Resident Evil 5
WITH a good many things going against it, Resident Evil 5 manages to deliver a generally fun action experience, despite being a hardly recogniseable relative of its Playstation ancestors.
Resident Evil 5 picks up where the smash hit Resi 4 left off; putting the player in control of series stalwart Chris Redfield in a whirlwind tour of an African region struck by an all-too-familiar viral outbreak.
Chris now works for the Bio-Terrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA) and is following up a lead on some dodgy weapons dealings going on in the region. He is joined by his African counter-part Sheva Alomar, providing support.
Things, as you will have guessed, go somewhat awry for the pair though, as they as the natives turn hostile and the intrigue surrounding Chris’ former partner, Jill Valentine, mounts.
The third-person over-the-shoulder view from Resident Evil 4 returns, now complete with moveable camera. Gameplay largely amounts to gunning down hysterical locals who have been infected with a las plagas-esque parasite turning them into zombie-like psychopaths akin to those from Leon S Kennedy’s trip to Europe.
Like its predecessor, there are Quick Time Events and on-rails shooting sections, along with context sensitive actions, all of which appear to be staple ‘next-gen’ elements these days.
Much has been made of the tank-like controls favoured by the Resi devs, unrelenting in their “well you wouldn’t be able to run and shoot in real life” and “it heightens the tension” mantra.
For younger gamers, or those new to the series, it is jarring. Resident Evil purists will probably love the fact the controls are little changed from previous incarnations and the rest of us will get accustomed to the controls after an hour or so.
The creatures are as gross as ever, from leeches assembling in human form to mutated bat-cum-grub like behemoths. Some old foes return (both human and other!) and you are given an arsenal of upgradeable heavy weaponry to take them down.
It often feels strange that the hordes of Manjini (the new Ganados) charge at you in packs before stopping five feet short of your gun like lambs to the slaughter. If it wasn’t for this, however, the fight would be near-impossible.
Kudos go to Capcom for pulling off an almost complete 180 on the usual Resi environments. Gone are the muddy browns of Resi 4, or the concretes of 2 and 3, in favour of sun-bleached shanty towns and stifling heat. The series has obviously come a long way from the mansion in the Arklay mountains, but change is welcome here.
As with most of its predecessors, things get a little more industrial and laboratorial as you go on, but all the environments are visually impressive and immersive. Chris and Sheva are well realised, with overly-macho biceps and sexy curves respectively.
In cut-scenes the graphics really shine and there are few moments where the presentation fails. The only time I saw the illusion broken was in the game’s introduction where some grassy textures looked woefully inadequate and last-gen.
The soundtrack can be repetitive and a little derivative, but suits the Hollywood blockbuster meets B-movie quality of the series. Voice acting is above par though, with Chris, Sheva and the supporting characters being given decent readings.
I love a game with a story, no matter how daft, and if you’re the same – Resi 5 will keep your interest with its intrigue.
Load screens fill gamers in on the history of the series, but ironically load times are too short to take them in! Who ever thought we’d complain about short load times? Cut scenes offer a window into Chris’ life since we last saw him in a Resi title and feel substantial.
It’s funny that the Resi series has evolved so much in its style, narrative and gameplay, yet still control in much the same way as it did ten years ago.
It’s also odd that Capcom had the foresight to revamp the tired Resi formula in Resident Evil 4, but has essentially followed the fourth’s template in the new installment.
Expectations aside, Resident Evil 5 is a gripping action romp which is great fun to play on your own, with a friend or online with a co-op partner. I could bang on all day about the pros and cons of the controls or the similarity to its predecessor, but these things don’t really detract from your enjoyment of the title.
If you’re on the fence or swayed by negative reviews, I’d say give it a go if you like a game with a story or a solid action game. If you’re looking for scares, maybe try Dead Space, but you’ll find it nowhere near as charismatic.