Resident Evil 5

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  1. #1
    [Insert witty title here] Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
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    Resident Evil 5

    Just finished RE 5 tonight. Medium (Normal) difficulty, single player the whole way, Xbox 360.

    Before I start my review, I should probably say I’m a huge Resident Evil fan. Even before the first game was released, I knew I was going to love it. I read a short RE comic book that was being given away free at EB stores before the game’s 1996 launch. Everything about the game just looked so incredible to me, and sure enough, I fell in love.
    Since then, its become one of my favorite videogame franchises. But the first game, as well as the wonderful remake for the Gamecube, will always have a place in my ‘favorite games of all-time” list.
    The reason I bring this up, is that some of my complaints and comparisons probably won’t matter to anyone who is not a fan of the series, or is just looking for an action game fix. So I apologize in advance if I go off on any tangents.

    ---

    Gameplay and Controls:
    The first thing that can be said about RE 5, is that in many ways, it’s essentially “Resident Evil 4½”, at least in terms of gameplay and control. I’ve gotten used to the controls since RE4 in 2005, and they were exactly what I was expecting. Many though, find them to be cumbersome, unintuitive, and just downright annoying. I can certainly see where they’re coming from. Turning can be slow and awkward, and when you’re being swarmed by enemies and trying to decide on a weapon and various inventory selections, it can be more than a little exasperating. On the “plus” side, enemies not being quite as accurate or fast generally compensates for this “less than perfect” control scheme. Zombies will stagger for a moment after attacking, giving you enough time to orient yourself and get away or attack. It makes the game more manageable, but you can’t help but feel like it’s handicapping itself to suit the control scheme.
    On the plus side, the new inventory system is great and feels fresh. Gone is the cheesy "merchant" from RE4, and now, you can purchase and modify anything you'd like before loading your game, no matter when or where your last checkpoint was, so you're always able to modify your inventory in case what you're currently carrying just doesn't cut it.
    The biggest change, and also another griping point, is the inclusion of your AI sidekick. For the most part, she does a good job of staying out of your line of fire, and usually is quite intelligent in aiding in a fight. She also finds items and is excellent at avoiding enemies.
    HOWEVER, she is HORRIBLE when it comes to not shooting you! I can’t tell you the number of times we’d be in a narrow corridor or doorway, or even in open spaces, and Sheva would unload nearly an entire clip into my back without a single shot hitting the enemy! This happened usually at least several times during each major fight, and all in all in the course of the game, I was probably shot no less than 75-100 times by my partner, no joke. Thank God you can’t hurt each other, because if she inflicted any damage from these shooting sprees, I’d have sold the game without a second thought. As it is though, it’s horribly frustrating to have her waste precious ammo (not to mention not help kill the swarming enemies!) by unloading round after round into your back. Capcom should have tested this a bit more.

    Graphics:

    Graphically, RE 5 is quite impressive, if not cutting edge. The environments are quite static and feel pre-rendered, with very little environmental interaction. There are some nice lighting effects, but nothing we haven’t seen for years already. I really have no complaints in this area, as it certainly looks like a game released in 2009 should, but there’s nothing really “wowing” about it either if you’ve played any FPS or action games lately.

    Sound and Music:

    The sound and music are good (when it’s there), not great. I’m a big music fan, and the RE games have produced some excellent, creepy tracks over the years. Unfortunately, music only plays when in your inventory screen before loading (the new “Box/Save room music”), and when being attacked. And at those times, it’s simply background action music, that’s usually being drowned out by gunfire and zombies shouting and attacking.
    Some people might think the lack of music adds to the tension, but in many ways, I think it detracts from it, since as soon as you’re attacked or there’s an enemy lurking nearby, the music begins playing, completely ruining the element of surprise and apprehension.

    Atmosphere and Scare Factor:

    Which brings me to probably my single biggest complaint of the game: unfortunately, most of the time, it simply isn’t scary. Oh, sure, there are some creepy parts, and when you’re getting swarmed it can be tense, but for the most part, it wasn’t the least bit scary or disturbing. I don’t believe you have to have buckets of blood and gore to be scary, but RE 5 is simply lacking in any kind of disturbing imagery. The zombies, which is what you fight 90% of the game, are not the least bit frightening. In fact, later in the game when they’re all armed with guns, it loses any semblance of a scare and feels like a straight shooter. Sorry Capcom, but having giant centipedes come out of their heads occasionally doesn’t make them any scarier.
    Aside from the zombies, the other monster designs are , in my opinion, rather lackluster. Capcom seems to have this idea that giving anything crazy tentacles or making it look insect-like makes it terrifying, but sometimes the more utterly “bizarre” something looks, the less frightening it is. This is especially true with the boss monsters, which are usually IMPOSSIBLY large things with great big tentacles and obvious ‘weakspot’ yellow bulbs that are basically giant “Shoot here now!” signs that look overdone and fake.

