To talk about Resident Evil 5 first you have to talk about Resident Evil as a whole.
One of the worlds most recognisable franchises with countless games, movies & books. A series that helped define the Sony Playstation & was once a sign of quality that many games strived to be. When people talk about survival horror, they will always refer to Resident Evil…but almost always in the past tense.
Resident Evil used to be all about survival horror, Resident Evil used to scare & make you panic, Resident Evil used to be good…While much of the slurs labeled on modern Resident Evil’s can be harsh there is almost always a ringing truth hidden amongst them, that they just are not good enough anymore.
So where did it all start going wrong? For me I look towards spin off series’s such as Resident Evil: Survivor, for a few it was the massive shift in Resident Evil 4 but for most it was Resident Evil 5.
Set in Africa, the game follows the story of BSAA operatives Chris Redfield & Sheva Alomar who are on the hunt for a man called Irving who is planning on selling B.O.W’s on the black market. When they arrive they find the locals have been infected with a parasite turning them into Majini. With the rest of the team dead it is now up to Chris & Sheva to uncover the mystery of who is behind the B.O.W attack in Africa.
As far as story goes Resident Evil 5 ties up a number of important Resident Evil plot points…for better or worse. There are a few surprises throughout that keep the plot ticking along nicely. Resident Evil 5 continues the groundwork laid by Resident Evil 4. Visually it is very similar & handles almost identically. Once again the over the shoulder look is used & aiming is aided by a red dot sight. It works fine baring the lack of being able to move while shooting…in a game where enemies come from all angles this is criminal & can cause some serious issues later on when dealing with tougher enemies.
Visually the game is miles ahead of Resident Evil 4 combining dirty & grimy shacks with a hot & dusty land. Chris & Sheva interact realistically in cut-scenes alongside a supporting cast of both interesting & exciting characters. The game has some of the more fun dialogue & interactions of any Resident Evil game.
The enemies throughout the game vary, starting off with local villagers trying to hit you with bottles & pitchforks before soldiers with machine guns turn up. That’s right…you read that correctly, later in the game a lot of enemies will not only shoot back but throw grenades & talk strategy to each other. It’s not very…well…Resident Evil.
The same has to be said for a few of the boss battles where it seems that all that mattered was the bigger, the better. In fact other then the end boss battles everything else got bigger & bigger! Thankfully they are fairly straight-forward to do as the infection has a really bad habit of highlighting the weak points of its host. B.O.W all black expect for a glowing orange spot? I would shoot the orange but if I was you. It’s all about the set-piece it seems & loses any semblance of horror, rather it settles for action.
The end boss battles are quite fun once you know what you are doing…working out what to do? Not so simple & one particular fight involves not killing another character while they attempt to kill you. It’s not clear how you progress the battle & can be frustrating. I hope you are a fan of QTE’s because you’re going to be doing a lot of them here!
Talking about frustrations…the biggest criticism that can be levelled at Resident Evil 5 is the god-awful AI. Resident Evil 5 was sold as a co-op game, online & local 2 players can take control of Chris & Sheva. Capcom must have been very confident that most people would play it this way as they appear to have made little effort in making the AI competent. Playing with the computer is a struggle beyond belief.
Sheva will block your view, stand in the way of your shooting, let enemies walk up to her without firing a bullet & waste ammo by shooting you in the back. Any attempts to bypass situations quickly are pointless as she won’t keep up & will frequently get caught by enemies. She is so incompetent that playing on the harder difficulties is impossible without a human partner.
It is a real shame as the harder difficulties are the only times the game feels survival horror. Knowing that the enemies can kill you in a matter of hits makes the game much more terrifying to play even if later enemies with guns & rocket launchers seems highly unfair…
The game is a decent length with plenty of chapters to work through. On a harder difficulty the main game can take between 6-10 hours. At the end of each chapter you are given a ranking based on time taken, deaths, accuracy etc. the better you do, the higher the rank. This adds a degree of re-playability but in a co-op situation it is far too easy to achieve the top rank, an S rank.
Resident Evil 5 adds competitive multi-player to the mix with a couple of modes. Slayers, Survivors & the team versions. They mostly amount to the same thing, timed matches against other people around the world to reach a higher score. Killing other players & the enemies that litter the levels add to the score. It’s basic stuff & extremely disappointing…match-making is long, the matches even longer & just not much fun.
The only other available mode is the returning Mercenaries mode that sees you take the role of certain characters from the main story in timed battles with infinite spawning enemies. The aim is to rack up as many points as you can in the short time given. This mode has a nice amount of variety in it & the variation in character equips give it a different kind of challenge.
The most disappointing Resident Evil game in the series to date. It does many things right such as the visuals & plot but the frustratingly poor AI & lack of survival horror elements harm it. There are shades of a great horror game but the increasing need for QTE’s & over-the-top action ruin those. A couple of extra modes adds more to an average length campaign but the competitive multi-player is pretty poor.
Resident Evil 5