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Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Developer: Capcom Official Site: http://www.residentevil.com/5/
Publisher: Capcom Classification: MA15+
Resident Evil 5

Genre: Action
Developer: Capcom
Official Site: http://www.residentev...
Publisher: Capcom
Classification: MA15+
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Resident Evil 5 Review
Review By @ 11:08am 17/03/09
XBOX360
Japanese crafted gameplay is a very different experience to that of most Western developed games. There's a clear goal from the outset, especially when said Japanese development studio (or publisher) are dealing with a beloved franchise.

The differences come in a variety of forms, but the stand out result seems to be the same across all games (with some exceptions) – Eastern videogames are just that; they're videogames.



Take Square Enix for example, and their long-standing JRPG series, Final Fantasy. Your item management, game-world interaction, turn-based battles and - most importantly - HUD (Heads Up Display) and user interface are almost always utterly in your face. The series' narrative too, bolsters a unique and often alien experience leaving gamers detached from their protagonist in the wake of a completely self-indulgent plot. Basically, you're constantly reminded you're playing a game.

This isn't necessarily always the case with every single Japanese developed game (and it's not always a bad thing, either), but for the most part the look and feel, as a result of the above, does take away a key factor that is blossoming in modern Western game design, and that is a desired achievement for the immersive quality of the ever-expanding game-world, user-interface and player-relative story, all evolving as part of a bigger effort to maintain suspended disbelief.

Despite many games becoming more complex, the minimalist design ethos of less invasive factors of information and control (sometimes with the aid of devices with a relative point of context to the game's point or foundation, such as the Pip-Boy in Fallout 3) are helping players become more and more immersed in their game-worlds. But it's a factor most game development rearing its head from Japan is avoiding, and whether it's part of a less evolutionary process or a direct parallax to discern from Western development, the process leaves a mixed response, especially when applied to aforementioned "beloved franchises".

Which brings us to Resident Evil 5. As a true sequel to Resident Evil 4, arguably one of the greatest action games ever crafted, there's no denying RE 5 has some pretty big shoes to fill, but this also gives us an immediate point of reference for Resident Evil 5's design philosophy and achievements overall (as well as its shortcomings).

Resi 4 changed the face of the Resident Evil series forever. Gone were the pre-rendered untouchable backgrounds of the Umbrella-owned mansion nestled ominously in the Arklay Mountains just outside of Racoon City. And gone were the incredibly difficult controls, purposefully placed line-of-sight obscuring camera angles and, of course, zombies. In fact, removing the zombies was as much a testament to the series' point of change as creating a fully 3D game-world to play within.

Resi 5 continues this tradition with a game-engine most other development studios only dream of creating. It's a serious point of reference to the advances in gaming when you're watching an in-game cinematic running in real-time off the [RE 5] engine and wish the original CG sequences from the Resi games of old were that good. Resident Evil 5 really is a stunning title.

The game plays in much the same way as RE 4 did as well. You have a cache of weapons and equipment you can use. You still collect and combine herbs to heal, treasures to sell for weapon upgrades or purchases and you still have that somewhat awkward digital movement interface where the protagonist either walks or runs – with nothing in between. The levels are a mix of corridor walkways, rooftop shenanigans and open areas for swamping. You're still fighting NZs (Not-Zombies who might as well be zombies), and they still walk creepily slow towards you. You still cut through barrels and crates for your pick-ups and you still fight bosses. But with all the added value of the Resi 4 foundation, the new team sans creator Shinji Mikami (now working elsewhere) have branched beyond to craft their own game with its own flavour, and the more time you spend with Resident Evil 5, the more you'll realise it is very different.

That last statement also holds another truth. In the wake of progressive games like Dead Space, you need to force yourself to deal with some of the control/camera/interaction 'shortcomings' of Resi 5. I say 'shortcomings' because much of the original design concept has been maintained here for relevant reasons. It might feel stiff and odd, archaic and uncomfortable, but there's method behind this madness, and it's but one piece of a larger puzzle that works to create an overall sense of intensity.

And Resident Evil 5 is intense. From start to finish the entire experience is one massive rollercoaster ride with a progressive and steady climb to an extreme gut-twisting drop (and then across the finish line). You're constantly outnumbered by hordes of Majini (essentially the African version of the Spaniard "Los Ganados" enemies from Resident Evil 4), and their various offshoots. Newer enemies are introduced though, such as the hyenas and dogs whose heads split in two to reveal ravaging teeth and an even scarier mouth. The Majini can have their heads blown off to reveal the modified Plagas virus alive and kicking inside their flesh - still flailing about, and still just as deadly.

There are new airborne enemies and hybrid animals to deal with (don't want to spoil it for you, half the intensity is from being attacked by a new creature you've never seen before or don't understand), among so much more (as well as some old Resi 4 favourites, too).

