Cities In Stress: Surviving A Zombie Apocalypse

Friday 24 February 2017

Have you ever thought how a city or town - your city or town - would be if it was suddenly infested by zombies or mutants? Most of the heroes in the Resident Evil games had the mischance to experience such a situation firsthand, subsequently offering us some pretty unforgettable and epic sequences taking place in the streets of big cities or smaller towns.

Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield in Resident Evil 2 spend very little time outside, since their main concern is to explore the chaotic building of the Police Department and its hostile sewers, however at the beginning of each one's story they find themselves in a street, surrounded by blood-thirsty zombies.

Despite the simple graphics, the depiction of the zombie-inhabited streets is quite compelling

It's no safer in the alleyways, which are now occupied by zombies ready to attack.

It's hard to make it safe in such narrow streets

They have to go through a few side-streets and alleys before they get to the R.P.D. This includes having to pass through a bus that is blocking the way, by entering via its back door and exiting back outside to the street via its front one.

The zombies in the bus have just come to life, obviously smelling Leon's delicious flesh

There are several exterior areas that are in the perimeter of the Police Department building, and they are all equally creepy and equally dangerous.

The iconic playground with the unexpectedly optimistic message on one of its walls

Back out in the street, more zombies await and danger is lurking everywhere.

The fire engine is destroyed and the zombies are present everywhere

In Resident Evil: Nemesis, Jill Valentine finds herself in Raccoon City while it's still daylight. This however doesn't make the streets look and feel less scary. Jill will have to cross many exterior areas in the once lovely town, until she reaches the tram car which is located at what seems to be the world's end.

The ruined streets of Raccoon City create a quite convincing post-apocalyptic atmosphere

During her creepy wayfaring, Jill will be constantly pursued by the terrifying Nemesis, a hideous monster created to hunt down and kill any S.T.A.R.S. member that it spots within a distance. This makes her journey even more challenging, as she has to be on the alert with her every step.

As night falls, Jill reaches the center of the town, where the cinema is playing "Resident Evil 4"!

Reaching the tram however means she has only done half her tasks. She will have to backtrack to the first part of the town and then return, after having collected some important items. One of them is located in a gas station, a place which is always a major attraction for the zombies.

The zombies are advancing towards the gas station where Jill and Carlos are

Later on, after reaching the Clock Tower, fighting with the Nemesis, getting seriously poisoned and being saved by Carlos, Jill has to cross the Raccoon City Park so as to reach the other side of the town. The park looks like it used to be a wonderful spot - and still is, if you ignore the dozens of zombies and monsters that jump at you from every direction.

The Raccoon City Park looks idyllic, but its current inhabitants are quite creepy

Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar in Resident Evil 5 may start their journey in an African village, and nearly all their adventures may take place in rural areas and the coutryside, however after leaving the Kijuju port with its floating market, they arrive at a provincial town.
This town must have known some glorious days once

This Shanty Town, as it's described, is in ruins, and its inhabitants may not be exactly zombies, but their behaviour and hostility resemble them very much. Getting past them is not an easy task, not to mention the surprise attacks from the air.

The enemies may not be zombies but they are closely related to them

Moving further into the town, Chris and Sheva arrive at an alley with the skeleton of a bus, another indication of the place's destruction.

Buses are almost always present in the Resident Evil games

This alley has an extra surprise, as apart from the regular enemies, a particularly creepy chainsaw-yielding dude with a sack covering his head smashes through the gate at the far end, and you have to temprorarily neutralize him so as to grab the key that he holds, which opens the outer exit.

Why is it that these chainsaw guys always have their head covered?

This brief but rather memorable urban section ends in an open area that looks like a square of sorts, where Chris and Sheva are attacked by a gang of mutated residents and are eventually helped out and saved by the local BSAA.
Josh and his men save Chris and Sheva at just the right moment

Leon Kennedy with Helena Harper in Resident Evil 6 start their adventure in an urban environment, however it's not until after they leave the Tall Oaks University and pass through the Subway that they are able to reach the street level.

