Tuesday, August 15

Monsters in Gaming; Zombies

 Part I - Resident Evil

The history of the Zombie monster is indeed a rich one. This history is so rich that I don’t intend to even attempt to cover it in this introduction. Just know that the Reanimated Corpse idea has been around for almost as long as humans themselves have. Within media, we’ve seen reanimated dead turn up as Vampires, Egyptian Mummies, Ghosts, and so on. This brings us to the need for a definition of what a zombie is. While others may disagree with my two simple rules for what makes a Zombie a Zombie, I think they fit rather well.

Rule 1: The ghoul is dead and craves human meat.

Rule 2: They are called a zombie in the media itself.

Zombie from Night of the Living Dead (1966)
With this understanding, we can see that Zombies have their origins in the Voodoo religion. These were corpses reanimated with magic to work as undead slave labour for their masters. Unlike modern zombies, these do not eat human flesh and are much more intelligent than their modern counterparts. After this, we get to the Night of the Living Dead by George A Romero in 1966. This iconic and still rather haunting film is the introduction of the modern Zombie. These are reanimated corpses with almost no intelligence and trace of their former personalities. This would be evolved into the Fast Zombies during the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead by Zack Snyder. These Zombies are faster, stronger, and sometimes more intelligent than the traditional Romero Zombies. From this point, we’ve seen Magical Ice Zombies in Game of Thrones, Mushroom Zombies in The Last of Us, and so on. Which brings us to video games! Let’s look at one of the most iconic Zombies in video games!

Resident Evil

The Resident Evil Zombies come in a few different varieties but are all caused by some form of infection. 

The most common RE Zombie is the T-Virus Zombie featured in Resident Evil 0, 1, 2, 3, Survivor, Code Veronica, Dead Aim, Outbreak File #1 & #2, Gaiden, Revelations, Umbrella Chronicles, Darkside Chronicles, Operation Raccoon City, Umbrella Corps, and Resistance. These T-Virus zombies are so prevalent that despite my exhaustive list I’ve almost certainly missed at least one game that features them. That’s not to mention the novels, comics, films, and TV series that have featured some variety of the T-Virus Zombies.

Zombie from the Resident Evil 2 Remake (2019)
The Tyrant Virus or T-Virus for short is a Biological Organic Weapon (B.O.W) created by the Umbrella Corporation. Originating from the Progenitor Virus found in the Sonnentreppe flower, the T-Virus was created to produce an army of superhuman weapons known as Tyrants. These devastating bosses are encountered in a lot of the early Resident Evil games. Both Mr X and the Nemesis are iconic examples of Tyrants. Only a small amount of the population will ever mutate into anything close to the Tyrants. Most will end up becoming reanimated Zombies that have an overpowering need to consume human flesh. After enough time has passed the infected Zombie will transform into what is known as a Crimson Head. These are stronger, faster, and more deadly than the earlier T-Virus Zombies. The name Crimson Head is given because the victim's skin begins to shed at this point giving them a blood-red appearance. This is not the end of the mutation though as even the Crimson Heads will mutate into what are known as Lickers eventually. These are former humans that now sport a long razor-sharp tongue, walk on all fours with elongated arms that have mutated into effective legs, while the finger and toe bones have grown into deadly sharp claws strong enough to allow them to walk along walls and ceilings. Interestingly victims of the T-Virus that mutate into zombies can retain a small amount of their personalities during the early stages of infection.
Zombie Brad Vickers from Resident Evil 3 Remake
We see this in the first game and its remake in the “Keeper’s Diary” document. This is the diary of the mansion’s animal supervisor. He becomes infected and the diary follows his descent away from humanity even recalling the time he attacks and eats his colleague. We see this again when the pilot from the first game, Brad Vickers, gets infected during the Resident Evil 3 remake. He returns to the RPD almost instinctively and when a work colleague apologises to Brad before attempting to shoot him, Brad repeats back the word sorry before biting his friend.

T-Abyss Zombies from Resident Evil Revelations

We’ve seen other types of Zombies in the Resident Evil series. These include the many variations on the traditional T-Virus such as the T-Abyss-Virus from Revelations, The T-Veronica-Virus from Code Veronica and so on. Then you have the other non-T related viruses that have turned people into different types of Zombies throughout the series' history. You have the Animality Virus or A-Virus from the CGI film Resident Evil Vendetta. These zombies are faster than T-Virus Zombies and are not reanimated corpses instead infecting living humans. Because these are alive people the A-Virus can also be reversed with a cure or vaccine. Then you have the Chrysalid Virus or C-Virus from Resident Evil 6. This virus will mutate people into a variety of different monsters depending on how it’s administered to the victim. When the victim breathes the virus into their lungs, they mutate into fast but weak Zombies that can run, climb, and overall, better navigate their environment than T-Virus Zombies. The drawback these infected suffer is their rather lacking survivability, due to being alive-infected humans they can be stopped with any wound fatal to a human. This makes them weaker than most other Zombies. A trait they share with the A-Virus Zombies. Lastly, you have the Cadou Mold Parasite from Resident Evil 8 Village. The Mold can mutate into a lot of different things due to outside influences and the condition of the host. Interestingly it’s also able to infect the deceased and reanimate them into slow-shambling ghoul-like Zombies that rise from the ground to ambush the player.

The Zombie is an iconic Resident Evil monster appearing in almost every form of media that the series infects. We’ve seen undead and alive-infected zombies throughout the series. These ghouls show no signs of slowing down their appearances in future RE games.

Sonnentreppe Flower from Resident Evil 5
The themes of Resident Evil are simply that when humanity tries to manipulate nature's awesome abilities for profit or power, they will very often lose control of it. Nature and her many deadly viruses, parasites, and animals cannot and will not ever be controllable by mankind. Trying to selfishly harness nature will often see both those attempting to do so and the innocents around them suffering the painful, horrifying, and deadly consequences. When allowed to coexist with humanity nature is often beneficial to us or at the very least not an uncontrollable threat. We see this with the Sonnentreppe flower in Resident Evil 5. Only growing within a region of West Africa, this flower had been the central foundation of the Ndipaya tribe’s culture and religion during the Neolithic era. A tribesman would eat this flower and either die or become the tribe's new God-king due to the Progenitor virus within. Oswell E Spencer found this flower in the 1960s and founded the Umbrella Corporation along with Edward Ashford and James Marcus to study this Progenitor virus. This was then refined into the T-Virus in the following years by Marcus. He was then assassinated by Spencer due to jealousy and a need to consolidate power. This assassination led to the original T-Virus outbreak in 1996 that started in the Arklay forest and quickly spread to Raccoon City. We see here how nature cannot be contained by those that want to use it selfishly. Their jealous need for power will always lead to mistakes and oversights that punish the innocent as much as the guilty.

The destruction of Raccoon City from Resident Evil 3 Remake
We see this with the T-Virus with Spencer’s need for power leading to the destruction of Raccoon City. Again, with Glenn Arias in Vendetta with his B.O.W arms trade with the A-Virus that saw hundreds die within New York City. Even with the secretive Family organization from Resident Evil 6 selfishly abusing their power with the creation and outbreak of the C-Virus. This would lead to the destruction of two major cities, Tall Oaks in America, and Lanshiang in China. Most recently Resident Evil 8 introduced us to Mother Miranda who wanted to use the Cadou Mold to control and manipulate the world to her benefit. This of course led to the destruction of her Eastern European village and all that lived there. The message of Resident Evil is clear.

Humanity should not try and control nature and if they do then it will see both the innocent and guilty suffer alike.

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