As the first entry in what is now a franchise with more than 25 years of history, the original Resident Evil introduces several key players that go on to be recurring figures throughout the series. Looking at all the characters in Resident Evil shows that they share one important factor in common. Every one of them are members of the Raccoon City Police Department’s Special Tactics and Rescue Squad (S.T.A.R.S.), belonging to either its Alpha or Bravo Teams. When Bravo Team’s mission to investigate the bizarre attacks in the Arklay Mountains goes awry and the team disappears, Alpha Team responds to uncover that things are far worse than any would have likely imagined.
In addition to series mainstays Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, the first game in the series introduces players to the villainous Albert Wesker, veteran and mentor Barry Burton, and rookie Rebecca Chambers. Each of these important characters has gone on to either star or feature in other games of their own, and they can all trace their origins back to the series’ first game and introduction to the evil pharmaceutical corporation, Umbrella.
One of two playable characters in the original Resident Evil, Jill Valentine is a veteran of the United States Army and a member of the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team. Following her excelling as a member of the armed forces, Jill would receive Delta Force operator training, leading to her becoming an expert in both demolitions and lock vulnerability. As Barry Burton puts it, Jill is the “master of unlocking”. Serving alongside Forest Speyer, the two would eventually join the Racoon City Police Department’s S.T.A.R.S. squad as part of an initiative to recruit military veterans under squad leader Albert Wesker.
In terms of her gameplay in Resident Evil, Jill’s two extra inventory slots come in quite handy and make a playthrough using Jill akin to a “normal” mode (with Chris’ campaign acting as “hard” mode). Additionally, she begins the game with a pistol, something that players choosing Chris will have to source on their own within the Spencer Mansion. Her background as an expert lock specialist sees her obtain the Lockpick from Barry at the beginning of the game, which she can use to open any locks in the mansion requiring a Small Key (saving inventory space in the process).
Like Jill, Chris is one of the two playable characters in the original Resident Evil. Chris also happens to be a veteran of the United States armed forces as well, having served in the United States Air Force alongside fellow S.T.A.R.S. member Barry Burton. His extensive firearms training sees him land the role of Alpha Team’s resident marksman and weapons expert, and before the events of Resident Evil, he works alongside both Barry and Jill on several successful operations for the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team. In addition to having impressive skills with a variety of firearms, he is an expert in close-quarters engagements using a combat knife.
Choosing Chris as the playable character for Resident Evil offers a slightly different and somewhat more difficult experience than playing Jill. Though Chris is the team’s resident weapons expert, he begins the game with just his Combat Knife and must quickly procure a pistol within the opening moments inside the Spencer Mansion. And, unlike Jill, Chris needs to use valuable inventory space to carry Small Keys that can open simple locks. It doesn’t help that he has two fewer inventory spaces than Jill, though he makes up for it by being able to withstand more damage.
Barry Burton is a veteran of the United States Air Force and a former squad mate of Chris Redfield. The two would eventually join S.T.A.R.S. together as part of squad leader Albert Wesker’s efforts to fill the unit’s ranks with skilled military operatives. Unlike most of the other members of S.T.A.R.S., Barry is a father and husband and a devoted family man, though that in no way deters him from bravely entering harm’s way in hopes of solving crimes and maintaining order. Unfortunately, it is that very sense of familial duty that leads to his manipulation at the hands of Albert Wesker during the Spencer Mansion incident, acting as a double agent and helping Jill while also leading her directly into Wesker’s devious plot.
Depending on the player’s actions when choosing Jill’s campaign, players can see Barry redeem himself and turn against Wesker at the last moment, also helping her and Chris to escape the mansion. Barry later would go on to star as a playable character in Resident Evil: Revelations 2, though players do not get to control him directly in the original Resident Evil. Instead, there are specific sections where Barry accompanies Jill as backup or runs into her to provide assistance.
As the leader of the Raccoon City Police Department’s S.T.A.R.S. units, Albert Wesker is an extremely skilled operative and tactician. However, unknown to his fellow S.T.A.R.S. members is that Wesker is secretly in the employ of the Umbrella Corporation, having created the Special Tactics and Rescue Squad and recruiting military operatives into its ranks as part of a trial for Umbrella’s new bio-weapons. In actuality, Wesker is a top-ranking researcher and scientist within the Umbrella Corporation and one of the driving forces behind the creation of the T-Virus that’s responsible for the horrors within the Spencer Mansion.
