Resident Evil, known as Biohazard (バイオハザード Baiohazaado in Japan) is a highly successful franchise of survival-horror that started life as video games developed by Capcom and created by Shinji Mikami. The games have sold over 30 million copies as of February 2006. The series is credited with popularizing the survival horror game genre. This franchise has been heavily influenced by George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, as well as the Alone in the Dark series of PC horror games, early seminal examples of the genre.
The success of this franchise has spawned several video games, a comic book series, novelizations, two Hollywood action films (two more have been announced), and a variety of action figures. While the games mostly adhere to a consistent storyline, there are enough deviations from the game plot within the films and novels to be considered alternate story lines.
The original Resident Evil revolves around a series of cannibalistic homicides that occur in the Arklay Mountains region, situated north of the fictional Raccoon City in 1998. The local police's Special Tactics and Rescue Squad (S.T.A.R.S.) are commissioned to investigate the sources of these murders. When Bravo Team, the initial team deployed to the area, fails to report back, Alpha Team goes on a rescue mission to find them. They are led to a seemingly abandoned mansion, where the team encounters zombies and other creatures, leading them to discover the remains of most of their comrades in the house. In the end, it is revealed that the house is actually a front for a top-secret laboratory owned by the international Umbrella Corporation, and that the creatures are the result of experiments with a genetically modified virus called the T-Virus. Resident Evil 0 explores the cause of the viral outbreak and Bravo Team's ordeal prior to the events of the Mansion incident.
The following game, Resident Evil 2, takes place two months after the events of the original game in Raccoon City itself. With S.T.A.R.S. unable to convict Umbrella for their wrongdoings, the company continues their experiments within an underground facility. However, a botched attempt to steal a former scientist's (William Birkin) work, results in the T-Virus being leaked into the city's sewers and Birkin being infected by the new G-virus. The T-virus is spread by rats and most of the city's population become zombies, leaving only a few survivors trying to find a way to escape the city alive. The third game, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, takes place around this same time period, and features a similar premise. The game concludes its story by depicting the city's ultimate destruction by a nuclear warhead. The Resident Evil: Outbreak series depicts the attempts of normal civilians trying to escape the city.
Resident Evil Code: Veronica depicts the previous games' survivors attempt to expose the Umbrella corporation and sabotage their operations. Code: Veronica reveals the existence of a rival corporation, who employs Albert Wesker, the crooked leader of the Raccoon City S.T.A.R.S. team, also developing their own bio-weapons.
Set six years after the events of the previous games, Resident Evil 4 begins with the dissolution of Umbrella Corporation. The focus is on a religious cult known as the Los Illuminados that uses a breed of ancient parasites known as Las Plagas to turn victims into mind-controlled psychopaths known as "Ganados". The same Organization seen in Code: Veronica also plays a role in Resident Evil 4, by having two of their agents attempt to steal a master sample of the parasite for their disposal.
Resident Evil is based on a game known as Sweet Home, which in turn was based on a Japanese horror movie, スイートホーム (Suiito houmu). Sweet Home was released only in Japan in 1989 for the Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System). Resident Evil borrowed many elements from Sweet Home including the mansion setting, the puzzles, and even the "door" loading screen. To make the series more marketable in the Western market, the series' title was changed from Biohazard to Resident Evil by Capcom's United States branch. However, it is said the real reason for the name change was due to copyright infringement (apparently the name Biohazard was already registered by a rock band in the United States).
Some fans believe that the Western name also came from Sweet Home, as at one point in that game a character refers to the location as "This house of residing evil."
Most of the games in the series are played from a third-person perspective, viewing the characters from a generally overhead camera angle as they move through rendering pre-rendered environments. Although Resident Evil was one of the first games to use this gameplay style on console systems, the technique was first pioneered on the PC by the Alone in the Dark series which is often cited as the first game in the survival horror genre. These static backgrounds have been a bone of contention for many players, although Code: Veronica, and more recently Resident Evil 4 have featured environments rendered in realtime.
