Resident Evil, known in Japan as Biohazard,[a] is a Japanese horror video game series and media franchise created by Capcom. The franchise follows stories about biological weapons and viral incidents. The game series consists of survival horror, third-person shooter, and first-person shooter games. The franchise has expanded into a live-action film series, animated films, television series, comic books, novels, audio dramas, and other media and merchandise.
|Created by||Shinji Mikami |
|Original work||Resident Evil (1996)|
|Films and television|
|Television series||Television list|
|Video game(s)||Game list|
The first game was created by Shinji Mikami and Tokuro Fujiwara and was released for the PlayStation in 1996. It is credited for defining the survival horror genre and returning zombies to popular culture. With Resident Evil 4 (2005), the franchise shifted to more dynamic shooting action; it influenced the evolution of the survival horror and third-person genres, popularizing the "over-the-shoulder" third-person view. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017) moves the series to a first-person perspective, while Resident Evil Village (2021) introduced Lycans to the series.
Resident Evil is Capcom's best-selling video game franchise, with 117 million units sold worldwide as of June 2021. It is the best-selling horror game series, in addition to the film adaptations being the highest-grossing live-action video game film series, making Resident Evil the highest-grossing franchise in the horror and zombie genres. The franchise has been influential in popular culture, inspiring popular media in the video game, film and television industries.
The development of the first Resident Evil, released as Biohazard in Japan, began in 1993 when Capcom's Tokuro Fujiwara told Shinji Mikami and other co-workers to create a game using elements from Fujiwara's 1989 game Sweet Home. When in late 1994 marketing executives were setting up to release Biohazard in the United States, it was pointed out that securing the rights to the name Biohazard would be very difficult as a DOS game had been registered under that name, as well as a New York hardcore punk band called Biohazard. A contest was held among company personnel to choose a new name; this competition turned up Resident Evil, the name under which it was released in the west. Resident Evil made its debut on the PlayStation in 1996 and was later ported to the Sega Saturn.
The first entry in the series was the first game to be dubbed a "survival horror", a term coined for the new genre it initiated, and its critical and commercial success led to the production of two sequels, Resident Evil 2 in 1998 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis in 1999, both for the PlayStation. A port of Resident Evil 2 was released for the Nintendo 64. In addition, ports of all three were released for Microsoft Windows. The fourth game in the series, Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, was developed for the Dreamcast and released in 2000, followed by ports of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Resident Evil – Code: Veronica was later re-released for Dreamcast in Japan in an updated form as Code: Veronica Complete, which included slight changes, many of which revolved around story cutscenes. This updated version was later ported to the PlayStation 2 and GameCube under the title Code: Veronica X.
Despite earlier announcements that the next game in the series would be released for the PlayStation 2, which resulted in the creation of an unrelated game titled Devil May Cry, series' creator and producer Shinji Mikami decided to make the series exclusively for the GameCube. The next three games in the series—a remake of the original Resident Evil and the prequel Resident Evil Zero, both released in 2002, as well as Resident Evil 4 (2005)—were all released initially as GameCube exclusives. Resident Evil 4 was later released for Windows, PlayStation 2 and Wii.
A trilogy of GunCon-compatible light gun games known as the Gun Survivor series featured first-person gameplay. The first, Resident Evil Survivor, was released in 2000 for the PlayStation and PC but received mediocre reviews. The subsequent games, Resident Evil Survivor 2 – Code: Veronica and Resident Evil: Dead Aim, fared somewhat better. Dead Aim is the fourth Gun Survivor game in Japan, with Gun Survivor 3 being the Dino Crisis spin-off Dino Stalker. In a similar vein, the Chronicles series features first-person gameplay, albeit on an on-rails path. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles was released in 2007 for the Wii, with a sequel, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles released in 2009 (both were later ported to the PlayStation 3 in 2012). Also in 2009, Resident Evil 5 was released for PlayStation 3, Windows and Xbox 360, becoming the best selling game of the franchise despite mixed fan reception.
