Although Spooktober is well past us now there’re still some stones left unturned. Horror is a popular genre (at least to write and read about, less to actually play) and this is honestly something I wanted to do!
Journalism is of course derivative and the beauty of the internet lays in redundancy. Of course far be it from me to just reiterate what was already said as I will offer my own personal opinion on each game in this fantastic series. Of course I still encourage you to read that old gem of an article, my opinion is just my own.
With that said, let’s take a dive into the horror series that has captivated us for generations and which gave us some (in my humble opinion) pretty underrated movies. I’ll rate them from worst to best and talk at lengths about every single entry, and explain my reasoning in depth. Of course much like PC Gamer, I’m taking into account only games that lived to see the PC release. It’s not that exclusively console titles are not important, it’s just that my expertise in that regard is woefully inadequate.
Resident Evil games, rated from worst to best
Resident Evil games, rated from worst to best
|Name||12. Umbrella Corps||11.Operation: Raccoon City||10. Resident Evil: Revelations||9. Resident
|8. Resident Evil: Revelations 2||7.Resident Evil: 0||6. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis||5. RE: 2
|4. Resident Evil 5||3. Resident Evil Remake||2. Re: 7 Biohazard||1.Resident Evil 4|
|Release||2016||2012||2012||2012||2015||2012||1999||1998, 2019||2015||1996, 2002||2017||2005|
|Characters||Mercenaries (3A7)||Umbrella Security,
United States Special Ops
Claire, Leon, Jill, Wesker
|Wesker, Rebecca, Richard||Jill, Barry,||Leon, Ada, Claire, Mr.X||Wesker, Chris, Jill, Barry, Rebecca||Chris, Jill, Barry, Rebecca, Wesker||Chris, Ethan,||Leon, Wesker, Ada, Ashley|
|Genre||Tatical Shooter||Third-Person Shooter||Survival
|Third-Person Shooter||Survival Horror||Survival Horror||Survival Horror||Survival Horror||Survival Horror||Survival Horror||Survival Horror||Survival Horror|
|Buy now||Buy now||Buy now||Buy now||Buy now||Buy now||Read more||Buy now||Buy now||Buy now||Buy now||Buy now|
12. Umbrella Corps
Call of Evil: Biohazard
In fairness, this game really isn’t that much worse than Raccoon City, but I had to put it as THE WORST Resident Evil game because when I sat down to think about it, I realized that I could literally put any single game here in its place. Not any Resident Evil game, ANY game. Umbrella Corps has as much to do with the core of the Resident Evil series as Call of Duty does and that’s not a joke, because Call of Duty also has zombies.
Gone are puzzle-solving elements, a suspenseful and scary story, elaborate schemes enriching the plot, clearly supernatural elements, interesting characters or classic survival horror elements. It’s a thinly-veiled multiplayer shooter. And if it was a good multiplayer shooter I could maybe even forgive this (I wouldn’t, but maybe I could believe SOMEONE is having fun with it), but it’s NOT, it quickly became a meme when people realized how OP the melee weapon is, turning it into a bizarre and profoundly unentertaining experience.
It’s… Bad. Really, really bad. It plays more like an incompetent fanfiction of a Resident Evil game than the real thing. It’s the equivalent of Metal Gear: Survive in Resident Evil form. And as an insult to injury, at release the game’s controls were straight up broken. It was barely playable. Today, I would not believe anybody could be playing this game for any reason other than for a joke. A bad, bad joke. Don’t even think to make that joke.
11. Operation: Raccoon City
A thoroughly tragic affair
IGN in their review of the game famously stated that “an actual zombie outbreak would be less tragic” and I disagree. See, I don’t just think it would be less tragic. If you told me I had a choice between being an extra in a real-life version of the Walking Dead or playing this game for the rest of my days, I would choose the former and promptly thank you for being so kind as to give me that option.
It’s honestly pretty much just as bad as Umbrella Corps, BUT unlike Umbrella Corps it puts some effort into pretending it’s Resident Evil. Effort that is entirely wasted, but still. That effort took the form of Capcom cramming in allusions to the story of Resident Evil 2 and touting some familiar faces, like weird Resident Evil animatronics used to market a very bad restaurant.