Some of the games allow the player to choose from one of two main characters which will affect which parts of the story are revealed with additional secrets, mini-missions, weapons and endings unlocked after completing the game by both characters.
The Resident Evil series is controversial for the use of it's graphic violence, gore and bloodshed which is seen throughout the entire game from start to finish. Each game is prefaced by a disclaimer warning that "This game contains scenes of explicit violence and gore". It should be noted that the game's violence, unlike the Grand Theft Auto series, is almost exclusively against zombies and non-human mutants and only twice has the player character fought and killed another human being (who in general are villians anyway). However, it is said that the player controlled characters are human and that their deaths are often graphic- following the gore and violence that is depicted in their deaths. The Game Over screens also add to this, with the words You Died or You Are Dead in a blood-splattered font.
Further controversy arose from Capcom's dealings with Nintendo to make the Resident Evil series exclusive for the GameCube, at least for the core story based titles, after many years of releasing the games for the PlayStation and porting them to other systems (more below).
As of 2005, there have been six games in the core series, with a seventh installment currently under development. This number excludes the numerous updated editions, ports and remakes of each title.
The first three games: (Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis) all debuted on the PlayStation. The original was ported to the Sega Saturn and more recently the Nintendo DS (Under the title "Resident Evil: Deadly Silence"), while both Resident Evil 2 (the only Nintendo 64 RE game) and Resident Evil 3 were released for the Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo GameCube. All three games were ported to the PC. Some of these ports added exclusive content and features not found in the original releases. The series made its history of video games sixth generation debut with Resident Evil Code: Veronica for the Sega Dreamcast. Code: Veronica was later ported to the PlayStation 2 (and later GameCube) in the form of an updated version titled Resident Evil Code: Veronica X.
After Code: Veronica series' creator Shinji Mikami made the controversial decision to target the Nintendo GameCube exclusively. This meant that the prequel Resident Evil 0, a remake of the original Resident Evil and Resident Evil 4 were all GameCube exclusives although Capcom later ported Resident Evil 4 to the PlayStation 2 and a PC port is nearing completion. 
The series is set to make its next-generation debut with Resident Evil 5 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360]. In contrast to the previous exclusivity agreement between Capcom and Nintendo, Executive producer Keiji Inafune commented that Capcom wants the series to grow into a multi-platform franchise, and expects the two versions of the game to be released simultaneously. A new title is also being planned exclusively for Nintendo's Wii.
An enhanced portable port of the original Resident Evil (subtitled Deadly Silence) was released on the Nintendo DS to commemorate the series' tenth anniversary. It takes advantage of the Nintendo DS's unique touch-screen capabilities (and at one point makes use of the built-in microphone). Uses for the touch-screen include knife battle sequences, in which the player uses the touch screen to slice incoming enemies, and new or modified puzzles which make use of it. The microphone is used to help revive fallen friends by giving "mouth-to-mouth" by blowing into the microphone. Other features include a persistent map, with the player able to view their map, ammo and health status (based on the color of the background) at all times.
Games released, along with their original release date, are as follows:
Gun Survivor series
The following are Resident Evil-related titles that were released as part of Capcom's Gun Survivor series in Japan. The gameplay in the Gun Survivor series is different from the main games in which the action takes place from a first-person perspective and player can use a light gun (Namco's GunCon) in addition to the controller (although, this feature was initially taken out from the North American release of Survivor). Note that the third Gun Survivor title (Dino Stalker) is not related to the Resident Evil series at all, being based on the Dino Crisis series instead.
While the Gun Survivor are not part of the main series, some fans consider the games to be canonical due to a reference to the original Survivor in Resident Evil 0 (Sheena Island, Survivor's location, is listed as a source of a G-Virus outbreak) and the fact that Flagship writer Noboru Sugimura (who wrote the scenarios for Resident Evil 2, Code: Veronica and 0), also wrote the Gun Survivor games. The titles are:
To date, all of the Gun Survivor games have launched with poor to mediocre reviews  that became increasingly better with each installment. The series has achieved something of a cult status - somewhat respected for Capcom's attempt to do something new with both the series and light-gun games in general, but declared to have problematic, clumsy controls and typically inferior graphics.
