Resident Evil 5 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Leo Epema 30.06.2016

Review for Resident Evil 5 on PlayStation 4

Resident Evil 5 was a title that sort of split the fan-base. Some enjoyed the bigger focus on action, since Resident Evil 4 was already on the path to it, anyway. Essentially, there is variety in the types of people who enjoyed RE4, who all had their own reasons for liking it. It was agreed, however, that it was a pretty tough game that still managed to scare people with horror. In this review, it'll be laid out if the horror is still present in Resident Evil 5, now updated and ported to current generation systems, and how this game is better or worse than Resident Evil 6.

As Resident Evil 5 starts, it becomes clear it's very Hollywood in style, with the actors and characters laid out on the screen as a jeep pulls up to a decrepit town somewhere in Africa. Since the previous instalment, people have been funding terrorist groups, who make use of a biological weapon to cause mayhem. Actually, it looks like this biological weapon is out of control. Joining Chris is Sheva Alomar, who never intended to become a partner in the disposal of humans-become-zombies.

This is really all the necessary info about the story - it's just very basic. Sheva wants to find the people responsible for the creation of the biological weapon because "these are her people." It's flimsy and, frankly, uninspiring, not to mention odd. Sheva doesn't seem like she has any interest in what happens in impoverished areas in Africa, as she sounds like she comes from somewhere to the far south. In addition, she has no relatives or friends from that area. The relationship between her and Chris also never goes anywhere - the most that happens is that he voices how he's glad she'll remain his partner, even though the odds of them surviving are slim. Basically, he's impressed she's as tough and principled as she is. He gives her respect, but they don't ever need to learn to work together. Sheva and Chris have no chemistry - instead, they just work perfectly together from the get-go, shooting everything to oblivion with little trouble.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 5 on PlayStation 4

Speaking of shooting, there's a lot of it. Most encounters contain many opponents who all use weapons like Chris and Sheva. The first encounter echoes Resident Evil 4, with many humanoid enemies chucking axes at them and trying to strangle or slash them. The encounter is not as shocking as it could be, considering the cut-scene before it already showed the (number of) enemies that would have to be dispatched. In other words, the horror is already sapped too much. Among the enemies is a big axe-wielding executioner, who, like most enemies from the previous instalment, needs to be shot in a specific area in order to be stunned, to allow for a follow-up melee attack. Fortunately, it's not hard to hit that sweet spot, as that type of difficulty would just make the game feel cheap. The sweet spot is just a way to increase damage dealt, not a requirement to hit or a gimmick.

Indeed, the boss battles are the most entertaining parts. The reticule bobs quite a bit to simulate human breathing, which, if memory serves, wasn't part of Resident Evil 6. This difficulty aiming really adds to the tension of battle - is shooting now preferable, or is it best to run back and risk being overwhelmed or trapped in a corner? The impossibility to walk while aiming also adds to the survival aspect. Without it, Chris would be too elusive for the (slow) enemies. It also makes it harder to see if enemies are near, meaning it's always a tactical choice. Even if walking while aiming/shooting were possible because the enemies were really fast, there's still merit to the claustrophobic and deliberate actions in this game. After all, if it were possible to move or run while aiming, there'd be more certainty what direction has a low enemy count, and which paths can be taken to flank the enemy. The inability to move while aiming adds much-needed tension, even if there's less opportunity for action-oriented tactics.

The combat can be pretty good because it offers the opportunity to shoot away enemies' projectiles. Sometimes it's even possible to get instant kills provided the aim was good enough and a specific item was shot. The frightening mini-bosses are also deserving of praise. Part of the reason they're scary is because they do immense damage and approach like any enemy, being able to catch anyone off guard. It's just sad that the (always daytime) environments are so bland and all have almost the same colour scheme. "Blisteringly hot, dusty African town/ancient ruins" soon gets trite. They don't allow the mini-bosses to leave a lasting impression.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 5 on PlayStation 4

Each weapon has its specialty. Need to hit a particular part of an enemy? It's best not to use an inaccurate weapon like the SMG. Instead, bet on the shotgun's spread. Alternatively, use the pistol for moderate damage and high accuracy. Some weapons even offer a tactical choice: the shotgun might blow off a head, but could also expose the Plagas infection, which will flail around wildly and require much ammo to finish off. Every situation poses a risky choice like this.

