Back in April, we here at Bloody Disgusting celebrated Resident Evil Week, a completely made-up event that gave us an excuse to write as many Resident Evil articles as we possibly could (seriously, it was so much fun). Three months later, Jonathan gave his ranking of all of the core games in the franchise. At the time he had not finished playing Resident Evil 0, despite having live-streamed his playthrough of the HD remaster back in January (for shame, Jonathan).
This week saw the re-release of the critically acclaimed entry Resident Evil 4 onto the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, essentially making it available on every post-GameCube console (PlayStation 2 in 2005, Wii and PC in 2007 and XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 2011). This concludes the re-releases of the last three numbered entries in the franchise to this generation’s consoles. Now where’s my Resident Evil 2 remake?
Someone commented on my Instagram post about the games (Resident Evil 0, 1, 4, 5 and 6 are now all available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, in case you didn’t know), remarking that she preferred Resident Evil 6 to Resident Evil 5, and I audibly gasped. To each their own, of course, but I thought it was a fascinating opinion. I wanted to chime in with my ranking of the numbered entries in the franchise (including 0, Barkan).*
*This is merely my opinion and by no means a definitive list. Sorry for the misleading title, but no opinion-based ranking can ever really be deemed “definitive.”
7. Resident Evil 6
To be clear: I don’t hate Resident Evil 6 like so many other people seem to. I love the story and love the direction it takes the narrative of the franchise. The interwoven storylines are also fun to piece together, but this installment has an identity crisis. Capcom clearly didn’t know what type of a game they were trying to make. They didn’t even know who they were making it for. To make the decision easier on themselves, they decided to make four mini-games in one. Leon’s campaign is the most Resident Evil-y of the four, with Chris and Jake’s campaigns being pale imitations of a Call of Duty game. Ada’s bonus campaign provided some thrills, but as a whole the didn’t make for a cohesive experience.
The game is so bloated with a main story that takes about 22 hours to complete (almost twice as long as Resident Evil 5‘s main campaign), making it the only game in the franchise that I didn’t want to finish (I did, mind you). Excess was RE 6′s biggest sin. Hopefully Capcom has learned their lesson for the upcoming Resident Evil VII.
6. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
There isn’t a bad game in the franchise from this point forward. At this point it’s just a matter of personal preference. That being said, I may lose some of you with this entry, and I understand why. Nemesis is a classic game. It features one of the most notorious villains in video game history and brings back Jill Valentine, the heroine of the first game, in the most impractical outfit that could be used for zombie slaying. Her co-star Carlos Oliveira is also one of the blandest partners in the franchise.
Nemesis a total badass and he’s the star of the show here. Unfortunately, he overshadows pretty much everything else about the game and gets to be downright annoying after a while. There isn’t really anything else in this sequel that is particularly memorable. It takes place in the same setting as Resident Evil 2 and almost feels like the exact same game, albeit with better graphics. The “choose your own adventure” aspect that was added in to this game (and wisely left out of subsequent installments) felt a little too gimmicky at times. Overall Resident Evil 3 is a notable installment but somewhat forgettable. But, you know, Nemesis. Woo hoo.
5. Resident Evil 0
Resident Evil 0 was released just 8 short months after the 2002 GameCube remake. While the graphics do impress and many of the creatures are terrifying (I dare you to make it through a humanoid leech confrontation without getting chills), it all too often suffers from prequel syndrome and a laughable main villain.
The partner zapping system, while innovative for the first hour or so, grew to be rather pointless. With the exception of the handful of moments where you had to split up the characters, there was no need to include two characters in the main story. In fact, Rebecca just isn’t interesting enough of a character to carry a whole game. Still, it was the last game in the main franchise to truly feel like a survival horror game, but its and the remake’s) less-than-expected sales led Capcom to move in a different direction for Resident Evil 4.
4. Resident Evil 5
Many fans of the franchise have an aversion to Resident Evil 5, and it’s easy to see why. This was the game to fully convert the franchise into an action-oriented series. It’s spoken about with such negativity today that you probably wouldn’t believe that it received critical acclaim when it was released back in 2009 (it sits at a comfy 86.32% on Game Rankings). Resident Evil 5 isn’t a particularly scary game and it features an extremely annoying partner in Sheva Alomar if you play solo. She wastes ammo and uses all of your health items. It’s a pain in the ass and will cause you to die more often than not. This problem disappears if you play with a friend, making for a much better experience.