Boss battles return in full-force, though I couldn't help but feel, while looking as epic as ever, the actual physical act of taking these monstrosities down was a little on the easy side (especially with the big fella, no matter how cool his new beard was), which in the face of said epicness was a real missed opportunity.

The truly game-changing factor here (from Resi 4 gameplay), is the inclusion of a more-than-competent AI sidekick, Sheva. Ubisoft's Ben Mattel said they included the Prince's Elika as a non-obtrusive tool for making you look and feel cool in the latest Prince of Persia, but I argue that wasn't the case with that title. Here, however, Sheva more than achieves that goal because she, herself, is damn cool.

You can string melee combos together with her if your rhythm and timing are right, and when you're hurt and low on ammo, more often than not her nimble and aggressive ways go a long way to helping clear the immediate area of too much enemy rubbish. And really, once you realise the strength of what you're facing, she's not even close to a gimmick, she's damn well required.

You do have to look after her though, at least in the way of making sure you're not just spending all your money on yourself for your own upgrades and new weapons. The game progressively becomes more challenging and the sheer numbers you face (along with their strength and cunning) means you really couldn't play this as a single-player outing, at least not without some serious frustration at constant restarts.

Pacing in general is quite fast, and you'll often find yourself even beginning chapters with massive enemies in tow. It works in the game's favour, and further distances it from both Resi 4 (which had many solitary, slow-paced sections) and the previous REs. That isn't to say Res Evil 5 is without its fair share of puzzles, it just means the intensity is turned up to 11 during these segments, which is more in line with the likes of Dead Space than of Res Evil 4.

Another distancing element is Res Evil 5's scare-factor, in that there really is none. You're often playing through the game in daylight (with stunning lighting, I might add) and while there are darkened areas, they don't really offer up the same thriller/horror element as previous iterations of the game. So Resident Evil 5 is even more an action title than its most direct sequel, and despite keeping you on your toes, is a point I feel does let the game down given the series' pedigree.

Purchases and upgrades have been stripped back, and there's no creepy merchant as found in Resident Evil 4 (much to my chagrin – I loved that guy). What's more is whenever you die you can reorganise yourself and Sheva, making things just a bit too easy. Resident Evil has always been about giving you as little as possible so you'd learn to conserve things like ammo, or even find other ways of taking out the bad-guys – but here it just seems a bit too accessible and simplified.

Other issues arise in technical areas. It's a stunning game, but there's limited connectivity to the game-world with a fairly substandard and less-than-impressive physics engine – this means you're constantly battling invisible walls which doesn't necessarily work with the already awkward digital movement inputs (walk and run).

Screen tearing is also a huge problem; especially during the awesomely directed cut-scenes (creating visual frustration) and you can most definitely find yourself lost and confused in the dark areas because of AI controlled lighting (coupled with the digital movement and invisible wall points).

More often than not the single ability to aim and walk as separate entities (in that you can't do both at the same time) helps to add to the game's intensity, and I accept and even applaud the decision to maintain this – though it's abundantly clear a lot of people (especially anyone who never played Resi 4) may not appreciate its adding to the game's challenge. But as I mentioned earlier, if you can put up with it for a bit, it'll all become second nature fairly quickly.

There's also the sometimes intrusive HUD mixed with the aforementioned elements, and all of this combined brings the game back down to the videogame versus immersive experience point from my intro. Resident Evil 5 feels like you're playing a videogame. It feels old-school (in some places for good reason), and stands as a different sort of experience when compared to the likes of say Fallout 3 or Dead Space. It's not that there's a even clear warrant for these comparisons (at least not with Fallout 3), but it's a standing when looking at design philosophies and being in a position to see a change along the interactive landscape that is furthering the interactive experience.

For all its old-school charm and Resident Evil throwback elements, RE 5 just doesn't cut it to break into the 9.0 realm here at AusGamers, despite being an absolutely stunning game with heaps of action and plenty to keep you coming back for more (unlockables, co-op, extra missions etc). Moreover, while it does attempt to distance itself some from RE 4, there's just not enough progressive thinking here for it to have the same impact as Mikami's last ever RE title (telling perhaps?).

Yet none of that stops this game from being awesome in its own right, and if you can look past the awkward and clunky controls, you're going to have a lot of fun. Here's hoping the next update thinks as far outside the box as Res Evil 4 did in comparison to its original counterparts.

What we liked
  • Absolutely stunning visuals
  • Good voice-acting (for a change)
  • Sheva is an added bonus as an AI teammate (for a change)
  • Cut-scenes are directed with uber-style
  • Bosses look awesome
What we didn't like
  • Screen tearing everywhere
  • Invisible walls get annoying
  • Some may still be put off by the awkward controls
  • Intrusive HUD and other elements detract from overall immersion
  • There's no merchant :( Bring him back!
More
We gave it:
8.9
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
Strange Rash
Posted 06:41pm 17/3/09
You know what is going to make this game rock harder than hard rock?

