Resident Evil 5 (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 08.11.2019

Review for Resident Evil 5 on Nintendo Switch

Announced during Nintendo's E3 2019 Direct presentation, Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 are both finally released for the first time on a Nintendo system! This should be great news for any Nintendo faithful who had yet to experience these two in any shape or form. However, other than coverage in Nintendo Directs, there hasn't been a big push to advertise those releases, Capcom instead choosing to rather quietly push those to the Nintendo eShop, with no physical release planned. Resident Evil Triple Pack did indeed see a retail release in Japan and North America, bundling Resident Evil 4, 5, and 6 together, but this only contains Resident Evil 4 on a cartridge, and the other two are relegated to being just a download code in a box, like Capcom did with Resident Evil Origins Collection, and Resident Evil Revelations Collection, also on Switch. The size of the games will have prohibited the status of a physical release, no doubt, and other ports of last-gen to Switch that received great care and turned out absolutely fantastic also didn't get a physical release, like GRID Autosport for example. Read on to find out how Resident Evil 5 turned out.

Several years have passed since the collapse of Umbrella Corporation. Former Raccoon City Police Department's special S.T.A.R.S. unit member Chris Redfield, one of the two protagonists from the original Resident Evil, is now a member of the BSAA, or Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, which was founded after the fall of Umbrella to fight bioterrorism around the globe. Chris is sent on a mission in the fictional Kijuju Autonomous Zone in Africa after reports of potential infections of the indigenous population by Plaga, the same parasites used to control people in Resident Evil 4. On his mission fighting bioterrorism there, he is accompanied by a female native BSAA agent named Sheva, who will be by his side for most if not all of the journey.

The pacing of the story is not so dissimilar from Resident Evil 4 with the adventure cut in chapters. Where things have changed, however, is in how the game is meant to be played, which is to say in big chunks. Indeed, the typewriters used to save progress in previous entries are gone, which means that progress only gets recorded permanently at the end of each chapter. A chapter can last on average half an hour to a full hour, depending on skill and/or previous knowledge versus a blind play-through. This results in players unable to secure that much time, forced to leave their Switch in sleep mode until they can resume their session. Should they wish to also play another game on the same system later in the day, say for a scheduled online gaming session, but only having twenty minutes left to play this, they would then be forced to not play it because twenty minutes is not enough time to progress up to the next automatic permanent save.

RE5 can be quitted and saved, keeping objects amassed and current character health, but game progress would still be lost anyway, making it an experience that's hard to fit in a crowded day, no matter the platform it's played on. The Switch version however has the advantage that a session that can't be completed on the TV can be finished on the go when the system gets undocked. This is really the biggest strength of this release, even if it doesn't fully excuse the clunky saving system. Resident Evil 5 on Switch is the equivalent, in terms of content, of the versions released on PS4 and Xbox One earlier in this generation of systems, or the Gold Edition released on last generation machines. That means two extra DLC scenarios, one playable after reaching chapter 3-2, the other after completing the game at least once, are packed in. This comes with a bunch of extra playable characters for the included Mercenaries mode, which is a great expansion on the same mode seen in Resident Evil 4 before it, except now with the added flavour of co-op play.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 5 on Nintendo Switch

This also introduced a versus mode where players are pitted against one another instead of helping each other out. Achievements are present for those looking for more things to do or to challenge themselves, even if they don't tie into any user profile like they do on other platforms. Finally, online leaderboards are included for any speed-runners out there willing to tackle the extra challenge. This is a meaty package then that should not disappoint with the amount of things to see and do.

When this originally came out, the departure from the survival horror orientation of the series that was already felt with Resident Evil 4 was even more pronounced here. There is nothing particularly scary about Resident Evil 5, not even the atmosphere. "Tense" is a better word for the feeling that comes when a horde of possessed African natives come at the player with bottles or big spanners for weapons, as Chris and Sheva respond with big machine guns, shotguns or grenades. The focus here is on the action, more than ever before, and this is something the series would take several years to revert from. An early scene where the player controls a turret on the back of a Jeep speeding through the savannah, while being pursued by thugs on motorbikes and trucks, is the defining example of this change in direction. With that being said, Resident Evil 5 is a very good third-person action title. This, at least, is unquestionable. The gameplay is very smooth, and while controls were not yet quite as refined for twin stick controllers as they would eventually become in Resident Evil Revelations (it was still impossible in here to shoot while moving, or to run with the left stick while turning with the right stick), it expanded nicely on Resident Evil 4's control scheme which was the absolute reference of the genre at the time of its initial release.

