Poor Resident Evil 5. Considered the beginning of the end for the survival horror tradition of the Resident Evil series, most fans of the series pay it no mind and file it as the black sheep of the franchise. Well, I'm here to tell you that Resident Evil 5 really didn't suck that bad and it didn't ruin the series (Resident Evil 6 did that). In fact, Resident Evil 5 is actually pretty good. I do understand some gamers complaints about the series rapid evolution from survival horror to run and gun action game. These complaints are not completely erroneous but I would argue that Resident Evil 5 is actually a pretty decent attempt at survival horror and worth a revisit for most.
Featuring a few more explosions and flaming set pieces than most Resident Evil fans were comfortable to see in their beloved series after the resounding success of Resident Evil 4, I do admit that there is a little more B movie action in it (even though all the other entries up to that point were essentially B movie horror), and I can see why that would make some fans turn up their noses. On the other hand, I gave it a chance and it quickly became one of my favorite games in the series. Grab that box of coins, check for reapers, and let's explore why Resident Evil 5 doesn't really suck as much as everyone says it does.
I know that this was a main point of dissatisfaction for a lot of gamers that played Resident Evil 5. After the stellar boss fights in the last four Resident Evil installments, the majority of players felt that the boss fights in Resident Evil 5 were lacking, unimaginative filler, in a game that seemed to mock their loyalty to the series. Personally, I think the boss fights in Resident Evil 5 are a blast. You get to fight Wesker a couple of times, a giant bat/worm thing, and a couple other of humongous Uroboros tainted monsters that all require a different strategy or item specific to the context of the battle.
Are they the best boss fights in the series? Hell no, not by a long shot. However, I think they really contribute to an entry in a survival horror series that decided to not take itself too seriously for its fifth installment, and instead give players gargantuan beasts to eradicate in the most explosive way possible.
The first three Resident Evil games took place in the Spencer Mansion and Raccoon City, some of the most memorable settings that have ever been presented to gamers. I will never forget the ruined, flaming cars barricading Raccoon City’s streets as I evaded the grasping hands of zombies or the ridiculously convoluted system to open certain doors in the Spencer Mansion. Honestly, could you imagine if you had guests over and they needed two keys, a blue gem, and a crank just to find their way to the bathroom?
The environments in Resident Evil 5 are varied and well designed. Chris and Sheva’s journey takes them across Africa, through the jungle, spelunking deep into deserted mines, and to a massive secret underground lab. In other words, you’re not restricted to one locale in Resident Evil 5, to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, none of these environments will ever hold a special place in my heart like the eerily quiet small town alleyways of Raccoon City or the claustrophobic hallways of the Spencer Mansion. But, the variety in setting is definitely refreshing for a Resident Evil game.
13 The Cornball Story
The Resident Evil series is drenched in a tangled story of corporate greed, betrayal, and science gone wrong. It’s also nonsensical and completely ridiculous, but that is a large part of why it’s awesome. Resident Evil 5 is no different and its story is totally bat shit.
Chris Redfield is now part of the BSAA, another group that is sworn to protect the world from crazy science experiments, and ventures to Africa partnered with Sheva Alomar to chase down a terrorist before he can sell a bio-organic weapon. Hijinks ensue and the two shoot and QTE their way across the world to stop the spread of the new Uroboros virus and subsequently Albert Wesker. It’s all really just a reason to break up the action with cut scenes, but it still serves its purpose as far as a Resident Evil story should, being absolutely enjoyable in a cheesy way.
12 Versus Mode
Quite the contrary to Resident Evil 5’s constantly forced state of co-op, versus mode was released post launch as a way to offer deathmatch options for the players particularly enjoying the slick controls and over the shoulder aiming system.
There are a variety of modes but most revolve around a pretty simple formula: trying to hunt other players while being hunted by NPC enemies from the single player campaign. Although it doesn’t seem like much, the mode proved to be a lot of fun, and a good way to breathe some life back into the fifth installment after gamers had nearly bled the entire experience dry. It’s kind of lame that it was a piece of paid downloadable content after the game's initial release, but for players that couldn’t get enough, it was definitely a worthwhile investment.