Despite their exclusivity agreement (at the time) with Nintendo, Capcom managed to release an online spinoff of the Resident Evil series titled Resident Evil Outbreak for the Sony PlayStation 2. Set during the Resident Evil 2 and 3 timeline, Outbreak allows players to experience the events of the T-Virus Outbreak in Raccoon City from the perspective of other characters. It was followed by a single sequel titled Resident Evil Outbreak: File #2.
Due to the interchangeable nature of the first two games, it is rumored that a third Outbreak might be in the works, as unused character models and data has been uncovered in the previous games through the use of character modifying cheat codes. However, no plans to continue the Outbreak series have been officially announced.
In 2001, Capcom released a Game Boy Color game titled Resident Evil Gaiden. The game was not developed internally by any of Capcom's studios, but by British-based developer M4 Limited, although creator Shinji Mikami supervised the development of the game and Code: Veronica director Hiroki Kato wrote the story. The game was an RPG featuring an overhead view for exploration and a first-person view for battles. Set after the events of Code: Veronica, Gaiden featured Barry Burton and Leon S. Kennedy investigating a cruise ship (Starlight) infested with bio-organic weapons while working for an Anti-Umbrella organization. The game is generally considered non-canonical due to a cliffhanger ending, in which Leon becomes infected with an unknown disease. Though this disease was never explored in subsequent games, when Resident Evil 4 was initially in development, Gaiden provided an explanation as to why Leon, a protagonist in both games, would have been sick with an unknown disease in RE4 -- infection from a monster attack in Gaiden. When RE4 was released, however, it was revealed that Leon's illness was due to events within RE4 and is not linked to infections from previous games.
Capcom also released several mobile phone games in Japan based on the Biohazard series.
Resident Evil 0 started production on the Nintendo 64, and featured graphics close to Resident Evil 2 and 3 in appearance. The developers believed that the system's cartridge media would give the quick load times required for the game's character switching system.
Production shifted to the GameCube halfway during development, in order to compete with the Shinji Mikami-directed remake of the original. The scenario and storyline in the released GameCube version remained largely unchanged, though Rebecca received a new outfit (she originally wore a white beret and shoulder pads, similar to Jill Valentine's original costume) and the graphics were significantly enhanced to take advantage of the GameCube's hardware. Several of the EX Files featured in the Nintendo 64 version of Resident Evil 2, namely Rebecca's Report and Mother Virus Report, alluded to the events of Resident Evil 0. Several of the later variations of the Nintendo 64 hardware's packaging featured screenshots of this version of Resident Evil 0 with a "Coming Soon" notation.
The development team regrouped, starting development from scratch. The team borrowed characters from the first attempt, namely Leon S. Kennedy and Marvin Branagh (the dying police officer in the beginning of the game. Branagh was originally scripted to survive and aid Leon's escape along with Ada, but would die in the new version). Noticably absent was Elza Walker who was featured in the prototype's heroine. She was replaced by the very similar Claire Redfield in the final version.
Supporting characters in the story included the Birkins (William, Annette and Sherry), Ada Wong (who was originally an official researcher), and Robert Kendo (the gun store owner, who played a major supporting role in Elza's scenario). Brian Irons, the police chief, also appeared in the prototype, but did not play the villanous role he did in the released version. The main setting was in a decidedly more modern police station instead of the more gothic precinct in the finished version. The prototype also featured sewers, prison and lab areas, with the latter being reused for the finished version. Creatures featured in the protype included man-spiders, zombie apes, different zombie cops and a different version of the G-Virus creature.
The game was rumoured to possess such perks as throwable grenades and equippable armor. There were also rumours a graphical feature; Blood splashes onto and stains the player-character's clothing when firing upon an enemy within a close range.
The game, however, lacked the zapping system where one character's scenario would overlap with the other. Instead, Leon's and Elza's scenarios were independent of each other (much like Chris' and Jill's in the original), with multiple endings depending on the survival of the partner characters.
