If you say Resident Evil is just another zombie series, you clearly haven’t spent more than an hour with any one of its games. Zombies are the early game fodder and storytelling vehicle that brings immediate chaos to any scenario. Resident Evil’s version of the undead take on many forms throughout the series, but begin like you would expect, with slow shuffling feet and a hunger for flesh and brains. In addition to being ammo sponges, these sloth-like foes are mostly used to establish the pace for the playthrough. In most Resident Evil games, their presence tells you to move with caution, wait before rounding corners, and to listen intently for anything out of the ordinary.
Resident Evil 1 is a love letter to classic horror, beginning with zombies, and moving on to giant bugs and reptiles. This odd mishmash of foes somehow skirts campiness to deliver legitimate heart-pounding excitement. The latter stages of that game give us a look at the horrors unleashed by Capcom’s artists and designers – Hunters and Chimera, two adversaries that increased the pace of a game, from a shuffle to a gallop. The variety of enemy types that each of these games delivers creates an atmosphere where the player doesn’t know what to expect next. Climbing down a ladder into a new area always brings an uneasy feeling of knowing whatever new enemy is going to be introduced next will likely be deadlier than the one before it.
The escalation of danger is embraced wonderfully in the recently released Resident Evil 2 remake. What begins as a “Zombies! Zombies everywhere!” experience, quickly becomes, “Why won’t that guy in the hat leave me alone? Why is he waering a hat?” Seriously, why is he wearing a hat?
It wouldn’t be fair of me to reveal all of the enemies players stumble upon in this new game, as meeting them for the first time is part of the fun, but just know that every errant bullet fired will end with eventual regret. You’re going to need that ammo. There are big, seemingly unkillable things on the prowl, and your bullets and shells are needed.
One of the critters you’ll see is the Licker, a series staple that I’d argue is one of the coolest creatures in all of horror. The long tongue is equally as strange as it is terrifying. The exposed brain and razor-sharp claws are also used masterfully to put you on edge. The way these beasts move, whether it’s on the walls or floor, is flat-out creepy and far too fast. In the time it takes a shotgun to reload, a Licker is on you.
I have no idea how Capcom balances the ammo in these games, but it always seems to work out perfectly, where I have just a few shots left after each encounter, or if I am depleted, there’s a clip in the next room. It’s a baffling design, but they always give you just enough metal to deal with the threats, even if you land every shot, or foolishly fire a few into gaudy wallpaper.
I’ll leave you soon-to-be Resident Evil 2 players with a warning: You’re going to run into an enemy named Mr. X. This adversary will do strange things to your brain as you try to comprehend his design and how to stop him. Fear him. Run from him. And just know, you can’t hide from him. You’ll hear his footsteps grow louder, and there’s no easy solution to combating him other than to panic with every ounce of your being. Mr. X is the perfect example of how Resident Evil’s enemies are unnerving and unpredictable.