Video Game Thoughts: Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5 was a 2009 third-person shooter game by Capcom that I played on PC. I played Resident Evil 4 extensively but never played Resident Evil 5. I paid attention when it was released, but I wasn’t impressed by the reviews. The common sentiment was that the game had moved away from survival horror and more towards the typical shooting action that more popular games had. That wasn’t what I played these games for. I liked the dark, unknown corridors. I passed on the game and never expected to play it really.

Well, early this year I was bored one day and played some of the old Resident Evil games on the Nintendo GameCube. I had a lot of fun with them again and wanted to continue having fun. I thought about playing Resident Evil 4 again, but I played that game so many hours, there was nothing new in it for me. That got me to the look at the newer Resident Evil 5 and 6. Resident Evil 6 was too new to work on my old computer, but Resident Evil 5 would work. After checking the reviews again, I accepted that it was more of an action game with very little horror. I got the game on sale and was off to play.

Resident Evil 5 had almost the same gameplay as Resident Evil 4 with a few refinements. It was still a third-person shooter, giving the player the ability to target weak spots on enemies if they could aim well enough. Now there were two characters instead of one that could work together. The game supported cooperative play with two players for the whole game. Even though I didn’t play with anyone else, it was a nice touch to allow more than one player. The only problem for the single player was that the second companion was controlled by the computer AI. The AI wasn’t very good. The computer-controlled character wasted too much ammo and didn’t obey orders very well.

I didn’t mind this too much though because the game was easy enough to play as a solo character. I just made sure the companion had no weapons or ammo. They did pretty well with the healing items, so I made them a support character. It was still a negative though. The worst situations were when the two characters had to split up. That usually meant having the computer-controlled player go in an area I couldn’t access. Sometimes there was extra ammo in those places, but I couldn’t get the AI player to pick it up. In these situations I would have preferred having the ability to switch characters on the fly in single player. I don’t know why they couldn’t do that. I’ve played many other games that had this option. Resident Evil 0 had two companions that could be switched between, so I know it was possible.

One of things I loved about Resident Evil 5 was the high production values. Capcom really went all out. The graphics were really good without taxing the game’s framerate. I especially liked how each mission got darker or lighter to simulate the time of day changing. All the characters had full voice acting throughout the game. The sound effects were all realistic. They made a lot more music for this game than what Resident Evil 4 had.

There were tons of different ways to play the game from difficulty settings, to using different weapons, to a “mercenaries” mode that had near-infinite enemies. In addition, all these modes supported cooperative play either in the same room with two controllers or over the internet. Some game modes were even exclusive to multiplayer like competitive modes with each player fighting each other instead of monsters. Along with all these ways to play came tons of unlockables. There was a lot of game here. I still haven’t tried everything or unlocked everything. I probably never will with how much stuff there is to do. Any buyer of this game got their money’s worth.

Without the horror elements, the story wasn’t the best. It was really entertaining though. The main villain of the series was back for a final showdown. Another really popular character was featured too, but as an enemy this time. The story kept me interested in playing to see more. There were six chapters in total, each split into two to three major parts. One of the chapters got a little boring because I couldn’t tell what it had to do with the larger story, but the other five were exciting the whole time. The boss battles were frustrating the first time because many times it wasn’t clear what I was supposed to do. Fortunately, health packs were plentiful enough and boss attacks easy enough to dodge that I had enough time to figure out what to do. When I played those levels again, the bosses went down fast.

Overall, Resident Evil 5 was good but not great. It would have been great if the companion system was more adaptive to single player and the horror elements were kept. It didn’t have the same feel as the previous games, but it had the same gameplay I was looking for. I had a lot of fun playing this game. It kept me occupied for about a month straight, and I returned to it several times later for a few days at at time. It was definitely worth the purchase price.

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