Should Genre Expectation Be Taken Into Consideration? (Resident Evil)

Looking back at Resident Evil 6, there were several reviews that portrayed the game negatively for not meeting a genre expectation. It was noted that it is no longer a survival horror game, but an action game that may include some horror and/or terror elements. This could be a good or bad thing depending on a person’s expectations. Were these changes desired or necessary? What has the series gained by making these changes, and what has the series lost in the process?

For some, this is good news. It shows that a reputable game series has taken a step forward. Gameplay mechanics have evolved. Player controls have moved away from tank controls and no longer feel clunky. Camera control has vastly improved and is no longer the limiting factor that it once was. The graphics have improved for the most part with each subsequent game. And a few other genre-specific mechanics of previous generations have become outdated and were removed as they are no longer fun or marketable. To avoid falling into obsolescence, various elements needed to be changed. This can be a good thing, as many fans of Resident Evil 4, 5, or 6 will tell you. However, this could also be seen as bad.

Fans who have followed the series since its inception will notice that certain mechanics which they have come to enjoy have been done away with. Puzzles no longer play a pivotal role in advancing the game. Avoiding enemy confrontations to save supplies is no longer as necessary as there is an overabundance of ammunition. An ever increasing reliance on QTE’s makes the gameplay feel shallow for those aren’t particularly fond of QTE’s. And the emphasis that was placed on a story of survival has taken a back seat to boat loads of action.

This poses the question, has the evolution of the genre helped make the series better, and should this evolution be taken into consideration? Sales certainly point to that being the case, but sales seems to be a rather insufficient indicator of actual game quality as many mediocre games can sell quite well. Reviews seem to show that this isn’t the case, noting that every subsequent release takes the series further and further from what gave it its original appeal. But I’m sure we all know how reliable reviews can be (not very). So what about the people who play the games? They are the ones the game is made for after all. Should they take into consideration where the series has been when talking about what the series has become?

There are fans of the old who feel the series peeked at the REmake, a game which updated almost every aspect of the original game while still taking it in the direction it was heading. There are those who feel RE4 was the peek, making just enough changes to the mechanics, story, and setting to give the series a fresh feel while still providing characters and environments that provide a sense of fear. There are some who feel that RE5 and 6 are a step in the right direction, taking the changes of RE4 to a more action-based extreme. What is left is a dichotomous series with a split group of fans, some hoping and expecting the series will take a REmake approach and return its focus to what the series was originally known for, and some who feel the series should continue to make advancements and take the action approach. As of RE6, it seems that the latter is the direction the series will continue to take.

So I ask you, should people take into consideration that Resident Evil games are no longer made in a pre-RE4 style? Do the changes need to be noted? Should a game in a series be looked at as an individual entity, or should its predecessors be referred to when looking at the merits of a given entry? Should genre expectation be taken into consideration?

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