The Resident Evil series has been around for over twenty years now, and while it’s certainly had its high and low points through the years, it remains a beloved series. While the first game didn’t invent survival horror, it sure made the genre popular, and Resident Evil 4 would later redefine third person action games for years after release. Just the name alone conjures unforgettable images of zombie dogs jumping through windows, terrible dialogue, being chased by the Nemesis, and Chris Redfield punching boulders with his bare fists.
Resident Evil is also the most successful movie series based on a video game, and Capcom has had no issue spinning the franchise off into novels, animated movies, toys, energy drinks, and even a stage play.
The company has also experimented a lot with the formula over the last two decades, producing games of wildly varying quality. Fans can argue all day and night over which game is best, but there’s no shortage of contenders for which is the worst, either. That said, even some of the lesser loved entries (usually) have some kind of redeeming feature.
With that in mind let’s look at Every Resident Evil Game, Ranked Worst To Best, and see which entry comes out on top.
22 Umbrella Corps
Resident Evil purists have lamented the series' gradual slide towards pure action over the years, and while some of the more action-focused titles have been fun, they lose some of the distinctive Resident Evil feel.
That said, it’s really hard to figure out who exactly Umbrella Corps is aimed at. It’s a clunky, joyless multiplayer shooter set around classic Resident Evil maps. The game itself just feels awkward to play, with an unnatural third person viewpoint, cover that rarely works and enemies that soak up bullets with barely a limp to show for it.
Umbrella Corps also gives you an awesome melee weapon that kills in one hit, and players will quickly abandon the quest for better weapons and just use that. In short, it’s an intensely mediocre shooter that feels nothing like a Resident Evil game and is often considered the worst the series has to offer.
21 Resident Evil Survivor 2 Code: Veronica
Code: Veronica is a fan favorite title, due to its gothic atmosphere and enjoyable b-movie storyline. Resident Evil Survivor 2 remains a real oddity in the series though, by choosing to retell Code: Veronica as an arcade style first person shooter.
The overriding problem with Survivor 2 is just how damned lazy the whole venture is. It reuses all its assets from the original Code: Veronica, including enemies and weapons, and turns it into a shooting game with horrible controls. The remixed “story” is also told through subtitles instead of recorded dialogue, as Capcom were presumably too cheap to get the actors back to record new lines.
The game is framed as a dream Claire is having after the events of the actual Code: Veronica game, which is confusing as she dreams about the Nemesis showing up, even though she’s never met or heard of the creature. The game’s Dungeon Mode is ok for a couple of hours of mindless shooting, but overall Survivor 2 is a best-forgotten cash grab.
20 Resident Evil: Gaiden
It was always going to be hard to port Resident Evil over to the Game Boy, to the point that a direct port of the original game was developed but ultimately cancelled. Gaiden was a valiant attempt to bring the survival horror experience to the Game Boy Color, but it proved wanting in several areas.
The story finds Barry Burton on a rescue mission for Leon Kennedy, who’s gone missing while investigating an abandoned cruise ship. The gameplay finds Barry wandering around the ship reading files, collecting keys and fighting the occasional zombie. The game enters a first-person mini-game during battle, where players have to hit the white area of a sliding scale to score a hit.
The graphics are pretty good and the story has interesting turns – including a radical twist ending the rest of the series has subsequently ignored – but the game itself is often dull and unsatisfying. It was an interesting experiment that didn’t quite pan out, but the abandoned cruise ship idea would crop up again in future entries.
19 Resident Evil: Survivor
Survivor was another quick cash grab effort, but unlike Survivor 2 a little bit more effort was put into it. The game follows a new character called Ark Thompson who wakes up on an island with no memory of how he got there, and what’s worse is he’s surrounded by zombies. Thankfully he has a gun, so he shoots his way through monsters recycled from Resident Evil 2 and 3.
The game has a first person perspective and offers branching paths, leading to optional boss fights and areas. Again the control scheme is awkward and the shooting isn’t very enjoyable, plus the character models themselves are quite ugly.
The game has some of the worst voice acting in the entire series – which is saying something – but the story is an enjoyably daft ride. The main character eventually remembers he’s on a special mission for his buddy Leon, but the events of the game have been forgotten by the main series, and the game itself is regularly forgotten by fans.
18 Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
On paper Operation Raccoon City sounds awesome. It features an elite team of Umbrella soldiers venturing into the doomed city to cover the tracks of the evil corporation while revisiting classic moments and characters from a new angle.
