To celebrate the recent release of Resident Evil: Retribution on DVD and Blu-ray, we at Starburst were pleasantly surprised to receive an email from the bosses of Umbrella Corporation themselves, inviting us to a special event in Reading that they thought might be of interest to us. The email looked official enough and thinking – nay, hoping – that this was a first step for them towards turning over a new, friendlier leaf, we replied with confirmation of our attendance.
Our stomachs obviously full of trepidation considering Umbrella’s history of subterfuge and experimentation, we travelled to Reading by train on the drizzly morning of Tuesday 29th January. Following directions given in the email, we wandered away from the station and found ourselves standing at the rear of a building that appeared to be very understated and not at all what we expected to be an Umbrella establishment. In fact, the only evidence to confirm that we were in the correct location was a small laminated Umbrella Corp logo, stuck to the door. We also found that we were not alone, as we were joined by other journalists who had also been invited along for the soiree.
Our pleasantries were short lived as the rear door crashed open and we were greeted by an individual encased in what appeared to be a hazmat suit and gasmask. Before any of us could react, we were hurried inside and the door was locked behind us. Finding ourselves in a tight corridor, we were each given a form to complete and sign. This should have been our first real warning (after the gasmask of course!) as the form stated something about infection but we felt pressured to follow the orders being barked at us.
From here, we found that we really should choose which events to attend more carefully. Each of us had to place our finger on a sensor pad, which turned green and we were told to wait in line. Well, all of us except for one. One of our group found the sensor turned red and she was led away screaming, and off into a room, never to be seen again. All this happened as our forms were checked and we were given an armband, either red or blue in colour, which were strapped to our arms.
We were rushed into a side room, where a doctor gave us a drink that correlated with the colour of our armband. The following minutes were a blur as we were advised by someone dressed in an Umbrella uniform that we were there to assist with the clearance of the facility. We were given some protective jackets, eyewear and pump action shotguns and given a run through of how to use the weapons before being taken further into the building. It’s at this stage when we all realised we were actually in an old abandoned shopping centre. Our confusion reigned supreme and was suddenly compounded when our Umbrella guides were felled by a hail of bullets by two men who came out of the shadows.
As we trained our weapons on these individuals, they explained that they were there to help and that Umbrella had lied to us all and infected us with two separate strains of virus – hence the different colours. We also discovered that our shotguns weren’t even loaded, meaning that up until that stage, we were actually cannon fodder. They gave us pills to combat what we had been given and we then had no choice but to follow these freedom fighters in order to escape. Around the next corner, we bumped into another Umbrella goon and a reverend. Both were taken down, but not before the reverend called out the name “Eve”. One of our new guides then found some papers that held a picture of Eve and we were informed that our new task was to track her down and save her. It appeared that she was the victim of another experiment, code-named Project Eve.
Thus began the pulse racing search throughout the building as we tried to stick to shadows and escape the clutches of further Umbrella soldiers and the shambling undead that seemed to be everywhere we looked. A TV screen allowed the Red Queen to provide us with the cheery message that she expected us all to die. Yeah, thanks for that love!
A few set pieces followed that got the adrenaline going as well as more running and hiding as we avoided a pair of Tyrants and a horde of zombies who chased us up the stairs before finding Eve and releasing her. It was only when we reached the roof that we realised that we were safe and that our ordeal was over.
Regardless of the fact that Umbrella had tricked us and tried to kill us one way or another, we hacks all congratulated each other on managing to survive and complete the mission. No one dared to ask what fate befell our female colleague that was manhandled away from us at the beginning of the day. After all, she was infected.
If you find an invite from anyone representing the Umbrella Corporation, delete it.
Resident Evil: Retribution is out now on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD.