Partnering with Tearfund

Resident Evil - Degeneration (DVD)

Starring: Some voice actors who no doubt wish to remain nameless... and an umbrella.

Rated: 15.

Story: Terrorists have released the T-virus in an airport and there's a danger the G-virus may be let loose as well. Leon S Kennedy and Claire Redfield must renew their Raccoon City partnership, shoot some zombies in the head and then have a never-ending boss battle with a mutated monster that just won't die.

So, yeah, imagine a new Resident Evil game with no actual game, only the cutscenes.

Scary, eh?

(And not in a good way...)

Comments: Capcom have milked the Resident Evil franchise hard since the release of the first game in 1996. After almost twenty different games, three live-action films and a stack of merchandising, here's a computer-animated movie picking up the plot a while after Resident Evil 4. That's the game, not the film, by the way, since the storylines in the two media have diverged. But, then again, if you didn't know that already you should probably move along now because Degeneration is hard enough to follow even with a hazy memory of having played half a dozen of the games.

In particular, if Resident Evil 2 passed you by, you're not going to get much out of this.

Sadly, however, knowing your Umbrella from your T-virus still doesn't make Degeneration much fun. The first twenty minutes show some promise: decent visuals, a vaguely intriguing setup, familiar characters and zombies. There's a possibility it might all rumble along nicely. Then Leon turns up and everything goes pear shaped. Nothing makes sense, the middle section is dull and the final third is an excess of daft mayhem allowed to run wild without the budget restraints of live-action.

Some of the dialogue is so bad it's almost good but most of it is just plain bad. The voice acting is frequently wooden and occasionally the pauses between lines are too long, as if the recordings haven't been edited together properly. It speaks volumes about the quality of the script that Leon has to spend a couple of minutes at the end of the film explaining what was going on and the motivations of the other characters.

We've grown used to this level of ineptness in games because the cutscenes are dictated by the confines of the unlikely gameplay (which in Resident Evil consists of searching spooky mansions for weird keys while shooting zombies and solving obscure logic puzzles). As long as the games are fun to play, it doesn't matter if the story is ropey - the clunky dialogue adds to the B-movie atmosphere. Take out the game, however, and all that's left is a B-movie.

Conclusion: Plan Zombie from Outer Space.

Explosions: Plenty.
Brooding loners, cute little girls who need rescued, dodgy senators, unstoppable monsters, underground facilities and scientists who talk too slowly: One of each.
Ridiculous feats of acrobatics: Several.
Impressive CGI: Lots.
Good writing: None.

Rating: 2/5 if you've enjoyed the games, else 1/5.


No comments: