Feline Friday: Zombie Lions (Resident Evil)

Feline Friday is my chance to celebrate famous cats across the arts, whether their origins are in gaming, film, anime, literature or anywhere else.

If you have a request for a future feline, please let me know on Twitter.

ゾンビライオン (Zombie Lion)

First Appearance: Biohazard Outbreak File 2 (2004)

Though I hadn’t necessarily intended for the third week of October’s content to consist solely of Resident Evil-related pieces, once I started with a stray thought on the franchise, it kind of snowballed from there.

As a newfound fanatic of this series, I’m actually quite fond of the notion now, and might make it into a yearly event; albeit one that perhaps starts on a date more relevant to the lore of Raccoon City.

In any event, we now eye Friday’s cat article and come at something of an impasse. Despite the wide range of infected animals that appear throughout Resident Evil — a tradition launched right from the get-go with the snarling Cerberus hounds in the original title — cats feature rarely, if at all.

Could it be that there’s something upsetting about the idea of unloading a few rounds into a house cat? I find it a disquieting notion, and I’m convinced that, zombified or not, Lafayette would sooner put a bullet between my eyes than the other way around.

Fortunately, there is an extensive catalogue of offshoot titles in this series, and our source of kitty carnage comes from the PlayStation 2 entry, Resident Evil Outbreak File #2.

The title is a bit of a mouthful, and suitably, these big pusses would like to get a mouthful of you, too.

Set during the Raccoon City Destruction Incident of 1998, Outbreak 2 follows various survivors’ attempts at… well, surviving, through a range of scenarios. The second of these takes place at Raccoon Zoo, which lies between civilian Cindy Lennox and a helicopter extraction point.

Though the zoo had initially been used by the government as an emergency shelter, it did not take long before the contaminated water that brought the city to its knees had reached the animal enclosures. Among them is the local lion, Max, and three lionesses whose names are uncertain (Imma christen them Cosmo, Long and Pingtsi and call it a day).

Once the t-Virus had filled them with bloodlust, the lions burst free from their confines, roaming the zoo grounds for some tasty man meat upon which to indulge. Despite the impressive hunting skills they would have had while alive, the lionesses appear to lose their instinct once succumbing to the virus, mostly swiping and clawing at predictable intervals.

Max himself poses a greater threat, mauling his prey with fervour. Like most other foes, however, he falls after taking a few too many shotgun shells to the ribcage. It’s probably the only instance of trophy hunting that will ever be socially acceptable.

Due to their limited AI and the unceremonious nature in which they’re exterminated, the zombie lions unfortunately fail to leave much of a lasting impact in the echelons of Resident Evil. Indeed, if you were to quiz the majority of fans on any cats that had ever been present throughout the terrifying tales of Raccoon City, they’d be more likely to turn their minds to the tiger statue found in Spencer Mansion.

Depending on which version of the game you’re referring to, it’ll either reward a red gemstone with a nifty new gun or an onslaught of poisonous snakes. Proving that, even in monument form, felines are fickle beings.

As of 2017’s Biohazard, the franchise has made an earnest attempt to tone down its more silly aspects in favour of photorealistic horror. With this in mind, the odds of a meowing, hissing assailant ever making another cameo in our crosshairs are rather unlikely.

Besides the lions of Raccoon Zoo, we did come fairly close during the development of Resident Evil 4, where at one point zombified cats dubbed Witches were considered as an enemy type. Though we wouldn’t receive those in the final game, that particular RE4 prototype would later be retooled as Devil May Cry, with the Witches eventually redesigned into the demon familiar Shadows.

Just a bit of trivia to close out Resident Evil week, which is always fun to discuss with everyone not named Hideki Kamiya.

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