This is the series that has come to name and define the survival horror genre, but with Capcom's attempt at trying to garner more attention from the gamers abroad it has become something...different. Fans of the original titles are now complaining that the series seems to have abandoned the original genre that it had originally helped create in favor of one that included more action. Even with the fan's negative outlook from this transformation, it became the standard to quite a few popular 3rd person shooters that would come after.
In order for the series to keep from being stale, Resident Evil had to be reinvented. You can really only go through so many games with fixed camera angles and trial/error gameplay. Resident Evil 4 included being able to see all of your oncoming attackers without being hindered with the old school traditions of the series, and with that they included a lot more to shoot at (read: limb sensitve zombies) and interact with (obtaining medalions and gems) including the intense boss fights. I am on the side that throughly enjoyed this change and still have it as one of my favorite games ever made.
Resident Evil 5 had some high expectations to follow, but came to really displease fans once it finally released. Why is this? Well, Capcom wanted to up the ante yet again in order to add cooperative play into the mix with the "play with a friend" mantra. A complete first for the series, and while playing with a friend is good in theory, the implementation wasn't where it needed to be. This new "co-op" feature forced a secondary placer with you even if you weren't playing with a friend which causes much frustration for the player throughout the game. The moments that required the both of you to work together were not very well thought out as they mainly consisted of kicking tough doors open, boosting one another up to open a door, and syncronizing level pulls for more door openings. The game is dramatically shorter than the previous title, even cutting the game itself into several short segments between chapters. The blue medallions are only in for achievements. While you could still upgrade your weapons, you had to wait to do so between segments leaving the merchant from Resident Evil 4 out entirely. And speaking of, you can no longer combine treasures in order to sell at a much higher value. Unnecessary changes.
With all of this said, the game itself is still very fun including the fanastic fight scenes with Wesker (not including the last boss fight, but that's another story). What the game did right, however, was the new and improved Mercenary mode. This is where the co-op function really shined through. Capcom later added versus and survivor modes which had a team of 2 versus another 2 and a four person free for all both including the normal zombie mayham turning out some very spectacular matches in the process.
Now, a "viral" trailer comes out of nowhere with the full blown announcment trailer for Resident Evil 6. The trailer shows off several interesting items including three main character storylines (Leon, Chris, and a "secret" character as they like to call him), the return of zombies in a similar setting as Racoon city, the ability to shoot while sliding, and bits of singleplayer and coop based gameplay. Capcom has listened to fans and it now making co-op optional and have added the true to form singleplay back, and more interestingly, in an interview there was mention of bringing fear back into the mix to what they are now calling "dramatic horror." And on top of it all, the game is supposedly going to support 2-6 cooperative gameplay, and 2-8 multiplayer. This has all yet to be seen. Let's all keep our fingers crossed for a game that can really make it as the best of the series. I, for one, will be waiting eagerly with anticipation in the new updates especially for the (hopefully) new and even more improved Mercenary mode.
*Disclaimer: Quite a bit of this is directly from my own opinion, and it doesn't express the views of the rest of the staff. I've been a fan of the series from the get-go and am in no way bashing on the old-school titles because I too enjoyed them back quite a bit way back when they were initially released. I even just recently rebought RE2 and RE3 on the PSN network to play on the go. I support change when it helps strengthen the series, and make the game even more fun on top of it.
Your friendly neighborhood PC Lead Writer,