In the Brainholes: Resident Evil Overload

resident evil 6 2

This weekend, I’m playing Resident Evil 6 for review, bringing me back into the universe that was the subject of The Unofficial Resident Evil Trivia Challenge and a huge amount of research in order to complete the project. It’s at once kind of great and kind of uneasy.

Part of the reason I was able to take part in Trivia Challenge was because I’ve been a huge fan of the Resident Evil franchise since about Resident Evil 2, which was released way back in 1998. It was the first big horror game franchise that I had ever come across, and it triggered the beginning of my pervasive zombie fandom as well. I’ve read novels based on the franchise, played many of the games (there are around 22, in fact, and there are a few I’ve missed), and seen all the movies.

So revisiting the franchise this week has been cool, but I’ve also been pretty deeply immersed. Resident Evil today is a little different than it used to be. The emphasis today is on action over horror, and in Resident Evil 6, there are actually several different kinds of game rolled together, with each centering around different characters. It’s definitely not the same experience with which I grew up.

I recently looked back into Resident Evil 5, which is something of a case study in the changes that the series has been going through. It attempts to do a lot of things — like bring horror to daylight and recapture some of the impending-doom-style dread of Resident Evil 4 — and some of it succeeds with, but with a lot it fails. I whipped up a review on it with special interest to the genre.

In addition to the two games I’ve been working through, Resident Evil developer Capcom also released a new full-length, fully CGI movie in the universe this week. I got a chance to watch Resident Evil: Damnation and write a bit about how it relates to Resident Evil 6 as well; that piece isn’t up yet, but will be soon.

Damnation is very much an action movie in a horror genre, and it couldn’t wait to deliver as many pithy one-liners as it could rattle out of the face-hole of protagonist Leon S. Kennedy. It’s weird, actually, because I remember Leon being mostly fairly serious; a man of few words pretty much constantly. He’s certainly that in Resident Evil: Degeneration, the last CGI movie in the franchise that Capcom put out. And I feel like he was that in Resident Evil 4, as well. So seeing the character dish out lines to keep pace with Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, Stallone and Willis — maybe even outpace them — was an interesting take for a franchise that’s usually about fighting off giant monsters. Although there were a lot of monsters as well.

I mentioned above that I’m a bit uneasy about my recent Resident Evil Overload, and overload is definitely the word for it. As the franchise has grown and matured, it does feel like it strayed from a lot of its roots. It also has a bit of a Lost syndrome developing — the answers I kind of always felt like would one day be delivered about the nature of all this crazy monster stuff never really came to light. The characters have been fighting the same war for 15 years, but the enemy side keeps changing and no ground ever seems to be made.

But at the least, the Resident Evil franchise continues to chug along, and I’m fascinated to be an interested observer as it grows and changes. We’ll see how Resident Evil 6 fares; it’s a huge game, and I’ve only completed the first 1/4 to 1/3 of it. More on that on Monday.

Weighing in as a Time Travel Expert

This week also saw a USA TODAY story published about the film Looper, which co-writer best friend Nick and I are seeing tonight. We were interviewed for the story by journalist Brian Truitt as time travel fiction experts, which was a lot of fun — it’s the first time we’ve been interviewed about something else, more or less, since the book came out.

Read that story right here.

I’ve been hearing very good things about Looper, and our plan is to put our thoughts into a hopefully hilarious Huffington Post blog update. Expecting that to be online Monday, so more on that then.

Meantime, I’ve got games to play and a tiny foster kitten to wrangle. He’s purposely driving me crazy while I write this.

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