This Switch release adds gyro-aiming using the Joycon, and it is quite accurate,but on higher difficulty settings, trying to be fast and accurate is hard to achieve, so it works well enough for casual aiming on lower difficulty settings. Sadly, because there's always two characters living the adventure together, the fact that in single player mode the other one is always controlled by the AI will lead to a non-negligible amount of frustration. It's impossible to prevent Sheva from using her ammo when she has any, or to fine-tune her behaviour in any way, and she does tend to cause problems, such as running blindly into a trip wire, blowing her up. This is not a fault of the Switch version in particular, but common to all releases. This was already a problem in Resident Evil Revelations 2, where cooperation between the two characters was truly a requirement to even progress or solve puzzles, forcing a single player to swap between characters in a rather clunky way to pass certain points.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 5 on Nintendo Switch

At least, in Resident Evil 5, the required use of the partner for puzzle-solving or crossing obstacles is handled perfectly fine by the AI, because things are kept simple to make it achievable without swapping characters, something that isn't possible here anyway. It's just in combat and general navigation that Sheva, an otherwise fairly enjoyable strong woman character, that this is bound to get on your nerves. Like Resident Evil Revelations 2 before it on Switch, Resident Evil 5 is therefore best enjoyed in co-op mode. This can be enjoyed with two systems, each with a copy of the game, both online like other versions but also, and this is where the Switch version shines, using wireless LAN. The online mode, like 99% of third party online games on Switch, lacks voice chat, just like both Resident Evil Revelations instalments, holding back this mode on this specific platform.

Shame on Nintendo on that front, and not on Capcom itself, though other third parties did go the extra mile like Epic did with Fortnite: Battle Royale. In local multiplayer, however, nothing prevents players from cooperating with one another perfectly fine, making the adventure a lot more enjoyable than otherwise. The last solution is to use the included split-screen mode, which was also a point of praise in Resident Evil Revelations 2 - yet, like in the latter, this is best experienced on a larger screen. It can work in handheld mode, for sure, and even using solely a pair of split Joycon. It's a viable option, yes, but is it comfortable? Unsurprisingly, the answer is no, but at least the option is there for those who want it. Split-screen also induces an expected drop in performance, making it feel less fluid, so there is that to consider, but on a larger screen, it can totally work and is fairly enjoyable, just like in RER2.

Speaking of performance however, there's a throwback to Resident Evil Revelations 2 once more: an uncapped frame-rate on Switch with the resolution cranked up to the maximum supported in both docked and handheld modes. There is just no valid reason why the frame-rate is uncapped, since it never comes close to 60FPS anyway. It mostly hovers slightly above 30 at the selected graphics settings of fixed 1080p when docked, and 720p in handheld mode, and dips lower in sections where the amount of on-screen enemies goes very high, as can be witnessed early on with the riot in the African town, echoing the scene in the village from the beginning of Resident Evil 4.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 5 on Nintendo Switch

One thing should be made clear: this does not feel completely broken as a result, and this does not take away from this being a very good action game, especially as a two-player experience - but this does one thing: it makes it feel like a less polished product, especially being that it runs fine, albeit at lower settings, on the previous generation of hardware, which the Switch easily outclasses when docked. Therefore, when you ask close to a full price for a re-release of an older game that didn't seem to receive all the care that such a classic should have deserved, it leaves a lessened impression. It's perfectly easy to see a frame-rate cap of 30FPS with a dynamic resolution setting that scales down to 900p, making the overall experience feel a lot more polished and tailored for the system running it, at little to no extra development time, all while looking better than the original did on the previous generation of machines, offering an uncompromised upgrade from there for those that didn't get it on PS4, Xbox One or PC.

Capcom already went that extra mile with Resident Evil 4, which on Switch runs at a fixed 900p in docked mode, and 600p in portable mode, just so it would meet its 60FPS target more consistently, even if it couldn't hold it at all times. The only somewhat sensible reason why they would leave the resolution fixed at the max and the frame-rate uncapped is if they banked on a beefier Switch releasing in the future that could run the game at 1080p 60FPS locked, or most of the time in docked mode - but at the time of release, or even as of the writing of this review for that matter, such a thing doesn't exist. Regardless, getting a smooth experience at launch is key, and Capcom missed the mark here, not because it was technically impossible on the system, but because it feels like it couldn't be bothered.

If this sounds harsh, the following must be considered: Capcom hasn't patched out the random crashes in Resident Evil Revelations when using the grenade launcher on any platform, hasn't patched the aiming glitch in Resident Evil 4, never fixed the long load times in Resident Evil 0 & 1 HD Remasters, and Resident Evil Revelations 2 on Switch and will likely never fix the same performance issues in the latter that plagued it due to far too ambitious graphical settings, just as is the case in this release of RE5. For that matter, this doesn't run at a perfectly locked 60FPS on the base PS4 or Xbox One either. This could still be fixed of course, and this game could be patched to at least include an option to lock the frame-rate and activate a dynamic-resolution, but because of that history so far, especially on Switch... it's hard to see it happen. This reviewer, as a fan, would love to be proven wrong of course!

Screenshot for Resident Evil 5 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Resident Evil 5 on Switch is the same feature-filled version as on other platforms. It receives a warm recommendation for anyone looking for a great co-op third-person action game, either in split-screen while docked, or wirelessly in portable mode between two systems, the online mode lacking voice chat and thus making the use of third party communication solutions compulsory, yet impractical. While this does look truly great, both docked and in portable mode, the apparent lack of effort to make it as stable and fluid as it could be is disappointing, and holds back this specific version. Nevertheless, this remains a great action choice even on Switch, and the only version that can be undocked from the TV and taken on the go to be enjoyed anywhere at any time, which makes fitting a full chapter in a gamer's day schedule more practical.









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C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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