2009 Reviews

Resident Evil 5

  • Review Date: 2014-01
  • Release Date: 2009-03
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Rating: 7.5

Resident Evil 5 is the first game in the popular franchise I've been able to play. I've kept up with the plots and all the movies, but RE4 was the first to come to PC and with a terrible control scheme that you couldn't adjust, I deleted that after ten minutes. It means I've got no other title to compare this to, which may be a good thing as I had no expections.

Critics were full of praise for RE5, even on Metacritic out of 30 critic reviews only one scored it below an 80. Big player IGN giving it 93/100. That's pretty bloody top marks! Was I playing with one eye closed? Because RE5 had plenty of flaws.

The highlight feature of RE5 are the graphics. Built with Capcom's MT Framework engine, which also powered the fabulous looking Devil May Cry 4 and Lost Planet, the game looks fantastic. While it starts out in a cramped African setting of browns and overexposured high-contrast scenes, which seem to plague the media screenshots of the game, it moves to plenty of different environments from swamps, underground caverns, military complexes, oil fields and industrial areas to a cargo ship and even the top of a volcano. If you looked at the game decided you didn't want to play a brightly African setting, it only says this was for several levels. I loved that it got some different themes into the game and always looked good. Ironically, tight linear games are something the critics always complain about, but RE5 seems to have been given a pass here. But not by me; the levels are small, cramped and clip brushes block your path everywhere. What's worse is your character moves painfully slowly. You constantly have to push the run key to speed the character up. But why do that? Players will always want to run so it's just another key they have to press. Why not just have the run speed the normal speed and not require additional keys for it.

On PC I had the option of running it using DX9 or DX10. Unfortunately DX10 wouldn't work, whenever I tried to change the resolution the game would crash. But there's very little difference between the two anyway, with DX10 just being an almost unnoticeably tad sharper in it's textures. But with DX9 the textures still looked great.

RE5 seems to be trying to be a survival-horror game. The slow movement, sometimes dark levels and a low inventory of weapons and ammo. But I prefer an action game, so it's attempt at survival-horror I didn't really enjoy. You only have a limited number of spaces for your weapons, health and ammo between the two characters in the game. 9 slots for yourself and 9 for your teammate, Sheva, and you can swap items. However for myself with the handgun, shotgun and machine gun, then at least three ammo slots for each, then later armor and stun gun, I was peaked out and didn't even have room for grenades or health. Sheva would have  a handgun and rifle, ammo slots for both, which gave 5 spare slots for her. Swapping between the two is awkward, especially if I wanted to apply health I'd have to manually give her one of my weapons to create a slot, receive and apply my health, then get my weapons back. All the while in combat which does not pause while your in your inventory. Then there would be times when she'd have multiple slots using of the same ammo type, when they could have just been merged onto one slot and still not be full. Usually it would be backup ammo for myself.

Getting onto Sheva, she needed some polishing. It feels like the effort went into making her ass wobble and give her a gorgeous, slightly cross-eyed but very, very pretty appearance. Certainly more effort than the movie hero Jill Valentine who looked completely average. The problem is Sheva is an ammo-whore. Ammo sitting on the ground she'd ignore until I walk over it, wait for her to stand next to me then instruct her to use what little brain cells she has and pick the stuff up. Any small amount of ammo she had, she'd use straight away. No melee combat with her unless she's backed into a corner, she'll ALWAYS use her ammo up first, even on the easiest characters she'd use her small amount of rifle rounds then leave just a few handgun clips for the sub-boss. Idiot! Which is a problem in a game where ammo is scarce and you're often needing to use your knife to kill enemies. At one point we got to a point where Sheva needed to kill an enemy while I steared a boat. She had just 5 bullets, and used all of them up on the previous 3 enemies up above her that posed almost zero threat and I was quite happy to speed past them. She was also quite happy to throw health fixes at me when I didn't want them. And constantly get in the damn way. But hey, it's an improvement over Daikatana!

So like I said, early parts of the game are played slowly with lots of dying, and lots of hitting the infected with your knife. There are 6 chapters (mostly featuring 3 levels each) and they get easier as you go. The first chapter is, easily, the most difficult. That's the opposite approach to gaming, a game is supposed to get harder as you go. The final chapter was definitely the easiest for me, because you simply have all your weapons upgraded and tonnes of stockpiled ammo to call upon. Some of the early levels may have been just getting used to the combat, so a second-playthrough would warrant a slightly easier time early on.

Like Devil May Cry 4, RE5 features a lot of boss fights. I fucking hate boss fights. Games need them, but they're often done where they just get frustrating rather than staying enjoyable. RE5 features some that are too easy, but some very difficult. You're also often not given instructions on how to beat the boss, so each time I had to alt-tab out to read the best strategy. One such fight was the Uroboros Mkono, a slow trudging monster that required a lot of patience as I repeated the same thing for over 30 minutes before finally dying, all out of health, and this fucker still didn't seem to be dying. Enough is enough, I wasn't going through that again, so god-moded him and the remaining few bosses in the game. It shouldn't take over 30mins on a single boss fight, especially not the main one.

The story in RE5 is quite good, you play as Chris (from previous installments) with Sheva as your sidekick. Your character is half-man half-baboon, or at least that appears to be what the designers were going for as Chris is built like a Channing Tatum inspired brick-shithouse. Tiny square head, odd giant ears, a neck almost as wide as Sheva's ass and a steroid-overdosed body. You've travelled to Africa to stop Irving, Wesker (when will this guy finally die?!) and his side-kicks Excella and a mysterious hooded figure with Eyes Wide Shut mask unleash a bio-virus on the world. All four are hideously cliched and cheesy. Wesker with his black trenchcoat, slick-back blonde hair and cool glasses even at night. Irving looking and acting like a meth-crazed Giovanni Ribisi. Despite the cliches, the story is interesting throughout and there's lots of nice cinematic sequences.

Just don't get me started on the fucking quicktime events. Why do developers feel the need to fill their games with  sequences where if you fail, you just repeat it again seconds later over and over again until you make it. Sequences where I'm forced to powersmash the fuck out of my poor keyboard. It's not fun.

I've been pretty harsh on RE5 because it does have plenty of things wrong with it, but they're not that major. The further you play it, the more enjoyable it becomes. It's different, a mix of survival-horror with standard third-person action. But I mostly enjoyed the fantastic visuals and I guess that's why this game received a lot of passes from the critics. But without the great graphics, I don't think I'd score it above 6.5.

Resident Evil 5