All of that being said, I can’t help but sort of love this game. Chalk it up to nostalgia. I spent a whole year in college playing the main campaign co-op with my then-boyfriend. We probably played through it about 4 or 5 times, constantly replaying chapter 4-1 to get the plethora of treasures present in the mines to upgrade our guns all the way to unlimited ammo. The game took risks like setting the whole game in daylight, giving the franchise its most absurd climax setting (a volcano) and frequently embracing its campy side (the rock punch will forever be the laughing stock of the game). It’s all very different for Resident Evil, but damn if it isn’t a helluva lot of fun (and makes for the one of the best co-op experiences you’ll ever have). Resident Evil 5 is a good game. It’s just not a good Resident Evil game.
3. Resident Evil 2
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Resident Evil is the rare instance in which a sequel improves upon the original. By expanding the setting of the game to the entirety of Raccoon City, Resident Evil 2 increased the number of opportunities to scare the pants off of its players. New monsters were introduced, the most memorable of which being the notorious Licker. New characters were introduced in fan favorites Leon S. Kennedy and Clair Redfield (sister of Resident Evil’s Chris). The zapping system in this game is a much more effective version of the one employed in Resident Evil 0, which is surprising considering it was released four years prior to that game.
The boss fights ranged from giant alligators in the sewers to egomaniacal doctors who tested their own experiments on themselves. If Resident Evil 2 has a flaw it’s that it follows the blueprint of the first game a little too closely, even mimicking its final countdown during the climax (almost all of the games will employ this gimmick). It also doesn’t have the benefit of being a landmark game like the first one was, but that is no fault of its own. Resident Evil 2 has the distinction of being one of the best video game sequels of all time, and that is no small feat.
2. Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 is the make-it-or-break-it game in Capcom’s lucrative franchise. Following the disappointing sales of Resident Evil 0 and the 2002 GameCube remake of the first game, Capcom decided to take the franchise in a new direction, and thus Resident Evil 4 was born. It has the distinction of being the best-reviewed game in the franchise but it also marks the franchise’s shift away from survival horror. For some reason, fans hold that against the game. That’s not really fair. You can’t say a game is bad because of what came after it. If you worked at Capcom and saw the sales for the survival horror GameCube remake and compared them to the sales of Resident Evil 4, you might have thought that shifting the franchise to a more action-oriented genre would have been a good idea too.
Resident Evil 4 was a revelation when it was released in 2004. It features some of the franchise’s best set pieces, the most thrilling of which happens in the first hour of the game when you must face a horde of Ganados (including one individual Ganado wielding a chainsaw) in a small village. My only real issue with the game is that it is, for the most part, a completely standalone story that doesn’t really do much to advance the narrative of the franchise. It’s a minor quibble, but it’s why the game has never been my personal favorite.
1. Resident Evil (2002 GameCube Remake)
In all honesty, I don’t even count the 1996 PlayStation game as a part of the franchise anymore. The 2002 GameCube remake is so good that it completely relegates the original into obscurity. The REmake is one of the scariest games ever made. There is no argument about it. Yes, it features those godawful tank controls (though the 2015 remaster offered an alternate control scheme), but those controls add to the tension of the game.
Capcom didn’t just give the original game a fresh coat of paint. They completely overhauled the game, adding new bosses like the invincible Lisa Trevor, new areas of the mansion to discover, and upgraded villains in the Crimson Heads. One of the most memorable sequences of the game comes when you have to walk (not run, or you’ll risk detonation) an explosive device through a series of halls filled with the corpses of zombies you killed earlier. There’s a 9/10 chance that those zombies will resurrect as the extremely agile and fast-paced Crimson Heads.This is survival horror at its finest and the ultimate experience in grueling terror (suck it, Evil Dead).
How do you rank the games in the franchise? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to check back next year when I update the list to include Resident Evil VII.