For me, I think Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 2 and 3 were good (especially Resident Evil 2) . Resident Evil Zero scared the crap out of me, and is very hard, but it's fun. Resident Evil was scary, but not very fun (I'm talking about the original, not the Gamecube remake. The Gamecube remake was awesome.)
RE 4 by far. That game was creepy & its the first one I can remember that didn't have controls frustrating the heck out of me. I didn't even get RE 5. I like horror games, not just action. I watched some of the walkthroughs' on this game & it doesn't look anything like a horror game. I took a pass.
Resident Evil 4. I heard amazing things about it, so I tried it and I loved it. Must have played it twenty times. I never played a Resident Evil game, so I went back and player a few... doesn't compare to the controls and feel of RE4
Definitely RE4. No Question. Such an evocative and memorable experience. I preferred the Wii version, which included all the bonus content from the other versions (PS3, Gamecube), as well as motion controls, which actually made the game better. Since RE4, I basically compare all other survival-horror games against it as the benchmark.
@T. Frye you liked the RE1 remake, but not the original??? there almost identical, except for a few added areas/features and updated the graphics. The gameplay and mechanics are EXACTLY THE SAME. how/why do you like that one so much more? For me, I have yet to play 2,3 and code:veronica (I know you didn't list it, but it is part of the cannon series), but when it comes to game play, probably 4, 0, 1. When it comes to story on the other hand its 1+0 only. The story for 4+5 was NOT resident evil. 5 Ruined Wesker by turning him into a cliched villain AND killing him off, and 4's story was completely unrelated to ANYTHING in the series. 4 actually had a decent story that kept me entertained, but again, its not RE. 5 basically took 4, striped off most of the mechanics (the merchant, being able to move+shoot, the lack of night or darkness in general, thus eliminating any and all scares, removing all monsters except lickers) added a BS co-op character to escape BS claims of racism, made the story completely ludicrous, and ruined one of the greatest villains of all time (second perhaps only to Sylar from Heroes).
I agree with LeMU on this one. 4 and 5 were made out of a completely different mold than the others (with 4's gameplay being just a tiny bit more connected to the original gameplay than 5's).
If we're going by the number of playthroughs, I'd have to say RE4. I must have played that game 1 million and a half times by now and still have considered getting the Wii remake. However, it was not so much the story or the ties to the series that dragged me in as it was the actual gameplay. I really enjoyed going around as Leon demolishing hoards of "zombies" with the new control system. That was it...
If we're going by favorite game as far as what actually qualifies as a survivor horror and nostalgia sake, I'd have to say RE3. This, by far, is one of my favorite games of all time. Nemesis scared the crap out of me time and time again. Every time I would turn a corner and hear "STAAAARS" my heart rate would jump about 20-30 bpm. This game had all the elements of a good survivor horror game, and I hope that they create more like this one in the future. I seriously doubt they will, but I can still hope. ^_^
RE5 - guess I'm the only one who likes it best! LOL. RE4 was a great game, but RE5 was on the PS3 so the graphics were just better. And I thought the storyline was much better developed in RE5 than RE4. I wasn't a fan of the earlier games.