11 Quick Time Events
I’m really putting my gamer card out on the butcher block for this one; defending quick time events is a surefire way to get my rights revoked to ever buy another game, own another system, or have a steam account. I may be publicly stoned for this; so be it: I like the QTEs in Resident Evil 5. Honestly, I do. I like when you have to shoot the chain so your teammate stops getting dragged by a motorcycle. I like when you have to escape the trap in the temple by jumping over the pits. Dammit, I like the QTEs in Resident Evil 5.
I don’t care if you hate me for it; no amount of disdain you have for my opinion can blot out the shame that I feel in myself for admitting that I like QTEs in a video game besides God of War.
10 The First Chapter
This is the make or break point for a lot of gamers; the first few hours of a game set the stage for the rest of the experience (usually), and Resident Evil 5 definitely impresses within its first thirty minutes. Even though many slap the game for being too action oriented as opposed to survival horror, I think the first stage in Resident Evil 5 is one of the most outstanding survival horror scenarios in a video game in recent memory.
Lost in a strange town with only your partner and a few clips of handgun ammunition, you stumble upon a town rally, attended by all the crazed, infected residents. They notice you, the town meeting erupts into a bloodthirsty mob, and you’re left to defend yourself. Scrambling around the map, you may have started to get the crowd under control to an extent…at least before the executioner showed up. Personally, I have seldom felt a burst of adrenaline quite like the first time he smashed through the wall and ended my game in a few sweeping swings of his massive ax.
9 The Loot System
Debuting in Resident Evil 4, the ability to find and collect treasure to exchange for in-game currency was a nifty addition to the series. With said currency, players could purchase different items and upgrade their weapons, adding a layer of depth that Resident Evil 4 only scratched the surface of. Treasures can be collected from the environment or after defeating a particularly troublesome foe. They come in the form of gems, gold, and other assorted trinkets that can be turned into cold hard cash.
The real beauty of the loot system is being able to upgrade your weapons with whatever you find. Considering that a handful of weapons can be upgraded into super weapons, like a chain gun, a triple barreled shotgun, and a bow, players are finally given some incentive to explore every nook and cranny of the game.
Gamers praised Resident Evil 4 for its over the shoulder perspective that made shooting enemies fun and accurate, as opposed to the hit or miss nature of gunplay attributed to the previous installments clunky tank controls. Now you could land headshots, target specific body parts, and shoot thrown weapons out of midair. Finally, you didn’t have to wait for zombies to shuffle up to you, aim at the sky, and hope that the game registered that the undead’s head should pop like a ripe melon.
This style of control was refined and implemented for Resident Evil 5, resulting in some of the crispest, most satisfying handling in a third person shooter to date. Even massive groups of enemies can be dealt with efficiently thanks to the excellent controls and shooting system.
If there is one thing that can be said about Resident Evil 5, it’s that the enemies are inspired. You have your standard zombie types, now with disgusting predator mouths, Tyrant type characters that can require a full magnum clip to immobilize, and strange, disturbing specimens completely warped by the Uroboros virus, among others. I never once got bored on my multiple runs through Resident Evil 5, due mostly in part to the enemies being so dang fun to fight.
I know that some can be incredibly annoying, like the giant slimy bat things that look like a flying inside out yatch or the villagers that look like they take the local pig roasts a little too seriously. But for the most part, I think the enemy design in Resident Evil 5 is some of the best in the series. Additionally, Resident Evil 5 also pays homage to some of the series most memorable beasts, dedicating an entire chapter to fighting Lickers.
6 The Ending
So, some spoilers ahead for a game that is eight years old and that a lot of gamers seem to hate. I already mentioned that the story in Resident Evil 5 is a tad bit far fetched. While the majority of it is certainly forgettable, the ending will always stick with me as one of the most ridiculous and outlandish ways to end a video game, ever.