Resident Evil Outbreak is an online game for the PlayStation 2, released in 2003, depicting a series of episodic storylines in Raccoon City set during the same time period as Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. It was the first in the series and the first survival horror title to feature cooperative gameplay. It was followed by a sequel, Resident Evil Outbreak: File #2. Raccoon City is a metropolis located in the Arklay Mountains of the Midwestern United States that succumbed to the deadly T-virus outbreak and was consequently destroyed via a nuclear missile attack issued by the United States government. The town served a critical junction for the series' progression as one of the main catalysts to Umbrella's downfall as well as the entry point for some of the series' most notable characters.
Resident Evil Gaiden is an action-adventure game for the Game Boy Color featuring a role-playing-style combat system. There have been several downloadable mobile games based on the Resident Evil series in Japan. Some of these mobile games have been released in North America and Europe through T-Mobile. At the Sony press conference during E3 2009, it was announced that Resident Evil Portable would be released for the PlayStation Portable, described as an all-new title being developed with "the PSP Go in mind" and "totally different for a Resident Evil game". However, as of 2021, no further announcements have been made, and the game is considered to have been canceled.
In March 2011, Capcom revealed the third-person shooter Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, which was developed by Slant Six Games for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows and released in March 2012. A survival horror game for the Nintendo 3DS, Resident Evil: Revelations, was released in February 2012. In October of the same year, the next numbered entry in the main series, Resident Evil 6, was released to mixed reviews, but enthusiastic pre-order sales.
In 2013, producer Masachika Kawata said the Resident Evil franchise would return to focus on elements of horror and suspense over action, adding, "Survival horror as a genre is never going to be on the same level, financially, as shooters and much more popular, mainstream games. At the same time, I think we need to have the confidence to put money behind these projects, and it doesn't mean we can't focus on what we need to do as a survival horror game to meet fan's needs." Resident Evil: Revelations 2, an episodic game set between Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6, was released in March 2015. A poorly-received team-based multiplayer game set in the series' universe, Umbrella Corps, was released in June 2016.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was released for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in January 2017. Set in a dilapidated mansion in Louisiana, the game uses a first-person perspective and returns to the series' survival horror roots. Unlike Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6, the gameplay emphasizes horror and exploration over action.
A remake of Resident Evil 2 was released for the PlayStation 4, Windows, and Xbox One on January 25, 2019. It uses the RE Engine, which was also used for Resident Evil 7. The remake outsold the original game within a year, selling over five million copies. Following in the success of the Resident Evil 2 remake, Capcom revealed a remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis in December 2019, known as Resident Evil 3. It was released on April 3, 2020, alongside Resident Evil: Resistance, a team-based online multiplayer game previously announced as Project Resistance.
On June 11, 2020, Resident Evil Village was officially announced during the PS5 Future of Gaming showcase. The game, released on May 7, 2021, is a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7:Biohazard, set in a mysterious European village and featuring the same first-person gameplay from its predecessor while incorporating action elements from Resident Evil 4.
Earlier installments in the franchise primarily concerns a group of people who battle against the Umbrella Corporation, a pharmaceutical company which develops the T-virus and other mutagens for their secret "bio-organic weapons" research. The mutagens can transform humans into zombies as well as mutate other animals and plants into horrifying monsters.
The original game and many franchise entries are set in and around Raccoon City, a fictional midwestern American city. The city and its outlying areas house several bioengineering laboratories belonging to the Umbrella Corporation, which develop viruses intended for use in biological warfare. One of the laboratories, unnamed throughout the video game series and referred to as "The Hive" in the film adaptations, is located underneath Raccoon City and is where the T-virus is developed. As Umbrella's mutagen testing grows in scale and the virus has leaked into Raccoon City, STARS officers and other characters fight through the monsters ravaging the city to investigate Umbrella's involvement in the disaster. Raccoon City is ultimately destroyed by a nuclear missile strike initiated by the United States government to contain the viral outbreak. An ensuing government investigation leads to Umbrella's downfall. However, the proliferation of Umbrella's biological weapons and viruses leads to the other outbreaks across the world. The protagonists of each subsequent entry continue to fight new factions that engage in bio-terrorism, and also face new types of creatures.
