I have an unfortunately long history of playing game franchises and watching movie franchises out of order. I’ve seen Aliens vs. Predator 1 and 2 and Alien, but I haven’t seen Aliens. I played Devil May Cry 3 and 4 but haven’t even touched 1 and 2. With the Resident Evil series, I played 4 first, the Gamecube remake of 1 second, and now 5 third. This has, unfortunately, resulted in me being entirely incapable of understanding the backstory of 5, thus reducing any dramatic tension of the return of an important character to “Am I supposed to know this person?” Everything I know about Resident Evil can be summed up in three points:
1. There’s an Umbrella Corp. and they make viruses.
2. If something goes down somewhere in the world, there is a good chance Wesker did it.
3. ‘master of unlocking’
Fortunately though, that didn’t detract from the gameplay, which overall was quite good. Like every other Capcom game before it, there are several stupid design choices, but I’ll get to those in a minute.
RE5 looks and sounds fantastic. Wait, I should probably qualify ‘sounds fantastic’ with ‘as long as your teammate isn’t yelling for your help every 5 seconds’, because that happens quite often and is very irritating. As for graphics, I don’t know what Capcom did, but they really captured the look of a swamp or the look of a dusty African village. Shame that they felt the need to get away from detailed, original locales like that in order to go back to the staple of the shooter world: the flame-barrel-and-metal-pipes factory.
The gameplay is top-notch, though with a few minor flaws. There’s a communal inventory system that carries across difficulties and replaces the old attaché case (good idea), but then in-game you only have 9 slots per character (bad idea). This means you have to spend a lot of time you don’t really have in combat to play musical item slots, as you need to shuffle around your armor, herbs, weapons, and ammo.
Speaking of which, you’ll want to make sure you make extra-special careful to keep all the herbs and first-aid sprays. Sheva’s apparently some first-aid spray/herb junkie who keeps jonesin’ for a fix, because as soon as you hit something like 60% she puts away the pistol she will invariably have equipped no matter how big a damn arsenal you give her and makes sure to make you wish you played co-op mode instead.
Other than the partner AI and the inventory system, the gameplay is fun and smooth. My favorite parts are the moments where you have to defend yourself against waves of enemies while in a big open area with lots of treasure and ammo because those moments made you feel like you were in a horror movie.
The online modes (the ones besides co-op mode) are both decent, though I’ve only played several hours of Versus mode. Mercenaries mode has you and another person fighting off waves of Majini trying to rack up combos and hit timers. It is a lot more fast-paced and frantic than the normal Resident Evil 5 gameplay, and Bob and I had a blast trying out different character combinations and trying desperately to raise our score to A-rank. I should mention that once you hit A-rank, you unlock another Mercenaries mode character with a different weapon loadout and another stage if you hit B-rank, making multiple tries necessary in order to unlock everything.
Versus mode is alright, though there are a few slightly annoying bits. Even though the spawn time is quick and individual deaths do not matter much, it sucks in any online game to be chain-stunned over and over without any chance to counter, and if another person gets a shock grenade launcher that is precisely what will happen. Also, more maps would be appreciated, as between the game, Mercenaries mode, and Versus mode, it’s likely you’ll get sick of playing through the same village square or the same temple again.
Overall, I enjoyed Resident Evil 5 very much, even though it’s not without its flaws. As long as you play co-op though, these flaws won’t detract much from your enjoyment.
A lot of Capcom games made in the past few years has at least one or two questionable design decisions. A lot of people hated Dead Rising‘s save system and friendly A.I.. There was the T-ENG limits and falling/rolling wankery of Lost Planet, along with the Japanese and their Energy Guns. And Devil May Cry 4 had that accursed camera which would quite possibly cause devils to cry.
Yet all of those games are awesome. I’m not sure how Capcom turns out games that have glaring problems but are still highly enjoyable. That was a pretty mediocre segue into Resident Evil 5, but I’ll forgive myself because I’m great in lots of other ways. Sort of like Resident Evil 5! Goddamn I’m talented.
