The Resident Evil franchise is a franchise that strongly reflects on its content, Capcom can hit it with a shovel all they like but there will still be a glimmer of life left in the old carcass. After the masterful re-birth that was Resident Evil 4, the series is once again eating itself alive. Not only do we have yet another Resident Evil film this year, but also a special edition of Resident Evil 5 containing all the DLC and PlayStation Move controls. As of such, I’ve decided to give my two cents on the main game itself to once again establish the general reception. It’s been almost universally accepted that Resident Evil 5 was a disappointment, which has more than likely put a few people off, but is its stench tolerable to still be worth indulging in?
Unfortunately, you’re going to have to get used to the smell first. Resident Evil 5 throws you into the worn-out shoes of Chris Redfield, this time in Africa for some arbitrary mission. Inevitably, the game spends a bit of time dawdling doing your seatbelt up first, but after that it’s a high-octane rollercoaster that rarely ever slows down. Within minutes you’ll be fighting for survival inside a secluded village as a horde of zombies turn up to feast on your innards, a rather dim attempt to recapture that extremely memorable opening sequence of Resident Evil 4 I must admit. Dim perhaps not being the best choice of words there as at least half of Resident Evil 5 is set in broad daylight, making any effort to build up a gloomy atmosphere completely wither away into the core of the sun.
If that wasn’t enough, you’re also forced to co-operate with your partner, Sheva, a concept that should simply just be left for dead. I have to admire Capcom for creating an experience people can share, but always having a partner to guard your back ruins the feeling of isolation and ultimately induces less fear into a situation. It does however add a new element of gameplay; you do actually have to work together to progress. From a single player perspective though having an AI partner’s hit and miss, at times Sheva’s somewhat reliable, a handy tool to have and occasionally she feels like more of an annoying obligation. Regardless of how hectic a predicament maybe however, Sheva never feels entirely necessary (even if she actually is); I’m still not sold on souly co-operative gameplay and I very much doubt it’s the way forward for Resident Evil, especially when comparing this game to its vastly superior predecessor.
It is Resident Evil 4’s influence what makes this successor’s field of gameplay so strong though, Capcom may have took a few digs at it with the aforementioned shovel malarkey, but the formula still hasn’t grown dated yet. Running away from a man chasing you with a chainsaw still carries the same giddy thrill it had previously and while it’s not exactly scary in the slightest, it’s bursting with enough action to keep you occupied ‘til the game’s completion. If anything, Resident Evil 5 is just a squeezing of Resident Evil 4, its ruined the original form, but the condensed fluid that was drained out of is still tantalising. It doesn’t exactly feel like a Resident Evil game or even a survival horror game for that matter, but from just a third person action standpoint, it’s a great, unique example of the genre.
I’d imagine most, if not all fans of the series have already picked this up already, so I won’t dwell too much on where it stands by comparison. It may leech Resident Evil 4’s traits of butchering the infected in a varied manner, but it plays very differently to past iterations. For one thing it features a real-time inventory screen meaning you won’t have to pause the game to change weapons. A welcome addition on paper, but flawed when executed, it’s mind-numbingly clunky to organise items, especially when the game is still chewing on your arm and ironically, it still manages to break flow, more of a half-baked nuisance than genuine convenience. After each part of the game/death you’ll also have the option to arrange, upgrade and purchase equipment, which is more helpful than finding merchants dotted around the place, but less intuitive and generally uninteresting as well.
I keep comparing this game to Resident Evil 4 but really it’s a much better game if you don’t. It still holds up strong and stands tall while there maybe a few cracks here and there. The plot’s still terribly written and some of the dialogue is like a cheese grater being rubbed across your ear. There’s a genuine lack of creativity or developed ideas and most of the gameplay just relies on defeating waves of “Majini”. Its gripped the prospect of Resident Evil so tightly, some of it drastically leaks out and composes a mess. In conclusion, it’s a fantastic game hindered by some flaws that need to be addressed, to some these are ignorable and minor, while others of the more critical nature may see these as inexcusably putrid. Regardless of the apparent faults, I can’t say Resident Evil 5 is bad, in fact as far as co-operative third person shooters go, it’s great, just don’t think of it as a successor to one of the best survival horrors in gaming and enjoy it with your bloodlust.