Several major characters are members of Raccoon City's police tactical unit, STARS, including Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Rebecca Chambers. The head of the STARS department is Albert Wesker, who also secretly works for Umbrella and is a primary antagonist in the series. Other notable characters of the franchise include police officer and later US special agent Leon S. Kennedy, Chris' sister Claire Redfield, corporate spy Ada Wong, and systems engineer Ethan Winters.
The Resident Evil franchise has had a variety of control schemes and gameplay mechanics throughout its history. Puzzle-solving has figured prominently throughout the series.
The first game introduced tank controls to the series. In a game with tank controls, players control movement relative to the position of the player character. Pressing up (for example on a D-pad, analog stick, or cursor movement keys) on the game controller moves the character in the direction they face, down reverses them, and left and right rotates them. This differs from many 3D games, in which characters move in the direction players push from the perspective of the camera. Some critics have posited that the control scheme is intentionally clumsy, meant to enhance stress and exacerbate difficulty.
While the first three entries in the series all featured this control scheme, the third, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, saw some action-oriented additions. These included a 180 degree turn and dodge command that, according to GameSpot, "hinted at a new direction that the series would go in".
Third-person shooter gameplayEdit
Resident Evil 4 saw significant changes to the established gameplay, including the switch from fixed camera perspectives to a tracking camera, and more action-oriented gameplay and mechanics. This was complemented by an abundance of ammunition and revised aiming and melee mechanics. Some critics claimed that this overhauled control scheme "made the game less scary." The next two games in the franchise furthered the action-oriented mechanics: Resident Evil 5 featured cooperative play, while Resident Evil 6 allowed players to move while aiming and shooting for the first time.
First-person gameplay and VREdit
Resident Evil 7 is the first main Resident Evil game to use the first-person perspective and to use virtual reality. It drew comparisons to modern survival horror games such as Outlast and PT. The eighth main-series game, Resident Evil Village, also features a first-person perspective.
The Resident Evil franchise features video games and tie-in merchandise and products, including various live-action and animated films, comic books, and novels.
From 2002 to 2016, six live-action Resident Evil films were produced, with all of them written and produced by Paul W. S. Anderson. The films do not follow the games' premise but feature some game characters. The series' protagonist is Alice, an original character created for the films portrayed by Milla Jovovich. Despite a negative reaction from critics, the live-action film series has made over $1 billion worldwide. They are, to date, the only video game adaptations to increase the amount of money made with each successive film. The series holds the record for the "Most Live-Action Film Adaptations of a Video Game" in the 2012 Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition, which also described it as "the most successful movie series to be based on a video game."
Starting in 2008, a series of feature-length computer animated films has been released. These films take place in the same continuity with the games of the series, and feature characters such as Leon Kennedy, Claire Redfield, Ada Wong, Chris Redfield and Rebecca Chambers.
On August 27, 2020, Netflix announced that they were developing a live-action Resident Evil series. The show has been greenlit for eight hour-long episodes. It is to be written by Andrew Dabb, with Bronwen Hughes serving as executive producer and the director of the first two episodes of the series. The show is being produced by Constantin Film who have previously produced the Resident Evil film series.
The story takes place over two timelines; the first of which involves 14-year-old sisters Jade and Billie Wesker moving to New Raccoon City. They come to realize that their father may be concealing dark secrets that could destroy the world. The second timeline takes place over a decade in the future, where only 15 million humans remain, with over 6 billion animals and people being infected with the T-virus. It follows Jade, now thirty, in her efforts to survive in this world.
On September 27, 2020, Capcom announced a CG anime series, subtitled Infinite Darkness, starring Resident Evil 2 protagonists Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy. It was released on July 8, 2021 on Netflix.
Over the years, various toy companies have acquired the Resident Evil license, with each producing their own unique line of Resident Evil action figures or models. These include, but are not limited to, Toy Biz, Palisades Toys, NECA, and Hot Toys.
