We all had that friend. The one we met in high school that smelt a bit like sour milk, but had a soda stream, and a load of SNES games so we suffered it. The one who adds us on Facebook 15 years later, and now obsesses over sports cars, and uses words like “Alpha” and “Beta” when talking about people as though he’s just come back from a particularly entertaining Soma holiday. He used to be kind of okay, but now he’s an annoyance, and keeps boring us with tales of whatever the hell a “leg day” is, and inviting us to play whatever the hell Candy Crush Saga is.
As it was with that guy, so it was with Albert Wesker. We’re talking about the video game version of Albert Wesker here. There’s a version of the character in the movies, apparently, but he might as well be a couple of googly-eyes stuck to a hockey puck for all the shits we give.
Wesker was never anyone’s favourite villain, back in the day, because he wasn’t one. Not really. We remembered him mainly as “the guy who combs his hair oddly in the opening credits” or “the guy that gets stabbed up by a Tyrant”. The Resident Evil series was still in its infancy, and was yet to spawn the billion sequels that it ended up with. Even in Resident Evil 2 and 3, we’re treated to new villains each time in the forms of William Birkin and the titular “Nemesis”. As far as we were concerned, Albert Wesker was the dodgy leader of the blithely-ineffectual STARS unit of the Raccoon City police force, who turned out to be an evil traitor for the evil Umbrella corporation, and died at the hands of their evil creation. Sure, he was evil, but that’s all he was. A throw-away bad guy.
And that was nice. We don’t get many of those these days because games companies keep characters closer to their chests than a duct tape brassiere, just in case they might be useful in a sequel. But these were the days of relative innocence. When Wesker died, we allowed ourselves a quick gloat. Good. Serves the bastard right. He certainly didn’t somehow plan all of this shit because he needed to die in order for the virus in his cells to activate, turning him into a super-human terminator-esque figure. He just got pwned by a huge zombie monster. Awesome. In the (definitive) Sega Saturn version of the game, we even got to kill him as a zombie, which should have put paid to him ever coming back.
If it had been left there, we’d be living in a very different world right now. Instead of reading this article, you’d be sitting on the balcony of an expensive penthouse apartment in downtown MegaCity 62, watching the cars fly past. But you’re not. Blame Capcom. Not just for changing your destiny, but managing to ruin a perfectly functional character.
Having injected himself with the progenitor virus, he proceeds to get himself killed by the birth spasms of the tyrant, because he needed to die in order for the virus to work its magic. Not only does this imply a level of trust in medicines that we would never have, but surely there are better ways to die than traipsing through a mansion, and then the secret lab beneath it. Most people manage suicide just fine without having to involve themselves in even one fight to the death with a hulking super-soldier. If we’re feeling particularly pedantic, which we always are, then why not just stay outside and let the skinless dog-monsters chew you up at the very beginning? Sure, he couldn’t have stopped the earlier team from divulging his involvement in corporate espionage, but who cares about that when you’re made of virus? Nobody but Wesker. The excuse of being there to collect ‘battle data’ on the Tyrant is flimsier than a rice-paper yacht. He didn’t have to do any of that from inside the mansion for the same reason we don’t check on the welfare of bees by smooshing our faces into the hive. If the only thing to leave the mansion by the end of the night is the hulking mega-brute, he could have counted it as 1-0 to the mutated guys and gone home happy.
When he reveals himself next in Code: Veronica, it becomes abundantly clear that his primary superpower is having turned into an insufferable cunt. It’s not just his newly-developed Faux British accent, or his use of dialogue that would make George Lucas pack it all in and join a monastery, it’s the whole ‘cardboard cut-out’ classical villain appearance of the character that sets us on edge. He’s got evil, glowing eyes now, and he fades in and out of the shadows like an indecisive moth. He uses phrases like “Dear Heart” when he refers to Claire, a phrase which we can only associate with elderly homosexual thespians. In Code: Veronica, Wesker couldn’t be more camp if he was a large field outside of a centralised urban idea, ideal for temporary accommodation. And he seems to hate Chris with a passion now, which is a little bit odd, considering that if Wesker wanted to die, Chris has done absolutely nothing to deserve any ire whatseoever. Perhaps it’s because Wesker wanted to sell the Tyrant, but in that case, he should blame Umbrella for only bothering to make one of the damn things. Besides, he doesn’t seem to give a single shit about Jill.
