With the release of the Resident Evil 2 remake, lots of us are revisiting the series for nostalgia purposes.
Some people, though, have never played Resident Evil at all and might need a crash course on what the heck is going on in this series from an expert (me! Well, sort of…). Or maybe you’ve played them all and you still don’t know exactly what’s happening. It’s okay. I’ve put together an easy Resident Evil timeline that anyone with two brain cells could follow. Just for you. From me. With love. You’re welcome.
In 1966, Dr. Oswell E. Spencer and James Marcus found some pretty flowers that were said to give people fantastic abilities. Now, I don’t know if we’re talking powers like flying or heat vision, but either way the dudes wanted to get their hands on them. What was really found inside the flowers was a virus – later called the progenitor virus – which Spencer decided he could cultivate (a fancy term for sucking all the sweet viral juices out of) in order to make an improved human race.
To hide their scary project, Spencer and Marcus, along with Edward Ashford (more on this dude later) founded the Umbrella Corporation, whose slogan is “Turn that frown upside down, we’re Umbrella.”
That’s a lie. Their slogan is actually way creepier. Moving on.
Spencer with his dirty blood money, set up a base in the Arklay Mountains complete with a huge, winding, ridiculous mansion designed to keep intruders from breaking in. Because they were super likely to get intruders in the middle of the mountains. Paranoid, much?
Eventually, Spencer, Marcus and Edward began to lose money (a giant mansion full of monsters puts a strain on the wallet) and therefore they created new strains of the progenitor virus as biorganic weapons. Who might be interested in dangerous weapons that can be of no good use to anyone? The U.S Military, of course. This was known as the T-Virus Project.
In 1968, Edward Ashford decided to say “F those guys” to Spencer and Marcus and began doing his own research on the progenitor virus. Unfortunately, karma came back in full swing when Ashford was infected by the virus and died. His son, Alexander, was left with all of Edward’s research, but unfortunately was an absolute buffoon and didn’t know what to do with it.
Alexander, while fumbling around doing god knows what, launched the Code Veronica Project using the virus to create a clone of the head of the Ashford family, Veronica. The research for this project was performed at a base in Antarctica. Alexander was a cold dude after all. Heh. In 1971, two new members of the Ashford family were “born” (created? moulded?) due to Alexander’s cloning, Alfred and Alexia.
After years of progress, Marcus finally made headway with the T-Virus. Rather than immediately dying, anyone infected with the T-Virus would become a mindless walking corpse. Okay, some wouldn’t call it progress, but I’m sure Marcus did. He also decided to take on a few youngsters by the name of William Birkin and Albert Wesker to help continue his project.
While this is going on, Alexia and Alfred (the creepy test tube twins in Antarctica) discovered how they were “born” and, being the creepy teens they were, began experimenting on their father Alexander. When their father became a horrific monster rather than the fantastic powerful creature they were hoping for, Alexia injected herself with the virus (now called the T-Veronica Virus) to put herself into cryostasis for 15 whole years, hoping that her body and DNA will be a better match.
Marcus, still poking away at his fancy T-Virus, was eventually assassinated under the order of Spencer. One of Marcus’s favourite boys, Birkin, was given the official credit for T-Virus. With all of Marcus’s research at his fingertips, Birkin began development of a new virus. Because one is never enough. At the same time as this, the Nemesis virus was being created over in Europe (important for when we talk about Resident Evil 3 later). Combining the T-Virus and the Nemesis Virus, Birkin developed the G-Virus which is a much more advanced version that gives its host regenerative abilities and a big bulgey eye-ball arm. Other bulgey eye-ball limbs are available.
Spencer decides that because things are going so well what with the T-Virus and the G-Virus and the monsters and all the money, that he’ll build an underground facility for Birkin in order to help him with his work.
Resident Evil 0 and Resident Evil 1
Now that all of that is out of the way, let’s talk about some people that we know and love: the S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics and Rescue Service). In 1998, James Marcus, the one that was assassinated, had actually been morphing with a secret project he had been working on before his death. With his body fully formed by what are called “leeches” he was able to essentially create a new body for himself which, in turn, caused a huge issue for the folks at the secret underground Umbrella lab. This leads to a hugely massive horrifically predictable containment breach.
Over in Raccoon City, there are reports of people going missing in the Arklay mountains. Rather then send the regular old police, the S.T.A.R.S Bravo team is sent into the mountains to investigate the mysterious disappearances. To no one’s surprise, the team’s helicopter crashes. They get separated in the forest and rookie S.T.A.R.S member Rebecca Chambers is forced to take on the survival horror alone. Rebecca destroys Marcus’s Queen Leech, thus destroying Marcus (again), and leaves to try and find the remaining members of her team.
In the meantime, the S.T.A.R.S Alpha Team – made up of some of our favourite faces, Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, Barry Burton and Albert Wesker (Oh yeah, he’s a double agent) – are sent to look for the Bravo team. As they’re searching the crash of the Bravo helicopter they are attacked by “rabid” dogs and chased through the forest into the… [insert intense dun-dun-dunnn music here] Spencer Mansion.
As you’d expect, what the team finds there are cannibalistic monsters and horrific snakes, spiders, sharks and other things that don’t start with the letter ‘s’. Oh yeah, even the plants are infected. Though it takes them a while, like a painfully long time, eventually they discover that Wesker works for Umbrella.
After being discovered, Wesker, in the best evil villain fashion, reveals his plot to the entire audience. It wasn’t an accident that the S.T.A.R.S team was brought into the mountains. Wesker’s job was to get them there so that Umbrella could do research on the effectiveness of the bioweapons they were creating. And they would have got away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling middle-aged, combat trained police officers.
In an attempt the eliminate the remaining S.T.A.R.S members, Wesker releases the Tyrant, a horrific test tube baby who quite literally wears his heart on his sleeve. Well, he wears it on the outside of his chest, but you get what I mean.
With a little pew pew here and pow pow there, the S.T.A.R.S take out the Tyrant and escape in a helicopter before the entire Spencer mansion self-destructs in a gigantic explosion eliminating any evidence that remained there.
So that’s just a little glimpse at the complicated beginning of Resident Evil, but things only get weirder from here. Seriously, like we’re talking lots of tentacles. So there’s always that to look forward to I guess.