Tokyo Marui also produced replicas of the guns used in the Resident Evil series in the form of gas blow-back airsoft guns. Some models included the STARS Beretta featured in Resident Evil 3, and the Desert Eagle in a limited edition that came with other memorabilia in a wooden case, along with the Gold Lugers from Code: Veronica and the "Samurai Edge" pistol from the Resident Evil remake. Other merchandise includes an energy drink called "T-virus Antidote".
Resident Evil Archives is a reference guide of the Resident Evil series written by staff members of Capcom. It was translated into English and published by BradyGames. The guide describes and summarizes all of the key events that occur in Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, and Code: Veronica. Along with the main plot analysis, it also contains character relationship charts, artwork, item descriptions, and file transcripts for all five games. A second Archives book was later released in December 2011 and covers Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5, the new scenarios detailed in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, and the 2008 CGI movie, Resident Evil: Degeneration. The second Archives volume was also translated by Capcom and published by BradyGames.
A Resident Evil theme restaurant called Biohazard Cafe & Grill S.T.A.R.S. opened in Tokyo in 2012. Halloween Horror Nights 2013, held at Universal Orlando, featured a haunted house titled Resident Evil: Escape from Raccoon City, based on Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
The first Resident Evil novel was Hiroyuki Ariga's novella Biohazard: The Beginning, published in 1997 as a portion of the book The True Story of Biohazard, which was given away as a pre-order bonus with the Sega Saturn version of Biohazard. The story serves as a prelude to the events of the original Resident Evil, in which Chris investigates the disappearance of his missing friend, Billy Rabbitson.
S. D. Perry has written novelizations of the first five games, as well as two original novels taking place between games. The novels often take liberties with the plot of the games by exploring events occurring outside and beyond the games. This often meant that the novels would later be contradicted by the games on a few occasions. One notable addition from the novels is the original character Trent, who often served as a mysterious behind-the-scenes string-puller who aided the main characters. Perry's novels were translated and released in Japan with new cover arts by Wolfina. Perry's novels, particularly The Umbrella Conspiracy, also alluded to events in Biohazard: The Beginning, such as the disappearance of Billy Rabbitson and Brian Irons' bid to run for Mayor. A reprinting of Perry's novels with new cover artwork began in 2012 to coincide with the release of Resident Evil: Retribution and its respective novelization.
There are a trilogy of original Biohazard novels in Japan. Hokkai no Yōjū (北海の妖獣, lit. "The Strange Beast of the North Sea") was published in 1998 and was written by Kyū Asakura and the staff of Flagship. Two additional novels were published in 2002, To the Liberty by Sudan Kimura and Rose Blank by Tadashi Aizawa. While no official English translation of these novels has been published yet, the last two books were translated into German and published in 2006.
Novelizations of three of the six Paul Anderson films; Genesis, Apocalypse, and Extinction, were written by Keith DeCandido. Afterlife did not receive a novelization due to Capcom's decision to discontinue working with Pocket Books, who had been their primary source of publishing books up to that point, Capcom would later make Titan Books their primary publisher going forth. Retribution was written by John Shirley, while The Final Chapter was written by Tim Waggoner.Genesis was published over two years after that film's release and coincided with the publication of Apocalypse, Genesis being marketed as a prequel to Apocalypse, while the Extinction novel was released in late July 2007, two months before the film's release. The Final Chapter was published in December 2016 alongside the film's theatrical release. There was also a Japanese novelization of the first film, unrelated to DeCandido's version, written by Osamu Makino. Makino also wrote two novels based on the game Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. The books are a two-part direct novelization of the game and have been published in Japanese and German only. The first novel which was titled Biohazard: The Umbrella Chronicles Side A in Japan and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles 1 in Germany was released on December 22, 2007. The second novel which was titled Biohazard: The Umbrella Chronicles Side B in Japan and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles 2 in Germany was published in January 2008.
