Sunday, September 8, 2013

VGR Resident Evil 5

The biohazard zombie outbreak continues!

What zombies, they're not even zombies anymore?!
Eyz Reviews the entire Resident Evil series for you all, one game at a time!

VGR: Resident Evil 5 also known as Biohazard 5
From Capcom
Played on Xbox 360
Also available on PS3 & PC

Type action/third person shooter
Year 2009

Some sarcastically say the Resident Evil series is dead.

But like the zombies the plot is about, it just won't stay dead.

This game marks an important turn for the series, just like Resident Evil 4 did. In fact it does even more so than part 4 for several reasons.

Resident Evil 4 left the fixed cinematic camera angles aside to focus on a more "action" perspective behind the shoulders. (which was popularized by RE4 in fact and went on becoming a standard for many more games since then) Yet it still retained the same slow-paced gameplay with a creepy atmosphere.

Resident Evil 5 goes embraces this third person shooter perspective totally to become a big flashy action movie. Yeah, I said movie.

And I guess it could have worked better... had they dared simply going for it for real. Instead you're still playing a game that partially wants itself a, well, "Resident Evil" game. Meaning the same tank controls that don't allow for quick action.

RE5 started developement back in 2005 and was announced shortly after the release of Resident Evil 4.

Did Chris take tons of steroids since we last saw him? Turns out that, yes, he did.

The Resident Evil series is now fully produced without the involvement from series creator Shinji Mikami, it was Jun Takeuchi who took over the franchise for this episode.

The story is a huge change of setting, even after 4 saw Leon somewhere in a vague amalgam of rural Europe.

The biohazard threat went global!
The original Resident Evil hero Chris Redfield is back!
Chris now works for the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA) organization, as well as several other Raccoon City survivors as it is implied. 
The BSAA sent Chris to Kijuju, Africa to arrest a man, Ricardo Irwing, for selling old Umbrella bio-weapons to the black market.
For this occasion Chris is now partnered up with Sheva Alomar a new girl introduced to the series in this episode.
Turns out his old partner Jill Valentine died while fighting against the big bad guy of the series, Albert Wesker. Wesker went missing after that mission. New to the series? Don't worry. You'll get to know this flashback pretty well since Chris keeps having it until... the big reveal! 
Chris and Sheva discover a new biohazard outbreak, the RE4's "las plagas" parasite is back, evolved and meaner than ever! Zombies can run, hold weapons from machetes to firearm and worse, gatling guns!!

A certain Excella Gionne, CEO of Tricell, is apparently working with Wesker now...

In the big lines, it still very much Resident Evil.

The plot is a direct continuation and culmination of past RE shenanigans. Capcom saw this game as the big conclusion of the current on-going storylines (Wesker, the old STARS unit..) before moving the direction in further new directions.

What really chances is the all-new co-op concept. The series always followed a duo of protagonists, just take a look at the rail shooters series Umbrella and Darkside Chronicles.

But this time it's not just in regards to the plot but it directly influences the entire gameplay!

Zero tried to mesh a dual gameplay control yet stay classic in its approach.

Resident Evil 5 simply tries to have you play a forced co-op third person shooter with Resident Evil controls.

It can be played as a forced AI-controled co-op single player or via local multiplayer/split screen or finally via online multiplayer mode.

I personally went through the entire game local co-op and tried some single player afterwards, for "fun". (note the quotation mark)

Basically, you still control the character via "tank controls". You can't move as fast as other third person shooters, say, like in Gears of War. You can move lateral to turn to the left, strafe left and right, press "action" + back to make a quick turn like in past classic Resident Evil games.

Strangely in later levels Capcom made way too heavy on action there are some cover shooter elements, you can take cover on some very specific walls they put around in some boss fights and "defending a position" areas. But it's way too late in game, badly implemented and out of there...

The thing is the game wants you to embrace its Michael Bay approach.