In practice the game is another underwhelming shooter, where the player guides a team of A.I. buddies – or actual buddies if played online – around bland environments, shooting classic monsters that absorb ungodly amounts of damage
The game is utterly devoid of atmosphere or suspense, the shooting feels imprecise and the A.I, for both enemies and friends is appalling. The experience is a little more tolerable with a friend and it’s nice to revisit certain events, but like Umbrella Corps it barely feels like a Resident Evil game at all. There was a seed of a good idea in Operation Raccoon City, but the execution renders it a bust.
17 Resident Evil 6
Resident Evil 6 is the most depressing example of a game created by committee, where Capcom tried desperately to please everyone and made a mess of it. It’s an epic action adventure featuring four separate scenarios, with each having its own focus; Leon campaign is more survival horror based, while Chris Redfield’s is pure shooting action.
The game literally throws every style into the mix in the hope it will all gel, so it has horror, action, quick time events, vehicle sections, puzzle solving, melee combat, co-op gameplay and so on. The trouble is it does nothing particularly well. Chris’ campaign suffers the most, where the player is constantly running low on ammo despite the focus on shooting. Players are also forced to replay the same boss fights as a different character again and again, which gets unbelievably repetitive.
There are occasional highlights, like a fight with a terrifying snake creature and a section in a dark subway tunnel, but these moments are too rare. The section where Chris takes control of a fighter jet is a series nadir, and proved Capcom badly needed to go back to the drawing board for the franchise.
16 Resident Evil Outbreak File #1 & 2
Resident Evil Outbreak was Capcom’s attempt to make a team based online game, and it allowed players to choose between eight characters as they travel through Raccoon City. It’s a cool concept, with each character having their own strengths and weaknesses (special items, weapons etc.)
On the flipside, it’s an irritating experience to play solo for a number of reasons. The player is only afforded four item slots which aren't nearly enough, considering a number of weapons, health items and objects you need to carry. The A.I. partners you’re forced to work with are brain dead, everything happens in real time meaning reloading and switching items in the middle of hectic battles and a virus meter is constantly ticking towards your death.
For those who can overlook these inbuilt frustrations, there’s a decent game in Outbreak, which offers a variety of inventive scenarios and enemies, including a zombie elephant. With minor tweaks, both Outbreak games could have been stronger, but its strengths have made it a cult game within the series.
15 Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
The Mercenaries began life as a mini-game included with Resident Evil 3, where players had to guide a character from one end of the map to the other while earning points from various kills. The game has since become a series staple, becoming a relentless action game that’s nearly as much fun as the main campaign.
Fans were understandably dubious about the announcement of The Mercenaries 3D for the 3DS, which was basically the mini-game for standard retail price. Again, The Mercenaries is always a blast to play, and exploring the different levels with each playable character is fun. The action is slick and relentless, and it’s an easy way to waste a few hours.
Sadly there wasn’t much of an effort made to evolve the game beyond its origins. There’s no campaign mode or plot to speak of, the frame rate is jittery and it quickly becomes repetitive.
14 Resident Evil: Dead Aim
Dead Aim is another Resident Evil: Survivor type game, following a special agent investigating a zombie filled cruise ship. The gameplay is a mixture of third-person exploration and first person shooting, which works surprisingly well.
Needless to say, the story and voice acting are pretty poor, though it does have an atmospheric soundtrack and the graphics are quite good for the era. While the game is short, breezy fun, the problem is it’s totally forgettable. Fans will play through it once and be moderately entertained for the three hours it takes to complete, and then they’ll probably never play it again.
The story had no impact on the main series, the characters were never seen again and it rarely gets mentioned among fans. It’s a competent shooter, but it lacked the special ingredient that makes the series stand out.
13 Resident Evil Zero
Resident Evil Zero was originally announced for the N64 before it was scrapped midway and developed for the GameCube instead. The story follows Rebecca Chambers a day before the original game, where she and Bravo Team investigate the mysterious murders in the mountains surrounding Raccoon City.
She finds herself trapped on a zombie infested train with an escaped convict, and she gradually uncovers the origin of the outbreak. Zero was something of a swan song for the fixed camera, tank control style of gameplay, which was showing its age by this point. The game added the mechanic of being able to switch between playable characters and drop items, which sounds good in theory but becomes cumbersome in practice since you often had to backtrack for certain objects.
The enemy and boss designs were lazy too, featuring infected baboons and giant bats and scorpions. Negatives aside there’s fun to be had, and the game is slickly presented. The story didn’t need to be told – and seriously, why did Rebecca not mention any of it during the original game? – but Zero isn’t half bad.
12 Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
Originally released for the Nintendo Wii, The Umbrella Chronicles is a rail shooter detailing the downfall of the sinister corporation. Series villain Albert Wesker narrates events in his silky tones, which covers the events seen in Resident Evil Zero, the original game and Nemesis while adding new chapters to the story.
