Back in 1998, around the time the second game was released, was when my relationship with Resident Evil began. My brothers and I were too young to be playing it but we’d managed to convince our mum to get us a copy of the first game now that it had gone Platinum and was only £20.
Perched on the edge of the bottom bunk in front of our 14″ CRT, we waited. What followed was the start of a fascination with a franchise that has both amazed and frustrated me. Several times I’ve been on the verge of giving up with the series, but it’s still here and I’m still playing it two decades years later.
I’ve played a lot of the games so thought I’d rank them in ascending order. Let me know what you think!
#12 – Resident Evil Survivor – PS1, 2000
When I was younger I’d lap up anything from the franchise. They could have served dog poop on a plate and I’d have tried to plug a controller in.
So I happily played Survivor, ignoring the fact the controls were a mess, and that I couldn’t use my lightgun (a pretty severe misjudgement for what equated to a shooting game!) Survivor forced the arcade shooter style onto the style of the original games with little thought given to how they’d combine. The story plodded, and even the enemies looked as bored!
The absolute antithesis of Resident Evil 7, Survivor is a badly designed and poorly thought through game that does nothing for the series.
#11 – Resident Evil 0 – GameCube, 2002
I can explain how interesting I found Resident Evil 0 by telling you that I had to google what the story to remind myself what happened in it.
Capcom had found a way to make a game set around the most popular time in the chronology without wrecking the story they’d already told. That’s cool, but it would be cooler if it really had anything to say. RE0 doesn’t make much of a contribution to gameplay or story in the series.
I don’t care about Rebecca Chambers or Billy Coen. Zapping between characters was novel at best. There’s no denying that it’s a very nice looking game, but RE0 didn’t leave much of an impression, other than the feeling that Capcom wasted time sticking story where there didn’t need to be any.
#10 – Resident Evil 6 – Xbox 360, 2012
RE6 was the ultimate culmination of the ideas introduced in RE4, and the absolute opposite of everything the original trilogy represented as it fully embraced Dramatic Horror over Survival Horror. Bar a brief time with Leon where things felt tense, the game falls into action sequence after sequence, completely forgetting what made the series successful.
I really wanted to see the meeting between Chris Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but it felt as though it was written by a ten year old. The whole story is clumsy and obvious, with the only mystery coming from how everyone ended up in this position.
The series ‘chronology had become so convoluted by this point that some characters have had children, who have become involved, and other younger characters have become badass agents themselves. It makes the world feel very small.
Nivens made for a half decent new addition—NIVEEEENNSSSS—but overall the only saving grace was getting to laugh at it via co-op. An overly bombastic and numbing affair.
#9 – Resident Evil – Code: Veronica – PS2, 2001
At the time I was really excited. Capcom had finally stepped back from their Nintendo exclusivity and we were getting games again. Yay!
Weird name aside, CV took the first steps away from the old style as the camera started to follow Claire Redfield along corridors. But it suffered from two main issues.
Firstly everything looked as though it was made from plastic. Having neither the cruder pixels of the original games or the realism of later entries left it in an odd spot. The bigger problem was the story. Claire isn’t the biggest draw for me, and bringing Wesker back as someone from the Matrix leaves me with mixed feelings.
Oh, and there’s Steve Burnside. Stupid gold Lugers.
#8 – Resident Evil 4 – PS2, 2005
For me this is where it all started to go wrong. RE4’s success with floppy hair, QTEs and Las Plagas paved the way for the series to move away from its roots. I’m not blind to the fact that the series needed an injection of energy, and RE4 did indeed feature many a situation where I felt truly panicked; I distinctly remember feeling panicked as I climbed onto rooftops, fumbling around for head shots.
Perhaps I’m rebelling against the feeling that so many people think it’s such a great game when I think it’s merely decent and shouldn’t be up on such a high pedestal. Zombies had always been intrinsically linked with the games and taking them out didn’t sit well with me.
It looked good and the controls were a huge improvement, but no thank you. This isn’t Resident Evil to me, even if it was more interesting than some of what had come before.
#7 – Resident Evil: Revelations – Xbox 360, 2012
Initially released as a 3DS game, I first played Revelations when it made the impressive jump to home consoles. I’d played 4 and 5, and was extremely pleased to see not only a return to surviving, but that we could finally move and shoot at the same time! For highly trained individuals it always seems a bit odd that they’re movement was so limited. Being able to back away slowly and fire off a few rounds was very satisfying. It seemed like the old and new were coming together to make something more.
I’ll always enjoy seeing Chris and Jill together (bit of a spoiler for later entries there), so it was on decent ground immediately.
The Queen Zenobia proved an eerie setting in a game that may not have reached the highest echelons of survival horror but was a very positive step in the right direction. Faith partially restored. It seems a bit harsh to have Revelations in the bottom half of the list to be honest.
