The Resident Evil series is one of the most well known in all of gaming history. Spawning novelizations, movies, and countless other types of media, the ripples caused by Capcom's infamous zombie series can be felt throughout horror video games, and the horror genre in general. Following the S.T.A.R.S crew, and all their escapades and spinoff organizations, has been a treat. Gamers have been popping zombie heads like ripe melons, scrambling past the sweeping swings of tyrants, and clutching rarely found magnum ammo to their chests so desperately that the credits are rolling before they have a chance to use it. The games are well known for a reason, with the original Playstation trilogy's controls similar to that of a thrashing epileptics seizure, the over the shoulder action of the supreme Resident Evil 4 and its poorly received brethren, and now the second coming in the first person poop-your-pants fest of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.
Gamers have been comparing every horror game to the series since its conception, but few have ventured to ask, "how do these games stack up against each other?" That's what I've gathered you here for today; to rank the main entries in the Resident Evil series. Grab that huge ring of keys (trust me, we'll need them all), call all your friends who think that they're "masters of unlocking" (they're not), and make yourself a Jill sandwich. It's time to find Bravo Team!
13 Resident Evil Gaiden
This is just the worst. I like the promise that the game had when it initially fired up; a catchy retro soundtrack, the overhead view, and that general feel that you were about to play a Resident Evil game for the original NES. All of these things have some kind of promise in them, something that made me excited to finally get into the game. And then, I actually played it.
The game follows Berry Burton and Leon Kennedy as they try to suppress an outbreak on a luxury cruise liner. The gameplay consists of running from zombies, finding items, and fighting when you have to. That last part it really Resident Evil Gaiden becomes a major suck fest. The fighting isn’t done in the traditional style of aiming and shooting, and isn’t even done in what could be considered a fun style, like running and gunning like an old school Nintendo game. Instead, the game switches to a first-person view, where you have to time a cursor in bars underneath the zombies you’re fighting. Essentially, the same system used to hit a golf ball in Hotshots Golf. This easily makes Gaiden the worst in the series.
12 Resident Evil 6
More like Resident Evil Sucks, amirite? Essentially the point where Capcom realized that things had gone off the rails, Resident Evil 6 is the last over the shoulder affair before yet another revamp by Capcom. The story follows a mess of characters, including a few familiar faces and a few who would only make their appearance in this installment (so far). They’re all tasked with killing zombies in a variety of locals around the globe in an attempt to save the world from genetically designed annihilation.
While shooting is fun and enemies are well designed, the game rarely feels like a Resident Evil title until its strictly mentioned in dialogue or a familiar face pops in. Overall, the game is a pretty solid action title, even if most Resident Evil fans would have my head for saying that the game was acceptable in any respect. Maybe it’s the massive enemies, the teams of armed zombie commandos, or the complete lack of horror (aside from a few moments in Leon’s campaign), which made Capcom wake up and realize it was time to take Resident Evil back to its roots.
11 Resident Evil Revelations
Taking place chronologically between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil Revelations is a standard over the shoulder shooter that was the style for the franchise at the time. It follows Jill and her partner Parker as they explore an abandoned tanker that was the last known location of Chris Redfield. As I stated before, the game is a typical over the shoulder shooter in the same vain as the forth and fifth installment, with the addition of one new, and annoying, feature: the Genesis scanner.
The game makes you scan damn near everything, from enemies to every corner of a room in order to find items or open up additional information about the story. Although it may have seemed like a novel idea at first, it becomes a serious pain the butt, as you have to scan the crap out of the entire ship just to find some ammo. The setting is a neat idea as well; the cramped and dark corridors of the ruined tanker are an excellent setting for a horror game, rife with air ducts and unseen openings to throw players into the thick of it quickly. Still, even though the game is made up of components that sound good in theory, the execution leaves much to be desired.
10 Resident Evil Zero
Another Gamecube release, Resident Evil Zero is an odd duck. The game follows Rebecca Chambers and escaped convict Billy Coen as they fight against Umbrella’s horrors. It serves as a prequel to the first Resident Evil (hence the “zero” part of the title), and focuses on the ability to switch between Rebecca and Billy on the fly in order to solve puzzles. The game has the same graphical brilliance of the REmake, and the initial train environment is unique and fun to explore. Then, the game takes a turn for the mediocre after the first chapter and becomes more of a slog than anything else.