There's nothing tenser than having a Licker paralyse you with its tongue, then seeing other Lickers swarm you and try to slash you - especially if the corridor only allows a brief retreat or an advance. Also, ammo conservation is still a good idea in this game, while it's almost never necessary in its sequel. Because of it, you will constantly be trying to keep composure, instead of blasting like a madman. It makes battles extra tense, which is the word that best describes this game.

Unfortunately, one bad reason why Resident Evil 5 is tense is because Sheva's A.I. is terrible. One moment she hangs back too much, emptying her entire clip into Chris' shoulder instead of enemies. In the next, she paces around or shoots an enemy once, then returns to Chris' side as if asking if she did a good job. She also heals Chris at random moments, even if there's no danger. Implementing a simple 'heal' command would've fixed that. A second problem with Sheva is that she can't take ammo from Chris if her inventory is full, necessitating a trade… that she often won't do because she's too far away from Chris. Multiplayer is nice, but there aren't many situations that require teamwork, as neither player is ever in much danger. Something as dangerous as one player being targeted by several gun-wielding enemies from afar, which the other player needs to dispatch to support their melee battle, won't happen.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 5 on PlayStation 4

Interspersed with the shooting, there are chase and quick-time sequences. Some of these are well done, like taking down (with a mounted turret) enemies on trucks throwing cocktails or shooting crossbows. This scene is about environmental awareness and timing - keeping an eye out for enemies and taking them out fast so they can't damage the jeep enough to cause a Game Over. Other encounters are cheap, killing Chris or Sheva instantly if the right button combination wasn't pressed within a split-second. Which button combination it's going to be is not always clear, either, so sometimes the result (a win or a loss) depends entirely on luck. That's terrible. Hidden items are pleasant, but they're never well-hidden, just put in obvious or predictable corners or places.

Finally, the big problem with the gameplay is that it's predictable. Enemies hardly ever surprise by coming from unseen angles, or obscure or unknown places - certainly not if the soundtrack announces their arrival. I'm not talking about jumpscares; I mainly mean unscripted enemy spawning. The game goes from one (admittedly well-crafted) set piece to the next: "Picked up the Port Key!" *enemy wave starts* It's always anticipated, and the enemies aren't believable if all they do is spawn on script after a checkpoint. It gets even more tedious by how they almost always attack in swarms. Because of it, the adventure feels fractured - nothing flows organically; it just starts and stops. Lastly, Resident Evil 5 is in dire need of some creeping or sneaking enemies that can't be seen or heard coming - this is still a horror game after all. At some point, getting attacked by all roid-raged enemies in a square mile radius gets annoying.

The soundtrack sticks to the credo of 'less is more,' being all the better for it. In tense moments, it does pump the player up with its creepy and often bombastic drums, yet minimalistic tones. It's just not very melodic, nor does it try to be disturbing. It is well aware that the game itself isn't scary, but tense, and it focuses on that aspect well. That said, there's not much to be praised about the soundtrack, as it too soon becomes boring, like the one-note environments. Thankfully, the graphics of those environments are solid for a 2009 game, with decent contrast and good textures, but they will undoubtedly annoy some who expect better in 2016, though.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 5 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

In some ways, Resident Evil 5 is not as 'fun' as its successor. Its controls are slightly clunky, the A.I. partner is scatter-brained, and her inclusion in every situation reduces the horror. However, it's also more thrilling, and the survival aspect is implemented better than in Resident Evil 6, with tough ammo conservation and some inventory management. It also relies less on stereotypical scares and lazy QTEs meant to fill story gaps. Mercenaries mode is the series' best because of its well-made arenas with good steady flows of enemies from all directions. Overall, RE5 is similar to its predecessor, but with less scary enemies and locales. If you're okay with 'survival action,' buy it. If not, wait for the series reboot, Resident Evil 7.

Developer

Capcom

Publisher

Capcom

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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