It’s a frantic shoot ‘em up basically, one that speeds through the history of the series on fast forward. There’s precious little horror or suspense to be had while players blast through waves of familiar monsters, and it’s hard not to get swept up in the pure adrenaline rush of it all.
The game really could have used some more checkpoints though, because it’s often punishing and it’s easy to wind back at the start of a chapter. Some gameplay balance would have been nice too, but overall it’s an enjoyable, swift ride through Resident Evil lore.
11 Resident Evil: Revelations 2
With fans of the series vocally feeling disappointment that the flagship survival horror series was lacking in actual horror, Capcom created the Revelations spin-off series. These games leaned closer towards classic Resident Evil, putting the emphasis on resource management and limiting ammo. That’s not to say they lack action, but they’re intentionally a little more low-key and claustrophobic.
Revelations 2 built on the foundation of the original, placing Claire Redfield and Barry Burton’s daughter Moira on – what else – an abandoned island. Lovable old Barry himself also appears after a long absence. The story and gameplay are routine, but being able to play as different characters helps mix up the play style. Barry’s all about firepower, while Moira is more useful for puzzle solving.
The Raid Mode is also back, allowing players to revisit classic stages and gathers points for upgrades and cool unlockables. Revelations 2 doesn’t do much with the formula, but it’s a solid entry nonetheless.
10 Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5 is one of the more polarizing titles in the series since it openly forsakes survival horror for the sake of action. Throughout the game, the players is constantly being handed more firepower, and the emphasis is on big setpieces and explosions. The player is also accompanied throughout by an A.I. partner, who the player has to babysit, lest they waste healing items or ammo.
With a co-op partner Resident Evil 5 can be great fun. The levels are varied, it looks gorgeous and constant action makes it intense. However, there’s no denying the move to straight ahead action was a worrying direction for the series. The storyline actually does a good job of wrapping up many of the loose ends from the franchise, and it became a final curtain call for everyone’s favorite bad guy Albert Wesker.
DLC for the game included Lost In Nightmares, a fantastic prequel to the main story that’s the closest the series has come to the gameplay style of the original titles in many years.
9 Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles
Another on the rails Wii shooter, this time recounting the events of Resident Evil 2 and Code: Veronica, with an original framing chapter featuring Leon. The game plays very much like The Umbrella Chronicles, with the player being lead through the level while blasting away at assorted monsters.
The game has more polish and refinements than its predecessor, which helps makes for a tighter experience. It’s also fun to revisit classic events from a whole new perspective, with the Code: Veronica recap putting the shoddy Survivor 2 to shame.
The downside is the constantly swaying and dipping perspective, which can be dizzying at times. The perspective is constantly swinging around, making accurate shots or pausing for a quick breath tricky. The new chapter doesn't add much to the overall lore of the series, though it does help fill in some gaps from the timeline. Not really an essential title, but an easy one to pick up and play with a friend.
8 Resident Evil - Code: Veronica
Code: Veronica was one of the big exclusive titles for the Sega Dreamcast, and found Claire Redfield trapped on an island being threatened by new monsters and a resurrected Albert Wesker. It was the franchises big first leap to a next gen console after the PlayStation era, and the graphics were stunning at the time.
While the graphical overhaul was impressive the regular formula was firmly in place, with the story being a stilted but enjoyably cheesy affair, and most of the game being viewed through static camera angles. Veronica added some cool monsters to the line-up, and the creepy Ashford twins still have the power to induce nightmares in players of a certain age.
Some the gameplay could feel a little clunky at times, and there’s a huge amount of backtracking. The game was eventually ported to PS2, which added around ten minutes worth of cut scenes to beef up Wesker’s part in proceedings.
7 Resident Evil: Revelations
The third time proved to be the charm, with Revelations taking place yet again on a cruise ship. This time they really committed to the locale though, making it an eerie, creepy environment for events to unfold. Revelations attempted to mesh the survival horror approach with action, with some chapters putting the focus on tension, while others let players go crazy with machine guns.
For the most part, it hits a good balance between these play styles, and while the new enemies weren’t quite as iconic as the classic beasts, they’re still pretty unnerving. The story is presented in a bizarre episodic approach, with chapters beginning with a recap of the level that was just played. This annoying style aside, Resident Evil: Revelations proved to be a mostly satisfying return to survival horror.
It also introduced the inhumanly addictive Raid Mode, which for some fans racked up way more playtime than the actual story mode.
6 Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Nemesis was the last Resident Evil game for the PlayStation, and it went out with a bang. The story finds series regular Jill trapped in Raccoon City during the zombie outbreak, and she has to team up with an Umbrella mercenary to escape. Capcom originally planned for the third game to be a spin-off and not a full sequel, but it was eventually upgraded during development.
