It’s relatively early into the 2009, but Resident Evil 5 is already in the running for the prestigious of award of “The Most Disappointing Title of The Year”. It’s already being recognized by me as being the first mainline installment of Capcom’s survival horror franchise which failed to impress yours truly. Given the success of its predecessor, I thought it was impossible to soil the fifth installment. I mean, how can you not find success by simply tweaking an established formula?
By forgetting what you wanted the game to be in the first place.
It was threatening to bust out of every seam; Capcom’s intent to transform Resident Evil 5 into a third person shooter of the Epic Games variety. But they couldn’t go through with it. They couldn’t simply ignore what made Resident Evil 4 successful and forge a new path for its successor. Thus we’re left with a mutant of a game. A game which certainly looks like it belongs amongst the best of 2009, but is unfortunately haunted by its past.
It’s too easy to pick on the game’s limited control scheme — so I won’t. In fact, it worked as intended for a good chunk of the game. Instead, I’ll attack the ill conceived notion that this control scheme could lend itself to real firefight scenarios and the game’s over reliance with quick time events.
The Majini were manageable when they behaved like the zombies of yore. However they quickly exposed the weaknesses of the input design when they began to wield automatic weapons with deadly accuracy. A rudimentary cover system was provided exclusively for these gun wielding Majini battles, but it was like trying to save someone from shark infested waters with a tree log. It could work, but you’ll be wrestling with it.
Resident Evil 4 had its share of quick time events. Some added to the experience while many others acted as precursors to death traps. They didn’t learn from their mistakes. Resident Evil 5 was obsessed with the damn things. They even embedded themselves into many of the boss battles to facilitate the game’s co-operative desires. Fact: Killing both players when one of them failed to press some damn button is not intense or fun.
Having played the game with a live partner, the silliness of these contrived cooperative moments were laid bare. Have you ever operated elevators which you couldn’t control without the aid of another person? Why can Chris Redfield push over a boulder twice the size of him, but then require Sheva’s help to push a container filled with trash?
It’s so inconsistent and senseless.
With the absence of meaningful puzzles and the emphasis on more action pieces, there wasn’t much time for scares or suspense. Quiet time was spent scouring the area for hidden treasures and swapping items through the cumbersome menu interface. The weapon and equipment shop return, but this time without the charm or context. The same could be said for the saving and storage bins. I was never able to figure out why I can only access those menu screens after I died or completed a chapter. Add that to the list of senseless things.
Umbrella and its biological weapon shenanigans have always stimulated the appropriate brain lobes. Resident Evil’s giant mutated snakes and spiders have always stayed with me through all these years. And for a game set in Africa, I expected all sorts of terrifying abominations. Once again, I expected too much. I should have expected humans rapidly transforming into masses of tentacles. They called it Uroborus; I call it an Capcom’s disturbing experimentation with tentacle monsters.
And yet despite all the perplexing decisions and fumbling progress throughout the game, there are redeeming qualities. For those who can find the patience within themselves for such things, Resident Evil 5 offers a replay package kin to its forefathers. Be it the “zombie hunt” Mercenaries mode or the numerous unlockable costumes and weapons, there’s enough to keep the most tolerant of fans happy. Unfortunately, I don’t believe I’ll partake in any of it any time soon.
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For more information on Resident Evil 5, visit the official website.