The presentation is great. Absolutely fantastic. I mean, I’m not playing on a high-definition set or anything, which some would argue invalidates my opinion almost completely. Those people are elitist assholes. The graphics are very nice, the music is…well, it’s there, and it does its job I suppose. Voice acting is pretty good in a Resident Evil sort of way. I really enjoy the menus, which have a Metroid Prime vibe to them, and that rules. I’d comment on the sound effects, but the built-in speakers on my old, standard definition set are pretty bass-free. That’s one area I don’t feel qualified to judge either way. From what I can make out, guns sound like guns and dudes running at me screaming and waving dynamite sound like dudes running at me screaming and waving dynamite.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the controls, and I don’t really understand why. It’s almost the exact same thing as RE4, depending on your control scheme, and who needs strafing anyway? Strafing is for pussies. If you’re not slicing enemy projectiles with your knife like you’re in the Matrix or something then cash in your chips Junior.
There are two major problems I have with RE5. I have a feeling they’re the kind of things that would only bother someone on the higher difficulties, if they were noticed at all on Amateur or Normal. I don’t really know since I’ve only played through the game on Veteran and Professional. I’ve also only played the campaign with Eric, because I’ve heard stories about Sheva’s AI and I don’t want none of that son, not even a taste. Regardless, let’s assume that her AI is a large negative, since not everyone has a friend who will play with them. I suppose that means I have three major problems with RE5. The second is the cut scenes. The game doesn’t – doesn’t – pause the action while a cut scene is playing. You can’t be hurt while you’re in a cut scene, but that doesn’t mean the fucking nanosecond it’s over you won’t be hit with a chainsaw, or a bigass tentacle, or a stick of dynamite or WHATEVER. It’s awful, and when you die in one hit it makes many segments absolute nightmares. Particularly bosses with cut scenes. Nothing like trying to fend off hordes of tentacle goo monsters then BAM cut scene, guess what, when this is over they will be surrouding you and you will die.
The third is, frankly, the worst offender. The quick time events. The good ol’ Q T E. A lot of people hate QTEs, always have and always will. Personally I never had a problem with ’em. They could be annoying when overused, but kept tension up during otherwise noninteractive scenes and playing a simplified Simon Says to shove your swords into a minotaur’s throat felt pretty nice. That’s before I played RE5.
Veteran was bad enough. Then I played Professional, holy hell. Did you know the command prompt is affected by game difficulty? On Professional the QTEs would usually last less time than the time it took for you to be hit. Substantially less. On many, many occasions I’d see RT+LT flash across the screen then disappear; early on I hoped I had avoided it, or someone had interrupted the animation, but quickly I began to announce my DYING status as soon as the buttons disappeared. I won’t go into a rant about using two button QTEs almost exclusively, or about how you really shouldn’t use buttons for QTEs that a person is almost guaranteed to be pressing at any given moment in your game. I could, oh my God how I could, but I won’t.
There’s a chunky amount of bonus content to keep you busy after the main game is over. Assuming you beat it at least once on Veteran, and then go back on Professional, that’s already two playthroughs. Mercenaries unlocks once you beat the game on any difficulty, and Mercenaries owns. Online co-op Mercenaries owns extra hard and was quite fun. It also seems a lot more forgiving (even with the reduced point scaling for two people), as it’s much easier to keep your combos lasting for a very, very long time. Mix in grabbing all the BSAA emblems, grabbing all the jewels, and other things that give you both achievements and in-game content (which is a fantastic system), and you have quite a chunk of gameplay here. Then there’s the recently released Versus mode, which is another post. Just take my advice: if you’re planning to play Versus, try to save your bonus points.
I really like Resident Evil 5, and I think most fans of RE4 will too. The game’s not very scary aside from the lickers, but RE4 wasn’t scary either; it was simply awesome. Which RE5 does its best to mimic, and for the most part succeeds. Plus everything is better with a friend, right?