Sunday, January 22, 2012
Review: Resident Evil 5 (360)
If I were to compare Resident Evil games to metal albums, I'd say that Resident Evil 4 is Sons Of Northern Darkness, and that Resident Evil 5 is All Shall Fall (both albums by Immortal). What do I mean? Well, Sons Of Northern Darkness is Immortal's most accessible album, just like how Resident Evil 4 is the most accessible Resident Evil game, but yet it never feels wrong to enjoy it. However, All Shall Fall is a shameless disgrace to the Immortal name, despite following in Sons Of Northen Darkness's footsteps, and the same could be said about Resident Evil 5. Resident Evil 4 was fun, but I don't want Capcom to go down this road again, especially if they're going to further ditch everything that gave Resident Evil its identity in the first place, not even bother to work on the controls, and insert co-op because shit, co-op is the only way a game can work nowadays.
It's been a long time since the events of the first Resident Evil game - so long in fact, that Chris Redfield took up weightlifting in his spare time and he's now fucking huge! He could give Marcus Fenix a run for his money! But seriously, he's assigned a mission in Africa, alongside some chick named Sheva, to chase down some guy named Irving, who has a biological weapon that he's planning on selling to the black market, and it turns people into zombies. Somewhere along the line, Chris finds pictures of Jill Valentine, his partner from the first game who he assumed had died, but nevertheless, he hopes to find her. Unlike Resident Evil 4, the story isn't deceptively simple; it's just simple, and pretty boring to boot. It does an adequate enough job to keep the game moving, but unlike Resident Evil 4, nothing really grabs you, and it just changes its mind every so often - one minute, you're chasing Irving down; the next, you're looking for Jill Valentine. Like it matters - there isn't much in the way of development and the only cutscenes worth shit are the ones you'd find in an action movie. When there is plot and character development, it's minimal enough to give you something to work with, but that's all - otherwise, meh.
For some reason, Resident Evil 5 plays very similarly to Resident Evil 4, and yet, it just feels like you're playing with dog turds. The basics of Resident Evil 4 are in tact and feel about the same, except even more action-y. In this game, you go through ultra-linear levels, encountering groups of enemies, and shoot them in the head - rinse, lather and repeat, with a few exceptions here and there. Sometimes, you'll be subject to an on-rails section, where you have to shoot down groups of enemies before they destroy your ride or whatever. Sometimes, you'll have to fight off some enemies until something happens, but there tends to be some ammo lying around to make it easier, plus enemies drop ammo, so conservation in these areas is a bit on the easy side. Course, you'll have quick time events to deal with, and they're a bit more forgiving and can lead to some exciting events, so no issues there. Really, the basic gameplay formula, itself, isn't bad. It's everything else that doesn't work.
The survival in this game is a fucking joke - instead of the awesome briefcase, you're given the boxes of old that can only carry one item each, regardless of the item's size. The worst part is that you hardly ever feel like you have to conserve anything. Ammo is always lying about somewhere, and the closest to conservation... is that you should never go overboard, and always aim for the head. But that should be, like, common fucking sense! Not to mention, using items, equipping different guns and trading with your parner is done in real time. This would be okay if the rest of the game was fast paced, but this is Resident Evil, and even the action games are slow paced. But then again, it goes with the co-op that's constantly shoved down our throats... I suppose Capcom got cornered here, so they just went with this, and while it does alright with the online co-op, it doesn't mesh with the slow paced combat, especially when there are lots of enemies about to rape you.
If you found Ashley annoying, then prepare to not lose your shit, because Sheva is ten thousand times worse. Theoretically, she shouldn't be - she's got guns and her own inventory - surely, she's not going to be useless, right? WRONG! Her AI is dreadful. She will be very, very quick to waste bullets, waste good healing supplies on some boo boos, and worst of all, because she's armed, she's quick to get in your way! Did I mention that neither of you are allowed to die? Well, neither of you are allowed to die. Once again, survival isn't in conservation; it's in protecting an ally, except this time, you're protecting somebody with the capacity to protect themselves, except they don't because their AI is god awful. Enter what is essentially forced co-op - yes folks, you can play with another person, either online or offline. Sadly, this is the only way to make this game sort of bearable.
It's one thing to keep old-ish controls in a game with a different playstyle within the same series because I'll admit, old habits do die hard; it's another when you make the exact same mistake years later, and yet change the playstyle to something even further away from what used to be! There's no excuse not to let us move and shoot; there's no excuse not to actually use the right stick to turn instead of the left stick (which is also used for movement); there's no fucking excuse for a fucking run button - you have two analogue sticks... but they're not good enough for Capcom, it seems! Sure Capcom, keep deluding yourselves into thinking you're evolving the survival horror genre, while I keep being honest in saying that this is straight up action with crap controls.
The Gold Edition has more post-game content than the original version, so if you actually want to buy this piece of shit, buy that. The original version still has some post-game content - just not quite as much. I mean, you get Mercenaries mode, where you have to kill as many enemies in an arena-like battlefield within a set amount of time, and you can at least play this online unlike Resident Evil 4 (mainly because online wasn't nearly as important back then as it is now). Other than that.. umm... you can play through it again to get the achievements you missed? Meh.
As far as the graphics go... seriously, I can't help but laugh at Chris's design. The dude has obviously spent the 9 years since Resident Evil 1 bench pressing until the cows came home - how else could he be that bulky? His head is small, too! The other designs range from okay to reasonably good, and they do look quite realistic. The textures on the enemies would give you the impression that they're zombie-like (or unwelcoming of outsiders) in behavior, while the work on Sheva would make her look close to photorealistic. The same could be said about the environments - danky caves, cold facilities, villages that may or may not have gone through a civil war before being zombified, they all work out well with some excellent textures and colors... maybe too excellent, because I've noticed a bit of lag here and there, especially in the cutscenes. Chris's hulking biceps are far from realistic, but they make him stand out, not to mention that they're hilarious at the same time.
The sound design is similar to Resident Evil 4's - music has a tendency to play as you're about to encounter enemies, getting rid of whatever tension there may have been. Otherwise, there isn't a whole heap of music, except during some intense action scenes, which are made better with the music. The voice acting is actually pretty good, and I couldn't really detect any characatures, so to say it's pretty damn good and does its best to draw you into the story is an understatement.
There are many things wrong with Resident Evil 5 - from plotholes, to inconsistencies, to horrible controls - but above all else, it's not a survival horror game; just a shitty action game. If it wasn't for the bad controls, I wouldn't really have an issue with this game, but Capcom just deluded themselves into thinking crap controls makes for a good survival horror, despite a lack of actual survival horror elements. God, this game sucks. I never got into Resident Evil and even I feel like an old school survival horror fanboy, that's how much this game blows.