Resident Evil 7 is on its way, but with seven ‘core’ games and a horde of spin-offs preceding it, perhaps now is the time to jog your memory regarding the last 20 years of undead fun.
Let’s not waste any time, eh? From the top (spoilers to follow, duh)…
Resident Evil Zero (July 23, 1998)
It all starts with a series of grisly cannibalistic murders in the Arklay Mountains, outside of Raccoon City. The Bravo Team of the Special Tactics And Rescue Service (STARS) is sent out to investigate.
Following a helicopter crash, Bravo Team officer Rebecca Chambers discovers a train full of zombies, and meets Billy Coen, an escaped convict – these are Zero’s heroes (heh).
The pair team up, and before long the mysterious train is being taken to an unknown location by goons acting under the orders of Albert Wesker and William Birkin – the bad guys, and high ranking members of Umbrella.
The Umbrella Corporation: On the face of it, they’re a harmless pharmaceutical company – but behind closed doors they actually manufacture and sell deadly biological weapons. I hope you’re taking notes.
The train eventually brings Rebecca and Billy to a disused Umbrella training facility, where more zombies wait. It’s here that the pair learn of Dr. James Marcus and his discovery of the Progenitor virus in the 1960s, which he naturally decided would make a nifty biological weapon.
Marcus combined the virus with leech DNA to develop the T-Virus, a nasty lil’ thing that can cause rapid mutations, turning humans and animals into monsters.
Following these revelations, Rebecca and Billy fight all manner of beasts and eventually manage to escape. The two part ways, with Rebecca heading out to a mysterious old mansion in search of the rest of Bravo team.
Meanwhile, Wesker decides to leave Umbrella to join a rival company, while Birkin remains loyal and continues work on something called the G-virus…
Resident Evil (July 24, 1998)
Thanks to the events of Zero, STARS Alpha Team loses contact with Bravo over the Arklay mountains. Naturally, Alpha set out to find their missing buddies.
It’s not long before a pack of rabid T-Virus infected dogs chase Alpha through the woods, forcing the team to seek shelter in the very same mansion that Rebecca was heading to at the end of Zero – the iconic Spencer Mansion.
Now trapped in the mansion are protagonists Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, along with the shady Albert Wesker, who poses here as a member of STARS (Zero is a prequel, remember?)
After another adventure involving all manner of terrifying beasts afflicted with the T-Virus, Chris and Jill discover that the Spencer Mansion is a front for a top-secret Umbrella laboratory, where they learn the truth about the company and Wesker.
Our heroes manage to escape, leaving Wesker for dead as the mansion self-destructs. Chris manages to locate and save Rebecca – the only survivor of the Bravo team.
Resident Evil 2 (September 1998)
STARS are unable to convict Umbrella based on what they discovered in the mansion, as the shady corporation’s influence ensured that they got away with their crimes – they also have STARS abolished for good measure.
As such, Umbrella are able to continue with their experiments in a facility beneath Raccoon City, until a spy by the name of Ada Wong attempts to steal Dr. William Birkin’s G-Virus research.
However, Ada screws up this attempt, which leads to the T-Virus being leaked into the sewers, infecting the majority of the population of Raccoon City. Not ideal for anyone, really.
Rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy teams up with Claire Redfield (who’s on the hunt for her brother Chris) and after many trials, the pair eventually make their way to the secret underground facility, where they defeat mean old Mr Birkin (who infects himself with the G-Virus), and then escape the lab (which obviously blows up).
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (September 1998)
Taking place around the same time as 2, Nemesis reunites us with Jill Valentine, who is in Raccoon City attempting to expose Umbrella when the T-Virus outbreak occurred.
Obviously nobody wants to be stuck in a city of zombies, so Jill teams up with a mercenary called Carlos Oliveira, and together they manage to get away in a helicopter, just as a missile strikes the city, ending the outbreak, but wiping Raccoon City off the map forever.
Resident Evil – Code: Veronica (December 1998)
Three months after Resident Evil 2 and 3, Code: Veronica chronicles Claire’s continuing journey – here, she manages to reunite with her brother Chris, and the pair discover Albert Wesker is still alive.
Wesker now works with a new biological weapon manufacturer called TRICELL and, having experimented on himself, has superhuman abilities for his troubles.
The slippery devil escapes Chris and Claire – but the newly reunited siblings vow to take down Umbrella and stop Wesker once and for all.
Resident Evil 4 (July 2004)
In the six years between Resident Evil 4 and the preceding games, a private anti-biohazard paramilitary force (led by Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine) finally manage to shut down Umbrella.
Leon S Kennedy has moved up in the world too. From rookie cop and Raccoon City survivor to secret agent for the US government, Leon’s on a mission in Spain to rescue the President’s daughter.
It’s on this mission that Leon encounters an ancient religious cult known as Los Iluminados, who use a breed of parasite called Las Plagas to control their victims.
Naturally, Leon rescues the President’s daughter and defeats the cult, but behind the scenes Wesker manages to get hold of a sample of this new parasite, with the help of Ada Wong… what will he do with it? Nothing good, obviously.
Resident Evil 5 (March 2009)
Five years after the ‘Los Iluminados incident’, we pick back up with Chris Redfield, who’s continuing his career with the BSAA, a UN-backed anti-terrorist organization dedicated to hunting down bio-weapons.
In the African settlement of Kijuju, Chris and his new partner, Sheva Alomar, learn that someone (definitely Wesker) has infected the locals with the Uroboros virus, which was created from Las Plagas.
Chris and Sheva discover TRICELL, as well as Wesker’s connection to the attacks. They learn Wesker plans to release the Uroboro virus on a global scale, believing the strong will adapt while the weak perish.
Not being big fans of this plan, our heroes track down Wesker, where they finally manage to take him down for good, save the day, and escape relatively unscathed.
Resident Evil 6 (2012-2013)
Resident Evil 6 is… well, it’s a bit of a mess, but we’re nearly done, so let’s just finish this.
This time, we follow the interweaving stories of Leon, Chris, and Ada (and way too many other characters that don’t really matter) as they attempt to combat multiple bio-terror attacks across the globe.
A new organization called Neo Umbrella uses an enhanced strain of the G-Virus called the C-Virus, which allows infected to retain a degree of intelligence and even use weapons.
Led by an embittered clone of super-spy Ada Wong, Neo Umbrella simply wants to unleash chaos across the world. While they come pretty close, the good guys obviously manage to save the day and blow up a few secret bases along the way, aided by Wesker’s son Jake Muller, whose blood contains a cure for the C-Virus, because reasons.
Resident Evil 7 (2017)
Set four years after the destructive global events of Resident Evil 6, 7 will return the series to a much smaller scale. We know that we’ll be playing as a man named Ethan who encounters the sinister Baker family on the search for his missing wife.
The Baker family have clearly been infected, but by which virus? And by who? Capcom is billing this one as a relatively fresh start, but given the past two decades of Resi games are full of connections large and small, there’s definitely more to the story (especially given the reports of at least one returning character).
It’ll be interesting to see exactly how Resident Evil 7 fits into the larger picture, that’s for sure. It’s not like Capcom can make it any more complicated – right?