Saturday, March 28, 2009

Team Suck v Resident Evil 5: Round 1

Resident Evil fans are used to embracing flaws. Inexplicable dialogue, awkward camera angles, a convoluted story; forgiveness and acceptance are required. It almost becomes part of the fun.

Resident Evil 4 required no forgiveness. The writing still sucked, but a bold jump to a fixed third-person perspective gave the series a shocking jolt of credibility. It was fun. It was still scary. And it worked.

Resident Evil 5 was given more hype than most presidential candidates, thanks in no small part to a pointless snake-chasing racism scandal. The screen shots were gorgeous. I practically made love to the demo. Now it’s here, and Team Suck is all over it. This will be the first of several posts about our misadventures through Capcom’s latest, so hit the jump, and let’s get started.

Team Suck consists of two members: myself, and Andrew A. Cunningham. It was founded in Halo 2 (of all places), where its sole directive was to ruin the game for others. This was done mostly through stealing prized vehicles (and wrecking them), and making ourselves all-too-opportune targets for players of even mediocre skill. Also, killing each other. A lot. Our battle cry was “Team Suck: Deploy!”

Now out of college, Capcom’s decision to make co-op play an integral part of RE5 flashed the TS batsignal into the sky and reignited our anarchic, misanthropic, game-breaking instincts. We procured the game and set about our dark business.

Resident Evil 5 is beautiful. The screenshots say as much, and there is nary a frame stutter to be found. I suppose it’s easier to render backgrounds when they’re 80 percent static – like in Resident Evil 4, your interaction with the environment is mediated by gunshots and quicktime events. There is no jump button, only an on-screen prompt to jump over a ledge, or out a window. It gives the impression of shooting your way through a very pretty painting.

We started off confronting a mob of very angry, half-white Africans with shovels and sticks and snarls. We ran from house to rooftop, fleeing them and…oh, did I forget the ten-foot hooded axe-swinging monster? We were fleeing him. Poorly. Overwhelmed and underexperienced, it took us five tries, three explosive barrels and as many grenades to kill him.

A friend told us this was the hardest part of the game; from what I’ve seen since, he’s right. We’ve fought two more bosses. The first we lured into an obvious death trap. The second seemed merely curious, fluttering about and prodding at us with a pincer.

We blew him to hell with proximity mines. He fell off a cliff. I can’t say we used a first aid spray between us.

As Andrew will undoubtedly note, we seem to be facing the same five enemies over and over again. One looks like Ray Romano. One looks like Saddam Hussein. One wears corn rows. Nothing overtly racist, just unimaginative. Capcom had four years since Resident Evil 4. When they weren’t toasting their own brilliance, I wonder, could they have skinned a few more models?

So far, I have yet to see anything too different from Resident Evil 4 – in terms of gameplay, nothing better, nothing worse. They hardly even changed the controls.

I’m beginning to ask myself: should this represent four years of game development? Is this all the have?

While the question resolves itself, I’m plenty content to lure Andrew alongside explosive barrels, which I will then shoot, flinging his lithe, indeterminately-ethnic body through the air like a dishrag.

Team Suck: Deploy.