From the very first moments in the Town, it's pretty clear that it's overtaken by evil powers

From there and on till the end of this section, it is an atmospheric and compelling journey through a city under siege. This whole part of the game is totally stunning in its depiction of the zombie-infested town, slowly building up the feeling of uneasiness, discomfort, danger and controlled fear, as Leon and Helena cross the streets, fighting or just running past the undead enemies.

Leon seems to be having flashbacks from his Raccoon City experience

After going through a rather busy part of Tall Oaks, Leon and Helena arrive at a temporarily quiet street but naturally they can't stay there for long as the zombies are slowly advancing from behind.

The atmosphere in the zombie-inhabited Tall Oaks is both creepy and charming

Then they pass through a house whose inhabitants are either dead or have turned to zombies, and eventually arrive at a back yard where they meet, for the first time, the horrific Shrieker, a zombie with extra powerful lungs, who can produce a yell so loud, shrilling and scary that it is able to render you half-deaf, make you lose part of your health, shatter all nearby glasses, kill zombies that are nearby and summon other zombies that are within a specific distance at the same time.

The Shrieker seems to be what remained of a failed opera singer

In that same yard, Helena has to go look for a way to open the exit, while Leon stays there heroically to fend off the attacking zombies.

Leon knows better than anyone how to deal with zombies

Next up they arrive at a gas station, where a group of survivors are struggling to defend themselves against a gang of zombies.

Leon and Helena effectively help out the survivors at the gas station

A brief but rather stressing sequence ensues, during which a truck full of zombie soldiers crashes into the gas station, causing more enemies to appear, attacking from all directions and in several ways.

The smoke and fire at the gas station area create a progressive feeling of anxiety

After a few minutes, you have to shoot the gas spilling off from a broken pump. This causes a major explosion, which kills nearly all of the zombies and gives you the chance to run with the other survivors and hide inside a nearby gun shop.

Shooting the gas completely ruins the place, but gives you space to leave

Later on, when Leon and Helena are in China, and after they have met Jake and Sherry and helped them to (temporarily) get rid of the stalking Ustanak, they have to pass through the Lanshiang Market. This once busy and popular area is now completely deserted from living beings, save from a small flock of roosters near its entrance.

The roosters are the only other living creatures in the Market

Soon enough, they realise that the actual residents of the Market are the gross Rasklapanje, some leech-like monsters that have the annoying habit of spliting themselves in several different parts, therefore being able to attack in many ways.

The Rasklapanje is in the process of biting off its own hand to throw it onto Leon

Your task here is to find three keys that will open the exit gate. Thankfully you have a locator in your PDA that will show you where these keys are. As you look around to find them, you have the chance to wander around the market but not without care, as the Rasklapanje will constantly be after you, ready to attack.

This section is bizzarely eery, in that it shows an area which would normally be full of people, yet there is absolutely no human presence around the characters, and the stillness that dominates is chilling. Everywhere you look, there are things associated with human activity - work benches, ovens, stores, benches selling sea food - but all the human beings that you encounter are already dead.

The central street of the market is chillingly still

The monsters that follow you persistently wherever you go, even up on high rooftops, can totally be ignored though, resulting in them looking rather ridiculous as they unsuccessfully attempt to catch you.

You can climb up on rooftops but the monsters will soon join you

Once you have all three keys, you have to run to the exit gate and unlock it quickly, to leave that area.

The exit gate has a sign with the "Three Little Pigs" above it

After Leon and Helena fight Simmons for the first time on the train, they end up at the port area where they have to run together with a group of soldiers to make it safe from the lethal toxic gas that burst out of the missile that Carla launched from the aircraft carrier. In this section, we get to see yet another zombie-infested city in all its creepy glory, this time with the imminent threat of the gas to top it.

The gloomy city setting is immersive in this section

Getting anywhere near the gas is instant death, which means you have to dash through the streets and enter an interior area where you can catch your breath for very few minutes, because soon enough zombies will burst through, allowing the gas to fill the building at the same time.

