Already people are making a shocking realisation, that Resident Evil 5 is quite similar to Resident Evil 4. Surely they should have cottoned on by now, it’s obviously not trying to reinvent the wheel. Yes, it’s true: Resident Evil 5 still sees you shooting zombies (well, “infected”) in much the same manner as the rest of the series, however this time they’re African zombies, and you get to kill them co-operatively with a friend. I don’t know whether to be outraged or overjoyed.
A lazy person might just call this Resident Evil 4 Goes Safari. Fair enough, they wouldn’t be far wrong. Despite sticking to its roots like a grumpy old bastard – the control scheme is still shite, although you can now strafe with the analogue stick – a number of little changes have seeped into the game, making it much faster and slicker than before, yet still immediately familiar to the sorry old cunts who resist change. It’s this kind of pondering, barely noticeable change that makes Japanese game developers the makers of Japanese games.
Unfortunately Resident Evil 5 falls short in the scares department. Despite sharing many things with Resident Evil 4, including some identical enemies, the feeling of eerieness and unease just isn’t quite as pervasive. There are still plenty of jumpy moments and cheap zombie thrills, which may make the weak of constitution touch cloth, but in part due to the game’s setting and the two player co-operative mode, things just aren’t quite as horrifying. Bit of a shame for a survival horror game.
Hang on a minute though. Co-operative zombie killing? Isn’t that every adolescents’ dream? Doing something together, is by its very nature, more fun. Whether you play it split screen or online shouting through a headset, it’s thrilling. Sure, it might start to feel less like a haunted house and more like Tom Clancy’s Zombie Bang-Bang, but that’s the trade-off.
Packaged among all the fun stuff, there are quite a few niggles. As mentioned, a lot of the series’ quirks remain, the nonsensical inventory system for one, and don’t get me started on the bloody instant-death button-bashing Quick Time Events. Fortunately the game has the grace to place a checkpoint before most of the ludicrous parts. When playing in single player, with the aid of a computer controlled partner, sometimes your partner will act like a moron, though for the most part it’s decent and more than serviceable. Still, it remains a game best played with a friend.
It won’t take too long to plough through the game (I clocked in at 11 hours first time around), but it’s the type of game you’re likely to replay – made more obvious by the fact that the Mercenaries mode doesn’t unlock until you complete the game once. Mercenaries mode itself is jolly good fun, as you plough your way through hordes of zombies against a time limit, trying to chain your kills together to increase your score. Oddly enough you can play Mercenaries mode solo or with a partner, unlike the main game.
So, it’s pretty much Resident Evil, in Africa. There’s been enough of them, you should be fairly familiar with the concept by now. Zombies, high production values, and a cheesy B movie plot that descends into idiocy: check, check and check.