Summer of the Dead – Resident Evil: Caliban Cove
I’ve never really been into the novelisations of games or films, normally I’d just assume that they had been written by some cheap hack author and then pumped out for as cheap as possible to make as much money as they can for whatever product they are tied too. Being a massive Resident Evil fan I decided to throw caution to wind and went out a picked up the entire series of novelised versions games written by S. D. Perry and found myself to be pleasantly surprised. Whilst these books aren’t going to win any major awards, they’re a good fun read and fans of the game will get a kick out of the extended stories. There are six books in total, one for each game up to RE: Code Veronica and there are also two entirely original novels; Caliban Cove and Underworld both of which have been designed to fit into the overall Resident Evil canon rather than too overwrite it. Caliban Cove takes place between the events of Resident Evils 1 and 2 and focuses on the adventures Rebecca Chambers and the S.T.A.R.S Exeter Branch as they investigate the Umbrella Corporations Caliban Cove laboratory.
Caliban Cove begins with the S.T.A.R.S unit on the run from the Umbrella Corporation who have branded everybody involved with the Spencer estate incident as terrorists and have paid off city officials to disband the Racoon city S.T.A.R.S office. The only people willing to listen to their story are the Exeter branch of S.T.A.R.S, led by David Trapp an old friend of Barry Burton. They learn another outbreak has taken place at the secret Umbrella Facility based in Caliban Cove and at the centre of the outbreak is genius biochemist, Nicholas Griffith. Chris and Jill send Rebecca Chambers along with the Exeter team because of her expertise with chemicals. When they arrive at Caliban Cove they find out that Nicholas has been working on another variant of the T-Virus, one which will rob the infected of their humanity but allow them to be trained to carry out the most basic of tasks, including combat. Griffith who has become crazed with power, plans to spread his virus across the globe in order to create a world in which he is the ruler and everyone must carry out his bidding so it’s up to Rebecca and the Exeter S.T.A.R.S to stop him. Like I said the plot isn’t going to win any awards but it’s a plot fitting for a Resident Evil story.
The S.T.A.R.S Exeter branch are carbon copies of the Alpha and Bravo team so you know that most of them will end dead by the end of the book. There are two characters however that I think are really interesting. David Trapp is the leader of the unit and represents the B character to Rebecca’s A character with the book cutting between the two characters perspectives in a similar way to how the games have two main characters whose stories occasionally intersect before ultimately coming together in the end. He also represents a father figure to the Rebecca and the younger S.T.A.R.S and is normally the one who puts his neck on the line to save them. My favorite character in the probably the entire series is Trent, an enigmatic character who generally appears at the start of the stories and gives the S.T.A.R.S a tip off about Umbrellas latest plans and the means to get into their facilities whilst he appears at the end of the stories where you get to find out a little more about him and his objectives. What I like about Trent is that he represents the puzzling aspect of the RE games, he gives the characters all of the keys and maps that in the game you have to travel back and forth trying to find, even though he only has a small role Trent really speeds the pace of the books up and allows the author to focus on the story rather than how the characters get from A to B.
S. D. Perry wisely doesn’t introduce to many new enemies into the canon, the major new enemy is the introduction of the Tri-squads, they are essentially zombies that have retained enough intelligence to handle automatic weapons and understand the most basic of tasks, making them even more dangerous than you typical T-Virus infected zombie. Apart from that the book features the usual appearance of zombies and zombie dogs, although quite surprisingly the book doesn’t feature one major T-Virus infected super solider like the Tyrant. I don’t think the book particularly lacks from this omission but I was surprised that Capcom allowed Perry not to include one because they are a staple of the series.
For fans of the Resident Evil series I’d say this book and the rest of series are a worthwhile read, if your not a fan of the games then it’s not going to make you want to go out and pick them all up. Definitely one of the better novelisations around at the moment.