Resident Evil 5 : Resident Evil 4, But In Africa
When you have a series like Resident Evil, and the fourth game in the series is declared perfect damn near unanimously, the bar for the fifth is set to the moon. Do you create the same game? Do you start from scratch and hope lightning strikes twice? In the case of Resident Evil, the developers took a chance with starting from scratch on the fourth game and the payoff hit gold. Logically, the best choice for 5 would’ve been to follow the successful formula, which is exactly what Capcom did. This does not imply that Resident Evil 5 is a retread by any means (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?). What it does mean, is that Resident Evil 5 feels more like a continuation of its predecessor, which, as a sequel, it’s well within its rights to be. No one says every game needs to be unique.
When the demo came out, a lot of people seemed turned off by the awkward, tricky, complicated controls. This has been alleviated in the game, with the choice of playing it with the same controls as 4. However, there are several other issues with the game that may turn people off even with comfortable controls. One of the more interesting characters in Resident Evil 4, was the purple-cloaked Merchant. With every encounter, he offered ease of gameplay; would you like a larger inventory, or perhaps a scope for that rifle? In 5, they have replaced the Merchant with an inventory screen that stays one size (9 spots! That’s it!), and is only customizable after death or between chapters. If you have 9 items, one of them being a solo green herb, and you want to pick up a red herb that you’re just going to combine with it once it’s in your hot little hands too bad. Without unlimited ammo turned on, this is a very frustrating gameplay mechanic that doesn’t add any stress to the survivor horror game, it’s just irritating. Many fans of 4 may recall the Krauser fights, and other areas of the game where you had to be paying attention or else —oh no! You’re stabbed! Should’ve kept your fingers on the buttons for the prompts! The prompts have returned, but they feel tacked-on. It also seems like the developers didn’t understand that there are limits to the length of time the human hand can repeatedly press without getting angry and throwing the controller.
Aside from the controls, it’s a solid game, albeit a short one. It makes up for this with a high replay value. The story is pretty straight forward, but it’s unfortunate that more of it doesn’t take place in African settings. The first couple chapters are outdoors, where the desert and the terrors inhabiting really stood out as something unique, but the game soon degenerated into an indoors, cavernous, boat-riding retread. The setting was one of the most appealing aspects of the game, and once that disappeared, it felt like it could’ve been anywhere in the world. There is one underground city with a very cool stair maze, but aside from that, it felt a lot like Chris and Sheva were Raiding Tombs.
Excellent voice acting all around. Even the annoying, cocky dweeb with the bad attitude has a voice that perfectly matches the annoyance of the character. It would’ve been nice if there were more subtle noises to partner the terrifying expanse of the beginning of the game. The interaction with the two main characters is perfectly matched with the voice actors assigned to play them.
Absolutely STUNNING graphics that could’ve been used to better tense-up the atmosphere a little more, but were overwhelmingly pleasant to look at nonetheless. As visually exciting as the graphics are during gameplay, whenever a chapter ends the screen turns to blue before going black, and it ruins the smoothness of everything that came before it.
Despite the many complaints that seem to be bogging down this review, Resident Evil 5 is a fun game. The chapter select option is so convenient for going back and replaying that Licker level whenever you feel like it, or getting that one last jewel you missed because you were getting your ass kicked. One of the collectable items in the game are ever-elusive B.S.A.A. emblems; the little blue bastards are spread out and hidden in most chapters. While it could’ve been fun to hunt every one of them down, some of them are damn near impossible to find, even if you’re playing through a level just to find them. There are several that a player can’t get if they don’t have the right character or the right weapon on them (note: Sheva is shorter than Chris, and always carry a rifle with a scope). Aside from this, the seemingly unlimited unlockables and difficult-but-attainable Achievements make Resident Evil 5 a game worth playing over and over.
Of the two main characters, one is a hard-as-nails girl named Sheva, who helps save Chris’s ass on more than one occasion. She is strong, smart, and adept at mowing down hordes of mindless locals. While her unlockable outfits leave little to the imagination, they also highlight how toned and strong they made the character. There is also another important lady in the game, but this review is spoiler-free, so you’ll have to play the game yourself to find out more about it!