The switching mechanic between the two characters becomes cumbersome, even when combat or puzzles require it. The environments quickly turn from original, to uninspired as you find yourself exploring the same barren walled lab for the 100th time in the series. Not a bad game by any means, it lags when compared to the rest of the franchise and pales in comparison to its far superior Gamecube brethren.
9 Resident Evil Revelations 2
The game follows Claire Redfield and Moria Burton, Barry Burton’s daughter, who are now part of an antiterrorism group called Terra Save. The group is kidnapped and transported to a mysterious island, as well as Barry Burton and Natalia, a little girl that Barry encounters on the island while searching for his daughter. The game follows a team mechanic in order to solve puzzles and advance through certain environments, allowing players to switch between team members on the fly. Gameplay is typical over the shoulder shooting, again, the standard for this generation of Resident Evil games.
Although Moira is one of the most believable and well-written characters in the series, the game still falls into the mediocre category. The gameplay and puzzles are fun enough, and the new breeds of zombies are featured in well-placed jump scares that keep them interesting. Still, when you boil away the few positives present in the game, it does little to separate it from the herd in a franchise like Resident Evil.
8 Resident Evil – Code: Veronica
The fourth main entry in the Resident Evil series, it was the first in the franchise not to debut on a Sony console, instead launching on the Dreamcast. The story follows Claire, Chris Redfield, and Steve Burnside as they venture to stop an outbreak of Umbrella’s latest virus on a remote prison island and a base in Antarctica. The gameplay is virtually unchanged from the first three entries in the series; the tank controls still preside, and most of the game is focused on shooting, avoiding, and collecting items.
Resident Evil -- Code: Veronica is a good time in the classic sense of the series; the only major change seems to be the locale and the switch from pre-rendered backgrounds to fully 3D ones. The new environments and creatures do offer fun, but besides that, within the franchise, Code: Veronica falls into the category of mediocre.
7 Resident Evil 5
The Resident Evil that everyone loves to hate, Resident Evil 5 really isn’t that bad. In fact, it’s kind of good. It takes Resident Evil 4’s over the shoulder perspective and ups the stakes, pitting Chris Redfield and his partner Sheva Alomar against the Uroboros virus and Wesker. The game was pretty much Resident Evil 4 on steroids, with action taking the reigns over survival horror; although a few sections in the early game were some of the most tense in the series.
Many gamers dismissed the fifth entry in the series as being too action oriented, meaning that it would land near the “worse” end of the spectrum for most. But I had a great time with Resident Evil 5: the shooting felt great, the enemy design was some of the best in the series, and the co-op was some of the best in gaming in the last twenty years.
6 Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Hailed as Capcom’s beloved series return to the survival horror genre, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a pretty frightening game. Following a guy who can’t listen to obvious instructions and decides to look for his girlfriend despite her panicked warnings, the game is a first-person romp through a crazed family’s dilapidated Louisiana mansion. The game’s graphics are lovely, thanks to the RE Engine, which makes everything in game look a bit too real. Inventory management is back, as is avoiding most enemies for the sake of preserving ammo and your life. Each member of the family is essentially a tyrant from the other games; they’re impossible to kill and will pursue you relentlessly.
All these elements combine to create a truly pulse-pounding experience, as players will find themselves jumping at the smallest creak or shadow on the wall. Although the game produces organic scares and the set pieces are expertly crafted, the game loses some of its scare factor later on. Not to say that the Baker clan’s constant pursuit —and excellently written dialogue isn’t terrifying— it just starts to become tiresome after a few hours of play.
5 Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Following Jill Valentine’s escape from Raccoon City 24 hours prior to the events of Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is a continuation and improvement on the classic Resident Evil formula before the modernization of the series with Resident Evil 4. The game is the summation of all the original Playstation era Resident Evil’s rolled into one. Players are able to explore the entirety of Raccoon City, all while avoiding the main annoyance of the game: Nemesis. Nemesis is the ever-present tyrant that stalks you through Raccoon City, mumbling “S.T.A.R.S.!” as he relentlessly hunts you. At first horrifying, Nemesis’s constant cameos start to become more of an annoyance than anything else.
