Hey everyone, Kern here. Since I just recently reviewed Resident Evil 2, a title that was released (1998) I thought it was prudent To discuss a character from that game and the personal impact that Clair Redfield had on me as a fan.
The reason I wanted to write this was because I grew up with this character, and now a younger cousin of mine is as well. I feel the need to reflect on this, because thanks to the remake a character I once really liked in this fandom has been tarnished significantly. These are the reasons why.
As I said in my review of the retro title, Resident Evil 2 improved on the standard formula of the first game, but it didn’t forget what made it so well loved in the first place. It changed nothing that would hinder the experience, only enhance it. You can read the full review here.
Claire Redfield originally made her first appearance in the game. She’s come to the city looking for her older brother. By the time she gets there, he’s already gone to a safer location.
The city is infested with zombies, it isn’t safe. By the time she discovers that her brother isn’t in the city anymore, all hell has broken loose. She needs to leave too, and working together with Leon seems to be the safest bet. They agree to try and help a few survivors if they find any during their escape.
During Claire’s scenarios the player will be tasked with helping a little girl named Sherry Birkin. This is a somewhat key focal point for Claire’s main story. After culling the zombie horde and traversing a police station, sewers, and even an underground lab, eventually you escape the city with the Leon and Sherry.
If you’ve done everything right, you get a happy little ending that fades into the sunset. They’re you’re given a grade and score encouraging you to play again and get a better rank next time.
Claire promises to find her brother before the credits roll. Her story isn’t finished, and you’ll see her in later games.
The Resident Evil franchise has a knack for writing strong female protagonists, and there are no shortage of reasons why these characters are beloved by the fans of the games. That being said, Claire Redfield is probably one of my favorite characters in the entire series, at least as far as the retro titles are concerned.
In the early games, Claire is a little sassy, but all around sweet and sentimental. She’s got a kind heart, and a level headed optimism that plays a great counterpoint to Leon’s nearly blind obsession with doing the right thing.
While Leon almost fancies himself a hero in a police uniform, Claire is more down to earth about her ambitions and what she can be capable of. There’s a real soft side to her character that ultimately allows her to befriend Sherry Birkin. Through the events of the series, Claire sets herself on a path to help heal the wrongdoings and nightmares that plague the world.
I wish I could say I that liked the remake version of Claire Redfield just as much as her retro counterpart, but sadly this just isn’t the case. She’s a different character fundamentally and there are a few reasons why.
Claire Redfield is a far cry from her retro counterpart in the way she acts in the remake. Her personality and disposition are gritter, just like everything else. This version of her has a propensity to curse up a storm. She’s far more sassy and quick to fire off at the mouth, and there are times she’s flat out rude.
I don’t find these traits to be likable in the way she portrays them, and this isn’t to say she isn’t written well. She is very well conceptualized for this darker and gritter version of the game, but it’s hard for me to like her.
In fact, I hate this version of her character. Claire grows into having a certain amount of cynicism as time goes on in the franchise. After the series lore and the things she’s seen, that’s completely logical and understandable. Yet, this is tempered by the fact that she’s down to earth enough to recognize what she’s doing.
Now when I play Resident Evil games, I look for the charm and whit of the series. That was what the series taught me to do in my youth, and characters like Jill, Claire, and later in the GameCube era Rebecca were the ones that I heavily attached to. These women have diverse and complex personalities, which makes them incredibly easy to idolize. Young gamers need those idols. They’re no different than superheros in that way.
All of these characters become more cynical as time marches forward. However, to revamp Claire into this type of person from the start for the remake, is something that makes me not want to play the game at all.
I like the remake, but I’ve played it through about four times, and I’ve already gotten sick of it. Meanwhile, when I play the retro classic, I’m never sick of it. The reason for this is that Claire and Leon play off each other so well in the original version that I’m reminded of the journey these characters go on. As a gamer, I want to follow that journey.
Playing the retro games make me want to relive other great stories too, such as the ones in Code Veronica and Resident Evil 4.
There’s a real earnest side to Claire that gets buried under the grit and grime of the remake. She’s always been a tough person with a thick skin and the mindset to get things done.
She’s a real icon to younger gamers everywhere, and I’m offended that the remake just didn’t do their due diligence to keep what made her so awesome as a character in tact.
Although, that’s a more personal gripe than just being salty over a difference in characterization. Like I said, she is still very well written, but she isn’t exactly someone kids can look up to anymore, and that’s sad.
The thing is, I saw this first hand. So, maybe that soured my experience with the game a bit. For me, it’s the heart of the matter, though. It’s that I saw a true fan of this cool character become disheartened in a way I never expected.