    Story, characters, and dialogue

    If there’s one thing I really didn’t care for from RE4, it was the ridiculous, usually downright silly dialogue and plot elements. It didn’t fit in an RE game, and sure as hell didn’t fit in a survival situation when monstrosities are trying to eat your brains. Some of the dialogue and plot seemed rather immature, and I had to cringe a few times at the sophomoric nature of it all.
    RE 5 doesn’t eliminate this, but does tone it down quite a bit. Sheva is a good example. Obviously very attractive, but at no point in the game is she presented as a "piece of meat" or come across as a weak female character for a misogynist male lead to save or hit on. There’s no obvious misplaced and ill-timed flirtation between Chris and Sheva, there aren’t a lot of awkward translations, and for the most part, the dialogue is appropriate for the situation and not overtly anime-esque in its goofiness.
    Of course, it’s not without some flaws. The bits with a certain "bad guy "and the complete and total overuse of matrix-style kung fu scenes and martial arts is just silly and waaaaaaaay overdone, and they literally don’t know when to stop! There are at least half a dozen cutscenes featuring totally out of place martial arts and other third rate Matrix moves (with the black leather, to boot), and it gets old VERY quickly. Add in the fact that these sequences also factor into some of the gameplay fights (along with overused QTE sequences), and it doesn't escape the cheesiness of some of RE4's weaker moments.
    However, while the way they tell the story is (for the most part) quite well done, the story itself is, IMO, one of the weakest yet. RE has never been known for outstanding plots character development, but RE 5 was simply trying too hard, I felt. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but it essentially culminates with the entire world and ALL LIFE AS WE KNOW IT being threatened by total extermination at the hands of this diabolical latest virus!! It even culminates in a "Revenge of the Sith/Obi-Wan/Anakin" final battle. And of course, the over-the-top tie-ins and connections to previous games and characters are made a bit too frequently, and you learn just how diabolical Umbrella and their cronies really are *roll eyes*!! That might sound well and good for a Japanese horror game, but again, to me, they just tried TOO hard to connect dots that didn’t need to be connected, and explain things that are better left unsaid and leave the player wondering. The villains REALLY, REALLY need work in these games. There needs to be more explanation and motivation for these villains behaving the way they do, outside of the Power Rangers/Comic book line of "I'm evil and want to destroy the world! Mwahahaha!". We've done that bit for too long.


    Conclusion:
    I know it must seem like this whole review has been negative, but like I mentioned earlier, as a huge fan of the series, I hoped for more, and my expectations were high, so it’s easier for me to point out the things that were more of a letdown.
    For the most part, RE5 is a good, solid survival horror/action game with solid gameplay, pretty environments, and good progression.
    However, as a Resident Evil fan, I’m more than a little disappointed. The simple lack of a real scare or anything approaching real tension for most of the game, a weak overarching plot, and some clumsy controls keep this from anywhere near the top of my list of favorite RE games, or even survival horror. In fact, stupid anime-elements aside, I felt RE 4 was the much better game all-around. And if you're looking for a recent, much scarier survival horror game with the same basic gameplay elements, pick up Dead Space.

    If you’re looking for an action game to play with your buddy (via co-op), like more straight action than tension and scares, and could care less about the RE franchise or story-line of the game, RE5 is worth a purchase (if the controls agree with you). But this long-time fan of the series is more than a little disappointed.


    Final Score: 7.0 out of 10
    Last edited by Spaceman Spiff; 04-18-2009 at 05:53 AM.
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  2. #2
    [Insert witty title here] Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
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    P.S. If I had to place it in my own personal RE hierarchy (only counting real entries in the series), it would probably look something like;


    1) Resident Evil (and GC remake)
    2) RE 2
    3) RE Code Veronica
    4) RE 4
    5) RE 3
    6) RE5
    7) RE 0
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  3. #3
    Mako Shark wh666-666's Avatar
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    Thanks for that. I was actually wondering what it would be like (for when it comes to PC), as at the moment in the UK, there are constant adverts for it making it sound revolutionary to gaming like gta3.