Loads of explosions, hordes of enemies, tons of cheesy dialogues (way more than the B-movie grade from past old RE games), over the top nature.

Yet it still is a Resident Evil in name only... and partially in gameplay.

The cumbersome typical RE inventory management returns. And instead of being simplified for the occasion like it should is now done in real time, that means you will be pretty much defenseless. You can check out your partner's and even trade stuff.

Want to buy some new ammo? You can. In fact you can only buy new weapons and protection in-between chapters/after dying and coming back. But if you upgrade your weapons through the cash you get from treasures found around (!) you will get more ammunitions that way(??). Well, that is until your guns are fully upgraded and you won't be able to do so anymore.

Speaking of which I basically played with only two guns, a short and longer range one through the entire game. Not that you can carry that much stuff in your inventory anyway. And since there are no more "magic box" you have to wait until end of episodes to get to the sell/buy/manage inventory screen...

It's not super difficult to get, only cumbersome. Simply annoying.

The AI controlled partner is very dumb, so be prepared to micro-manage its inventory or (s)he will spend all good ammo uselessly and use all available health for no reason.

With a human buddy, that means finding some quiet places to give/trade stuff around.

Once the partner's down you get a few seconds to "wake" her/him up or (s)he will die after a while. And unlike actual TPS*, you can't defend yourself in that state and it is still wasting health so you'll die eventually after being knocked off too many times.

She's gonna make a Jill Sandwich out of Chris!

The co-op is not new to the Resident Evil series. In fact it was already present in the old Resident Evil Outbreak spinoff series. But that was much more in the traditional style of the series. And better handled.

Here the game tries to be an epic action game. And plays like Capcom's first attempt to do so. (huh, Dead Rising, Bionic Commando, Lost Planet? oh, that's right, this is still a Resident Evil... let's not take what we learnt from these past experiences...)

Don't mind me.

Let's be honest, it still is a very beautiful looking game.

For such an old Xbox 360/PS3 title, it still is an amazing game to this day, that can rivalize with most title released these days.

The boss fights are numerous, often quite impressive (even if very easy once you get down to it).

There's a ton of QTE scenes, to give more cinematic action scenes yet still have a somewhat playable element to it. They get tedious after a while and some a right down stupid.

Yet it looks simply outstanding. It's what big budget blockbuster movies are to videogames.

Technically impressive. Stunning.

But also so empty..

Not even zombie anymore. The new majini plague consist of mostly running rage-zombies (think 28 Days Later), giant insects coming out of people's head, mouth and guts. Giant insectoid-creatures. And annoying tiny critters (flying ones, rampant ones..).

With guns and whatnot. Some monsters are simply RE5-updates of RE4 foes.

The game was always supposed to be about the hero Chris vs. Wesker, once for all.

Sheva was not always a playable character early on the production.

The files you can collect around are still present, the game gives some zany backstories in those (why Chris is so ripped - apparently that's how he got prepared to face Wesker, to why Wesker's such a monster now - chosen as a child for his unique blood, it always was his destiny..).

I can understand and even get behind why the game was made like this. Since they couldn't replicate the limited ammo, creepy foes and dark places in a current gen AAA-blockbuster action game. Instead they went for pure action, enemies overwhelming you with their sheer numbers.

They get bigger and uglier each new episode!

Resident Evil 5 is a game that is technically very pretty, graphically, but so hollow...

That was Capcom's main goal, they went for it and that's what this game exactly is. What Michael Bay is to cinema.

At least we get to see Chris punching boulders, right?

As far as replay value, the game as a ranking/scoring aspect, meaning you can try collecting several in-game figurines by replaying previous chapters.

The weapons/items don't carry through chapter but are managed aside, outside the story/level orders.

Finally the Mercenary mode makes an important come back. Re-imagined for this new direction, now taking place in closed survival areas for points you get from getting chain kills. Several characters/costumes can be unlocked and used here.

A realistic motion capture was used for this game, making cinematic scenes all that more impressive.