While the game has more action than previous titles, it was still recognizably survival horror. The stroke of genius was the addition of the Nemesis, a hulking Terminator-like creature that stalks the player throughout the campaign. You never knew when or where he’d pop up, and when he did it was usually wise to just run away. This constant lurking dread adds an extra dimension, as did new features like branching paths and interactive scenery.
Nemesis feels a little more flashy the first two games, but it’s loaded with iconic moments and imagery to make up for that, and its reputation has only grown over the years.
5 Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
The disappointing sales of Resident Evil 6 and fan feedback told Capcom they needed to reinvent the wheel yet again for the next numbered entry, and a radical reinvention was in order. The game decided to mostly ignore the tangled lore and iconic elements, focusing on a new group of characters in a unique location. It also took place entirely from a first person perspective and featured enemies with human intelligence.
It was a bold choice, but it paid off. Resident Evil 7 does an amazing job of leaving the player feeling constantly underpowered and stressed, and while it may seem like a total reinvention, the DNA of the franchise still remains. The horror style this time leans towards The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the Baker clan that pursues the player are an instantly iconic bunch.
It definitely evokes similar first person horror games like Alien: Isolation or P.T., but Biohazard’s incredible atmosphere alone makes it one of the stronger games in the series.
4 Resident Evil
The original Resident Evil rewrote the rules for horror video games, introducing players to a whole new style of gameplay. The game was a loose remake of Sweet Home, a Japan-only RPG from 1989 that found players exploring a haunted mansion. Resident Evil would take the setting and turbocharge it. Despite the dodgy voice acting, everything about the game clicked; the design of the mansion, the resource managing gameplay, the puzzles, the characters and the monsters.
Over twenty years later the game still has the power to induce fear, be it the famous jump scares or the oppressive vibe of the Spencer Mansion itself. The game was so popular it’s been re-released and remade countless times because the core gameplay is so strong, and it’s success not only launched the series, it lead to other best-selling horror games like Silent Hill and Parasite Eve.
It defined the style for the genre, and while it may not have aged as well as some other titles in the series, its legacy endures.
3 Resident Evil (Remake)
Remakes are commonly inferior because it’s near impossible to recapture the same lightning, but series creator Shinji Mikami somehow managed it. The 2002 remake feels like Mikami correcting and refining his original version, making use of improved tech to make a tighter, more polished experience.
It looks fantastic, and it added additional gameplay elements like self-defence weapons and terrifying new enemies in the Crimson Head zombies and Lisa Trevor. The cheesy plot remains the exact same, but everything else is refined and expanded upon. The setpieces became bigger, the mansion held new secrets to uncover and it actually used players knowledge of the original game against them.
The remake wasn’t a huge seller at the time but thanks to a later HD remaster, gamers who missed out the first time fell in love with it. Fans argue over whether the remake is superior to the original or not, which ultimately comes down to personal taste. The only thing that can be agreed upon is that they’re both fantastic.
2 Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil Zero proved the old style of fixed camera angles and tank controls had been played out, and the fourth game needed to invent something fresh. This led to a famously torturous development cycle where potential versions were developed and quickly scrapped, including one build that evolved into Devil May Cry.
The final version was nothing short of a triumph, an addictive merging of action and horror that became one of the most influential titles of its era. The game finds Leon Kennedy on a mission to rescue the president’s daughter, in a plot that’s told in a tongue in cheek b-movie style. The over the shoulder perspective and switch to action was slightly controversial among purists, but it was the shot in the arm the series badly needed at the time.
The monsters were amazing, the action was equally stressful and exhilarating and it was endlessly replayable. The action route it sent the series on certainly led to mixed results, but Resident Evil 4 is commonly cited as one of, if not the best game in the series for a reason.
1 Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 was another title that had a painful birth, with Capcom spending over a year working on one version of the game, only to scrap it when it was over halfway complete. This false start ended up helping the team, who built on what worked in the original while sanding off the rough edges.
The game contains just as many iconic scenes and characters as the original, and it introduced Claire, Leon, Ada Wong, the Licker, William Birkin, Mr X and many others. The multiple campaigns also built on each other, opening up new areas and unlockables. The gothic police station proved a memorable setting, and everything from the soundtrack to the sound effects helped put players in the right skin crawling mode.
It’s just about a perfect example of the survival horror genre, and it’s no surprise that a fan-led campaign for a remake finally resulted in a greenlight. Resident Evil 2 is a stone cold classic, and despite the series producing a lot of great titles afterwards, this original sequel still reminds the one to beat.
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