Don’t righteously smite our genitals with that boxing glove attachment you once utilized on The Simpsons, professor. There will be no convoluted bollocks about black holes, big bangs and other such science-shenanigans here.
Instead, the subject du jour is Resident Evil 6. Since its release a few scant weeks ago, it has been subjected to a relentless barrage of derision. Mothers’ waistlines have been mocked, middle fingers gleefully raised and an internet hitsquad of nerdsassins dispatched to break into Capcom’s office at midnight and shit on the carpet. The cause of this venom is much akin to that which afflicted the fifth iteration of the series: Its quintessential horror mojo has been compromised. As a result, the series has been neutered as effectively as our bulldog Marley, who returned from the vet with his bollocks in a jar and an inability to ever trust bastard humans again some years ago.
The fourth title, largely acclaimed by players and critics alike, pioneered the paradigm shift to less constrictive control and I shoot your crotch action. A third-person horror shooter (a la Dead Space), it was an avant-garde approach to an established series, an all-too-rare maneuver for the medium. Further, it retained much of the cloying atmosphere and creeping dread that Resident Evil strives to embody. That business with the Regenerators on the island? Their presence heralded only by those hundred cigarettes a day, impending tracheotomy wheezing breaths (we like to imagine steel buckets strategically placed throughout the complex, for these mothers to hawk their phlegm into)? That was all kinds of holy shit.
The fifth game, titled Resident Evil 5: This Time, It’s Personal. By Which We Mean Chris Redfield Cruises to Africa to Viciously Shoot and/or Punch Everyone in Africa was a ghastly cavalcade of explosions, set pieces and breaking large boulders with our manly man-fists. Action blockbuster capers of this sort, naturellement, are the hallmark of some of our favorite gaming franchises. In movie theaters or Call of Duty or suchlike, they’re a vital component of our dudely goodtimes. Such business feels disconcertingly shoehorned to avid Evil-ers though. In the same manner as the nerdy little bastard at school with the attache case and suspenders getting his ear pierced because the cool kids have, it’s a pale imitation, and you’ll still get your head flushed down the toilet at recess. After someone’s shat in it.
Run and gun, run some more and gun some more is a genre that moves at such an accelerated pace, there is scant room to accumulate that foreboding atmosphere. The latest release has augmented the Hollywood antics to a preposterous degree. Much of the scenery falls into one of two camps: It’s on fire, so it’s just exploded or it’s not on fire, so it’s just about to explode. This isn’t to deny that the separate campaigns attempt to cater -in some pitiful manner- to the Resident Evils of yore (Leon’s campaign in particular has moments infused with that patented creepy) but it’s a token gesture and a bit shit.
Internet doomsayers have been bitching ad nauseum that gaming’s favorite undead series is… dying, but it’s a simple matter of keeping these two disparate elements in check. The recent Resident Evil: Revelations, a humble handheld title for the 3DS, is testament to this. It combined (somewhat) contemporary control and gun-nery with the darkened mansion crawling of the nineties, and did so with aplomb. As such, those Ooze bastards weren’t the only ones forming little puddles of piss on the floor. That’s they way we, and many others, would like it to stay.