This blog was brought about thanks to Resident Evil 6. I’m not going to talk about how bad or good the game is, but I’m going to talk about series consistency, fan expectations, and reactions from fans of a series. I’m a casual Resident Evil fan and I do agree with many RE fans that RE6 does not feel like a REAL RE game. A lot of people say that RE4 was where things started to go downhill. I disagree with this notion mainly because RE4 was an evolution of the series. It still had explorations, puzzles, tense moments, and zombies. It was a very engaging survival/horror game that still kept the tropes that made its prior games fun. RE5 In my opinion, was where the series completely derailed into a run and gun (and knife) shooter. RE5 and RE6 completely strayed away from their roots of survival/horror to an action game, which pissed off a lot of RE fans.
“So where do the titles and numbers come into play?”
The title and number of a game gives players some sort of expectation. The 2nd of a game is usually the same as the 1st game, just bigger and better. As the numbers increase, the game continues to add and tweak things, continuing to improve upon the main formula of the original game. Why wasn’t Sonic Adventure marketed as Sonic the Hedgehog 4? That’s because Sonic Adventure was way different from the original games. It was a 3d platformer the focuses on (minor) exploration and platforming. Look at Sonic 4 today. It keeps the 2d side scrolling speedy platforming from the prior games and adds the homing attack to the mix. Although a lot of people didn’t like Sonic 4, it continued with the series with consistency.
If Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was marketed as Metal Gear 5, a lot of fans would complain that it’s not a true sequel to the prior games. Metal Gear Solid 1-4 is all about stealth and where as Revengeance is a hack and slash game. Gamers who played Metal Gear solid 1-4 would question why MGS5 (Revengeance) plays like Bayonetta. Because of the title and the number, fans expect the newer game with a number (or sequel/prequel title) to be almost the same as the last game, just with improvements and additions.
“Final Fantasy has numbers but each game is different!”
Final Fantasy as a series are JRPGs. It’s numbered and consistent with its roots in the RPG genre. Each game has a story and a band of unlikely heroes that must work together and save the world all while riding around on giant chickens. Even the online FF games are RPGs with a story and pretty characters and most of the stuff that made the original games fun. The battle system, visuals, and the stories change over time, but they are all RPGs. When FF15 comes out, fans expect that it will be an rpg involving many characters on a grand adventure.
Let’s go back to RE5 and RE6. In a nutshell, RE5-6 has you going from location to location mowing down zombies and punching rocks with your partner. Occasionally, there will be quick time events during a scene to intensify certain moment. There are huge boss battles and set pieces that are amazing as well, but nothing terrifying or give the player a completely helpless feel. The original games makes you feel helpless, had puzzles, and some exploration sections. You were alone and had to defend yourself from zombies and other monsters with limited supplies. Anything before RE5 was considered a survival/horror game. RE’s roots are in survival/horror, so why is RE6 an action game? Series inconsistency! If RE6 was marketed as a subtitled spinoff, fans might not have laid so much heat on the game for being action focused.
Games do change and evolve over time. GTA was bound to go form a top-down view to a full 3d, just like how the RE franchise was meant to progress to a full 3d (360 camera/over the shoulder) game. When a game evolves, it still largely retains its roots, the very essence which made it popular in the first place. I consider RE5 and RE6 as a mutation rather than an evolution of the series. RE5-6 ditched their roots to try to be like a western 3rd person shooter (like Gears of War). I’m just a casual RE fan, but I do believe that the base of the RE series is survival/horror. RE5-6’s inconsistency to the series killed fans expectations. They simply weren’t survival/horror games (to many fans) anymore.
A series needs a consistent base; it needs to keep with its roots to satisfy both old and new gamers to a series. Number 2 should be like number 1, number 3 should be better than number 2 and still be like number 1 and so on.
A variable that could attribute to RE not being scary and inconsistent is the desensitization of zombies and gore. Gamers may have played so many zombie games that they aren’t scared of them anymore. When RE was introduced, blood and very detailed zombies was still something new in games. Today, zombies especially aren’t as scary as they once were. Could zombies scare people still? I believe so. Games like Dead Space, World War Z, and The Walking Dead, proves that zombies and monsters can still scare people as well as have a very engaging story.
(Just to clarify: I do consider both RE5-6 GOOD and fun co-op games, but I don't consider them survival/horror. RE5-6 may still have the characters and zombies/monsters, but they've gone too deep into the action/shooter genre for me to consider them survival/horror. I didn't have to be patient in RE6 especially since the zombies had guns and your character was pretty much a walking tank.)
What do you guys think about series consistency and fan expectations? Do you think a series needs to have consistency with its roots? Are fans just becoming too harsh when judging games? Do fan expectations (based on series consistency) just kill a game?