Posted by Pip
MRL20- For Gluttony Maybe
There aren't enough dramatic musical cues or Inception-style foghorns for this turn of events! Is Marlowe a Tarot? Is he the Empress's son? Did Marlie secretly kill off the Sins? How does this little kid have so much style that he can get hugs and cuddles from the ladies of the Sins, Virtues, AND Tarot and how do I get in on that kind of power?! Oh and it's a weekend! The tease, the cliffhanger, the waiting!
Far Too Long Review: Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition- I've been a fan of Resident Evil from the first game and despite terrible acting and cheesy dialogue, I'm a sucker for the franchise's ridiculously complicated plot. RE5 sets itself up as the end of this long and winding story, so despite the recent games' leaning towards more action than exploration and puzzles, I was willing to give 5 a chance. From the opening stages though, there are glaring issues and questionable design choices. The foremost is the heavy focus on your partner, Sheva. I don't have a problem with the character, it's just that she's not very useful and she stands in your way almost every chance she gets. You can't move through your partner but she's designed to walk in front of you so it becomes a clumsy dance of trying to get around her, her adjusting and stepping in front of you again, and you trying to push her away. And no, you can't just knife her and play solo, because if your partner dies, you lose too. After completing the game, you unlock the ability to play as Sheva but Chris doesn't make you pine for your school days of the buddy system either. He's programmed to stand a few steps behind you, so thanks to his new Hulk-ish physique, Chris blocks most of the camera any time you stop moving. The game also needs a reasonable control scheme. RE5 is a straight-up action game but it's stuck with a layout and design from the slow paced survival horror days. Without the ability to quickly maneuver, evade, strafe and shoot, or even attack with your knife while moving, many sections in the game are extremely frustrating and it rarely feels fair that you got hurt because it came from an enemy you couldn't see or you were stuck behind your partner in a corner fighting to just take the scene in. The camera is in far too close so you frequently get wailed on by enemies you don't know exist because they spawned in behind you or from an area you just cleared.
Just to stack the odds against you even more, the enemies are ridiculously strong. It takes multiple shotgun blasts to kill a grunt, enemies shrug off machine gun fire to the head, and to kill a single chainsaw wielding madman, it takes three pointblank explosive barrels, multiple shotgun blasts to the head and chest, and alternating between shotgun blasts to the face and melee finishers (at least four). For ONE enemy that isn't even considered a miniboss in later stages. As you play, you unlock stronger weapons and you can upgrade them in between missions, but this requires hours of grinding levels to pick up enough money to make certain guns even somewhat useful. If you can fully upgrade three weapons in one playthrough of the complete game, that's a lot. You're frequently placed in areas where enemies pour out of the walls without any direction or guidance from the game. Are you supposed to hold your ground and kill all of them or are you supposed to make a run for it? After you kill more enemies in a five minute span than were in all of Resident Evil 1, you start to question whether there are unlimited enemies or if you're really missing something here. Worse yet is when the next checkpoint comes a while after one of these mob events, you die, and you're sent back to the start. This happened to me when I died during a cutscene. Not one of those interactive QTE style ones either. I was fighting an enemy, a cutscene activated, and when I regained control of the game, the enemy had his chainsaw in my neck for an instant death attack so I was kicked back the start of the riot. Mean things were said about the game designers at this point. Oh but there are instant death quick time events as well. The first half of the game is fairly free of them, but it piles them on in the second half with strings of QTEs in a row and if you fail any of them, you die and have to redo all of them. A final sticking point in comparison to the original games, but for as action-focused as RE5 is, you have a pathetically small space for inventory. Just to make it hurt even more, you can't put an item down and pick it up again later. So if your pack is full, you have a red herb and then come across a green herb, you can't just mix the two on the spot or put your gun down, mix the herbs, and pick your gun back up. To get the red herb you have to permanently discard an item, pick up the herb, and then combine them.
