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Resident Evil 5 on 360 and PS3 is an effecting ride, but one that focuses on adrenaline rather than horror. As I get into character along side my in-game colleague Chris Redfield I find an excellent action game rather than an unerving horror.
I squint as we step into the searing Africa sun. Chris Redfield and I have done this before, but that was twelve years ago. It was a different age then, filled with surprise and wonder at what Capcom had created for us in their game, Resident Evil. Now, as we approach Resident Evil 5, we are older, cynical and prepared for what lays ahead. We move forward, cautions but confident.
When Chris and I first met neither of us knew what was in store. Chris was a member of a glorified mountain rescue squad trapped in a zombie-infested mansion, and I was a scared sixteen years old on a sofa. My heart raced at every new challenge and surprise. Chris struggled to emote anything as he fought through the nightmare he was trapped in, but my heart was pounding hard enough for the both of us as my damp palms clutched the controller.
I remember the yelp of horror I gave when, in the PS2 and Wii game, we first encountered dogs. The undead beasts came smashing though the window baying for blood. Near defenseless against the beasts we turned and ran. I remained jittery with shock even as Chris stood safely on the far side of a door. I felt my heart start to slow before the realization came that our goal lay beyond the corridor we had just fled. Anxiety ran through me. I didnít want to reenter that eerily quiet corridor, petrified to once again to hear the clipping of claws on the tiled floor. Terrified I forced myself, and Chris, back through the door.
Resident Evil 5 constantly drove me forward leaving no opportunity to contemplate the dangers.
Today on 360 and PlayStation3 things are different. Chris is used to tackling these undead creatures, and I have seen just about everything a game can throw at me. Resident Evil 5 is going to have to do a lot to recapture the suspense of the first game.
If it wasnít enough that Chris and I are now seasoned fighters, some one decided to force another member in to our team. Confidence I already felt at my ability is still further bolstered by the arrival of our new ally, Sheva. Arriving with the confident swagger of a woman ready to commit genocide, she does little to foster any of the foreboding I felt during my first experience with the series. Indeed as we enter the village that is to be the backdrop for the start of this tale, I feel more like an exterminator than a scared victim.
Our first encounter with the infected people of the village admittedly provides an adrenalin rush, despite my newfound confidence. As we step from a building hordes of infected villagers pour over surrounding fences, attacking with speed and determination. Chrisís handgun is a match for one or two zombies, but is rendered impotent by the floods of bodies that rush us, we run. Spiriting through an open door we activate a cut scene, signaling safety and destroying the tension.
Resident Evil 5 on both PS3 and Xbox 360 constantly drove me forward leaving no opportunity to contemplate the dangers. Challenges are presented but allow no time for the creeping sense of venerability, which was a hallmark of the series, to develop. There is no trepidation because I know I will be able to tackle the next obstacle. This empowerment leads me to lay the blame for my deaths not at the feet of the monstrosity that killed me but at unfair game mechanics that frustrate rather than intimidate.
Resident Evil 5 is an amazing ride with emotional peaks of action and troughs of overconfidence.
Even death evokes no fear because checkpoints are so frequent that if Chris actually dies, little is lost. I know that quick saves are a staple of modern gaming, and that it helps deliver smoother and more fulfilling narrative experiences, but in Resident Evil 5 it serves only is to remove any apprehension of what lies around the corner. And when death has no cost it holds no fear.
Resident Evil 5 is an amazing ride with emotional peaks of action and troughs of overconfidence. Contrived set pieces inspire similar physical responses to those I felt in the first game, but the adrenalin rush diminishes rapidly with the realization there is no consequence for failure. It makes for a fantastic action game, but a poor survival horror, which is where the series originally found its roots.
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