The blue cloud that the gas creates fills the streets in seconds

Once you make it through the building, a soldier will offer to give you a ride to a far part of the city that is not currently affected by the gas, bringing you closer to your destination, which is the Quad Tower. While in the jeep, you can look around the streets filled with zombies, and consider yourself lucky for being somewhere safe. Although there's no action in this sequence, it is quite intense, underlined also by the sad music that is heard in the background.

The zombies are way too many to handle

Eventually the jeep reaches a barrier, so Leon and Helena have to get down and continue on foot. The gas seems to be in a a safe distance, however soon more zombies will start appearing through it.

You can stay there and fight the zombies, or just jump over the barrier and leave them be

After jumping down the other side of the barrier, a huge explosion hits Leon and Helena, rendering them unconscious for a few minutes. When they are back to their senses, they find themselves in a street surrounded by flames, with zombies advancing towards them.

The flames are so dense and so bright, that it looks like it's day already

Leaving that area, and passing through another deserted building, Leon and Helena arrive at another part of the street, which is cluttered with stopped cars as more zombies arrive.

This would have been a regular traffic jam, if it wasn't for the zombies taking action

Soon enough, and as even more zombies start approaching, an airplane that has been stuck into a building drops down on the street, causing yet another explosion that creates a real living hell. Leon and Helena have to dash through, jumping onto stopped cars to reach a helicopter that has come to their rescue.

One mis-step, and you are literally toast

In another part of Lanshiang, Chris Redfield with Piers Nivans and the rest of the Alpha Team are storming through the main street of the city, in a race against time to reach a building where hostages are held. This is the opening sequence of Chris's campaign, and although there are no zombies yet, what we get from the view of the city streets is a feeling of confusion, frustration and disorder.

The city is drowned in complete chaos

Further down, as you move to another part of the main streets, enemies start appearing. Although they are not zombies but mutated soldiers, their hostile presence has the same effect.

Unlike the zombies, the mutated enemies are very conscious when using their guns

The same atmosphere dominates in the back streets, where more mutated enemies await. These guys are more dangerous than the zombies though, because they are clever and they know very well what they are doing. Chris and his team have to be extra cautious if they want to survive.

Chris and his team just fell into an ambush in a back street

As Jake and Sherry make their escape from the Research Facility where they have been held for six months, and after defeating the persistent chopper that was stalking them for quite some time, they arrive at a lone back street of Lanshiang. Some random enemies that show up in the distance seem to be busy with something else so they ignore them, yet the whole setting of the street is quite creepy, with all the abandoned vehicles lying around.

The Poisawan side alley is deserted yet the creepy feeling is dominant everywhere

Things get a bit more stressed as they move on in the Shopping District, where extremely hostile mutated soldiers wait for them. This section consists of four areas which are blocked with locked doors that either need to be unlocked from the other side or require you to kick them open with your partner, making your life even more difficult. The first part has several enemies but they all attack from the ground, although they can easily follow you up on the stilts.

The first area Shopping District has a couple of high places where you can seek refuge and shoot the enemies from relative safety

The second area is some sort of alley which is empty at first but as you proceed a group of enemies bursts through the exit gate. However this section looks like a promenade, given what follows next.

Although they are considerable in number, the enemies in this part can be easily dealt with

The next part is similar to the first: a wide street overtaken by mutated soldiers, only this time a couple of them are patrolling high up on the stilts, mercilessly shooting at you. The ambush you encounter in this area is one of the worst in the game.

The bright and colourful signs of the shop do not lessen the feeling of uneasiness at all

In the final section of the Shopping District, there is a nasty surprise waiting for Jake and Sherry. A freaky enemy who looks like he's made of pieces of rotten meat (namely, the Ubistvo) attacks them out of the blue with an equally freaky chainsaw. Jake and Sherry have very limited space to run as all exits are blocked, while dodging the monster's attacks, until they are able to stun it and find a way out of this area.

This chainsaw-yielding dude is constantly out of control

Ada Wong in her part of the story passes through the Lanshiang Shopping District herself, but gets to visit slightly different areas. Ada arrives via the park with the playground in the Poisawan district, where she is greeted by more mutated soldiers.

