Friday, February 10, 2017

Game EXP: Resident Evil 5 (PC)

As I believe I had mentioned a short while ago, I finished Resident Evil 5 after playing for roughly 27 hours on whatever the normal/medium level difficulty was.  I had no illusions of trying to beat the game on the hardest difficulty or in under five hours in order to acquire the infinite rocket launcher.  I was just there for the story so that I could continue with the rest of the series.  If you happened to miss it, I put down my first impressions just about a month ago and I will try, and probably not succeed, to not rehash everything that I talked about in that article.  And as is the case with most of our articles after we finish games here, there will probably be some kind of spoiler, so be warned.

So, let us start off with all of the negative things that I did not enjoy about Resident Evil 5, just to get that out of the way.

The AI for your partner Sheva Alomar.  This was one of my biggest complaints after just starting the game, and my frustration with how Sheva would position herself during most combat encounters and this continued through until the end (even during the final boss battle; by the way, there is a final boss battle).  Be it her standing in front of me (and doing anywhere between one and 297 180° turns) while I try to aim at whatever dozen Majini happened to be coming towards us, or standing right behind me while unloading her gun into my back.  Now, this might come across as a double standard, except as a real person I know that by shooting my "partner" in front of me, that those bullets will not hit their intended target.  The AI apparently was not programmed with that knowledge, so unless I moved, Sheva would often unload her clip into my back (thankfully taking no friendly fire damage).  As a result of Sheva typically wasting ammunition, I would have her use one of the sniper rifles and eventually the cattle prod (although the number of times that she would run up to a Majini who I was shooting with a shotgun and ended up hitting me instead was definitely up in the double digits.  But why you ask would I just not give her any weapons?  Because if Sheva did not have a way to defend herself, she would end up dying and if Sheva died, it would have the same Game Over effect as Chris dying.

Basically what it boils down to, is whomever was charged with designing and play-testing the companion AI did a horrible job allowing the partner to frequently shoot at the player, hit the player with physical attacks, heal themselves and the player with no regard to green herb conservation, and not moving the hell out of the way when walking down hallways with a hoard of enemies crawling towards the both of you.  Ugh.

And while we are on the topic of AI, I also had an issue with the intelligence of the characters, specifically during one cut scene in particular.

If Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem and Raiders of the Lost Ark taught me anything, it is that any time a panel looking object  on the floor is any shade other than the rest of the floor around it, that means it is going to spring some type of trap.  I even thought that this panel was grossly obvious, but I still did my best to walk around it so I would not trigger the damn thing.  Once I was close enough, a cut scene was triggered, and you guessed it!

The sightless bastards stepped on the damn thing like I was not looking at it for the last minute and a half.  Jesus, you would have thought that neither of them had been in any kind of ruins before, played any kind of exploration adventure video game, or watched a damn Indiana Jones movie.  So stepping on the above panel lead to the following:

That is right, having to mash the "A" button to keep ahead of the collapsing floor along with hammering the Right/Left Trigger buttons to jump over pits in the ground.  I believe I died twice during this sequence due to not expecting the jumps when they happened and probably out of sheer spite for the characters not seeing the stupid floor plate they stepped on.  Idiots.

There were also a number of level design options that I was not particularly fond of, considering how far they diverged from any type of known "survival horror" genre, of which I whole heatedly do not consider this game to be a part. One level in particular, has Chris and Sheva in a jeep driven by (I believe was Sheva's cohort Josh Stone) and firing machine guns (which have infinite ammunition but do have an overheat meter) at both Majini on motorcycles and at blockades (as pictured).  By this point, it is very obvious that Resident Evil 5 has taken a much more action approach to the universe.  Even the boss fight at the end of the stage had the player shooting from the back of the jeep as the massive Ndesu (think of El Gigante from Resident Evil 4) lumbers towards you.

The usage of massive bosses too is something that while I have come to expect from game in the Resident Evil series, but the frequency that it felt I was having to kill one of these monstrosities seemed to be all too frequent.  Maybe it was not as often as I thought, but it sure felt that at the end of each chapter I had to fight some humongous mutated creature from the pits of Umbrella's Hell.

Like this bat-scorpion-rolly-polly-bug hybrid thing that may or may not have more than two wings.  What it felt like to me was that I was going from Point A to Point B and at the end of Point B, I was introduced to some ginormous creature from out of nowhere where you kill the thing, then move on.  In the case of one particular creature later in the game, I began to wonder where these creatures were created/grown/harvested in the time that whomever decided to set them loose discovered that Chris/Sheva had entered the building.  Although, with the quickness that all of the antagonists seem to transform after injecting themselves with either the T-Virus, Plagas, or whatever variant of the virus is being hightlighted, I should probably not be surprised that such transformations take place in less than 30 seconds; otherwise those would be some long cut scenes and would eat up the animation budget.  I really feel though that some amount of horror could have been injected into this game had there been some buildup for one of the giant bosses either throughout a single stage or over the course of a couple of stages.

Lastly (I think), the thing about Resident Evil 5 that I did not like, is a combination of things that I felt were designed to make the game either more difficult or possible scary.  First, the controls felt a little sluggish, similar to how the controls felt in the first Resident Evil, but in an action oriented game, this is not something that should be striven for.  Combined with only being able to reload while stationary meant a lot of running away in order to reload and then reengaging.  And on top of that all, RE5 penchant for using massive waves of Majini, some of which were complete bullet sponges that seemed to exists for no other reason than to drain both Chris and Sheva of their rounds of ammunition.

