“The worst Resident Evil game ever is possibly the best game of 2009.”
Does the heading make any sense? I wouldn’t think that it does, since it appears to contradict itself. The thing is, Resident Evil 5 is an exceptionally good game that is a blast to play and is pleasantly immersive. However, RE5 abandons so many gameplay and story telling elements that made Resident Evil into what we know it as and instead starts fresh. It’s a lot like what Final Fantasy XII did for it’s own franchise, essentially ignoring everything that came before it so that it could forge it’s own unique experience.
RE5 does not have any of the scary moments that originally made the Resident Evil series so famous. Instead of trying to make us jump, or even just frighten us, RE5 opts to create an everlasting feeling of tension, and it does the job very well as it shies away from survival horror and more towards the action genre.
How is RE5 tense? I find that it creates the same form of tension that Valve delivered to us with Half-Life 2, only instead of Combine soldiers and head crabs, we have crazed African civilians and giant mutant bugs. The delivery is much the same, as you know that intelligent AI will be coming at you almost endlessly every two or three minutes. There are lots of waves of enemies, and they’re not particularly scary at all. In RE5, the main enemies you will encounter are the Majini, the infected population of Kijuju. They are not at all like the zombies of the older games as the Majini run at you with melee weapons and sometimes even attack from a distance. They have every ounce of intelligence that they previously did, only now they’re quite mad and they want to kill you very badly. Instead of fighting flesh eating undead monsters, we’re fighting infected serial killers. They keep coming and coming and coming, and you’ll be shooting quite a lot. Your adrenaline will not give you a chance to feel afraid of these enemies, believe me.
Anyway, so what is the game about? As everyone is well aware, the game stars series veteran Chris Redfield and newcomer Sheva Alomar as BSAA agents sent to the African nation of Kijuju to investigate claims of bioterrorism. You see, after the collapse of the Umbrella Corporation, their research fell into the wrong hands and is now freely distributed amongst the scourge of the planet. It doesn’t take long for the first signs of infection to appear, forcing Chris and Sheva to begin a more thorough investigation that brings the two face to face with a few other familiar faces in the series.
Gameplay is, like I mentioned before, very action oriented. Controls are quite good compared to the older games, as you will be able to move Chris and Sheva more fluidly than what we’ve seen before from the series. In fact, every aspect of the gameplay seems to have made great strides forward and the game plays strikingly like a first person shooter, despite the fact that the game’s perspective is always kept over the shoulder of whichever character you chose to play as. So, it’s a third person action shooter with very fluid and responsive controls. I’ve yet to have experienced any control-related problems that I could fault the game for. I did have a few issues with turning towards my enemies, but the mouse sensitivity was to blame for this and after adjusting it more to my liking, I had no further problems.
I find that RE5 is exceptionally generous with ammunition and health power-ups in comparison to the older games. Green herbs, for example, are almost everywhere you go. I don’t find these items to be particularly useful in RE5 either, since I either survive for a long time and never need them, or I get into some pretty difficult pickles and just get killed before any item can even be used. There’s a bit of a discrepancy there, but it’s not a game breaking one at all. If you’re smart, you won’t need to heal very often and you may not die much either.
Everything is pretty straight forward in terms of moving forward in the game. You have a map that tells you where to go, and a few enemies will pop up to hinder your progress. Take them down and follow the marker on your map. A few cutscenes and such will occur throughout your hazard filled adventure, and a few bosses will even pop up, but they are mostly quite easy to defeat if you play things smart. There are a few exceptions though, and you will encounter a few legitimately difficult bosses, such as a hulking behemoth that you and your partner must fight in the back of a truck.
One aspect of the game that irks me slightly is the computer controlled partner. Despite what everyone else says, I was quite happy with my partner’s AI. The problem I had, however, was with how bulky Chris is. I played as Sheva (well, Sheva modded to look like Jill), and Chris was always getting in my way with that gigantic “box thing” that he has on his back. I cannot count how many times Chris obscured my view, and I had to move to get him out of my way. This wasn’t too good when we were under attack, but I don’t believe that I ever experienced any fatalities from it.
The graphics are quite impressive. I play the game on the absolute maximum settings, and I find that everything looks very detailed with above average modeling and texturing. The African setting of Kijuju is very full of varied debris and objects littered all over the makeshift villages, and it adds to the immersion of the game immensely to have all that junk cluttering everything up. What really surprises me are the super fast loading times, which are only a few seconds long – if even that. Capcom did a great job delivering a game to us that not only looks good, but plays at a solid frame rate at the same time.
The sound is superb too. Except for the bubbling sound effect caused by defeated Majini, I can’t fault RE5’s sound effects at all. Sounds are all quite good and certainly above average, and the voice work is nothing short of superb. It’s really fantastic to have such great voice acting in this game considering how the series started (“You almost became a Jill sandwich!”). Music is also good, and plays at the right moments to really tensen up the situation.
In terms of bonus content, there’s quite a lot. There is co-op multiplayer and a hefty number of unlockables. From player costumes to new items and even to full scenarios to play, RE5 has a lot of things for you to work at unlocking. An ingame currency that you obtain throughout your adventure helps you save up for whatever new items you may be looking to unlock.
Overall, Resident Evil 5 is a fantastic action shooter. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to shoot at things but isn’t in the mood for yet another first person shooter. While this game may not please many long time Resident Evil fans such as myself, it’s actually quite easy to forget that the game is so radically different from the previous installments in the series after playing for a few hours and becoming fully immersed in the lives of Chris and Sheva.
So, if tearing through an African nation full of freak mutations and maddened human beings appeals to you, then Resident Evil 5 is definitely the way to go. Check it out.