You see, I have a few female cousins that are now just nearly teenagers. One of them loves the retro Resident Evil 2. She is enamored with Claire, just like I was as a kid. She even has a poster of the character on her wall. Actually, it’s my old one from a gaming magazine that I’d bought as a child.
She was so excited to play the new game, and I even let her come over and spend the night so that she could play it with me the night it released. So, there we were, a bag of Little Cesar’s crazy bread and a two liter bottle of soda in hand. The download completed, and of course we start up the game and play as Claire first.
We beat that play-through about fifteen hours later, after much death and plenty of slogging through every area of maps to the point of flat out stupidly at times. She really liked looking at all the little things they added, and when she had the controller she may have gotten a little too brave with kiting the zombies… lots of game over screens happened for both of us, let’s just put it that way. It would be an apt description.
Yes, like I said, many game over screens occurred between the both of us. However, even though she kind of liked the game, she didn’t like Claire at all. When I asked about it, the response I got was confused and sad.
My cousin literally just… for a lack of a better term, crinkled her nose and said “That’s not Claire. I don’t like her, she’s not very nice.”
Now I attribute that statement to the fact that the original game just doesn’t have talking when it isn’t in a cut-scene. The remake does. As you’re fighting monsters and exploring around, sometimes you hear a lot of not-so-nice things come flying out of Claire’s mouth. Her reactions to things are certainly realistic, but they do diminish those good attributes I spoke of above.
In the remake, she’s a lot less a hero in a biker suit. At least insofar as a young girl would be able to be inspired by. I realize my cousin she wasn’t the core age demographic for the game, but that has never once mattered when it came to the series before.
Recently, I discovered that it certainly didn’t matter as far as the remake for Resident Evil 3 was concerned either. She loved that one too, even when I absolutely didn’t.
The only game she hasn’t played in the franchise is Resident Evil 7. I think she’s just a little too young for that one. There are a few things in that game she just isn’t ready for. In my opinion, it’s a little too dark, and a little too edgy for her just yet. Every now and then, she still asks if she’s old enough to play it.
That’s the kind of fan I’m talking about here. It’s hard for her to dislike a Resident Evil game at all. She hasn’t asked to play the remake of Resident Evil 2 ever since the night of release. She doesn’t even want to play Leon’s side of it. She just doesn’t care.
That really put Claire as a character into perspective for me. Where i rationalized away the darker and gritter aspect, my cousin didn’t. She wanted her hero, and she didn’t get it.
To say that my cousin was disappointed in Claire is a huge understatement. This is now thirteen year old girl is no Resident Evil slouch, either. Her first game was Resident Evil 1 for the PlayStation, full of campy dialogue and content that really can’t be called scary to a modern gamer. When she beat that, she wanted to play the remake for the GameCube.
I was a skeptic about that for sure. Back then, she was only eight years old at the time, and those monsters looked way more realistic. I didn’t think she would even get passed the first zombie encounter, to be honest. Still, I let her play it with me at her side. She proved me wrong.
This kid spent well over a month during the summer as an eight year old playing through the GameCube version of Resident Evil 1 top to bottom. That’s when I knew I had a real fan on my hands, so I unearthed everything I had from the series.
She survived through Resident Evil 2 for the PlayStation and liked it so much, I gave her my Nintendo 64 copy of the game. That way, she could have some version to play whenever she wanted. This is a girl that absolutely annihilated Resident Evil 3 for the PlayStation, and muddled through Code Veronica on my Dreamcast in a single winter break when we were up at a cabin a few years back.
When every little kid on the planet seemed to be Five Nights at Freddy’s, crazy that little girl was a zombie fan to the extreme. If I had a Resident Evil game in my collection, she was going to drive me absolutely crazy until I let her play it.
So with all of this being said, for me the night we played the remake of Resident Evil 2 I really wanted my cousin to like that game. For me, that would have been by far the best gaming experience I could ever have.
I wanted her to enjoy it just as much as all the others. When Resident Evil 6 could at the very least accomplish that much, I was pretty sure that the bar wasn’t all that high to reach.
Man, was I wrong.
All I wanted, was to to see the magic that a game could bring to a young die-hard fan. In a way, I guess you could say I wanted to re-live my own youth a little bit as well.
Every gamer eventually finds a title in a franchise that rips away the magic. A game that lets them down. For my cousin, that game was the remake of Resident Evil 2.
It’s a good game, it really is. Sadly though, it just can live up to the heart of the matter.
This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.
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