Explore the history of the franchise with our Resident Evil game guide
This month, the big-screen side of the Resident Evil franchise concludes as Sony Pictures‘ Resident Evil: The Final Chapter hits the big screen January 27. The movies have featured quite a different take on the story, but the Resident Evil game series has been around for two decades and there have been a ton of entries. Read on for a journey back through the main chapters in the franchise that started the survival horror genre and spawned a series of films, comic books, novels, action figures and more.
Capcom‘s first Resident Evil game came out for the original PlayStation. You could choose to play as Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, members of the Raccoon Police Department’s Special Tactics And Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.). In the game, your character investigates a mansion on the outskirts of Raccoon City. You, as part of the Alpha team are there to investigate the disappearance of the Bravo team and rescue any survivors. You encounter zombies and other terrifying creatures and you have to solve puzzles to figure out the mystery of the mansion and get yourself out alive. You could shoot down your creepy enemies, heal yourself with a combination of healing herbs and first aid sprays and shudder in fear. Inside the mansion, you discover a lab where the nefarious biochemical company Umbrella Corporation has developed the T-virus, causing humans to turn into zombies and deforming other creatures into terrors. You could rescue team members who would then help you defeat the final boss Tyrant, though there were different endings in which you weren’t successful in either quest.
The first Resident Evil game was reviewed well and received ports for many other systems, as well as updated versions. Critics had issues with the management of resources, citing the limited ammo for weapons, as well as ink ribbon for saves and the ability to carry very few items at a time. The Resident Evil game also received a Director’s Cut and a high-def remaster.
Resident Evil 2 was released initially for PlayStation in 1998. This time around, you could play as either Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Whichever character you started with would have a different storyline and once you finished that, the other character’s story would open up, and vice versa, through a new “zapping system.” Each storyline you played would affect the next one, giving you different options, reducing items, etc.
The sequel’s story is set two months after the previous Resident Evil game. In Raccoon City, most of the citizens have been infected with the T-virus, causing them to turn into zombies. Leon is a rookie cop and Claire is a college student looking for her brother, one of the protagonists of the previous Resident Evil game. We also meet Ada Wong, who we learn is looking for her boyfriend, who is working for Umbrella Corporation. That story, however, is a cover for her own work for Umbrella. The even more deadly G-virus has been created by one of the researchers, and, depending on which way you play the game, you learn that a young girl named Sherry has been implanted with an embryo by her researcher father Birkin, and you have to find a cure for her.
Resident Evil 2 received a number of ports to other systems and is widely considered to be one of the best video games of all time.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was released initially for PlayStation in 1999, taking place both before and after the events of Resident Evil 2. This time around, choices were added into the game that would affect the outcome. It also featured an unlockable minigame called “The Mercenaries: Operation Mad Jackal” You play as Jill Valentine, who is investigating the city and fighting against a new evil called Nemesis, a biological weapon which chases Jill throughout the game. Jill has to reach the clock tower in the city to summon a helicopter, but is infected with the T-virus. She’s cured, but learns that the government has decided to take out the entire city with a nuclear weapon to destroy the virus.
As with the earlier Resident Evil games, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was ported to a number of different systems.
A number of light gun shooter games like Resident Evil: Survivor were released in the franchise beginning in 2000, the same year that Resident Evil – Code: Veronica was released for the Dreamcast. It was the first game in the franchise to feature 3D backgrounds. This game takes place three months after the last one and has Claire Redfield sent to a remote prison island after being arrested trying to find her brother at an Umbrella Corporation headquarters in Paris. Claire and inmate Steve Burnside team up after an outbreak of the T-virus in the prison, and run into Alfred Ashford, who sometimes thinks he’s his own twin Alexia. Alexia had developed the T-Veronica virus and was put into cryogenic sleep. Alfred/Alexia fly the group to an Umbrella Corporation facility in Antarctica. There they fight Nosferatu, created by the T-Veronica virus. Alfred dies and they have to fight Alexia. Chris Redfield, in the search for his sister, ends up in Antarctica as well, where Steve is infected with the virus. He dies and is taken for experiments by Alfred Wesker, the Captain of S.T.A.R.S. who was secretly working for Umbrella the whole time. Wesker vows revenge as Claire and Chris escape.
An updated version, Code: Veronica X was released in 2001, adding some cut scenes and a few changes.
