Thursday, 4 October 2012

Replay: Resident Evil 5

In anticipation of my Resident Evil 6 review (which will be up on Tuesday) this week's replay will be of Resident Evil 5, undoubtedly the series' most divisive game.

Resident Evil 4 was a masterpiece, it took the best elements of survival horror and matched them with the best elements of third person action to create something that has never been equalled. Mikami (the game's creator) knew that for his last game in the series he needed to do something both big and different and the game screams of his confidence in his choices with near flawless execution from the opening scenes to the end credits. The bosses, enemies, environments, characters, gameplay and story are all superb and the game is an absolute gem. If you haven't played it then you owe it to yourself to give it a go, whether you are a fan of the series or not.

Suffice it to say that Resident Evil 5 had some seriously big shoes to fill.

So what did they do? Well change had worked so well for Resident Evil 4 that they decided to continue further down that path by upping the action and toning down the horror, oh they also added co-op which meant that playing by yourself was awful because your partner was useless. You see not only would she generally not help out much in tight situations but she would take your items and she would waste them and then because of that you would die. A lot. Indeed for many it was this flawed idea that defined the game and its numerous failings but I could actually have lived with that if the rest of the game was any good. It just isn't.

Instead of the varied locales of Resident Evil 4 you get a near endless stream of bland, sun-soaked environments that are all equally dull to look at and play through. Sure the graphics are a big step up from the fourth game but sadly this new found power is wasted on tedious art and design. Going from one dusty place to another just isn't fun, after an hour or so most of the places you go to just blend into one another and it really becomes hard to keep motivated enough to go on. But the gameplay makes up for it right? Err no actually that just makes things a whole lot worse.

You see they decided to go for an action packed approach but the enemies are too similar to those from 4 to make gun fights interesting, the dull environments make shootouts boring, when there is a set piece or a big moment it just isn't quite big and entertaining enough to warrant the 'action packed' tag and the control set up is basically the one from Resident Evil 4, in other words it is not designed for an action packed game. I don't mind Capcom doing an action packed Resident Evil game, that's basically what they've done with Resident Evil 6 and I'm really enjoying it so far. The thing is if you are going to do it you need to fully commit and really ramp up the action. Sure have some throwbacks to survival horror but just make the action engaging and fun enough to carry the game.

Sadly they didn't do this with Resident Evil 5. They may succeed with 6, I don't know, I haven't finished it yet but I hope they do because I don't want another shambles like 5. I think the thing with 5 is that its heart was in the right place, Resident Evil does need to distance itself from 4 because its a game that won't be matched, its just that they didn't quite make it fun enough. The action was boring, the environments were boring and the enemies were boring. If you're going to make an action game you really can't afford to have all of those be boring.

Perhaps though there is also the fact that it came after Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 4 was an amazing moment for the series and I often wonder could anything have come after it and impressed people. Maybe if Resident Evil 4 hadn't happened or if there had been a main entry in the series before 5 but after 4, maybe then Resident Evil 5 might not be quite so bad? I don't know, and only those who played 5 before 4 can really say that for sure but it's certainly something to consider.

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