Zombies, Realism, and Resident Evil

Mentioning the Resident Evil games and realism in the same sentence may seem strange, but when compared to other zombie apocalypse fiction, they are, in a sense, remarkably grounded. Other famous zombie works, from Night of the Living Dead to World War Z make the unfounded assumption that a slow-moving, unintelligent horde of creatures who can only spread their infection by biting, can easily overcome a modern military, a supposition that has little basis in fact. Even the very premise of the zombie horde itself does not hold up under scrutiny, as the means of infection would realistically confine a majority of outbreaks to the local level, something no apocalyptic scenario wants to acknowledge.

The Resident Evil games are different. All outbreaks are local, and occur not through random chance, but through human error and/or deliberate malfeasance, with the virus itself being a bioweapon. Said outbreaks are contained, with varying degrees of ease, by either special forces units, or more general military action, despite the fact that the zombies are reinforced by a veritable army of other bioweapons. The largest chunk of real estate ever lost to the undead consists of a single city, doomed by bad luck and a perfect storm of local corruption and federal attempts at a cover-up–and even then, the damage is quite easily contained.

This article would examine this aspect of the Resident Evil games, exploring why it takes such a radically different approach from a majority of zombie fiction, and looking at the degree to which this is a more realistic scenario than that depicted across the genre as a whole.

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