What are the best Resident Evil Games?
Have we really been blasting apart zombies and surviving a myriad of over-sized animals and bioweapons for over two decades? You might not believe it, but it’s true: Resident Evil was first released twenty-three years ago and with the recent release of Resident Evil 2 Remake, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
If that makes you feel old, then you’re in good company as more than a few of us here at Goomba Stomp are old enough to have actually played the original all the way back in 1996 and we’re here to remind everyone what made these games great (or not so great) to begin with, where they succeeded and where they failed. Welcome back to Racoon City folks; here is our list of the best Resident Evil games to date.
Editor’s Note: The plan was to rank the ten best games but we ended up with some ties which explain why there are twelve games listed below.
12 – Resident Evil 6
Okay, so here’s the thing: no one is ever going to be heard calling Resident Evil 6 a masterpiece. In fact, most people would struggle to even call it a good game, and there’s a lot of solid reasoning behind that. The only way a game like this could be labeled a success would be if the player happened to fall into a niche demographic that could manage to enjoy all four of the very different campaigns that make up the plot of RE6. For my part, I liked the Jake/Sherry section and the Ada section but was bored stiff with the Leon and Chris stuff. Conversely, I’ve roundly heard from a host of folks who would say that the Leon section is the only part worth playing, so, really, it’s all down to personal preference. The point remains, though, that even half of a good game does not make for a win in Capcom’s court, and this title more than any other signifies just how lost the RE franchise was at one point in time. (Mike Worby)
11 – Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5 is a really hard game to love and an even harder one to recommend. There are great moments, but they’re few, and the space between them is filled with terrible things. For every step forward Resident Evil 5 makes, it seems to take a leap backward and it ends up feeling like a checklist of ideas copy-pasted from RE4 without ever feeling like something new and fresh. For every genuinely interesting moment or exciting combat encounter, there’s two or three boring or annoying fights and some of the banalest bosses in the entire series.
The entire experience is further soured by the god-awful partner AI in the single-player campaign, the somehow worse than RE4 AI in all the enemies, and cumbersome controls that no longer feed into the horror but instead hold back from the action. It’s a game completely confused about what it wants to be, trying so hard to be an action shooter while also trying to be survival horror, and failing miserably to do either one very well. It’s not the worst in the Resident Evil series, not by a long shot, but it’s so forgettable against the better games that it just gets tossed by the wayside, sort of where it belongs. (Andrew Vandersteen)
10 – Resident Evil Revelations
For those who wanted Resident Evil to go back to its scary roots after RE5, this game is for you. Well, most of it anyway. What parts of the game take place on the Queen Zenobia, a doomed cruise liner that makes for a great stand-in for a creepy mansion, are as dark, mysterious, and downright creepy as fans could hope after an entry spent in the sunlight. For Revelations, Capcom returned to a world of opulence contrasted with monstrous decay, and once again it works. Wandering the gently rocking ship’s labyrinthine hallways, creaking doors opening to musty staterooms, communications decks, and even a casino, feels like coming home again, or at least haunted home. Sound once again plays a large part, letting imagination do some of the work. Slithering enemies wiggle through metal vents, a chilling call of “mayday” echoes out from the silence, and the deformed mutation of a former colleague whispers from the shadows, possibly lurking around any corner. Tension is palpable and the atmosphere is thick; who could ask for anything else? Unfortunately, Capcom decided to be generous without anyone asking and also included side missions that break up the anxiety with some good old fashioned trigger-pulling. Cutaway missions involving Chris and his sweet-assed partner or two of the biggest idiots ever seen in the franchise only serve to distract from the killer vibe the main game has going on, and are a slight misstep, though they by no means ruin the overall experience.
Is there cheesy dialogue? Of course; what RE game would be complete without some? Cheap jump scares? You betcha. But Resident Evil Revelations also knows how to earn its scares, and it does so well enough to remind players just how fun this series can be when it sticks to what it does best. (Patrick Murphy)
9 – Resident Evil 0
Resident Evil 0 finds itself at a bit of a strange place in the RE canon in that it follows up one of the best games in the series (the REmake) and is mainly seen as a solid entry but also finds itself at the stalling point right before RE4, when the old formula had been taxed pretty much to the limit. With that in mind, RE0 is still executed very well: the atmosphere is fantastic, the graphics are phenomenal, both of the protagonists are likable, and the plot hits all the b-movie camp bases you’d expect from a Resident Evil game.
RE0 also fills in a lot of the gaps in the mythology, and as its title might suggest it explains a lot of where this whole thing got started. You won’t find many people telling you that this is an essential title, but if you’re a fan of the series, it’s certainly worth going back to, especially with the HD port now available. I mean where else can you find a guy made of leeches chasing around a couple of 20-something heartthrobs? (Mike Worby)
8 – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
When the name of the antagonist makes the cover and the title, you better believe he will be a large part of the game. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis offers little reservations to having the newest addition of the Tyrant strain from Umbrella Corp. run wild to hunt and kill every S.T.A.R.S. member.
RE3 makes little changes to the series except for offering the ability to turn a full 180, a few choice-based actions, and the inclusion of the aforementioned villain Nemesis. The series returns the spotlight to RE heroine Jill Valentine as she makes her final stand and leaves Raccoon City for good, and also introduces Carlos Oliveira, an Umbrella Corps. mercenary who learns the error of his ways and aids Jill along the way.
The story and characters fall short from its predecessors but the game certainly makes up for it in gameplay, intensity and jump scares, courtesy of Nemesis. There are very rarely places or times when you feel safe, as he does seem to appear whenever he so pleases – though, after a second run of the game, you will know precisely when to expect him, as these points of the game do repeat themselves.
RE3 may not be the high point of the series, with characters who were not as memorable as RE2 and an environment that, though large, was not as intimate or terrifying as those of the Arklay Mountains. However, it certainly does excel at one thing, and that’s making one of the most unique and unrelenting monsters of the series in the form of the Nemesis. (Aaron Santos)
7 – Resident Evil: Code Veronica
Code Veronica is Resident Evil in a transitional period. The game was a technical leap forward in that it was the first in the series to feature a movable camera and fully rendered 3D backgrounds, but the game played almost identically to Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, warts and all. It wouldn’t be until RE4 that the series would see a true overhaul in the gameplay department and so Code Veronica sits in a weird middle ground between the old and the new. It also holds the dubious honor of being the moment in the chronology when the story all became, well, a bit much.
Previous Resident Evil games had told stories that all centred around a singular viral outbreak, with that story wrapping up when Raccoon City was decimated by atom bombs at the end of Nemesis. They weren’t going to win any prizes, but they were inoffensively camp fun. Code Veronica is where the story breaks out into the wider world and the deep-rooted conspiracy of the Umbrella Corporation, an inexplicably evil pharmaceutical company, starts to become more and more implausible and the twists all the more head-scratching. The three primary antagonists of the game are the returning Albert Wesker (a surprise since we last saw him getting stabbed to death in the first game), and the twins Alfred and Alexia Ashford. Later in the game, it turns out that Alexia Ashford has been in cryosleep during the entire game, and every time we’ve seen her it’s actually been Alfred in makeup and a dress doing his best Psycho impression for the benefit of nobody. Enough said, really. (John Cal McCormick)
6 – Resident Evil
Resident Evil is credited with bringing the survival horror genre to the masses and ushering in a golden age of truly terrifying video games. Originally conceived as a remake of Capcom’s earlier horror-themed game Sweet Home, Shinji Mikami, took gameplay design cues from Alone in the Dark and established a formula that has proven successful time and time again.
The eponymous first game in the series may seem dated but the simple premise and duplicitous puzzle box mansion hold up incredibly well, twenty years later. For those who love the series’ puzzle elements, the original is unparalleled. The opening sequence sets up a campy tone with unintentionally hilarious voice acting, but once your knee deep in the mansion, things become unbearably tense. Resident Evil requires patience, and what makes the game so good is the slow burn. It’s punishing at times, so proceed with caution. (Ricky da Conceicao)