Concept art for the game have since been released through various Biohazard-related sourcebooks and materials. In addition, gameplay footage of the game was featured in the Biohazard: Complete Disc bonus disc included with the Dual Shock version of Biohazard: Director's Cut in Japan. Petitions to have a playable version of the game released in some form or another has been unsuccessful so far.
Some artworks and media from the unreleased version were left in the Resident Evil 2 final release in the form of unused files.
Resident Evil 2, Sega Saturn
Late in the Saturn's lifespan, Capcom re-announced Resident Evil 2 for the Saturn based on the new Resident Evil 2 that utilised their new 4MB cartridge. This too was cancelled, with the developers claiming they were unable to capture the quality of the PlayStation version.
Resident Evil 4, GameCube & PlayStation 2
Afterwards, Resident Evil 4 got its official start as a GameCube game. The GameCube version of Resident Evil 4 went through three different incarnations during development, each with a different premise, before Mikami decided to take directorial charge of the project and go on to deliver the released Resident Evil 4.
The first prototype of the game, known to the developers as the "Fog Version", featured Leon fighting what appeared to be a fog-like entity. This was to be the result of his infection with the Progenitor virus covered in the Resident Evil remake and in Resident Evil 0.
The second prototype, the "Hook Man version", featured Leon's fighting paranormal enemies, including dolls that had come to life, suits of armor (which actually make an appearance in the final version), and the aformentioned "hook man" (a dark, blood-covered/severely wounded silhouette/humanoid (depending on which footage you see) that drags a chain and hook with him). Gameplay footage of this prototype was featured in the Biohazard 4 Secret DVD and can be found by scrounging around on the internet. However, all is not lost for the two omitted characters. Both the "Hook Man" and "Fog" will make an appearance in Resident Evil 5.
The third version (and final proposal before the released version) reportedly featured zombies as enemies again and would have depicted the events leading to Umbrella's shutdown, something only alluded to in the released version. This version was short-lived, rejected by the developers as too formulaic.
The plotline for RE4 revolves around a reoccuring character by the name of Leon Kennedy, who survived the zombie outbreak and nuclear destruction of Racoon City. In this game, his mission is to rescue Ashley Graham, who is the President's daughter, from a ruthless terrorist organization that is using the science of the now defunct Umbrella Corporation in order to control the villagers of a small European community near Spain. As the story developes we discover that the group behind her abduction is a secret society known as the "Los Illuminados", which is strikingly similar to the factual historical society heralding out of Spain by the name of the Los Alumbrados. (See Jesuits and Illuminati.) The plan of the Los Illuminados is to implant the President's daughter with a parasite and return her to the White House so she will secretely spread the plague to others. The President will then become infected, and through the experimental virus, will be transformed into a mind control slave of the Los Illuminados. For more information on this game see here.
There are some fan-made Resident Evil games made by fan community, including Resident Evil: Twilight. Others are not known yet.
There are currently two Resident Evil films, with two others in development, written by Paul W. S. Anderson. Though acclaimed horror film director George A. Romero was hired to write and direct the films, he was removed from the project in favor of Anderson. As Romero's script was a close, but not full, adaptation of the game, Capcom believed fans would feel that the movie had been altered too much from the game, and that newcomers would dislike the premise.
Though the movies were mostly panned by critics, reaction from fans was mixed. Some praised the movie for bringing the series to a mainstream audience, while others criticized the fact that it was not a basic adaptation of the Resident Evil games. Many fans also noticed that the movies contain many plot elements that directly contradict those from the games, though the general consensus is that the games and the films take place in separate "universes".
Despite the criticism, the films have been financially successful enough to encourage the approval of a tetralogy. Released films and films to be released are as follows:
[] The Resident Evil video game series has been adapted into a series of novels by writer S.D. Perry. Although the novels mostly follow the game's storyline faithfully , certain details and plot directions from the games are contradicted due to the fact that some of the novels were written before the release of sequels that expanded upon the previous games' storylines. In addition, S.D. Perry has also written two original Resident Evil novels set between the events of certain games.
