- Developer: Capcom
- Publisher: Capcom
- Release date: 29/10/2019
- Price: £29.99 / $29.99
- Review code provided by Capcom
The Resident Evil series has always been known for its Zombies and for its tension and atmosphere. Resident Evil 4 saw the series masterfully blend moments of slow-building dread with all out chaos, such as the infamous scene in the opening village. Resident Evil 5 takes the balls to the wall action sequences of its predecessor and uses these as the basis for the entirety of the game. The game is a port of the 2009 original, released as part of the recent slew of ports from the series which Capcom have released.
I’ve always been a huge fan of the Resident Evil series, counting REmake, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4 among my favourite games of all time. Bizarrely though, I had never properly played Resident Evil 5 until now!
RE5 follows on from the events of the previous game, with Chris Redfield and his partner Sheva Alomar called to a fictional African country to investigate an outbreak of the Las Plagas parasite, which formed the basis of the story from RE4. Chris and Sheva are sent as part of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance – the modern-day equivalent of STARS. The team are drawn into a mysterious plot to utilise a more powerful form of Las Plagas to unleash terror across the globe, encountering a cast of misfits and familiar characters along the way. Whilst Resident Evil has never been known for nuanced storytelling, this entry really does deliver the most ham-fisted and over the top story in the series to date. The story in the game is more akin to a latter-day Pierce Brosnan era Bond film than the usual Resi fare. That said, it’s a load of big daft fun if you try not to compare it to earlier games in the series and focus on enjoying the rocket launching helicopters, stealth bombers and battles in a bubbling volcano!
Resident Evil 5 plays a lot like the previous game, with some minor improvements to the way it handles. It controls more like the slew of Western third person shooters of its era, with a clear influence from the Gears of War series. Some of the clunkiness from previous games can still be felt however. Upon the game’s original launch, this was criticised by many, but ten years later I feel this adds to the slightly retro charm of the game and helps build tension by forcing you to slow down in a big battle. Combat doesn’t quite have the same weight as combat in earlier series entries, with headshots feeling a lot less messy and impactful compared to 4. This combined with a large number of bullet sponge enemies can lead to some combat sequences feeling overlong and frustrating.
The game is heavily focused on cooperative play, with Chris and Sheva paired up throughout the entire game. Scenarios are set up to occasionally split the characters up and send them down alternate paths, with each providing covering fire and manipulating the environment to allow the other to progress. Playing with an AI partner works well enough but can lead to moments of intense frustration when they fail to pick you up as you bleed out or head off to walk blindly into danger. The game is hugely improved with the inclusion of online coop, which seemed to be pretty well populated during my time with the game. Playing with others was a huge help during some of the more difficult boss battles. There were a few times I was close to pulling my hair out with the antics of my AI partner during these fights, and the sight of a human partner joining the game was a welcome relief!
Enemy design in the game varies, with some eye catching designs on some of the tribal warriors encountered further into the game. Earlier in the game the enemy design can seem a bit samey, with hordes of angry men pouring at you. There are very few character models during this section, so things feel somewhat ridiculous when you face the same Saddam Hussein lookalike for the 50thtime!
The game plays well on the whole, with some fun combat sequences and some moments of real tension when faced with managing crowd control and a huge number of enemies baring down on you with axes, pitch forks and other improvised weapons. That said, it’s not without fault. Being released originally in 2009, QTEs play a bit part in some of the action sequences. These can sometimes crop up with very little warning and can be very unforgiving in terms of the time the game allows to input commands. Failure generally sets the player back only a few seconds each time, but given how forgiving the checkpoints are it feels like the QTEs are a little pointless. Less generous checkpointing would only serve to frustrate further, but in the end I was left thinking the sections would be better presented as a simple cutscene.
The Rotten Bits
The game suffers a little with the focus on cooperative play, as it removes the sense of isolation which was so central to previous entries in the series. It’s hard to feel scared with someone nattering away beside you all the time. The game did provide some moments which scared me, but these were focused more on my fear of open water and the thought of what could be lurking under the surface. The lake monster from Resident Evil 4 has always made me feel uneasy when I’m near a body of open water and this game definitely knows how to play on that fear.
The coop play can be fun, but very few of the levels are really designed with coop play in mind. The game mostly plays as a fairly linear corridor shooter, which means it can be difficult to line up shots when you are also trying not to hit your partner. The few sections which do split the players up stand out as some of the more interesting sequences. These tended to focus on providing cover and coordinating attacks.
Some of the bosses in the game were very frustrating, with mechanics which were difficult to decipher. The game does allow you to brute force these battles, but often they became a lengthy war of attrition which proved frustrating and provided little sense of satisfaction upon completion.
The game offers a generous package, with all the DLC added to the original included. The DLC includes two additional coop campaigns looking at the stories of some of the side characters running in parallel with the main storyline and includes a brilliant Mercenaries mode, which is a timed high score challenge in various arenas with never ending streams of enemies. The Mercenaries mode includes a huge selection of characters, each with different loadouts. These offer a range of different gameplay styles and kept me coming back to try and improve my score and see which characters worked best in different scenarios. The addition of online leaderboards also proved very addictive.
Overall the game is a fun addition to the series but does feel somewhat dated. It will appeal to fans of Resident Evil but may be more of a hard sell to those unfamiliar. It presents a third person shooter which is a little clunky in its mechanics and a story which makes repeated reference to the events of earlier games. This will likely prove confusing to newcomers, but gave me a bit of a thrill as I saw how the previous games fed into the story. The game performs well in docked and handheld and manages to look surprisingly pretty for a ten year old game.
- A fun twist on the traditional Resident Evil formula
- Mercenaries mode is a blast
- Side campaigns offer an interesting perspective
- Cooperative focus removes tension
- Boss fights are often frustrating
- Levels not always structured for coop
Resident Evil 5 on Switch offers another chance for fans to experience this unique entry in the series. The story is a fun romp, if a little crazy at times. The combat can be exhilarating and stressful as you fight off hordes of enemies. The Mercenaries mode provides a huge incentive to keep playing and online leaderboards will keep you coming back for more.