One interesting thing introduced into RE5 that I definitely took advantage of was inventory screen organization that happened before playing the game and after each time you died.  This lead me to using this feature in a way that it probably was not designed for in that if I were killed early on, or decided that I would need new weapon load outs, I would simply quit the stage, rearrange my equipment then head back in.  Also, upgrading weapons with gold found throughout the game.  Or, you could collect gold, die and restart the stage and collect the same gold all over again.  Perhaps it was a broken system that works better in multi-player rather than a single player campaign, but that is the way I play.  One other way I liked to "subvert the system" was that I found out by upgrading your weapon's capacity, you were given a fully loaded gun, which was an easy way to reload your characters, especially when using rare ammunition weapons such as either of the magnums.  And, in two instances (both against boss fights), after losing more than a handful of times to two different bosses, I bought the rocket launcher as a one hit nearly kill the boss.  It felt a bit like a cheat, spawning to fight the boss with a rocket launcher that came out of nowhere, especially when you consider that Chris and Sheva had been trudging through a ruin for god knows long.  But hey, it was programmed in the game for this to happen, so it is not really cheating after all.

Now on to what I did like about Resident Evil 5.

Well, despite all of the complaining I made about Sheva in the first part of the article, I actually liked her as a character and her backstory, just not how the AI allowed the character to act throughout the game.  The only critique about Sheva's backstory, and nearly every one else' backstory was how it was communicated by the game, meaning that it was mainly not communicated through character actions or gameplay elements.  Instead, dossiers of a handful of characters became unlocked once you reached a certain point in the game, and then you were allowed to access the Extras menu and were able to read a (sometimes not very well written, or possibly translated) history on a particular character.  While very informative, I felt that very little of the character development from their past made their way into the way characters would react throughout the game.  But again, I liked what was written, if only as a broad outline of what could have been.

As far as the actual story goes, I thought it did a really good job of expanding on what I think Resident Evil 4 tried to do more of what Resident Evil: Code Veronica did well, being exploring more of Umbrellas reach beyond Raccoon City and into the world.  Not that exploring a fictional area of West Africa felt any larger than the area of Spain where RE4 took place, but the documents and facilities scattered throughout the game at least made the feeling of a global corporation feel much more real.  This sense of scale really came to fruition with Resident Evil: Revelations, but that was due to playing different characters in different parts of the world during the course of a year.  Maybe I am just interposing the sense of scale I received from RE:R into what information there was in RE5.

On a more superficial level, when the game was not having various colors splitting off into infinity (see the First Impressions article for a lot about that one), I thought that the game looked great.  I would not be surprised if there were a lot of complaints back in 2009 about how washed out the game looked, but considering that that was only about a quarter to a third of the game, it did not really bother me all that much, unless you count noticing the color palette as a bad thing. 

As for how I played the game, as mentioned above, I did not play the game as a multiplayer experience.  Each time I booted up the game, I made sure to turn off the online setting just in case someone somehow found me playing and decided to join in.  Now, this desire for hermit-dom may not have been the goal of the developers as I previously hypothesized that the bad AI was supposed to encourage multiplayer, but again, it was something I decided to trudge through.  

In regards to weapons, I used an upgraded (not fully because I did not have all the money nor the time in the world) M92F handgun for the majority of the game since by the time another handgun came up, I had already upgraded this one enough to make trying to catch the other handguns up a lot more expensive than replacing this gun; I also used the Dragonov rifle which I also upgraded a bit, along with the sniper rifle that I then gave Sheva.  Although I did use the H&K PSG-1 sniper rifle in one particular area where I was on a spinning platform while armed guards were shooting at me from about a hundred yards away, so a semi-super zoom, less recoil, and semi-automatic functionality was necessary; for close quarters I stuck with the first shotgun and later the local magnums (1 and 2) when I had the ammunition.  I also bought both the melee vest and bullet proof vest, later buying it for both Chris and Sheva as there was no way I think I would have survived some areas without it equipped.

You know, I think that just about does it for me and Resident Evil 5.  It definitely was a beast in some areas to get through, either because of horrendous AI on the part of my partner, or because the game just wanted to see how many enemies it could throw at me and how much of my ammunition it could devour before heading into the next area.  I am however glad that I played the game because, again, I actually thought the story was not half bad.  It was Capcom's decision to move the game into a much more action oriented role and not doing a particularly good job at it either that made the game more frustrating that ultimately fun to play through; unlike Dead Space 3 which was a more action oriented game which also started in survival horror roots that I very much enjoyed.  Would I recommend it?  Sure why not, just do not go in expecting a survival horror experience with slick controls and smart AI.  It is worth it if you have been interested in the events surrounding Umbrella and their bio-terrorist plot to take over the world.  

Just wait for it to go on sale.  Which is what I am going to do before I buy the Untold Stories Bundle since the Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition was not available on PC when I purchased the game some number of years ago.

And A Little Bit Of Raving Madness

P.S.  Apologies for the lack of great looking screenshots.  Playing the game with the 360 controller (as a keyboard/mouse set up seemed wrong for a Resident Evil game somehow) meant that I was frequently sitting back from my keyboard and I did not have time/desire to hit F12 when I thought something cool was happening and not die in the process.  I guess I should have used the Steam Controller and programmed one of the inside button/triggers to act as an F12 button, but then I would have ended up with a bunch of pictures on my hard drive that I would rarely if ever look at except on rainy days.  

No comments:

Post a Comment