In 1996, the very first Resident Evil game was released and since then, the survival horror series has become one of Capcom’s biggest and most successful franchises. While that original hit game — featuring creepy monsters, zombies, and a big ol’ mansion — the spooky series has expanded to include numerous movies, comics, and of course, video game sequels and spin-offs. Still, even across the decades, the basic blueprint remains the same: Characters use weapons to fight off and hopefully survive nasty monsters often created by genetic shenanigans.
But no Resident Evil game is perfect. So, here are the best and worst parts of every main entry in the franchise listed in order of release. Oh and if you are curious about which game is the best overall, check out our list ranking every game in the series from worst to best.
Resident Evil 1 (1996)
Best: Laying The Groundwork For Everything: Resident Evil may not have invented the survival horror genre, but it definitely made it popular. And this first entry not only inspired countless clones and copycats, but it also laid the foundation for future games, introducing enemies, characters, and lore that is still around in 2023 including the evil Umbrella Corporation, its nasty T-Virus, bad guy Albert Wesker, and hero Chris Redfield.
Worst: The Voice Acting: Some say the original game’s awful English voice acting, which was stilted and poorly performed, is charming. But looking back at the classic RE1 all these years later, the voice acting seems more like a “So bad it’s good” kind of thing.
Resident Evil 2 (1998)
Best: Expanding The World: Resident Evil 2 is where Ada Wong and Leon S. Kennedy are introduced to the series, kickass characters who are still around and still showing up in Resident Evil games all these years later. Oh and let’s not forget the massive and nearly-unstoppable monster in a trenchcoat, Mr. X. He’s pretty cool (and dangerous) too.
Worst: The Sewer Stuff: RE2 has a weird problem where its opening half is so good — exploring that police station is so memorable — that the rest of the game suffers from just being less interesting. The sewer isn’t awful in either the original version (or the remake) but it’s a downgrade from those opening hours in either scenario.
Resident Evil 3 (1999)
Best: The Nemesis: In the remake, the big and hard-to-kill boss creature, Nemesis, became a predictable baddie. In the original, however, Nemesis is far less predictable (at least for less experienced players) as it can show up in different areas depending on what the player does or doesn’t do. And when a big bad monster with a rocket launcher shows up to ruin your day, you remember that.
Worst: Welcome Back To Racoon City: Resident Evil 3 returns once more to Racoon City on that very bad night when zombies and monsters took over the whole place. You know, the same night and city as RE2. And that’s fine, I guess, but everybody at this point knows that this really isn’t the next game in the series. Capcom wanted to keep the PlayStation games consistent and so the actual sequel to RE2 got a different name…
Resident Evil: Code Veronica (2000)
Best: Improved Creepy Visuals: The jump to the Dreamcast let the developers do more than just pre-rendered backgrounds and also allowed them to add even more detail to character models and levels. The end result is a gorgeous game. Even better, Code Veronica changes up the look of the series, ditching the American streets and houses of the past games for European-inspired Gothic architecture.
Worst: Managing Items And The Difficulty: Code Veronica is probably the hardest game in the series, featuring tough enemies and lots of backtracking for important items. And making this worse is the item management which can really screw you over in this game if you leave something vitally necessary behind and have to go all the way back to get it, assuming you can. It doesn’t make RE:CV unplayable, but it will likely be a roadblock for new players coming to the game in 2023.
Resident Evil 0 (2002)
Best: Those Backgrounds!: Resident Evil 0’s pre-rendered backgrounds still look good today. The remastered version especially looks amazing, which is impressive considering the game is over 20 years old at this point. Sure, pre-rendering all the backgrounds means you’re basically running around pretty paintings, but whatever, it works and adds perfectly to the game’s moody vibe.
Worst: Dropping Items: Look, I understand. Some people like this idea, which ditches the series’s famous item boxes for the ability to drop anything, anywhere, whenever to free up space. But ditching item boxes and going with item dropping is weird and mostly a hassle. Most players ended up dropping stuff in safe areas anyway, so it didn’t really change how most people played Resident Evil 0 compared to past entries and felt like a change that was only done in an effort to shake up the ageing formula.
