The BSAA Solution: Kill Everything
Resident Evil 5 Review
That Sinking Feeling
Sheva and I are in the marshlands, and the feeling that something lies beneath is palpable. Exactly what lies below the surface, I can’t be sure. We’re searching for fragmented pieces of a plate which will fit together to unlock a door. I am captain of the small vessel that is our transportation right now. We head north, and come upon a half submerged village. We hop off the boat and make our way to the ramp that will lead us into the murky water. A cursory glance will tell us that this can’t be good, unfortunately, there are no warning signs, and we must continue on. We venture forth, guns, as always, at the ready. I opt to go right, around a large wooden wall that has somehow found itself in the center of this sunken settlement. I think I see movement further to my right, but it is only Sheva.
We move forward, I take out my M3 shotgun, it’s served me well in the past. Something surfaces out of the depths. A crocodile. I imagine that it’s of average to above average size, yet it seems a giant under these tense conditions. I take aim and tell Sheva to attack. I fire off a shot, and realize that a shotgun won’t do me any good at this distance. The croc is a good 10 meters from me, and I don’t want to close that distance. I take out my pistol and fire a couple of shots at the beast, it’s now I realize I should have reloaded everything before entering the swamp. I see movement to my left, and write it off as being Sheva. My mistake. I finish reloading and take a couple of steps back. Sheva is to my right. I turn just in time for a crocodile to jump at me, mouth wide open. It takes hold my upper half to drag me below the surface. Dead.
Fear That’s Hard to Find
Chronicled above is one of the few times when I actually felt that twinge of fear. The tightening of the stomach at the realization that I had been wrong, and that I was going to pay for it. This happened very few times for a game that’s billed as “Survival Horror”. As you’ve undoubtedly heard elsewhere, it doesn’t pack the scares. It has the Survival portion down to a tee though, so in the end I can forgive the lack of fear.
While you will rarely be frightened, you will go through the game with almost perpetual dread. Dread at what will come next. What enemy can possibly be worse than the last one? I just killed a chainsaw wielding masochist, and you want me to do it again on such short notice?
Yes. Yes it does.
The tension that comes with every moment of your first play through in RE 5 is almost palpable. I had my controller gripped every time I thought I was safe, and I will admit that more than once I jumped when a split-headed dog pounced out from around a corner.
Where many people revile the quick-time event, I’m fine with them. Perhaps I’m too forgiving, but especially from a first play through perspective, it manages to keep people on their toes and paying attention. Perhaps near the end it becomes a bit over-used during actual game play in boss fights (that is if you count button mashing as a quick time event), but when employed in a cut scene it’s difficult to cry foul of something that lets you play even when you normally wouldn’t.
For Want Of A Better Partner? Actually, No.
Much has been made of forcing players to play through the game with a partner, be they A.I. or real. Any sense of tension one may feel can be taken away altogether when another person is thrown into the mix. While during cutscenes I found that Sheva can make a questionable decision (i.e. shooting a chain instead of a person…), in the game she was as helpful as can be.
I played through RE 5 the first time by myself. This was mainly because I didn’t want to get used to playing with a human, only to find out that our schedules conflicted, and I would have to downgrade to an A.I. partner mid game. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. In fact, they were quite the opposite to what actually happened. It is rare to find a player online who is as great of a partner as Sheva. She will heal you when your almost dead, she’ll stick by your side, and best of all, she makes the best of what she has.
For instance, one of the new weapons in the game is the stun rod. My personal new favorite weapon, I bought one for Sheva and myself, and found that it is indeed much better than the silly knife. When we found ourselves being accosted by an unusually large amount of “Lickers” (I’d hazard about 7 or 8 of them) in a small room with no means of escape other than the door on the other side of this veritable sea of enemies, Sheva pulled out the trusty stun rod. I found this to be an unwise decision at first, seeing as she had almost a hundred rounds for her AK-47, but I pulled out my shotgun and let her have her fun. Eventually, thanks to Shevas stun rod, we managed to funnel them outside of the room, which allowed us to deal with them on our own terms, resulting in victory. Any human player would have likely gone with the machine gun, resulting in almost inevitable failure.
