Time to play backseat analyst again.
I'm not going to lie, I haven't really been interested in the Resident Evil series since 4 came out. I've played the Gamecube remake of the original, and I've seen people playing through both 2 and 3 and I own 4 for the Playstation 2. I was going to buy 5, but then my interest just kind of waned when I saw that it wasn't really anything that new from the last one, and in fact seemed markedly worse in some aspects. That's a story for another day, or perhaps not at all.
What's drawn my attention to the most recent release of the series though, is just how much of a shitstorm its really turned into. The game has been lambasted by professional reviewers and the gaming masses alike, there's the usual accusations of on-disc DLC once again being present. For such a large title that seemed to have the full weight of Capcom behind it, the fact that it seems to have floundered in terms of quality -- granted, that didn't stop it from selling like gangbusters -- is extremely puzzling to me.
I did voice my concerns about the out of control number of people (last counted at roughly 600) that were working on this project. You know that jazz about how too many cooks spoil the broth and all that. I can't help but feel that perhaps the series has strayed from its roots too much for its own good, and yet I'd be remiss if I called Resident Evil 4 a survival horror game either, and it's easily my favourite entry in the series. So what went wrong?
Well, love him or hate him, I think that Jim Sterling brings up a good point in this video. Basically, what he says is that the series has become so focused on trying to recoup its own giant budget that it has tried to frantically appeal to absolutely everyone. While such a strategy can sometimes be effective, most of the time it isn't a sound one, and the homogenization of a game into a series of generic cliches means that in the end no one really walks away happy, even if they didn't hate the final product.
I'm not the man in charge of Resident Evil, and I never will be, but if I had a choice in the matter, then I'd say that now more than ever is definitely time for a reevaluation of where the series stands. Games like Amnesia and Slender prove that you can still make pants-shittingly good horror games, but given that Resident Evil has never had you being completely powerless, I'm not sure that such a retooling would be the best idea.
The kneejerk reaction by some people has been to say that this was the inevitable culmination of the success of Resident Evil 4, that when people demanded more of the same that Capcom was happy to oblige, and that this is what we've been left with. To that I respectfully disagree. Was Resident Evil 4 a major overhaul; of course it was, but it also wasn't the only place left for the series to go. The franchise can still adapt and grow, even after taking on new dynamics.
Perhaps it's something that doesn't apply on a wide scale, but to me the Resident Evil series has never been about a completely horrific experience. The series has always gotten more horror from the shock moments then from having common enemies that were truly terrifying. There's no reason that the series couldn't have embraced this further, rather than seemingly backing away from it.
There's no magical quick fix for this franchise, but it's one that a lot of people have enjoyed, and when it seems that it's become a shadow of itself I can't help but wonder if the whole concept of being too big to fail is something that might be applied to more and more games as time goes on. If this trend does continue, then it's something to be very worried about.