Wednesday, 21 January 2015


On this date 17 years ago, arguably the greatest horror game of all time was released — Resident Evil 2.
Say what you want about the direction in which the franchise has since gone in latter instalments, back in 1998 it was a true revelation. Taking everything that worked from the pretty damn good original game and improving on it, Resident Evil 2 was a true masterpiece.
The Resident Evil series is a benchmark in zombie lore up there with the works of Romero and the recent Walking Dead comic and tv series.
It brought the now ubiquitous undead hordes back into popular culture with a bang, terrifying a whole new generation of Dead Heads. The shadowy Umbrella Corporation, Chris Redfield, Leon Kennedy, Claire Redfield, Albert Wesker, the T-Virus, STARS, Racoon City — these have become as well known to fans as any horror movie characters. In fact, they’ve even spawned a successful (if not necessarily very good) film franchise!
In celebration of the anniversary of the greatest game in the most successful horror franchise ever, I’m going to revisit some of oft overlooked but pant-fillingly frightening beasties that made the games so much fun and so very, very terrifying to play.


The basic zombie enemies are Resident Evil's bog-standard villain and very scary they are too... at first. After a while they become more of an annoyance than a serious risk. The Resident Evil Remake changed that. The zombie is the first stage of T-Virus infection, but it is not the last. A mutated strain of the virus causes some seemingly dead zombies to evolve further. Carefully incinerating the remains halts this transformation but failure to do so leads to step two — the fierce and deadly Crimson Head. These horrifying shrieking beasties are far faster than their shuffling, groaning brethren and are much more resilient to damage. Recognisable by their blood-red faces, a wave of Crimson Head attackers can cause panic in the most hardened of RE players, leading even the toughest to keep a careful eye on how many matches they have in their inventory.


Resident Evil 2 saw the arrival of quite simply my favourite 'standard' RE beastie ever — the Licker.
Revealed to be the next stage of evolution after the Crimson Head (which explains the Crimson Head's ferocious nature and deadly claws), the Licker is a skinless, eyeless, razor taloned nightmare. Extremely agile and able to use its sharp claws to scale walls and even scuttle across ceilings, the first cutscenes to introduce the Licker in the ravaged police station are  a wonderfully creepy gaming moment.
The beast derives its name from its extremely long and powerful tongue, a weapon capable of piercing flesh or even decapitating its prey. From its sinister hissing sound while stalking its prey to the blood-curdling screams it makes when fighting, there is a reason that the first Resident Evil movie chose the nightmarish Licker for its climactic scenes.


Resident Evil: Code Veronica is very much seen as the black sheep of the family, a distant cousin sandwiched in between the release of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Resident Evil 4. I'm a big fan of the game, not least because of the introduction of some seriously sick enemies. I nearly opted to include the Bandersnatch here (not least because any Jabberwocky reference gets my vote!), but in the end I opted for this horrifying boss.
Originally Alexander Ashford, the man who used advanced cloning techniques and genetic engineering to create twins Alfred and Alexia, he fell victim to his evil ‘offspring’.
They captured Alexander and experimented on him, using him as a guinea pig for Alexia’s T-Veronica Virus. The experiment mutated him into an abomination and the twins discarded him as a failure, locking him in their isolated arctic base, where workers gave the creature the name Nosferatu.
The in-game intro to the blind and insane creature is very creepy and the character design is topnotch. Battling the beast on a helipad while desperately trying to avoid getting knocked into the abyss below by his flailing clawed appendages is one of the greatest moments in this sadly underrated game.

4. U-3

Resident Evil 4 was Aliens to the original trilogy’s Alien. It took the game in a direction that was far more action-packed and less creepy. With it Resident Evil stopped being a ghost train and became a rollercoaster. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the nightmarish boss, the U-3. One of Lord Saddler’s bio-weapons, the U-3 is a huge and horrifying chimera created through splicing human, reptile and insect DNA and made host to a Plaga parasite.
It is one of the ugliest and most vile enemies to ever appear in an RE game (which is REALLY saying something) and the exhilarating battle which comes only after you flee from one shipping container to the next, dodging its highly-damaging attacks before dropping the beastie into a chasm is very, very cool. Look at it, it’s disgusting, terrifying and nauseating — and well-deserving of its place on this list.


Another RE4 baddy here, and what a horrible bastard it is. A variation of the more common Regenerators, this loathsome foe is extremely resilient to damage and can only be killed by destroying the Plagas dwelling within its spiked body. Originally a human, the beast was created through deliberate exposure to the Plaga parasite and excruciating surgery. The creature looks hideous, looming over the player at a height well above that of a normal man. The Iron Maiden moves with a disturbing and erratic twitching gait and makes a horrible rasping, wheezing noise. The creature’s deadliest attack, a form of lurching bearhug in which it pulls the player into its bristling spikes nearly always leads to death and the petrifying manner in which it crawls after you to attack even after losing its legs is the stuff of nightmares.


You’re playing as Jill Valentine and wander into a new area… then the music changes. Your heart sinks as the new, ominous theme plays and, palms sweating, you proceed deeper into the level. And then you hear it: ‘STAAAAAARRRSSSSS’.
Nemesis has found you.
I can think of few gaming experiences that led to such instant panic as the multiple Nemesis encounters in RE3. A hulking giant, a variant of Umbrella’s Tyrant project, the relentless, powerful, fast moving behemoth that was Nemesis was genuinely frightening. Devastatingly powerful, many gaming sessions would be reduced to panicky, sweaty sprints through different rooms and settings, frantically hoping you could somehow shake-off the trench-coated demon stomping heavily behind you. Sometimes you would realise that you were stuck and needed to fight the brute — a task that was all but impossible without the right weapons and ammo. Then, should you somehow manage to bring him down, you were left with the sickening realisation that this was just a temporary reprieve and in time Nemesis would be back on his feet and the pursuit would continue…
I both love and hate this sadistic fucker. A brilliant gameplay device, a kind of undying slasher villain capable of mutating into even tougher forms, not afraid to break into a sprint and occasionally rocking a ROCKET LAUNCHER for Christ's sake. Some of the greatest and most terrifying gaming moments I've ever experienced are down to this guy. Well done Capcom. Well done.

So, what do you think of the list? Are these underrated game greats actually great? Or are they overlooked for a reason?
Leave your comments below or drop me a message, it'd be great to hear from you.

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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