Back in Action
Resident Evil 5 launched in 2009, four years after the critical and commercial hit Resident Evil 4. I was completely enthralled by RE4 and I played it over and over again, the GameCube and PS2 version. When I heard that they were planning on making a sequel to one of my favorite games of all time, needless to say, I was very excited.
When RE5 finally came out I was just as thrilled. The game stayed faithful to everything that I loved from RE4. Now Resident Evil 5 wasn't the perfect sequel, it did have some bad spots here and there but overall I couldn't complain.
This game came out when I was still learning the basics of game design and for the most part I wasn't looking at it with my designers eye. I read a lot of reviews that complained about the game focusing on action, not being as scary or just simply being a rehashing of RE4. I couldn't really explain it at the time but I knew people were being too critical. They were putting RE4 on a pedestal and they weren't focusing on the positives that RE5 was doing. I mean after all, RE4 was a departure from the “survival horror” genre and focused more on action over just straight up scares.
Ai Companion vs Ai Partner
In Resident Evil 4 the player is put in a role where they must protect the president's daughter Ashley Graham. Most the the time this involves keeping enemies away from her, and hiding her in crates. She does a good job of staying out of your way. Although there were those occasions when she would pop up right in front of my gun...and get herself shot.
When Resident Evil 5 came out, many people were quick to bash the A.i. controlled partner. A lot of complaints were made about how the A.I. was cumbersome, or wasteful of ammo (and we all now how scarce ammo is) and more often then not it got in your way.
When it comes down to it, I just can't really see a reason why people would just completely hate the campagin. So you have to walk around with an A.i. that can at times be mildy frustrating. The same thing happened in RE4. If anything having your A.i. companion help you in battle is a plus.
Gameplay: 4 vs 5
Shots Fired! Ammo, not so scarce
I remember watching a friend of mine play RE4. He was only using his pistol, despite having 45 shotgun shells, 20 sniper bullets and 100 TMP bullets. He just used the pistol. He kept playing RE4 as if he was playing RE1! As if ammo was a problem. It drove me crazy! If you were reckless with your bullets/accuracy you would be in a world of hurt but for the most of the game the only gun that was ever hurting for ammo was the magnum! Bullets for the pistols and TMP were plentiful and the shotgun had a decent amount sprinkled about. This, to me meant that RE4 was moving into a more action oriented direction.
Resident Evil 5 kind of operates in the same way. You do need to play smart, but you are rarely in a low ammo scenario. During my play through I did run low or out of ammo during some of the more challenging boss fights, but this was a rare scenario.
The only main difference with RE4 and 5 is that in RE5 you have to split your ammo consumption with the Ai or human partner Sheva.
Having to split ammo in RE5 adds a new dynamic that brings a new level of strategy and tension that wasn't in RE4. This mechanic leads to some interesting player choices. When I played through the game, my brother and I took roles, he would use the sniper rifle and I would use the shotgun. We would split pistol ammo since it was
The flip side of this is that you can make the argument of there being "too much ammo", and we can't have a lot of ammo since this is a "survival horror" game and not an action game. A lot of people will tell you that having plenty of ammo would make the game “less scary”.
I never really understood why people used that as a way to critique RE5 when RE4 followed the same formula. In fact, Dead Space 1 had a similar thing going on, except you could go to the in game store and simply purchase more ammo if you were careless enough to waste it all. And yet, Dead Space 1 (which is also one of my favorite games) is considered to be very scary even though ammunition is always in stock.
No time for Quick Time
The thing is, RE5 carries over many of the same QTEs that RE4 had. For example, when the player is grabbed by an enemy they must shake their left joystick to break free or they must dodge sideways to avoid being a hit by an enemies attack.
People might say that having to press a button to execute a melee attack is a QTE but it is more of a "context sensitive action".
A lot of people don't seem to remember the giant statue thing from RE4. Everyone I know remembers the infamous "Chris punches a boulder" scene from RE5.
This has to be the best/worst used of a QTE ever. I am not sure what the creators were going for but I was laughing the entire time.
To keep this section simple. Quick Time Events are present in both games. Resident Evil 5 does it no better and no worse than what RE4 has established. The bar was set and RE5 made not attempt to improve on it.
Tone - Survival Horror vs "Tense Action"
Personally, I always hated the controls to the first few games. I felt that the games have a forced horror element because the controls were so bad. I mean, you try to run from and you begin to spin in place....Some people might not agree with me but I always felt that poor controls were not and should never be considered an element for a horror game.
So what genre would I call RE4 and 5? Well I have been referring to these games as “Tense Action” games. The way the game operates it is all about tension.
When you aim your weapon, your field of vision narrows. Enemies can quickly overwhelm, surround and corner you. There are plenty of tight corridors that funnel enemies toward you. The Action focuses on tension and not on horror. Everything in the world is about applying pressure, making you feel confined and cornered, that pressure is where you start to feel scared.
I wouldn't categorize these games as survival horror because survival would imply that these scenarios that you are placed in may be too overbearing to overcome and that the best scenario is to avoid enemies and escape without engaging the enemies. With the tools you are given you can overcome the challenge, you can free yourself from being cornered and defeat any enemy that gets in your way. Resident Evil 4&5 give you enough tools to overcome every scenario it places you in.
Tight corridors in combination with enemies that swarm or block your path (enemies such as the Reaper, Executioner act as living blockades that force a retreat) really bring that tension home.
No Longer the Black Sheep