Ada isn't impressed by the J'avo acrobats

Moving deeper into the market area, she sees benches full of goods for sale, now abandoned as the whole area is deserted. Soon she realises she is not alone though, as there are other soldiers appearing and attacking from all sides. Any human beings that she encounters are already dead.

Ada sees corpses everywhere

What ensues is a mad dash on the stilts above the main street, as the chanisaw dude from before (who obviously played possum to fool Jake and Sherry) suddenly spots her and starts chasing her. Due to this chase, she ends up in the alley between the two main shopping distric streets. This place now is populated with old school zombies who may or may not notice her, as she makes her way to the other end to get the exit key from a corpse.

Ada can move in this area via the awnings, but eventually she will have to jump down to the street

However attempting to leave results in the Ubistvo bursting through the gate and stealing the key from her. Ada has to temporarily defeat him while being careful to not be grabbed by the zombies, so as to get the key back. Once outside, she has to take a ride on top of a ghost bus, while the Ubistvo arrives yet one more time to keep her company.

The Ubistvo is quite the stalker

They end up in an empty railroad, blocked on both sides with electric current, thus rendering useless any attempt to escape. Sooner or later though a ghost train will come running, getting the Ubistvo out of the way and giving Ada the opportunity to grapple her way off and into the moving train.

In Resident Evil: Revelations 2, Claire Redfield and Moira Burton find themselves trapped in the prison of an unknown island. After managing to escape, they reach a fishing village from where soon they have to leave in a hurry, together with Claire's boss, Neil Fisher. The three of them arrive together in a post-apocalyptic town, where all signs of human presence have been erradicated.

The deserted town creates an intense feeling of discomfort

The street is dirty and empty, the buildings in the distance look abandoned and shabby, and the dog-like creatures that suddenly appear turn out to be bloodthirsty creepy monsters. A bit further down, the horribly mutated residents of the island make their appearance behind a barred gate. Claire and Moira run to save themsleves while Neil stays to fend them off.

The enemies are about to smash down the gate and attack

Claire and Moira then pass through an abandoned bar and get out in another part of the town, where once again everything is ruined and dead. There are more enemies there to face, and they are quite creepy.

The abandoned playground is a rather sad thing to see

When the girls are back out on the street later on, the same depressing and eery atmosphere is still dominant.

The screen effects underline the gloominess of the town setting

At the end of this section and after a nightmarish battle with multiple strong enemies, Claire, Moira and little Natalia exit to a wide empty street where they have a few minutes to chat before they witness the fatal crash of Gabe's chopper.

Claire, Moira and Natalia in one of the very few tranquil moments of the game

In Barry's part of the story, Barry passes through the same areas of the town with Natalia. As six months have passed since Claire's part, the place is even more deserted and sad, even more creepy and depressing.

When Barry arrives at the town with Natalia, it's a rainy, cold day

The next section is occupied by Revenants, and Barry and Natalia have to be very careful as they attempt to run past them.

The creepy Revenants are slow when they are idle, but can become extremely lethal if they notice you

The section where the playground is, is now inhabited by the horrifying Revenants and one disgusting Stinger who likes to play dead but is ready to throw its gruesome projectiles onto Barry and Natalia at any minute.

The Revenants and the Stinger are able to sense human presence from quite a distance

The next part is even more trashed than before, and the falling rain makes the atmosphere even more heavy and eery.

There are no enemies in this part, but the feeling you get from the place is very unsettling

The urban sections in both Claire's and Barry's parts are relatively short, but the settings they depict are very convincing. The gloomy, dark colours that dominate add a lot to this, and so does the ambience as well as the low but creepily atmospheric music that accompanies the characters in their journey.

2 comments: said...

I was looking for a psychological analysis of a character and found this site on Google, to my luck. Your reviews are great, your posts are all very interesting, they present a very good (re)view of the story - in particular, I try to read more about Resident Evil, but I saw that you analyzed other really cool games as well. Thank you and continue with this project, I'm reading without being able to stop!

hisbrokenbutterfly said...

Thank you very much!