Resident Evil Zero was released initially for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002 following the release of the light gun game Resident Evil Survivor 2 Code: Veronica and Resident Evil Gaiden for the Game Boy Color. Zero was a prequel for the first game and follows the adventures of the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo team whose disappearance was being investigated in 1996’s Resident Evil. In this game, you play as both S.T.A.R.S. officer Rebecca Chambers and criminal Billy Coen, switching between characters to use their specific abilities. The game also got rid of item storage boxes and allowed players to drop items on the floor. Rebecca is investigating a series of cannibal murders and encounters a train where everyone was attacked by leeches. They end up in an abandoned building where we learn that the Progenitor virus, discovered in the 1960s, was combined with leech DNA to create the T-virus. Wesker joins a rival company and splits from Birkin, who is working on the G-virus. Rebecca and Billy divert the train to an abandoned building. They fight both the Tyrant and the Queen Leech. Rebecca agrees to say Billy was a casualty of the events, letting the criminal go free. She proceeds to the mansion, beginning the events of Resident Evil.
Resident Evil Zero was ported to multiple platforms.
Resident Evil: Dead Aim was released in 2003, and this light gun game was the first to feature first-person shooter mechanics beside the third person mechanics. Resident Evil Outbreak and its expansion were released the same year, featuring a series of scenarios that took place during time period of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. Resident Evil 4 was released initially for GameCube in 2005 and takes place six years after the events of Resident Evil 2. This game follows Special Agent Leon S. Kennedy in his attempt to rescue the President’s daughter Ashley Graham, who has been kidnapped by a cult called Los Illuminados in Spain and features both first-person and third-person camera views as well as environmental interaction and quicktime events. Leon is kidnapped by the cult head and injected with a mind control parasite called Las Plagas. He rescues Ashley, who was injected as well, in an attempt to get her to inject her father. One of the former researchers, Luis Sera, tries to find a pill to help Leon and Ashley. He delivers it to Leon, though he and Ashley are separated. Leon runs into Ada Wong, who it is revealed has been working with Wesker. He rescues Ashley and they’re given a cure, but Ada takes a sample from them at gunpoint, escaping.
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles was released in 2007 and was a light rail shooter featuring a number of scenarios. Resident Evil 5 was released in 2009 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows and follows Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA) agents Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in the fictional region of Kijuju in Africa. The game also featured quicktime events and was the best-selling game in the franchise so far. It introduced co-op game play, with a second player able to control Sheva. Chris and Sheva are out to stop a biological weapon from Ricardo Irving, but they encounter natives infected with parasites called Mijini. They run into Sheva’s mentor Josh Stone who has a picture of the presumed dead Jill Valentine. Documents left by the infamous Wesker lead them and a Delta team to an oil field, and Chris and Sheva end up by themselves. Irving injects himself with the parasite and becomes a creature to defeat. They learn that a BSAA investor called Tricell took over an Umbrella facility to continue research. The CEO is working with Wesker, who wants to infect the world and take a group of the uninfected and rule them. They rescue Jill, who has been mind-controlled and she tells them Wesker must take doses of the virus regularly. They defeat him, dropping him into the volcano.
Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles was also released in 2009.
A number of handheld games were released in 2011 and 2012, as well as Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. In 2012, Resident Evil 6 was released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows, and rereleased for PS4 and Xbox One in 2016. The player can choose from four scenarios, controlling Leon S. Kennedy, Chris Redfield, Jake Muller and Ada Wong as they battle to keep the new C-virus from being released. The game supported co-op play. In addition to zombies, players would have to fight J’avo, who are more intelligent and able to heal themselves. Chris and his team are fighting rebels infected with the C-virus while Jake Muller, a son of Wesker, teams up with Sherry Birkin, who is trying to isolate his C-virus antibodies. Ada captures Chris (who gets amnesia) as well as Jake and Sherry. Ada is heading up Neo-Umbrella. The President is going to reveal the truth about the virus and Umbrella Corporation, alongside Leon, but he’s infected with the virus and killed. Ada claims she was blackmailed by a member of the government and all parties end up in China. Ada, it turns out, was a clone and the real Ada destroys her. Jake’s blood is used to find a cure for the C-virus.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is released on January 23 and features a whole new cast of characters. You play as Ethan Winters, a man searching for his wife Mia at an old plantation in the fictional city of Dulvey, Louisiana. The game is a single-player, first-person shooter and features the terrifying spookiness fans have loved since the first game’s debut back in 1996. Check out the trailer in the player below!