Resident Evil 4 (2005)
Best: Changing Things Up: At the time when RE4 was released on GameCube, the series had been around for a decade and hadn’t changed all that much from its static-camera angle and tank control formula. You could argue things were getting a bit stale. RE4, with its switch from static camera angles to a more action-friendly third-person camera, was a huge change for the series. The game also revitalized the series and brought in more players, ensuring thatthe series wouldn’t die or become irrelevant.
Worst: Nothing…OK… Maybe One Thing…: I’m a very big Resident Evil 4 fan, something I’ve mentioned once or twice on this very website in the past. But even I have to admit that the final section of the game — set on an ugly little island controlled by a military force — isn’t much fun. All the spooky vibes of the earlier sections are gone and replaced with cold concrete walls and annoyingly tough soldiers. There are some cool moments during this final third of RE4, but nothing quite like what you experience in the village and castle portions of this classic.
Resident Evil 5 (2009)
Best: Cooperative Gameplay: I know, I know. Technically, the first Resident Evil game to support co-op was Outbreak. But Resident Evil 5 was the first time Capcom developed a whole Resident Evil game around playing with a friend. And it was a blast, letting you work together to defeat Wesker and his latest evil plan as Sheva and Chris.
Worst: Racist Depiction Of Africans: How Capcom depicts African people in Resident Evil 5 sucks. Some folks might get mad at me for mentioning this, but it’s true and something people were (rightfully) pointing out in 2009 when Capcom was first showing off the game.
You’re not a bad person for liking RE5, but you might be if you can’t even concede that its awful depiction of black people plays heavily into old, racist tropes about “savages” from the “Dark Continent.” If this game ever gets remade, as other games from the mainline series have, some big changes are needed.
Resident Evil 6 (2012)
Best: Leon’s Campaign: For Resident Evil 6, Capcom went big, including multiple single player campaigns featuring different classic Resident Evil characters. And Leon’s campaign is the best by far, featuring classic Resident Evil settings and zombies. It eventually goes off the rails, like all of RE6, but it’s nice while it lasts.
Worst: Everything Else: I do hate kicking RE6 while it’s down, but even someone like me — a person who has played the game multiple times and enjoyed it in co-op — can’t lie and say it’s actually a great game. It’s campy and action-packed, sure, but it’s barely a Resident Evil game and at times feels more like a generic third-person shooter with some admittedly pretty visuals.
It was clear, the series needed another Resident Evil 4-like shake-up after this entry and that’s exactly what we got next.
Resident Evil 7 (2017)
Best: Changing Things Up (Again!): Resident Evil 7 once again pulled and completely changed up the franchise. This time, Capcom toned down the action and camp and cranked up the horror. Not only that, but Resident Evil 7 ditched the third-person camera of RE4 and went first person, making the game scarier and more intense.
Worst: Lack Of Enemies:
RE7 is a damn near perfect game, but if I had to nail it on something I’d have to point to the lack of enemy diversity. You mostly fight the same mould-infected monsters over and over. While I was happy to see the franchise ditch the over-used creatures of past games, like Lickers or zombies, I wish it had replaced them with a larger variety of new nasties to kill or avoid.
Resident Evil Village (2021)
Best: RE4 Vibes: There’s a lot to like about Village — from the way it beats up main protag Ethan to the creepy haunted house section — but what I love about this entry is just how much it feels like Resident Evil 4. The game’s overall vibe is very RE4, including its European setting, travelling merchant, gun upgrades, and attache case-like inventory system. Honestly, if Capcom never made an RE4 remake, this would have been close enough that I wouldn’t have cared.
Worst: The Lack Of The Big Lady: Lady Dimitrescu, a very tall vampire-looking woman in Resident Evil Village, immediately caught the attention of the internet who collectively went: Yes, please. From the moment Capcom showed her off in previews, people wanted more.
But when the game launched, many were disappointed to discover she was but a small part of the larger campaign. Sure, Capcom brought her back as a playable character via some DLC, but it doesn’t quite fix the disappointment so many felt after falling madly head over heels for Lady D.
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