Kota Suzuki served as the game's lead composer for Resident Evil 5. Don't expect any familiar tunes or cues. He used a live epic symphony in Los Angeles for this score. It only contributes to the big budget Hollywood atmosphere of RE5.

Overall, it's a very disappointing entry in the franchise. Yet I can see how it manage to sell so many copies.

It's a beautiful looking game.. and the worst survival horror I've ever played. And don't tell me that it isn't one or to ignore the horror aspect. That what Capcom tried to still keep at the heart of this game.

As a third person shooter, it's clunky, slow-paced (gameplay-wise) and your heavy character isn't just fast enough. There's a cover element badly implemented. Larger enemies take too many hits and you can't get a decent inventory system since you can't pause the game for it and there's simply not enough available free slots to avoid managing it every once in a while.

Resident Evil 5 has become a best selling title thanks to its great visuals and solid marketing... so sadly that means you're going to expect Capcom to continue the Resident Evil series in this direction series... that is, if the sales of Resident Evil 6 has anything to say!

I give it:
1 / 3 Quacks!

VGR: Lost in Nightmares 
By Capcom
Type DLC
Year 2010

Announced originally in 2009 via an enhanced re-release (see more below), Lost in Nightmares is an expansion to the original Resident Evil 5 game.

It's a new campaign that fleshes out the flashback Chris sees through the original game.

In this chapter you get to play as Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine who go back to the Spencer Mansion and end up finding Wesker alive once again (taking place prior to RE5) who has taken control of the BOW program.

That means a proper return to a more classic survival horror approach.

There aren't that many weapons/ammo scattered around. Nor that many monsters actually. It's all about the correct tension, suspense and exploring this mansion.

I truly believe this was a test, what originally RE5 could have been or a scrapped new planned remake of the original Resident Evil 1.

It does a great job at capturing the tone of the classic series and giving little nods and references to the very first game. (there's even a Jill Sandwich allusion, the piano scene referenced and most of the new mansion is clearly inspired directly by the original, and cranks!)

The last basement part is a bit tedious and the Wesker fight is simply a new take on the one from the actual RE5 game. But all in all, it's a great worthy experience.

And there's even a little easter egg thrown in for good measure, if you check out the main exterior door enough time you'll even get to play in classic Resident Evil cinematic cameras! (and thanks to the actual RE5 tank controls, it feels and plays exactly as expected!)


I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score! 

VGR: Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition 
By Capcom
Type Re-release
Year 2010

Finally, let me discuss this version of the game right here.
Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition is basically a re-release of Resident Evil 5, which was announced as Biohazard 5: Alternative Edition in Japan and exclusively for the PlayStation 3 (but didn't turn out to be).
It includes both the Lost in Nightmares originally planned as well as a second campaign Desperate Escape.
If Lost in Nightmares was a return to simpler, calmer and creepier survival horror roots, then Desperate Escape is a full-on third person shooter game. With horde of repetitive enemies to fight, repetitive feats to accomplish (getting on higher ground and opening doors while the partner defend position).

It's Jill's story, from her perspective after her boss fight in the main game. She is partnered up with newcomer Josh Stone who also survives the horror of the RE5 story.
This Gold Edition came with the several new downloadable content available separately, including new costumes for both Chris and Sheva (Heavy Metal and exoskeleton Chris, Business Suit & Folklore costume Sheva,).

As well as the new Mercenaries Reunion mode. Separate from the classic Mercenaries, it's basically an updated Merc mode with more strict point-based score, randomized enemies and access to new bonus characters. Those include returning the awesome Barry and the cute Becky from Resident Evil 1/Zero (yay!).

There's also a new Versus mode online mode but I was never able to try it.

And finally some new figures for the collection.
All in all, it still is a mixed experience, but with the awesome new campaign and Barry, I see this Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition as the ultimate version of Resident Evil 5.


I give this one a: 1.5 / 3 Score! 

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