Its you Steve... its all you.
BatS***
Posted 09:29pm 17/3/09
Just from reading your likes and don't likes I think the game should have gotten less than 8.9.
Tim Tibbetts
Posted 09:39pm 17/3/09
The downsides are rather minor, and the screen tearing is an issue but can be fixed by lowering the resolution to 720p in most instances...I have no video tearing in mine.
thebigdog
Posted 10:04pm 17/3/09
i have no tearing anyway. intrusive hud? funny how it feels like a videogame seeing as it is one. lame review
IncrEdible_vEgetable
Posted 10:06pm 17/3/09
Hey has anyone played the RE5 co-op? Is it the same story/game but with each player controlling one of the two characters, or is there other modes of play such as co-op capture the flag or similar?


thebigdog
Posted 10:07pm 17/3/09
its the same mate
Mantorok
Posted 10:18pm 17/3/09
intrusive hud? funny how it feels like a videogame seeing as it is one
The Resident Evil series didn't have HUD until RE4. And since RE4 we've had Dead Space which did the no HUD thing too.
Midda
Posted 12:19am 18/3/09
Yeah, I'd have liked the HUD to be a little less intrusive too, but it's not too bad.
Khel
Posted 09:49am 18/3/09
I still much prefer having a real life bar thats easy to see at a glance, vs the old Resident Evil games where you had to go into your inventory to check your health and your health was represented by a heartbeat monitor which only had 3 states.
trog
Posted 10:46am 18/3/09
No HUD is the new black though
Steve Farrelly
Posted 12:02pm 18/3/09
funny how it feels like a videogame seeing as it is one
Not saying it isn't a videogame, but so many games are contextually taking away old-school reminders such as health bars, stats, info etc as part of your HUD and making them part of the game-world in which you're playing that there's a next level of design happening - I'm just saying, working out a system similar to Dead Space would have helped a lot here.
Crash
Posted 12:48pm 18/3/09
Can someone tell me, the levels in the demo they released, How far into the game were they? Because with the demo it felt as if i was thrown right into the deep end and i had no idea wtf to do. Basically i was just unloading clips of ammo at zombies for 45 minutes till i got sick of dying. Obviously unloading clips is not the correct way to go about playing because i was running out like a minute into the level.
Im really thinking of getting this game because of all the good things i've heard about it, but with the crappy experience i had with the demo its kinda holding me back.
Khel
Posted 12:58pm 18/3/09
The first "level" in the demo is right at the start of the game, but you're right, the solution is not to stand there unloading into zombies and trying to kill the big axe wielding dude, its just to survive. So it involves lots of running away, getting yourself to a safe place, shooting a few zombie guys when the need arises but mostly just waiting till your chopper arrives.

The second level in the demo isn't very far into the game either, its a bit more of a traditional kill-fest, with the chainsaw wielding boss guy at the end you have to kill, while avoiding getting insta-killed by his chainsaw. Helps to do things like lure him near exploding barrels and then shoot them, or shoot electrical transformers so they fall down on his head and electrocute him, etc.

I didn't really like the demo at all tbh, I thought it was a poor representation of the game as a whole, and I'm enjoying the full game far, far, far more than the demo. Even when I got to those levels that were used in the demo, I enjoyed them more, maybe because I knew what I was doing or because there was some context to what was going on rather than just being dropped into it.
Crash
Posted 01:17pm 18/3/09
cool thanks, ill probably give it a try when the price drops a bit, not really in any hurry to play it.
Midda
Posted 01:31pm 18/3/09
I still much prefer having a real life bar thats easy to see at a glance, vs the old Resident Evil games where you had to go into your inventory to check your health and your health was represented by a heartbeat monitor which only had 3 states.

Well yeah, I still like being able to know the necessary information at a glance, it was just cool how games like Dead Space integrated it into the game itself, rather than a HUD.

I don't have a problem with the game having a HUD, but I certainly like it when games find creative ways to give you information minus a distracting HUD.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 01:32pm 18/3/09
^^ Agree
MatchFixer
Posted 01:42am 20/3/09
Ok so greazy picked this up and we finished stage 2 in coop mode but man with the small split screens it looked like s*** :( Could someone enlighten me as to why they've done that? to reduce the number of polygons on screen or something? GOW 1 & 2 didnt have that problem...



Items lying around are hard to spot and you had to squint to read anything on screen. Guess it's just a matter of getting used to, or playing on xbox live, but it's not the same as both players being in the same room.


last edited by MatchFixer at 01:42:08 20/Mar/09
Mantorok
Posted 01:51am 20/3/09
I'd say it's an aspect ratio thing. Smaller viewports keeps things 16:9 for each player.
Khel
Posted 10:29am 20/3/09
Yeah, probably an aspect ratio thing, but I agree, it does look s***. They could have, at the very least, done something with all the wasted space, like maybe put your hud there instead of on the screen, or put the map there or something.
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