In light of Resident Evil 6’s announcement, it felt topical to reexamine the Resident Evil series and rank the titles from bottom to top. However, I’m only going to focus on the five main Resident Evil games. I won’t be including any of the series’ spin-offs, including the above average Resident Evil Code: Veronica and Resident Evil Zero. If that upsets you, I’m sorry. But to keep this relatively simple I’m going to focus only on the core titles in the series.
So without further ado, here are the five core Resident Evil titles ranked from last to first.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Platforms: PlayStation, PSN, Dreamcast, PC, GameCube
By the time Resident Evil 3: Nemesis released, the Resident Evil formula was feeling a little long in the tooth. The inclusion of the “Nemesis” — a hulking monster who constantly chased you, Jason style — helped ratchet up the tension and stress of the experience, but the game still fell below expectations due to the franchise’s stubbornness to progress forward with its formula and control scheme. Let’s face it: Resident Evil 3 was an experience that, at best, felt familiar and safe, and at worst, felt dated immediately upon release.
But, hey, at least we got Jill Valentine in a tube top. That’s one thing RE3 had going for it.
Resident Evil 5
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
After Resident Evil 4 evolved the franchise through use of a third-person shooter perspective and a heavier focus on action, Resident Evil 5 felt like the juiced-up cousin who makes his presence known at family get-togethers by kicking in the door and setting off two firecrackers in the middle of the living room. Meaning: Resident Evil 5 focused almost exclusively on the action element of the equation (Christ, the final fight took place instead an erupting volcano!). The game might have featured a few jump scares, but they were few and far between. Instead, it was all explosions with RE5. Yet, surprisingly, it worked. The inclusion of cooperative play made Resident Evil 5 a whole new type of experience, allowing two buddies to team up and shoot zombies(?) together within the expansive Resident Evil universe. That was good enough to make it stand out considerably, and it looks like that co-op type of experience will carry over to Resident Evil 6.
Platforms: PlayStation, PSN, PC, Sega Saturn, Nintendo DS
This is the game that started it all. I’ll never forget stepping foot into that massive, creepy mansion for the first time after being chases to the door by zombie dogs. I’ll also never forget the voice of Barry Burton, which ranks as possibly the worst voice acting in the history of video games. With that said, the original Resident Evil is responsible for the uprising of the “survival horror” genre of gaming. If it wasn’t for RE, we wouldn’t have gems like Dead Space, for example. Or, if we did, they might be something completely unrecognizable from what we have now. Either way, a world where Resident Evil isn’t responsible for the birth of survival horror is not a world I want to live in.
The original Resident Evil is also responsible for teaching us the lesson that just because you’re at a typewriter doesn’t mean you can save. It was a lesson learned hard and fast that conserving those damn ink ribbons was almost as important as being able to put a bullet between the eyes of a zombie.
Resident Evil 2
Platforms: PlayStation, PSN, N64, GameCube, Dreamcast, PC
Resident Evil 2 didn’t do much different than the original Resident Evil, fundamentally. It still featured the same awkward controls and elaborate puzzles that only Rain Man could dream up. However, what makes Resident Evil 2 so great is that it offered more of what we already loved. The game had two completely unique, yet intersecting campaigns that ratcheted up the replayability considerably. Resident Evil 2 also introduced us to Leon Kennedy, a character who not only has the best hair in the RE universe, but also has become one of the franchise’s staple characters, appearing in starring roles in three core Resident Evil games (RE6 included).
Resident Evil 4
Platforms: GameCube, PS2, PC, Wii, Mobile, Xbox 360, PS3
Resident Evil 4 will forever be known as the game that finally (thankfully) evolved the Resident Evil franchise. After Resident Evil 3, and to a lesser extent Resident Evil Code: Veronica, the Resident Evil brand was struggling to stand out. Capcom refused to evolved the brand and phase out those clunky controls that turned away anyone that wasn’t already a RE diehard.
Then Resident Evil 4 happens.
The clunky controls were out, replaced by an over-the-shoulder perspective that immersed the player into the experience considerably. In another bold move, Capcom decided to infuse more action into the Resident Evil formula — credit undeniably goes to the Resident Evil films for proving action can work in the RE universe. From an outsider’s perspective, Resident Evil 4 didn’t look much like a Resident Evil game. And that’s why it’s so good. Capcom managed to get themselves out of a creative rut and completely change their fan-favorite franchise’s image for the better. And if you don’t agree with that, then you’re definitely going against the grain — just go ask all those Game of the Year awards Resident Evil 4 racked in.
Resident Evil 4 became the new benchmark for the series, and its influence on the greater gaming industry is still being felt today.