Capcom had a fairly decent run on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Early initiatives Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and Dead Rising paved the way for the testing grounds that were Devil May Cry 4 and MotoGP 08. The experience has proved its worth in Capcom’s 2009 line-up. With Street Fighter IV still ringing in the ears, Resident Evil 5 became the publisher’s next big push. It brought a lot of change to the series, which brought about a lot of hate initially. However, 15 years later we can finally see Resident Evil 5 for what it truly is: misunderstood.

From the offset, the game offers the first Resident Evil couch co-op mode in the mainline entries of the series. It sprints out the gate with something to prove, and the first hurdle of enticing new gameplay opportunities is taken with ease.

Resident Evil 5 screenshot

Resident Evil 5 The Ride

As with Resident Evil 4 before it, Resident Evil 5 offers the player a constantly thrilling ride through a twisting story. “Ride” is probably the most appropriate word. The game takes the cinematic presentation far further than any other title in the series. The game is of an entirely linear structure. Each objective is contained within a single area, which is to be completed before continuing to the next. The player will rarely re-tread familiar turf. Series traditions such as herbs and limited supplies remain, but their use is a much less taxing decision.

Resident Evil 5 uses a control system based on previous titles adapted to more modern controllers. This may well have been one of the most controversial issues prior to launch. Many argued that the control system was outdated. That the effect of slowly stumbling through areas is directly related to a reduction in the yearning to explore. This argument is simply ignorable after having spent an hour-or-so with the title, as it’s clear that the delivery has been a conscious decision to maintain the atmosphere. The analogue control is as precise as any “traditional” third-person control system and takes very little adjustment from newcomers; an ideal Resident Evil 5 is clearly reaching for.

Resident Evil 5 screenshot

The Best of Resident Evil Co-Op

The aforementioned co-operative mode provides an ease of incorporating not just those new to Resident Evil, but those new to gaming in general. The game never demands much of a second player. An effortlessly learnable increase in accuracy and a grasp of moving an avatar through a three-dimensional world is enough. Sharing items and ammunition is only ever three button presses away, and reviving a teammate requires only a quick stab of a single button.

Both a teammate locater and the ability to heal both players with a item are compensatory additions. This is because the limited supplies are shared, but one may use more than the other. As they are for when a human teammate is not available, and the artificial intelligence steps into the role of Sheva Alomar.

Slightly less successful, the soundbyte of the game having been designed “from the ground-up for co-op play” holds more water when attempting to venture out alone. While your AI partner does well to convey a sense of reason throughout most of the game, it’s evident in the later levels that the gameplay has been designed for two human players. Even an expert with a simulated friend will find frustration.

Many unnecessary deaths are caused by Sheva’s inability or unwillingness to do aid as a human companion would. As well as giving items from your inventory to your partner, you can command them to pick up items, however Sheva will often grab things herself, and not necessarily when it’s better for her to do so. Worse still, she may use health items when she sees fit. Even if you think it wouldn’t been a better idea to save it until absolutely vital.

Resident Evil 5 screenshot

Shoot First, Shoot Later. Don’t ask questions.

The game’s combat is enjoyable for the most part. Thankfully, as with the much heavier reliance on this than most Resident Evil games it comes as quite a relief. Unfortunately it seems that peer pressure of the era resulted in the inclusion of an entirely unwise and underdeveloped cover system that, oddly, only occurs at certain designated points in the game.

A context sensitive press will lock a player into cover, with no suggestion prior to arriving in an area as to whether or not the system will be implemented at all. In fact, the first time the option is available it comes as quite a shock. Once in cover, the player can only hide, reload and step-out. No movement along a piece of cover is allowed. No blind firing, no leaping over and no aligning your aim whilst hidden. Even though some of these options appear to be available to the enemy.

As the game progresses, series fans will wonder as to where the logical challenge is. The simple answer is that it doesn’t exist. The challenge is no longer in finding the correct number code or finding the matching half of a two-piece emblem. Instead, the challenge lies directly in the combat, as opposed to working around it. The western influence is apparent in every aspect of the game. From the action-orientated structure to the complexity of Chris Redfield’s bulging biceps: Resident Evil 5 suffers heavily from the desire to appeal to a larger demographic in the foreign market. Where once the series dominated the survival horror genre, Resident Evil 5 saw the series pivot to action games. Resident Evil 4 laid the template for what has now become a much less cerebral affair. Resident Evil 5 shouts it from the roofs.

Linear is Not a Swear Word

That in itself is no bad thing, of course. The action genre at the time was a stagnated breed of third-person shooters and routine puzzle/platformers. The linear structure may be less than welcomed by the Resident Evil aficionados. However the wider Resident Evil audience no doubt found the carrot-on-a-stick gameplay a much greater sway to strive for completion than the repeated derision the previous games held at your failure. Alone in the Dark’s Chapter Select feature was a clever initiative to persuade those to whom the challenge is a turn-off, but Resident Evil 5 proved that providing enough incentive can encourage even the most irritable gamers.

Resident Evil 5 of course looks fantastic. While it not be a leader in its generation, it sits more than comfortable among the top tier works. The grainy filter applied certainly adds to the cinematic quality. The option to adjust the filter after finishing the campaign is a wonderful addition for completionists. The character models, though having clearly followed Street Fighter IV’s roster into a bulky western design, are incredibly well presented and bar the occasionally trite line deliver a well rounded performance. The release has certainly taken on board Hollywood influence. Aptly relaying necessary information from earlier titles to bring new players up-to-speed, the game manages to avoid giving-away too many plot twists.

Resident Evil 5 screenshot

15 Years Later, Resident Evil 5 Still Does One Thing Right…

Resident Evil 5 was undoubtedly a success, but perhaps for unexpected reasons. The series began to take an entirely different direction and achieved a much greater goal: suitability for the mainstream audience. That Resident Evil 5 claimed the title of the fastest selling Resident Evil release came as no surprise. What came after however, did. Resident Evil 6 appeared to ape Resident Evil 5‘s co-op with far less care and consideration for both this brand new audience and the series stalwarts. This lead to the reboot into first-person for the seventh and eighth entries. Thusly, Resident Evil 5 stands as the only title in the main bloodline of the series that was built for co-op gameplay, and is worth playing from start-to-end as such.

Categories: Games