Resident Evil 6 will soon be upon us, and you know what that means – a quick revisit of the labyrinthine, wonderfully ridiculous Resident Evil storyline. Few game series in history have quite the same pedigree – across the soon-to-be 6 “main” numbered games in the series, high-profile non-numbered releases like Code: Veronica, and remakes, side stories, and spinoffs, the series has maintained a persistent (albeit sometimes confusing) storyline, with a core crew of heroes, villains and everything in between. It’s a complex, melodramatic horror soap opera, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
In the beginning, there was a mansion.
We won’t start at the very beginning, since, well, we’d need to fill a few features worth. Just know that in 1996, Capcom started the survival-horror magic with a mansion full of zombies, the shady Umbrella Corporation, and the t-virus. After that, there was a citywide outbreak, a nasty minion known as Nemesis, the complete destruction of Raccoon City, a pair of seriously weird siblings (the Weskers) and another shadow corporation. Alongside all the story trappings, early Resident Evil was all about zombies – the shambling, nasty undead kind, as well as the horribly mutated mega-monster type. Then, along came Resident Evil 4.
Resident Evil 4 takes place six years after the destruction of Raccoon City, and brings back Leon Kennedy (the intrepid hero of RE2, a rookie cop who survived the chaos of Raccoon City’s destruction), who now has serious Special Forces training (and way bigger, er, guns). His very first assignment is the protection of Ashley Graham, the daughter of the US president, but the day before he goes on duty, she’s kidnapped by a freak-o cult called the Los Illuminados and hoisted away to a remote corner of Europe. Leon is sent to rescue her, naturally, and the adventure begins in earnest.
Instead of finding zombies, exactly, Leon encounters a whole slew of messed-up parasitic mutants (infected by the Las Plagas), and he is taken capture by a bunch of nasty villagers and infected with the parasite itself. He finds Ashley, but they soon encounter Osmund Saddler, the big bad (to use a Buffy term) of the game, and overall evil puppet master. He reveals that Ashley was infected as well (it’s all part of the evil plot to infect everyone and bring down the United States, of course), and they try to escape and find refuge in a nice, cozy looking castle, only to find it under the control of another psychotic, the trap-loving Ramon Salazar (an underling of Saddler’s). He meets up with Ada Wong (also from RE2), who’s totally playing at something with Krauser, one of Leon’s old buddy’s from Special Forces training (and the dude behind Ashley’s disappearance in the first place).
The former comrades in arms have a bit of a tiff, and Ada shows her true colors by siding with our boy – at least, for a little while.
Ada also assisted Leon and Ashley in their own showdown against Saddler, and the two run off to get de-loused, effectively, from Los Plagas. Not one to disappoint, Saddler turned into a truly nasty monstrosity, requiring a rocket launcher to dispatch (hat tip to Ada again, who knew just what to do, and even supplied the firepower). After Leon subdues Saddler-monster, Ada runs off with a precious Las Plagas sample. Leon and Ashley high-tailed it off the island on a jetski, off into the sunset.
Overall, we have a few things at work here – first, the reintroduction of Leon, now in his way more badass form. The trend of beefier heroes will continue into the next game, alongside the continuing theme of reintroducing main characters. We also have a major change in monster types – instead of the undead, the Illuminados and company are humans who were infected by a parasite –a change from the G and T viruses of RE’s past. Finally, we also have the continuing theme of corporate espionage, in the intrigue between Krauser (working for the Weskers) and Ada (who knows who she’s really working for).
I bless the rains down in Africa
Resident Evil 5 is set five years after the events in RE4, and stars another muscled-up returning hero, this time RE1’s Chris Redfield. He used to work for S.T.A.R.S., but now he’s working for a bioterrorism task force, and sent to (the totally fictional nation of) Kijuju, Africa. He teams up with another agent, Sheva Alomar, in an attempt to infiltrate a secretive terrorist wing and deal with Ricardo Irving, said terrorist, before he can sell a bioorganic weapon (BOW) on the black market.
Unfortunately, they are too late – by the time they arrive on the scene, they find an entire village crawling with infected – and very angry – villagers. Once again, we’re dealing with a parasite – not a virus. Sheva and Chris are rescued by a team of friendlies (the delta team) led by Sheva’s mentor Josh Stone, who reveals that Jill Valentine – Chris’ old partner from his evil mansion-stalking days – once presumed dead – may still be alive, kicking, and located in this part of the world. The team closes in on original target, Irving, but not before he’s whisked away by a mysterious, robed figure. Documents are left behind indicating an operation in some nearby marsh fields, but it is a trap – and the delta team takes heavy casualties thanks to a BOW when Chris and Sheva take the bait.
They continue down the marshlands and encounter an injured – but still alive Stone, who helps the pair to find Irving’s boat. Cornered, the terrorist injects himself with the parasite (a modified version of los plagas from the last game), and he turns into a nasty octopus-like beast. After putting the eight-armed menace out of his misery, they come upon the cave that serves as the source of the flower used to create all the bio terror in the series. It’s been used again to make an even more powerful strain, now known as the Uroboros. They also find evidence that their own organization is involved in Umbrella research (uh-oh!). Jill is alive after all – but she is under the influence of a mind-control device, and Chris has to fight his former partner. They succeed, only to find out that Wesker is behind it all – and he is messing with humanity in some decidedly evil-genius ways.
They pursue him onto an oil tanker, where he uses doses of the virus to stay superhuman. Thanks to a handy volcano and, yes, a rocket launcher, Chris and Sheva are able to put an end to Albert Wesker and his dreams of world domination once and for all.
In Resident Evil 6, expect much of this knowledge to be necessary (at least, to fully grasp the story), since Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy will both be main characters, alongside Jake Muller (Albert Wesker’s son), and Ada Wong (her scenario will be unlocked after completing the story mode with each of the dudes). Expect more insane action, awesome (both good and bad) dialogue, and increasingly twisty character arcs this October!
Danielle Riendeau is a freelance writer, digital media professor, and nonprofit web ninja in San Francisco. You should