Though he initially conveniently disappears within the opening moments of Resident Evil, players will eventually run into him at the Guardhouse whether playing as Chris or Jill, and then finally come face to face with him in the underground lab after learning the truth regarding his employer and intentions. Though he appears to die at the hands of his creation, the Tyrant, the truth is that Wesker had already ingested some of the T-Virus and comes back to haunt both Chris and Jill throughout the series as a bio-weapon super soldier.
The youngest member of S.T.A.R.S., and also its newest, is rookie medic Rebecca Chambers. Though the original Resident Evil places her in more of a support role for Chris, the truth is that she has her own harrowing adventure just prior to the events of the first game (Resident Evil Zero). After winding up at the Spencer Mansion and reuniting with her S.T.A.R.S. counterparts on the Alpha Team, Rebecca regularly provides medical assistance to Chris, even coming to his rescue during a pivotal fight against a massive plant-like BOW (Bio-Organic Weapon).
Richard Aiken is a member of the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team and serves as the unit’s resident communications expert. In addition to helping to train and onboard Rebecca Chambers as the unit’s newest recruit, Richard makes a name for himself in the S.T.A.R.S. unit as a selfless and brave individual willing to put others before himself. When the Bravo Team gets stranded in the Arklay Mountains, Richard enters the nearby Spencer Mansion to search for his teammates only to eventually come face-to-face with a giant snake. After receiving a near-fatal bite from the snake, the player will come across Richard, who gives them his radio to contact pilot Brad Vickers.
Depending on whether you’re playing as Chris or Jill, Richard’s outcome is slightly different. When playing as Jill, running into Richard will trigger a time window in which she must head to the first-floor storeroom and acquire the anti-venom serum there before heading back to use it on Richard’s wounds. If successful, Richard will pass out from the pain only to later rescue Jill from a poisonous bite herself through a selfless act of sacrifice. When playing as Chris, the serum-fetching quest still triggers after meeting Richard, but he dies at the hands of a Hunter while recuperating in the storeroom.
Brad Vickers is the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team’s resident helicopter pilot, responsible for taking his squad mates into dangerous situations and then safely extracting them. When the Alpha Team heads to the Arklay Mountains to search for the missing Bravo Team, they are swiftly attacked by strange creatures, prompting Vickers to panic and take off in the helicopter, effectively stranding the rest of the squad. Later, after coming into contact with Richard, both Chris and Jill receive regular transmissions from Brad, who informs them that he is maintaining a flight path above the mansion.
After making their way to the lab and realizing that most of their fellow squad members are either dead or missing, Chris and Jill successfully make contact with Brad to plan an escape from the Spencer Mansion. Either Chris or Jill will head to the roof and confront the Tyrant in a showdown after signaling Brad’s helicopter using a Flare, prompting Vickers to show up and save the day by tossing down a rocket launcher for the killing blow against the BOW.
Like many other members of the S.T.A.R.S. unit, Enrico is a military veteran who would later join the SWAT team of his hometown police station following his service. During his career in law enforcement, he meets fellow veteran Barry Burton, who would convince him to join the Raccoon City Police Department’s new special forces unit (S.T.A.R.S.). Unit leader Albert Wesker quickly recognizes Morini as a capable soldier and leading force, appointing him as the commander of the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team.
Following their dispatch to the Arklay Mountains, Enrico’s intuition leads him to believe that the team was set up, which causes him to seek out who the mole is within S.T.A.R.S. After surviving through several scraps with the BOWs infesting the Spencer Mansion, Morini would ultimately meet his end from a shot fired by Albert Wesker, who kills Enrico to silence him before he can reveal Wesker’s duplicitous nature to the player.
After serving alongside Jill Valentine in the United States Army, Forest Speyer would join the S.T.A.R.S. team with her as part of Albert Wesker’s initiative to recruit skilled military operatives into the unit. Like Chris Redfield’s role on the Alpha Team, Forest would serve as the Bravo Team’s marksman and weapon expert thanks to his skill and experience as a sniper. After the Bravo Team dispatches to the Arklay Mountains and gets ambushed, Forest makes his way into the Spencer Mansion only to wind up getting mutilated by crows affected by the T-Virus.
Kenneth J. Sullivan
Kenneth is the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team’s reconnaissance expert and would be one of the first members of the squad to enter the Spencer Mansion to investigate. The Bravo Team’s disappearance would result in Alpha Team’s dispatch to the area, and just moments after entering the Spencer Mansion the player witnesses Kenneth’s death at the hands of a zombie in the game’s iconic beginning to the adventure proper. Along with Joseph (who meets his demise at the hands of a pack of Cerberus just outside the mansion), Kenneth is one of the first victims of the Spencer Mansion incident.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Gameplay screenshot.