Game Review: Resident Evil 5

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In the last few days I’ve been playing a good amount of average games that are fine but will not be remembered much in the future. The list includes Metro 2033 and Resident Evil 5. This is a review of the latter.

I was recommended Resident Evil 5 by a relative of mine that is much into third person videogames. He had already recommended me Dead Space and Dead Space 2. I enjoyed both but specially Dead Space 2. Graphics were improved from the first game, all the technical problems were solved, it featured no load times between levels (something you can’t see in many games and is incredibly immersive) and the camera view was relaxed a bit making it less dizzy. On top of that the story was good and the main characters were memorable.

He’s very into the Resident Evil game series, which he plays in cooperative mode with his son. With Resident Evil 6 recently released, the fifth game was on a Steam sale and I took the chance to try it. It was my first Resident Evil game and I’m not very satisfied with it.

Obviously, diving into the saga starting from this game is not a very good idea, but I’ll skip talking about the game story or the character development. I’ll to concentrate on the technical and gameplay aspects.

Technical aspects

Technically, Resident Evil 5 is mostly fine. The graphics are good. Level geometry is not very complex but gets the job done. Sound is mostly fine as is the game music and very cinematic cutscenes.

I’d like to point out its major defect. The initial game load time is awful. There’s a load bar displaying over a black screen when you launch the game and it takes ages to finish. After that, you’ll experience a few brief load pauses between levels which only take a few seconds, but that initial load time is really annoying.

You can’t quicksave or save whenever you want, so naturally you’ll feel tempted to Alt+Tab to the desktop and suspend the computer to continue playing later. If you do that, after Alt+Tabbing back to the game you will enjoy the same initial load screen again with the neverfilling bar. Not fun.

Gameplay

Gameplay is the really low point of the game and I can list many wrong choices that were made, in my humble opinion. I’ll try to go over the main items in that list as quickly as possible.

While the initial load time is very long, load times between levels are relatively short. Unfortunately, they chose to give you extracts from the previous game series story at those moments. I couldn’t read the full text most times.

Game menus

Game menus are completely broken. For example, take the main menu. You start the game, skip the logos and finally arrive to the main game screen with the Resident Evil 5 logo, horror music and a deep voice saying "Resident Evil… Fiiiive!". Now you want to continue playing were you left off, which is probably an automatic save point given that you can’t quicksave. You have to:

  • "Press any key"

  • In the Start/System Settings/Benchmark/Quit menu, choose "Start" (why is this menu not presented directly?).

  • A screen tells you "Load successful".

  • Press "OK".

  • Some kind of submenu appears, with more choices and at least one duplicate option that had already appeared in the main menu.

  • Choose "Play game".

  • Another menu appears.

  • Choose "Continue".

  • The Continue screen appears.

  • Press "OK".

  • Some kind of network menu, I think oriented to co-op, appears.

  • Skip it by pressing "Start game".

  • You arrive to the "Inventory screen".

  • Click "Ready".

  • They ask you "Exit?". Apparently they mean the menu.

  • You have to choose "Yes" and then wait for the bar.

I don’t know what went wrong in the beta testing process. That’s insane.

The inventory screen, that lets you organize and buy equipment, is something worth studying too. The inventory and treasures screen are not presented at the same time for some reason. Instead, they use tabs. While upgrading a weapon and confirming you want to buy an upgrade, you’re not taken back to the upgrade screen. Instead, it sits in some kind of intermediate state that you have to exit from. Many times I clicked on screen areas expecting them to be interactive and take me to another screen and they can’t be clicked. I think my point is clear already.

Game controls

While you can only do a few things, game controls are horrible. For example, the left mouse button is used for shooting, but only while aiming with the right mouse button. In Dead Space (1 or 2), if you press that button while not aiming, you’ll perform a melee attack. In this game, however, you have to press another key to perform melee attacks. The result is that the left mouse button is unused normally.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. You can run, but only forwards. While moving, you can’t do anything else, like reloading or aiming.

You can’t jump. Only when the game tells you that you can jump over something. That’s OK but, please, do not make fun of it like making me blow up a hut to get to a chest because you chose to prevent me from jumping over some fruit stands.

As you can imagine, controls feel really clumsy. So while the enemies can run too and move relatively quickly, when they get near you they will slow down, giving you time to aim and shoot because otherwise, with these controls, the game would be impossible to play. Seeing them slow down feels very unnatural and watching your character perform some really complex moves while in a cutscene only makes you wish game controls were not the way they are.

Final scores

  • Technical aspects: 8.

  • Gameplay: 4.

  • Overall: 5 or 6.

It’s not a game I can recommend.

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