In 1997, Marvel Comics published a single-issue prologue comic based on the original Resident Evil, released through a promotional giveaway alongside the original PlayStation game.
In 1998, WildStorm began producing a monthly comic book series based on the first two games, titled Resident Evil: The Official Comic Magazine, which lasted five issues. The first four issues were published by Image, while the fifth and final issue was published by Wildstorm themselves. Each issue was a compilation of short stories that were both adaptations of events from the games, as well as related side-stories. Like the Perry novels, the comics also explored events occurring beyond Resident Evil 2 (the latest game during the series' publication) and thus were contradicted by later games. Wildstorm also published a four-issue miniseries titled Resident Evil: Fire & Ice, which depicted the ordeal of Charlie Team, a third STARS team created specifically for the comic. In 2009, Wildstorm reprinted Fire & Ice in a trade paperback collection.
In Hong Kong, there has been officially licensed Biohazard manhua adaptations of Biohazard 0 by publisher Yulang Group, Biohazard 2 by Kings Fountain, Biohazard 3 Supplemental Edition by Cao Zhihao and, Biohazard 3, and Code: Veronica by Lee Chung Hing published by Tinhangse Publishing. The latter was translated into English and published by Wildstorm as a series of four graphic novel collections.
In 2009, Wildstorm began publishing a comic book prequel to Resident Evil 5, titled Resident Evil, which centers around two original members of the BSAA named Mina Gere and Holiday Sugarman. Written by Ricardo Sanchez and illustrated by Kevin Sharpe and Jim Clark, the first issue was published on March 11, 2009. On November 11, 2009, the third issue was released and the fourth was released March 24, 2010. The sixth and final book was finally published in February 2011.
In the summer of 2000, Bioroid: Year Zero was performed in Japan. It was a musical horror-comedy but took the perspective of the infected. The production was put on by Super Eccentric Theater under the direction of Osamu Yagihashi. The stage play was performed through early July to late August.
Biohazard The Stage was released in Japan in 2015. The play focused on iconic characters, Chris Redfield and Rebecca Chambers, as Philosophy University in Australia is experiencing a bioterrorist attack. The production was handled by Avex Live Creative and Ace Crew Entertainment, under supervision from Capcom.
The next year, Musical Biohazard ~Voice of Gaia~ was released in September. It was produced by Umeda Arts Theater by director G2 and composer, Shunsuke Wada.
Biohazard the Experience was the second Resident Evil play produced by Avex Live Creative and Ace Crew Entertainment. The story is set in 2015 and follows a cast of thirteen survivors, who were abducted an wake up in mansion during an outbreak.
Reception and legacyEdit
Most of the games in the main Resident Evil series have been released to positive reviews. Some of the games, most notably Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4, have been bestowed with multiple Game of the Year honors and often placed on lists of the best video games ever made.
In 1999, Next Generation listed the Resident Evil series as number 13 on their "Top 50 Games of All Time", commenting that, "Flawless graphics, excellent music, and a top-notch storyline all combined to make a game of unparalleled atmosphere and suspense." In 2012, Complex ranked Resident Evil at number 22 on the list of the best video game franchises. That same year, G4tv called it "one of the most successful series in gaming history."
As of March 31, 2021, the series has sold 110 million units worldwide. The first two Resident Evil games had collectively sold approximately 11 million units worldwide by March 1999. By early 2001, the series had sold 17 million units worldwide, earning more than $600 million. By 2011, it had sold about 46 million units and was estimated to have grossed at least more than $1.3 billion in video game sales. It is recognized by Guinness World Records as the best-selling survival horror series, with Resident Evil 5 the best-selling survival horror game, as of 2016[update]. Seven of the top ten best-selling horror games in North America are Resident Evil titles, with Resident Evil 5 the best-selling horror game, as of 2019[update].
The Resident Evil film adaptations also went on to become the highest-grossing film series based on video games by 2012. By 2011, the films had grossed over $600 million at the box office, bringing the franchise's estimated revenue to at least more than $1.9 billion in combined video game sales and box office gross up until then. As of 2020[update], the films have grossed more than $1.3 billion in box office and home video sales. The success of the video games and films have made Resident Evil the highest-grossing franchise in the horror and zombie genres.