After you QTE the crap out of Wesker in the back of the plane that he commandeered to launch a Uroboros virus missile, the plane crashes and our heroes somehow land safely in the bowl of an active volcano. Assuming the worst is over, Uroboros Wesker ambushes our heroes, who is now sporting a giant licorice arm with pieces of blown up plane stuck in it that he uses as a mace. So, you jump, shoot him a bunch, push a boulder, and jump some more before the final cut scene plays. Chris and Sheva are escaping in a helicopter, but Wekser halts their escape by clutching it with his newly acquired taffy arm. Jill points to two RPGs conveniently mounted on the helicopter wall and they blow Wesker up, who is standing waste deep in lava. If you don’t think that ending is awesome, you need to stop taking life so seriously.
First introduced in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Mercenaries is a mode unlocked after beating the main storyline that challenges players with hitting certain point values in a time limit. Players can select different stages from the game to mow down as many opponents as possible in order to score a letter grade and unlock more characters to play with. It’s pretty standard post game fair, but the Resident Evil series has always done it with a slight catch: the character you pick has their equipment preselected.
Resident Evil 5’s Mercenaries mode is exceptional because of one feature unique in this installment: co-op. You can tackle hordes of enemies and string together combos all with a friend by your side, making that top score a little more obtainable and a little more fun to get. Plus, you can punch the crap out of zombies as Wesker.
Debuting in the original Resident Evil as the turncoat S.T.A.R.S. team leader with his own ridiculous theme music, Albert Wesker is back and better than ever as the main antagonist in Resident Evil 5. This time, Wesker is decked out in a leather trench coat, his trademark sunglasses, and a body riddled with the Uroboros virus, which turns him into a snide superhuman juggernaut. Boss fights with Wesker in Resident Evil 5 usually require some interaction with the environment and a little bit of thinking, as he is able to dodge normal weapons with ease.
Wesker in Resident Evil 5 is an excellent antagonist not only because his boss battles are a joy to play, but because he is such an over the top douchebag bent on world destruction and the spread of Uroboros. He is the archetype of a super villain in every sense of the word and is all the better for it.
The first Resident Evil released all the way back in 1996 had only a few weapons to choose from: your standard knife, pistol, shotgun, and grenade launcher. Resident Evil 2 & 3 added a few more with the addition of an assault rifle and a submachine gun, among others. Weapons started really coming into focus in Resident Evil 4, allowing Leon Kennedy to choose from a variety of different weapons in a sizable arsenal.
Then Resident Evil 5 dropped and blew all the other weapons in the series out of the water. Multiple types of handguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, bows, chain guns…the list goes on. In addition to all these weapons was the ability to level them up with in-game currency as well, resulting in some truly devastating hardware at Chris and Sheva’s disposal. I have fond memories of leveling out the bolt-action sniper rifle and being able to drop even the most powerful enemies in a few shots.
I know that I already had an entry praising the enemy design in Resident Evil 5, but there is one enemy that makes the entire experience worthwhile: reapers. Reapers are only encountered a few times in the game and function as more of a walking puzzle than a typical enemy.
Giant mutated cockroaches; you’ll usually spot their telltale cocoons perched nonchalantly in a corner before actually engaging them. Reapers are a truly fearsome foe; they’re one of the few enemies in Resident Evil 5 that are able to one hit Chris and Sheva, picking them up with a pair of arms before stabbing them repeatedly in the chest with piercing raptorial claws, all wrapped up in a terrifying animation. To defeat a reaper, you need to hit a handful of small glowing weak spots multiple times. Miss and reapers emit a cloud of gas that blurs vision and makes aiming difficult. There is nothing quite like the thrill of fighting a reaper in the rest of the Resident Evil series and I’d be surprised if they ever crafted a more compellingly fun enemy.
The crowning reason why Resident Evil 5 is worth playing is that the co-op experience in this game is unrivaled in my opinion. The amalgam of Resident Evil over the shoulder gameplay, the massive swarms of enemies to evade or unload on, and the ridiculously overacted quick chat options all make Resident Evil 5’s co-op hit the sweet spot for playing with a buddy.
I’ll never forget screaming into my headset while trying to keep an executioner at bay with only a few grenades while my partner scrambled to save me with his triple barreled shotgun. Resident Evil 5 is essentially filled with set pieces and environments that maximize the fun you can have with a friend online. In my mind, it still stands out as one of the best co-op campaigns in all my time playing video games. Plus, Capcom included couch co-op, an unfortunately dying trend in the more recent years of gaming.