The Resident Evil series has experienced both incredible highs and some questionable lows throughout its lifetime, however with 2016 marking the 20th anniversary of Capcom’s biggest selling franchise (with the current overall sales for the I.P sitting nicely around the 61 million mark), Capcom have decided to bring the series back on track and give fans what they want – a return to the core survival horror experience that defined Resident Evil all those years back. With that in mind what better way to drum up excitement for the highly anticipated return to horror with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard than with what Capcom themselves have described as “a full scale offensive” for the rest of 2016.
With Resident Evil 6 already done and dusted, the time has arrived for the next stage in Capcom’s offensive plan with Resident Evil 5 the latest title to receive the HD treatment. With it arriving complete with full 1080p visuals and increased frame rate (for those who care about that kind of thing), as well as all previously released DLC, I decided to jump back in with my favourite gaming franchise and see how these things have added to the experience I first had back in 2009.
Resident Evil 5 is best described as a third-person, action-shooter with the game driving further away from the survival horror experience seen in the early entries in the series and instead opting to follow a more action packed and intense adventure. When originally released, Resident Evil 5 received a mostly positive reception with the only concerning criticisms to be found with the controls. However with seven years passing since the original release, surely any previous issues would have been ironed out by now?
The story of Resident Evil 5 takes place in the fictional remote African nation of Kijuju with players taking control of former S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) alpha team member Chris Redfield. Now an agent of the B.S.A.A. (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance), Chris is sent on a manhunt for Ricardo Irving, an illustrious terrorist who is selling B.O.Ws (Bio-organic weapons) on the black market. Upon arriving in Kijuju, Chris meets with his new partner Sheva Alomar, a local B.S.A.A. agent assigned to aid him in the hunt for Irving. With an unwelcome presence made obvious from the start, with local Majini (locals infected with parasites) attacking them early on, things only get worse throughout their time in Kijuju. The story eventually takes Chris on to discover more of what happened to his previous partner, whilst a heated reunion with a well known series arch-nemesis is on the cards too…right after a tense battle to stop the spread of a potentially world ending bio-engineered virus known only as Uroboros.
The gameplay in Resident Evil 5, while indeed very similar to its predecessor, is certainly no longer in a league befitting of survival horror. This is something that can really be seen a lot throughout the game, with the threat now coming from larger groups of enemies rather than a single threat. With resource management no longer an issue as most opponents drop some kind of ammunition, or at least a valuable treasure of some sort that can be sold to fund weapon upgrades, many battles will see players bowling in with brute force over strategy, simply spraying off a near unlimited amount of ammunition. As a real fan of the series, this is a truly disheartening change to a genre that once defined some of the most memorable gaming moments I have ever experienced.
Despite this, Resident Evil 5 is by no means a bad game, but simply a changed game.
Personally I see plenty of reasons to praise it. The combat is engaging, enemies are intuitive and the story really flies along at just the right pace. With the game now benefiting from an upgraded lick of paint with full 1080p graphics and the addition of extra content, this would seem like a complete no brainer to any fan of third person shooters considering the generous price tag accompanying the game. Very few games release without issues however and it’s just how many issues a game has that can often put weight on whether it is worth that hard earned dough or not!
And despite the positives, I must say that it is the negatives which happily take the spotlight more than they should. They are certainly things that should be considered if you’re contemplating buying.
The first issue that truly caused me problems throughout the game was indeed the issue fans have been voicing to Capcom since the original release back in 2009 – the character movement. Having lost count at the number of times I had to run around complete areas in boss fights just because I couldn’t force my character into the closest green herb or ammo pack, I ended up simply shouting in annoyance at finding even the most simplest movement so difficult. Given that it was a well-known issue before, I’m completely amazed that this is not something that would have been fixed during development.
The other issue and arguably the more severe of the two is the same thing that also requires a vast amount of praise, for its introduction, at least when it works, is a complete game changer. This issue is with the AI and I found myself distraught at the lack of intelligence used.
Throughout Resident Evil 5, I’ve been left many times to dispatch enemies on my own due to Sheva simply refusing to shoot. This happened many times, often in times of need, when I was low on ammo due to having kindly shared half of my wares with her. I would look over to see her stood brandishing a shotgun with no ammo whatsoever instead of putting her fully loaded machine gun I had just bought her to good use. Other times she would seem more intent on standing with a cattle rod attacking enemies, refusing to revive me. On the rare occasions she would help, the complete opposite would happen and I would receive a constant resuscitation punch to the chest in order to stop me dying whilst a brutish enemy stood two feet away swinging his weaponry like some overpowered god.
The introduction of co-op however is one of the best worked features in the action oriented titles, with online co-op multiplayer removing all issues caused from the nonsensical A.I. With another player fighting alongside, the experience really becomes a whole lot better. With players able to jump in from the start of each chapter and a clever matchmaking system that offers the option to invite players to join you who are currently playing the same part of the game as you, Capcom have designed a well thought out mechanic to show off and encourage co-op play.
Apart from the main campaign, Resident Evil 5 HD is packed full of content to ensure you have something to do after following through with Chris and Sheva to the end. Beyond the collectables and perfecting each chapter to a shiny S-rank there is the also the chance to play through the Desperate Escape and Lost in Nightmares DLC missions. The first places you in the shoes of Jill and Josh, two characters whose story unfolds within the main campaign ,with Desperate Escape giving the player a glance into what happened outside of the main story and how they made the escape from the dreadful Tricell facility. Lost in Nightmares gives you control of Jill and Chris, taking you back to the Spencer mansion from the original game in order to hunt down the founder of the terrifying Umbrella Corporation (original creator of B.O.Ws and the leading cause of the zombie outbreak from the first title in the series), in order to gain vital information on the whereabouts of the infamous Albert Wesker.
As well as extra story content, players can delve into a number of Mercenaries missions in which the task is to eliminate as many enemies as possible within the time limit, with combos and pickups galore to get involved in. There is also the survivors multiplayer team based game mode which works as a Team Deathmatch and a versus game in which up to four players can go head to head to prove their mettle in a Deathmatch style all out battle.
Overall Resident Evil 5 HD is a welcome addition to the Xbox One with some great action sequences and some of the best co-op available on Xbox One. However, with none of the previous issues ironed out, returning players may find themselves wanting to explore other options. Online servers are also surprisingly empty and it can become hard to get going with any of the newly added content without waiting an inordinate amount of time.
If you haven’t previously experienced Resident Evil 5, you should definitely jump in with the experience offered – it is more than worth the rather low asking price and the overall adventure certainly outweighs the negatives.