One of many pleasant surprises in the recent Resident Evil 2 remake was the script. Don't get me wrong, this is still B-movie territory, but the reimagining managed to stick to the original's story while also improving it – and adding a few killer jokes.
A great example of this humour comes near the game's close, as you finally gain access to the huge Umbrella lab hidden beneath the city's police station. The entrance area leads off to various staff facilities, including a break room and the Umbrella cafeteria. Upon entering the latter, you hear the sound of feasting zombies before eventually finding this sight, which coincides with a tannoy announcement:
"Our menu is designed for your nutritional needs using our latest biological research."
It's not only a good visual gag, but the idea of Umbrella incorporating its bio-weapon learnings into the staff canteen is funny too. It also made me pay a little more attention to my surroundings: hey, what does a menu designed by Umbrella look like? The answers only raise more questions.
To say I was disappointed with the initial findings would be an understatement. On the left we see a rack of Pop N Beans, Tropique Candy, Wealth chocolate bars, and Stumps cookies. On the right is something called a Wine Cape (looks like Turkish Delight), Comet bars, and Fruit Candy. All of which looks like the kind of processed, sugary crap that's going to rot your teeth as well as your guts. Is this what it takes to crunch on the G-Virus?
Next to all the sweets are a bunch of machines selling fizzy drinks and coffee. As anyone who's had one knows, coffee from machines like this is disgusting and something of an insult to the human race. In every other area of operations for Umbrella, cost is no object. When it comes to the caffeine hit for its finest minds? Carbonated gut-rot and bitter, boiling coffee substitute.
Herbal teas. OK, boring, we'll let those slide. Probably quite healthy, just water really.
But wait, I hear the Umbrella apologists cry, these are merely the pre-packaged comestibles. The nutrition message was all about the design of the menu. Oh my sweet summer child, take a look:
Paydirt. Now we find out what nutrition really means to the Umbrella Corporation: burgers, and plenty of them. Under 'combo meals' we get: classic burger, cheese burger, bacon cheese burger, a veggie burger, shrimp poppers (bit American these, think 'sea nugget') and finally... scrambled eggs?
It pains me to say this, because let's face it, they're among the greatest food on Earth, but burgers are bad for you. The occasional burger meal? Great stuff, no harm done. A burger for lunch every day in the staff canteen? Coronary central and no mistake. I'd be surprised if Umbrella has any employees over the age of 45 left.
Shrimp poppers? Hmmm. Seafood is good, but deep-fried breadcrumbs are bad. This is another black mark.
The scrambled eggs are probably the healthiest option here, and it looks like Umbrella's catering acknowledges this by subsidising the price: while the other options range from $4.45 to $5.97, a combo meal of scrambled eggs costs a mere $1.00.
I'm not going to waste time explaining why the puddings are all bad for you: if you have chocolate sundaes or cheesecake for lunch, and work on the G-Virus, you deserve everything coming. One final note of mystery, however, is that vanilla and chocolate shakes are $3.50 while strawberry is a whopping $5.50. And let's remember this game is set in 1998, so Vincent Vega would have some serious issues with those shake prices.
OK: we've done everything we can in examining the Umbrella Cafeteria's front end: time to hit the kitchen and find out what's really cooking.
Well well well: INDIVIDUALLY PACKAGED CONDIMENTS. Is there no end to Umbrella's crimes? Perhaps it's too much to expect a military-industrial bioweapons firm to do their part for the planet, but still.
Freeze, creeps! One serving of scrambled eggs and a couple of waffles. Note in particular here that Capcom's interior designers have gone to the effort of creating the correct cooking utensils for use on this kind of surface, to which I say: props. I'm not entirely sure this kitchen's hygiene is the best, mind, it looks like years since they've scrubbed it down. If Ramsay had done an episode of Kitchen Nightmares down here, William Birkin's transformation into an unstoppable monster would be the least of the staff's worries.
What we've got here is some hot sauce, some NON-MENU potato chips, and a bunch of assorted canned goods that also don't appear to be on the menu. It's clear that we're dealing with a kitchen gone rogue, one where thoughts of employee health are just that: thoughts.
Once again let us applaud the interior designers (within reason) for that packet of flour. How else you gonna get waffles on the menu? There also appears to be a nice stash of jams, which I'd imagine go quite nicely with a waffle.
Naughty naughty, look at this: up top we've got a god damn slushie machine. There's a supermarket near me with a slushie machine. Anytime I'm in there and see some kid attracted by the colours and the mixing motion, I think 'poor kid.' A slushie contains more sugar than an adult should be consuming in a week. And they're gross.
Below that? It's another of those bizarre off-menu items, in this case several packets of dried spaghetti. Going by the other items on the menu you could probably knock up a decent carbonara, which would be the healthiest thing in here.
So is the Umbrella Corporation's cafeteria menu as nutritious as it claims? It is not, and if I was employed in this secret underground lab making terrifying monsters, I'd be more worried about the long-term implications of my diet than the unlikely event of something going wrong in containment. I hope Umbrella's employee benefits include health insurance anyway because, if you're having a bacon cheeseburger for lunch every day, one could almost argue getting killed young by a Tyrant would be a blessing.