Wesker’s appearance in Code: Veronica hinges mainly on him grabbing up a sample of the T-Veronica virus carried by Alexia Ashford and then buggering off. No doubt he could have taken that sample from any of the giant, sputtering tentacles she left lying around like an all-night hentai party, but instead he goes through the fantastically convoluted rigmarole of showing up to toss around a few more mincing epithets, before matrix-fighting her and then deciding to make off with that Burnside kid instead, stopping for a quick fist-fight with Chris Redfield on the way. It almost seems like he was intended to be an awesome evil super-secret agent character, and the writers failed to notice (or care) that he was in no way secret, and had very little agency.
This is illustrated further in the ‘separate ways’ additions to Resident Evil 4, where Wesker appears as a voice in Ada’s ear playing a third-rate Charlie’s Angels. He spends most of his time whining about why she hasn’t killed Leon yet rather than wondering why she isn’t doing anything he is asking her to do, and why, as an apparent infiltration expert, her clothes make her more conspicuous than a paedophile on mumsnet. Wesker is a supervillain that has chosen to order the one person on the planet that actually likes Leon to kill him. He’s not a very smart man.
And so, to Resident Evil 5, which, while controversial, was also complete shit. Jill Valentine returns with some sort of mind-control hat on, and Wesker finds out that he’s a kidnapped child infected with the progenitor virus, and he’s not the only Wesker. The whole thing was a tangled mess of nothing, but Wesker’s part in it was pointlessly incredulous even for a game series about zombies and viruses and only being able to carry 6 things. He stood around for a bit, while Excella Gionne, a woman who doesn’t even have the common sense not to wear club attire in a research facility, simpered around him, before his grand plan to infect the world with some new virus is revealed, and the player can almost see the chimps that write the Resident Evil storyline shrugging in unison.
The finale of the game takes place in a conveniently-placed volcano, where the grand face-off between Chris and Wesker occurs without any of us being completely sure why. He dopes himself up with the new virus, and then explosions occur before Wesker finally falls into the volcano, which is universal writer’s code for “we’re not going to bring him back any more, we promise.”
It’s hard to properly deconstruct Wesker without starting to view him as one of those comedy cartoon villains who blows himself up at the end of every episode and only has enough strength to wave his charred fist in the air, and cry “I’ll get you yet!” before the credits roll. We certainly hope we never see him again, but we all know that he will come back eventually, when the series gets stale enough. They’ll drag the character out of mothballs, and some lame-yet-expensive DLC will explain that he totally meant to fall in a volcano, and that the true power of the Uroboros virus is only unlocked by suffocating on liquid rock.
- Game Review – ‘Resident Evil 5′ (2009) (adventureamigos.net)
- Game Review – ‘Resident Evil 6′ (2012) (adventureamigos.net)
- Resident Evil (Image) (cdoolittle.wordpress.com)
- The Best Video Games of Our Time (millcreekchronicle.com)
- “Resident Evil: Degeneration” (2008 Japanese animated movie) review (sturdypine.com)
- Review: The Umbrella Conspiracy (Resident Evil #1) by S.D. Perry (bookslifewine.wordpress.com)
- Watch Resident Evil: Retribution Full Movie Online Free HD Stream (ganmovie.wordpress.com)
- TBoD Picks: Top Bad Guys in Video Games (teabagordie.com)
- Game Review: ‘Resident Evil: Code Veronica’ (2000) (adventureamigos.net)