Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Resident Evil 5 (PC) - Part 1

Resident Evil 5 title
Developer:Capcom|Release Date:2009|Systems:Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

The PC version of Resident Evil 5 doesn't use the hated Games for Windows Live any more! Well okay it does if you want it to, but a few months ago it also made the transition to Steamworks. So to celebrate, today on Super Adventures I'm going to give the game a few hours and write down some of the things that come into my head while I'm playing.

I might have mentioned once or twice in my Resident Evil 2 article last week that I'm not a huge fan of classic survival horror games, and I may have mentioned a few reasons for it too. I think the core of it though is that I've got no interest in being scared, and when you strip out the tension there's little left to enjoy in the mediocre combat, awkward camera angles, and endless backtracking.

Resident Evil 5 on the other hand has very little to do with survival horror, so we've always gotten on pretty well... I think. It's been half a decade since I played the game though so it could be that my memory lying to me again. I can't even remember if the sinister announcer is going to say "Resident Evil... 5" when I press start. Though he better had.

(Click screenshots for a significantly higher resolution image, though still nothing to brag about.)

Resident Evil 5 menu screen
The game said it! (YouTube link)

You know what it didn't do though? Let me choose my profile. In fact as far as I can tell, not only can't you switch profiles, you can't even erase your progress to start fresh without screwing with the save files. That's kind of insane in my opinion. You can always throw all your collected gear away and replay earlier chapters, but everything you've done persists forever.

This creepy microscopic menu does have a few other things to offer though, like a list of stats, online leaderboards, unlockable documents, unlockable costumes, unlockable screen filters, and the best feature:

A model viewer, with all the characters contained in toy capsules!

I love it when developers can't help but show off their characters models; it makes a game feel like a classier product somehow and it means I can expect some A-grade visuals. Actually I've just remembered that Deus Ex: The Fall has a model viewer as well, so ignore me.

I've only got the two protagonists unlocked right now though, with the rest acquired by finding secret emblems hidden around the levels. So they're encouraging a second playthrough... with a guide.

The Resident Evil games tend to cycle through protagonists, and this time it's bland Resident Evil 1 star Chris Redfield back in the spotlight. He's a little older, a little wiser, and considerably more likely to be able to bench-press a car. The guy's arch-nemesis gained superpowers through a genetically engineered virus, so Chris decided to compensate by putting on a ridiculous amount of muscle mass between games.

These days he's working as a counter-bioterrorism agent for the BSAA, and this week they've sent him to Africa. A fictional region called Kijuju in West Africa to be specific, but the game's in no rush to make that clear. It's like how Resident Evil 4 is set in 'rural Europe'; it doesn't serve any purpose to narrow it down.

He pulls his Humvee into beat up looking seaside town where he meets up with his new sidekick for this game: Sheva Alomar's ass.

Nothing wrong with pointing a camera right at a woman's backside, but it's not necessarily the best shot to introduce a competent female agent when you're trying to build a certain mood.

Tensions are running high in the region since the change of government and people aren't likely to be all that friendly to an American visitor, so Sheva has been assigned as his partner to put them at ease. She's also handy when player 2 needs a character to play as.

The game's built for co-op, but in the unlikely event that someone's dumb enough to play it solo, the role of Sheva is taken over by the AI, Chaos Engine-style. I'm dumb enough to play anything though, so I'll be finding out how well the single player works.


Well the game's given me complete control of Chris and let me walk around the street to my heart's content, but I can't find the button to stop these folks beating a guy in a sack to death. They paused to look menacing when I walked by, but I just know they're going to start up again once I've gone. I can't find the jump button either!

I did discover that I can side-step though, making Chris the most agile Resident Evil hero yet by far! He's crap at it, but a little lateral motion is enough to make me happier than I ever was steering Leon around in Resident Evil 4, and it's definitely nice to be able to turn with the second stick like in a modern game.

The voice on the radio tells us that there's a black market bioweapons deal going down in Kijuju and that's where someone called Irving will be. Alpha Team has already infiltrated the area with their Humvees, assault rifles and full tactical gear, and the two of us are to walk over unarmed in our civvies to back them up. Makes sense to me.

Suddenly a distant siren goes off and Sheva turns around to find that everyone we just walked past has vanished. Either they all returned to the mothership, or there's some ninja-zombie shit going on in this town.

Well it was nice to meet people who weren't actively trying to eat my brains, but I knew it couldn't last. I carried on down the street and met with our contact inside a butcher's shop. Turns out he'd been holding on to our weapons for us...

... including Chris's big-ass knife. Good for the times when I want to go full Gordon Freeman on some crates. Unlike the classic Resident Evil games, this one has cash, and I don't see any reason why I shouldn't help myself.

I'm finding the knife to be a bit awkward using my Xbox 360 controller though, as I have to hold left bumper to aim with it, then right trigger to swing. There's an option to switch it to left bumper and (A), but it won't let me just have an old-fashioned instant melee attack button.

Damn, these healing herb plants get around don't they? From cop precinct hallways in an American city, to rural West Africa. I guess this means there's no regenerating health then.