A second series of Resident Evil novels, based on the films, was written by writer Keith R.A. DeCandido.
In addition to the above novels, various Biohazard novels have been published in Japan, including translated versions of Perry's and DeCandido's novelizations. The following a list of original novels that has been released in Japan.
Despite heavy horror elements and a "mature" rating that limits a wide appeal, all the games in the main Resident Evil series have been released to positive reviews. Many of the games, notably Resident Evil 4, have been bestowed with multiple Game of the Year honours  and frequently place on lists of the best games ever made.
A common criticism of the series is its odd, often random, placement of puzzles. When speaking of Code: Veronica, Gamecritics wrote that the game is "is still largely a puzzle-driven (as opposed to plot driven) experience."  Capcom has been commended, however, for making an attempt to phase out and better integrate the puzzles into the game, with IGN writing that the puzzles of Resident Evil 4 are "not so obscure that they can't be figured out, and indeed many of them are downright clever." 
A disagreement that has divided the Resident Evil fan community for years is the argument over the "best" Resident Evil. Though Resident Evil 4 is statistically the greatest, given that it is the most critically acclaimed of the series, according toResident Evil Games Listed by Score. Retrieved January 28, 2006. Some fans feel that it is too far of a departure from the series and do not consider it a "true" Resident Evil game. Resident Evil 4 incorporated a more evolved playing style using a first person perspective, and like its predecessors, it incorporates all the ambiance of a classic horror film
In other games
Due to Resident Evil's popularity, Capcom has incorporated references to the series and even actual crossovers with the characters in some of their other titles. Other companies, such as SNK Playmore and Namco, have also incorporated references to the series.
^ Gamesindustry. Financials. Retrieved January 27, 2006.
^ Interview of Shinji Mikami and Tatsuya Minami. Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine July 2002. Retrieved January 27, 2006.
^ Interview of Shinji Mikami. The True Story Behind Biohazard Retrieved March 18, 2006.
^ IGN.com. Capcom Brings the Evil to Cube. September 11, 2001. Retrieved January 27, 2006.
^ IGN.com Resident Evil 4, Two Other Capcom Hits PC-Bound. February 1, 2006. Retrieved February 2, 2006
^ IGN.com. Capcom Aims for Simultaneous Online Evil. December 7, 2005. Retrieved January 27, 2006.
^ IGN.com. Resident Evil Infects Wii. May 10, 2006. Retrieved May 10, 2006.
^ IGN.com. Resident Evil Survivor Review. September 13, 2000. Retrieved January 27, 2006.
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^ IGN.com. Resident Evil Preview. September 10, 1999. Retrieved January 27, 2006.
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^ IGN.com. Resident Evil Returns on Game Boy Color. May 22, 2001. Retrieved January 27, 2006.
^ Biohazard Archives. 2005. Retrieved January 28, 2006.
^ Resident Evil Fan. Resident Evil 4. Retrieved February 1, 2006.
^ TNMC Movie News. TNMC Movie News: Resident Evil. May 27, 1999. Retrieved January 27, 2006.
^ TNMC Movie News. TNMC Movie News: Resident Evil. November 29, 1999. Retrieved January 27, 2006.
^ Rottentomatoes.com. Reviews of Resident Evil. Retrieved January 27, 2006.
^ IGN Flimforce. Videogame Movies: A Retrospective. October 21, 2005. Retrieved January 27, 2006.
^ IGN. IGN Presents: The Best of 2005. 2006. Retrieved January 28, 2006.
^ Electronic Gaming Monthly. Top 100 Video Games of All Time. Issue 200, page 94. Retrieved January 28, 2006.
^ Gamecritics.com. Resident Evil Code: Veronica Review. April 11, 2000. Retrieved January 28, 2006.
^ IGN.com. Review of Resident Evil 4. January 7, 2005. Retrieved January 28, 2006.
^ Gamerankings.com. Resident Evil Games Listed by Score. Retrieved January 28, 2006.