Thursday, April 16, 2009

team suck v resident evil 5: round oh god make it stop

hello my name is chris redfield and my biceps are the size of christmas hams Look, Resident Evil 5. I can see why people who like video games like you, I do. I do. You have big sweet explosions and some pretty cool fighting sequences and you’re ever so shiny. But for anyone who dares to expect more from the genre, who dares to hope for something resembling progress, you are fools gold! And something of a disappointment.

It’s just that, see, after years and years of developing games in the third dimension, we’re still having the same stupid problems! I still can’t clamber over a shin-high pile of rubble for love or for money. Bits of enemies still show through adjacent walls and doors, a hideous practice called “clipping” which should have been stopped long ago. Particularly hefty foes still manage to get stuck on corners, walking in place like morons while you cap them with overpowered an magnum. Almost everything that was stupid about 3D games ten years ago is still true today, sometimes even more so – at least ten years ago, this gameplay was fresh and interesting.

The writing is stale and horrible and I can’t say enough bad things about it. I’d say there are some thirty lines of dialogue in the game, total, and every one of them is a fragmented, obvious mess. They’re all trying to be cool, glib one-liners worthy of an Arnold Schwarzenegger flick, but they somehow manage to be less witty, less opportune. I don’t know how. I can’t imagine that anyone was paid to do this any more than I can imagine someone accepting money in exchange for it.

The game also doesn’t trust you to figure anything out on your own – they say to show and not tell, but RE5 does both with an alarming frequency. Enemy weak points are giant, glowing blobs in a sea of oily black snakes, each boss becoming more homogenous and samey than the ones before. Boss design, which started out fairly nicely, quickly descends into monotony, with the last few bosses just being larger versions of those that came before. Bo-ring.

Those same boss battles are also the most tedious and boring parts of the game. Quick time events sully most of the final encounters, jumping out at you from under your bed unexpectedly and making you replay the same wretched action sequences over and over until your thumb hurts from mashing the A button. At about the halfway point, boss battles stop being about finding and exploiting weak points with your standard weapons, but about finding and using ridiculous special weapons that you’ve never used before and will never use again – not only is it poor form to make you figure out how to use a gun in the middle of a hectic battle, but it also makes the game considerably less challenging when you know that lurking in the corner of every boss room is an easy button that will make the big monster go away.

It sounds like I’m going out of my way to be negative, and I apologize – I’m not trying to write a Your Game Sucks post about this or anything. It’s just frustrating because this thing will almost surely walk away with a handful of Game of the Year awards despite its being the very opposite of progress. Writing, gameplay, characters design and animation, it has all stagnated – all we have to show for the five years between Resident Evil 4 and this game is a higher resolution, and it’s truly, deeply disappointing to see it in action. Capcom is said to be planning another series “reboot” with RE6, and I can say without a second’s hesitation that it can’t come soon enough.