking guns and ability to suplex his enemies’ heads right off (true story) made him more of a floppy-boyband-haircut Terminator than anything. This took much of the ‘survival’ aspect out of the whole affair and, in many fans’ eyes, started the series on a slippery slope down to Craptown.
10 The Franchise’s Full-Blown Mid Life Crisis
Following on from that last one, the franchise is in an odd place at the moment. It can’t seem to decide what it wants to be, or if it even knows any more. After the fourth game, Resident Evil 5 and 6 didn’t really resemble the series fans once knew, and they were… well, you can imagine how the usual discussion of the matter pans out on forums. Death threats to Capcom, childish name-calling, bitching, all of that fun stuff.
That’s the crux of the matter. Do we continue along the new action-heavy route or do we try to recapture our youths with ye olde fashioned survival horror, fixed camera angles, tank controls and all? That’s the question the devs seem to be asking themselves and they keep going back and forth between the two, melding them with games like Revelations. It’s a mess. You can just imagine Resident Evil dying its hair jet black and buying a Harley, in the hope it can convince its despairing wife that its ‘still got it.’
9 Making Ashley So Darn Irritating
Now, this all makes sense to a certain degree. Resident Evil 4 is, after all, a rescue mission. The plot goes as batcrap crazy and twisty-turny as a Dan Brown novel, but that’s what’s at its core: rescuing the President’s kidnapped daughter.
This makes perfect sense to me and the mechanic itself is quite effective. As I’ve said, Leon is totally tooled up, so he doesn’t have much fear, but Ashley is helpless. Enemies can carry her away for an instant Game Over and any damage you cause to her yourself will instantly kill her. As such, keeping her alive is where much of the tension comes from.
Making her so deeply irritating was Capcom’s major misstep here. Her endless shrill howls of LEEEEEEEON! HEEEEEEEELP! made me want to punch my own ears in the face.
8 Oscar, the Zombie Elephant
Like a lot of things in human history, I’m sure the T-virus seemed like a good idea at the time. You know how it is when you’re a dastardly and bastardly pharmaceutical corporation, low on scruples and really, really damn high on crazy.
Making highly advanced bio-weapons for your own fiendish ends is one thing, but you’ve got to exercise a little caution. Just a smidge. After all, who the hell knows what will happen to different lifeforms affected by this stuff? It’s like the Jurassic Park scientists: you can’t go resurrecting dinosaurs just because it’s awesome (which it is, obviously) and then complain when a raptor starts chewing on your buttcheeks.
Similarly, when it comes to dumbass results of the virus release, there’s none more absurd than Oscar. This, the one and only zombie elephant, was the star attraction of the Raccoon Zoo, inadvertently affected by the T. The Umbrella guys really should’ve thought this one through.
7 Becoming A Full-On Shooter
We’ve already touched on the state of the post-Resident Evil 4 series and how it’s pretty well unrecognizable from the first trilogy we knew and loved. I’d say the thing with the fourth game was that it struck that balance right, the same way that Dead Space did. It was an over-the-shoulder, dynamic camera control, gun-totin’ good time, but it didn’t forget its horror roots.
Evil 5 and 6 were almost straight TPS titles, but they hardly had the legs and mechanics to make the likes of Gears of War quake in their armoured undercrackers. As a result of this, we had multiple games that missed the mark in both senses. Not enough survival horror for survival horror fans, not enough of a competent shooter for shooter fans.
This leaves us in a horrible, crap-stained limbo where the likes of Umbrella Corps reside. Who wants that? Nobody, that’s who.
6 Pointing, the Pinnacle of Co-op Fun
Some of the later releases, however, did show that these two elements can combine quite successfully. Resident Evil Revelations and its sequel gave us a more modern control scheme, but also maintained that I’m-creeping-slowly-through-mansion-corridors-in-the-dark-and-I’ve-just-crapped-myself atmosphere from the earlier games. I don’t know about you, but I was sure impressed by those titles.
It all got a little shonky in Revelations 2 co-op, however. While one player controls Barry, the other is left with creepy little girl and supernatural sidekick, Natalia. She can ‘point’ (literally) to highlight hidden items and enemy weak spots to Barry, as well as cloaked enemies, but… that’s all she can do. She’s also slow as a one-legged kitten in a coma. Clearly, one of the players gets the short straw here.
