Resident Evil 5 is a 3rd person shooter/survival horror game that was released on March 13th for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. The game follows the most recent chapter in Chris Redfield’s story arch that has spanned the entirety of the Resident Evil series. The reviews are out and the critics have had their say, but how do we fans feel about the close of this chapter? How does this Resident Evil stack up against its predecessors? Where can the series go from here both in terms of story and in terms of the gaming mechanics?
Resident Evil is a staple in my household. The first video game console that I bought with my own money was the original PlayStation and it was purchased for the sole purpose of playing Resident Evil. Later I bought the Dreamcast for RE: Code Veronica, the Nintendo GameCube for Resident Evil 4 and the PS3 (and Xbox 360) for Resident Evil 5. In hindsight, all of my major console purchases over the last 11 years were at least partially dependant on whether or not a Resident Evil game was going to be available for that system.
Fans of the series, like me, are extremely well versed in RE lore and the tropes of its universe. So upon completion of Resident Evil 5 I had to decide, as a fan, how I felt about the game, its loyalty to the series and the new direction that Capcom seems to be steering the franchise. I had to decide whether I liked playing an action game rather than a survival horror game and whether the new direction is something that I enjoyed.
My first reaction was that I absolutely loved the game. After my initial battle with mastering the controls, I was hooked. It was exciting, it was rewarding and Capcom did an amazing job with the beautiful, cinematic presentation of the game. In short, Resident Evil 5 was as near to a perfect action game as I have ever played.
That being said, something inside me can’t get over the fact that Resident Evil 5 did not feel like a Resident Evil game. It was very clear from the beginning of the game that Capcom was reaching out to a new audience with this latest entry. There was less actual story to the game and it focused on drawing new players in with action rather than substance. They seemed to want a short, exciting game that was about half the length of Resident Evil 4 but with twice the action. For me, the transparency of that fact felt alienating. It was pretty clear that Capcom set out to turn the Resident Evil series into an accessible action game for the masses possibly at the expense of those who were expecting a “true” RE experience.
I certainly won’t get into spoiler territory here, but the ending of the game only served to fuel the feeling that Capcom wants to start something different with their next entry. When all was said and done, the current story line (that until now seemed never-ending) was wrapped up perfectly with a little bow without even a hint at the customary teasers for the next game. The last 11 years of Resident Evil history was concluded in one fight.
With the shorter story line and older control style, I feel like Capcom was straddling the line between eastern and western gaming cultures. It seemed like Resident Evil 5 was their experiment to see where the rest of the series would be going. But, the fact of the matter is that I don’t think Capcom knows what they want for next entry in the series. I think they understand that games are changing, and in order to keep up they had to cleanly sever all ties to what remained of the old series and start over.
Resident Evil will always hold a special place in my heart and Resident Evil 5 is no different. Fans of games like Resident Evil 4, Gears of War and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune should definitely play RE5. It may take some time to get used to the controls, but the rewards far out way the learning curve and the game is almost infinitely replayable. Despite the fact that the series is changing and this latest entry felt removed from its predecessors, I was extremely impressed with the overall project. I have no qualms telling you that this is the prettiest game available on the Xbox 360 and, I’m not sure that everyone will agree with me, but I’m going to say that it even beats KILLZONE 2 on the PS3. As a fan, I may have been a little disappointed with Resident Evil 5’s story but, I can’t wait to see where Capcom decides to take the series next.