After the massive success of RE4, its successor had alot to live up to and in many ways Resident Evil 5 did just that. Compared to some of the other games in the series, it had a relatively uncomplicated development cycle with no major revisions and versions being scrapped. However, the biggest issue during development was allegations of racism after the trailer at E3 2007 debuted showing a white protagonist killing black enemies in an African village. Capcom denied any racial intent, though social commentators had alot to say about it even after the game was released in 2009. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject and the fact that this is primarily an article on the game itself, I won’t be delving into that issue. As with previous entries this one contains SPOILERS in order to discuss plot points.
Set 5 years after RE4, this entry sees Chris Redfield return once again, this time as a member of the BioTerrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA), a group that monitors and stops the proliferation of bio-weapons after Umbrella’s downfall. Chris, who looks like he has worked out A LOT since REC:V has a new partner in Sheva Alomar as they investigate a black market deal led by Ricardo Irving. Of course all hell breaks loose as the locals have been exposed to the Plaga parasites and are known as Majini. Chris and Sheva uncover a bigger plot and find out that Irving was only a front-man for a much larger scheme devised by none other then the bane of Chris’ existence, Albert Wesker. The duo eventually triumph over Wesker and though we all thought the former STARS captain was dead at the end of the original RE, this one has a bit more finality to it. The game is also noteworthy for delving into the background of Umbrella and the previously mentioned Progenitor Virus. There’s even a sighting of the previously shadowy figure of Ozwell Spencer in a flashback.
The control scheme for RE5 is largely unchanged from its predecessor, including the over-the-shoulder perspective , but there are a few welcome changes. Instead of pausing and going into a separate screen to change weapons or heal, there is a pop-up menu in real time with slots to be mapped to certain buttons so changing from a handgun to a shotgun or any other weapon happens seamlessly. The co-op elements that began in RE0 are much more advanced here as either Chris or Sheva can be controlled though control can’t be switched on the go. A friend can join along for split-screen teamwork or online to make it more of a teamwork experience that the Outbreak games tried to achieve. The setting in Africa allows for a drastic change from the previously dark backdrops of previous games. The harsh sunlight can also made to inspire tension, though like RE4 this one gets nowhere near the level of survival horror of the PlayStation entries. The graphics reflect this and are top-notch as always. The big game feel of the game is enhanced when you consider that the cut scenes were produced with help of Hollywood Studios. After playing a sequence where you man a machine gun on the back of a truck while being pursued by enemies on motorcycles, you can be forgiven for thinking this game might not belong in the same series as the first three games.
As I’ve focused on the games of the main series in these articles, I feel a mention of the other entries is in order. At some point Capcom developed a liking to the on-rails shooter genre as no less then 5 Resident Evil games were made in that mode. The 2 Survivor games and Dead Aim are very forgettable, though they tried to atone for that with the Chronicles games on the Wii. The latter two are basic retellings of previous games with each having a new scenario so its not all rehashing. The Outbreak sub-series covered two games that followed regular Raccoon citizens trying to escape the eponymous outbreak. The 3DS even got some games of its own. Released earlier this year, Revelations bridges the gap between RE4 and 5, while The Mercenaries 3D is an updated version of the Mercenaries mini game from the latest two main series entries. The latest game in the series is Operation Raccoon City, which puts the player in the shoes of Umbrella mercenaries as they try to clean up in the midst of the Raccoon outbreak.
That brings the All Sorts Of Evil series to an end as my next RE related will be a review of Resident Evil 6.