One of the most popular and long-lasting horror franchises that you can jump into right now is Resident Evil. Originally released back in 1996, this franchise has managed to keep fans hooked for over 20 years with its engaging storylines, tense action, and visceral horror.
Today, we’re going to take a look at each Resident Evil game in order and what made them so great. We’ll focus on the main games in the series for this article, but that’s not to say that some of the spin-offs aren’t worth checking out though – the recent remakes have been particularly well done.
Release Date: March 22, 1996
Platforms: PlayStation, Windows, Sega Saturn, Nintendo DS
Starting off our list is the title where it all began, Resident Evil. Originally released back on the PlayStation in 1996, Resident Evil set a strong gameplay foundation that the series followed for years to come, putting an emphasis on atmosphere, inventory management, and puzzles.
In Resident Evil, you take control of Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine as you set off to investigate the T-Virus outbreak. After a series of bizarre murders are committed in Racoon City, you are sent to investigate these as well as look for clues on the disappearance of the team sent before you.
As with a lot of old games these days, the mechanics are fairly dated at this point. The survival horror aspect of the game makes this something you’ll definitely want to check out though and things can get especially tense when you mix in some of the tough puzzles.
Release Date: January 21, 1998
Platforms: PlayStation, Windows, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, GameCube, Game.com
It didn’t take long for the success of the first Resident Evil game to spawn a sequel. Resident Evil 2 closely follows the formula that made the first game so enjoyable, while still making sure to make improvements in nearly every area of the game.
Taking place two months after the events of the first game, Resident Evil 2 introduces two more major characters to the story, Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy. In this game, you must escape Racoon City after its citizens have been transformed into zombies.
The major addition to this game was the ‘zapping’ system, a novel system that players quickly came to love. This allowed the player to experience situations through the eyes of both characters, each offering a slightly different version of the game’s events.
Release Date: September 22, 1999
Platforms: PlayStation, Windows, Dreamcast, GameCube
The last Resident Evil game to be released on the original PlayStation was Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Set in between the events of the first two games, you’ll once again take control of Jill Valentine as she attempts to escape the infected Racoon City. You’ll also encounter Nemesis, the main villain of the story on your journey which leads to plenty of tense and frightening moments.
The core gameplay experience from the first two games is still held in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, but there is a lot more focus on the action this time around. With Nemesis seemingly looming around every corner, there’s the usual dose of anticipation and horror in this title that made it so well received.
Release Date: February 3, 2000
Platforms: Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Making the jump to a brand new platform, Resident Evil – Code: Veronica changes up the setting from what players are familiar with to Rockfort Island and Antarctica. Players will once again see both Chris Redford and Claire Redford as the two main characters as they attempt to survive the viral outbreak on the remote prison island.
Set roughly two months after the events of Resident Evil 2, Code: Veronica came with greatly improved graphics and mechanics while still keeping the same heart-pounding action from the last game. This was a clear sign for the future as Resident Evil moved away from the slow-paced atmospheric action that fans may have been used to.
The fully rendered 3D environments are a first for the series and really go a long way into making this game still feel modern to this day. This technical improvement also led to the gameplay feeling smoother which was a great plus for the series.
Release Date: November 12, 2002
Platforms: GameCube, Wii, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
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Taking a step back in time, Resident Evil Zero is a prequel to the original Resident Evil game and takes place in Racoon City. This game shows the events leading up to the outbreak of the T-Virus and introduces us to two new characters – Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen.
In terms of gameplay, not much has changed since the previous games but it still typically receives quite positive reviews despite some claiming that things were starting to get stale in the franchise. The absence of puzzle sections was also a bit of a disappointment for fans of the franchise, especially as this is something that felt part of the core Resident Evil gameplay for so long.
This prequel would actually be the final game (so far) to feature the same classic fixed-camera perspective. From here on, things start to change quite a bit for the remainder of the series.
Release Date: January 11, 2005
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Android, PlayStation 4, GameCube, Wii
Resident Evil 4 is thought of by most people as the best Resident Evil game so far. The story follows the protagonist, Leon, and is set in a Spanish village where the US president’s daughter is held captive by a cult. Interestingly, this title moves away from the T-Virus and replaces it with Plaga parasites which brings something new and fresh to the franchise.
Resident Evil 4 features a new over-the-shoulder camera perspective which gives the player more control of weapon-aiming, giving the combat a more immersive feel. The combat is a solid part of the game and allows the players to jump through windows, dodge attacks, or even attack enemies in melee.
This re-invention of the franchise was appreciated by fans who were starting to grow tired of the same old formula.
Release Date: March 5, 2009
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Shield Android TV, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
In Resident Evil 5, we see the return of Chris Redfield and a brand new protagonist called Shiva Alomar. This marked the beginning of Resident Evil’s co-op play offerings. The story follows the two protagonists in a fictional region of Africa which has seen an outbreak of the Plaga parasites introduced in Resident Evil 4.
Resident Evil 5 had the difficult job of living up to the reputation of the previous game. For that reason, it had some mixed reviews. In terms of mechanics, not a whole lot had changed from Resident Evil 4. However, the tone and pacing were slightly different, opting for more of a fast-paced, action-like feel to the game. This shift towards action over survival horror was an interesting one, but not one that everyone appreciated.
Release Date: 2 October 2012
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Resident Evil 6 focuses on more action in this installment and has multiple interlinking storylines. You get to play as one of four playable characters, either in singleplayer or in a four-player co-op mode. Some of the action may be considered a bit over the top, especially if you’ve played some of the pre-Resident Evil 4 games.
While it may be worth trying out for die-hard Resident Evil fans, Resident Evil 6 isn’t exactly the most popular title in the series. It is considered by some to be the weakest link, after Resident Evil 5. The good news is that this downward trend of player reviews would eventually climb back up with the next installment.
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
The latest original Resident Evil game is Biohazard, the seventh installment. This game signaled quite a change of pace and action from the previous games. The story follows Ethan Winters who searches for his missing wife and comes across a seemingly abandoned remote plantation in Louisiana.
Biohazard switched to a first-person view which certainly helped to make the game more horror-focused. The pacing is a bit slower than the previous two games and it also places an emphasis on exploration and puzzles. Stealth is a big part of this game as there are few weapons to be found on your journey.
That brings us to the end of our list of Resident Evil games for today. With so many games in the series, it’s great to take a look at where everything began. Yes, some of the games on our list today feel quite dated when you go back to play them – which isn’t surprising considering their age.
You’ll be glad to know this isn’t the complete list of Resident Evil games either. If you wanted to go back and play some of the older titles, it may be worth checking out one of the remakes. These have been done quite well and capture the spirit of the original games while bringing their mechanics up to date.
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