After years of squandering, I recently finished Resident Evil 4 for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve actually owned the game for a few years but didn’t bother finishing it because I didn’t like it initially. However, I decided to beat it mainly because I had never finished a Resident Evil game before and partly because I’m a fan of its protagonist, Leon Scott Kennedy, whose name bears a strong resemblance to film actor Leon Isaac Kennedy (a favorite of mine as a kid), who is apparently a minister now.
Upon doing a little research while finishing RE4, I noticed that Resident Evil 2, the game in which Leon S. Kennedy debuted, turned fifteen in January. Since I normally try to stay on top of these things on the Chomp, today I’ve decided to celebrate RE2‘s birthday by taking a look at Kennedy’s appearances in video games over the years.
But before we delve into the history of Leon, here’s a little Resident Evil 101 for the unfamiliar. Created by video game designer/producer Shinji Mikami and published by Capcom, Resident Evil (known as Biohazard in Japan) is a survival horror series that made its debut on the Playstation in 1996. The story centers on a viral outbreak which first starts in the fictional U.S. residence of Raccoon City, turning its population into zombies. The source of the outbreak is the T-virus, which was created by the mega corporation Umbrella. For a while, Umbrella (and its former acolyte, Albert Wesker) were the primary antagonists of the franchise, attempting to control the world while being opposed by series heroes such as Jill Valentine, siblings Chris and Claire Redfield, and of course, Leon S. Kennedy.
Created by the trinity of video game designer Hideki Kamiya, the late Resident Evil 2 writer Noboru Sugimura, and designer Isao Ohishi (who apparently based Kennedy off of his bloodhound), Leon S. Kennedy was designed in contrast to the aforementioned Chris Redfield, the battle-tested soldier from the first Resident Evil game. This was done because the Resident Evil creators decided that RE2 should have a protagonist who was inexperienced with harrowing situations. Thus, Kennedy was introduced as a rookie cop who’s first first day on the beat happened just as the viral infection within Raccoon City was reaching critical levels. How’s that for first day jitters?
Kennedy’s garb in RE2 is a SWAT-style outfit, consisting of a blue bodysuit with large black (or dark navy depending on the render) elbow pads and armor plating on the shoulders, the side of the arms, and the chest. On the chest plating and on the back of the bodysuit are the letters “R.P.D.” (for Raccoon City Police Department).
Kennedy has two other unlockable costumes in RE2, which can be obtained by using the Special Key to open the locker in the Dark Room at R.P.D. headquarters. The first costume consists of a baseball hat, purple tank top, dark green pants and black boots.
The second costume is a casual look with a leather jacket, blue jeans and brown shoes.
In the Nintendo 64 port of RE2, there are two exclusive alternate costumes just for this version of the game. First, is the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) costume, which is based off the uniform worn by the team that investigated the viral outbreak in the first Resident Evil game.
Second is the “casual” outfit, which consists sunglasses, a white shirt, a black vest, black pants and black shoes. A very 1990s look indeed.
Interesting of note, the marketing campaign for Resident Evil 2 included commercials directed by horror film legend George Romero, whose seminal film Night of the Living Dead has helped to keep zombies firmly entrenched in modern horror fiction and popular culture. The commercials starred the late Brad Renfro as Kennedy, and Adrienne Frants as Claire Redfield.
Kennedy’s cop look was carried over in the 2001 Game Boy Color exclusive Resident Evil Gaiden, a spin off of the main series. In this title, Kennedy’s R.P.D uniform sports the same classic colors, but the styling is a little different. The black armor is held together by white bands and the R.P.D. letters are much smaller.
Leon would make his return to consoles as a protagonist in Resident Evil 4. No longer a greenhorn cop just trying to survive, Kennedy now is a sharp-tongued, acrobatic one man army with impeccable combat skills. His look had changed as well; the SWAT-style police garb gave way to a bomber jacket and a streamlined combat outfit including cargo pants, boots, and fingerless gloves. A knife sheath (not seen in the picture below) is attached to the left front shoulder area of Kennedy’s shirt.
Still, traces of Kennedy’s rookie past can be found in Resident Evil 4. After beating the game once, an updated version of Kennedy’s R.P.D. uniform can be selected as an alternate costume. In contrast to his original police uniform, this version of Kennedy’s uniform is darker in tone and features the knife sheath carried over from his default outfit.
The third outfit available to Leon is the “Gangster,” which is unlocked after completing the mini-game “Assignment Ada”. This outfit consists of a black suit, black fedora, and black and white shoes.
Kennedy appears in 2009’s Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, which tells some of the story in between Resident Evil 2 and 4. Kennedy’s R.P.D. uniform again makes another appearance, and is similar in style to the version of the uniform that appears in Resident Evil 4.
Pictured below are the other costumes from Darkside Chronicles. From top to bottom they are: “Agent,” (basically his RE4 costume) “Detective,” and “Casual.”
Kennedy’s sports his R.P.D. uniform again in last year’s Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. This version of the R.P.D. uniform is nearly identical in color to the original, although its styling is similar to the uniform in RE4.
Also released last year was Resident Evil 6, the latest chapter in the series’ main storyline. In this title, Kennedy has a few different outfits. The first is a casual outfit with light grey slacks, a black shirt, black leather jacket with two white stripes on either arm and black shoes.
The second costume (used in the game’s China mission) is a blue shirt with a leather zip-up tactical vest, dark slacks and black shoes.
In the mini-game “The Mercenaries,” Leon can sport two pirate outfits. A red one:
And a blue one:
Finally, there’s Leon’s 32-bit costume, which is basically his R.P.D. uniform rendered in an old school polygonal look.
That does it for this edition of Tuesday Treasures. For more information on the Resident Evil series, do visit the Resident Evil Wikia, which most of the information for this article (including many of the images) comes from. Until next time.
Peace & Pixels