What’s more, the controls are just broken. Resident Evil never had the best or most intuitive controls, but there was always a reason for that: clunky mechanics are good when they’re supposed to make your horror experience more frantic. But Raccoon City is not a horror. It would greatly benefit from competent combat mechanics, maybe then it would at least be a fun shooter, but it seems to be locked in a mortal battle with itself. It’s an absolutely schizophrenic game and one I cannot recommend to anybody.
10. Resident Evil: Revelations
And underwhelming 3DS port
Alright, now that we’ve gotten through the trash that tarnished the reputation of an otherwise great series of games, we can talk about those entries in the series actually worth playing, the least of which is Revelations. It was ported from Nintendo 3DS and unfortunately it shows, in all the worst ways.
You could think of it as a bite-sized version of Resident Evil. It’s not a bad-tasting bite by any means… But it’s just a bite, it’s thoroughly unsatisfying. Everything is just smaller in scale: smaller spaces, smaller encounters, smaller variety of mechanics, smaller story. What there is in the game is good, but there’s just not enough of it.
Though make no mistake, this game manages to capture that unmistakable Resident Evil atmosphere. Now, 6 years after the initial release, the game has become cheap as dirt so, just out of sheer curiosity, you can go ahead and buy it. Ultimately it’s kind of hard for me to even get angry at such unambitious and yet fairly successful game. It’s just alright.
9. Resident Evil 6
Spread a bit too thin over too large an area
As if exactly the opposite of Revelations, Resident Evil 6 is an example of what happens if you try to do too much. Spread over 4 different campaigns, the game seems a bit confused and incoherent. It’s a very hit-and-miss experience, some aspects work great (notably Chris’s campaign is probably the best part) and some seem pointless.
It also has the distinguished trait of being the first game to fully implement the system by which the player can combine herbs and other ingredients into healing items which would later return in Resident Evil 7 and become an integral feature of that game. Puzzles are here, the atmosphere is (for the most part) on point and there’s an interesting storyline throughout.
Like I said, it’s good, just not consistently so. Unlike in most cases in the series, when Capcom tried to be innovative, this time it actually works. Most of the time. It’s not the classic Resident Evil game, but unlike Raccoon City and Umbrella Corps, it is very playable and quite fun.
8. Resident Evil: Revelations 2
You know that something is off when your Resident Evil game opens up with a party. Though an argument could be made that “off” is the hallmark of the series. And arguably, this actually works to the advantage of this game. It broached the subject of de-powering Resident Evil protagonists and making them very vulnerable, something we haven’t seen for a while, as they’ve been getting increasingly superhuman over the years.
This game occupies an odd place on the list for me, because it causes all sorts of unpleasant cognitive dissonance. Don’t get me wrong, the other games are plenty campy, but it was used as something to break the tension or maybe exaggerate it, it never was like the basis for the entire setting. Resident Evil 4 was famously weird and unsettling, but it wasn’t comically weird, and that’s a line Revelations 2 sometimes crosses.
In a sense, it worked fine. Playing with the helpless Moira or the supernatural child Natalie is different from your usual experience, but I don’t know… There’s just a bit too much weirdness in this one. I tend to think that a horror experience needs to be grounded for you to be really able to appreciate the terror. If everything is unnatural, there’s nothing to compare it to.
7. Resident Evil: 0
Zeroing in on the formula
This one is certainly a very niche game in the entire Resident Evil series, and the least known from the whole bunch. The reasons for this aren’t exactly super clear for me though. Sure, it didn’t innovate that much, but this is the first game where the cooperative idea that we’ll come to know in the later games first started sprouting roots.
In Zero, you control two characters at the same time and you can switch between them during gameplay. In fact you kind of have to, because most of the game’s puzzles utilize this system. They’re also distinct from each other to make two separate playthroughs of the game quite different from each other.
And I’m sorry, but leeches are creepy. Really, really creepy! Putting hive-minded leeches as a primary antagonist of your game is a move so “Resident Evil” I don’t know why they didn’t make any reappearance. But there’s hope to see some more of that horrific, fleshy goodness in Resident Evil 8.
6. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Equally haunting and hunting
This game has certainly aged like fine wine, even if the blocky graphics turn you away. And with the Resident Evil 2 Remaster in the making and shipping in 2019, there’s a chance this one will get a Remaster too and by God, I hope it does, it’s a fantastic game that easily has a place in today’s gaming.
Once again we’re playing the role of Jill Valentine, the cutest of all Resident Evil protagonists. While she’s more armed and prepared than last time, this is not going to be a cake walk, as there’s a specialized bio-weapon hunting her, in the form of the titular Nemesis—an unkillable monster that can appear spontaneously and will hunt you long after everyone else had stopped chasing you.
This one, oh, this one gets it RIGHT man! The tension of the game is absolutely fantastic and we have all the elements of the original Resident Evil polished to perfection. The Nemesis in particular is worth talking about at lengths, because its sheer tenacity really changes the rules of the game.
See, Nemesis can appear randomly, unscripted, which in 1999 was a pretty big deal. This means you can’t do the Resident Evil 1 thing where you play by trial-and-error and conserve exact amounts of ammo for specific parts. You have to take the risk. And the Nemesis is fantastically creepy with its vestiges of humanity visible from time to time.
Now, to me, this is still not even close to the best this series has to offer. And seriously, that should tell you something.
5. Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 2 Remake
|Release year||1998 (original), 2019 (remake)|
Back to Raccoon City
I’m putting Resident Evil 2 and its new (recent 01.2019) remastered version here together because while the remaster might turn out to be a somewhat different game, the remaster of Resident Evil 1 had shown us what we can expect, I believe. I assume that for all intents and purposes it’s not going to have any less stuff, only more.
When this game first came out back in 1998, it was absolutely fantastic. Probably not as great as the original Resident Evil, but that’s just because of how high a bar that game established. It was pretty much a straight expansion upon the original game, with a campaign featuring multiple protagonists taking part in the events from different perspectives.
This is also the first time we got to see the Raccoon city, a place we would frequently revisit in the future. As a setting, the iconic city completely overrun by zombies, with a clueless rookie cop trying to escape its confines, does a truly fantastic job at establishing the atmosphere. This unique blend of action and horror truly started to shine here.
The remake which recently graced our PCs certainly has not disappointed. With a camera overhaul and the inclusion of Mr. X (who is certainly ‘gon’ give it to ya’) working very much like RE 3’s Nemesis, the game is even tenser and more claustrophobic. Though I miss the ridiculous Warhammer-esque pauldrons on Leon.
4. Resident Evil 5
|Genre||Third-Person Shooter, Survival Horror|
I bless the rains down in Africa~
A bit of an unpopular opinion perhaps, to put this game so high on the list, but I have to say, I genuinely enjoyed it. People by and large seem to think that this is where the things started to go downhill for the series, but I don’t see it.
The horror of the previous games is still certainly here and I honestly think it works really well with the whole “terror in broad daylight” thing they were going for. While it may not have been very, shall we say, sensitive to put the game in Africa, I think that with a correct framing and generous coating of context, it still works fairly well.
Additionally, while it IS more action-oriented than what would be considered necessary for a solid Resident Evil game, I actually think it works to its advantage, as it shows that you CAN do a highly action-packed Resident Evil game and still make it work.
Now why Capcom couldn’t do here as well as they did in RE 4 is beyond me, they decided to go even more in on the action and that was definitely a mistake. But at least the cooperative element, while maybe not the best the series ever had to offer, is still pretty good
Ultimately this could be a preference thing. I definitely had more fun with this game than most of the others, so maybe that’s my bias.
3. Resident Evil/Resident Evil Remastered
|Release year||1996 (original), 2002 (remaster)|
Now with 100% more giant shark monster!
The OG. The place where it all began. Even now, years later, this game is a fantastic and harrowing journey to go through. The iconic Resident Evil mansion with its messed up geography, Victorian-horror aesthetic, cryptic puzzles and the overwhelming sense of dread, is a place worth revisiting.
And I want to use this opportunity to talk about Jill Valentine, whom I consider to be the BEST Resident Evil protagonist. It’s not just that she’s competent, capable, likeable and attractive, although all of those are true, but I have to commend Capcom on the amount of attention that went into making her believable.
