Good Old Reviews
Resident Evil Needs A Reboot

Marshall Lemon | 21 Mar 2016 12:30
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What the Hell is Going On With Wesker?

I really don't get why Resident Evil fans love Wesker. Sure, he served a notable antagonist role in the original, and it was interesting to uncover information about him in Raccoon City's police files for the sequel. But beyond that, Capcom is obsessed with shoehorning him into the plot everywhere they can, even when he's not related to immediate events. His death was retconned, he had significant cameos in Code Veronica, Umbrella Chronicles, and RE4, and mutated himself to gain zombie powers in Resident Evil 5.

Wesker is basically Agent Smith in The Matrix - a perfect villain for the first story, but so effective that directors kept making him more powerful in sequels, even when doing so made no sense. Wesker is no longer just a prominent spy monitoring Raccoon City's police force to keep Umbrella informed of your progress. He's also a prospective Umbrella executive, a double-agent for multiple corporations, and secretly harbors a supervillain scheme to replace humans with mutants. Wesker wears so many hats across the series that his presence has been stripped of power - he's just a generic antagonist to introduce when the stakes must be artificially raised.

We can do better with Wesker, but not in the current Resident Evil backstory. Short of a prequel set in the 70s where a young Wesker falls from grace (hmm, there's a thought), the only option is to reimagine him from the ground up.

In general, Wesker works best when he has an equal footing with the protagonist, or just the slightest edge. If Pokemon was a Resident Evil spin-off, Wesker would be that rival who's with you from the beginning, rushing ahead to snag the best monsters for himself. He should be the protagonist of his own story, advancing secretive interests parallel to the player until they finally intersect at the end. That's why Wesker was so engaging as a fellow S.T.A.R.S. agent - he's a dark reflection of the player characters.

What he should absolutely not become is Wesker, King of the Monsters. It destroys his mystique as the human counterpoint of all the zombies you face, and turns him into just another enemy - a more powerful one, true, but less interesting. At best, he should be a power behind the throne - Resident Evil's Darth Vader, receiving promotions for stellar work and opposing the player at every turn.

Most importantly, a reboot gives us the chance to give Wesker an interesting backstory. Deserved or not, Wesker is considered one of the most important video game villains of all time. Capcom could do so much more than simply make Wesker evil for evil's sake. Was his father a prominent Umbrella executive? Is there someone he cares about more than the innocents he lets die? Or maybe it's Wesker orchestrating the zombie outbreaks all along, because he believes it's the only way to attract S.T.A.R.S's attention to Umbrella's activities.

These are just a few musings on what might make Resident Evil engaging again. I'm sure there are many other fan theories players could come up with. But whatever Capcom chooses, the best way to take advantage of that potential is to reimagine so much of what came before. A reboot is really the best direction Capcom can take, and perhaps the one which will get players talking about Resident Evil all over again.

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