Character-wise, 5 continues the fine Resident Evil tradition of having the heroes be the dumbest saps around. Chris says or does things that just make you groan and shake your head. To try to put this in a non-spoilery way, there's a flashback where you think you see two characters die. Later in the game, you find out one of those characters survived but when you meet up with character X again, Chris says "I thought X was dead.". Why? If character A is still alive and kicking and X is even stronger and has survived more, why would you still think X is dead? Toss in the usual assortment of “take the hard route around puzzles” and “not shooting bad guys when you have the chance”, it really isn't a surprise how Umbrella manipulated everybody to get so powerful and start this whole mess. You have to give it to Capcom in one area though. When they put effort into it, they can make a decent female character. Chris has become a 'roided up freak monster, but Sheva is intelligent (in cutscenes), likable, highly capable, and sexy without being a traditional video game babe spilling out of a tiny outfit. I welcome the Jill and Sheva partnership for future RE games. Or a really bad sketch comedy show. Something along the lines of "Up Late with McBain" just with more zombies.
5 has the makings of being a decent game, but it's not "Resident Evil". Gameplay-wise it's just another third person shooter, albeit one with awful controls. One rather drawn out and annoying part of the game has you in a cover-based firefight against a group of gun-toting mutants, some of which have an unlimited number of flash grenades and perfect aim. How did a series that started as survival horror against zombies wind up like THAT? What 5 really feels like is a prototype of Lost Planet 2 more than anything. Two of the bosses are pretty much Akrid on top of it. I know it's Resident Evil and they all pretty much have the same ending, but for the end of a franchise's storyline, the conclusion is pretty weak. There was the opportunity to make a fantastic downer ending that made me sit forward and be impressed that they were going to go that route, but then a QTE had to kick in and lead to a whole extra fight scene and ruin it all. Most plot lines get wrapped up but you'd be hard pressed to say that they get wrapped up well. After beating the story, you unlock some mini-games built entirely around combat, but since the controls and combat in story mode left much to be desired, this doesn't exactly feel like a reward. There's a lot of replay value in bettering your times, looking for hidden items, and earning points to unlock extra weapons and cheats, but again, if the controls and combat are bad, no amount of extra time wasters can make that fun.
The Gold edition includes the two DLC chapters as well. “Lost in Nightmares” is a mostly great addition and should have been the basis for the entire game. It focuses on atmosphere and exploration with just a smidge of combat. It's creepy, full of great text files to read (including the return of a favorite of mine), and sneaks in a couple of fun fake-outs for players that fondly remember the original. It is on the short side so as a stand-alone DLC purchase, it's light on content, but as an addition to the Gold package, I can get behind that. There are the same bad controls but since it's focused less on combat, they don't get in your way as much. Although, there's only one enemy type, you have to fight them multiple times, and the only way the game can make them difficult is to send multiples of them after you at the same time. Dodge its attack, run around behind it, shoot its weak point, melee, and repeat that process three or four more times. It gets kind of tedious by the third fight. “Desperate Escape” is pretty much the polar opposite of Nightmares. There's little to no new story and it's focused almost entirely on combat. The last 7 minutes of the package is actually you trapped in a small space fighting endless waves of enemies while a timer counts down. Definitely not worth a stand-alone purchase and really only worth a playthrough on the Gold package if you have a high tolerance for fighting the same enemies over and over. The least they could have done was explain why mind control gives you a dye job and a boob job...
On a bit of a side note, RE5 also features what is sure to become a constant annoyance in future games. Every single time you turn on the game, you have to sit through three unskippable instructional screens about how the Move is going to destroy your lamps, TV, and everybody you've ever loved if you don't use it properly, even if you don't have the Move connected or activated. Add those to the unskippable company splash screens and it's taking longer and longer to just get to the game.
Sins Committed: Bad camera, Bad controls, Bad writing, Repetitive combat, Bad AI, Escort missions, QTEs
Virtues Acted: So bad it's good moments, the Lost in Nightmares DLC, Jill no longer wears a beret