#6 – Resident Evil 5 – Xbox 360, 2009
I’m almost as surprised as you are to find RE5 this high up the list. When I started I assumed it would be near the bottom like its sequel. But there are things two that saved this game. Co-op and Chris Redfield. Did you know that he’s had enough of your bullshit?!?
Despite hating this game at points it always comes up in conversations with my friend Keith. It may not have been a classic Res experience but it was a great two player experience. We had a lot of fun and I’ve grown to appreciate over time just how much joy we found in taking down BOW’s together. Even when I had to stand in the corner whilst he dealt with the puzzles, or when I accidentally took the sniper rifle and proceeded to suck with it, we had a good time.
Or I could just tell you that CHRIS REDFIELD PUNCHES A MOTHERFUCKING BOULDER. That should be enough on its own to justify its placement.
#5 – Resident Evil: Revelations 2 – Xbox 360, 2015
Pre RE7 this was the closest the series had come to its roots since the original Raccoon City trilogy had ended. Unique for its episodic nature, this new way of releasing the game had pros and cons. The pacing wasn’t always great, but it was enjoyable to take on chunks at a time and then look forward to the next part.
The biggest selling point was finally getting to play as series legend Barry Burton. Capcom didn’t hold back on giving him awful jokes, whilst they further delved into the fatherly instincts that got him into so much trouble in the past.
Higher quality dialogue amidst the shooting and solving stayed with me too; a good balance between natural conversation and the usual nonsense that comes up in these games. Rev 2 isn’t perfect but it’s a good modern Res game.
#4 – Resident Evil 2 – PS1, 1998
As this came out I was busy being scared by the original. That didn’t stop me seeing the amount of hype it garnered. Resident Evil 2 was highly anticipated, and by all accounts lived up to it. Bigger in every way, it expanded the Raccoon City story with branched storytelling and more playable characters.
It’s tough to put my finger on why Resident Evil 2 didn’t quite grab me in the same way as the other games you’ll see ranked higher. It’s a great game, with a fantastically eerie atmosphere and great music. I do think it’s a bit long, and whilst Claire and Leon have gone on to be some of the most well-known characters in the series, they’ll never be Chris and Jill.
For many people this will be the high point of the original games and possibly even the franchise. I get a lot of stick for calling it ‘the worst of the original trilogy’! It’s a fantastic game, there are just aspects of the others that have stayed with me more.
#3 – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard – PS4, 2017
Resident Evil 7 blew apart my expectations, forcing its way into my top three with the scariest experience since I turned off the PS1 in a panic playing the original game. It’s a major return to form and Survival Horror.
In the shoes of an Average Joe thrust into a horrendous situation, Biohazard steps back from the action and OTT nature of the previous numbered entries. Instead it is gruesome and tense, especially in the first couple of hours. Things do settle down once you find a rhythm and gain more weapons but you always feel up against it.
Once again you’re left with too many enemies and not enough bullets. Taking the best aspects of the original games and doing what Survivor couldn’t, RE7 uses the first person view to crank up the intensity. I wish it tied into the continuity a bit more, but that was in such a mess that maybe it’s for the best!
#2 – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – PS1, 1999
For a long long time Nemesis was my #1. Streamlined and refined, there was little backtracking and I could spin on the spot! It kept you constantly on edge via one of the best enemies of any game, the Nemesis.
Over two games I’d learnt and trusted the term ‘saved by the door’, as the classic door animation, meant to conceal the next room being loaded from disc, interrupted the jump of a dog or the lunge of a zombie. Sigh of relief breathed, I could continue on or even go back in knowing their position had been reset.
The Nemesis takes that idea, chews it up, and spits it back out. I distinctly remember the first time he followed me into another area. Off I went, almost oblivious to the change in music, until BAM, he grabbed me and promptly smashed a tentacle through my face.
Brad Vickers finally gets what he deserves in a game that used the traditional formula but tweaked it enough to make it feel very different.
#1 – Resident Evil – PS1, 1996
Pretty obvious? You’re right. If it wasn’t going to be 2 or 3 it was more than likely going to be this. 7 makes a pleasing entry high up but ultimately the Spencer Mansion in the Arklay Mountains is where we find the number one entry and my favourite Resident Evil game.
It was a replay of Resident Evil 1 a few years ago that cemented it. I realised that the setting, and the relationship you build with it, is its single biggest strength. I mentioned the lack of back tracking as a plus when discussing Nemesis but here retreading old ground with new knowledge and items is what makes the game what it is. The mansion holds many secrets, pushing you forward despite the surroundings becoming more and more familiar.
Then there’s the opening movie. It’s terribly good as it begins a story of cowards, traitors and heroes before the series became overly complicated.
It’s clunky and it’s cheesy and the voice acting is terrible. But I don’t care. It could be taken as a slight at the rest of the series that they’ve never been able to top it, but it’s also a sign of just how good this game is.
Did where I put RE2 surprise you? Or where RE5 placed! That one surprised me too.
We’ll probably always disagree on RE4. Let’s leave that one be.
What say you? Let me know!