While few games have been amassing as much hysteria and controversy recently as Killzone 2, there is one game that's got a fair amount of its own controversy, and that is, of course, Resident Evil 5. Now, I'll be blunt and up front, but I'm one of the few who thought that Resident Evil 4 was one of the most overrated experiences of the past generation. Aside from the gorgeous visuals, I've always hated the controls and not having the ability to move and shoot. Having to constantly run away, stop, turn around, shoot a few bullets, and then repeat the same tactic became extremely annoying. The extremely conservative number of ammo you're given also felt unsatisfying, and it's one thing if Leon's hand-to-hand techniques were powerful, it'd have made playing without a gun better, but they weren't. Sure, you could take a few swipes at an enemy, run away and repeat the process, but that made the game extremely repetitive and monotonous. In short, along with GTA: San Andreas, RE4 was personally the most overrated experience of the past generation.
So if you've kept tabs on the status of Resident Evil 5 and it's controversy, you can probably predict that I'm not too happy with it, thanks to Capcom's decision to maintain RE4's control scheme, albeit with one tiny enhancement: the ability to strafe. I've been playing Resident Evil 5 for close to a month now, and unfortunately, I couldn't shake my gripe with the controls. My last hands-on take featured impressions from my playthrough at E3, and there I regarded that the controls still required you to stop-and-shoot, but that Capcom was looking into working on the aspect for the final release. Clearly, this never happened, and the final release has largely the same control mechanics. And that means…
…shooting off a few bullets, running away, turning around, shooting some more, running away, rinse and repeat. I thought, 'okay, maybe I'll get used to this.' But as the chapters went on, I found myself more and more frustrated with every death and restart. Moreover, I begin to hate the fact that the camera in the game is completely locked on, so you don't even have the option to switch shoulder views or pull it up just a tad. Why is this a problem? Because, as chapter two is evidence, often times you will find yourself in very confined areas where peripheral visibility is important, but alas you are limited to barely seeing what's to the right of the screen. This means, you'll find yourself to be the victim of being blindsided, which can sometimes lead to an unexpected death.
Now, as much as I love co-op, I equally hate having to care for a partner. Resident Evil 5 commits one major flaw that is extremely common among co-op titles, and that's having to constantly save your partner Sheva. Caring for your partner becomes a large burden eventually, as Sheva constantly asks you to save her, to heal her, or to spare her ammo. This becomes extremely tedious when you're fighting off a barrage of enemies and you need to keep moving around to reposition yourself so that your opponents can't attack you. So if you're going to play through the game, I highly urge you to have a buddy handy, because playing with a friend changes the experience of a computer controlled partner from being a frustrating one, to actually being quite enjoyable.
The co-op will also help you forget about the controls a bit, seeing as how you'll be able to work strategies out, allowing one partner to shoot from a distance, with the other closer-up, and then alternating as you see fit. I will admit that co-op gameplay is certainly the biggest draw of the game, but I wouldn't go as far as to say that it's anywhere near as exciting and engaging as Gears of War 2, and that's largely due to the game's speed and controls.
Those who loved Resident Evil 4 will love Resident Evi 5, but if you don't enjoy caring for a partner frequently, you may find yourself frustrated in some bits. Furthermore, the story is also pretty enjoyable, so if you're a devout fan of the franchise, there's a solid reason to engage into RE5 next month. Visually, this is some proper next-gen stuff, with a magnificent graphics engine that's performing lighting work that's some of the best we've seen this generation, on top of marvelous character detail, and very polished texture work.
By now, many of you have probably played the demo of Resident Evil 5, which was likely enough to convince you whether or not you'd like to buy yourself a copy of the game in the coming weeks. If you're still not sure about RE5, stay posted for the full review coming March 13th.