5 Laser Acrobatics
I don’t quite know what to say about this business. First, we’ve got the huge, fat-ass, polka dot elephant in the room to deal with. That being, what the hell kind of a security system is this? In my day, we didn’t even have to lock our doors at night or when we went out, because people weren’t jerks. Nowadays, apparently, we need complex laser grid systems to slice interlopers into tiny chunks of spam.
And what chunks they were. The madness of the whole concept aside, what struck me the most about this idea was how hilariously bad the effects were in this scene from the first movie. They actually did look like lumps of spam. Why did this have to be a thing? Why was there an homage to it in the latter portion of Resident Evil 4? The world will never know.
4 Going Down The Rabbit Hole With ‘Wesker Mode’
You know how it is with all these remasters, remakes and HD collections doing the rounds now. You’ve got to make at least a cursory attempt to make the game/s worth another purchase. Other than slightly prettified (nope, don’t question that one either) textures and such, a pinch of new content is always appreciated. Even if said content is completely nutso.
The recent Resident Evil Zero remaster marked the series prequel’s first outing on non-Nintendo consoles. It tells the story of the run-up to the Arklay outbreak, through the eyes of Rebecca Chambers and enigmatic fugitive Billy Coen. Both were your main characters, by means of Zero’s exclusive ‘partner zapping’ system which allowed you to switch from controlling one to the other at will. Wesker Mode, then, switched out Billy for the series boogeyman himself. Suddenly having all his patented run-like-Usain-Bolt-to-the-bathroom-after-a-super-strong-curry and head bursting attacks is a little jarring, to say the least. It’s not meant to be taken seriously, of course, but man does this break the game.
3 Resident Evil 7’s Useless Cop
Whichever installment of Resident Evil you happen to find them in, there’s rarely much to be said for the guys and gals in blue. I don’t quite know where Raccoon City get their law enforcement from, unless there’s some kind of ‘collect 10 coupons from cereal boxes and become a cop’ promotion going on in town. Generally, competence levels are at a dizzying low.
In particular, I’m curious as to what the hell the cop who encountered Resident Evil 7’s Ethan was thinking. He’s right in the area where a band of suspected nutbags live, mysterious disappearances, a terrified dude locked in a house howling for help through a barred window… all of these factors add up to a call-for-damn-backup-right-now situation if ever I’ve seen one.
What happens instead? He gives you a pocket knife, tells you to meet him in the garage and becomes another horror cliché. Still, that brutal look ma, no face death scene with the shovel was pretty cool.
2 That Time Wesker Became President of the United States
Enough said, really.
Yep, this was an actual real thing. It’s not a spectacle we were treated to in any of the games, sadly, but our old buddy Albert Wesker really has had his sorry sunglasses-indoors-wearing ass in the White House.
That’s right, friends. In Resident Evil: Retribution, he was (kind of, if you squint a bit) a good guy. Having left his position as head of Umbrella, Wesker works with our heroine Alice, busting her out of prison and using her in her fight against The Red Queen. Said Queen, as is usually the case with sentient computers, wants to wipe us feeble flesh-sacks out, and even this dude doesn’t fancy that.
Luckily, Albert has friends in high Oval Offices. If you think all this sounds inexplicably dumb and ridiculous, try watching the movie.
1 Alfred Ashford in Drag
Now, I’m not 100% sure whether I want to file this one away under ‘Dumbest Decisions’ or ‘Most Manplum-Shrivellingly Horrifying Thing I’ve Ever Seen,’ frankly. Still, for the sake of being relevant to the article title and all, we’re going to go with the former.
Alfred Ashford, for the uninitiated, was the son of genetic researcher Dr Alexander Ashford. Alexander had been trying, in true Resident Evil style, to grow himself some fancy GM super-children, but Alfred was unremarkable while his twin sister Alexia wasn’t. When the two siblings learned of the circumstances surrounding their birth, they were all kinds of pissed, which led to their injecting dear old pa with the t-Veronica virus, which transformed him into the ghastly-ass lumpen flesh thing known as Nosferatu.
The upshot of all this is that Alexia went into cryosleep to prevent the spread, and Alfred couldn’t handle her ‘death.’ So, in a Psycho-ish move, he dressed as her and developed another personality. Because... yep. This was a thing.