Resident Evil 5 features to a greater or lesser extent, most of the things I hate about games. And, somehow, combining this with co-op turns this into something that’s great fun. Playing it through with Springy felt like MST3k: the game, as the game shovels shit at the audience and the audience shrug and crack wise because, hell, we’ve got nothing else to do. It started promisingly, though, so let’s unpick it. But before I do, as I’m unlikely to find a way to put this in the review, here’s a giant who wears a thong made out of soldier corpses.
Resident Evil 5 is about the travails and adventures of Captain Biceps and Lieutenant Flippy Hair. We start in…um….Africa? Somewhere? And suddenly, zombies! I quite liked this early bit, as zombies were challenging to fight, ammo was reasonably scarce, Springy and I had to watch each others backs and a lot of time was spent simply running away from things. Enemies are strong, unless you want to burn all of your ammo, you need to shoot the head. You need to stop completely to aim or reload or otherwise interact, so you had to pick and choose your battlefields, you couldn’t just run around strafing everything. There was a nice simplicity to effective combat, line it up, shoot the zombie in the head, kick him down when he stumbles, then knife him when he collapses. I wasn’t much good at it but hey, Springy had my back. There was a nice variety, a bit on rails, a bit on a speedboat, a bit on a roof, a couple of bosses but nothing too silly. And then…
The game is almost self-concious about the descent into cinematography. Quicktime events proliferate, as if the designer is making a token effort to keep you involved in the lovely motion-capture cutscene they’ve spent ages making. Watch a bit, press A+D to dodge, watch a bit, press F+V to dodge, watch a bit, hammer F to run. And despite how proud the game is of it, the setup for this game is absolutely crap. The dialogue goes on forever without actually going everywhere, I lost count of the times Captain Biceps (Okay, Chris), would burst into a room and say “WESKER!” as if cursing the heavens. Lieutenant Flippy Hair (Sheva) would continually exclaim “What could have done this” when the answer was always, as it had been for the previous six hours, a combination of zombies and tentacles. They obviously massively enjoyed scenes where people burst into a room and point guns at each other while yelling “WHERE IS THE GIRL??”. There are documents around the place, filled with reams and reams of yet more tedious exposition. They want to make a terrible B-movie but they’re stuck here at Capcom with infinite funding and all the motion capture money can buy. And so you laugh at the awfulness, and the core game is still there, still good, so you enjoy yourself. Giant sunrays chase you around a maze, magical staircases rise and lower when you pull the mystical rungs inside a suspiciously Aztec-looking temple, and it’s alright. The game is still there, somewhere.
Towards the end, the cinematic side of the game takes over completely. Guns are now at the point where enemies die pretty effortlessly, so the run and gun parts take a smaller and smaller portion of the playtime. Your attentions are now divided between quicktime, cutscenes and boss battles. Boss battles are not for me, I accept this, but the sheer lack of feedback in the ones in Resi 5 is spectacular. They’re incapable of killing you unless you stand around grinning like an idiot, but they have an infinite supply of hitpoints. So you stand there for hours, slowly backing away, unloading clip after clip into their what-looks-like-a-face. and then they die and there’s another massive cutscene where Chris bursts into a room and yells “WESKER!”, Sheva acts surprised and sometimes Wesker shows up and growls “Chris!”. All the bosses are painted in that drab, predictable way, all meshing black tentacles and glowing orange weak spots. Above is a fight where we are trying to remove an amulet by mashing the F button. We do this 33 separate times without success. Apparently this isn’t what you’re meant to do, well thanks for letting me know, game! Prior to this was a fight where the boss slowly walked around a room. To win, you just backed away from him for seven minutes, that was it. But in general, shoot weakspots for an hour, kill boss.
Theoretically, it’s a lovely-looking game, but the look jars so much with whatever the hell they were going for that a lot of that impact is lost, which is a shame. From time to time you’ll catch a lush landscape or a beautiful interior but then it’ll be spoiled by some ridiculous enemy blotting out the view. All the enemies are soldiers or unsettling tribal caricatures or yet more beasts with black tentacles and glowing orange weak spots. And yet I enjoyed my time playing it greatly, because despite all of these aspects being so bad, the core game was strong. It wasn’t buggy or glitchy or horrible, it was just stupidly, hammily overdone and over-acted. And I don’t want to reward that, I think, even though I did have fun.
At one point, a knifed spider on the wall dropped machine gun ammo. We grenaded a fish to see what would happen and it dropped gold. Come on
2 stars, 12 hours spent on one co-op campaign