I'm just helping myself to everything in town now, it's fine, I'm a BSAA agent so I'm entitled to everything in all boxes, barrels, cupboards chests and anything else in my path that I can open or smash.

Resident Evil 2 (PSC)
In the earlier games picking things up was a more involved process, as I was shown an image of the item I'd found and asked to confirm that I really wanted it cluttering up my tiny little inventory. It worked for the atmosphere though as it showed the game down and made collecting new stuff into more of an event.

Resident Evil 5 on the other hand is a game in a hurry, so I can pick up items immediately or call Sheva to take them instead with a single button press. I've heard that trusting the AI with my precious healing herbs and ammo is going to lead to problems, but I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt for now.

Suddenly we heard screaming from inside a nearby building and ran off to investigate. Well Sheva ran off anyway, I was still busy collecting my barrel money. Wasn't hard to catch up to her though, as the level's just a narrow winding path.

Oh shit, the noise was a dude turning into a zombie and now he wants my brains!

What's that you say Resident Evil 5? You want me to wreck my controller to break free? Actually how about I don't do that. I fell for that trick playing Mario Party back on the N64, but I'm not breaking another pad. Not when I've got Sheva around to jump in with a roundhouse kick and save me.

Then a few bullets finished the job. Her bullets by the way; for a useless co-op partner she's definitely pulling her weight so far.

Right, so it seems that there's zombie things going around putting parasites into people's mouths to turn them into other zombie things. These Majini zombies are akin to the quicker, more intelligent Ganado zombies of Resident Evil 4 though. Less like shambling corpses, more like angry lunatics who run right up to your face, before stopping for a bit to figure out when the most awkward moment to lunge would be.

CHECKPOINT! I just noticed that it said that on the side of the screen! That means no bloody save typewriters this time around. I guess Chris was savvy enough to bring a pen and notepad this time, or a smart phone or something.

Suddenly enemies starting pouring over the fences into the fenced off alleyways, and we were forced to make a run for it and barricade the door behind us. I was ready to stay and take them on at first, but Sheva pointed out that we'd get our asses kicked and I could see her point.

We're apparently safe for a moment though, so this seems like a good time to start sorting out our inventories. Bringing up the inventory screen doesn't pause the action (because that'd be annoying in co-op), so it's been streamlined from the older games. Now I have room for just 9 items, with the top, bottom, and side tiles mapped to the d-pad for to give me instant access in combat.

Resident Evil 4 (Game Cube)
A lot of people see this as an awkward step down from earlier Resident Evils and I can see their point, as the Resident Evil 4 box is one of the finest 'inventory Tetris' minigames you can find on consoles, and the game pauses to give you all the time in the world to play with it. The space available is deceptive though, as guns take up a huge number of squares here and items like grenades don't stack. Chris and Sheva could presumably bring out nine shotguns each if they ever felt the need, but Leon can only fit three in his un-upgraded metal box.

Okay I've moved most of the bullets over to Chris and given most of the herbs to Sheva, so I think I'm ready for the next bit of running away.


I stepped inside the next house and a cutscene triggered (the game loves its cutscenes), and long story short... I'm having one of them 'trapped inside a room while zombies pour in through the windows' moments. I probably should've pushed the cupboards in the way to cover up the entrances, but in my defence I didn't even remember I could do that until the prompt appeared when I was backed into a corner next to one.

Combat in the game is very much about precisely lining up shots, as Chris is basically a mobile gun turret, his legs becoming paralysed the second I hold down the left trigger to aim. A headshot isn't a kill (at least not with this Beretta), but it causes a target to stumble for a moment, giving me a opportunity to stomp over and inflict a devastating melee attack.

I mean seriously, Chris hits these guys so hard that even I can feel it. One punch from Chris is basically equivalent to being hit by a truck, so if a zombie's got any of his buddies around they'll all be flattened by it too. Then I can walk over and stomp their head to finish the job.

The trouble I'm having is that I need to shoot the head or a limb to leave them open to a punch, but if I miss and hit the torso it still looks like they're stumbling for a second. So I end up thinking that I've set up a melee attack and charge right into the horde. But the takedown prompt doesn't appear on screen, so I have to quickly have to pull a 180 and scarper before they embed an axe into my head.

Okay I've just done the math, and I don't think I've got enough ammo to hold out here in this room (as my bullets are finite and there's no bloody end to these zombies), so I think I'm going to have to make a run for it and go scavenging outside. Fortunately a huge dude with a massive executioner's axe just cut through a fence, giving me an exit into the marketplace! Though on the downside, now I'm being chased by a huge dude with an executioner's axe.

Well I made it up onto the roof! I'm not sure if this as helped at all, but at least now I have hand grenades, and a bit of space to throw them around.

You might have noticed that I've found the minimap button, but I haven't found a way out of this marketplace yet. There's plenty of buildings to run around, windows to jump through and ladders to climb, but there's no way to get over the wall and run away. It seems that I'm waiting on friends to come and give us an exit, so I'm hoping that staying mobile for five minutes will be enough to get me through this.