    I was really wondering if it lived up to the hype, seems my scepticism was well placed!

    Nice review!
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  4. #4
    Hammerhead Shark dyne's Avatar
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    Playing through the game with my brother was even an exercise in frustration. I sometimes wondered if the AI would be a better shot. Definately not a game I would run through a 2nd time.
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  5. #5
    Awesome. Kamakazie's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed it, myself. The story is crap and actually non-existant for 3/4 of the game, but it is extremely fun and a solid co-op experience.

    And just a note on the "Its not scary" sentimentality - I have never found any of the Resident Evil games to be scary. Every one has had surprises or a time or two where you feel like you're about to die if you do not take immediate action, but aside from that, there was never any tension. That being said, the level of fear on hand in RE 5 is completely on-par with previous games in the series.
    Last edited by Kamakazie; 04-19-2009 at 10:23 PM.

  6. #6
    [Insert witty title here] Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamakazie View Post
    I really enjoyed it, myself. The story is crap and actually non-existant for 3/4 of the game, but it is extremely fun and a solid co-op experience.

    And just a note on the "Its not scary" sentimentality - I have never found any of the Resident Evil games to be scary. Every one has had surprises or a time or two where you feel like you're about to die if you do not take immediate action, but aside from that, there was never any tension. That being said, the level of fear on hand in RE 5 is completely on-par with previous games in the series.
    It's not that I didn't enjoy the game, I did. But it felt basically like an expansion pack for RE 4.

    There are certainly more tense and creepy moments in previous RE games, though.
    There were also plenty more memorable moments as well. Where either something was introduced, or a freaky boss monster was shown, or something unexpected happens, or something.
    Nothing like that happened in RE 5.

    Even in RE 4, things like:

    The lake monster
    The thing with claws that could hear you but not see you
    The Gigante (much better done in RE 4, RE5's gigante was a joke of an afterthought.)
    The chanting of the cultists

    ...were all things that stuck with you for being new and innovative.

    The remake of the original with the introduction of the "stitched" monster was infinitely more disturbing and original than anything RE 5 brought to the table.
    Hell, I still remember the first time in RE 2 (from 1997!) when I saw a "Licker" monster, rush by outside a window in the police station. It's the first time you ever get a glimpse of something like it, and I was frozen solid with my gun ready for like a solid minute, and upon entering the next hallway you see blood dripping from the ceiling into a puddle below.
    Or the dogs bursting through the windows from the original game.
    Or the introduction of the "Hunter" cutscene, where you see everything from its perspective as it rushes towards your position and you have no idea what is coming.

    There is absolutely nothing in RE 5 that I will be able to think back on in a few years or months and say "God, it was cool when..." or "It sure was creepy when...".
    Just swarms of zombies, some with centipedes as heads. Hmmm.

    RE 5 simply lacked anything approaching the previous games' creativity. When you factor in the absolute formulaic nature of every single encounter (music starts, zombies swarm, kill zombies (or dog or two), music ends) for 90% of the game, with no memorable or creative creatures, cutscenes, or events anywhere, I consider it a fairly weak effort.
    Last edited by Spaceman Spiff; 04-21-2009 at 05:50 AM.
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  7. #7
    Hammerhead Shark dyne's Avatar
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    What I don't get is the decision to make the "zombies" run, then they get within a certain area by you, stop, start walking and basically take a Doom AI path right at you while you shot them. KEEP THEM RUNNING while I shoot them if you want tension!

    Also the ending....or lack thereof sucked.
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  8. #8
    [Insert witty title here] Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dyne View Post
    What I don't get is the decision to make the "zombies" run, then they get within a certain area by you, stop, start walking and basically take a Doom AI path right at you while you shot them. KEEP THEM RUNNING while I shoot them if you want tension!
    I think this was more or less a deliberate move by the programmers to compensate for the slow and often clumsy controls.
    I think if they rushed and attacked without all the pauses, it would overwhelm most players since the controls just aren't suited to really split-second maneuvers and attacks.
    I agree though, and I mentioned that in my review. Having the zombies sort of stutter and pause sometimes just feels like the game is deliberately handicapping them to make it playable with the less-than-perfect control scheme.
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