Ammo is scarce and the only feasible way to get more is to mix gunpowder types with a reloading tool that can yield standard ammo or some pretty interesting ammo types, like exploding shotgun shells. All though this seems like a welcome mechanic at first, like Nemesis, the novelty quickly wears off as you struggle to free up inventory space to pick up multiple bottles of gunpowder. Although the game is a load of fun and the scenarios where you have to decide what to do on a whim, it somehow fails to live up to its two older brother’s sense of pacing and terror that made the first two so memorable.
4 Resident Evil 4
Possibly the most popular game in the entire Resident Evil series, Resident Evil 4 was the entry that modernized the series for the next generation of consoles. A complete reinvention of the series, Resident Evil 4 featured an over the shoulder perspective, zombie villagers that attack you with a variety of farming equipment, and an upgrade system for weapons. The game is expertly crafted, with genuine scares and scenarios that are some of the most memorable in gaming.
The game follows Leon Kennedy, an agent sent in by the president to rescue his daughter Ashley from the clutches of a mysterious village in the middle of nowhere. Of course, they’re all crazed, homicidal maniacs that have been infected by their cult leader, who has a serious Napoleon complex. With tight controls, excellent graphics, and fun boss encounters, Resident Evil 4 shines, especially today in light of rereleases for the most current generation of consoles. So what keeps this game from the top of the list? One word: Ashley. The Ashley escort chapters are some of the worst escort missions in gaming. She is annoying to the point that I found myself usually planting a well-aimed sniper shot in her forehead as opposed to her hooded kidnappers.
3 Resident Evil (1996)
The original Resident Evil is a game that holds a special place in many gamers’ hearts, myself included. Following members of the now infamous S.T.A.R.S. team, as they explore the Spencer mansion for their missing teammates, Resident Evil is credited by many gamers as the sole title that popularized the survival horror genre. A cult classic, the cheesy dialogue and voice acting, the tank controls, and that god damn dog that smashes through the window and somehow makes you jump every time, all make this game one of the most memorable ever made. It set the stage for the entire genre of survival horror games and for one of the most successful video game series ever conceived.
I still frequent the tackily wallpapered halls of the Spencer mansion, finding the puzzles, inventory management, and zombie avoiding still solid and satisfying to this day. The game is a classic, without question. Even if current gamers bash the poor graphics and clunky control scheme, they can’t deny that the game is still genuinely creepy and a milestone in horror, and not just in video games. However, like most originals, it’s not the best in the series.
2 Resident Evil 2
Voted the best Playstation Game of All Time (it says so on the back of the case!), Resident Evil 2 is an excellent game, not only in the Resident Evil series, but also in the media form in general. Taking place a couple months after the events of the first Resident Evil, the T-Virus has spread to Raccoon City, turning pretty much everyone into zombies. Leon Kennedy, a new recruit to the Raccoon City Police, who joined the force on the wrong day, and Claire Redfield, Chris from the original Resident Evil’s little sister looking for her brother, have to escape the Raccoon City police department while evading zombies and other assorted Umbrella horrors.
The tank controls are back, as is the B-Movie dialogue, which still lends to the game’s overall excellence, especially the horde of zombies that crash through the gun shop’s window and munch on the owner. A double disc affair, it’s worth playing both perspectives to get the full scope of the narrative and soak up all the excellent zombie action. Plus, Resident Evil 2 introduced the Licker creature in one of the most terrifying cut scenes ever made. The game is considered one of the greatest video games of all time (rightfully so), and is worth replaying at least once a year, if not more frequently.
1 Resident Evil (2002)
The crowning jewel in Capcom’s Resident Evil crown, Resident Evil (known as the REmake by fans), is easily the best entry in the series. Originally released on the Gamecube, the game is a serious work of art. It takes everything from the original Resident Evil and makes it that much better. Graphics are crisp and lovely, tank controls are streamlined with the use of analogue sticks and being able to turn without helicoptering around, and the enemy design is top notch.
The Spencer Mansion is redesigned with some familiar nods to fans while including new areas and creatures. Classic bosses and cutscenes are painstakingly remade, all in a love letter to fans of the series. The game is a blast to play, gorgeous to look at, and genuinely scary, thanks to the mansion’s new floor plan, and the addition of crimson head zombies. For those fans of the series that seek a more authentic experience, mods have been released with the original soundtrack and infamously bad voice acting to compliment the new visuals.