*Gasp* An Actual Boss Fight
I’m not going to focus too much on this, but I must thank Resident Evil 5 for bringing in some actual boss fights. In proper Resident Evil fashion, each boss fight is foreshadowed by a supply of ammo and probably an herb or two. Most boss fights will rely on the standard “Shoot the orange bulb” strategy, but the bosses are varied enough in their attacks that despite this (and the fact that they all really begin to look alike towards the end) you’ll have fun with them. My only wish would be that there was some kind of loot after defeating the bosses, but beggars can’t be choosers I suppose.
And thank you Resident Evil 5, for giving me a final boss fight that isn’t either pure button mashing or a one hit kill (I’m looking at you Fable 2 and Gears of War 2).
Playground of Destruction
After beating the game, you’ll unlock a slew of bonus items. Ranging from infinite ammo for all weapons you’ve completely upgraded, to alternate costumes, to filters, to action figures, to the creme de la creme: Mercenaries Mode.
You’ll begin with just Chris, Sheva, and a single level at your disposal. You will be tasked with entering that level and killing as many infected as you can within the time limit. You will find grenades of course, but other than that, you are stuck with the load out your character has been given by the developers. As you proceed to kill everything in your path (or as you proceed to die… a lot), you’ll find bonus time throughout the level. The longer you last, the harder it gets, and the game has no qualms with sending chainsaw manjini’s and other mini-bosses your way.
As you do better, you’ll unlock new characters and locations. Every location is taken straight out of the campaign, albeit slightly modified to close off any escapes and to make things more balanced. By the same token, there are only four characters Chris, Sheva, and well, that’s all you really need to know, but each character has multiple costumes, and with each new costumes comes a new loadout, so there is definite incentive to play through all of mercenary mode. Not to mention you can play through it with a friend as well.
A Couple of Things
I’ve come this far without bring up the controls. In fact, I had gotten all the way through the next section before it even crossed my mind that I should say something. The controls don’t ruin the game, but they also don’t make the game better. If you think they should change, then okay, but that doesn’t mean they have to change because you can’t wrap your head around an older way of playing a game. Yes, it’s outdated, but the game doesn’t suffer because of it. If you don’t think the controls should change, then it’s likely that you’re fooling yourself. Games looked at what RE 4 did and took great leaps and bounds to improve upon it, namely moving while shooting.
It’s a give or take really. On the one hand, no moving and shooting will frustrate people, but we are gamers, and we can adapt. We always have, and we always will. Capcom could have easily made it so that we could move and shoot at the same time, but they didn’t. They haven’t backed down from what they chose, and while I don’t feel that RE 5 is better for it, it doesn’t suffer either.
On a lighter note, every now and then (maybe 5 times in total) my game would go to the loading menu and would just stay there. I was treated to the entirety of Resident Evil’s history before I just restarted my console. Not many people have experienced it, so don’t let this deter you from buying the game. It’s just something that you should be aware of, that will likely be patched in the near future.
So, In Conclusion
Resident Evil 5 took me about 12 hours to beat. I knew that the more money I collected, the more I could buy, so I explored every level as thoroughly as one possibly could. Even so, after beating the game for the first time (on normal) I had only found 5 BSAA tokens and hadn’t achieved an S ranking on any level. I went to the bonus features and found that I’d unlocked some costumes, and that since I’d upgraded my pistol all the way, I could purchase infinite ammo for it. Sweet, I thought to myself as I dreamed of having infinite shotgun ammo.
The filters are pretty cool, and I was happy to find a “Horror” filter that has the same affect as if you turned the color setting on your TV all the way down. I’m lovin’ it, as it really does change the mood of the game. There’s action figures for almost every character in the game, if not all of them (I have yet to purchase all of them), and each action figure has a snippet of dialog that it’ll rattle off if you so choose.
Immediately after searching through the myriad of bonus features, I hopped right back in to start the game all over again. I’m happy to say that Resident Evil 5 will likely keep me occupied for as long as RE 4, which is to say until RE 6 comes out.
Resident Evil 5 – Buy
(I chose not to cover the racism issue here, because I already covered it in a previous blog post. After playing through the game completely, I still stand by what I said. With everything in context, I still feel the same way.)