GameSpot listed the original Resident Evil as one of the fifteen most influential video games of all time. It is credited with defining and popularizing the survival horror genre of games. It is also credited with taking video games in a cinematic direction with its B-movie style cut-scenes, including live-action full-motion video (FMV) footage. Its live-action opening, however, was controversial; it became one of the first action games to receive the "Mature 17+" (M) rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), despite the opening cutscene being censored in North America.
The Resident Evil franchise is credited with sparking a revival of the zombie genre in popular culture, leading to a renewed interest in zombie films during the 2000s. Resident Evil also helped redefine the zombie genre, playing an important role in its shift from supernatural themes to scientific themes by using science to explain the origins of zombies. According to Kim Newman in the book Nightmare Movies (2011), "the zombie revival began in the Far East" mainly due to the 1996 Japanese zombie games Resident Evil and The House of the Dead. George Romero, in 2013, said it was the video games Resident Evil and House of the Dead "more than anything else" that popularised his zombie concept in early 21st-century popular culture. In a 2015 interview with Huffington Post, screenwriter-director Alex Garland credited the Resident Evil series as a primary influence on his script for the horror film 28 Days Later (2002), and credited the first Resident Evil game for revitalizing the zombie genre. Screenwriter Edgar Wright cited Resident Evil 2 as a primary influence on his zombie comedy film Shaun of the Dead (2004), with the film's star and co-writer Simon Pegg also crediting the first game with starting the zombie revival in popular culture.
Additionally, the first Resident Evil film adaptation also contributed to the revival of zombie films, with the success of the film and the games resulting in zombies achieving greater mainstream prominence and several zombie films being greenlit, such as the video game film adaptation House of the Dead (2003), the remake Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Romero's Land of the Dead (2004). The Resident Evil films, 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake all set box office records for the zombie genre, reaching levels of commercial success not seen since the original Dawn of the Dead (1978). They were followed by other zombie films such as 28 Weeks Later (2007), Zombieland (2009), Cockneys vs Zombies (2012), and World War Z (2013), as well as zombie-themed graphic novels and television shows such as The Walking Dead and The Returned, and books such as World War Z (2006), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009) and Warm Bodies (2010). The zombie revival trend was popular across different media up until the mid-2010s. Since then, zombie films have declined in popularity during the late 2010s, but zombie video games have remained popular, as seen with the commercial success of the Resident Evil 2 remake and Days Gone in 2019.
- Genetic engineering in fiction
- List of fictional diseases
- List of zombie video games
- Dino Crisis, another horror series by Capcom
- Devil May Cry, another series by Capcom, initially conceived as the fourth title in the series
- Onimusha, another series by Capcom with similar gameplay, initially conceived as a spin-off
- The Evil Within, other horror game made by Shinji Mikami
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Toy Biz will also see its Resident Evil toys slither into stores around March. The first assortment will feature two-packs of a hero or a villain and one of the game's creepy creatures.
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Whatever criticism one might want to level against the first Resident Evil movie, it had an undeniably positive effect on the zombie's fortunes. Dragged into the mainstream by the videogame franchise and Anderson's blockbuster, the living dead suddenly achieved a degree of respectability they'd never had before. It was as if, after seventy odd years of being ignored, they'd finally received their invite to the Hollywood party. Within mere weeks of Resident Evil's opening came a series of press releases and announcements suggesting that the zombie had finally broken free of its marginal roots: a remake of Dawn of the Dead had received the green-light, a big screen adaptation of arcade game The House of the Dead was going into production; and, perhaps most exciting of all, George Romero announced at Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors Convention in August 2002 that he was in serious talks with Twentieth Century Fox to complete the fourth and final instalment of his “trilogy” - provisionally dubbed "Land of the Dead", with a $10 million budget and a planned R-rated release.
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