There's a fully loaded VZ61 submachine gun just sitting here in a metal box in the market next to the tomatoes! I hope this is not Leon's inventory.

Sheva's running pretty low on ammo right now (which I can see at a glance due to this well designed HUD), but she can just deal with it as there's no way I'm not using this new toy myself. Maybe I'll pass her a few handgun bullets seeing as the weapons use different ammo. Or better yet, maybe I'll run away, as opening the box has given the zombies time to catch up with me and I don't much want to meet the guy with the executioner's axe.


Thank you Kirk in the helicopter for giving us our exit! Would've been nice if he'd dropped one of those rocket launchers down for us to use, or even gave us a lift, but I'm grateful for what I've got.

Resident Evil 5 chapter 1-1 stats
And that's the end of Chapter 1-1.

Whoa, that was good enough for an A rank? Seriously? I honestly thought I'd fucked that up and barely escaped by the skin of my teeth.

Resident Evil 5 shop upgrade screen
Resident Evil 4 has a cheerful hooded merchant that appears every now and again to buy your unwanted items at a high price, but Resident Evil 5 has replaced him with a cold impersonal shop screen between levels. There's absolutely nothing in the story that explains why we can buy items and sell treasure right now, but don't take that as a complaint. There's been a reality error in my favour and I'm happy to make the best of it.

It doesn't look like I can buy ammo, but I can buy a bunch of guns and then sell them again to keep their bullets. You know, if I wanted a quick way to flush all my money away. And I really don't, because I need that cash to upgrade my weapons to have better firepower, quicker reloads and more ammo capacity. With a few modifications I can turn this humble stock Beretta M92F into a monster that even Naked Snake would be impressed by. Well, eventually anyway; it's something for me to look forward to.

By the way, if I choose to replay the level again I'll still have all these items in my inventory. So if I get stuck on a later chapter I can replay an earlier stage instead to grab some more ammo and cash to improve my guns. Though RE4's yellow health upgrade herbs are entirely absent, so it's only the gear I can improve.


Oh man, that just ain't right. I came in here to rescue this woman, then her head pops off and reveals this giant worm... thing sticking out of her neck! How does that even make sense, the tentacle is bigger than she is! How did it grow so fast? Where did it get the extra mass from? Is it inflatable or something?

Bloody Resident Evil zombies, they've always got to take it to the next level of weird.

Now she's got a veiny flail for a head she's taking considerably more hits to kill than a regular zombie and she keeps whipping it around at me. In fact I'm starting to seriously reconsider sticking around in the same tiny room as the thing, because it's becoming clear that it's a really stupid idea.

Oh right, I've still got these grenades on me haven't I?

'Give hand grenade to dishevelled angry horde of the walking dead.'

Now there's a satisfying spray of zombie guts for you. I was honestly expecting it to go off and just wound them a little, but I think it's safe to call that a confirmed kill. And one of them even dropped a replacement grenade for me. Funny how these guys never use guns, but I'll sometimes find ammo left behind after their corpses bubble away.


Well I finally reached the Alpha Team, their corpses anyway. Seems like their Humvees, assault rifles and full tactical gear was no match against this weird worm creature. They left behind some pistol ammo for us though, so I'm sure we'll do fine.

Oh, plus Irving got away! Don't tell me you've forgotten him already, he's that guy... who's doing that thing. And we have to... catch him maybe? I have to be honest, I'm not 100% up to speed on the whole Irving situation. But that's okay, because I'm happy enough to focus my attention on worm guy for now.

The effect of the worms moving around the creature's body is pretty impressive, but I haven't got a shot of it in motion, so here's a picture of Chris with glowing eyes instead.

This had top tier graphics in its day, and even though game's six years old now and the technology is dated, the art design and sheer quality of the work they've put into the visuals means that it'll always look amazing. To me anyway.

I even like the screen filter that tints everything that sickly shade of yellow/green.


Wow, that was easier than expected. I just ran through this walk-in furnace, waited for wormbloke to follow, then hit the button to turn seal the doors and turn on the heat. Boss defeated without a single bullet required.

There's also gas tanks along the walls out here, and I believe it's possible to weaken the guy with an explosion then shoot him to in the weak points to kill him without the oven. You get some treasure from his corpse for doing it the hard way. I usually whine about boss fights, they're not something I've ever looked forward to in a game, but I have to praise this one for giving me a few sensible ways to put him down. I have to praise Sheva too for getting her ass out of the furnace when I hit the switch, saving me from an instant game over.

So now I guess we go chase Irving then? Sheva's not too keen on going alone without Alpha Team, but Chris is the kind of single minded action hero who GETS THE JOB DONE and HAS NO FEAR OR PERSONALITY so we're doing this.


To see my slightly more spoilery thoughts on bits from later in the game (including the ending), click this link to go to part 2.

Or if you just want to jump to the end of page 2 to read my conclusions or leave comments without seeing the later levels, click this other link.

Semi-Random Game Box