See, in a horror game, your protagonist has to be somewhat vulnerable, otherwise where’s the horror, right? And it is broadly speaking true that the audience responds better to a female character put in that position, but for Capcom to do that with a strong, female lead, in 1996 no less, was, well, groundbreaking.
It would have been super easy to just put a gruff military dude as the hero of the game (and that’s kind of what they’ve been doing ever since), or just go with a damsel in distress (bleh). And they didn’t. To this day Jill Valentine remains one of my favorite videogame protagonists. Jill is best girl. And she’s also a master of unlocking.
Importantly, even today this game doesn’t really feel archaic. Some aspects of it (like the aforementioned strong, nuanced female lead) would probably feel innovative in today’s gaming landscape, which is just bizarre to consider. Unlike most videogames it survived the test of time and it’s a blast to play from start to finish even today.
2. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Welcome to the family
Now it might just be that it’s the newest Resident Evil game and as such feels most “modern”, but I have to say, it definitely deserves its place. It’s not common for game franchises to backtrack in design decisions, something that was described by the game’s director as “going forwards by looking backwards” and boy was that a great principle to follow.
At face-value, RE 7 is remarkably similar to the original Resident Evil game with its claustrophobic mansion, cryptic puzzles and clunky controls. Even invulnerable saferooms make a return (with a very nice, warm soundtrack that helps you alleviate the stress and mentally prepare for the next bit). However, changing perspective into first person was a brilliant move which made the whole experience even more claustrophobic.
Although the variety of enemies leaves something to be desired (Moldy Boys quickly lose their fear factor when you find the shotgun), the main antagonists, the Baker family, are absolutely fantastic. With each of them serving as a different horror archetype, they have plenty of tricks up their sleeves.
And something also should be said about the additional modes and campaigns for the game, which have you playing as Jack’s cousin, a vicious Louisiana Swamp Man with a truly powerful arm who engages opponents with punches, clinches and kicks, and as Chris Redfield (the canonicity of which is still hotly debated), fully decked out with powerful weaponry and showing how the brilliant control scheme doesn’t make your weapons that much of an advantage.
These additional campaigns greatly help the game find its spot as they simultaneously provide more power fantasy and action-focused gameplays respectively, while not detracting from the atmosphere and style of the main game. Unlike Revelations 2, this is how you do campy, even comically campy, RIGHT.
1. Resident Evil 4
Ah, you should buy it at a looow price!
No surprises here. I revised this article multiple times thinking if there is any way I could be a contrarian here and not give the top position to Resident Evil 4. But in the end, I couldn’t. This is it. The APEX of Resident Evil design, the unreachable masterpiece, sitting comfortably on the gaming pedestal.
It was said by PC Gamer in their review that it’s possible it ‘accidentally’ reinvented the third-person shooter and I have to agree. RE 4 is like The Beatles, it can seemingly juggle every single idea of the genre and come out on top. The balance of every element, from horror, through action, to puzzles is pitch-perfect in this game.
It is also true that the pacing of the game is fantastic, never once dropping a beat, and is something that even Alan Wake, a game universally praised specifically for its pacing, struggled to replicate to this extent. It seamlessly combines horror with a third-person shooter in a way that Resident Evil 5 unfortunately couldn’t handle.
And of course, it has the best character in all of the series. That’s right, I’m talking about the mysterious vendor, with his cheeky, enthusiastic demeanor and Australian accent, insistent on calling you STRANJAH. Ah, the amounts of joy seeing that rascal brought to my weary heart after a segment of heart-pounding action. Why yes friend, I will buy it at a low price, thank you.
Where evil comes to rest
There you have it folks, all 12 PC-released Resident Evil games, rated from worst to best. I hope I’ve done right by PC Gamer’s fantastic article, but also provided you with a somewhat unique opinion on the matter. The series as a whole is really a landmark of the industry and it’s really worth it to see how it amassed such a cult following over the years.
So as we wait and hope fearfully for Resident Evil 8, or the remake to Resident Evil 3, feel free to pick up some of these games and try them out if you didn’t get a chance to. These are old, old games, by now heavily discounted, but most of them seriously hold up to this day. Except the first two on the list. Raccoon City is awful and I imagine Umbrella Corps is just straight up dead now, with empty servers and not a spark of activity.